Old Grandma Hardcore

This blog is the chronicle of my experiences with Grandma, the video-game playing queen of her age-bracket and weight class. She will beat any PS2, XBox, GameCube, etc., console game put in front of her, just like she always has. These are her stories. She is absolutely real. She lives in Cleveland.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Farewell, Working Designs; Grandma Loved You

Our long time readers will remember the time when Grandma craved a new RPG to destroy, and Victor Ireland of Working Designs came to her aid. She played Growlanser Generations with a vengeance; by GOD did she play; and she played well. It was of no surprise to me, who had seen her elegantly pounce her way through Alundra and the LUNAR series years ago. It's very safe to say she's been a fan long before Vic contacted us.

Now, that company is no more. Vic posted a notice on the message boards at WD that the beloved company is shutting its doors.

Thankfully, there's more to it than that.

First, know that all this went down a little while ago in mid December. Grandma and I really didn't know what to say. We received your panicked e-mails, we saw the post over at The Escapist Lounge, but we couldn't reply with much more than "oh GOD; How could this shit happen!?!" When Grandma read Vic's message, she was heartbroken and confused. It was one thing when Grandma watched SNK die, the only connection she had was the games; besides- they got a second start, in a way. But Working Designs was different. When Vic sent Grandma Growlanser Generations he wasn't looking for press, he was proud of the WORK. He even sent Grandma e-mails about the best online strategy guide to use in case she got stuck; unpublished tricks and strategies that might help her on her journeys.

Grandma considers Vic a friend. So, when Working Designs fell, Grandma went looking for blood. Let's just say she took things personally. One does not fuck with Grandma's favorite gaming companies.

It didn't make sense to us. Growlanser was fantastic, excellent reviews all around; they had a new project opening up with Goeman- so what went wrong? Let me show you Vic's message to WD fans:

First of all, sorry for being incommunicado for such a long time. It's been a busy time, as you'll see.

There's no easy way to say it, so I just will. Working Designs is gone. All the staff has been laid off and the office is closed and has been for some time. Yes, the website is still here, and I am going to do my best to keep it tucked away somewhere on the 'net so it doesn't become an illicit domain. (Of course, some of the haters may be of the mind that it's been illicit all along, heh!).

The most frustrating part of all of this is that I know that our fanbase is still there. Growlanser Generations sold well, but of course not better than it would have sold as two separate titles. We just spent too much time fighting the good fight to even get it out, and other games approved.

Though almost finished and substantially improved from the Japanese release, Goemon is dead for the US, and that was really the final straw. If I can't guarantee that the games I personally choose for us to release in the US can actually get approved and come out, there's no business to be done. There is a possibility that it may be released in Europe (as well as Growlanser Generations), but nothing is finalized yet.

I know many of you will have lots of questions, and there will be some I can answer, and some I can't. 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.

I want to thank each and every one of you personally for being a fan, buying the games we released, and telling your friends. You HAVE made a difference, because you bought the crazy things we did. Thanks to YOU, there are deluxe packs, pack-in soundtracks, better packaging, great hint guides, and better localizations in general. We said it a lot, but it really was true. We were nothing without you.

For the future, there are still great opportunities. I have been in touch with a number of other publishers and manufacturers and I will be working with some of the WD staff to do games for other publishers for the time being, but not as Working Designs. One thing that holds a ton of promise is XBOX 360 RPGs, and I've contacted Microsoft about getting what's underway in Japan out in the US and helping to get more done worldwide. We'll see what happens on that front, but please let them know that YOU WANT MORE JRPGs here. There's some amazing stuff coming for the '360 in Japan, and I know I want it - I think you will, too.

Thanks for everything. It's a tough road ahead for games that aren't of the least-common-denominator variety. The choices you make with your hardware dollars are more important than ever for the generation that is upon us.

With that, I bid all of us...

...Good night, and Good Luck.

So there it is. Did you catch it? There were three things in that message Vic wanted known but could not explicitly say. "Growlanser Generations sold well, but of course not better than it would have sold as two separate titles. We just spent too much time fighting the good fight to even get it out, and other games approved." Thus, Working Designs was FORCED to sell Growlanser II & III together as Growlanser Generations. It was the only way it could have been released. How could they possibly make money if they were not able to sell the games as they wished? It appears that WD did not drive itself off the bridge, as it were; it was a frantic passenger in the back seat of a limo; the glass divider blocking their pleas to slow down as the driver sped into a canyon.

Second item: "Sony has made it clear that they do not want the details of their dealings with any publisher made public." There. If you don't get it yet, the third and final item seals it: "Good night, and Good Luck."

That phrase made my skin go cold. Imagine: you are the director of a gaming company with a deeply loyal fan base. You see your work praised, the numbers look good, but somehow end up in the red on paper-

...and you know why.

You know, and it wasn't because of the incompetency of your accountants or the quality of your staff- it is the most frustrating thing to see everything fall around you; being blameless does not add comfort to the inhuman language spoken by advertising boards. "Marketing phases, demographics, page-ads; not flashy enough; too hardcore; not accessible; too old school; Generation Y doesn't understand; Generation X have become law students and retail managers; demos, magazine interviews, promotion, promotion, people don't want imports, promotion, cover art, promotion, we'll get back to you."

It doesn't long before you just stop listening; these people are not gamers; these people are vultures; your art will fill their wallets far more than it will ever fill yours, and they know it.

You see the end coming; but you have to post a final note to the fans. All the things that need to be said are so difficult to type when done delicately; holding your tongue; watching your words. Imagine how that feels, your phrasing almost like smiling through rage, with just a hint of exhaustion and defeat.

If you had been a fly on the wall of our game room last night you would have seen Grandma playing the demo for Final Fantasy XII trying to get used to the MMO style battles. As she played her most anticipated demo of the year, she only had one thing on her mind, and she made it very clear to me what that was:

"Vic NEEDS to go to Microsoft for help; the 360 is a system that is going to need WD style games to keep a lot of fans who don't feel a high-res ultra-mega version of '50 Cent's Bulletproof' is this shit. Just think- a 360 version of Growlanser! It could be 500hrs long with 75 playable characters, 10000 different types of rings and armor, 22 different endings, and a nudity cheat. If not, at least it would get MADE, and they HAVE to know there are a TON of us that just eat that shit up."

It seems Vic is doing just that (minus the nudity cheat) as he goes into the ether looking for prospects to bring those beautiful games to the US.

Something tells me this is far from over.

Something tells me we are going to see a lot more from Vic Ireland and the former staff of WD.

And so OUR final message is addressed to those who may make the decisions to accept or deny Vic's request for help, and indeed, to Vic himself:

You plan the wars you masters of men plan the wars and point the way and we will point the gun.

Game on.

[More to come: AP spreads Grandma all over the globe; Grandma and Dragon Quest VIII; Grandma and Call of Duty 2: Big Red One; Hate Mail Grab Bag; T-Shirts; etc.,...]


  • At 12:43 PM, Blogger Jakanden said…

    I was sad to see WD go as they were quite possibly my favorite publisher ever.

    My favorite RPG to this day is the original Sega CD version of Lunar and I was hooked on WD from then on.

  • At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    does grandma need to get laid? need some loving? If so I can help.

  • At 2:48 PM, Blogger CtrlAltDelete said…

    jakanden- It's incredibly sad, man; I think Vic has QUITE a lot of games yet in his pocket he'd love to get started with, so I hope we see his name on the game credits list again.

    anon- Grandma would consider it if your name ever appeared on a Fortune 500 list or your title is either Prince, Sahib, Lord, Baron, or Shiek.

  • At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ...I got Fatal Frame II Director's Cut for the XBox for Christmas, (Because of reading this blog, and Psychonauts and God of War for the same reason), and I cannot figure out how to save. Could somebody help me out here?


  • At 5:57 PM, Blogger CtrlAltDelete said…


    There should be some standing paper lanterns in corners throughout the game that glow blue; if you stand next to them and press the action button (probably "A" on an XBox controller, she had the PS2 version) then it should prompt you to save your game and albums.

  • At 6:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey there!

    Just letting you know that your grandma has made it into the Sydney Morning Herald, an Australian newspaper.


  • At 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    just another random aussie checking out grandma hardcore - sydney loves 'ya baby!

    game on!

  • At 10:13 PM, Blogger mw said…

    well, sony is going to get an ass beating. I say we protest...

  • At 4:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hello, Timothy

    My name is Alex Anishyuk and I am a journalist with Moskovski Komsomolets, Russia's largest daily newspaper. We would really like to interview Ms 'Old Granma Hardcore', as the whole story is now widely discussed in the national media. Could you, please, provide us with contacts for Ms Barbara St. Hilaire for us to get in touch with her for a short phone conversation.

    All the best,

    Alex Anishyuk, editor
    Moskovski Komsomolets daily, international department

    tel/fax: +7-095-781-47-20
    email: anishyuk@mk.ru

  • At 4:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm from Singapore, a small country in South-East Asia. Grandma name just gotten bigger here, she's been featured in one of our newspaper today! Tim can you provide me with your current address, so that I can send the paper to you as a keepsake on how great grandma is. :D


  • At 5:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If im not wrong, u need to press action on the glowing blue lamp in FF2

  • At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "pete said...
    just another random aussie checking out grandma hardcore"

    "Anonymous said...
    Just letting you know that your grandma has made it into the Sydney Morning Herald, an Australian newspaper."

    What they said.

  • At 5:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    RIP Working Designs. I'm going to miss you guys.

  • At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The loss of Working Designs broke my heart. I hope Vic manages to pull it together and get someone to work with him.

  • At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dagnabbit, Microsoft just has to see that this is their golden opportunity! They have this beautiful relationship with Mistwalker and a few other very promising Japanese startups, one that they know is core to trying to resurrect Xbox 360 sales in Japan, but they have to realize that they're letting so much potential (for sales if not for joy) go fallow if they don't import and translate them. The best-selling system on American shores in the last decade and a half has always been the one with the most JRPGs.... Maybe I'm just floundering for a way to save my most beloved publishing company in the world, (or at least their staff and legacy) but given some of the unique, exciting JRPGs already being slated to be 360-exclusive in Japan, the match truly does seem like one made in heaven. Never thought I'd WANT anyone to be bought into becoming a Microsoft subsidiary, but...

    Can anyone here look at Cry On and NOT say "Oh yeah, WD would eat that up?"

    And if MS can't see that, then we've got to make them see it! E-mails, messageboards, petitions... and dollars - don't forget the hard cash! (No, not bribes... Those work too, but I meant more like backlashing against Sony by cutting support for them after this atrocity.) This war is not over yet.

  • At 11:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I already sent a letter to Sony and CC'd J Allard at MS. I'm pretty sure it'll get fed into the shredder, but I had to try.

  • At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sony, you are so full of filthy, steaming CRAP. Read the last 3 exchanges between Gama and Mr. Jack Niida, starting with this:
    Gamasutra: Have you had any trouble getting SCEA to approve 2D games?
    Niida: Sony's been very helpful, actually. We've been able to bring over all the titles that we submitted, and they seem to like the titles we brought over.
    Gee, so why'd Bony have to be so hard on Vic?

  • At 3:13 AM, Anonymous Buy Cheap Runescape Gold said…

  • At 2:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    jakanden- ItCheap Guild Wars 2 Gold truly is incredibly miserable, person; I do think Vic has Lots of online games still in their pocket he would wish to begin with, therefore i hope we see their nameRS Gold around the sport loans record all over again.


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