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Gas Powered Games Layoffs

Gas Powered Games has laid of some staff shortly after the launch of their Wildman Kickstarter seeking $1.1 million for a new action/RPG. This is reported by Kotaku, who confirmed that the company has cut some staff with honcho Chris Taylor after getting wind of them through the grapevine. Taylor did not confirm the extent of the layoffs, however, so there are dramatic elements to the Kotaku report which remain speculative, as one source told them these were due to the Kickstarter underperforming, while other sources have told them that almost everyone who worked for the company was let go. There's a follow up to this on Gamasutra. "The studio is still operating, but we had to slim WAY down to conserve cash reserves," Chris Taylor confirmed for them, confirming some earlier comments that they are all in on Wildman: "We spent all the last dough that we've had, and the last several months working on it. So we're betting the company on it."

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54. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 20, 2013, 12:12 WaltC
 
Morga wrote on Jan 20, 2013, 00:44:

Total Annihilation is one of THE BEST real time strategy games in history. A real classic. Chris Taylor is a legend of the games industry.

Well, it's obvious what you think about CT...;) But too many poor choices (like trusting MS to float your boat so you won't have to) through the years are what have created the events leading to this thread. I tried to like TA, I honestly did. Glad you enjoyed it.


Wildman is actually an original and ambitious game where they'll combine best aspects of their previous games, learn from mistakes, and use backer input while producing it.

I read the KS PR notes and watched the videos, too.


I'm not worried about "too short", cause Wildman supports modding so you can make your own game-worlds and game-modes to play for free or sell.

Here's what I imagine: a single-player game long enough and well-written enough to hold my interest for at least 50 hours, and a game that supports mods. That is, if you'd like me to pay $50 for your software. If you want to drop the price to $19.99 as in Torchlight II, I'll go there with you, too, provided the quality is up to Torchlight II standards. I really don't think that is asking too much. I'm hoping this is exactly what GPG does because they'll have a mega-hit on their hands if they do.
 
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53. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 20, 2013, 00:44 Morga
 
WaltC wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 17:42:
I was disappointed with Total Annihilation--such great potential, such poor execution--such an overall disappointment.

Total Annihilation is one of THE BEST real time strategy games in history. A real classic. Chris Taylor is a legend of the games industry.

WaltC wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 17:42:
I'd like to see GPG and Chris make it. But Wildman honestly looks to me like an idea sketched on the back of a napkin sometime between Christmas 2012 and New Year's day 2013.

Wildman is actually an original and ambitious game where they'll combine best aspects of their previous games, learn from mistakes, and use backer input while producing it.


WaltC wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 17:42:
Chris: remember what you did *right* with DS1 and strive for that again--"too short" is a far more egregious sin than "too long."

I'm not worried about "too short", cause Wildman supports modding so you can make your own game-worlds and game-modes to play for free or sell.
 
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52. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 22:53 tuddies
 
he knows what he is doing and i hope wildman will be a success

good luck!
 
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51. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 17:42 WaltC
 
$1M today to do a full-featured, full-length game is peanuts. If people want to see developing going back to "the garage" then they need to get in behind every effort they see like this that engages their interest. The $45 KS tier still available for this game is absurdly great for the amount of stuff you get for the money. I want to see games reduced in development costs and reduced in price, and supporting this kind of effort is the way to do that. Cutting out the game publisher is a great way to eliminate lots of unnecessary costs.

However, for me, Wildman may not be my first choice--or even in my top ten Kick Starters, regrettably. I was a huge fan of Dungeon Siege (1)--must've played the game through at least three times. Loved it, and especially loved its length--thought it was *right.* (I refuse to spend $40-$50 on a 10-20 hour SP game--I want *at least* 50 hours, and I want an immersive game, too. I'm not easy to please. Can't recall how much time, precisely, I spent playing DS1 through, but it was long enough to satisfy.) Indeed, I still have a modded version of DS1 installed which I fire up from time to time under Win8x64.

Next thing I know Chris Taylor is out there telling the world that their biggest mistake with DS1 was that the game was "too long." "Oh, no", I can remember thinking at the time--"I'm reading GPG's obituary!" Still, when DS2 was released, I bought it anyway--and was disappointed at how far the game design had shrunk back in the other direction--it was short & shallow, and I found it nowhere near as intriguing as DS1. Worse, the game seemed to make no effort to distinguish itself. I was disappointed. I was disappointed with Total Annihilation--such great potential, such poor execution--such an overall disappointment. Same for several other Chris Taylor/GPG game titles I've bought since DS1--well, all of them really. The "less is more" advertising mantra has never worked for me, and probably never will.

I'd like to see GPG and Chris make it. But Wildman honestly looks to me like an idea sketched on the back of a napkin sometime between Christmas 2012 and New Year's day 2013. I wish 'em the best and if and when Wildman ships I might even buy it so long as it isn't another cookie-cutter "half-way" cell-phone game of the kind that seems so popular today. If I never see another such game it will be too soon for me.

Chris: remember what you did *right* with DS1 and strive for that again--"too short" is a far more egregious sin than "too long."
 
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50. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 17:40 mag
 
Prez wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 17:29:
I didn't know Taylor sold off the rights to Supreme Commander. Who ended up with it? I never heard any of this.

I would assume Square Enix, since that's who published SC2.
 
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49. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 17:29 Prez
 
I didn't know Taylor sold off the rights to Supreme Commander. Who ended up with it? I never heard any of this.  
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Goodbye my Monte boy. May you rest in the peace you never knew in life.
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48. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 17:03 mag
 
I hope their KS is successful. I really didn't like SupCom2, but SupCom 1 was one of my favorites, and I'd like to see them get another chance at making a good game.

But, don't think I'll be throwing my money in.
 
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47. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 16:59 DangerDog
 
Darks wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 16:46:
DangerDog wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 15:35:
jacobvandy wrote on Jan 18, 2013, 22:45:
Here's the video update of the man himself explaining the situation.

He also asks at the end for people to sort of vote whether they should keep the campaign going or shut it down, in the KS comments. However, only backers can post comments, so that's bound to be biased (in a good way). I think there has been an uptick in pledges in the past hour or two, though, as well.

Think what you will about CT and GPG in general, or whether or not you think Wildman will be good or even get finished... I just hate to see people completely misunderstanding what's going on here. I've seen some comments on the KS page and elsewhere, of people flat out saying shit like FUCK YOU I HATE YOU THIS COMPANY IS DEAD GOOD RIDDANCE YOU FAIL HAR HAR, etc., purely because they're interpreting the layoffs as indication of a scam or poorly executed plan. They're taking a risk, sure, but I'm fairly certain it's a last resort that has been thought over way more than we'd ever realize.

I don't think that video was the right way to handle the situation, it just speaks more to bad preparation on GPG's part that they've put all their eggs in one basket for this game to make or break it for them. The same controversy hit Frontier Developers in the middle of Elite's kickstarter but you didn't see David Braben crying about lack of funding early in its kickstarter - which also started out poorly.

Lots of people buy into kickstarts based on the nostalgia factor, I would have probably "kicked in" for a continuation of Supreme Commander series if it meant a return to Total Annihilation form.

They should know by now what games they've sold the most copies of.

Danger, you have a complete lack of understanding of what is really going on with this company. They are at the end of their rope, the cash flow is about gone, and they have very little cash left to keep the company going. He had to lay off just about everyone or they were done.

This is why hes going the KS rote. This is what its for, its not like hes trying to device anyone about where the company is at or going. Hes at the end. There have not been many projects coming his way over the past three years. They had to put Kings and Castles on hold and go and work on Age of Empires online to try and stay afloat, that project only lasted so long. If this project funds, he will be hiring back several of those people who were let go.

This is not a lack of bad preparation. This is his last stand. Call it what you will be hes just trying to survive. Also, why do you think he sold off many of his IPs, SupCom and Dungeon Siege. He needed money to keep going. Trust me; he did not want to sell that stuff off. He had no choice.

Imagine losing your job, your bank account is about empty and your still trying to pay for your cable, Electric, gas and water. What ones would you shut off first?

I'm not faulting him for having to lay people off, I didn't know he sold off his most valuable IP's to keep afloat. I just don't think he should have released a video that for better or worse gives the appearance that is less about making a game and more about helping him make rent this month.

I'm sorry his master plan to set the world on fire with "wildman" isn't catching on but don't cry about it when you're trying to push a brand new IP without a robust presentation campaign behind it.

Perhaps it's just time for GPG to downsize and focus on smaller projects.
 
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46. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 16:52 Sepharo
 
Stormsinger wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 16:41:
Sepharo wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 16:36:
Stormsinger wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 16:31:
Clear enough this time?

Yes, it is clearer now, you are blaming programmers who get into business for the industry's woes. Pretty silly but so are nearly all generalizations like that.
Yeah, I guess it is silly to think that poor management accounts for most business failures...it's -much- more reasonable to think that the game industry is just "special" and ever so much more difficult than any other industry.

That's not what I nor you said.
Poor management... Fine.
But you said poor management because of programmers and then in your clarification made that even clearer. Many of the most successful companies in the industry are managed by former programmers and the software/gaming industry as a whole is greatly comprised of people working in non-programming positions who started off coding. You see a failure and point at a former progammer now failing at business but ignore the successful ones and the failures by people who've never programmed. It's silly.
 
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45. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 16:46 Darks
 
DangerDog wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 15:35:
jacobvandy wrote on Jan 18, 2013, 22:45:
Here's the video update of the man himself explaining the situation.

He also asks at the end for people to sort of vote whether they should keep the campaign going or shut it down, in the KS comments. However, only backers can post comments, so that's bound to be biased (in a good way). I think there has been an uptick in pledges in the past hour or two, though, as well.

Think what you will about CT and GPG in general, or whether or not you think Wildman will be good or even get finished... I just hate to see people completely misunderstanding what's going on here. I've seen some comments on the KS page and elsewhere, of people flat out saying shit like FUCK YOU I HATE YOU THIS COMPANY IS DEAD GOOD RIDDANCE YOU FAIL HAR HAR, etc., purely because they're interpreting the layoffs as indication of a scam or poorly executed plan. They're taking a risk, sure, but I'm fairly certain it's a last resort that has been thought over way more than we'd ever realize.

I don't think that video was the right way to handle the situation, it just speaks more to bad preparation on GPG's part that they've put all their eggs in one basket for this game to make or break it for them. The same controversy hit Frontier Developers in the middle of Elite's kickstarter but you didn't see David Braben crying about lack of funding early in its kickstarter - which also started out poorly.

Lots of people buy into kickstarts based on the nostalgia factor, I would have probably "kicked in" for a continuation of Supreme Commander series if it meant a return to Total Annihilation form.

They should know by now what games they've sold the most copies of.

Danger, you have a complete lack of understanding of what is really going on with this company. They are at the end of their rope, the cash flow is about gone, and they have very little cash left to keep the company going. He had to lay off just about everyone or they were done.

This is why hes going the KS rote. This is what its for, its not like hes trying to device anyone about where the company is at or going. Hes at the end. There have not been many projects coming his way over the past three years. They had to put Kings and Castles on hold and go and work on Age of Empires online to try and stay afloat, that project only lasted so long. If this project funds, he will be hiring back several of those people who were let go.

This is not a lack of bad preparation. This is his last stand. Call it what you will be hes just trying to survive. Also, why do you think he sold off many of his IPs, SupCom and Dungeon Siege. He needed money to keep going. Trust me; he did not want to sell that stuff off. He had no choice.

Imagine losing your job, your bank account is about empty and your still trying to pay for your cable, Electric, gas and water. What ones would you shut off first?
 
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44. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 16:41 Stormsinger
 
Sepharo wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 16:36:
Stormsinger wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 16:31:
Clear enough this time?

Yes, it is clearer now, you are blaming programmers who get into business for the industry's woes. Pretty silly but so are nearly all generalizations like that.
Yeah, I guess it is silly to think that poor management accounts for most business failures...it's -much- more reasonable to think that the game industry is just "special" and ever so much more difficult than any other industry.
 
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43. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 16:36 Sepharo
 
Stormsinger wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 16:31:
Clear enough this time?

Yes, it is clearer now, you are blaming programmers who get into business for the industry's woes. Pretty silly but so are nearly all generalizations like that.
 
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42. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 16:31 Stormsinger
 
Sepharo wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 16:21:
Stormsinger wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 15:59:
m00t wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 15:52:
You claim to have worked in the industry for 12 years, but you show a pretty piss poor understanding of how it operates and how it really is substantially different from most other industries. Certainly every industry shares aspects of what the games industry does, but very few of them have to deal with all of the problems as extreme as this industry does. The nature of digital gaming is that it's actually very easy to get in to but much, MUCH harder to survive in. There are fewer protections against bad actors and sudden shifts in the environment, both of which happen with high frequency. Most publisher contracts are fairly draconian, yet aside from the novelty that is Kickstarter and the ilk, there are few alternatives to them aside from simply not existing at all. Recently that's improved somewhat with Steam, Faceobok, and the proliferation of flash games, but doing A - AAA games as an independent is still one of the hardest, yet rewarding, things to do. Still, even people in the industry don't seem to value the work that is done as much as it is in other industries. Part of that is simply the immaturity of the industry, part of that is there are a lot of eager people who are willing to forgo pay and benefits for the opportunity. Either way, the industry is different.

In your infinite wisdom, if every industry is the same, why did you leave?
Keep being an asshole, and this will be the last time I respond to you.

Money, stability, and poor management (mostly because of programmers whose egos make them think that they are too smart to fail at business), are the biggest reasons. And #1 and 2 are mainly caused by #3.

That's why the industry is the way it is or that's why you left? Either way... Blame it all on programmers? Come on...
Hmmm...didn't think it was that hard to understand, but I'll spell it all out.

The game industry is notoriously low-paying and unstable. Most of the studios (that I've dealt with, and definitely the one I worked for) are/were run by programmers who started their own company with the attitude that "well, I'm smarter than a business grad, so I can certainly run a business. That's simple compared to writing excellent code."

That lack of business savvy, combined with the ego to think it doesn't matter, is the primary reason the game industry has a worse record than most others. The converse takes care of most of the rest...businessmen who think that game design and programming are so simple that anyone could do it are just as bad, but there are fewer studios run by those sorts.

Having gotten married while I was working in the industry, my ability to tolerate low pay and risk was substantially reduced when the recession hit. After being laid off, I migrated back to the real world for about double the pay, and a significantly larger market for my own skills (which means more stability).

Clear enough this time?
 
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41. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 16:21 Sepharo
 
Stormsinger wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 15:59:
m00t wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 15:52:
You claim to have worked in the industry for 12 years, but you show a pretty piss poor understanding of how it operates and how it really is substantially different from most other industries. Certainly every industry shares aspects of what the games industry does, but very few of them have to deal with all of the problems as extreme as this industry does. The nature of digital gaming is that it's actually very easy to get in to but much, MUCH harder to survive in. There are fewer protections against bad actors and sudden shifts in the environment, both of which happen with high frequency. Most publisher contracts are fairly draconian, yet aside from the novelty that is Kickstarter and the ilk, there are few alternatives to them aside from simply not existing at all. Recently that's improved somewhat with Steam, Faceobok, and the proliferation of flash games, but doing A - AAA games as an independent is still one of the hardest, yet rewarding, things to do. Still, even people in the industry don't seem to value the work that is done as much as it is in other industries. Part of that is simply the immaturity of the industry, part of that is there are a lot of eager people who are willing to forgo pay and benefits for the opportunity. Either way, the industry is different.

In your infinite wisdom, if every industry is the same, why did you leave?
Keep being an asshole, and this will be the last time I respond to you.

Money, stability, and poor management (mostly because of programmers whose egos make them think that they are too smart to fail at business), are the biggest reasons. And #1 and 2 are mainly caused by #3.

That's why the industry is the way it is or that's why you left? Either way... Blame it all on programmers? Come on...
 
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40. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 15:59 Stormsinger
 
m00t wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 15:52:
You claim to have worked in the industry for 12 years, but you show a pretty piss poor understanding of how it operates and how it really is substantially different from most other industries. Certainly every industry shares aspects of what the games industry does, but very few of them have to deal with all of the problems as extreme as this industry does. The nature of digital gaming is that it's actually very easy to get in to but much, MUCH harder to survive in. There are fewer protections against bad actors and sudden shifts in the environment, both of which happen with high frequency. Most publisher contracts are fairly draconian, yet aside from the novelty that is Kickstarter and the ilk, there are few alternatives to them aside from simply not existing at all. Recently that's improved somewhat with Steam, Faceobok, and the proliferation of flash games, but doing A - AAA games as an independent is still one of the hardest, yet rewarding, things to do. Still, even people in the industry don't seem to value the work that is done as much as it is in other industries. Part of that is simply the immaturity of the industry, part of that is there are a lot of eager people who are willing to forgo pay and benefits for the opportunity. Either way, the industry is different.

In your infinite wisdom, if every industry is the same, why did you leave?
Keep being an asshole, and this will be the last time I respond to you.

Money, stability, and poor management (mostly because of programmers whose egos make them think that they are too smart to fail at business), are the biggest reasons. And #1 and 2 are mainly caused by #3.
 
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39. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 15:56 Nate
 
What little I've seen and read about Wildman isn't peaking my interest. For that matter, none of Gas Powered's recent products have gotten my money.  
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38. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 15:52 m00t
 
You claim to have worked in the industry for 12 years, but you show a pretty piss poor understanding of how it operates and how it really is substantially different from most other industries. Certainly every industry shares aspects of what the games industry does, but very few of them have to deal with all of the problems as extreme as this industry does. The nature of digital gaming is that it's actually very easy to get in to but much, MUCH harder to survive in. There are fewer protections against bad actors and sudden shifts in the environment, both of which happen with high frequency. Most publisher contracts are fairly draconian, yet aside from the novelty that is Kickstarter and the ilk, there are few alternatives to them aside from simply not existing at all. Recently that's improved somewhat with Steam, Faceobok, and the proliferation of flash games, but doing A - AAA games as an independent is still one of the hardest, yet rewarding, things to do. Still, even people in the industry don't seem to value the work that is done as much as it is in other industries. Part of that is simply the immaturity of the industry, part of that is there are a lot of eager people who are willing to forgo pay and benefits for the opportunity. Either way, the industry is different.

In your infinite wisdom, if every industry is the same, why did you leave?
 
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37. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 15:51 Dades
 
Stormsinger wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 15:36:
As a matter of fact, I do not work in the industry...any more. Not that it's relevant to my points in any way, but I spent over twelve years doing so. But thanks for pointing out the absurdity of making assumptions based on a few sentences.

Frankly, not one reason has been given to support the idea that the games industry somehow operates under different conditions than other industries. EVERY industry has to deal with changing conditions, failed contracts, and limited resources.

Good planning allows for that...poor planning does not do so...worse planning never even considers the possibility. The only thing debatable about that statement is the adjectives one chooses to use, the spectrum stays the same. Maybe you'd prefer "fantastic management can avoid laying people off, good management lays them off with warning, and bad management destroys the company." I fail to see any meaningful difference there...except how low or high you want to set the bar for "good". I prefer a higher target myself.

I agree with you, there is a fundamental problem in the gaming industry when a single failed product is almost certain death for a company. The publishers negate their own risk as much as possible by offloading work in contracts with developers and if developers want to break out of that mould then they need to interface directly with fans and start getting credit from banks and investors like the publishers do so that they can afford to fuck up once or twice.

The costs of development aren't going to shrink any time soon so they need to start applying management techniques from other industries otherwise they will just keep going in this stupid cycle and the industry will keep growing smaller as bigger players eat little ones.

The rise of Kickstarter, Steam and a much larger independent games movement is very promising but they need to stop treating Kickstarter as a method to fund every "Wild" idea they have. I love original works but you need to be in a good financial position to take a chance on them, maybe Kickstarting something recognizable from their back catalog would have been a smarter move and they wouldn't need to lay off so many people.

- DADES - This is a signature of my name, enjoy!
 
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36. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 15:36 Stormsinger
 
m00t wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 14:26:
Stormsinger, you must not work in the games industry. Often it is completely irrelevant how good your management is and how well prepared you are. Sometimes contracts end before you expect (often with no warning) and not everyone can spare the resources to have many projects going at once (actually very few do). Bad management would be to run the company into the ground, beg people to stay with no pay for months without a realistic plan. At least paying severance and PTO gives people some cushion to find some place else. There are a lot of things that are simply out of your hands as an independent game developer and you gamble every time you choose to make a game.

As a matter of fact, I do not work in the industry...any more. Not that it's relevant to my points in any way, but I spent over twelve years doing so. But thanks for pointing out the absurdity of making assumptions based on a few sentences.

Frankly, not one reason has been given to support the idea that the games industry somehow operates under different conditions than other industries. EVERY industry has to deal with changing conditions, failed contracts, and limited resources.

Good planning allows for that...poor planning does not do so...worse planning never even considers the possibility. The only thing debatable about that statement is the adjectives one chooses to use, the spectrum stays the same. Maybe you'd prefer "fantastic management can avoid laying people off, good management lays them off with warning, and bad management destroys the company." I fail to see any meaningful difference there...except how low or high you want to set the bar for "good". I prefer a higher target myself.
 
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35. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 15:35 DangerDog
 
jacobvandy wrote on Jan 18, 2013, 22:45:
Here's the video update of the man himself explaining the situation.

He also asks at the end for people to sort of vote whether they should keep the campaign going or shut it down, in the KS comments. However, only backers can post comments, so that's bound to be biased (in a good way). I think there has been an uptick in pledges in the past hour or two, though, as well.

Think what you will about CT and GPG in general, or whether or not you think Wildman will be good or even get finished... I just hate to see people completely misunderstanding what's going on here. I've seen some comments on the KS page and elsewhere, of people flat out saying shit like FUCK YOU I HATE YOU THIS COMPANY IS DEAD GOOD RIDDANCE YOU FAIL HAR HAR, etc., purely because they're interpreting the layoffs as indication of a scam or poorly executed plan. They're taking a risk, sure, but I'm fairly certain it's a last resort that has been thought over way more than we'd ever realize.

I don't think that video was the right way to handle the situation, it just speaks more to bad preparation on GPG's part that they've put all their eggs in one basket for this game to make or break it for them. The same controversy hit Frontier Developers in the middle of Elite's kickstarter but you didn't see David Braben crying about lack of funding early in its kickstarter - which also started out poorly.

Lots of people buy into kickstarts based on the nostalgia factor, I would have probably "kicked in" for a continuation of Supreme Commander series if it meant a return to Total Annihilation form.

They should know by now what games they've sold the most copies of.
 
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