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Giana Sisters, the future of the industry and PandeIII

The state of the Industry

It's 2012 and the role of the tyrannical, capitalist, publisher in the video-game industry could well be coming to an end. At last, developers can create games for the gamer - without the unnecessary middle-man leaving developers with the smidgen of $7 from a $50 purchase. Although physical copies are on the way out (a potentially sorry sight for the keen collector), it means with digital distribution there's no need for wasteful manufacturing of packaging and no shipping costs (environmentalists rejoice), on top of that - there's no percentage for such publishers to pocket.

Let me just highlight that I do not feel that all publishers are malevolent, just those corporate types that force devs into those One-Game-Per-Year contracts, a contract that not only does that, but heavens forbid: releases parts of what should be in a final game as Downloadable Content. The impatience of mass-consumerist gamers is astounding; if a game takes several years to make so be it, great things will come all in good "valve-time".

With smaller teams, and projects that allow potential gamers to donate money (like Kickstarter), Indie devs can bring quality games that the fans want, often back to current systems; be that through PC distribution companies like Steam or console equivalents like PSN. Lorne Lanning, of the popular Oddworld franchise, has recently rebirthed the franchise back into gaming world with help from JustAddWater, a British indie developer comprised of many fans of the original. With the incredible sale success of both Abe's Oddysee and Abe's Exoddus, as well as the HD remake of the platformer/FPS Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, the company now has the funds to make Abe's Oddysee: New 'N' Tasty, a reimagining of the classic PlayStation and PC platformer; providing funds to bring a new original IP to the series [1].

Twisted Dreams

So what does this have to do with Pandemonium, I hear you say? Having recently posted in the "Daily Lyr" news section over on the main page that Giana Sisters: Twisted Minds is coming to PC and consoles, I thought I'd shed some light on the importance of this release for fans of the Pandemonium series.

Now, the original Giana Sisters was a Mario clone made by a now-deceased developer in the eighties. Nintendo didn't like this very much, and it was originally taken from the shelves; a DS Giana Sisters remake in 2009 saw Nintendo's change of heart and their recognition of its notability. Having then secured rights to the franchise, BlackForestGames (a company spawned from the original devs) completed most of the development for Twisted Dreams by themselves under the placeholder Project Giana, but their funds eventually ran dry close to completion. Kickstarter remedied that, and with ongoing fan assistance, the basic game's completed. [2].

The project, just like Oddworlds' re-emergence, has been fueled by a nostalgic fanbase in both finances (in donations) and development, as a percentage of this team were comprised of fans of the original. From the gameplay footage, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams seems to take influence from a variety of platforming classics, including several aspects of the Pandemonium series. Similarities in abilities, as well as themes are evident in this psychedelic platformer which sees the protagonist, Giana, use a unique ability to warp her dream world to progress energetically through each level.

The Possibility of PandeIII

It is possible that there are Indie game developers out there who could put together a team for a third entry in the Pandemonium series. It may be a while from now, and the fanbase may not be as large, but with the game industry becoming a more free space, it's only the beastly presence of publishers that stand in the way of nostalgic continuations of the classics we still love to play. Whether or not the rights for the franchise can be bought from Square Enix is a question unanswerable at this time. With Sony releasing Pandemonium 1 a few years back in the PSone Classics range, and recently the second Pandemonium finally coming to EU PSN, it seems clear that the demand is there for the classics, whether or not for a new entry, only time will tell. Either way, the figures and sales for their performance on PSone Classics would make an interesting read I'm sure, for fan and potential developer alike.

Bibliography

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tB6BxbX-VHM Lorne Lanning & Stewart Gilray at Eurogamer 2012
  2. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/project-giana/project-giana Project Giana on Kickstarter

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