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Shiny Founder Quits To Aid Sale

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the sad-state-of-affairs dept.

Businesses 61

Gamasutra reports that Dave Perry, the founder of Shiny Entertainment, quit his role with the company to aid its sale from floundering Atari. From the article: "Shiny Entertainment was founded in 1993 by Dave Perry, and produced the hit Earthworm Jim series, as well as the financially successful Enter The Matrix. It is also noted for more esoteric titles such as MDK, Messiah and Sacrifice. The studio was sold to French publisher Infogrames by Interplay in 2002 for an estimated $47 million, before the company bought the rights to the Atari name and logo." Sacrifice was a unique and under-rated strategy title. It was flawed, to be sure, but the immediacy of summoning your troops in the field was a lot of fun.

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61 comments

MDK (5, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762405)

Ah, I remember it well. The 3d first game that I recall which used it's own engine's graphics to render it's introduction realtime; the first FPS that I ever played which gave a real sense of personality to its enemies; and still one of the most surreal games I ever played.

Add some style to yolur gaming space (-1, Offtopic)

gamerpimp (955968) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762629)

I've found a really Hot video game accessory that I haven't seen anywhere else , It's called a GameSpinner. It keeps your games safe and where you can reach them quick and easy. It's like having spinning rims on your xbox or ps2! Check out this site, www.gamespinnerz.com, they have console skins, gaming t-shirts, video games and accessories too!

Re:Add some style to yolur gaming space (1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762784)

I agree, I for one would like Spinning Rims [meatspin.com] .

Re:MDK (1)

squoozer (730327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762690)

It certainly was a very strange game. I seem to remember the graphics were exceptional to the time as well. One of the rooms was all mirrored surfaces IIRC which was something I hadn't seen outside ray traced scenes before. I though the weird landscape really worked well though and gave the game something that most don't have. I certainly enjoyed it way back then.

Re:MDK (1, Informative)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14764025)

"It certainly was a very strange game. I seem to remember the graphics were exceptional to the time as well."

While that game was in development, they were saying that it was written almost entirely in assembly language. They wanted to squeeze out every resource of the CPU possible.

Re:MDK (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14770444)

Not a single mention of MDK being written in assembly language, yet it's 'redundant'. I wonder who I pissed off this time.

Re:MDK (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762692)

There was the occasional use of a sniper view, but MDK was definitely a 3D platformer, not an FPS.

Re:MDK (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762704)

First game besides a flight sim that I ever played that had force feedback support.

Re:MDK (1)

Baby Duck (176251) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762760)

MDK would cycle its color palette faster than the human eye could perceive the shifts. This made the graphics appear to have more colors than the underlying hardware could handle at one time. Although 3D, it would auto-aim for you along the Y-axis, not too much different than how Doom II would do it. I played with a joystick that allowed me to circle strafe with the greatest of ease, and the AI couldn't cope. The smooth one-mile zoom on the sniper scope was a real marvel to see in action. Ah, such a great game!

MDK2 was a blast as well, with each of the three characters having their own playstyle.

Re:MDK (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 8 years ago | (#14765380)

Oh yes, MDK. I was a junior in high school, I think. The day the demo was released, I started downloading it right before going to bed. We had 28.8k dialup with an... unreliable ISP. The next morning, I woke up, and found to my astonishment that it had all downloaded. Got ready for school EXTRA quick with 15 minutes to spare, so I began installing the demo.

Installation took 5 minutes, leaving me 10 minutes to revel in beautful 640x480 3D bad-guy killing with exceptionally smooth control and frame rate. The fact that this was even possible on a Pentium 100 Packard Hell with no video acceleration astounded me enough on its own. The fact that it was a strange and gorgeous game made it even better.

Let me tell you, I have no idea what went on at school that day. None. Probably missed an assignment or two. Might have even gotten yelled at by a teacher for not paying attention in class. All I can remember is playing that 10 minutes of MDK over and over in my head throughout the whole day. It was absolutely agonizing having to wait months for the retail version to hit the shelves.

I was, of course, very careful not to reveal the (rumored) meaning of the acronym "MDK" to my mother until *after* she helped me to purchase it...

Matrix (3, Insightful)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762412)

financially successful Enter The Matrix

Which means the game wasn't succesful with fans. The only good part of the game was the cutscenes.

Another great game that didn't sell. (1)

ShadowsHawk (916454) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762442)

Scarifice was flawed in certain aspects, but the gameplay and story more than made up for any minor issues. On the whole, I found the game to be bug free, relatively balanced and a joy to play through (3 times actually).

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (1)

svip (678490) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762482)

Sacrifice is one game any aspiring game designer should play. It has its flaws, but it also has a wholeness, an overall perception of having been nurtured for by its makers.

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (2, Insightful)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762505)

I don't see any real major flaw with sacrifice. Never see a bug, and I'm playing it again at home forl ike the 16th time. I think its one of the most underrated games next to System Shock 2.

If anyone is up for a networked game of sacrifice, gimmie a hollar.

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (1)

svip (678490) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762570)

Add Nox and Giants: Citizen Kabuto to that list, funnily enough all games that came out near eachother.

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 8 years ago | (#14764477)

I bought it twice, once for PC and once for an Apple laptop. I think it wasn't popular because it was completely different than all the other RTSs out there, totally unique.

I noticed that I just brought it up on my new PC and it looks great.

I have a pretty good Japanese single player map for it called "Marduk Encounter!"

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14768358)

> I think [Sacrifice] wasn't popular because it was completely different
> than all the other RTSs out there, totally unique.

And yet a pretty, but gameplay-wise complete turd like Warcraft III comes along in a feeble attempt to be a squad-based combat RTS, and sells millions more. Hint: That was slapped on in partial response to Sacrifice. "Upkeep"? Bzzzt! Sorry, poor game design re-writing the gameplay at the last second.

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 8 years ago | (#14778105)

I have a pretty good Japanese single player map for it called "Marduk Encounter!"
In case anyone ever looks here again, Marduk Encounter! [iij4u.or.jp] . "It is a good day to die."

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (1)

mrseigen (518390) | more than 8 years ago | (#14766208)

Could never find it for sale. There was a Mac port, which was even harder to find (if that's possible). If I scrounge up a copy I'll be sure to let you know.

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (2, Interesting)

Malor (3658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762657)

Sacrifice is probably the best game of its generation. It's interesting how much it looks like Giants:Citizen Kabuto.... it shipped at very nearly the same time, and it has much of the same look, at least in spots. It's almost eerie.

Sadly, Giants got all the press, even though it wasn't nearly as good a game. People liked the idea of playing the Giant more than they liked the idea of a really good game. And Walmart didn't like it.

Sacrifice would have been better if the multiplayer were stronger... the battles ended up mostly being "my clump of critters versus your clump of critters". It was very difficult to figure out just what was going on, or why you'd won or lost, because there was so much happening in such a small space... not to mention your limited perspective, stuck down in the world itself.

As a single-player game, though, it was truly excellent, with great replay value. It's a classic game in the old sense... with many paths to follow, many things to see, and a great deal of gameplay, but with the graphics of a fairly modern game.

Sacrifice also woke gaming up to the power of Wal-Mart. They refused to carry this game because it involved sacrificing souls on altars. (that's how you gain power: you kill your enemies' creatures, and convert their souls to your cause, bringing them back as your own creature types afterward.) And that, as far as I know, killed its sales. There have been no further games involving sacrifices, if you'll notice.

If you're tired of the latest trend, '8 hours of gameplay on rails for $50' (ie, F.E.A.R), and you're willing to invest some time learning a real classic, hunt down Sacrifice on EBay.

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (1)

Malor (3658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762684)

Oh, I need to take that back.... SECOND best game of its generation. "No One Lives Forever" shipped right around the same time, and it was, in my opinion, absolutely the best FPS ever done. Superb voice acting, incredible variety, good story, top-notch level design. If Sacrifice knocked one out of the park, NOLF made low orbit.

NOLF2, on the other hand, just wasn't that good. Buy the first one, but skip the second. It has moments, but it's really not worth hunting down... a pale shadow of its predecessor.

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (2, Interesting)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762769)

Still think System Shock 2 is 'the' game of the last century. Incredible story, scary as hell voice acting, the graphics are good for the times (someone made new models to add to the game to 'update' it).
I play SS2 and sacrifice when the newer games start getting boring. Both are still very playworthy!

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (1)

Malor (3658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762827)

I didn't like SS2 as well, mostly because I found it impossible to finish. :( I'm sure it's great, but I've never had the full experience.... with NOLF, using your brain and being sneaky, you could avoid most conflict and come through most levels nearly unscathed.

What I've read suggests that the Psi track in SS2 was super-hard. That's what I was trying to do both times I've played it, so that may be part of the problem. I suppose a trainer or a cheat might have worked, but in a survival-horror type game, that just seems so contrary to the fundamental goal that I never tried one.

And the respawning monsters really pissed me off, so I eventually gave up on it completely.

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (3, Informative)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762953)

Yeah, I've never finished the psi track (tried a few times, but its uber hard... probably a flaw on their side). The army track is too easy imho (with enough practice, you can just go guns blazing and kill the scary effect). Navy is the way to go. Use the computers to your advantage, you can use the guns, but not very well, so it becomes a major disadvantage at bad times. Can't tell you how many times I snuck into a corner of a room with a zombie hearing and searching for me, and I only have 1 or 2 shots before my gun is jammed. I actually shook with fear the first couple times...

But the spawning only happens in the first couple levels were there are security cameras. A naval officer can disable security for long periods of time, and eventually you can start using your hacking skills to place turrents and stuff under your control...

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14767474)

Pure Psi track in that game was [i]intended[/i] to be the hardest way to play on a given difficulty. Psionics, by design, were meant to be a supplement to whatever you were doing, not the only thing you can do. While Psi gets all the tools needed for survival, it gets them later than on the other two tracks, and even then you're just going to have to pick up Standard 1 so you can use a pistol: There just aren't enough Psi Hypos in the game to blast your way through. If you want to play someone who is primarily Psi, I would suggest getting Standard 1 in the first upgrade room and going out of your way to find a pistol.

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14763484)

Still the scariest game I've ever played....

Jaysyn

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (1)

Peganthyrus (713645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14767280)

"[Planet Moon] was founded in 1997 by the Shiny Entertainment team that created MDK." - Planet Moon's front page [planetmoon.com] .

That would tend to explain the similar art styles. Who knows how much design they did on Sacrifice before splitting, how amiable the split was or wasn't, and how much of the work they did stayed in the game? And how much of PM's art team was trained by Shiny's, or vice versa?

And then there's the other studio that split off from Shiny, Neverhood.

Re:Another great game that didn't sell. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14768395)

> And that, as far as I know, killed its sales. There have been no further games involving sacrifices, if you'll notice.

When I think back to the best RTS games, they are in this order:

1. Sacrifice
2. Total Annhilation
3. Dungeon Keeper I
4. Dungeon Keeper II
5. Starcraft

Note 3 of the 5 have unacceptable premises. In DK, you capture and convert, via torture, the good guys to your evil ways. Yet that was really just a small part and in all three cases, was not at the core of why the games were awesome to play.

Merger (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14762450)

Shiny will be merging with this company:

http://www.thehappycompany.com/ [thehappycompany.com]

When the company particpates in Hands Across America, we will finally have our shiny happy people holding hands.

Re:Merger (1)

artifex2004 (766107) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762514)

When the company particpates in Hands Across America, we will finally have our shiny happy people holding hands.


When I hear that term, I think of psychotic yuppies off their meds, calmly grasping the freshly-severed limbs of their children. But then, I live in Texas. [courier-gazette.com]

Re:Merger (1)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 8 years ago | (#14765420)

that was a reach. Put down the silly juice and back away slowly.

Earthworm Jim 2 (2, Insightful)

Overneath42 (905500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762469)

Still one of the most distinctly unusual platformers ever developed. Sure, the controls were a little wonky at times, but the sense of design in that game still looks and feels fantastic, ten years after release.

Re:Earthworm Jim 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14762553)

You're talking about graphics. The artists responsible for that whole look, the animation and humor are no longer with Shiny (left shortly after EW Jim was released).

PS: I don't understand why they are showing their hand. Perrry quits. Says it's to help the sale. Also says he will come back to the company after the sale. So what is the POINT of doing this if it's made public?? ... Probably had something to do with his own shares.

Re:Earthworm Jim 2 (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762723)

Which means nothing if the game itself is terrible! The platforming levels were nothing special, compared to the first one; the isometric shmup levels were boring; and the bouncing puppies' levels were a chore.

I dont get it. (0, Troll)

JVert (578547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762473)

He's quiting to rejoin once the company is sold? Is he trying to sell himself as a separate entity along with shiny so he'll have more power over the company then when he first sold it to atari?

Re:I dont get it. (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762591)

From TFA:

Perry suggests that facilitating the sale to another company was his main reason for quitting the developer, saying to the Register, "If I'm an employee of Atari, then I'd be stepping all over them. This way, I'm representing a buyer. I can act swiftly and get buyers on the table ... To be clear, I cannot sell the company but I can get publishers excited about the company enough to get a bidding war going on."

It sounds more like he's doing a combination parenting and "F*ck you, Atari!" role. I don't doubt that he wants to join back up after the sale, but this way avoids a clear conflict of interest. If he stayed, he'd have to do what's best for Atari, which is obviously not what's best for Shiny. This way, he can do what's best for a studio that is for all intents and purposes "his baby" so that it doesn't get sold from one slave-owner (Atari) to another, like EA. At least if it does get sold to a soulless institution like EA, he can try to get a better deal for Shiny than would otherwise be made if he had to represent Atari.

That doesn't sound like a power trip to me. It seems to be a reasonable action to take for someone who cares about an entity that he helped to create and to raise.

Re:I dont get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14763903)

If he helped to 'create and to raise' he should have looked after his brethren a little more careful: And if time comes, HE should pull the trigger.

Re:I dont get it. (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762604)

He's quitting to avoid a conflict of interest with Atari since he wants to get investors to back him in buying back the company that he sold to Atari. It's a risky strategy since another company could buy Shiny and leave him out in the cold. Of course, if he still has any of that $47 million he got from Atari, he could always start a new company.

Re:I dont get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14762618)

He's leaving the company to avoid conflict of interest between his employers (Atari) and his studio. Presumably he's going to act as something of a buyer's agent, trying to get Shiny sold to a decent company, at which point he might be working against atari's needs (cash, now, as much as possible)

RTFA, he is rejoining after the sale... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14762498)

He is just "quitting" temporarily so he can help in the sale of the company, to make sure that it doesn't get screwed up and his baby gets ruined.

Dear Dave Perry (1)

mausmalone (594185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762552)

Dear Dave Perry,

What ever happened to the realtime tesselation engine from Messiah? Can we have it in some game that's coming out some time later? How come the characters in Messiah and MDK were far more detailed then the characters in Enter the Matrix, which were modeled from actual people?

Re:Dear Dave Perry (4, Funny)

JimTheta (115513) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762627)

How come the characters in Messiah and MDK were far more detailed then the characters in Enter the Matrix, which were modeled from actual people?

Are you suggesting that the video-game Neo wasn't as expressive or lifelike as Keanu Reeves?

Re:Dear Dave Perry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14764532)

My favorite patch note from that game
"Wheels now appear round on cars"
Or a close second
"You can now alt-tab out of the game"

Programming at its finest.

Re:Dear Dave Perry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14762866)

No offense dude, but I think you need to go take a look at MDK and Messiah again.

Re:Dear Dave Perry (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14763254)

Maybe he mistook Kurt's sprite for a 3d model?

Re:Dear Dave Perry (1)

abdulla (523920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14763276)

And advanced version of the realtime tessellation was used in Sacrifice, last I heard.

Re:Dear Dave Perry (1)

mausmalone (594185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14767752)

But not in Messiah. They used the power of your machine as a guide to generate different LOD models for each character at the start of the level, but didn't tesselate in realtime.

Also, apparently VR Baseball 2000 used the actual realtime tesselation engine (licensed from Messiah before the game ever came out) so they could more efficiently render 10 players on the field.

Since when was "Earthworm Jim" a classic? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762574)

Since when was "Earthworm Jim" a classic? What's next: Claymation Fighters?

Re:Since when was "Earthworm Jim" a classic? (1)

Kazzahdrane (882423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762711)

Since...it just was. Are you seriously saying you weren't aware that the first two EJ games are considered console classics? Wow.

Re:Since when was "Earthworm Jim" a classic? (1)

clackerd (797052) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762960)

i guess it is a classic platformer. if you're not into those, then it may not be a classic to you. both EJ1 and EJ2 had some of the most bizarre enemies and silly weapons how can it not be considered a classic? hell, the instruction manual for EJ2 should be on display at the smithsonian.

Re:Since when was "Earthworm Jim" a classic? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14763270)

The problem is that, at least in EWJ2, there is no defining gameplay present. Each level plays like an entirely different game and the result feels like a disjointed mess. The platforming with guns levels seem to form the majority but they are still too few and too different for being called the main gameplay.

Re:Since when was "Earthworm Jim" a classic? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14768464)

Eh, you can't go back and re-enjoy it with the same enthusiasm. Especially if you've never played them before.

Both Lode Runner (an ancient Macintosh platformer -- how ancient? Note no qualifiers on the phrase "Macintosh") and Pitfall were stunners for their time. Yet both re-issues of them as well as re-envisionings in modern 3D always fall flat. You just can't live up to the original no matter how hard you try. For every Aliens, there's a dozen Matrix sequels. For every Terminator II, there's two dozen Kill Bill Vol. 2's.

Re:Since when was "Earthworm Jim" a classic? (1)

tuffy (10202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14768545)

Lode Runner predates the Macintosh. I recall playing it on the Apple ][ years before.

Gabby Scabby! (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 8 years ago | (#14763266)

Pick Me! Pick ME!!

Never played the game, but the cartoon was in the same league as The Tick, maybe a bit more surreal.

Any cartoon featuring a fur-bearin' trout is an Instant Win(tm)!

Re:Since when was "Earthworm Jim" a classic? (1)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14763274)

People like to throw around the word "classic" whenever fits of nostalgia are induced. My guess is that Zonk enjoyed the game and naturally assumes that everyone else did(or should have) as well. I liked both Earthworm Jim games, but in reality, few video games can truly earn the title of "classic", such as Pac-Man, Doom, etc.

On the plus side, Earthworm Jim's cartoon was better than the Pac-Man cartoon.

Re:Since when was "Earthworm Jim" a classic? (1)

vonPoonBurGer (680105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14764612)

EWJ *not* a classic?? I hope you don't consider yourself an avid gamer or similar, because if you don't have nostalgic memories of one of the most creative and distinct platform games of all time, those labels just don't apply to you.

He didn't really leave.... (1)

smaerd (954708) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762616)

....he was just sitting on a teeter-totter and someone shot the rope holding the cow up in the air.

Aladdin (1)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14762776)

The only memory I have of any Dave Perry game is that cheat code for Sega Genesis Aladdin which displays Dave Perry's face on the screen, then enters a cheat mode.

Go to the options screen, move the cursor over Difficulty, and type out ACACACACBBBB.

Re:Aladdin (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14768490)

Thanks! My kid just typed this in and all it does is unlock Aladdin Coffee, where he gets it on with Princess Poopstool, or whatever the hell her name is. :(

So long. (1)

Strell (877448) | more than 8 years ago | (#14763313)

Dave Perry, I believe, said the Gameboy Advance was an astronomically bad idea, and I think it was because he wanted 3D gaming on the go.

At that point I basically tuned him out forever.

dperry.com (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14764667)

If you're interested in understanding the game biz, Perry's website [dperry.com] isn't a bad place to start.

I recommend starting with his memory dump [dperry.com] .

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