Thoughts on the future of Lunar

For discussion of rumors of any new Lunar games, including the nonexistent Lunar 3
Lathaine
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Thoughts on the future of Lunar

Postby Lathaine » Tue Oct 11, 2011 3:27 am

I have been thinking lately about what Gung Ho is trying to do with the Lunar series. This is just some thoughts and observations I've been having about any future releases for the series.

First, Shigema seems to be on board for a Lunar 0 or Lunar 3 I have gathered from his blog posts and interviews. Which is great considering the travesty that was Lunar:DS which came out without his consultation. Game Arts seems to have had an interest in continuing the Lunar series back in the day considering in 2001 Victor Ireland leaked Lunar 3 preplanning was going on. Game Arts CEO was very angry at Vic for saying anything about Lunar 3's development since they wanted to be secretive about the project.

However, Gung Ho, who owns Game Arts now to my knowledge, has replaced almost all Game Art's executive staff and is likely in this for strictly profitability reasons, which is not saying Game Arts old executives were not in this for profit mostly too but they may have a serious investment in the Lunarverse by this point and may have nostalgia for the series something Gung Ho certainly doesn't have. I do remember the old CEO of Game Arts expressing quite a bit of nostalgia for the Lunar series in an interview back around 2000. One thing that tipped me off to new management at Game Arts other than Victor Ireland saying it was hard working with Game Arts now since his contacts are gone is the fact they worked with Shigema for Lunar:SSH. I mean the old execs at Game Arts countersued his company into bankruptcy I doubt there was any serious desire to work with each other again after that. Observe Lunar:DS's absence of his input. That said I have been thinking that Gung Ho in the wake of Lunar:DS, Lunar Legend, and now Lunar:SSH's abysmal Japanese sales may consider the series dead by now. None of the handheld Lunar's have been very profitable and they've faired very poorly compared to sales of SSSC and EBC. To make the IP profitable would likely take a huge risk of making a console version of Lunar 0 or Lunar 3, but I seriously doubt Gung Ho would take that risk for reasons I'll explain in a little.

With an IP you consider dead you can sit on it until a more opportune time to try it out again comes along but I doubt this will happen. Seriously Lunar:SSH, according to Shigema, has everything he wants in it. The music was also orchestrated and upgraded and the only thing they can do to that game to make it any better in the next few years is make it a console port with upgraded graphics and more modern gameplay but that is a very dangerous option considering the costs for artists and graphic designers for any of the newer, or I assume, future consoles. I mean art is one of the most costly things games have nowadays. Its this serious cost to produce console RPGs lately that makes me believe Lunar 0 or Lunar 3 are dead before they get out of the stall because it'd cost millions to make such a game with the hope people will buy it a hope that may not seem feasible after the last decade of poor performers. Not only that what happens if a remake or an entirely new game sells like Lunar:SSH in Japan? Gung Ho could sink millions in another remake or a new game and make very little off of it or not even break even. It is also against the grain of what I've been seeing with JRPGs lately and that's making them for handhelds to shave costs unless you're pretty sure you can do well with the game. There is the possibility of a remake for another handheld in say five years with better graphics and more modern gameplay though and they may do that but I have doubts this will happen. Its taking a long term risk on an IP that hasn't been very profitable in the last decade and none of the handheld Lunars have been great sellers. The heyday of the IP was back when it was on consoles and had a budget behind it.

Another thing you can do with an IP you think is worthless is shelve it forever but I really hope that doesn't happen. But Gung Ho may just try and get as much money out of the Lunar franchise as possible by doing the Lunar Touch game and PSN SSSC and EBC, which I heard may be in the works, and call it quits after that.

Lastly, something you can do with an IP you think is worthless is sell it and that's what I think Gung Ho may try to do. I've been wondering if any companies would be interested though and I have been wondering what Gung Ho could try to do to make the IP seem more appealing to be purchased outright.

We've been waiting for Lunar 3 since like 1995 and I am increasingly convinced it will never come out of the people who own the IP currently. Well that concludes my thoughts so what do you guys and gals think? Could Gung Ho sell Lunar's IP? Is Lunar a viable IP if it goes on sale? Who would buy it? Would Gung Ho take a real risk with a console game after a decade of lackluster performance? I have so many questions after thinking about things for a while now and time will give us answers but I wanted to see if you guys and gals had any thoughts or had heard of any rumors.

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Shin Otaku III
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Re: Thoughts on the future of Lunar

Postby Shin Otaku III » Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:16 pm

Lathaine,

First, welcome to the forums!

You have an awful lot of thoughts that I won't be able to address all at once. But let me begin by quoting myself from this thread.

If I could tell GameArts anything, it would be that I hope they realize that the Lunar franchise will make them money. It's a good investment that would be well worth their time. This being said, they should consider the potential profit of releasing another game! coughLunar3cough


Despite my quote above, anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the gaming market should be able to identify what factors contributed to Lunar Legend, Lunar DS, and SSH's poor over all sales. The main issue is that the only game that offered new characters, story, etc, also tried to be innovative with the battling system and other gaming mechanics (characters losing health while running). Anyone in marketing knows that innovation brings a risk factor. They took their risk with Lunar DS, and it bit them in the ass. As far as Lunar Legend and SSH goes, they were remakes that brought nothing truly new to the table. It was simply a 4-5th rehash of the same game that people have loved for years. That love of the classic game is what most likely drove the majority of the sales.

What I'm sayin is, that I would hope whoever they have in charge of marketing would have enough common sense to identify why the last few games haven't had great sales. It obviously isn't a problem with the IP. Hell, the IP drove the sales of how many remakes now? (plus another that just came out for the iOS!)

What would benefit the IP the most at this point is 1.) new material and 2.) less risky innovation. I would recommend that they follow the brilliant model that nintendo is doing for the release of Skyward Sword. To get people pumped, they have been releasing some of the older Zelda games on Nintendo's eShop and the Wii Market. Currently they put out Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask on the Wii Market, and Links Awakening DX for the DSIWare and 3DS eShop. They even ported the old GBA version of Four Swords and made it free to download just this last month! When you inject all of those things into the market, it gets people talking about zelda again. It gets people like me who haven't done much since I was sorely disappointed by Twilight Princess years ago, to come back to the franchise and start re-living some of those old games. And now that I have, I'm excited about Skyward Sword coming out next month. Could you imagine what would happen for the Lunar franchise if Gung ho or someone else followed this marketing technique?? They could announce a completely new Lunar 3 for the PS3, and just months before the game releases they could post SSC and EBC on the PSN at a cheap price. This means people who used to love those games can get a chance to re-live those experiences and get excited about some Lunar 3!!

Anywhos, that's all for now, I've got to get back to work!

Thanks for coming on here and getting some talk about Lunar started again!! :D

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Shiva Indis
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Re: Thoughts on the future of Lunar

Postby Shiva Indis » Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:25 pm

Welcome! Thank you for some good food for thought. :mrgreen:

Lathaine wrote:Game Arts CEO was very angry at Vic for saying anything about Lunar 3's development since they wanted to be secretive about the project.

Really? Never heard that before.

Lathaine wrote:One thing that tipped me off to new management at Game Arts other than Victor Ireland saying it was hard working with Game Arts now since his contacts are gone is the fact they worked with Shigema for Lunar:SSH. I mean the old execs at Game Arts countersued his company into bankruptcy I doubt there was any serious desire to work with each other again after that.

Please allow me to clarify - Studio Alex was the company that bankrupted. It was Kazunari Tomi's company and he himself only worked on TSS. Shigema may have been on Studio Alex's payroll in the early days, but he's always seemed willing to work with Game Arts. Certainly Game Arts changed a lot in the past decade but I don't see much to suggest that their stance toward the Lunar series has changed. In fact, I think it's stagnated.

Lathaine wrote:It is also against the grain of what I've been seeing with JRPGs lately

This, I think, is a major consideration. On the topic of the cost of production, I'd like to point out that development of the series has been heavily farmed out all along. And, for the past 15 years or so, likely done on the cheap. Game Arts hasn't solely developed a single Lunar game.

Lathaine wrote:Could Gung Ho sell Lunar's IP? Is Lunar a viable IP if it goes on sale?
There's been a bit of discussion about this around here, and I, for one, am pretty favorable to the idea. No idea who'd be likely to buy AND do it justice though. I'd want it to be a Japanese company. Without concern for actual likelihood...Level 5 would be pretty rad, eh? OMG, what if Gainax bought it?? (Ol' Kazunari Tomi works there last I checked.) XP
「まあいいけど。」

Lathaine
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Re: Thoughts on the future of Lunar

Postby Lathaine » Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:04 am

Lathaine wrote:
Game Arts CEO was very angry at Vic for saying anything about Lunar 3's development since they wanted to be secretive about the project.

Shiva Indis wrote:
Really? Never heard that before.


Yeah Vic shared it a while back on Neogaf. The leak about Lunar 3 after EBC came out was not supposed to happen. Vic thought what was best for fans was to tease them with new info while Game Art's CEO disagreed.

Shiva Indis wrote:
Please allow me to clarify - Studio Alex was the company that bankrupted. It was Kazunari Tomi's company and he himself only worked on TSS. Shigema may have been on Studio Alex's payroll in the early days, but he's always seemed willing to work with Game Arts. Certainly Game Arts changed a lot in the past decade but I don't see much to suggest that their stance toward the Lunar series has changed. In fact, I think it's stagnated.


Thank you for correcting me. I forgot Kazunari Tomi founded the company even though it says so on wikipedia and I've known that for a while. You're probably right about Shigema having little bad blood especially since he's gone on to found a very successful consulting company of his own for games and anime. However, I still think something may have been not quite right around 2004 considering he wasn't tapped for Lunar:DS.

And yeah Lunar has stagnated under Game Arts I have to agree. They still show occasional interest but its not enough to actually take the series anywhere interesting. They seem content to milk the IP for whatever profit they can by making or allowing a bunch of ports, a mostly slight remake apart from in game graphics, and a new handheld game. None of which seems to indicate they're going to do what the series really needs: to go back to consoles with a new game and have a serious budget again. To wow fans all over again and bring in new people with another gem of a title. Hell if Lunar 0 and Lunar 3 happened there would probably be demand to port SSSC and EBC to a console with better graphics and gameplay making more money for the company that made those games. Its a vicious cycle of win Game Arts doesn't seem to have figured out.

Shiva Indis wrote:
This, I think, is a major consideration. On the topic of the cost of production, I'd like to point out that development of the series has been heavily farmed out all along. And, for the past 15 years or so, likely done on the cheap. Game Arts hasn't solely developed a single Lunar game.


Yeah you're absolutely right. I remember the intro to SSSC and how it references Kadokawa Shoten, who at least did the cut scenes, and ESP/JAM along with Game Arts. Not to mention Shigema was brought in as a consultant and Iwadare was brought in for music. What really seems to make the Lunar games unique at least to me are its cut scenes, voice acting, music, characters, and plot. None of which are really done by Game Arts in house oddly enough. Yeah this makes me even more convinced the people with the IP currently will not do a great job with a new game. It probably won't be Lunar:DS bad but it probably won't feel like Lunar. It took a bunch of people brought in and companies working together to make the console games. We'd need Shigema, Iwadare, and Kubooka in on the project and then you'd need a great graphics company to do cut scenes with a quality localization, including decent voice actors, to recapture what was. Not to mention I have no idea what a PS4's 2d graphics would look like. Hell they might be as high quality as the previous cut scenes when zoomed in, in which case it could cost a fortune to do a Lunar console game again which raises the stakes.

Shiva Indis wrote:
There's been a bit of discussion about this around here, and I, for one, am pretty favorable to the idea. No idea who'd be likely to buy AND do it justice though. I'd want it to be a Japanese company. Without concern for actual likelihood...Level 5 would be pretty rad, eh? OMG, what if Gainax bought it?? (Ol' Kazunari Tomi works there last I checked.) XP


Interesting I had heard about the desire for Level 5 to acquire the series from other fans. Gainax is a desire I hadn't heard before but it makes sense. Now the real question is is this just fan wish listing or is Level 5 really interested? That's probably something only Gung Ho knows though. However, your thoughts have gotten me considering that for Game Arts and Gung Ho after they've milked the IP some more with the touch game and probably PSN releases they'll likely not do anything with the IP so it could seriously be sold to someone else who wants to do the series justice. My problem with the Level 5 thing is that it seems like fantasy, not to burst our fantasy bubbles being Lunar fanatics. But seriously I have a hard time believing any company will take a big risk with a series that has been on life support for a decade. It would take several ballsy people with connections to give that idea hope of happening. But I could always raise this idea with Vic on Neogaf and see what happens, could be fun 8-) . I mean he does have connections and is heavily invested in the series. Anything's better than nothing and I don't read Japanese so sending emails to Gung Ho or Game Arts is out of the question...except maybe Game Art's US branch which may yield some fruit if they send my inquiry over to Japan. I just have a terrible feeling the series is officially dead after some more ports or we'll get another unsuccessful handheld game and that will be the true death knell this side of eternity...then again maybe people at this site with better connections than me and who are fluent in Japanese can put together some emails and see if there are any plans for an EBC remake, a new title for a console, or possibly even selling the series.

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Alunissage
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Re: Thoughts on the future of Lunar

Postby Alunissage » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:04 pm

However, I still think something may have been not quite right around 2004 considering [Shigema] wasn't tapped for Lunar:DS.

There's probably rather more to the story than that. I don't remember if we ever got it 100% confirmed, but Shigema very likely did the first draft of the scenario for Genesis, and then had no further involvement. I would expect that to have been by his own choice.

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GhaleonOne
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Re: Thoughts on the future of Lunar

Postby GhaleonOne » Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:15 am

You know, I wonder what exactly the legalities of things are in regards to what Kiz and I saw in early scenario documents stated. Our NDAs are long expired with UbiSoft and GameArts, so I'm not sure there's any reason I couldn't mention stuff in the early scenario documents. Still I worry about ticking off GameArts. But there was stuff in the early Genesis documents that would have made the game so much better. When I originally saw the documents for characters and story, I was really thrilled. The final product was obviously a disappointment, but it had a lot of promise. That's another reason why Shigema was probably involved in the beginning. I've always wondered if it would be worth it to ask GameArts if we could do a larger section for that game someday that spelled out a lot of the early scenario documents and the like. There was some very interesting stuff in there that fit Lunar lore very well.
-G1

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Kizyr
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Re: Thoughts on the future of Lunar

Postby Kizyr » Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:12 pm

Alunissage wrote:
However, I still think something may have been not quite right around 2004 considering [Shigema] wasn't tapped for Lunar:DS.

There's probably rather more to the story than that. I don't remember if we ever got it 100% confirmed, but Shigema very likely did the first draft of the scenario for Genesis, and then had no further involvement. I would expect that to have been by his own choice.

Never got it confirmed, I'm afraid. There was zero attribution to anyone on the scenario documents or even the storyboard in the final game (Shigema or even some relatively unknown guy). My own initial suspicion was because the documents matched his writing style and built on a lot of things that he set up in previous works (other storyboard docs, novels, etc.) -- but as it got "developed" (using that term very loosely) it seemed less like his work. KF

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Arlia
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Re: Thoughts on the future of Lunar

Postby Arlia » Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:02 am

It's kind of odd that other very similar RPG games got several more sequels. Grandia comes to mind. Weren't they a Gamearts title?
But anyway, I kind of like that there's only two Lunar games. It's like they can't really sully it with new games that make no sense. They can make crappy, sullying re-makes, but they won't be able to really mess-up and embarrass the franchise.

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Re: Thoughts on the future of Lunar

Postby Kizyr » Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:41 am

Arlia wrote:It's kind of odd that other very similar RPG games got several more sequels. Grandia comes to mind. Weren't they a Gamearts title?
But anyway, I kind of like that there's only two Lunar games. It's like they can't really sully it with new games that make no sense. They can make crappy, sullying re-makes, but they won't be able to really mess-up and embarrass the franchise.

Magical School Lunar was a great installment! Don't forget that one! So that makes it three, rather than two, general stories (so, grouping SSS/TSS together). I'm ok forgetting DS like a fourth Indiana Jones movie though. KF

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Re: Thoughts on the future of Lunar

Postby Alunissage » Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:15 am

Dunno that I'm willing to throw out DS entirely. Its execution was horrible, but it had some interesting ideas about how things developed between the exodus to the Silver Star and the time of Lunar 1, e.g., the rather primitive use of magic. Which reminds me that I really need to actually finish it in English...


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