We’ve reached a point where it’s up to you to make the next move. Gwenael Godde will continue to play his cards, and things probably won’t change much in the coming months.
So this crossroads has two paths.
You wait for the game to come out. Fonzie promises that the game will come out in December. Given the history of non-compliance and lies of this group of developers, I dare say that the game won’t come out in December. So it’s your decision if you want to wait, say, another year to have Paprium in your hands.
To report fraud, identity theft, or an unfair business practice, visit ftc.gov/complaint, click on the FTC Complaint Assistant icon, and answer the questions.
The more information you can provide about the situation, the more useful your complaint will be. If possible, be prepared to provide:
Your contact information: name, address, phone number, email
The type of product or service involved
Information about the company or seller: business name, address, phone number, website, email address, representative’s name
Details about the transaction: the amount you paid, how you paid, the date.
It’s up to you to determine how much personal information you want to provide. Providing your contact information will make it easier if they need to reach you to obtain additional information about your complaint.
The FTC Complaint Assistant will guide you through a series of steps.
In step 3 you must fill in the information about the company. Now, in the image below you can see WaterMelon’s data, taken from a search on Iowa government’s business database. You can download a PDF copy here Business Entity Summary – WATERMELON CO.), or do your own search here (just search for watermelon). As a curiosity, Watermelon’s legal name is not Watermelon Games, but Watermelon Co. Also, the address on the record is the address of the agent who incorporated them (NEPPLE LAW, PLC). WM still shows the address of the offices Tulio rented on its website. WaterMelon left that space in 2015.
As Company Website, I prefer to use the magicalgamefactory site over the other sites associated with WM (paprium.com, watermelon-games.com) because most people bought the game through MGF.com. However, for the e-mail address I use the domain watermelon-games.com, because WM *customer service* is sending all claims to that domain.
The form is virtually identical to the one on the FTC site, but for international frauds. It would be interesting if someone complained about the Hong Kong headquarters of Watermelon. Here the data taken from their site watermelon-games.com. At least there is a phone number!
Of course we rely on information provided by the company itself, and may be outdated.
You can file your claim with the Attorney General’s Office in every state. It is the body in charge of consumer protection in each state.
If you are a Paypal user and did not make a claim you could try, although the experience of other users shows that WM already put that money into Fonzie’s accounts and that having exceeded the period of 180 days, Paypal is not able to make a chargeback. Still, you could try. People have been more successful recovering money through their Bank (in cases where payment was made from a bank account via Paypal and not with a Paypal balance). It seems that this is the most effective way to achieve a WM refund.
Customers from other countries can turn to the consumer protection agencies of each country.
You are a consumer, and the actions of Watermelon Co. are regulated by federal and state laws. If you feel that this company violated the sales contract, there are laws that protect you. Please consider taking action to let the authorities know about Watermelon Co.’s situation. There is no guarantee that you will get your money back, or that WM will give you the game. The situation is very serious. And that’s why I think Gwenael Godde has crossed the line, and he’s violating laws. You’re not a little child anymore. Someone promised you a product and took your money, and you didn’t get anything. There are laws for cases like this. There are websites for cases like this. Do your part. Along with others you can stop cases like Paprium from happening again.
This will probably be the last post from this blog (except for a short ‘I told you so’ in November, when Fonzie throws in a new excuse).
In fact, I wasn’t going to publish anything again, because I thought I had already made my point. But since an important website picked up the news, I’m going to present one last theory. A more global explanation (more “holistic”, if you will) for the inexplicable.
TL;DR Determined to make the game with the best graphics for Genesis/MD, Gwénaël Godde takes a shortcut using different hardware than planned. Trying to retrofit it proves unsuccessful. The project went dormant until he launched a hype campaign to raise funds to achieve this goal. Of course this only increased the problems.
Disclaimer: I’m not trying to convince anyone. People have already taken sides for or against WM. When they say that this blog is a Fonzie marketing move, it’s disheartening. I recently learned that you can’t change the opinion of others, at least on the Internet. Read the following lines under your responsibility, and draw your own conclusions.
The colored areas are different phases that the game has gone through, usually between two completion dates.
The band above the chart is who was in charge of WM, with a green start, during the command of Tulio Cardoso Gonçalves, until a black end, for obvious reasons, with the reign of G.G. “Fonzie.”
In 75 months they spread 105 messages through their official channels. That’s a healthy 1.4 messages per month, loaded with ‘juicy’ information, technical details, game images, maybe a demo?
Well, not really… First, the quality of the information provided by the guys Watermelon was always laughable, to put it mildly. And second, it was never constant. They went through long periods of absolute radio silence. People were deliberately kept in the dark.
If you count the months with zero messages, it’s 52. Yeah, you read that right. 52 months without messages about the most important project for this company. 52 months in which they did not answer, report, or explain what was going on with the game to the (presumably) thousands of people who gave money to make the game happen.
And before anyone says, ‘oh, actually in month X, there was a post…’, go and count messages in their Twitter account (not replies), and on magicalgameFactory.com. Of course I don’t include what came up on Pier Solar or other projects. Of course I do not include what team members have expressed in various forums, as well as WM forums. That’s gossip. If you are a company, or a serious group, you want people to accept your information through formal channels (official accounts). Well, on those formal channels, the company, in a period of 75 months, has been silent for 52.
Regarding Paprium, for more than 4 years, Fonzie has had his lips sealed.
Let’s use a lighter format. Let’s pretend to be Snopes.com and ponder the truthfulness of some of the statements concerning Paprium and what WaterMelon was, in general. And let’s start with that last statement, if you will. I’m using three main sources: SEGA-16 forum, video of Luis Martins with St1ka, and the video of Tulio in Muscatine.
The number of months in which WM has not advanced information on this project totals almost 4.5 years.
TRUE – See explanation above.
Watermelon is a real company.
MIXED – Of course, Watermelon is a company incorporated in the state of Iowa, US in February 2009. BUT:
WM has no offices. The office in Muscatine was closed some time later, after Tulio broke up the partnership. Godde’s current whereabouts are unknown.
WM has no employees. WM has always worked in a distributed manner. People were hired ad-hoc, to perform specific tasks, and once their part was done, they were not presented with a new task. If at some point all the staff who worked on Pier Solar or Paprium had wanted to have that family picture of the company taken, you know, when all the employees get together on the same day and say “cheese”, people would have had to travel from all over the world. There’s nothing wrong with having staff in different parts of the globe. But, currently the company has no contracts with anyone. Although there is a game to be made, all involved claim that their tasks are complete. There’s nothing left to do. Art: done. Music: done. Programming: done. Except for some mythical workers in China, who have been described testing the game, making it, stockpiling it, testing it again, at different times, sometimes in reverse order.
WM has a meager source of income. For a company that bases its sales on hype (not a criticism, they sell cultural products that lose their appeal after a while -just like movies or pop music), not having new stuff in the shed is harmful. The only source of income I can think of is selling digital copies of Pier Solar on Steam and GOG. But obviously the bulk of those sales have already occurred. Now all that’s left are the crumbs. WM is right now an empty husk, a broken egg shell. It was once a duo, who together with other people created a game. Now it’s a tax form in a bank in Iowa, and an elusive Frenchman who tweets “soon” from time to time.
Pier Solar is the only Watermelon game
TRUE – WM is a one-hit wonder. Pier Solar on Genesis is not a different experience from the more modern platforms. It’s the same game. Yes, graphics are better, yes, tweaks were made here and there, but it’s the same game. The creative forces did not spring up again, the stars did not line up so that WM could say, “Behold, our second game”. Their gunpowder got wet. They lost the rabbit’s foot. In ten years (fourteen if we count the prehistory of Tulio-Gwénaël, back in 2004), they could not come up with anything else. They never got past Tavern RPG.
Fonzie is a talented programmer
ok, here is when is put the ‘false’ rating, but I really don’t know. I will put a “doubt” instead of a “false”. I am almost certain that it is false, but I have no confirmation, only hints.
Doubt – Gwénaël Godde was known as Fonzie Voltnov, back in the day. Doesn’t sound very Gallic, does it? Maybe it’s her mom’s maiden name. The guy certainly has a Rasputin flair. By googling that name, a lot of information about Bigstache comes up, when he was making his first steps in the retro community. Besides a series of demos (most of which are available on http://www.genny4ever.net/index.php?page=works), we only know of one piece of software other than Pier Solar: Mighty Mighty Missile. And it’s not that good.
It is my first attempt to program a game for the Mega Drive/Mega CD, and of course, it is originally based on ChuChu Rocket. Due to some sound issues (Mega Drive sound tools were not available back in 2003), I decided to do a Mega CD release under a different name. A guy called Mask of Destiny did the Sega CD sound driver and I coded the whole game. Both were coded from scratch, and it was very challenging. Oldergames was going to publish the game, so we sent a beta of the game to make a show at Classic Gaming Expo 2004, and those guys decided to publish the beta instead of waiting for the final. It was a big, bad flop.
Then Good Deal Games decided to publish it again, the final version this time. I think there were more betas sold than final. Some bad reviews were written, which doomed the game. In my opinion, even if the sound can get glitchy (never happened in my copy), it is still a great tribute to Sega. (Editor’s note: Mask of Destiny is one of the first fans who did Mega CD coding. He used ASM loading and PCM routines and has made a sound engine for the system. He helped Fonzie with the Mighty Mighty Missile project and also a cartridge dump cable via the Mega CD, which is available for purchase at Fonzie’s website.)
Here we see Fonzie Voltnov pumping up his product:
Checking fonzievoltnov profile is like finding an old slide on the street. A window to a time that has passed, a snapshot that is losing its colours. That was almost 15 years ago. And to be honest, I think that rookie version of Fonzie was better. When he tried to be part of the community, he would participate with demos, ask others for help without fear. He was naive, humble… Heck, old Fonzie would have proved me right:
Old Godde was good Godde. Except for the hate speech.
Fifteen years down the road, this guy knows every trick, he knows every atom of silicon in the VDP. Or at least that’s what people tell me. Let us suppose for a moment that it is so. What good has it done him? This Mozart of the assembler is seeing his effort to show the world his talent frustrated by: a) Baggage handlers who do their work badly b) Someone at Paypal c) a chip. It is not a multiple-choice test. It’s an enumeration, a list. That happened, according to Fonzie, in that order. And that keeps us from playing the best game for Sega Genesis/MD. I’m glad other talented programmers haven’t had to deal with AirFrance or Paypal service, nor have they relied on a custom chip to implement one of their games. John Carmack, Éric Chahi really dodged a bullet there.
I guess it’s like the saying goes, “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”. One would expect that age-long experience would yield more and better games. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both in number and quality, Gwénaël Godde’s production has decreased. And yes, I’m saying that Paprium has less quality than Pier Solar, because, for all practical purposes, Paprium doesn’t exist yet. Nobody has played it, ergo its quality is zero or nil (it is not a judgment or criticism, if something does not have a tangible reality it cannot be qualified or evaluated in its quality. One can infer and hope that something is good, but that has more to do with faith.)
Fonzie may be a competent programmer. His history reflects a guy who started out wanting to conquer the world, and is now sinking with the Titanic, which he designed himself. He went from putting his products in people’s hands, when he was 19, to avoiding, lying and defrauding that same people. Remember that his last product was Pier Solar (2010). For the last eight years, Fonzie has been “non-producing”, “non-programming”. Last six years (a fucking fifth of his life) dedicated to a product that doesn’t fully take hold. In a fraction of that time new projects have arrived. People with more, same and less talent than him have managed to get games out in a matter of two or three semesters, not twelve (and counting).
Watermelon Games “GEMS” system was a total mess
TRUE –Apparently this was Tulio’s idea [UPDATE: Tulio claims it wasn’t his idea] . Gems are (were) a way to exchange your money for WM products. At first I thought that this convoluted system was simply a protection against fraud accusations . This is very common in multi-level scams, especially those involving tokens. But then I realized it was just a marketing strategy that didn’t work, and eventually ended up hurting the company. Let’s see why. Gems are tokens (or credits). These credits have two functions. One, to acquire the WM games. Second is to influence the design of such games. Tulio has explained that WM was different from other indie developer groups in that they hear feedback from players. Customers have voting power over artistic decisions during game creation. Or that was the pitch.
While the motto that “we do this because we love to make retro games, not for money” is almost universal in the retro community, the facts show that the pursuit of profit drives a lot of choices when it comes to creating games. I’m not judging that. I want to emphasize that money is essential for a campaign of this kind (launching a game in physical format). Interfering with the cash flow can be lethal. And Tulio and Gwénaël did exactly that.
Simply put, the idea was that customers, excited at the prospect of their ideas being heard, would buy thousands of gems. As more gems were more votes, someone with deep pockets could (if that was his or her intention), basically, get a tailor-made game. Of course, with thousands of player-customers, the chances of someone doing that get a little thinner. Even so, Tulio declared that he “could see” people buying more and more gems, as they noticed that the election was taking a direction they didn’t like.
Now, that sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Here’s why it didn’t work out:
Complete misunderstanding of their user base. In a way, people who buy games for retro platforms are the ideal customer. These are fairly accommodating buyers (because they don’t see themselves as buyers). It may sound blunt, but people are willing to buy anything as long as it has gold fingers. So, what is the need to involve people? Just make a good game and sell it. Someone will say, “Oh, but it’s nicer when customers participate”. Well, that may be true (although Steve Jobs and Alan Kay would disagree). Which brings us to the next point.
Watermelon Games was never about openness or involving its backers. Yes, I am openly contradicting its founders. The facts back me up. Let’s remember that Pier Solar started as an RPG where the main characters would be members of the homebrew website Eidolon’s Inn. At some point that changed, and the game became your run-of-the-mill RPG.
They took a unique idea, twisted it into something already rehashed a thousand times before, and made a business around it. And people loved it.
The way they kept their clients from getting relevant information is simply insane. And the steps they took to make sure the game wasn’t pirated are ridiculous. If such was their commitment to customers, “crowd-designing” and openness, they should not only distribute the ROM on the internet for free, but also the source code. And finally, if you want people to participate so much, don’t charge for it. Involving people in the early stages of Paprium’s design was simply a marketing gimmick.
People don’t like to vote. They don’t want to be part of the creative process. It’s a very big burden. Again, a lack of understanding of their buyers’ psychology. Of course, you’ll always have that guy who wants to have an opinion on everything, and in the case of WM customers even more, because many are developers themselves. But you can take care of these people without charging them for it, and present the finished game to regular buyers. Choices should be limited to cartridge color, language options, packaging materials, or even the name of the game (a choice that was not allowed; today many people consider it a lousy name).
The system was poorly explained. People didn’t understand what the gems were. Most people bought what they needed to get the game, and that was the end of their interaction with WM. They sat in their gems waiting for the game. Many people did not understand, or did not care that their gems resulted in voting power. Or they voted and whatever the outcome, they were happy, because they just wanted the damn game. WM staff made no effort to educate their customers on these possibilities, so the system never worked as intended.
For a typical reaction of the average customer to the “gems” system,listen to this podcast (around minute 21:00).
There is a risk of underfunding. Your funding goal is development cost. But if you divide that by the number of copies you owe your investors, you just made a presale. Other rewards, especially intangible ones, are usually added to help people give out more money than is strictly necessary to get copies. That way fewer people give more money, while it is compensated with exclusive rewards, which separate them from those who buy the game in presales, or when it goes on sale. And I just described crowdfunding.
The folks at WM added another layer (thinking they were ingenious). They expected from every customer, not just the $50 a copy, but to buy more gems to secure some exclusive rewards, and also (here comes Fonzie and Tulio’s innovation) to buy gems to influence voting. It was the final stage of skimming customers. They made a website just for that (magicalgamefactory.com of course).
They imagined that people, just for the sake of being right, just to see one idea come to fruition, would dump thousands of gems, seeking to outbid other people. It was an auction of game features. Only that to people (desperate as they are to put a cartridge in their Sega console) any feature was fine. There was no real incentive to pour gems beyond the copies.
If the total they needed included the “auctioning of features” monies, and that fails, or is less successful than expected, your funding failed. Because of the way they handled it, I don’t think it was successful.
If it was a way to fleece their customers, and they were just being greedy, well, then the system could have had some use.
They didn’t taste their own medicine. They used Kickstarter to fund Pier Solar HD. I guess the extra advertising and exposure that KS gives was worth that 5% of over a quarter of a million dollars.
If Kickstarter advertising was so important, why didn’t they use it for other projects (they could have run a campaign for Project Y/Paprium and no one would have batted an eyelash. Let us remember that not a year had passed since the project was launched).
If the gems system was so successful, why give thousands of dollars to a crowdfunding platform when you already have one (kinda).
It’s fishy. Tokens are widely used in online scams, especially in pyramids or multi-level scams. By turning users’ money into tokens, the fraudster has already fulfilled his duty by giving them a “product”. The “purchase” is already done. They bought something, because the fraudster convinced them that it was “necessary” to do it that way. What he really wanted was money for nothing. Your money well earned in exchange for a token that today can give you what you crave, and tomorrow can be “degraded” to be worth almost nothing, leaving you empty-handed.
At first I thought that was the use of Fonzie’s gems. But then I realized it wasn’t the case. WM never altered the price of the gems (10 gems, one dollar). And they had a more than erratic path with purchase “windows” (further confusing people); a con man would have kept selling gems as long as he could.
They ran out of money
MIXED – I don’t think they hit rock bottom, but at first they were desperate for cash. I think they were really counting on the pay-for-voting thing. Because otherwise, there’s no explaining why they were selling a horrible poster for $120.
A British artist created a poster for the 20th anniversary of the MD. It was pretty simple. The limited edition of 100 copies sold for £30 ($48 at the time). Someone here is trying to justify the existence of such a piece of paper. Fonzie thought he could almost triple the price. That’s crazy!
Paprium’s art director, Luis, said he was surprised by the high prices and promised to seek an alternative.
However they continued to promote the poster for over a year, as seen in this forum post from magicalgamefactory.com:
But people did not take the bait, because they were forced to come up with something more substantial for their customers.
What was that fiasco? Why are three posters worth more than a PS4? What were they thinking?!
They sold (or intended to sell) something that must cost $6 to manufacture for 20 times its value. They were sucking money from wherever they could.
In a 2014 interview, Tulio stated that there were 3,000 users registered with MagicalGameFactory [source in Portuguese].
Let’s assume that all users understood the GEMS system and invested enough to get a copy of the game. That’s $150,000. Let’s remember that Paprium wasn’t the only project that was funded by the system, there was that N project. So arbitrarily, let’s say that of those 3k users, two-thirds invested in Paprium. $100,000 to fund the game.
Not bad. That’s more than Xeno Crisis got in Kickstarter ($90,000). It is a project of similar complexity, in which very talented artists are involved.
So $260,000 for Pier Solar HD, between $150,000 and $100,000 for Paprium, this indie studio had $400,000 at its disposal, and yet they tried to steal from its users with some painted sheets of paper.
Or maybe Tulio was misrepresenting the numbers of users (I don’t see why, 3000 is compatible with Pier Solar cartridges runs; it is reasonable to assume that most of the buyers were the first to subscribe to the MGF platform). Or even worse, that many users didn’t even invest $50 in the game. I think I already proved that the system was actually hurting the company.
I suspect the funding for Paprium was actually much less. Tulio made it his mission to take care of the proper use and spending of Kickstarter’s funds, and Fonzie had to deal with projects that were slowly approaching deadlines, with a funding system that was ill-conceived. A better reading of the situation, and less stubbornness in making decisions, would possibly have led to shutting down the inefficient MGF and turning to KS again.
When they unveiled the trailer, there was a second “funding round”. Hype was very strong, and Fonzie made the most of it economically. In fact, the only purpose of running a hype campaign was to get fresh funds, and buy more time, by making the public believe that the launch was imminent. Last-minute “delays” take effect because people are still mindful of the trailer, and keep an eye on the game.
It is my conviction that the game was “completed” (or something very much like a playable game was put together) in 2014.
Trailer went viral. And the cash started flowing into Fonzie’s accounts. Let’s do the math. I know I’m pulling these numbers out of my ass, but it serves as a basis for knowing how much money vanished by making this vaporware.
166k views in the first month, minus 3k users who had already purchased: 163k potential customers. Using a typical video advertising conversion rate (1.38%) we have about 2250 new customers. For convenience, let’s just say the trailer’s effort paid off in two thousand orders. That’s $138,000 (the price of a copy changed from $50 with the GEMS system to $69, shipping included, during presale).
Does that sound like a lot? Your trailer was seen in the last year by almost 300,000 people. If you managed to convince 1304 people (0.43%) to reserve a copy for $69, you will have $90,000: same amount as Xeno Crisis.
By this I mean that Paprium began his life with a dubious, complicated and inefficient financing scheme. Its creators used questionable tactics to try to reach their goal. And yet the game (or something very similar) was ready within two years (spring 2012 to summer 2014). Then, faced with the reality that the game was impossible to retrofit into the target console (Sega Genesis), excuses were given, or simply nothing was communicated (see the graph at the beginning of the “valley of silence” between March 2014 and March 2016). Then the decision was made to double the efforts. One last attempt to capture the public’s attention, get more funds, and finally run the game on the console. I think Fonzie believed that a hardware solution could be developed, and he needed fresh funds for that. Of course the campaign was based on false advertising, false information, strategies that Mr. Godde often uses. The new funds (money from 2012~2014 gems was used up a long time ago) are used to test whether it is possible to have a special cartridge that will allow the game to run as seen in the trailer, and at the same time (important point) to meet the refund requests. So, by saying, “If you don’t trust me, ask for your refund without any problems” you can reassure your customers, and keep the appearance of reliability, that the company is still operational, and that the game is still in development. Let’s hope those funds reach October of this year, and are enough for a good lawyer.
Datenmeister DT128M16VA1LT chipset is fake
TRUE –I’ve talked about this in other posts. So I’ll be brief. It’s fake and it’s just a publicity stunt because:
The company that makes it doesn’t exist.Daten Semiconductors would be the company in charge of manufacturing the chip.
Datensemi.com website is registered by Mr. Fonzie in 2013. Daten Semiconductors has no links to any other technology company, is not listed as a supplier to any company (including Watermelon Games), and has no affiliation with IPC (“The global trade association serving the printed board and electronics assembly industries, their customers and suppliers“).
ISO 9001 certification and RoHS logos appear on the homepage. The IPC logo also appears, although it is not the IPC member logo (the members’ logo includes the word “member”). This company is not a real company, is not a member of IPC, is not ISO 9001 certified, and is not a RoHS compliant manufacturer.
The site is written in Chinese in its entirety, with no English version ( uncommon for a company that may aspire to have customers all over the world). The content of the site has remained unchanged over the last five years (again, unusual for an “innovative” company).
The site was registered in October 2013, however, there is a banner with the text “gold supplier 2009”. There is also a copyright notice 2005-2012. So the company’s site is created years after the company started operations. Weird for a business like this.
DT128M16VA1LT: searching for this does not provide any results on mouser.com and similar sites. The part does not exist.
Its function is so vague, it could do any task. It’s a perfect example of vaporware. Since its “existence” was announced it has been:
An audio codec chip
A mapping chip
A graphics acceleration chip, achieving more “parallax layers”
A data compression chip.
An anti-piracy device
All of the above.
Paprium’s music was intended for a regular cartridge. In this interview in April 2017 (in the middle of Fonzie’s hype effort), David Burton, Paprium composer, explains the process of creating the music. Although Fonzie explains there that the chip will provide extra audio channels, it is clear that the music strictly uses the YM2612 chip. Considering that the music was mostly completed in 2014, when no one knew about the existence of the’Datenmeister’, it makes sense:
We used a custom made tracker code named: Wavemelon, which Tiido created. He would then routinely ask for feedback regarding bugs and features we wanted implemented. Tiido’s tracker gave us the option to create custom instruments for the YM2612, (Genesis sound chip) so if we ever needed a certain sound, all we had to do was tweak away in the software until we got the sound we wanted. I included a demo track (which you can listen to below) which demonstrates a programmed TL tweak (Total Level, a volume setting that distorts sound) right at the beginning of the track. This helps create a more dynamic sound.
The YM2612 is a 4OP chip. This means that it has four Operators (labelled in the image below as 1-4). Each Operator can be used to add depth on any given channel of a track. And by combining various parameters such as feedback, for example, all kinds of amazing sounds can be created. In a nutshell, the Mega Drive was actually a pretty powerful synth device, but only with the right tools. Yuzo Koshiro, for example, had the tools to shape his own sounds which is why his FM soundtracks sounded so good.
The Wavemelon also includes virtual cutoff and resonance knobs which can be found on most real hardware synthesizers. These offer the ability to filter sound so it can be very crisp, sharp, or muffled. Many dance acts use this technique to create variation in repetitive patterns. And thanks to the Wavemelon, we can now do it on the Mega Drive.
Fonzie has no in-depth knowledge of hardware. In his Tototek years he was in charge of the interface side, not pcb or component design. I wonder if he has any knowledge of VHDL. I think these lines from his former partner Tulio speak volumes.
It’s too expensive a solution. It would be totally unaffordable to use an ASIC chip or even an FPGA. Due to the volume of editions of this type (well under 10,000 units), a custom ASIC chip would be too expensive. FPGA may be more achievable, but the question is, why make the product more expensive, more complicated and delayed? But I can see Fonzie implementing an expensive solution that nobody asked for, while trying to recover money by selling posters, or leaving developers unpaid.
Sound is Fonzie’s Achilles’ heel. Since its first commercial game, the sound implementation has been the nemesis of Mr Godde – why would this time be any different? He always ends up resorting to the kind charity of people who know more than he does.
Fonzie kept Datemeister’s existence hidden until 2017. For four years no one knew that Paprium would make use of this powerful piece of silicon. Which makes you wonder what the fuck they were going to release in 2014 (if they met that deadline), or what the fuck is so great that it deserves to be almost 5 years late to come out.
If it’s a rebranded ordinary chip, there’s no point in having implementation problems that they’ re having allegedly. Some forum users have justified the creation of a fake semiconductor factory, and basically the invention of an entire Datenmeister lore, as a marketing gimmick. They say Fonzie uses a standard chip, but since he’s a marketing genius, he designs a logo, a name, and people love it. It’s purple, and it has a German name! Cool! Well, I see two problems with this. What took him so long to show it? If it’s a marketing move, why did he wait four years to do it? And why are the chip problems only now being discovered? If you didn’t have to worry about the design of the chip, if it’s something tested and used in other applications, how does such an important component that is supposedly tested thoroughly since 2014 only give us problems at the last minute? And they were testing a cartridge in 2014. It’s part of their press kit.
It’s an excuse. As we know, Fonzie’s excuses have no correlation with reality. They’re lies to avoid taking responsibility. For whatever reason Fonzie created the legend of the Datenmeister (marketing, engineering gullibility, practicing Chinese), this chip provides invaluable services to him, having aborted the launch date of “early 2018”.
Gwenael Godde ‘Fonzie’ is solely to blame.
TRUE –As the only person with decision-making power in the company, he is the sole responsible. His track record of actions against employees, partners and customers, shows someone who thinks only of himself. Paprium was his idea, and he decided to turn it into something that can’t work. He took all the steps necessary to deny people the game they paid for. I believe that the collaborators closest to him know the truth, or suspect that there is no game. That all these years they’ve been trying to get to the end of the rainbow. Especially Luis Martins, who gave Paprium the cyberpunk look (which I consider remarkable). If Fonzie is Paprium’s dad, Luis is the mom. The guy still has images of Paprium as profile pic on Twitter. And he’s right to do so. In theory the project is still alive, and it is the project that most represents him. But he must also know, better than we do, because he was in WM’s “kitchen”, that there will be harsh months ahead. Months of silence and lies. So far Luis has been a valuable soldier to the cause. He was Paprium’s human face after Tulio left. And at times, he has been WM’s only link to the community. I think Fonzie has a reality distortion field. He persuades people, and puts people on his side, even if they are defending a lost cause. When Paprium’s thread at SEGA-16 stalled on a difficult subject (trailer transparency effects), Luis, the man who should have known why we were seeing what we were seeing, used a distraction to avoid the topic.
I’m not saying he behaved in a bad way. There is so much at stake for those closest to Fonzie that they cannot afford to see the project wrecked. None of this would have been necessary if Fonzie had done the right thing: not lying and keeping his patrons up to date. Some, like Zebbe, have abandoned ship. The guy you see sitting there is the same guy who edited the very first message from Paprium’s thread in SEGA-16 to describe the game as vaporware.
Then there’s Tulio. He seems like a nice guy, and I think the success of Watermelon/Pier Solar bears his signature. He’s someone much more reasonable than Fonzie. In the Muscatine interview, he stated that he decided to leave WM in October or November 2014, but stayed until July 2015, to ensure that Pier Solar HD was finally completed. It was always strange to me that he left the company he founded, having barely achieved one of his goals (to port Pier Solar to modern systems). Left a job to dedicate himself to WM full time, went through a successful crowdfunding campaign, and one day step aside. To start over. Disagreementswith Fonzie happened because the Frenchman refused to port projects to modern consoles.But there has to be something else. Something to scare away the good Tulio, to the point where he prefers to give up everything he had achieved to keep his hands clean.
I think it was (it’s a theory, I have no proof), that Tulio discovered the true nature of Project Y. He found out how far Fonzie could go. He learned that what would keep the company afloat for years to come was basically a fraud. Tulio then left the company, giving the benefit of the doubt to his former partner. He didn’t want to make him his enemy, and after all, it was Fonzie’s project.
Watermelon Games is now over. Project Y/Paprium would have been developed for a more powerful platform than SEGA Genesis. This decision was motivated by Fonzie’s ambitions to be the creator of the best 16-bit game. He acted alone, and prevented his collaborators from being exposed to the truth. His strategy of silence or misinformation is eroding the reputation that WM had achieved with Pier Solar. When the day comes when Fonzie admits he can’t deliver the game, or delivers a much inferior version than promised, he will have broken ties with very talented collaborators, who believed in him, and will have the rejection of the people he betrayed.
I believe that real efforts were made to bring the game to market between 2013 and 2014. As a result of this work, the game got its graphic art, and music. It is possible that the complexity of the game, and Fonzie’s interest in preserving the graphic splendor achieved by the pixel artists, caused him to use some shortcuts. He may have used libraries for Neo Geo instead of Sega Genesis.
He could also have programmed the game for PC. Transparency effects can result from video editing. This would constitute false advertising.
The pictures released in 2014 do not differ much from the trailer footage. The shortage of images or video gameplay does not allow you to assess how many levels were created, or the actual scale of the game. The game made no obvious progress between 2014 and 2017~2018, which is in line with the theory that the development of the game stopped in 2014, and since then Fonzie has been looking for a way to (really) implement it on Sega Genesis. Fonzie believes (or believed) that a hardware solution is possible, with a “magic” chip in the cartridge. The 2017 release of the game would have been to raise funds to develop such a solution (not Fonzie in person, but outside talent). Fonzie also knows that if that’s not possible, the game (and WM) has no future. He gave himself until October of this year, and said it is “the last chance”.
For all that, I have no hope that the game will come out in October, nor ever. All that remains is to wait a few months. Probably Fonzie will give another excuse. We’ll see how many he persuades.
Apparently (and when we talk about Gwenael Godde we should always use that adverb), Paprium will reach the public before November.
On October 8th, Watermelon sent a message to its backers, and updated the site magicalgamefactory.com as well as its Facebook. The news is that there will be a launch party, on October 27th, to celebrate 30 years of SEGA Genesis/MD, and unveil the game Paprium.
This is the WM mail:
To English Readers:
On the 27th of October 2018, we are having a party in Paris, France. Let’s celebrate SEGA Genesis / Mega Drive’s 30th anniversary and the release of PAPRIUM. We understand this is a long trip but if by any chance you are around at that time, you’re of course very welcome. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for booking and details. The party starts at 19PM for some talk with WM and some 16-bit fun and then turn into electro music feast from 23PM until 6AM. The event is free but booking is required in advance. PS: We are working hard to ensure you to receive your games around that time but we can’t guarantee it at the moment. You will receive another email shortly to confirm your shipping address. For the few people still awaiting for their refunds on Paypal, we are still looking for a solution at the moment, thanks for the extra patience.
So the idea is that people get the game at home by the end of the month. To achieve that Fonzie must collect the addresses of all his customers and make the shipments in record time. His ex-partner and co-founder has raised doubts about it.
I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, but for receiving games this month, I’m skeptical. Collecting shipping addresses is a process that takes weeks, based on my experience with the MGF. Many people miss the emails, get sent to spam boxes, get them “lost”, or simply don’t have access their to email addresses of 6 years ago anymore. Granted, I think the MGF has a method for manual filling the mailing address but still it’s a process that takes weeks to complete, unless Fonzie is planning to do a first come first served approach to shipping stuff as the address arrive, which has never been done at WM.
Additionally, by saying:
«We are working hard to ensure you to receive your games around that time but we can’t guarantee it at the moment.»
It’s almost as saying “We can guarantee you won’t receive your games around that time even though we’re working hard to ensure it at the moment“. It’s a typical calming the masses strategy just to say later “we tried, but this and that reason prevented us from doing it”.
Fonzie is unlikely to be able to meet the Halloween date, but he will probably be able do it by the end of the year. For people who have been waiting since 2013, that’s good news.
Now, about the party.
The message has a part in French, which details what awaits those who go to the Paris evening.
MCMLXXXXVIII-2018: 30 years!!!! It’s 1564 weeks, 10,950 days, 262,800 hours (good and loyal service); so we thought it was worth a little tribute.
And for the occasion you can (FINALLY) feel PAPRIUM, our Beat Them All! Ultra-violent, Brutal and Cyber Punk.
Drop your joysticks and let your cathode ray tube cool down, now is the time! You don’t have to bring your Curlys and your COCA back. DJ set chiptune in the ears, drink and eat in the throat, hairdresser available to cut you a mullet haircut AS IN THE GAME!!!!
SATURDAY 27 OCTOBER 2018, PARIS (75019), FRANCE: Program: 7pm-11pm: Small oven mode – Meeting with WM, Fonzie and his henchmen – Entertainment, hairdresser and make-up – Cocktails and buffet – Gameplay – DJ set chiptune 23h-06h : Trashy party mode ON – Leather, Latex and Bodybuilders Bodies AS IN THE GAME! – DJ set electro – it’s going to be a hit!
If you too want to be one of the survivors and join the megapolis PAPRIUM, book your place by sending an email to email@example.com.
PS: We are working to ensure that you receive the game before the 27th but it is not possible to guarantee it at the moment. You will receive an email very soon to confirm your delivery address.
Some more or less important points:
– Your registration is required to attend the early evening as we must plan the stewardship accordingly. Registration is free, without obligation, of course. If you arrive after 11pm and without reservation, admission will be charged (Prices communicated at the entrance and subject to space reservation).
– Dress code (if you dare): Cyberpunk, leather, muscular, sprinkled with a few touches of fluo, pink or gold. PS: Avoid mario, atari or pokemon tshirts, for the mental health of segasex (and Fonzie).
– Guests who come with: 1. Black briefs (reminder: we have a cabin to change and a locker). 2. Costplay Mega Drive (very committed). 3. “TUG” mullet haircut (possibility to make it on site). Drinks at will throughout the evening (subject to validation by the WM team).
– We will set up a deposit system that will allow you to store your consoles / games and coats in a warm place during the evening.
If you want to help:
You are part of a jazz group, we are looking for a group for the early evening to cover some of the most important MD tracks.
You have rare megadrive equipment (Aiwa, Mega LD, MegaModem, Karaoke Mega CD, WonderMega VA1, etc…) and wish to exhibit it, please contact us. We want to put as many consoles as possible on display for our early evening. Everything will be stored and sheltered around 11pm.
You have emblematic megadrive games, ideally in boxes (Bare Knukle, Sonic, Golden Axe, etc.) to exhibit. Everything will be stored and sheltered around 11pm.
We are also looking for smaller PVMs, such as 8 or 12 inches for the consoles that will be playable.
We want to build a cathodic screen wall but it is quite complicated to rent. Ideally we need 16 PVM monitors of similar size (20 inches) and connect them with a 4×4 cutting box. If anyone has a tip or would like to help on this point, welcome help. By working together we can make it happen!
We would like to buy 3 PVM-20 (20 inch), 50/60hz monitors and prepare them (BNC connection) for connection to Mega Drive. If you have in stock or would like to help on this, please contact us.
All those who wish to help with early afternoon installation and/or service, please let us know. Any help is welcome, please declare yourself.
Amateur of photography and/or video, we are looking for talents to immortalize the evening.
Thank you in advance and see you soon, we hope!
The game may be done, but the party organization is far from perfect. Aside from chiptune music (I imagine Fonzie playing Youtube videos on his 1999 Gateway desktop PC – because he’s old school) and drinks, guests have to contribute everything else. But hey! if there’s free alcohol it might work.
I think this time the release of the game can be real. I mean, if the party turned out to be a diverting strategy, things would get very ugly for Mr. GG.
And yet, I must remind you that there has already been a Paprium event in Paris. Did you know that Fonzie invited people to try Paprium’s alpha in December 2013?
Good morning, everyone! Sorry if I use French to express myself in this post but it will probably be more convenient since it is a question of discussing the presence of some of us during the alpha of which Fonzie speaks in today’s newsletter. Personally I am Parisian and I am more than willing to participate in this alpha so I look forward to receiving news about it from our national Fonzie! Is there more information on where or when this alpha will take place? In short, I propose that we essentially discuss this alpha in this subject.
EDIT: I will update the list of pre-selection participants for alpha first post:
PS: I’m afraid that once I get my hands on the game for the first time I suddenly decide to buy 2 more collector editions I have to tell my banker:)
Tokay: “I did not receive this newsletter! :’-( “
Carotterie: “I sent you my email address via the site so that you can send me yours and I can forward you the Newsletter if you wish:) I’m copying you the passage on the Alpha that would take place in Paris: “For the ProjectY, if you are near Paris, there should be an event very soon with the alpha of the game. If you want to participate and give your opinion of gaming on the game, you will have to come forward because places are limited, feel free to let us know on our forum and we will advise.”
Fonzie: Hello! If you don’t receive a newsletter, please check your spam box. Normally everyone should have received it!
For now, mystery! Yes, it will be in Paris and behind closed doors! ++ Fonzie
Fonzie: Friday, December 13th, 7pm. Paris (10th arrondissement). Yay!??
Donni: Dibs!!!!! I’ll be there! But which place? The 10th district is large ^^^
Fonzie one day before the event (15:02):
Hi! I sent the invitations to the people on my list! If you have not received anything, please send a message on the support! 🙂 See you tomorrow!
Fonzie one day before the event (18:16):
I’ve been emailing everyone, but to say the party’s been postponed. Difficult decision, and late, still sorry to all those who had booked their Friday evening.
I’ll keep you informed about the new date (with more time in advance, this time).
In January, 2014
Happy New Year to all of you.
Note: I would be tomorrow (Wednesday) with JB and Armen at GemuOtaku / Games Heaven, 53 avenue de la république, Paris. 18h.
No special evening or freeplay game (my dev cartridge hasn’t come back to me yet). On the other hand, for the most impatient, to discuss a few minutes / see some screenshots / code / game design / packaging.
Anyway, if you’re in the area, don’t hesitate.
PS: I’m looking to take the dimensions of a JAP dreamcast console box (the standard size box) so if someone can bring one, that would be great.
So Fonzie (who 15 days earlier had said «I’ll keep you informed about the new date -with more time in advance, this time-»), announces his attendance at the event, only 24 hours before.
Also, notice how he clarifies that there will be no gameplay, how he slips that the most “impatient” will be able to talk about the game “a few minutes” (really?), and how he already uses the “dev cartridge” defense.
Jagunco: Please photos and videos of the meeting and ProjectY! We, people from outside Paris, also deserve to see what is new!
Carotterie: Well, I did meet the man named Fonzie last night in his lair. I didn’t see the game running though, but I could see some artworks and images. I couldn’t take any pictures but I can tell you my one and only reaction: “Woooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuaaaaaaaah”!!! I’m waiting for Fonzie’s return before I can tell you a little more about it, but I can already tell you that the whole team has worked like crazy to bring you the best!
This one doesn’t need translation because Fonzie wrote it in English. He replies to a guy who asked to be added to the guest list for the event, in June!! (guy read an old email and thought the invitation still stood). Fonzie’s response shows that the January 8 event was also “cancelled”, but even so those who were there (somehow), got “information” about the game.
Paprium is and will be vaporware until it reaches the last customer who paid for it. Whether that happens in three weeks, three months or never. Yes, it seems harder for Gwenaël ‘Fonzie’ Godde to lie about the launch party, because that would be a very stupid thing to do. We’ll see what happens in the next few days. Stay tuned!
A new delay in the Paprium saga, with a new deadline of 29th October 2018 (Japanese Megadrive release date 29/10/88).
No news, good news?
Thanks for your patience. It’s been exactly one year since we started taking orders for PAPRIUM (and a couple more years of wait for our hardcore MGF fans), It’s been extremely stressful year for everyone, we bet.
Regarding what’s going on:
We had an issue with the “DATENMEISTER” chip-set manufacturing which resulted in some last minute changes. I’ve worked round-the-clock for the last couple of weeks to find a workaround and been very scarce on updates, my apologies.
In the next (couple) days we have to adjust the game to reflect those changes. Moreover, in the mean time, there will be an additional round of QC and testing.
Rest assured everyone involved has been working hard to solve all the issues and ensure a superior product. Our aim is to deliver the ultimate Mega Drive / SEGA Genesis game, in time for the system 30’th anniversary.
For people who wait has ran out (well understandable) – as usual – we offer a full refund. Please contact the support at bottom of WM’s magical game factory page for details or questions.
Thanks everyone for your comprehension, and my sincere apology for the lack of news.
PS: We are also sending this message through newsletter, it could take several hours for dispatch, thanks for your understanding.
Of course they have problems with the Datenmeister, if the chip doesn’t exist. It’s fake, vaporware, an illusion. You can’t expect anything to work if it’s a children’s fairy tale.
Allegedly, the function of the Datenmeister is to provide extra audio channels, so that Paprium’s music is a step up from what people expect from a Genesis/MD
But when you create a fake website, for your fake chip, it is clear that your intention is not to deliver anything you promised.
Anyway, here’s a list of excuses for the upcoming delays:
“Last minute changes” in the Expanded Sprites Mode VI
“Last minute changes” in the Infinite Parallax Layers aka “IPL”
Cartridge voltage issues
Cartridge label issues
Air France loses Fonzie’s keys. Unable to enter his home and retrieve the packages, the game is cancelled.
Bird flu is raging over Fonzie’s Chinese beta testers. The game can’t be delivered.
They realize they were using a SNES development kit. The game is cancelled.
They took so long to release the game that everyone asked for refunds. The WM chests are empty, the game is cancelled. (This is a good one to launch a bailout campaign)
Fonzie wants Bulgarian voice-over actors for the Bulgarian version of the game. Delay until the cartridge is updated.
They actually meant to say Sega MD’s 30th anniversary in the UK. (11/30/2020)
Lying is the act of both knowingly and intentionally or willfully making a false statement. Normal lies are defensive and are told to avoid the consequences of truth telling.
In a couple of days, it’s three months since Fonzie Godde disappeared. His last proof of life was a picture of his bulge, in a bathroom in China. It was accompanied by an optimistic message about the production of Paprium cartridges:
Yes, we are running. But not running away. 3 news coming :
1. We received your money one month ago. Took some extra painful time
2. We are very busy at manufacturing the game. Over 50 factories are involved and every single part are getting stacked in our warehouse for final assembly!
3. Game will be back on preorder very shortly, everyone will get notified by email when so.
As reminder, anyone not willing to wait and asking for refund will be refunded. Just be a little bit patient because our costumer support is quite overloaded with questions lately and paypal is major trouble to work with, we are switching to another service shortly. Thank you.
To investors, this is major update of great importance: Fonzie picked the “Armageddong” thing today. He said he would personally test every single pieces!
So 1) the “problem” with paypal is solved.
And 2) this cannot be true. 50 companies?
Over [!] 50 factories are involved and every single part are getting stacked in our warehouse for final assembly!
There is not in the whole WWW, a single image of Paprium gameplay that is not obscured by some kind of editing, filter or intervention.
In other words, we have never seen a “pure” screenshot of the game.
Take Tanglewood for example. This screenshot has a reasonable number of colors, you can see each pixel individually (not blurry or out of focus). And the size is consistent with the dimensions of a Genesis game.
23 colors and 944 by 670 pixels
670/224 -the standard vertical resolution for Sega Mega Drive- is almost 3. This is a screenshot, from an emulator probably, blown up 3 times to make a decent press material.
You can do an interesting experiment. Download the large image of Tanglewood, open it in Photoshop or Gimp, and reduce it to the actual size. Use a height of 224 pixels. Preserve the aspect ratio, and use “Nearest Neighbor (hard edges)” resampling. Zoom in on the image and you will see that it is virtually identical to the large image. There’s no trick.
Paprium on the other hand…
For starters, the image is 300% heavier if you save it as PNG. Jpeg 382 kB, PNG 1.136 kB!!!! :O
This should not happen in an image with a limited palette, and large areas of flat color.
But no, the image is full of noise, strange shades. Almost like an Instagram filter.
Of course that gives us a ridiculous color count.
284k colors! Take that SNES!
If you manage to isolate a pixel (there is always an overlap with the surrounding pixels), you will see that it is 4×4 pixels in size. I mean, the press image has a 4:1 ratio with the screenshot.
So 1024×682 is… 256×170.
That blurriness causes a lot of information to be lost by resampling it, like I did with Tanglewood’s image. And it shows. Paprium’s press images were not made for a TV plugged into a Sega. They’re visual candy.