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Star Trek - Elite Force II Goes Gold, Team Laid Off

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the good-news-bad-news dept.

Games 36

Warrior-GS writes "GameSpy has confirmed that developer Ritual was forced to lay off most of the team that created the PC FPS Star Trek: Elite Force II, only two days after the game went gold. Apparently, a couple of other projects fell through. Ritual's other in-development games, Counter-Strike for Xbox and Counter-Strike: Condition Zero for PC are unaffected." Fansite Ritualistic has plenty of extra information on Elite Force II, which is looking promising despite this unexpected news.

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The WHOLE team? (2, Insightful)

heldlikesound (132717) | more than 10 years ago | (#6200600)

Did they think about who would write updates for the game, or was the team so good that they got it perfect on their first try. If that's the case, why on earth would you fire them all?

Re:The WHOLE team? (3, Interesting)

simoniker (40) | more than 10 years ago | (#6200677)

Unfortunately, if you're a developer and are receiving milestone payments from your publisher at regular intervals, then your last milestone payment will probably be at the gold master of the game.

At that point, you'd have to wait a few months to even _possibly_ get royalty payments from that title, through. So if Ritual didn't have a lot of money in the bank to pay developers until a new project came through.. issue. I think the same type of thing happened with the Myth III development team [mythwa.com] (scroll down) a coupla years ago, who were, oddly enough, ex-Ritual people, although the inside scoop on that may be a little different, and blatant speculation abounds, etc.

Re:The WHOLE team? (2, Informative)

jspoon (585173) | more than 10 years ago | (#6202121)

With Myth 3, it was worse. The publisher decided the game was done and fired everyone, even though it wasn't sufficiently tested and many issues were left unresolved. The Mac version, developed in house and originally slated for simultanious release, was tossed around by various porting houses and eventually released 3 months later. I'm still bitter.

I hope the situation at Ritual isn't the same.

Re:The WHOLE team? (3, Informative)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 10 years ago | (#6201220)

Actually, they didn't lay off the whole team, there are enough left that if a patch would need to be written it would be so a Ritual Employee says.

Jeez (1)

DumbWhiteGuy777 (654327) | more than 10 years ago | (#6200602)

"...developer Ritual was forced to lay off most of the team that created the PC FPS Star Trek: Elite Force II, only two days after the game went gold." Jeez. "Nice job guys. Your game did so great, how about an vacation?"

You will join the collective… (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6200639)

â¦of the unemployed. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. At least until the fall when things could possibly pick up again.

Re:You will join the collective… (2, Funny)

meatFreedom (681262) | more than 10 years ago | (#6200678)

This fucking industry is cutthroat. Don't look now, that's your job running away on two legs.

Re:You will join the collective… (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6204713)

Things I know as fact

1) Eleven employees were laid off
2) All of the un-employed are still entitled to any royalties that Elite Force makes. Trust me, this is not standard and fairly generous.
3) In the state of TX, these people are entitled to a large amount of un-employment (about $400 a week), which is paid by the company that fired them.
4) Ensemble, Gearbox, Terminal Reality, and Paradigm are all in the area and hiring.
5) Those who were laid off were mostly artists, so a patch to fix system incompatibilities can still be made.

Re:You will join the collective… (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6200727)

All their jobs have been outsourced to India. Does Pud@fuckedcompany.com know about this one?

Well Don't count on elite force III (1)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 10 years ago | (#6200774)

If that isnt a case of cutting of your nose to spite your face, I don't know what is. You can certainly see why sequels are often worse than the original.

Re:Well Don't count on elite force III (1)

Phantasiere (209248) | more than 10 years ago | (#6203919)

Why not? Ritual didn't make the first Elite force (Raven did), so why wouldn't Activision give the license to a different devoper to make the third game?

Too bad (1)

ArmorFiend (151674) | more than 10 years ago | (#6200863)

Too bad management doesn't seem to be an "Elite Force".


Re:Too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6202325)

Parent's sig: Pay for health club? Drive car to work? Buy a bike instead, save the air and your $$$.

Sure, that'd be great... if it didn't take me 3 hours to bike to work (one direction), all the while worried about getting hit by one of many SUV's driving down all the six-lane roads which are everywhere in South Florida.

Off Topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6203904)

So its 40 miles from your home to your job?

And presumably you're already commuting 50+ minutes by car each way.

What my household normally does in that case is bike/transit/bike: bike to a public transit node (bus or train), ride the most of the distance, then have a $20 el-cheapo bike permanently stationed at the station to take ourselves the last mile or two. (Many communities have this as an official program called "park and ride" or something similar). The transit time is much more useful than time spent in a car - you can read the paper, or a book, or sleep.

In all my alternative commutes, I find the first route I try never ends up being the optimal one. Shortcuts, often through suburbs or low traffic zones, tend to appear more readily to a "man on horseback" than a person looking at a map. Usually the optimal route appears after a month.

Another thing to check out would be the local ridesharing programs. One way to cut emmissions by a factor of 4 is to cram 3 other workers into your car.

Often times I find people that buy their houses in Outer suburbia then are like "public transit sucks! I have to drive because they don't come out here". Often they didn't consider alternative transport at all in making their location decision. More's the pity.

Wow, that'll really encourage developers (2, Insightful)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 10 years ago | (#6200965)

I know if I suspected I would be fired whenever I finished a project, I wouldn't be in any hurry to get it done. This kind of thing could drag morale and productivity into the toilet.

Re:Wow, that'll really encourage developers (5, Funny)

DiscoOnTheSide (544139) | more than 10 years ago | (#6201165)

Thats IT!!! THATS why Duke Nukem Forever hasnt come out yet! Those sneaky developers. Always one step ahead of the man. Take THAT corperate dress code!!! ....orrrrr I'm just bitter about my current coding job...

Unbelievable..... (3, Insightful)

Desmoden (221564) | more than 10 years ago | (#6201055)

This is just getting out of control. When are execs going to realize that eng are not like running water or heating!?!?!? We ARE the company. We ARE the product. Not to understand the importance of marketing and sales, but people poor their hearts into this code. Their personalities come out in these projects. This is like a racing team firing drivers after they win a race. "Oh a driver is a driver, if we do another race we'll just hire another driver, his skills and experience didn't really impact this victory" INSANITY!

Not to mention that many of us "gamers" and also engineers. And I for one will do everything I can to NOT pay for this title. I don't want that company making ONE DIME off the dedicated work of a buch of coders and designers they cut.

This is just total BS and I hope they burn for it.


Re:Unbelievable..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6201369)

if there is no new project there is no money there is no salary ... what the fuck are they supposed to do, have a bake sale? say "you're not fired, you're just working for free!" given the small nature of a game company like Ritual, it's highly the people that did the layoffs and the people that got laid off are friends ... it's fancial reality dude, there is NO MONEY TO PAY THEIR SALARIES.

Sorry to break it to you (2, Insightful)

metalhed77 (250273) | more than 10 years ago | (#6201492)

But the product is the brand. The classic example being nike. Anyone ever talk about the factory workers being the product? Hell no. They talk about shoe designs and don't give a fuck if this years shoe was made in Taiwan and not Indonesia. The product in this case is the franchise + game design. In fact, the fact that activision simply paid this software company to develop a game for the band they paid for is another example of this. Its all moving to a giant virtual company where things like the workforce become a lot more 'fluid'. Sure the human side of it sucks just like it shops for sweatshop workers, that doesn't mean it isn't happening.

dear god (1)

metalhed77 (250273) | more than 10 years ago | (#6201506)

so many typos / spelling / grammar/ errors. Feh, its still readable.

btw, i meant ever hear anyone talk about the factory workers being the company, not being the product.

Re:Sorry to break it to you (1)

Ender Ryan (79406) | more than 10 years ago | (#6203651)

Most Star Trek games do poorly. The factory workers don't design the shoes.

The company probably had no choice though, as others have said. When you run out of money... Further, the developers may get some royalties depending on their contracts, so buying the game would probably help them. Further #2, if Ritual gets into better shape, they may try to rehire some of these guys.

Re:Unbelievable..... (2, Insightful)

SuperGlue (468780) | more than 10 years ago | (#6201823)

And I for one will do everything I can to NOT pay for this title. I don't want that company making ONE DIME off the dedicated work of a buch of coders and designers they cut.

Ummm..... I guess I understand your logic. Note to self.... It is perfectly OK to screw someone over as long as you were not the FIRST person to screw them over....... Bad enough they lost their jobs, now some people will not buy their game as a way of protesting against the company execs (Who I bet still have jobs). This misguided logic ensures that the coder/developers who lost their jobs never see a kickback from any game sales (Provided they nogotiated royalty payouts when first Hired).

But Officer....., They Stole the car first!!


Re:Unbelievable..... (1)

andrewski (113600) | more than 10 years ago | (#6202303)

They'll realize this as soon as you engineers have the balls to go ahead and not work for these slime merchants. I guarantee that the game developers who were let go are out banging on the doors of any other goming house who will have them, whether or not that company has a history of layoffs right after project completions.

Re:Unbelievable..... (1)

Alizarin Erythrosin (457981) | more than 10 years ago | (#6202775)

In this job market, engineers are like running water. There are plenty of people on the job market who will work just for a paycheck (I'm one of them).

Besides, like somebody said higher up on the page, it may be a while before the company sees a profit on the game, so they might not have been able to afford to pay the developers in the meantime.

Software is not free (2, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 10 years ago | (#6206172)

This is just getting out of control. When are execs going to realize that eng are not like running water or heating!?!?!? We ARE the company ...

This is getting rediculous. When are slashdotters going to realize that software is not free (brewery). Somebody has to pay for it. A developer either spends his precious time without monetary compensation, a developer is subsidized by government and private interests, a developer is paid in a work-for-hire situation, etc. Has anyone considered that there was not any additional money coming in for this project, no new projects ready to go? A company can not keep employess if it has no money for payroll. I am not saying this is what happened, I'm just amazed that so few are considering this possibility. I've met far more managers that felt like shit for laying off good people they like because the money was gone than pointy-haired-bosses who see an opportunity to cut expenses.

Standalone vs. online -- different business models (4, Insightful)

Allen Varney (449382) | more than 10 years ago | (#6201094)

A friend of mine who has worked at several computer game companies explained why he joined a startup doing a massively multiplayer online game, Dransik [dransik.com] . "When you do a standalone game, the publishers pay you until it's done, and then they fire you. When you do an online game, you work for free until it's done, and then they start paying you." If I had to choose, I'd do what he did.

Re:Standalone vs. online -- different business mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6201115)

You mean he worked on that game Dransik and it's actually making money???


This is common (1)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 10 years ago | (#6201239)

This type of thing is common in the gaming industry. People get fired all the time, but are quickly swept up. I wouldn't be surprise if all these people had jobs by the end of next week. There isn't much job security though except the stuff you make yourself. EA, 2015, and Mythic are asking for their CVs, so I've heard.

Surefire way to keep your job... (2, Funny)

angryflute (206793) | more than 10 years ago | (#6201910)

Hmmm, maybe this could explain why Duke Nukem Forever has been taking so long to go gold -- the developers want to remain gainfully employed.

boycott? (1)

claud9999 (412067) | more than 10 years ago | (#6202749)

Any interest in a (formal) boycott? Any other way to express our disgust with corporate bull like this? Sounds like a Dilbert to me.

I'd not likely buy the game anytime soon anyways (haven't bought a game for more than $20 in over a year now...And I save on having to buy the latest h/w.)

Re:boycott? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6203831)

^^ Yeah, well no fucking wonder your opinion counts for jack shit with the game publishers, eh?

newsflash: most teams are lame (1)

james_northrup (575400) | more than 10 years ago | (#6202845)

This headline means nothing. this article offers few facts. Software talent doesn't go unnoticed, but it is easier to flush a team and approach individuals in private.

no patch... (1)

Hythlodaeus (411441) | more than 10 years ago | (#6202892)

The lack of knowledgable people to patch this will be the programmer's revenge. The demo was unplayable for me. Even though I meet/exceed all minimum specs and have mainstream (nVidia, Creative Labs, Intel) hardware and ran it at mimimum settings I got... wait for it... (boy did I ever wait)... 5 SECONDS per FRAME. If more than a few other people have the kind of experience I did, well...

The Rhetorics of Bussiness (1)

The Moving Shadow (603653) | more than 10 years ago | (#6204317)

"We found ourselves unable to maintain multiple AAA teams and were forced to release some of the most gifted game developers back into the industry's talent pool. "

- quoted from Tom Mustaine, vice president and director of development at Ritual.

That has to be the most beautiful way to put. Don't think of yourself of feeling worthless, sitting at home skimming through the employment ads in the newspapers after a night of beer and crisps (the only thing you CAN afford) while playing your old PSone titles over and over, but think of yourself as swimming in the tropical talent pool of the gaming industries. Now where are the plastic palmtrees when you need them?
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