Wargaming Snaps Up Fractured Space Devs for New MMO

Whenever we hear about an MMO game dev studio being shuttered, we always hope that they’ll find new work soon. In the case of the Fractured Space devs, that wish has certainly come true, as the studio has been picked up by the folks at Wargaming to help in the creation of an unannounced MMO title.

fractured space devs

Edge Case Games, who brought their online spaceship multiplayer title into maintenance mode, are now a part of Wargaming’s new UK office in Guildford. This move brings the total number of devs at this new location to 55, all of whom will be put to work on a new title for the publisher.

While information on what this new game is has not been revealed, Wargaming UK’s product director Sean Decker has cited Edge Case Games’ ability to “run free-to-play, vehicle-based MMOs, built on the Unreal tech stack” as a benefit to the studio’s efforts.

“We plan to grow the team over the next year to the size needed to build and run a world class F2P MMO, while continuing to work with other Wargaming teams, such as our Sydney studio,” said Decker.

Our Thoughts

We’d love to see Wargaming do something truly different with this new MMO of theirs, but something tells us it’s going to be another team-based vehicular combat affair. Then again why break what’s working, right? So with that in mind, here’s hoping that Edge Case Games’ vision of sci-fi makes this vehicular MMO something truly different.

Source: GamesIndustry

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Rockstar Staffers Speak Out Against RDR 2 Crunch Backlash

If our Twitter feed is any indication, the arguments on both sides of the Red Dead Redemption 2 crunch argument are pretty heated. Now, a number of Rockstar employees have stepped forward with their own experiences about working for the developer in an apparent attempt to provide more context to how things are done.

rockstar employees

A couple of anonymous Rockstar staffers have reached out to VG24/7 with private messages of their experiences at the studio. One dev admitted to only doing “minor crunch” to see RDR 2 released and expressed annoyance at the general public’s view of the studio.

“It’s been pretty frustrating seeing it portrayed as a hellish place to work – it’s really not,” reads the message. “We’re rewarded very well and crunch is never mandatory.”

Another employee has gone on official record on Twitter with their two cents.

“During the dev. of RDR I sometimes worked 50 hours during the week. This was on and off for a few months. And by on and off I really do mean off. Some weeks I just worked a flat 40 and there was zero issues with this.

“I’ve been at R* for 6 years and I have never worked, or been asked to work, anywhere remotely close to 100 hours in a week.”

Still another anonymous Rockstar employee’s message suggests that this experience seems to vary from department to department.

“Not every studio gets paid overtime. We certainly don’t. The average from all departments makes OT not look too bad but I’ve done 50+ hour weeks as standard since I started. Even if there is now work, we are told to come in every weekend anyway.”

The influx of first-hand accounts comes by way of a newly relaxed social media policy enacted by Rockstar, which now lets employees talk about their time in the studio. As for Red Dead Redemption 2 itself, the game’s launch trailer has just gone live, which you can see below.

Our Thoughts

Considering the amount of opinions that read like they came from flies inside the walls of Rockstar itself, it’s good to have a bit more context from the people who are actually, literally working there. We do hope that this quells some of the rage but also doesn’t stop the push against exploitative working practices. Especially for an industry that doesn’t have a proper union.

Sources: VG247, press release

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Rockstar Attempts to Clarify “100-Hour Week” Remarks

If you your gaming feed is anything like mine, then you were made well aware of Rockstar’s remarks yesterday about its crunch development for the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2. As a result of the blowback from this particular quote, however, co-founder Dan Houser tried to ease the RDR 2 development cycle concerns and provide context to the interview.

rdr 2 development

According to a statement from Houser, who talked about the long work weeks in the original piece, the 100-hour week crunch was mostly undertaken by the senior writing staff. “The point I was trying to make in the article was related to how the narrative and dialogue in the game was crafted, which was mostly what we talked about, not about the different processes of the wider team,” it reads.

Houser also went on to explain that this sort of work week isn’t expected of the wider members of the dev studio.

“Across the whole company, we have some senior people who work very hard purely because they’re passionate about a project, or their particular work, and we believe that passion shows in the games we release. But that additional effort is a choice, and we don’t ask or expect anyone to work anything like this.

“I believe we go to great lengths to run a business that cares about its people, and to make the company a great place for them to work.”

Our Thoughts

It’s still a bit hard not to think that the efforts of the senior writing staff don’t ultimately translate to more overtime and work for the devs below them, but that’s more supposition than anything else. Regardless, we stand firm in the belief that the culture of crunch needs to go. There just aren’t any video game features or dialogue worth putting people through that much.

Source: Kotaku

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100-Hour Work Weeks for Red Dead Redemption 2 Raise Concerns

Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser’s detail of how much work is going into Red Dead Redemption 2 could be backfiring in a spectacular way. Word of 100-hour work weeks for Red Dead Redemption 2 development has set off a number of alarms for many in the games industry.

red dead redemption 2 development

According to a piece from Vulture, the dev team behind the open world game has been putting in 100-hour weeks several times over the course of 2018, creating 300,000 animations and recording 500,000 lines of dialogue.

According to Houser, this results in a game that’s “a vast four-dimensional mosaic in which the fourth dimension is time, in which the world unfolds around you, dependent on what you do.”

However, people are focusing less on the creation of a digital fourth dimension and narrowing down on the crunch that Rockstar is putting the team through. “Survivor of GTA V crunch here. It was hell,” reads a tweet from a former dev. “Survivor of COD, KONAMI, DISNEY etc crunch. It’s ALWAYS hell,” agreed another. “Time for a fundamental change.”

The issues of crunch were examined by Game Informer early this year, and the practice is one that clearly falls under the umbrella of labor exploitation for efforts like Game Workers Unite to unionize the games industry.

This, incidentally, is not the first time Rockstar has apparently put its devs through the ringer. In 2010, Rockstar San Diego was accused in an open letter allegedly written by the wives of the development team of forcing 12-hour-long work days. The accusations came to little, with Rockstar retorting that the letter was merely a collection of opinions from “anonymous posters on message boards” being spun as fact.

Our Thoughts

We’re hard-pressed to think of any game feature that’s worth that much development time. Considering that RDR2 has already been delayed a few times before, hearing that the team is being put through those kinds of working conditions is disheartening, to say the absolute least.

Sources: Vulture via GamesIndustry, Twitter

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SpatialOS Unveils a Dev Kit for Unity

The SpatialOS platform, which provides cloud services to a number of online worlds like Worlds Adrift and Fractured, is branching out once again. A new SpatialOS Unity dev kit has been introduced, allowing game developers the ability to make their own large-scale online titles with the Unity engine.

spatialos unity dev kit

The new dev kit offers the same features for managing and hosting large online play spaces for games, but also comes with modular game features to create a variety of online games and performance improvements to SpatialOS overall. There’s even an open source FPS Starter Project module that lets Unity developers create an online shooter that can handle as many as 200 players at once right out of the box.

“Fast iteration means you can focus on what’s most important – finding the fun in your game,” remarks Improbable’s global marketing head Paul Thomas. “Improbable’s focus with the SpatialOS GDK (game developer kit) for Unity is allowing developers to create unique content faster than ever.”

Those who are interested in finding out more about SpatialOS for Unity can get the details and download here.

Our Thoughts

Well, this most definitely opens things up! There are quite a few game dev studios out there that prefer to work in Unity, so offering them the chance to make their own MMOs and large-scale online games is extremely exciting to us to say the least!

Source: press release

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RUMOR: Horizon Zero Dawn Dev Working on Online Title

We’re hopping on the Good Ship Supposition to Isla Rumor to look at the elusive and deadly Tyrumorsaurus Rex…alright, I’m done. The fact remains, however, that a Guerrilla Games online title appears to be coming together, as several moves by the Horizon Zero Dawn studio seem to indicate as much.

guerrilla games online title

One of the indications of this new game comes by way of a job posting on the Guerrilla Games careers page, which is looking for a user interface programmer to help create a UI for “an epic open world game” of some sort. What’s intriguing about this job listing can be found in the “pluses” section, which lists “experience shipping network enabled code, online games” as a desired skill for the new hire.

Tied with this are other new additions to the Guerrilla Games team; most notably former Rainbow Six Siege devs Simon Larouche and Chris Lee, who both are bringing their online multiplayer experience to the developer.

Naturally, these are leaps to conclusions as Guerrilla Games has yet to make any official announcement on what their new project is. This means these developments could mean anything, from a multiplayer component to a Killzone or Horizon Zero Dawn sequel to an entirely new IP. We’ll be sure to keep our ears to the ground for more.

Our Thoughts

Ideally, an all-new IP would be great, but a lot of the new hires made by Guerilla Games seems to be leaning to the FPS/Killzone side of things. Perhaps they’re looking to reinvigorate that franchise with some online shooting?

Sources: Guerilla Games Careers Page via Comicbook.com, VG247

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Wargaming Announces New Studio and MMO Project

When we think of Wargaming, we almost immediately have World of Tanks or World of Warplanes spring to mind. A new Wargaming UK studio, however, might be changing that as the parent company has confirmed both the studio’s founding and word that they’re working on an original MMO title.

wargaming uk studio

The new studio housed in Guilford, UK will be led by Sean Decker, the gentleman you see pictured above. Decker brings 17 years of experience in a number of top game companies like CCP Games, EA and DICE working for EVE Online, Mirror’s Edge and Battlefield respectively.

Information on this studio’s new MMO doesn’t appear to be finalized yet, but the announcement does state that the new game will be based on a new IP. It will also launch free-to-play on multiple platforms and will be powered by the Unreal Engine.

With the opening of a new studio comes a bunch of empty chairs waiting for positions to fill; 25 of them to be exact. Anyone reading this that also happens to be interested in a job just outside of London can check the jobs list.

Our Thoughts

It’s nearly impossible to think that Wargaming will do anything other than history-fueled vehicular combat titles or RTS games, but then again this new studio might provide something completely unique. It’s still too early to know for sure, so we expect things will be quiet for a while. Still, we’ll be sure to keep eyes on this studio for any new developments.

Source: press release

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THQ Nordic Elaborates on Amalur IP Acquisition

One of the more surprising gaming news stories to come out of this month was the Amalur IP acquisition by THQ Nordic, which didn’t really provide more information beyond the fact that it had happened. Now, though, there’s a bit more of a clearer picture of why the studio acted on the acquisition.

amalur ip acquisition

In an email interview with product development director Reinhard Pollice, a few early details on where things go from here with the Amalur IP were provided. Judging by their response, THQ Nordic seems more focused on the action RPG Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning than anything related to the Amalur MMORPG Project Copernicus.

“Our portfolio of IPs is focused on interesting core gaming IPs. We see Amalur as an IP that is known for relying strongly on deeply designed mechanics, in this case RPG mechanics. That’s what we consider core,” wrote Pollice. “THQ Nordic in general has a lot of passion for these type of games.”

With all of that said, outright firm plans for what THQ Nordic will do with the license still are not decided upon.

“It would be too early to make any statements about any future plans with the IP. Our approach in these situations is to learn as much about the past and existing games as possible, and once we feel in a comfortable position, we will try to get something off the ground. But at this point nothing has been decided.”

Our Thoughts

So this pours a bit of cold water on the idea of Amalur: The MMORPG becoming a thing ever again, but we can never really say never. As mentioned previously, though, we wouldn’t mind Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning making a remastered comback. We’d just love to see that core RPG idea brought to the MMO/multiplayer space, too.

Source: Venture Beat

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CCP Games Sale to Fuel Future Projects

So now we’ve all had a fair length of time to fully digest the CCP Games sale to Pearl Abyss last week, perhaps we can all take stock in just what that will ultimately mean for the studio and its future projects. Handily, CEO Hilmar Petursson did just that in an interview with Variety.

ccp games sale

In the interview, Petursson parroted again that the sale of the company to Pearl Abyss would mean great things, but he also elaborated on just what direction things will be going for the studio.

CCP Games has already been eyeballing the mobile games market and will now have the means to pursue a real-time strategy game for mobile based in the EVE universe. There is also word of a PC MMO based on EVE, continued development on the FPS Project: Nova, and a multiplayer PC game based on a new IP.

With all of that said, Petursson stressed that there will be heavy investment in EVE Online. One of the most notable updates due for the game is a full overhaul of its engine, which sounds like it goes above and beyond the graphical update that arrived with the Into the Abyss update. “If we are to really live up to the aspiration of having a game that goes on forever, of making plans for the third decade, we need to look at that,” noted Petursson.

Our Thoughts

With all of this out there, this certainly makes us even more curious about what kind of timetable we’re looking at for all of these CCP Games projects. We definitely hope they’ll be able to follow through on their aspirations. After all, they also pursued the VR market with gusto and that didn’t exactly pan out.

Source: Variety

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Ben Brode Introduces the Team Members of Second Dinner

Ben Brode, who you’ll remember as the director of Hearthstone who left Blizzard back in April, has most definitely been busy in his time away from the company. A new video from Brode offers a quick look of the Second Dinner team he has taken on, which include several former Hearthstone devs.

second dinner team

Second Dinner now consists of a total of five developers who are coming together to make games. These names include former Hearthstone production director Yong Woo; former senior client engineer Michael Schweitzer; former executive producer Hamilton Chu; and former Blizzard senior concept artist Jomaro Kindred.

All of the new arrivals look to be taking up the same positions for Second Dinner that they had in their prior jobs at Blizzard in what looks like a smaller but no less comfortable new studio space.

While the announcement video doesn’t give us any firm detail on just what Second Dinner is up to, the number of former Hearthstone devs in employ does seem to suggest a CCG of some sort, or at the very least some manner of online game. You can watch Brode’s happy face and the other faces of his new team in the embed below.

Our Thoughts

The energy and charisma of Mr. Brode is too infectious to ignore and we’re glad to see him in front of a camera and doing what he loves once again. While it’s still clearly early days for whatever’s next for Second Dinner, we are eagerly awaiting word on that front.

Source: Blizzard Watch

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