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September 22, 2014, 04:12:41 AM
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googoogjoob
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« on: March 24, 2010, 07:04:24 PM »

TAKING THE INITIATIVE FROM THE END OF THAT OTHER THREAD IN WHICH I HAVE PARTICIPATED EXTENSIVELY

So guys. Let's talk about Nicalis, and how it's shady and uncommunicative and apparently sloppy and possibly unethical.

Here's a year-old summary of my collected research into and speculation concerning Nicalis. The salient part:

"Nicalis was incorporated in Santa Ana, California, on November 29th, 2007. It is comprised of Tyrone Rodriguez, a former video games journalist, and an unspecified number of programmers (whose names haven't been specified). (However, Rodriguez has elsewhere claimed that he has worked for Nicalis from August 2007, and the Nicalis website domain is known to have been registered on November 26th, 2007.)

In late February 2008, Nicalis approached Nifflas and Chris Schlarb, and asked if they would be interested in a potential WiiWare version of Night Game. Nifflas, seeing a golden opportunity to reach a wider audience (and get one step closer to living off his games), signed a contract with Nicalis. This contract specified, among other things, that Nicalis would own all rights to Night Game, and that Nifflas would have to be authorized to release information concerning the status of Night Game. Nifflas, who as far as I know had never signed this sort of contract before, went along with it, probably thinking it was a justifiable tradeoff between the rights to the game and the exposure of the WiiWare version.

In early March 2008, Nicalis posted a call for a WiiWare (and, so the post said, possibly other consoles) game called Skymning. The post specified Nifflas and Chris Schlarb as working on the game. Suspicions were raised.

Probably sometime around these happenings, the deal between Nicalis and Pixel was finalized, concerning the WiiWare port of Cave Story. Pixel, who also had probably never signed this sort of contract, went along with it. It is not currently possible to know how much of the rights to Cave Story he gave to Nicalis.

However, soon after this, circa May 2008, the first few videos in DeceasedCrab's series of LPs of Cave Story were taken down by YouTube, at Nicalis's request. This suggests Nicalis has at least some rights to the PC version of Cave Story. DeceasedCrab himself was not allowed to give information on the situation.

Also around this time, Night Game was expanded to comprise 100 levels spread over 10 worlds. Screenshots and information concerning Night Game were steadily leaked through the rest of 2008. In late 2008, it was finally admitted by Nifflas that Skymning was merely a code name for the WiiWare version of Night Game.

Throughout this time, everyone had known that Night Game was to be for PC, and Skymning- whatever it was- was to be for Wii. Now it was known that Night Game was to be released on PC and Wii, both probably commercially. It also became known that Nicalis was to publish both versions, rather than just the Wii version as had previously been implied.

In January 2009, it was announced that Night Game was a finalist for the top award at the Independent Games Festival. The IGF website still listed Night Game as being WiiWare/Windows PC.

On February 26th, it was announced that Night Game was to be WiiWare-only. No hints of this decision had been made before by anyone, and an IGN article from as recently as February 4th still explicitly said Night Game was to be Wii/PC.

This decision- to have Night Game be Wii-exclusive- was not Nifflas's, since he did not and does not own Night Game.

No reason was given for the decision. There have been suggestions that it could have been made at Nintendo's insistence. If so, Nintendo waited a year to make a demand like this, and Nintendo had no problem with World of Goo being sold on both Wii and PC (and Mac and Linux). It is apparent that the decision was made internally at Nicalis.

Nifflas has apologized for the lack of a PC version, and explicitly stated that it wasn't his choice, although he was in on the conversations about the decision. Since he doesn't own Night Game, he has no control over its distribution. He is also forbidden to publicly give the reason for the decision."

Beyond the fact that Nicalis has bought all the rights to both Night Game and Cave Story (and maybe La-Mulana), and that Nicalis forced down a few Cave Story Let's Plays and denied the use of Quote in the noncommercial Indie Brawl project and cut off the homebrew Nintendo DS port of Cave Story, and that Night Game's PC version was suddenly and arbitrarily cut off, that Tyrone Rodriguez has never answered why this is so, and that Nifflas isn't allowed to talk about it; we now have, to discuss, the fact that Cave Story is apparently unfinished and buggy, despite having its release date pushed back a year and a half, and despite having the claimed oversight of the original game's creator.

So anyway I feel that Nicalis hasn't done anything illegal, but I feel that it has (apparently!) consistently acted unethically; and that its refusal to communicate with anyone other than press outlets (who don't ask tough questions) has only made it so that the ethics of its actions are further obscured.

Nicalis looks an awful lot like it's run solely for profit, without consideration for the quality or consistency of its products, or for the long-term welfare of its partners (eg Pixel, Nifflas- buying out their rights to their games means that will have no real control in the future of what happens to them). It is run like a big games company like Nintendo, only without the knowledge and experience Nintendo has accrued over the years.

This topic isn't supposed to be just about Cave Story or just about Night Game or just about La-Mulana; it's supposed to be about Nicalis's overall business practices and attitude.
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PaleFox
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2010, 07:11:28 PM »

It seems like people are making comparisons to companies like Nintendo.

Nintendo has a long history of restricting their products to one console -- their own. However, they've no problem with games being on the Wii and on other consoles, or even the PC, as we've seen this generation. It is true that Microsoft has been known to force XBLA games to remain only on XBLA for a certain period, but I do not think that is the case here. Instead, it seems like mismanagement on the part of Nicalis itself.
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drChengele
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2010, 07:22:17 PM »

If this was just any two games it wouldn't be such a tragedy.

However, Cave story is a paragon of indie gaming and I am willing to say the same about Night game without having even seen it on the sole basis of my trust in Nifflas' genius. Even if it is "only" mismanagement, it is mismanagement that might well have huge negative aftereffects on the entire indie industry.

The sequence of my feelings on the matter can be summed up thusly:
 Who, Me? Huh? Concerned  Facepalm Cry Lips Sealed
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2010, 07:26:17 PM »

I think the main issue is that Nicalis is acting like a mainstream publisher, but in the world of indie games. Its actions wouldn't be unusual coming from EA or Activision, but we expect better than that.

Every indie developer we've asked permission from for Indie Brawl has said yes. Out of over forty individuals, not a single one refused permission. Nicalis, however, refused us permission to use material from Cave Story and La Mulana. This would be a typical reaction coming from a major game company, but was completely unexpected coming from what is supposedly an indie game company.

I don't think Tyrone's a bad guy. But he comes from a completely different world.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2010, 08:09:41 PM by Soulliard » Logged

JackieJay
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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2010, 07:29:24 PM »

Well the reason why night game is wii only seems rather obvious to me.
if they released the pc and wii versions at the same time that would hurt the sales of both badly because of the pc's main problem: massive piracy. I mean, if you can have night game for free, why pay for it ? (of course that doesn't apply to everyone, but you get the point) That goes for both the wii and pcs version, if you have it for free on your pc, there aren't many reasons to pay for it just to play it on the wii.

If they said the wii version would come first and then they'd release the pc version I'd bet a lot of people wouldn't mind waiting for a few months just to avoid paying for it. Saying it's a wii exclusive actually force people to buy it because as far as I know you can't pirate wiiware games.

Other than that I don't see any reasons to hate or even dislike Nicalis. They don't answer emails or aren't very responsive on their forums? big deal.

I wish those were all the problems in the world.

On the other hand, like you said, Nicalis funded the game nifflas was creating, and that's good for nifflas, for everyone who buys the game because the game is getting actually much bigger than it was before Nicalis came in the picture. Now is this going to be good for Nicalis ? We don't know, if the game flops they might not be able to recover their investment.

Also, of course Nifflas would want to see his game on the PC. The more people can play your game the better. That's why we make games, so people can play them, right ? Now ask him if he'd rather release a PC or a wii exclusive. If it was for me, I'd rather have my game on a console, specially for the best selling one. Once again, Nicalis aren't keeping Nifflas under a tight leash, chances are they are actually making his dream come true. Who havent dreamt of developing for a console ?

Well in all honesty, I don't really understand why you spent so much of your time on that investigation. I mean come on, even if they were a bunch of greedy assholes, who cares ?
 
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Gimym JIMBERT
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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2010, 07:30:31 PM »

well valve is basically indie  Well, hello there!
I guess now there will be less look down on sonic fanboy outrage? What no?  Huh?
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2010, 07:33:24 PM »

I'm willing to wait until Night Game and La Mulana are actually released to make any judgments.

Cave Story was hardly botched, either- localization and sound seem to be the primary issues, and the game has been out for a grand total of... less than a week. Considering that the game is on one of the big three consoles, I doubt a patch will be hitting instantly.
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drChengele
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2010, 07:34:04 PM »

I mean come on, even if they were a bunch of greedy assholes, who cares ?
THEY. HOLD. EXCLUSIVE. RIGHTS. TO. CAVE STORY. AND. NIGHT GAME.

If they are a bunch of greedy assholes, I care. Very much so.
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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2010, 07:35:50 PM »

Nicalis is the tiger. Tigsource is the antelopes. Noir
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William Laub
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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2010, 07:36:07 PM »

I mean, if you can have night game for free, why pay for it ?
Respect for the creator?

You can't buy the game at all if you don't have a Wii, which as I understand it is a common case amongst Nifflas's fans.
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Valter
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« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2010, 07:38:05 PM »

Respect for the creator?

You can't buy the game at all if you don't have a Wii, which as I understand it is a common case amongst Nifflas's fans.
I like to think that Night Game won't be purchased solely by long-running fans.
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JackieJay
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« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2010, 07:51:08 PM »



Respect for the creator?

Quote
I mean, if you can have night game for free, why pay for it ? (of course that doesn't apply to everyone, but you get the point)

Do you seriously think everyone thinks like that ?

Quote
You can't buy the game at all if you don't have a Wii, which as I understand it is a common case amongst Nifflas's fans.

So? If Nicalis invested a good sum of money on this project I'm pretty sure they aren't relying on Nifflas's fans to recover that investment. Also did you read what I wrote about PC piracy ? If a quarter of those fans actually bought the game, now that would be truly impressive.



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JackieJay
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« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2010, 07:55:06 PM »

I mean come on, even if they were a bunch of greedy assholes, who cares ?
THEY. HOLD. EXCLUSIVE. RIGHTS. TO. CAVE STORY. AND. NIGHT GAME.

If they are a bunch of greedy assholes, I care. Very much so.

As long as they are greedy assholes who can put out good games I don't care. It's not like they are destroying those games, if anything they are actually making them available for a different audience, which is definitely a good thing.
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TheDustin
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« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2010, 07:58:33 PM »

your indie license is revoked.

I would want Deceased Crab, Tyrone, and Pixel's say in all this before I make any judgement.
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googoogjoob
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« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2010, 08:05:12 PM »

your indie license is revoked.

I would want Deceased Crab, Tyrone, and Pixel's say in all this before I make any judgement.

DeceasedCrab maybe, but Tyrone is typically uncommunicative and Pixel is like impossible to reach.
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TheDustin
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« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2010, 08:10:07 PM »

I know Pixel is very reclusive, but with all the stink that arose from Cave Story Wii you would think Tyrone would defend his actions, and possibly explain why he denied usage of Quote in a fan game (Indie Brawl). That's a dick move of Crono Resurection magnitude.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை
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« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2010, 08:12:41 PM »

I mean come on, even if they were a bunch of greedy assholes, who cares ?
THEY. HOLD. EXCLUSIVE. RIGHTS. TO. CAVE STORY. AND. NIGHT GAME.

If they are a bunch of greedy assholes, I care. Very much so.

also la mulana, remember. la mulana is (after cave story) probably the game that most defines the tigsource / indiegames.com/blog branch of the indie games community. although perhaps that's been eclipsed by spelunky over the last year.
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« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2010, 08:14:23 PM »

But at least EVERYTHING about La Mulana wii so far looks AAAWEEESOOOOMMMEEE. Its my favorite game ever so I hope itll be every bit as awesome as it sounds right now. Some people don't like some of the changes, but I love all of them. I hope they'll make the game more accessible, it kills me that most people never even enter the temple in the PC version and give up after 10 minutes of roaming the surface aimlessly.
Though well, La Mulana is different I guess. Its actually being made by the original authors as I understand it, and not by a bunch of people hired by Nicalis. Hopefully NIGORO, having more experience, did not sign their whole rights away like Pixel *possibly* did.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை
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« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2010, 08:16:54 PM »

i also am not sure how bad the cave story port was since i haven't played it (although i do think the new music is awful). maybe night game and la mulana will be exceptional. but even if they are the best wiiware games ever, that doesn't absolve nicalis's problems / practices (or what we know of them, as reported on by the walrus).
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C.A. Silbereisen
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« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2010, 02:28:31 AM »

Wait, does this whole rights business mean the free version of Cave Story could become "illegalized"?

As far as I'm aware La-Mulana Wii is being almost entirely developed by the original creators with very little input from Nicalis(?).

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