Sega Technical Institute Burbank

From Sega Retro

Sega Technical Institute Burbank
Division of Sega of America
Founded: 1996[1]
Defunct: 1996-12[1]
Burbank, California, United States[2]

Sega Technical Institute Burbank (STI Burbank), also known as STI South[3], was a satellite studio of Sega Technical Institute headquartered in Burbank, California and staffed by Peter Morawiec, Adrian Stephens, and Howard Drossin. Established in early 1996 to work on a potential 3D entry in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, it was responsible for the Saturn games Comix Zone and Sonic Saturn[2], but political issues within Sega resulted in the permanent shelving of all the studio's projects in mid 1996.[4] While asked to remain in operation to support the launch of the Dreamcast, the staff ultimately closed the studio in December that year, with all three founding Luxoflux[3] the following month.[4]


Comix Zone hadn’t performed as well as we all hoped (the PS1 stole our thunder) and Sega was focused on launching the Saturn. Adrian, Howard (the composer), and I decided to move to LA and develop games for Sega as an independent studio; however, Roger and Shinobu (SoA VP) convinced us to stay with Sega and helped us establish a satellite STI office in Burbank, where we were tasked with producing a Sonic game for the Saturn (not to be confused with Sonic Xtreme). We created some interesting technology and designs, but ultimately Naka didn’t approve, so that was it.

Designer Peter Morawiec[2]

Following the poor commercial performance of the development team's previous title Comix Zone, and Sega of America's focus shifting to the upcoming Saturn, three of Sega Technical Institute's high-profile staffers decided to move from the company's Palo Alto, California headquarters and establish an independent game development studio in Los Angeles: designer Peter Morawiec, programmer Adrian Stephens, and composer Howard Drossin.[2] Before this could take place, the team was convinced by STI head Roger Hector and Sega of America vice president Shinobu Toyoda to stay within Sega's umbrella. Hector in particular recognized the trio's talent, and knew that losing their experiencing would be a significant detriment to the company's in-house development.[5] Ultimately, a compromise was reached, and their new studio was established as a satellite office of STI located in Burbank, California.[2]

Co-founder Peter Morawiec

The newly-founded studio's first task was producing a mainline entry in the Sonic the Hedgehog for the Saturn.[2][5] While this was being developed, Morawiec was also working on concepts for another Saturn game tentatively known as Comix Zone. Comix Zone would find itself permanently shelved due to Sega of America's insistence the studio focus on the Sonic franchise.[1] Even after this decision, the Sonic game the studio did end up focusing on (Sonic Saturn) was also shelved due to Yuji Naka's dislike of the project.[1]

Following the cancellation of both their games in mid 1996, the studio was reportedly "left in limbo" for the next few months.[4] After a failed attempt around October to include Sonic Saturn's bonus stage in the Saturn version of Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island[4], the studio was left with no active projects. Despite Sega of America asking the studio to remain within the company and develop games to support the launch of the Dreamcast, they were discouraged to find it would take one year to acquire actual development hardware. Ultimately, the staff decided to close STI Burbank that December, where all three would go establish Luxoflux the following month.[4]



List of staff


Timeline of Sega of America research and development divisions