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Working Designs closes up shop (Death by Sony)

Old 12-14-05, 08:10 AM
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Working Designs closes up shop (Death by Sony)

http://www.workingdesigns.com/forum/...d.php?t=118916

Sony has made it clear that they do not want the details of their dealings with any publisher made public. Suffice to say that you would buy what we wanted to sell if we could sell it.

It is a sad day.

They brought over some of my favorite RPGS (namely Lunar 1+2, and Popful Mail).
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Old 12-14-05, 10:23 AM
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definitely a sad day. i enjoyed many of their games and the way they went all out for the fans..
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Old 12-14-05, 11:14 AM
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I hope they can get some deals to localize and produce future JRPGs on the 360. This news is very sad indeed. We owned (before some like Vay were stolen) about half of their overall releases. Pushing back the release date was a running joke with WD, but we fans didn't mind. We knew it was for the best. Vic always strives for perfection. There is always hope for the future.

May Working Designs be reborn from the ashes like a radiant phoenix and soar for the fans once again.
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Old 12-14-05, 11:30 AM
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I could see Microsoft working with them to get some Japanese 360 games over here.. but the real question is: is there a market for such a thing? Or maybe the real questions is: will there even be Japanese games to be translated for the 360 condiering they sold 12 of them over there? It just seems like they're jumping to a platform where the type of games they'll want to bring over are going to be ignored.
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Old 12-14-05, 11:48 AM
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Old 12-14-05, 12:05 PM
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Pixy, surely you're not suggesting there are other console options besides the 360 and Sony's babies? That's ludicrous.
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Old 12-14-05, 12:07 PM
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I'll miss Working Designs - I always made a point to keep up with their releases, even if I didn't buy all of them (I loved Lunar 1 & 2). Hopefully they can work out something with Microsoft and stick around in some form or fashion.
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Old 12-14-05, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by pinata242
Pixy, surely you're not suggesting there are other console options besides the 360 and Sony's babies? That's ludicrous.
No, I'm just pointing out that publishing niche Japanese titles on the Xbox 360 is going to be akin to publishing, well.. anything, on the Turbo Grafx or Sega CD systems.. as in it'll be a small market. If they've got MS behind them, they'll probably be financially sound, but I'm still in the mindset that anything that isn't in the same line as what launched for the system is probably going to be a hard sell on the system. That can change, of course.. and I know MS is interested in it (well, they SAY they are.. but the Japanese launch proved otherwise).

I think Working Designs failed in that they didn't wise up to the fact that what they were doing was no longer unique or special. RPGs have exploded in the US compared to when they published Lunar. Growlanser came out at a bad time.. when there were literally a dozen better looking and probably better playing strategy RPGs on the market and coming to the market. They were no longer unique in providing these kinds of anime-styled RPGs to the US market and they were no longer unique in providing quality translations that weren't afraid to stray from the literal text to maintain the feel of the original. They were no longer unique in offering deluxe packages of their games. Because none of this was special anymore, it was detrimental to think that releasing a game every two years would keep them alive.

They should have kept releasing shmup titles in my opinion. There's some damn fine games in Japan that they could've brought over here for probably minimal money and even less localization work (hell, I have a few import shmups that are ENTIRELY in English!). There's not a big market for them here, but it's niche enough that doing a few these as budget titles could have kept them on the map.

I really liked their work and followed them from their VERY first releases ever (Parasol Stars and Cadash on the TG16), but they did themselves in. It's hard to put the blame on Sony (as per the thread title) when other companies are out there doing what made Working Designs special in a fifth of the timeframe.
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Old 12-14-05, 12:46 PM
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Their games went to 11.

I'd love to see some translated compilation discs for the 360.
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Old 12-14-05, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by PixyJunket
It's hard to put the blame on Sony (as per the thread title) when other companies are out there doing what made Working Designs special in a fifth of the timeframe.
I was just relaying Vic's message. I don't honestly thing Sony is completely at fault. It is pretty much the same when Vic blamed Sega for their failure a few years ago.
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Old 12-14-05, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by flashburn
I was just relaying Vic's message. I don't honestly thing Sony is completely at fault. It is pretty much the same when Vic blamed Sega for their failure a few years ago.
Oh, I'm sure Sony may have a part in it. They were horribly notorious in denying licenses for games that weren't 3D or weren't extreme enough for American audiences in the early PS1 days. I remember reading WAY back that the only reason we saw the 2D Mega Man X4 and Mega Man 8 on the PS1 was because Capcom threatened to hold back the Resident Evil franchise if they weren't granted the license. But that was 10 years ago and Sony of America has opened up quite a bit. It's not Sony's fault that it took Working Designs FIVE years to localize and release Growlanser.

From what I'm hearing, Sony's part in all this is apparently denying them a license to publish Goemon in the states, which is a five-year old, first-gen PS2 game. Apparently WD was putting in an unheard-of amount of extra effort to get the game looking more up to 2005 standards, which I guess wasn't enough. While I don't agree with Sony's decision, can you blame them? A good game is a good game regardless of how it looks, but I also know that Americans don't understand this and Sony knows that Americans don't understand this. WD should have had something else to fall back on instead of trying to fight the power.
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Old 12-14-05, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by PixyJunket
It's not Sony's fault that it took Working Designs FIVE years to localize and release Growlanser.
HOLY CRAP! Was one guy working on this localization by himself?
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Old 12-14-05, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by joshd2012
HOLY CRAP! Was one guy working on this localization by himself?
Yeah, it was me. My bad.
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Old 12-14-05, 02:14 PM
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while im not trying to defend the 5 years it took for WD to do the game, it IS a very time-consuming task. if you are lucky, the game code will come with comments (um, i personally didn't run into too many of them), but most of the time, game code comes with no/little comments and documentation. for WD, it probably wouldn't even matter because it'd be in japanese. if they have nothing, they have to figure where everything is (event triggers, pointers to the script, etc). if the script is MUCH larger than the original, they need to do something about that. but 5 years is ridiculous, that's for sure...
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Old 12-14-05, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by PixyJunket
No, I'm just pointing out that publishing niche Japanese titles on the Xbox 360 is going to be akin to publishing, well.. anything, on the Turbo Grafx or Sega CD systems.. as in it'll be a small market. If they've got MS behind them, they'll probably be financially sound, but I'm still in the mindset that anything that isn't in the same line as what launched for the system is probably going to be a hard sell on the system. That can change, of course.. and I know MS is interested in it (well, they SAY they are.. but the Japanese launch proved otherwise).

I think Working Designs failed in that they didn't wise up to the fact that what they were doing was no longer unique or special. RPGs have exploded in the US compared to when they published Lunar. Growlanser came out at a bad time.. when there were literally a dozen better looking and probably better playing strategy RPGs on the market and coming to the market. They were no longer unique in providing these kinds of anime-styled RPGs to the US market and they were no longer unique in providing quality translations that weren't afraid to stray from the literal text to maintain the feel of the original. They were no longer unique in offering deluxe packages of their games. Because none of this was special anymore, it was detrimental to think that releasing a game every two years would keep them alive.

They should have kept releasing shmup titles in my opinion. There's some damn fine games in Japan that they could've brought over here for probably minimal money and even less localization work (hell, I have a few import shmups that are ENTIRELY in English!). There's not a big market for them here, but it's niche enough that doing a few these as budget titles could have kept them on the map.

I really liked their work and followed them from their VERY first releases ever (Parasol Stars and Cadash on the TG16), but they did themselves in. It's hard to put the blame on Sony (as per the thread title) when other companies are out there doing what made Working Designs special in a fifth of the timeframe.

I am in Total Agreement with you Pixy. I also feel the Niche market they had, caught up to them by bigger and better publishers! And like you said this Niche market became Mainstream Popular! I remember Victor putting in some jab to Sega, when they jumped Ship to doing Work for Sony's Machine. I guess this time He didn't have anywhere to jump!
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Old 12-14-05, 03:12 PM
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As someone who wrote for Working Designs I'd like to express this,
none of the higher ups there should ever be allowed to work in the
gaming industry again. As consumers you only see the face they want
you to see, and in that I can understand why you'd like what they
brought to the table (rpgs that were fun), but as someone who worked
for them I can say that they are not worth shedding a tear over.
All the moaning about how Sony mistreated "the little guy"... I'd like
to see Vic even attempt to explain how I was treated. If a sole author
isn't the very definition of "little guy" I don't know what is. And if they
have no respect for me in that regard, then how can they expect anyone
to do the same in return.
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Old 12-14-05, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by nodoubt
while im not trying to defend the 5 years it took for WD to do the game, it IS a very time-consuming task. if you are lucky, the game code will come with comments (um, i personally didn't run into too many of them), but most of the time, game code comes with no/little comments and documentation. for WD, it probably wouldn't even matter because it'd be in japanese. if they have nothing, they have to figure where everything is (event triggers, pointers to the script, etc). if the script is MUCH larger than the original, they need to do something about that. but 5 years is ridiculous, that's for sure...
While I understand where you're coming form on the technical, programming side of things.. this is not an excuse they can use. They are not doing unauthorized fan translations. In order for them to release a game here they have to acquire the license from the Japanese publisher and that usually includes the actual developer's assistance in the process for the things you've mentioned above. Even if they didn't, somebody would have been paid to crack any compression and pointer code in there.. and however complex that can be, working on that for 8 hours a day you'd either crack it or give up after a fairly short time and move on to something doable.
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Old 12-14-05, 03:54 PM
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When you see some of the crap that has been pushed out on the PS2, I wonder what was so bad that Sony refused to let them release Goemon... I mean, they must have already had the license for them to do all that work, right? What skin is it off of Sony's back if the game fails?

And I have heard very bad things about WD's management as well...
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Old 12-14-05, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by PixyJunket
While I understand where you're coming form on the technical, programming side of things.. this is not an excuse they can use. They are not doing unauthorized fan translations. In order for them to release a game here they have to acquire the license from the Japanese publisher and that usually includes the actual developer's assistance in the process for the things you've mentioned above. Even if they didn't, somebody would have been paid to crack any compression and pointer code in there.. and however complex that can be, working on that for 8 hours a day you'd either crack it or give up after a fairly short time and move on to something doable.
yeah definitely. they should've moved on to something else after a reasonable amount of time.
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Old 12-14-05, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Brooklyn
As someone who wrote for Working Designs I'd like to express this,
none of the higher ups there should ever be allowed to work in the
gaming industry again. As consumers you only see the face they want
you to see, and in that I can understand why you'd like what they
brought to the table (rpgs that were fun), but as someone who worked
for them I can say that they are not worth shedding a tear over.
All the moaning about how Sony mistreated "the little guy"... I'd like
to see Vic even attempt to explain how I was treated. If a sole author
isn't the very definition of "little guy" I don't know what is. And if they
have no respect for me in that regard, then how can they expect anyone
to do the same in return.
henry?
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Old 12-14-05, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by nodoubt
henry?
Yes.
Who's this?
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Old 12-14-05, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by PixyJunket
I think Working Designs failed in that they didn't wise up to the fact that what they were doing was no longer unique or special. RPGs have exploded in the US compared to when they published Lunar. Growlanser came out at a bad time.. when there were literally a dozen better looking and probably better playing strategy RPGs on the market and coming to the market. They were no longer unique in providing these kinds of anime-styled RPGs to the US market and they were no longer unique in providing quality translations that weren't afraid to stray from the literal text to maintain the feel of the original. They were no longer unique in offering deluxe packages of their games. Because none of this was special anymore, it was detrimental to think that releasing a game every two years would keep them alive.
Bingo. In the last few years there have been an explosion in games, and many games are being localized in the US that may have otherwise not had a chance years ago such as Katamari Damacy or Disgaea. And when companies like Atlus can do the same thing but with a more diverse palate of games, and a hell of a lot faster and still do quality work, it makes the way Vic did things archaic. I would have never believed that Digital Devil Saga would come out here, but here it is! (and it wasn't by Working Designs).

WD took on games that were text intensive, which require a lot longer to translate. But these guys made Rare look fast. It doesn't matter if you bundle in a ceramic plate, golden watch, and coffe cup wash cloth if the game takes 5 years to come out. Vic always seemed to have a tendency to bitch out stuff too. I don't mean to sound like I don't appreciate what they did, because I do

Most people associate WD with Lunar, but it was actually developed by Game Arts (who are putting out Grandia III very soon), so it doesn't mean that Lunar has disappeared forever.
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Old 12-14-05, 08:05 PM
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Here's a post-close interview:
http://www.gamespot.com/news/6141225.html

Some tasty quotes draw near!

GS: Do you think the shutting down of Working Designs reflects anything about the current state of the game industry?

VI: Absolutely. The fans that want more than pabulum are out there, but some hardware vendors are obsessed with mainstream to the detriment of the gamers in the niche that we served. The only thing that can change that is true competition, and I think that is coming this generation in a major way, but too late for WD.


GS: For the president of a niche publisher, you ruffled some feathers in the industry by taking public stances on issues that had typically been privately dealt with between publishers and console manufacturers. Looking back on it, do you think your comments hurt the company in any way? Would a more politically minded approach to these situations have served Working Designs better?

VI: Absolutely. Even the mild statements I've made here have probably ruffled a few more. I have always been a gamer first and a politician second. I was there to get great games out that would have been left for dead in Japan until we got them. In the end, I think that absolutely hurt WD, but it wasn't clear how much until it was too late. As the industry filled with legions of MBAs that admit to playing games an hour a week (if that) to see what was hot, gamers in high-level positions became ever more rare. It's really screwed up the market. Look at the diversity you saw on the PS1, and compare it to the PS2. It's taken a huge hit. Me3 is the most popular SKU.
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Old 12-14-05, 11:15 PM
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How about this one?



VI: GBA was too crowded a market, and DS came into the picture too late. The software for the DS is only now really starting to come on strong. It does have Goemon, too! That game alone made me rebuy a DS so I could play it. Now I'm glad I did because there's a bunch of great stuff.


GBA too crowded? I suppose he means with crap, much like the PS2 has it's fair share of crap? I guess he doesn't read forums like this often enough. I think the Final Fantasy IV thread is on five pages now, and it's "just another port". If they had expanded to other consoles, a Gamecube title here, an Xbox title there, a handful of GBA titles maybe? That old saying about "all your eggs in one basket" comes to mind.

While I mourn their passing, I admit they weren't keeping up with the times. I would kinda compare them to Criterion, and how they made the transition from LD to DVD. There's plenty of companies now that can do a killer special edition DVD, so Criterion adjusted to the market place. Too bad WD couldn't have done the same.
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Old 12-14-05, 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by milo bloom
VI: GBA was too crowded a market, and DS came into the picture too late. The software for the DS is only now really starting to come on strong. It does have Goemon, too! That game alone made me rebuy a DS so I could play it. Now I'm glad I did because there's a bunch of great stuff.[/i]
What, compared to the Playstation?

I loved WD's games during the SegaCD & Saturn eras, but once the Playstation hit and RPGs started going mainstream, their stuff just didn't seem that great anymore. Lunar 1 & 2 were good, but Vanguard Bandits was pretty weak. And while I appreciate the effort they put into bringing the Arc the Lad Collection to the US, I didn't find it all that exciting either. Same with Growlanser Generations.

But you know where some of their RPGs would have really hit the spot? The Gameboy Advance. But apparently that market was just too crowded for them, what with having to compete with Golden Sun 1 & 2 and Fire Emblem 1 & 2...and yeah...that's pretty much it. Way too crowded.
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