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1  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Tri-Ace bought out, to re-focus on mobile games. on: March 08, 2015, 05:18:07 PM
Dunno, it looks a lot like the dot com bubble to me. The Internet was here to stay, but the kind of money thrown around without guarantee was grossly disproportionate to reality.

If we look outside the established companies we love, that money is being thrown around indiscriminately, turning startup CEOs into overnight multimillionaires.
2  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Tri-Ace bought out, to re-focus on mobile games. on: March 08, 2015, 05:06:41 PM
It's an exciting time for sure. One upside to the bubble is that development has truly become global with little industries popping up everywhere (India, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, even Myanmar). It's also interesting to see old names re-emerge (Toshiro Tsuchida created a new GCraft and has released a strategy game for browsers, producers Kensuke Tanaka and Michio Okamiya hit a home run with Kantai Collection, Hideo Minaba made a wad of cash selling to CyGames and is their principal illustrator now, Yoshiki Okamoto turned his career around after a period of silence and severe debt), plus former development grunts are designing their own stuff for once.

The only caveat is that I have little interest in the games they make, whether or not they're localized.

As for VN localizations....well, it's difficult. There's more interest here, but the main impetus for cooperation on the part of Japanese developers is that their market is in even bigger trouble than the console/handheld industry (shrinking hardcore base over time, few new fans among younger people who have flocked to cheap light novels). During lucrative times, most would never have given English-speaking fans a second thought, and in the long run, devs need to find a domestic solution that works.
3  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Tri-Ace bought out, to re-focus on mobile games. on: March 08, 2015, 02:37:51 PM
It will burst for sure, although that doesn't necessarily mean that a steady market won't persist or that the traditional market will retake lost territory. In terms of time and social acceptance, the mobile platforms are proving to be more compatible with the Japanese lifestyle (i.e. console manufacturers could never really crack the adult gamer market).

As for the west, game companies are gearing toward further divergence of the two markets. We play our games (or the few Japanese heavy hitters developed specifically with western audiences in mind), they play their own. There's loss of faith in a one size fits all strategy, so it's back to Japanese games for Japanese people, western games for western people. Currently, some are complaining about the lack of browser/mobile game localizations, and that's because companies are wary about aggressively pushing this.
4  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Tri-Ace bought out, to re-focus on mobile games. on: March 08, 2015, 06:00:31 AM
Its also important to note that the mobile market has been around a lot longer in Japan than in the US and other territories.

That's true, although the current market has little in common with what came before in terms of content, consumer habits, and monetization. Similar to western social gaming, the smart phone craze emerged from the PC browser scene that sprang up a few years ago, so basing a strategy around the older model tends to backfire. Some companies learned this the hard way when they tried selling static apps at fixed prices.

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Furthermore, much of the new up and coming talent are flocking towards becoming Indie developers on Kickstarter and Indiegogo which then gravitates towards PC platforms like Steam and maybe a digital release on consoles.

That's in the west. There are a few offbeat Japanese indies experimenting in this area because of western interest and localization support, but most are working in mobile. Steam has virtually no presence in the domestic Japanese market, which is rather unfortunate.

It's this gutting of the traditional industry, coupled with all the upstart developers who are only targeting the mobile market, that's a cause for concern.
5  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Tri-Ace bought out, to re-focus on mobile games. on: March 08, 2015, 12:48:27 AM
And again, I'd like to see who's going to adopt the mantle of making that style of JRPG.  My guess would be a smaller indie developer.  Kinda like how luthiers like Sadowsky, or Alleva-Coppolo are doing "Fender" basses better than Fender itself.  With that void to fill, I hope to see someone rise to the challenge and attempt doing Tri-Ace better than Tri-Ace. I'd love to see another game like Resonance of Fate.

There's no one to fill the void because the Japanese market is fizzling out. This isn't mere turnover but rather the dilemma of a younger generation having much less interest in what console/handheld makers offer (changing demographics via declining birth rates don't help, but that alone doesn't explain the paradigm shift). With RPGs even more niche outside Japan, I doubt we can turn the tide no matter how many games we buy.

Something is clearly wrong when companies like Idea Factory become notable topics when discussing new RPGs. This was the previous console generation, and prospects seem even bleaker now that the mobile game industry has come of age.

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The mobile phone gaming demographic is like your listening public who favors mainstream top-40 pop music.  That audience is fickle and just rides waves as they come.  They'll make an artist super rich and famous for a minute, but once they've moved on from that one hit wonder, that artist is forgotten.  Who remembers Call Me Maybe and Gangnam Style nowadays?  Nobody.  They're soooo five minutes ago.

That's true, but there are important differences between western and Japanese game consumption. In the west, there's a thick wall between the traditional and social game markets. By and large, the consumers are different, and both markets can generate huge revenue on their own. Most attempts to bridge the two haven't been successful.

In Japan though, mobile is the new mainstream, and the market includes kids who might have been Square, tri-Ace, or Tales Studio fans had they been born 15 to 20 years earlier (we tend to think of mobile gamers as dabblers, but the way that smart phones snatched away traditional territory means that the new RPG-lite games attract communities that spend hours obsessing over stats, upgrade strategies, lottery success rates, etc. You'd think they were disseminating SaGa battle mechanics or something). Currently, the development scene has everything the traditional industry doesn't: millions of paying teens and adults, obscene profit and investment, high salaries, veteran developers eager to hit the jackpot as indies, and a vibrant generation of young 20-something developers out to make a mark on the world (which never emerged in the traditional game industry thanks to everyone protecting aging hierarchies that lost the Midas touch ages ago. This is a death knell because to attract new fans in a market dependent on youth with enough leisure time, you need young creators in tune with what engages young people. The traditional industry developed the same way with two waves of young creators: the pioneers during the 80s and another influx during the 90s. It was downhill as soon as they settled into a stable status quo). It's probably safe to assume that any big indies to emerge will concentrate on mobile games instead of consoles/handhelds.

The ship has sailed, and there may be no turning back. To preserve this type of game, conversation needs to shift from protecting turf (or lamenting the evils of mobile platforms, which are actually quite suitable for adventures, RPGs, and turn-based strategy games) to how meatier, more meaningful stuff might be pitched to both ourselves and the mobile market at large. With young developers, hardcore fans, and truckloads of money being tossed around, there's definitely a silver lining.

And who knows, with luck and some crafty ideas, it might even be possible to revive the hardcore, perhaps leading them back to sophisticated hardware and software.
6  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Thread -- Making people crazy since 1987, kupo! on: March 27, 2013, 02:14:13 AM
What idiots. I think 3.4 million is amazing considering all the bad mojo the TR franchise has built up over the years. If someone had asked me, I would have guessed that it would sell just under a million the first week. What the hell were they expecting?

To put this into perspective, they're going along with western publishing expectations. Currently, 2 million qualifies as a mild hit, while 5 million qualifies as a big hit (10 million is the envy of any company). Shareholders/investors know this, so marquis AAA games are greenlit in light of those targets. Even if Square Enix wasn't aware of western expectations, the Eidos unit would certainly have communicated the current norms of this business.

In that regard, Deus Ex, Hitman, Sleeping Dogs, and Tomb Raider failed to meet expectations (similiarly, Max Payne 3 was a disappointment to Take 2 at only 3 million). Square Enix set out to challenge EA, UbiSoft, Activision, etc. by producing big hits, so those games missed the mark.

That said, failing to meet expectations says nothing about profitability or long-term brand viability. Square Enix acknowledged that Just Cause 2 and Sleeping Dogs are slow burners (plus they announced a desire to build on Deus Ex), so I don't think brand building is lost on them. I also suspect that they were quick to lower prices to increase player base. However, the reality is that things get greenlit with the 5 million goal.

Anyway, a mild hit tends to be seen as an IP builder - sell two million copies and establish a good brand reputation, then sell five million copies the next time around. This is probably why Take 2 spent so much on BioShock Infinite - they managed 2 million+ copies apiece for the previous games; now they want to seal the deal. Ditto for Crysis 3, which supposedly cost $60 million+ to develop.

Long story short, the AAA business is busted, which is why its future is in question. The MMORPG biz fell into the same trap. WoW came out, everyone pumped $100 million into their clone and expected a similar level of success.......it didn't happen, and the investors bailed.
7  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Siliconera to announce Squeenix "Exclusive" tomorrow on: April 30, 2012, 11:55:46 PM
Nanashi no Game was already confirmed that it wasn't going to come for some dumb reason. I think I read something about that 2 years ago in Siliconera or some other site.

Can't remember.

IIRC, NnG was shot down because of poor feedback from an American focus group.

Mind you, the feedback from Japanese players wasn't so hot either, so I have little doubt that the game would've been a controversial release.
8  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Siliconera to announce Squeenix "Exclusive" tomorrow on: April 30, 2012, 07:44:30 PM
Magical Left 4 Dead, combined with Night at the Museum, and with Cavia plot twists??  ...I think I'm interested?  But the screens look...kinda dumb.  Hoping for actual gameplay vid soon.

It's almost certainly a cancelled project.

The entire AQ Interactive group (despite looking good on paper given its high profile managers/development talent and strong financial backing) was notorious for poor quality output. There were a few exceptions, but most of their games were plain bad.
9  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Sting and Idea Factory performs the Fu-Sion-Ha dance and becomes Super Sting on: March 21, 2012, 06:17:17 PM
I'm not sure it's new topic worthy(and I bet asking at NeoGAF would get me banned, since they're staunchly anti-Famitsu scans), so I'll ask here: anyone know why Famitsu scans became downright contraband-caliber lately?

It's a bannable offense at NeoGAF, and no news sites post them anymore. How did a magazine get that much pull?

From what I understand, Famitsu asked NeoGAF administrators (and various news sites - in the past, places like IGN and GameFan would repost Famitsu screenshots) to respect their copyright and prevent scans from being shared.

This isn't a recent trend either. Famitsu and other publications have been cracking down on scans since at least 2003. Didn't stop blogs and message boards from sharing them, but I think people have gradually lost interest in the images.
10  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Blades of Time on: March 12, 2012, 03:43:11 PM
Wait, so Konami bought the IP? I know the first game was created by a Russian developer, but the article makes it sound like Konami actually developed this one themselves. Interesting. If kind of surprising, being that the first one was apparently horrible, and didn't seem to have anything particularly unique or innovative about it that would merit purchasing the rights to make a sequel.

The same Russian company handled development. Konami produced and published the game.

X-Blades was certainly a bad game (and was poorly ported to consoles to boot), but I recall being impressed with the developer's technical competence. Eastern European games are often reputed to be broken, with studios sometimes kicked off after several months of production. However, Gaijin delivered a smooth (albeit simple) 3D engine that ran well, responded well, and boasted a workable camera. It wasn't AAA quality, but the foundation was solid enough.

I suppose that someone at Konami thought that with some design oversight, they could squeeze out a new action game at low cost.
11  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Play.com outs 4 upcoming US Vita titles on: March 07, 2012, 03:23:14 PM
At the start of the XIII project (2003 or so), Kazushige Nojima came up with a basic mythology, which has been loosely applied to all the "Fabula Nova Crystallis" stories.

So yeah, Pulse, l'Cie, and crystals have been worked in.
12  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 on: February 28, 2012, 08:58:53 PM
Pre-teen sexualization isn't mainstream at all. I'd agree that sexualization is fairly common for older teens (16+), but the moe aesthetic, lolicon subculture, and "junior idols" serve a small niche. At times, it's controversial even within the country (provoking fights between manga authors on a couple occasions), even if most people turn a blind eye to it.

It just happens that the subculture spans a wide range of media (comics, games, anime, etc.), and this stuff is quite commonly imported by western distributors.
13  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 on: February 19, 2012, 02:35:45 PM
Last I checked Trinity Universe and Neptunia did 'average' in the reviews. The thing I've noticed about IF/CH is they started off pretty crappy but unlike most game companies have actually learned from their mistakes and improve bit by bit with each game. Only downside to that is they improve at such a slow rate it's taken them all the way to Neptunia to produce anything playable, IMO. XD

They've been in business since 1994. Two decades of crappiness. That's more than enough time to hone the craft of game-making, yet they continue to pitch snake oil.

I don't see much reason to believe that they're interested in anything beyond superficial, band-aid fixes. The thing about IF is that they jump from one dubious niche to the next. For much of their run, they targeted gamers who got off on the notion of being super hardcore.....in short, people who were dumb enough to buy broken, poorly designed/programmed games (but were intentionally esoteric and difficult to comprehend to appeal to appeal to one's ego) for the sake of bravado.

When that market dried up and players caught on, they turned to the moe/otaku audience. Lots of crossovers and fan service to keep customers coming in. Once again, it's the same story in terms of poor product quality and superficial improvement.

If history is any indication, they'll just switch niches and employ their usual MO when moe fans stop buying.
14  Media / Miscellaneous Games / Re: Next 10 years of Mega Man being discussed by "Top Men" at Capcom on: January 27, 2012, 12:47:16 PM
Not being a fan of Megaman, I found it hilarious. He's clearly poking fun at western fans, who've been badgering them about their handling of the franchise and character (MML3, MvC3, etc.).

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Other thing that really annoyed me at the time was they not localizing Miles Edgeworth 2. Even if I have never been a fan of that series very much I still thought it was a pretty shitty move from them, and I genuinely feel sorry for the fans at that moment.

While I love the Phoenix Wright trilogy, I thought the first Miles Edgeworth was exceptionally poor (an example of Capcom milking their IPs without the conditions in place for a great game). Nevertheless, I agree that the decision was very disappointing for those looking forward to a continuation.
15  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Kingdoms of Amalur on: January 18, 2012, 05:47:57 PM
I enjoyed the PC demo. Technically, it's in pretty good shape, although I certainly noticed:

- occasional performance stutters (not frequent enough to hurt the experience, but it sometimes happens)
- headless character at the start of the demo; later on, the head appeared, floated above the body for a couple seconds, and merged
- a strange bug in which my character kept walking downward as if the key were stuck. Triggering a cutscene solved the issue

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