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.