• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • The Politics forum has been nuked. Please do not bring political discussion to the rest of the site, or you will be removed. Thanks.

Working Designs almost published Phantasy Star IV, Sega of America wanted it to fail

TheSeks

Blinded by the luminous glory that is David Bowie's physical manifestation.
Feb 14, 2009
56,093
0
800
Sega of America, ladies and gentlemen. Woah.

Exactly. Is anyone surprised? Both sides were in competition with each other in those years. Which is what caused most of Sega's problems.
 

superbeau

Neo Member
Jun 9, 2013
281
0
0
I wanna read the biggest, thickest book about nineties Sega. That company was insane with triumph, intrigue, and turmoil.
 

AniHawk

Member
Jun 7, 2004
74,679
8
1,595
the video game industry is brutal. even at the niche level it can be fairly cutthroat. also, sony never really lost their penchant for promoting and shiniest over cult favorites.
 

Cheerilee

Member
Apr 14, 2005
10,009
1
0
The other weird thing here is Ireland suddenly talking about trying to do PS4 is how it was a cart based game released long after WD started passing up on working on carts.

...unless his plan to make the game more successful was to port it to the SegaCD, which I suppose wouldn't be surprising after the weird insistence on porting Lunar 3 to the Dreamcast regardless of what platform gamearts put the game on.
IIRC, Vic said that he considered publishing GBA games, if the right game came along. And since he says there was no reason for Phantasy Star IV to be $100, that suggests that he looked into how much it would cost to deal with Genesis carts.

Wow. Interesting read.
I remember my dad paying $89.99 for PSIV for my birthday so many years ago.

Fuck Bernie Stolar.
The PSIV story would have been Tom Kalinske. Right around the time Working Designs was releasing the Lunar games on the Sega CD. PSIV released in Japan in 1993 and America in 1995. The Lunar games were also 1993/1995.

Tom Kalinske was supposedly mostly responsible for Sega's Genesis-era success in America (after Sega of Japan threw Michael Katz under the bus for being unable to crack Nintendo's stranglehold on the market). Sega of Japan apparently got jealous/felt threatened by Kalinske's success. Kalinske hooked up with a spurned Nintendo ally and arranged to make the Sega PlayStation, but Sega of Japan shot that proposal down because Sony doesn't know videogames. He hooked Sega of Japan up with Silicon Graphics for a little thing they wanted to make called Project Reality, but Sega of Japan shot them down too, so Kalinske sighed and gave them Nintendo's address. Sega of Japan supposedly ignored Kalinske's opinion that the Saturn's CPU wasn't powerful enough (shortly before Sega of Japan saw PlayStation's specs and panicked and duct-taped a second CPU). He quit in 1996, a year after the Saturn's launch, apparently because he felt that the once-open Sega of Japan didn't want to listen to him anymore.

And he may have also been a dick to Victor Ireland. These things happen.

Bernie Stolar was involved in Sony's early anti-2D anti-RPG days, and chased away Vic's early attempts to publish RPGs on PlayStation. He was fired from Sony in time for Final Fantasy VII, and replaced Kalinske at Sega of America, immediately calling the Saturn a failure and trying to wash his hands of it while betting the farm on Dreamcast.
 

dr.rocktopus

Banned
Sep 5, 2014
2,913
0
255
Isn't Vic on GAF as well?

I came into appreciating WD games later on with Lunar 2 on PS1 and then went back, but for the time, no one was doing releases like WD. We didn't have the access to imports, digital only releases etc so if you wanted anything not from Square, Enix, Nintendo or Sega in the 16-bit generation...WD was pretty much it.

We have it a lot better today in terms of actual translation quality, translation turn-around times and sheer quantity, but WD were the forerunners that got us here in the first place.
 

MacTag

Banned
Jan 5, 2016
2,315
0
0
I came into appreciating WD games later on with Lunar 2 on PS1 and then went back, but for the time, no one was doing releases like WD. We didn't have the access to imports, digital only releases etc so if you wanted anything not from Square, Enix, Nintendo or Sega in the 16-bit generation...WD was pretty much it.

We have it a lot better today in terms of actual translation quality, translation turn-around times and sheer quantity, but WD were the forerunners that got us here in the first place.
That's not entirely true. Other companies like NEC/TTI/Hudson, Koei or Renovation were pretty good with bringing over text heavy localizations and even Capcom, Taito, Atlus, Natsume, Konami, HAL, BPS, Kemco, Ascii, Sammy, Kemco, Tecmo and others had a couple notable efforts here and there. If you go back to NES there were more too like Broderbund, Nexoft, American Technos, SNK, Culture Brain and others.

There weren't many 3rd parties really focusing on it like Enix, Square and WD did but it really wasn't as bleak as you imply. I'd agree it was spotty though and there's a ton of stuff we still should've gotten but that includes a lot of games from Sega, Nintendo, Square and Enix.
 

ChamplooJones

Formerly Momotaro
Dec 20, 2012
1,966
1
0
I always feel like the story between SoA and SoJ is very one-sided. We get all of SoA/Kalinske talking about how great they were and how they would've been amazing if SoJ didnt stop them. Would love to hear both sides of the story one day.
Breh, you know as well as I that we're never gonna here SoJ's side of the story.
 

aadiboy

Member
Oct 29, 2014
1,603
1
0
Wow...the relationship between Sega's Japanese and Western branches is the exact opposite of that of Sony's branches. No wonder they completely destroyed Sega in the late 90s.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
And here I was somewhat misguided back in the R.G.V.S. days thinking Vic wass trolling us about Sega dying etc. He knew what was up.

I guess I missed some stuff since I've been buried in Summon Night 6 literally night and day since late February of last year. Came up for air and found this!

Yeah, I always got a kick out of people that could not believe what I was telling them about SEGA going away and licensing out Crazy Taxi and other titles. Everyone really gave me grief for that - hard. But I kind of enjoyed it because I knew it was all true and they would freak out when it really happened (and they did).

I remember talking to a distributor of ours at E3 when SEGA was pushing Jet Set Radio (Future?) at E3 with a HUGE display that went all over their booth with pro roller skaters grinding and doing tricks, like the game come to life. I told him what was up with SEGA and that they would be a shadow of what they were at that E3 by the next E3 because they were getting out of hardware, licensing their IP, etc. I said that both was a wake for SEGA, and he didn't want to believe it, but he knew I was plugged in to SEGA so he took my words at face value and it bummed him out.

I loved what SEGA was, and I had good friends at SEGA of America and SEGA of Japan, so the whole sad trajectory really bummed me out, too, especially since all of it (well, most of it) was avoidable! It was just one mistake after another that snowballed.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
I have heard horror stories about Working Designs from one of their former employees, Zach Meston, though I don't know how true they are.

Probably 95% untrue. He's a liar that I had to send a lawsuit summons to get him to stop lying publicly. He promised to stop it like 15 years ago or more when this happened if I didn't sue him, because he KNEW he would lose in court as literally EVERYONE at WD could refute his crap. Turns out, I learned later that he kept lying, but only offline, privately, and in person. I've heard whispers of this many times, but if I get a hard line on another batch of lies, I have no problem suing him to publicly put his lying to rest (at least as it relates to WD and its employees).

I'm not the only person he's burned. There are plenty of industry stories of his shenanigans, and he's on the bad trader list of a gaming board because he ripped off so many people for real money. That's a fact - look it up.

I still have some sympathy for him since he's mentally ill (unless him telling me that personally around the time I fired him was another lie), but you have to get things under control.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
I think Vic is reversing cause and effect, it wouldn't have been priced at $100 to make it fail, but rather its price at $100 was a result of Sega of America likely not seeing a big market for the game, and thus expecting it to sell less anyway.

Nope, I was there. The pricing was to make it fail. There are games that sold less or were projected to sell less that had normal pricing. This was literally to try to make it fail so they could say "see!" to SoJ. It didn't work.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
After Armageddon, 3x3 Eyes AND Shadowrun?! Sega CD died too early. :(

I know there were a bunch of Saturn games WD had in the works too before SOA/Stolar basically drove them off the system (Lunar SSS/2EB/Magical School, Sakura Wars, Thunderforce V, TF Gold Pack 1-2, Radiant Silvergun, Silhouette Mirage, interest in Grandia, presumably Raystorm and more Sega Ages volumes) but Shining Force III Scenario 1-3 is news to me. Were they looking at any other Saturn games? Any Dreamcast games ever?

Phantasy Star IV is interesting too as I always thought WD had a pretty anti-cartridge policy in the 90s due to the media costs then? Were there any other MD or possibly GG games they looked into?

No, Phantasy Star IV was an exception because I was so incensed that SoA had passed on it. We were actually having meetings at the bank to increase our credit line so we could handle the advance order for the cartridges. I was totally on the CD train by that time, but PSIV was enough to get me to make an exception - but just one.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
In hindsight, the best thing to do would've been to listen to Kalinske who was the best thing to ever happen to SoA, but SoJ needed to call the shots. In the end, this kind of fighting between the two divisions lead to their demise. It's a good reminder that while we lament NoA as a powerless lapdog, if they actually fought for the western preferences and strategy for Nintendo it would probably hurt the company in the long run.

Kalinske was the best leader SEGA ever had. Played the part and understood the business better than anyone at SEGA before or after. I was really sad to see him go.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
SoA was indeed a clusterfuck then but I have a really hard time believing they would go through all of that to translate, publish, and distribute the game just to prove a point.

I'm fuzzy on the details of that part, but I *think* it was at least partially translated when it was initially passed on. And yeah, they would do that when the alternative was SoJ learning SoA didn't have a clue about what would sell in the US market, which is what they were facing if we did it and succeeded (which we would have - the game's great).
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
There weren't dozens of Sega CD RPGs though? The only other notable ones I can think of for the Sega CD that didn't make it to the US were Arslan Senki and Record of Lodoss War.

I mean, if it wasn't for WD, Lunar probably wouldn't have been noticed period but it definitely didn't have very much competition on the hardware, lol.

3x3 Eyes
After Armageddon
Record of Lodoss War (which sucked compared to PCE one)
Shadowrun

I'm sure I'm forgetting a few. Then there was Urusei Yatsura that I was ready and willing to do. I loved that game. One of the best point and click games EVER with amazing graphics for MEGA CD.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
When has Vic ever lied about one of his projects? Even when it comes to games people hate him for he is truthful. I mean he straight up says they changed Silhouette Mirage because of game return policies when he could make some bullshit about gameplay balance.

And really, what incentive to I have to make stuff up about this at this point? This is like gaming archeology at this point. Most of this stuff is ancient history.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
That's the thing, though. He has a history of making these huge one sided claims about how other companies frequently caused problems for him when its obvious nobody is ever going to bother calling him out on it. He blames retailers on the Silhouette Mirage changes, but then what was his excuse for bad difficulty changes to games that wouldn't run afoul of retailers being pissy about returns?

The games were usually embarrassingly easy or enemies were damage sponges that we made LESS difficult to kill (Melzas in Alundra, for example). And it's not like I tried to hide the changes. What other company/person made nice, tidy translation notes in each game manual summarizing the changes? No one, until I did it. For that matter, who did game "Making of" productions with their games for fans before WD? Anyone? I can't think of any.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
Wow, he even had a toadie name.
My apologies to anyone called Gretchen.

Me too. That Gretchen sullied the name completely for me. She was really unpleasant, in my experience. And I wasn't alone. ;) SEGA third party account managers would tell me awful stories about her incompetence.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
Alundra also had weird changes where enemies had their health dropped down, but then their damage to Alundra jacked up to where to game got a reputation for being a lot harder than it originally was.

Kill Melzas in the Japanese version, then the US version, and we can talk. The Japanese version is tedium personified. Literally 30-40 minutes on one boss, unless you cheat.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
If Vic ever wrote a book I would be in day 1 foe sure. Loved loved loved working designs

The problem is, my head is a cluttered place, and I don't remember a lot of these stories until someone prompts me with something that reminds me. Once I'm triggered, the whole story is there with the vivid memories, but I usually need a trigger. Plus writing a book like that seems like it would be boring.
 

xylo

Neo Member
Dec 26, 2014
47
0
0
Washington
I guess I missed some stuff since I've been buried in Summon Night 6 literally night and day since late February of last year. Came up for air and found this!
Well well. It's been years since I've seen you around Vic. Sorry I couldn't get poke the guys below Don enough those years ago to get the Japanese game train on the 360 going. It was pretty clear internally they knew what you wanted (or seem sorta seemed to) but didn't seem to care much(?)

Did Matt Atwood ever resurface? I just remember that he vanished just after I was doing play-throughs of early Shining Wisdom copies. I still use the key disc you helped me get from Sega to this day on my launch day Saturn. :)

It's nice to see you see have the passion after all these years and didn't give up after WD dissolved.


e: Oh boy it's like Nick Rox reviews all over again. Lets get this out of the way. Yes the Wood Golem was a bit too hard IMO. Yes the Lunar 2 save system was flawed but not horrible so (to harsh early game, complete non issue late, needed free saves at shrines). No most of the translations were not literal and would have pretty bad if they were since they were full of cultural local items that wouldn't make sense.   Yes it went over board sometimes, but that was just the WD style.

e2: forgot Gravity Bomb was pretty rough too at times, but was more a damn felt great to beat that really.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
Damn, Vic all up in here dropping them bombs. This is pretty fascinating stuff.

Well, I was unaware because, well...Summon Night 6 Localization Tsunami. But I got linked here from our message board, and found there's a lot here to answer!
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
Victor Ireland brought over many classics over here but you have to take with moderation some of the stuff he says. It's always everyone doing a terrible job but him.

Absolutely untrue. If I think someone's done great work on a game, I have no problem praising it. Grim Fandango has a level of writing and wit I will never ascend to, and I've mentioned what a fan I am of most of Tim's work (Full Throttle being another). There are PLENTY of people doing a great job, but there's EVEN MORE sucking. Maybe that's why you got that incorrect idea about "the stuff" I say.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
I always feel like the story between SoA and SoJ is very one-sided. We get all of SoA/Kalinske talking about how great they were and how they would've been amazing if SoJ didnt stop them. Would love to hear both sides of the story one day.

The cool thing is that I was more in with SoJ than SoA, so I definitely saw the other side, too. There are valid points on both sides. Some of the SoJ executives and middle-managers were awesome, if flawed. Jin Shimazaki, I don't know where you are now, but I'll say right here you were one of my favorite points of contact at SoJ!
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
That said, the evidence of them doing multiple passes through localizing PS4 shows a lot more effort than you would expect from something they supposedly only took on out of spite to intentionally tank.

They had to play the part for SoJ. It's not like they were going to say to their overlords, "we changed our mind so we can price this so it fails for sure and you see we were right in passing on it and saying really bad things about it."
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
For Growlanser the problem was that they weren't coding the game themselves like WD did. You have the advantage of being able to fix and improve the game at the cost of being stuck with any mess you could create (trying to fix that dumb Goemon game probably helped kill the company).

Wrong again. We fixed the game, it exists and is playable in English (though not completely), and the Growlanser problems were more directly responsible for the end of WD, though not the fault of the game itself or the fans, but almost completely our account manager at the time who unnecessarily blocked the titles and made us jump through time-wasting hoops to even get them out as a single package.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
I only keep hearing it was mediocre, but if he wanted it that badly, I'm confident there was something good about it. Nothing he's localized has ever disappointed me.

It was and is fine. The nice thing about it is it's a reboot/ORIGIN GAME. When you start you don't have your trademark red suit - you see where that comes from. You meet Ebisumaru, Yae, Sasuke, etc as the game progresses. It's 3D and ugly in parts, but we fixed the controls so it's much more enjoyable to play. As a fan of Goemon, I'm still bummed this didn't come out. But, maybe some day...we still have the source and English translation somewhere.
 

akira28

Member
Aug 31, 2010
43,209
0
715
The problem is, my head is a cluttered place, and I don't remember a lot of these stories until someone prompts me with something that reminds me. Once I'm triggered, the whole story is there with the vivid memories, but I usually need a trigger. Plus writing a book like that seems like it would be boring.

So what you need is a drinking buddy with an open tab, a tape recorder, and a ghost writer's license.

this stuff is gold, just sayin. plus adult me would really like to know where my hate should be directed after all these years.
 

CO_Andy

Member
Dec 8, 2004
9,855
2
1,475
Jiyojaa
Would it be possible to republish and relocalize the original Grandia under your wing, Vic?

The game is the closest thing to a Lunar 3, so it makes me sad to see that the only version of this game available in English is the meh Sony localization.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
Well well. It's been years since I've seen you around Vic. Sorry I couldn't get poke the guys below Don enough those years ago to get the Japanese game train on the 360 going. It was pretty clear internally they knew what you wanted (or seem sorta seemed to) but didn't seem to care much(?)

Did Matt Atwood ever resurface? I just remember that he vanished just after I was doing play-throughs of early Shining Wisdom copies. I still use the key disc you helped me get from Sega to this day on my launch day Saturn. :)

It's nice to see you see have the passion after all these years and didn't give up after WD dissolved.

Matt worked for Nintendo, then Bioware, then EA before settling down at a PR firm to have a family and try to quit smoking like a chimney. He came with us for an isolation tank float one evening at E3 this past year. I do that every year - very relaxing. And yes, he had his own tank.
 

Gunstarheroes

Member
Nov 4, 2009
6,772
0
0
Then you are not ready to hear the REALLY crazy game industry stories that are true, too.

Why the hell don't you have a panel at some random convention and just drop them bombs. I'd pay for that panel alone haha.

Also, i can absolutely believe Sega doing shit that crazy, since Japan and America we're basically at each other the entire time they co-existed.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
Would it be possible to republish and relocalize the original Grandia under your wing, Vic?

The game is the closest thing to a Lunar 3, so it makes me sad to see that the only version of this game available in English is the meh Sony localization.

I honestly don't know. Our relationship with Game Arts petered out and it's obviously not that strong since we still can't get the LUNARs on PSN. But if it had enough resources so it wasn't a hackey port, I'd love to have a crack at it. The PS1 localization was just a drag.

But maybe if people do a "Gaijinworks" write-in for Grandia on Gung-ho's next survey, you can get that started. I'm game - I always thought that release was such a missed opportunity.
 

vireland

Member
Jul 21, 2004
4,535
0
0
Why the hell don't you have a panel at some random convention and just drop them bombs. I'd pay for that panel alone haha.

Also, i can absolutely believe Sega doing shit that crazy, since Japan and America we're basically at each other the entire time they co-existed.

There are still quite a few I can't broadcast because it would affect current relationships. Quite a few. Consider this: These are the ones I *think* are okay to share now that time has passed. It only gets wilder from here. Some are still very radioactive. The half life on some of these is almost as bad as uranium...
 

CO_Andy

Member
Dec 8, 2004
9,855
2
1,475
Jiyojaa
I see Kelly Knight every now and then selling Working Designs merch on eBay. Still want to finish up my collection of WD posters, but they're so damn rare (and so awesome).

I don't suppose you have the original high resolution files saved somewhere?