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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Boston.com: Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios lays off all staff

No Money, Mo’ Problems

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, has laid off all of its employees in the wake of financial difficulties, according to a company insider who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

DA Baracus Posted: May 24, 2012 at 05:42 PM | 121 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: curt schilling, general

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   1. Tripon Posted: May 24, 2012 at 06:16 PM (#4139603)
Not going to finish that MMO, now, are ya?
   2. Swedish Chef Posted: May 24, 2012 at 06:20 PM (#4139604)
Oh, so there was a thread... Let's put this here then:
38 Studios lay of all staff. It's sad for the staff, I even feel a bit sorry for Schilling, idiot as he may be, never mind the money now he never will get to play the MMO of his dreams.

and if the gaming industry's average employee is making 80k in this economy the gaming industry is paying a few people a who lot of money throwing the average out of whack

Those kids that earn 80k at game studios are taking a significant hit to work with what they love. They could make 150-200k in other kinds of software development.

because there are oodles of kids out pounding the pavement who will take 35k to be creative and be fine with it

This isn't unskilled work. And those who work on the art side where there is a surplus of talent are making much less than the developers.
   3. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 24, 2012 at 06:33 PM (#4139612)

Still a year away from actually releasing the MMO game. Yikes. Will someone at least buy the IP and see it to fruition or is this thing never getting released?

I wonder how much money Schilling has left that he wasn't willing to keep the thing going for another year. Yes, it might be throwing good money after bad, but when you've already got $30 million invested in something it's gotta be tough to walk away rather than put up more money to get it to the finish line.
   4. Tripon Posted: May 24, 2012 at 06:41 PM (#4139619)
Somebody will probably buy the IP at fire sale prices, and release it quick. Personally, I just don't get the obsession with MMOs. Way more trouble than they're worth on the user and developer side.
   5. Jose Molina wants a nickname like "A-Rod" Posted: May 24, 2012 at 06:44 PM (#4139624)
I can't wait until the dirt on Schilling's management style comes out. You just know he was the type of prick who strolling through the office would look over some junior graphic designers shoulder and point to something and say "No, no this has got to to there" or out of the blue one day say they needed trolls or something which would screw up everyone's well thought out schedules and put the company back two weeks of development.
   6. RJ in TO Posted: May 24, 2012 at 06:49 PM (#4139626)
If he thought they needed trolls, they would have recruited from this site.
   7. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 24, 2012 at 06:53 PM (#4139630)

I can't wait until the dirt on Schilling's management style comes out. You just know he was the type of prick who strolling through the office would look over some junior graphic designers shoulder and point to something and say "No, no this has got to to there" or out of the blue one day say they needed trolls or something which would screw up everyone's well thought out schedules and put the company back two weeks of development.

It sounds like he hired a real management team to actually run the company. Not sure he was in the office day-to-day running things.
   8. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: May 24, 2012 at 06:59 PM (#4139636)
Don't you think the trolls look a little too similar to the elves on Level 6?
   9. Select Storage Device Posted: May 24, 2012 at 07:02 PM (#4139639)
I can't wait until the dirt on Schilling's management style comes out. You just know he was the type of prick who strolling through the office would look over some junior graphic designers shoulder and point to something and say "No, no this has got to to there" or out of the blue one day say they needed trolls or something which would screw up everyone's well thought out schedules and put the company back two weeks of development.


Well, I very much doubt Schilling was ever walking the floor hovering over shoulders, but what you outlined is pretty standard practice in every studio save a developer like Blizzard or Valve where there is no such thing as a drop dead date.
   10. madvillain Posted: May 24, 2012 at 07:14 PM (#4139646)
Well, I very much doubt Schilling was ever walking the floor hovering over shoulders, but what you outlined is pretty standard practice in every studio save a developer like Blizzard or Valve where there is no such thing as a drop dead date


I have a friend who works at Valve. He said after the whole Portal 2 release date got pushed back and pushed back and pushed back that yea, they stopped giving release dates. I'm pretty sure they have internal ones however; I'll have to ask him next time I see him.
   11. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: May 24, 2012 at 07:25 PM (#4139650)
While you're at it mad, ask him if they ever intend on releasing another Half-Life game again. I mean literally ever. Like, if there are tentative plans to release one in 2071, that would be OK.
   12. Select Storage Device Posted: May 24, 2012 at 07:26 PM (#4139651)
No doubt they do, I am just willing to bet they are no where near as restrictive. A producer/manager can be much more hands off when your production cycle isn't four months.
   13. Johnny Slick Posted: May 24, 2012 at 07:36 PM (#4139657)
I don't agree with the guy's politics at all, but personally I like Curt Schilling for the following reasons:

1. Buying out the Squad Leader system from Hasbro, who was basically just sitting on it.
2. Back in the day, his 1992 Statis Pro Baseball card (for the 1991 season) had his Squad Leader Rating on it.
3. That whole Everquest incident between him and Doug Glanville.
4. Last year he showed up on the Out of the Park Baseball message board and said it was an awesome game and also that Yankees fans can suck it.

All this is enough for me to not only overlook the man's political stances but the fact that he played for the Red Sox. I hear Kingdom of Amalur was pretty well done and I'm really sorry to see his studio completely blow up.
   14. Benji Posted: May 24, 2012 at 07:50 PM (#4139665)
Curt Schilling, job creator.
   15. smileyy Posted: May 24, 2012 at 07:59 PM (#4139673)
http://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/2012/05/17
http://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/2012/05/18
   16. zenbitz Posted: May 24, 2012 at 07:59 PM (#4139674)
@13 - Schilling's company Multiman Publishing produces my very favorite war games (oh, not SL/ASL). For that, I will always give him a pass.
   17. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 24, 2012 at 08:14 PM (#4139684)
And Multiman Publishing will be shipping my game design before too long!
   18. puck Posted: May 24, 2012 at 08:17 PM (#4139685)
Multiman's got pretty hardcore stuff. There's that Operational series with multiple boards and seem to model WWII in real time.
   19. JoeHova Posted: May 24, 2012 at 08:44 PM (#4139695)
Too bad. I have Kingdoms of Amalur and I kind of like it. I haven't played it that much (been busy) but it's a well-made game. Schilling may be a bit of a d-bag but he's at least a colorful d-bag.
   20. Guapo Posted: May 24, 2012 at 08:58 PM (#4139699)
Wow, he really is a Republican!
   21. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 24, 2012 at 09:09 PM (#4139704)
While you're at it mad, ask him if they ever intend on releasing another Half-Life game again. I mean literally ever. Like, if there are tentative plans to release one in 2071, that would be OK.


It will come, and it will be amazing, and no one will discuss the development cycle again. Valve has earned my patience and my trust.

Having said that, I am kinda hoping for an all-new game engine for HL3, which will hopefully be ported to Left 4 Dead 3 in short order.
   22. Tripon Posted: May 24, 2012 at 09:48 PM (#4139721)
Hey, even Duke Nukem Forever came out eventually. Heard it was an awful game though.
   23. Sebastian Posted: May 24, 2012 at 10:11 PM (#4139739)
That shocked me for a moment. Reckoning was a fun – and well reviewed – game, that sold well over a million copies. I just read that they needed to sell over three million just to break even, which is just crazy. A real shame. I had no interest at all in the upcoming MMO, but I was looking forward to what else they might do with the world they’ve created. I wonder how many of his own Schillings he sunk into that company, but I do hope he stays involved in making games.
   24. MikeTorrez Posted: May 24, 2012 at 10:20 PM (#4139742)
So this is Obama's fault right?
   25. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: May 24, 2012 at 10:22 PM (#4139744)
I hear Obamacare mandates that no one's allowed to borrow a dead guy's ankle.
   26. Select Storage Device Posted: May 24, 2012 at 11:00 PM (#4139761)
...but I do hope he stays involved in making games.


Maybe the Big Huge employees he saved when 38 Studios tabbed them to develop KoA will hold a few kind thoughts for him, but there are 379 people now looking for jobs because of his hubris. And 379 people that didn't get paid this month. And 379 people whose health insurance expires in one hour.

And don't forget all that money RI taxpayers are now on the hook for!

#### him. The video game industry has enough Curt Schillings.

   27. Tripon Posted: May 24, 2012 at 11:08 PM (#4139763)
The Big Huge Games employees got fired too. The only person standing is Curt Shilling.
   28. PreservedFish Posted: May 24, 2012 at 11:15 PM (#4139767)
Is it really contemptible hubris? I get mocking him for taking government hand outs, given his conservative loudmouthery, but I don't think there's anything wrong with starting a business that eventually fails.
   29. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: May 24, 2012 at 11:16 PM (#4139768)
It will come, and it will be amazing, and no one will discuss the development cycle again.


The first part of this sentence is true, but I'm not so sure the second part is. Valve caught all sorts of flak for the interminable delays in producing Half-Life 2. Then they released it, it was amazing, they received no end of (justified) praise for it...and here we are, talking about the development cycle, because Valve went to an "episodic" format for the HL games and couldn't even produce those dramatically shorter games in a reasonable amount of time. They brought this conversation on themselves.

I think this is like saying that after the release of Dance With Dragons no one will ever again complain about how long George RR Martin takes to write a book.
   30. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: May 24, 2012 at 11:17 PM (#4139770)

Maybe the Big Huge employees he saved when 38 Studios tabbed them to develop KoA will hold a few kind thoughts for him, but there are 379 people now looking for jobs because of his hubris. And 379 people that didn't get paid this month. And 379 people whose health insurance expires in one hour.

And don't forget all that money RI taxpayers are now on the hook for!


All that's the same with any startup company that fails. Employees knew they were working for a startup. With your logic, the employees would not have had jobs but for 38 Studios. It is not that simple. A lot of the employees are highly qualified and will not have trouble finding other work.
   31. Ron J Posted: May 24, 2012 at 11:19 PM (#4139771)
#13 God knows I've told the story often enough, but:

Shortly after buying the squad leader system he was making cold calls to game stores. One of the guys in my long running strat league is part owner of a game store. Just happens that his partner who isn't a baseball fan got Schilling's call (and had no idea who Curt Schilling was). But he placed an order in any case. (Why not? He figured it would sell and was right)

A little while later they got a thank you note from Schilling.
   32. Tripon Posted: May 24, 2012 at 11:27 PM (#4139772)
I think this is like saying that after the release of Dance With Dragons no one will ever again complain about how long George RR Martin takes to write a book.


Fans of the Wheel of Time series threatened to desecrate Robert Jordan's grave if he died before he finished the series. It didn't help that he broke up Winter's Heart into three books (Path of Daggers, Winter's Heart, and Crosswords of Twilight). No idea if somebody did screw with Jordan's grave after he died after writing Knife of Dreams, and still having 3 books to go.
   33. JoeHova Posted: May 24, 2012 at 11:35 PM (#4139776)
Fans of the Wheel of Time series threatened to desecrate Robert Jordan's grave if he died before he finished the series.

Damn, that's cold-blooded.
   34. Johnny Slick Posted: May 24, 2012 at 11:44 PM (#4139781)
I wonder how many of his own Schillings he sunk into that company,
$25M according to another article I read.
   35. RJ in TO Posted: May 24, 2012 at 11:44 PM (#4139782)
Damn, that's cold-blooded.

People get cranky when they have to read about forty thousand pages of a story, only to not get an ending.
   36. RJ in TO Posted: May 24, 2012 at 11:46 PM (#4139783)
Also, although I'm not a fan of Schilling, I am sorry that this didn't work out for his company - both for him (as he's someone who obviously really loves this sorts of games), and his employees, who now find themselves looking for work without a whole lot of notice.
   37. Select Storage Device Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:26 AM (#4139796)
All that's the same with any startup company that fails. Employees knew they were working for a startup. With your logic, the employees would not have had jobs but for 38 Studios. It is not that simple. A lot of the employees are highly qualified and will not have trouble finding other work.


I guess you could call 38 Studios a startup in the sense that, like, they started somewhat recently. But c'mon, these weren't kids/vets in a basement praying for an angel. They had the money. This wasn't a six month all-or-nothing glass cannon. Most employees in the video game industry understand that their jobs are less than safe, but only in special circumstances would you consider that the whole studio is at risk.

38 Studios shouldn't have failed. There's just no way it could have without massive mismanagement, and I don't see anything wrong being angry with an egomaniac that ruined a sweet gig for himself and a lot of other people. And sure, some of the employees will have no problems finding new jobs (maybe even in Boston!)(maybe). Some will have a little trouble finding new jobs. Some will have a rough go of it.

Some probably really needed those paychecks.

Is it really contemptible hubris? I get mocking him for taking government hand outs, given his conservative loudmouthery, but I don't think there's anything wrong with starting a business that eventually fails.

Ever watch the Kitchen Nightmares episode where Ramsay visits the toad that bought (with his wife's money) a palatial spot in Burbank for his "upscale" pizza joint? Like all KNs, the food sucks (frozen!), the menu is too big, and the owner is a self-inflated twerp. Considering location and ineptitude; dude is hemorrhaging money when a better owner with the same capital could have likely made the place a success.

And of course he still has this grand delusion of creating his frozen pizza empire while his actual business burns to the ground.

Same deal with 38 Studios. Curt wasn't making video games. Curt was making kids toys, fast food tie-ins, and feature films starring Channing Tatum. Curt thought Amalur was going to be bigger than Call of Duty. It's totally contemptible considering the means he had to create a successful company.
   38. Jittery McFrog Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:01 AM (#4139807)
I get mocking him for taking government hand outs, given his conservative loudmouthery, but I don't think there's anything wrong with starting a business that eventually fails.


I concur.
   39. SuperGrover Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:18 AM (#4139810)
Those kids that earn 80k at game studios are taking a significant hit to work with what they love. They could make 150-200k in other kinds of software development.


That is a half-truth. 150-200k is possible in certain environs, such as independent contracting or working in Manhattan. The majority of software engineers make in the high 5/low 6 figures.

Architects are in an entirely different salary level, but the majority of developers simply don't make that kind of money.

I say this as a former C++ and Java developer who moved on to management a decade ago. I can tell you there isn't a single developer at AT&T, Orbitz, Groupon or Sears who makes more than 125K or so.
   40. smileyy Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:34 AM (#4139814)
I can tell you there isn't a single developer at AT&T, Orbitz, Groupon or Sears who makes more than 125K or so.


Salary, no...factor in bonuses and stock grants (and Wall Street liking you), and its feasible to get up near 200k. And maybe not as a "kid" working there, but with a fair bit of experience, yeah.

Edit: But in general, you're about spot on. Also, are you a former Orbitz employee? Likewise.
   41. Swedish Chef Posted: May 25, 2012 at 02:42 AM (#4139823)
That is a half-truth. 150-200k is possible in certain environs, such as independent contracting or working in Manhattan.

Or at Google, Apple, Facebook or Microsoft. The sad thing about the games industry is that the romance of the damn thing means they can be selective about who they hire, pay them badly and treat them like ####.
   42. PreservedFish Posted: May 25, 2012 at 02:51 AM (#4139825)
Ever watch the Kitchen Nightmares episode where Ramsay visits the toad that bought (with his wife's money) a palatial spot in Burbank for his "upscale" pizza joint? Like all KNs, the food sucks (frozen!), the menu is too big, and the owner is a self-inflated twerp...

Same deal with 38 Studios.


Yes. I enjoy Kitchen Nightmares. I guess I don't know enough about the situation to assume that Schilling was practicing that level of fat ignorant chumpitude.
   43. valuearbitrageur Posted: May 25, 2012 at 04:29 AM (#4139834)
I guess you could call 38 Studios a startup in the sense that, like, they started somewhat recently. But c'mon, these weren't kids/vets in a basement praying for an angel. They had the money. This wasn't a six month all-or-nothing glass cannon. Most employees in the video game industry understand that their jobs are less than safe, but only in special circumstances would you consider that the whole studio is at risk.

38 Studios shouldn't have failed. There's just no way it could have without massive mismanagement, and I don't see anything wrong being angry with an egomaniac that ruined a sweet gig for himself and a lot of other people. And sure, some of the employees will have no problems finding new jobs (maybe even in Boston!)(maybe). Some will have a little trouble finding new jobs. Some will have a rough go of it.

Some probably really needed those paychecks.


You are delusional. Any company that is still trying to build its first profitable product is a startup, any employees who didn't think their jobs were at risk were equally clueless. There have been far larger startups that blew through many times more capital. I've founded or cofounder 5 software companies, 2 were successful, 2 were shut down after each consumed more than $10M in capital, what happened here wasn't that unusual.

And not only did Schilling lose $25M of his own money, he hired professional management, so he shouldn't be shouldering most of the blame. I've started It was still hypocritically him to take public monies, but criticism of him beyond that point isn't yet supported by any factual account of what happened.
   44. BFFB Posted: May 25, 2012 at 04:58 AM (#4139836)
Hey, even Duke Nukem Forever came out eventually. Heard it was an awful game though.


Duke Nukem Forever was kind of impressive in a really odd way, it was like a potted history of first person shooters between 2000 and 2010.

You could see where they had started developing the game and then everytime a new FPS came out which evolved the genre they would change the game. The multiplayer is reminiscent of Quake 3, it then takes bit from Halo, COD and every other "big" FPS that came out in that decade.

The out-of-time jokes which don't make sense in 2011 are also pretty amusing, thought not in the way intended (like a Power Armour joke obviously written with the intention of the game coming out a year or two after the original Halo).

Saying all that the game is bloody awful!
   45. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: May 25, 2012 at 08:04 AM (#4139857)
38 Studios was risky even for a start-up. Not only was it years away from showing a profit, it was years from producing revenue. It was swinging for the fences. Its employees knew that. Absent any other facts, overreaching is the likely cause of the failure rather than any gross mismanagement.
   46. Dale Sams Posted: May 25, 2012 at 09:05 AM (#4139877)
I waited 12 years for Diablo 3, you little bastards can wait for your game.
   47. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 10:04 AM (#4139906)
I'm still waiting for Alan Moore to finish Miracleman.
   48. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 10:14 AM (#4139915)
The first part of this sentence is true, but I'm not so sure the second part is. Valve caught all sorts of flak for the interminable delays in producing Half-Life 2. Then they released it, it was amazing, they received no end of (justified) praise for it...and here we are, talking about the development cycle, because Valve went to an "episodic" format for the HL games and couldn't even produce those dramatically shorter games in a reasonable amount of time. They brought this conversation on themselves.


Let me clarify - when HL3 comes out and raises the bar for first person shooters yet again, all the griping about the lengthy period between HL2 Ep2 and HL3 will be forgotten, just like nobody fixates on the protracted, secretive development period for HL2. Heck, IIRC Valve didn't issue a peep about HL2 until just a few months before release, then sent out one image of a crowbar and sat back to enjoy the hysteria.

HL3 won't be Duke Nukem, Valve hasn't made even an average game yet.
   49. Randy Jones Posted: May 25, 2012 at 10:23 AM (#4139919)
Valve hasn't made even an average game yet.


Not true. DoD: Source sucked. Just didn't play right and was poorly balanced. Really disappointing because the original DoD was great.
   50. Ron J Posted: May 25, 2012 at 10:31 AM (#4139924)
#35 The one good thing about the whole situation is that Brandon Sanderson seems to have been a good choice to wrap things up. He's prolific, had extensive notes to work with and is ruthless enough to close out storylines in a paragraph or two that would have taken Jordan chapters or more. Honestly I don't think Jordan could have ever finished the series.

   51. Select Storage Device Posted: May 25, 2012 at 10:57 AM (#4139942)
overreaching is the likely cause of the failure rather than any gross mismanagement.


And overreaching is not gross mismanagement? The games biz is a fickle mistress, but it's not a complete stab in the dark. It was risky, but for them the risk should have been mitigated. If Schilling and Co. meant to build franchises, then they were building for the long term, and not a company that should sink when their first title only sells a million copies. KoA was a success -- 38 just blew it.

I've founded or cofounder 5 software companies, 2 were successful, 2 were shut down after each consumed more than $10M in capital, what happened here wasn't that unusual.


But what happened here IS unusual for the industry. "Startups" don't make AAA titles with their first product, unless they are Team Bondi, which created a well reviewed, financial success for it's publisher... but killed the studio because of years of bad management and contentious practices. The industry is an elephant graveyard of studios swallowed up and dismantled by publishers, bad products and failures of progress, but 38 Studios is an exception, not a rule.

We don't have all the facts, but the little we do suggests a business being run poorly. Not sure how that can be questioned and "well, businesses fail" is not a reasonable or thoughtful explanation.
   52. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:03 AM (#4139946)
#35 The one good thing about the whole situation is that Brandon Sanderson seems to have been a good choice to wrap things up. He's prolific, had extensive notes to work with and is ruthless enough to close out storylines in a paragraph or two that would have taken Jordan chapters or more. Honestly I don't think Jordan could have ever finished the series.
True, although those one-paragraph wrapups are disorientingly abrupt after 163 books of plot sprawl.
   53. Dale Sams Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4139951)
I'm still waiting for Alan Moore to finish Miracleman.


I'm still waiting for Jim Starlin to finish Dreadstar.

You probably already knew this, but Moore did finish what he had to say on Miracleman.
   54. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:14 AM (#4139952)
The only good thing that's resulted from this is quoted in the article:

Schilling could not be reached for comment.
   55. Lassus Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:51 AM (#4139991)
I'm still waiting for Jim Starlin to finish Dreadstar.

God yes, and you can add Scott McCloud and ZOT! to this for me.

McCloud's refusal to do anything but tell other people how to write and draw comics instead of write and draw them himself has been insanely maddening.
   56. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:54 AM (#4139998)
Whining babies. My wait for Brother Power the Geek #3 is approaching its 44th year.

Also, Last Dangerous Visions vol. 3, where art thou?
   57. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:56 AM (#4140000)
God yes, and you can add Scott McCloud and ZOT! to this for me.


I've got the complete run, but the first 5 or 6 issues accomplished nothing except momentarily promising to cure my chronic insomnia. I gather it gets better at some point.

(Which of course is why I find

McCloud's refusal to do anything but tell other people how to write and draw comics


so borderline hysterical. It's as if the Raybot went on the road as a self-appointed expert on recognizing human feelings & emotions.)

   58. Lassus Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:05 PM (#4140005)
I've got the complete run, but the first 5 or 6 issues accomplished nothing except momentarily promising to cure my chronic insomnia. I gather it gets better at some point.

Be advsied the complete B&W run recently released is not the complete run. There were 10 excellent (possibly superior) color issues prior that are a lot harder to come by in collection format.

I don't agree with you on the quality, of course. I think the run is wonderful, but perhaps not always for grumps. ;-)
   59. Dale Sams Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4140025)
When I played City of Heroes, I made Dreadstar and Harvey Birdman. I never got called out for using Dreadstar and only for making Birdman an original 60's costume. But not for sticking him in his suit. I had found Jim Starlin's e-mail online some months before that, and asked in a forum if Starlin gave me permission to use Dreadstar, could I do it?

I was told no, because the City of Heroes people want to have full rights to any hero appearing in the game.
   60. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4140060)
Be advsied the complete B&W run recently released is not the complete run. There were 10 excellent (possibly superior) color issues prior that are a lot harder to come by in collection format.


I have the original single issues, of course. What is this "collection format" whereof you speak?

I don't agree with you on the quality, of course. I think the run is wonderful, but perhaps not always for grumps. ;-)


Having a mental age above the single digits definitely can be a disadvantage. Then again, some of my favorite comics, from both my own childhood & today, were written for kids, so I guess I'm just in the unfortunate position of not getting the insanely overrated "Jeff Francouer of Comics" McCloud's charm.
   61. smileyy Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4140064)
"Startups" don't make AAA titles with their first product


Srsly. Given how many solid (though perhaps small) titles I've seen coming from small studios, that level of funding for a team that's never created anything (they bought Amalur, right?) seems ill-advised.
   62. Lassus Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:20 PM (#4140075)
I have the original single issues, of course. What is this "collection format" whereof you speak?

Well, who knows? I bought them as they came out, myself.
   63. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:24 PM (#4140078)
I think there is a meaningful distinction between overreaching and gross mismanagement. The former is the idea or business model was simply too risky while the latter is poorly setup company and/or very poor decision making.
   64. Jimmy P Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4140087)
Too bad. I have Kingdoms of Amalur and I kind of like it. I haven't played it that much (been busy) but it's a well-made game.

I like it, too. It's beautiful, and really well thought out.

The real shame is Big Huge Games. Amalur is pretty much their work (the actual gameplay mechanics), and all the other games Big Huge released have been solid. Those guys didn't deserve this.
   65. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4140095)

I think there is a meaningful distinction between overreaching and gross mismanagement. The former is the idea or business model was simply too risky while the latter is poorly setup company and/or very poor decision making.

Agreed. Schilling overreached but there's no indication at this point that he did anything improper. Seems like he was genuinely trying to create a great video game, if anything the problem is that he hired an A+ team which presumably had an A+ price tag.
   66. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:40 PM (#4140096)

The real shame is Big Huge Games. Amalur is pretty much their work (the actual gameplay mechanics), and all the other games Big Huge released have been solid. Those guys didn't deserve this.

In another thread someone claimed that Schilling basically bailed those guys out; the studio was going under and Schilling bought the company and kept it in business.
   67. BFFB Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4140103)
Agreed. Schilling overreached but there's no indication at this point that he did anything improper. Seems like he was genuinely trying to create a great video game, if anything the problem is that he hired an A+ team which presumably had an A+ price tag.


It also doesn't help that they decided to cut their teeth on an MMO, which is just about the most expensive type of game to make and which you need some serious money (i.e. a publisher) behind.
   68. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 02:54 PM (#4140176)
Select Storage Device is a querulous quim. Welcome to joining Ray DiPierna as only the second person to make my ignore list, you contemptuous ####. Even Gaelan hasn't gotten there yet. That should be a sign to you as to exactly how great a blowhard you are, you titanic ####.

Buisnesses fail. Hopefully the IP gets used for something useful rather than falling into the dustbin of history, and hopefully other states learn a lesson from Rhode Island's folly.

ETA: Hah, and he was 150 comments into his membership. I'm glad to see I was getting in on the ground floor of telling him to go perforate his internal organs with a sharpened priapus.
   69. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4140178)
It also doesn't help that they decided to cut their teeth on an MMO, which is just about the most expensive type of game to make and which you need some serious money (i.e. a publisher) behind.


That's the real downfall of Schilling's studio. MMOs are company-breakers. They take a long time to make, they cost a lot to produce, and they have to hit it moderately big just to keep running, much less expand. Lots of game companies go under around the time of their first release, trying to make a high quality MMO with a large staff really doesn't help.
   70. Select Storage Device Posted: May 25, 2012 at 03:12 PM (#4140194)
Trollololol.

I apologize to the BBTF tank if my anti-Schilling-gamer commentary is overly zealous. I am more than happy to go back to lurking. This subject hits close to home, and like most BBTFers I tend to start sentencing drunk drivers to death when discussion is on a subject I find myself with more than just a passing interest in.

   71. DA Baracus Posted: May 25, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4140195)
"Startups" don't make AAA titles with their first product, unless they are Team Bondi, which created a well reviewed, financial success for it's publisher


LA Noire? That game sucked. It looked awesome, but the gameplay was terrible.
   72. Select Storage Device Posted: May 25, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4140198)
Hence why I didn't say "awesome" and stuck with "well reviewed". :)

Personally, I love L.A. Noire but can understand why folks don't.
   73. villageidiom Posted: May 25, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4140216)
Put on ignore... for that?
   74. Lassus Posted: May 25, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4140218)
Concur. I was wondering if I missed a comment.
   75. DA Baracus Posted: May 25, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4140228)
Hence why I didn't say "awesome" and stuck with "well reviewed".


I don't play a lot of video games, but it's my understanding that games released by big publishers (like Noire was with Rockstar) always get good paid reviews simply because they're released by big publishers.
   76. Dan The Mediocre Posted: May 25, 2012 at 04:05 PM (#4140240)
I don't play a lot of video games, but it's my understanding that games released by big publishers (like Noire was with Rockstar) always get good paid reviews simply because they're released by big publishers.


It has to be pretty awful for it not to get a good review since almost any game with a big publisher has good graphics, which is apparently 75% of what you need for a good review. If it's a sequel to a popular game or a game for a popular idea (like Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc.) good graphics is all it requires.

Or at least that's how it seems to me at times.
   77. Paul D(uda) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 04:07 PM (#4140244)
I apologize to the BBTF tank if my anti-Schilling-gamer commentary is overly zealous. I am more than happy to go back to lurking. This subject hits close to home, and like most BBTFers I tend to start sentencing drunk drivers to death when discussion is on a subject I find myself with more than just a passing interest in.

No need to apologize. That was an insane over-reaction, and you're not the one who looks bad here.
   78. smileyy Posted: May 25, 2012 at 04:12 PM (#4140250)
It also doesn't help that they decided to cut their teeth on an MMO, which is just about the most expensive type of game to make and which you need some serious money (i.e. a publisher) behind.


Well, a AAA realtime MMO does.
   79. yb125 Posted: May 25, 2012 at 04:16 PM (#4140252)
No need to apologize. That was an insane over-reaction, and you're not the one who looks bad here.

Indeed

I don't play a lot of video games, but it's my understanding that games released by big publishers (like Noire was with Rockstar) always get good paid reviews simply because they're released by big publishers.


It has to be pretty awful for it not to get a good review since almost any game with a big publisher has good graphics, which is apparently 75% of what you need for a good review. If it's a sequel to a popular game or a game for a popular idea (like Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc.) good graphics is all it requires.


I suppose if we mean meta critic then maybe, I think assuming your game is not broken and looks like it was made in the last few years you'll get an 70-80% score. But I don't feel like bad games get good scores, sure there are scores I disagree with that go both ways, but as a whole I don't see that as in issue in game reviewing.

   80. BFFB Posted: May 25, 2012 at 04:45 PM (#4140270)
I don't play a lot of video games, but it's my understanding that games released by big publishers (like Noire was with Rockstar) always get good paid reviews simply because they're released by big publishers.


I don't think that's true (other than the one very well publicized spat with Jeff Gertsmann). The "generally postive" reviews of big AAA games is more, I think, because it's very difficult to make one that is worse than "average". They are almost always polished and competently executed, but on the converse rarely take big risks (sequelitis) and follow the crowd for what the "In" game style is of the moment. Combine this tendency with 99% of review sites scoring on a scale of 8-9.5 and you end up with some very weird clumping of scores for most games.

Part of this is that I don't think games journalism, as an industry, is that mature (as in secure and established) so has not yet generated a true critic, someone who could be compared to somebody like Roger Ebert or Mark Kermode -- a person who will take a fairly competently executed film and rip it for what it doesn't do. Probably the closest is Yahtzee Croshaw and he's more Charlie Brooker. The other problem games journalism has it that it tends to put too much emphasis on being objective, which ties back in with it being very hard to rate a AAA title as anything less than competent.

Take Kingdoms of Amalur. The game was a AAA title and was competent. It had pretty good graphics, solid combat mechanics, reasonable main story questing by the standard of an RPG and a fairly competently executed game world and story. But it was generic, the side quests were horrible, the characters offensively bland and difficulty curve broken. These things are all subjective opinion but there should be somebody out there in the gaming press saying it, and there isn't.

Also Review Scores for games should go die in a fire, along with Metacritic. The more sites which eschew them the better (like RPS).
   81. Johnny Slick Posted: May 25, 2012 at 04:56 PM (#4140274)
I understand the point but I think LA Noire was a terrible example of it. I actually liked that game a lot and would be ecstatic if future Rockstar games were like it (in fact, I'm pretty sure a "sequel" is coming out set in China).
   82. DA Baracus Posted: May 25, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4140284)
The "generally postive" reviews of big AAA games is more, I think, because it's very difficult to make one that is worse than "average". They are almost always polished and competently executed, but on the converse rarely take big risks (sequelitis) and follow the crowd for what the "In" game style is of the moment.


That's a fair point, but this is more what I am talking about...

Combine this tendency with 99% of review sites scoring on a scale of 8-9.5 and you end up with some very weird clumping of scores for most games.


The paid review floor is really high, so everything gets an artificial bump, putting them way out of line with games that are panned across the board by fans, Mass Effect 3 being the most notable. Also some searching after I posted that shows that software companies react very strongly and aggressively to non-great reviews because they affect business so much.

Also Review Scores for games should go die in a fire, along with Metacritic. The more sites which eschew them the better (like RPS).


Agreed. Metacritic's rating system is useless.

I understand the point but I think LA Noire was a terrible example of it.


YMMV. Everyone I know that played it thought it was disappointing. It has very little replay value.
   83. Select Storage Device Posted: May 25, 2012 at 05:47 PM (#4140292)
Also some searching after I posted that shows that software companies react very strongly and aggressively to non-great reviews because they affect business so much.


Totally, and it goes both ways. Obi hit it on the head -- there isn't really a strong independent force of reviewers where that medium feels like it can get away with bad reviews for big publishers, because those entities are so damn dependent on those publishers to supply them with all their daily content (speaking mostly of the IGN's, Kotaku's and other such outlets dedicated solely to gaming). Most video game journalists are more like outsourced copy writers. They can't or are too scared to break away because much of their hits come from exclusive news (which I can guarantee you is handed out selectively and carefully by the publisher).
   84. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: May 25, 2012 at 05:49 PM (#4140295)
I get mocking him for taking government hand outs, given his conservative loudmouthery, but I don't think there's anything wrong with starting a business that eventually fails.


I've come to decide that there's nothing wrong with an loudmouth conservative like Schilling taking government hand outs. Presumably, Schilling thinks that the economy should consist of a bunch of people looking working in their self-interest. Schilling took out the Rhode Island loan because he thought it was in his self-interest to do so. Nothing hypocritical there. He'd be a hypocrite had he voted or campaigned for people interested in doling out state money to private industry. But merely taking advantage of the situation on the ground is the act of a good self-interested capitalist. The system (a Schilling would say) is rotten, and the capitalist has to work with that.
   85. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:04 PM (#4140303)
I'm fully willing to consider that I overreacted, largely in part due to the trashing Schilling has come in for over this whole thing by people who don't seem to understand that most businesses fail, and that SSD wasn't responsible for even most of that. So, if I did overreact- which is very likely the case given other reactions- my apologies for flying off the handle.

At the same time, the argument that 38 Studios was "grossly" mismanaged and destroyed the careers of it's employees being made by someone who's speaking from a point of relative ignorance is the type of infuriating absolutist twaddle that drives me up the wall. Especially given that we're talking about an industry where companies collapse constantly before they even get a product out, much less a fairly well reviewed one that sold 1m+ copies. The primary reason why people are piling on 38 Studios is because of Schilling, and the sole reason people are acting so derisively about it is because of Schilling. Dude's mistake was that he tried to make a really great video game because he really likes video games. So get off the high horses, you omnipotent jackanapes.
   86. Johnny Slick Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:06 PM (#4140304)
It has very little replay value.
It's more of an adventure game in the mold of King's Quest or Phoenix Wright and yeah, those games weren't terribly replayable the way GTA or Skyrim are. Personally, I'm probably going to find something else to do after a couple dozen hours anyway and so wasn't put off by this.
   87. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:11 PM (#4140308)
putting them way out of line with games that are panned across the board by fans, Mass Effect 3 being the most notable.


To be fair, the panning by fans is often bullroar itself. Using your example, Mass Effect 3 was a brilliant game up until the final 5 minutes and did just about everything you could have hoped for from the capstone of what amounts to a 140 hour storyline with thousands of choices. Had the ending tied together the series even moderately well it would have hosannas sung to it by the fandom. A review based not on the whole game but instead upon the bilious aftertaste would be a poor review.
   88. BFFB Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:23 PM (#4140317)
The paid review floor is really high, so everything gets an artificial bump, putting them way out of line with games that are panned across the board by fans, Mass Effect 3 being the most notable. Also some searching after I posted that shows that software companies react very strongly and aggressively to non-great reviews because they affect business so much.


Stand alone and being fairly objective Mass Effect 3 was a good game. It was polished, well executed and the combat was competent (if you like cover based shooters). The dialogue was generally pretty good and the story was a par in video game terms - even the ending. What let it down was a case of the Molyneaux's and fan expectation which at the same time was both not unreasonable and unlikely to be met.

Sites also tend to use either a hundred, ten or five point scale. In a hundred and ten point scale the frame of reference they use is school grades (because it's what people have been subconsciously conditioned to accept) so a 7/70 is a "pass" and an 8/80 is "average". Metacritic translates five point scales into hundred point scales so a 4/5 becomes an 80/100 or a 5/5 becomes 100/100 which is just silly as they intuitively don't mean the same thing.

Yep. The reviews thing is often written into developer contracts, e.g. get an average of 85% on Metacritic or no bonus for you! Which is what happened to Obsidian for Fallout New Vegas (after they missed their Metacritic target by 1%).
   89. DA Baracus Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:28 PM (#4140320)
It's more of an adventure game in the mold of King's Quest or Phoenix Wright and yeah, those games weren't terribly replayable the way GTA or Skyrim are. Personally, I'm probably going to find something else to do after a couple dozen hours anyway and so wasn't put off by this.


I can understand that. As I said, I don't play many games, so replay value (and online play) is important to me. I'd like a reason to play it again once I'm finished with it, and LA Noire didn't have it. I think, unfairly, that the Rockstar tag on it gave me expectations that were unwarranted.

To be fair, the panning by fans is often bullroar itself.


I'm sure that factors in greatly, this is a field where the loudest negative voices are by those that care about it so much, a good deal of them to a level of obsession.
   90. DA Baracus Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:31 PM (#4140322)
Yep. The reviews thing is often written into developer contracts, e.g. get an average of 85% on Metacritic or no bonus for you! Which is what happened to Obsidian for Fallout New Vegas (after they missed their Metacritic target by 1%).


Wow. That's such a transparently corrupt system.
   91. caprules Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:31 PM (#4140323)
Curt wasn't making video games. Curt was making kids toys, fast food tie-ins, and feature films starring Channing Tatum. Curt thought Amalur was going to be bigger than Call of Duty. It's totally contemptible considering the means he had to create a successful company.


Do you have specific knowledge of how this impacted development of Copernicus? What resources were taken away from the development of the MMO because of the franchise that Schilling wanted to create?

It wouldn't shock me if Schilling spent thousands of dollars (maybe ten of thousands, I don't know the cost) to have McFarlane create some toy prototypes and have them in the building as a inspiration to the employees. It wouldn't surprise me if Schilling had some meetings in the conference room with some high level executives where he dreamed about what he wanted, but did that really take away front line employees and prevent them from completing their assigned tasks?
   92. Paul D(uda) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:38 PM (#4140328)

Take Kingdoms of Amalur. The game was a AAA title and was competent. It had pretty good graphics, solid combat mechanics, reasonable main story questing by the standard of an RPG and a fairly competently executed game world and story. But it was generic, the side quests were horrible, the characters offensively bland and difficulty curve broken. These things are all subjective opinion but there should be somebody out there in the gaming press saying it, and there isn't.


I don't know if I agree with you here. Seems like that's exactly what Giant Bomb and Rebel FM said about it. Maybe 1UP too.

I thought that Heavy Rain did waht LA Noire was trying to do, only much better.
   93. Dan The Mediocre Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:38 PM (#4140329)
Wow. That's such a transparently corrupt system.


Yep. I am somewhat willing to trust reviewers on independent games, but never games by bigger studios. It's basically like regular reporting, except with much less margin to offend the people who do the things you cover.
   94. BFFB Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:39 PM (#4140330)
Wow. That's such a transparently corrupt system.


It does have a touch of the Ouroboros about it.

I don't know if I agree with you here. Seems like that's exactly what Giant Bomb and Rebel FM said about it. Maybe 1UP too.


True. I'll rephrase to say mainstream gaming press. Giantbomb and the like very much preach to the converted. It's the BBTF of gaming media :)
   95. smileyy Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:41 PM (#4140332)
That's the same reason that some newspapers don't have their writers vote for MVPs, right?

Edit: Do teams still do MVP bonuses, or did MLB/PA get rid of those?
   96. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:43 PM (#4140333)
   97. Johnny Slick Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:51 PM (#4140337)
I thought that Heavy Rain did waht LA Noire was trying to do, only much better.
I never got around to playing Heavy Rain but it looks like a completely different game to me. They're both noir-y, I guess, but LA Noire was much more like a classic police procedural set in the 1940s and (nominally) using the GTA engine while Heavy Rain was more like... Fahrenheit, both in terms of the minigames you had to play and the depth of choices you have.

I'm a bit of a sucker for historical games that give you a sense of the time and place you're in, and I'm a double sucker for adventure games due to growing up with Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and the King's Quest series among others, but I think it's more "throwback" than bad. I can certainly understand where people wanting GTA set in the 40s would be heavily disappointed by it though.
   98. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 07:00 PM (#4140341)
I've come to decide that there's nothing wrong with an loudmouth conservative like Schilling taking government hand outs....The system (a Schilling would say) is rotten, and the capitalist has to work with that.


There's nothing inconsistent about what Schilling did. There's plenty wrong with it.
   99. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 07:02 PM (#4140342)
@96: That post says that employees were told that their houses were sold when they weren't. If true, that's got to be some kind of illegal.
   100. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 07:25 PM (#4140357)
Valve hasn't made even an average game yet.

Not true. DoD: Source sucked.


Fair enough I guess, I never played it or its predecessor so I have no personal opinion as to whether it sucked or not. I always assumed it was just a gussied-up version of a fan mod that Valve used as a cheap tech demo for the Source engine.

I guess you could count "Alien Swarm" too, another cheap Valve game that they just sorta threw out there.
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