Trion layoffs?

Heard about it on Twitter, trying to find some more info. Anyone have any?

Looks like IGN has a piece up now.

Layoffs have hit Trion Worlds. IGN sources suggest that well over half the company has been let go, with some suggesting numbers as high as 80%.

I thought Defiance did great?

Wow that sucks. Defiance is a fun MMO, I hope it stays around a while.

Excuse me for something on the sidelines, but this pisses me off:

@hartsman: Same as last time - If I can help at all with intros/anything, please find me. This model of game making is so fundamentally broken.

This is Scott Hartsman. EXECUTIVE PRODUCER at Trion, before being pretty much the same at SOE.

It pisses me off when those people who help build the tower, then later complain for how it’s built while also avoiding all responsibilities.

He should have said: “This model of game making THAT I CONTRIBUTED SUPPORTING is so fundamentally broken.”

Link to a discussion from 2005 when the same Scott Hartsman DEFENDED this “model of game making”:

I am really annoyed when people are this hypocritical.

Besides this, what happened with Trion/Rift is extremely predictable. Is anyone surprised by the course of events?

It was a 140 character tweet, you don’t know what he meant. He might have been referring to MMOs in general, or buy2play MMOs, or subscription MMOs, or DLC, or tying a huge game’s release date to a TV show, or he might have been referring to the cyclical game development process where studios need to hire for each project then fire when it’s completed. We don’t know.

Still don’t see the point of this part of the tweet “This model of game making is so fundamentally broken.” If he cant explain what he means in the allowed number of characters then leave it out or say nothing at all. Or even tweet twice.

We are becoming a society of constant mindless chatter, it’s like people have to say something about something all the time when it may be better to just stfu. Talking just to be heard is a waste of time.

Since he’s sorry that people get fired to me he simply means that he intends the fact that development goes in short bursts and then leaves people on their asses as soon the market share shrinks. This is exactly the whole point in that discussion long ago and what he defended.

His game design argument works perfectly well even applied to the work practice:

We should be so lucky to have that content beginning to lose its original value.

Is the same as saying: we should be grateful that people lost their jobs, because it means that we gave them those jobs and they could enjoy them while it lasted.

Or: instead of complaining you just lost your job, you should be grateful that you had one until now.

Long term business models, long term MMO design, long term game company management, these are the things I complained at the time. The fact is no one cared, and no one cares now. And pitying those who lost jobs is hypocritical when you’ve done nothing to find a solution (and actually supported the other way).

I’m no expert and I don’t work in the industry but it just seems crazy to me that game studios casually throw out so much knowledge and experience between projects, there has to be a better way of doing things. No wonder it sometimes seems like various technical or design problems with games are an endless cycle of history repeating itself.

Sounds like it isn’t as doom and gloom as first announced. At least not at the 80% level as rumored. Doesn’t suck any less if you are one of the ones out a job, though.

Just now heard about this. Lousy way to start weekend.

Best wishes to all affected for speedy return to gainful employment.

I basically have no idea about the corporate dynamics of a devco.

Having purchased the ‘Season Pass’ for Defiance, I was disheartened to hear about these layoffs. Am I right in presuming that they’ve laid off a chunk of the devteam for Defiance, but are keeping on a skeleton crew to man the servers, and finish the planned DLC’s/Expansions that the season pass covers? It seems just wrong to sell on future content and then ditch the staff that might be involved in making/supporting it.

So is this just the typical dev cycle (where people get laid off after a big project), or is it something more telling about the franchise? I was assuming the former, but I’m not exactly in the know.

Was wondering the same. I was only after the other CE content though, even though the digital items were mostly crap. In hindsight the Steam version was probably the better purchase. At least I got a statue which seemed pretty good quality.

Scott Hartsman replied to me on Twitter, but he mostly repeats how I was seeing things:

Wow. Hey! Blast from the past. I was talking about the creation/distribution model, not game design.
AAA is too analogous to movies in all the worst ways, unless you hit it out of the park.
Bar for success keeps rising, forcing cost per attempt higher. Leads to increasing amounts of bad news, like this year and last.
Meanwhile, those operating outside that model increasingly succeeding.

I both believe that this IS ultimately about game design, and that being executive producer doesn’t free you of responsibilities. In fact I believe it’s his task to deal with this and decide how a project should be handled.

Not sure that’s fair. If it’s not your money, you don’t get to decide how it gets spent. Isn’t an exec producer for a game project responsible for design, project management, and personnel rather than finance and strategic direction?

Executive producer usually means you get to decide how to spend the dev budget, you don’t have the freedom to completely change the development process and determine how the game will be monetized. I’m sure he had a voice in those discussions, even a prominent one, but not a deciding one.

Twitter in a nutshell.

The game industry deliberately models itself on the movies, with producers instead of managers and all that crap, but there are two fundamental differences.

  1. People in the movie industry know what it takes to make a movie. The gaming industry still doesn’t know what it takes to make a game after all these years. This is partly why everyone crunches – because project plans are all broken (the other reason is that management is malicious and has no heart, and just does it to save money).

  2. People in the movie industry know how to make money selling movies. Most game industry studio chiefs still have no clue. Of course the most grotesque example lately was Schilling, a newbie, but nine times out of ten when a studio fails, it’s for this reason – they run out of money, and they should have known that was going to happen well in advance.

Now of course movie-making is risky business compared to other lines of work, but in general movie studios understand how movie-making works and how it pays. Game studios just don’t get it. Partly this is because game industry economics is fundamentally broken, and partly it’s because game studio owners just don’t seem to be very good businessmen for whatever reason.

Yes, and they don’t share much with each other, either as regards technical work or general business procedures. Every studio or at least every engine effects developer invents water effects for the first time on every project, it seems, and they still don’t look right for any weather conditions but a pond in calm weather. This one doesn’t have ripples; this one doesn’t have shore effects; and none of them have waves. Oddly enough everyone uses commercially available trees, though…