Redundancies At Real Time Worlds

By Kieron Gillen on August 16th, 2010 at 11:16 am.

Sad news broke on Friday. Firstly, with rumours that in addition to previously announced scaling back of the APB team post-launch, the whole team of the recently announced Social Networking Game MyWorld would be laid off. Later, speaking to Develop, Studio Manager Colin Macdonald confirmed that the further redundancies had been made, and that those cuts were made to the MyWorld team, but stopped short of saying the project was cancelled and they “were still looking at options for it.” However, APB would continue…

As McDonald said to Develop

“We’ve got the whole team working on making APB as good as it can be,” Macdonald said.

“It’s a shame things haven’t turned out the way we had envisaged them, but then the beauty of online gaming is that we can address problems and keep on improving experiences.

“We’re completely behind APB, it’s got huge potential, and we’ll continue to make new content for it.”

Speaking to Edge Online, it seems that the people they couldn’t move from MyWorld have been made redundant – though exact numbers are lacking at present.

There’s two messages I’d take away from this. Firstly, that the company have strimmed back a future project implies that there was trouble securing a deal and there was no way to support the time at present. Secondly, it puts the future of the company in APB and making it work. While all of RPS were disappointed with APB, it’ll be interesting to see how it’ll continue to develop from here. I hope everyone released lands safely soon.

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86 Comments »

  1. Choca says:

    From time to time, I log back on my APB account (I never finished the hours of gameplay given for free with the game) to customize some stuff, create a fun logo or make a new car. Then I actually play the game for ten minutes or so and remember why it will never be fun.

    A shame, really.

    • Zogtee says:

      What hurts is looking at all those assets: models, animation, art, audio, years of work, etc, and realize that all this will go down with the game and vanish. It’s an astonishing waste.

      I understand that the lure of the MMO is difficult to resist. Everyone wants to get lucky and create a cash cow that shits money, but I don’t think all games can (or should) be MMO’s. Possibly APB would have done better as a regular boxed game with added DLC to buy, like Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age.

      And as weird as it may sound, I think a singleplayer version of WoW would sell. Make use of all the stuff (graphics, architecture, monsters, music, etc) and adapt the quests to singleplayer. It involves work, sure, but not as much as creating a new game from scratch. I understand well enough that it is an impossible thing. A game like that would compete with the money machine and you don’t mess with a good thing.

      But I wish that all those failing MMO’s would go this route, instead of desperately trying to squeeze out a last dollar, and then dying a slow death.

      Good luck to all those who are out of a job, because of this. :(

    • StingingVelvet says:

      It really does seem like a waste than when an MMO dies, it dies forever. Also from a selfish perspective it’s a waste to me as otherwise interesting open-world games I would play are locked into multiplayer I don’t enjoy and a fee not worth paying for solo play.

      I wish all MMOs had singleplayer options.

  2. Nallen says:

    My friends and I were so up for APB. I hope it gets a polish and some good reviews, I’d still love it to be good.

  3. ExRTW says:

    What a fucking mess. I’m ex-RTW.

    An outcome like this wasn’t desired by anyone at RTW, but game development is a weird business. A game can play poorly right up until only a few months before release, for a variety of reasons – Crackdown was awful right up until a month or two before it came out (some would say awful afterwards, too, but I’m trying to make a point :). Knowing this, it can blind you to a game’s imperfections – or lead you to think it’s going to come right by release. You end up in this situation where you’re heads down working your ass off, not well able to critically assess your own product. APB itself only really came together technically relatively late in its development cycle (and it still obviously has problems), leaving too little time for content production and polish, and lacking any real quality in some of its core mechanics (shooting / driving). It’s not that the team was unaware of these huge issues, but a million little things conspire to prevent you from being able to do anything about them. It can seem difficult to comprehend, it certainly was for me before entering the industry – ‘How did those idiots get X wrong in game Y?’. No team sets out to ship something anything less than perfection, but projects can evolve in ways that no one seems to be in total control of. All that said, it was pretty clear to me that the game was going to get a kicking at review – the gap between expectation and the reality was huge. I wasn’t on the APB team, so I played it infrequently, during internal test days etc. I was genuinely shocked when I played the release candidate – I couldn’t believe Dave J would be willing to release this. All the issues that had driven me nuts about it were still there – the driving was poor (server-authoritative with no apparent client prediction, ergo horrendously lag intolerant), combat impact-less, and I found the performance of the game sub-par on what was a high-spec dev machine.

    But the real killer, IMO, is the business model. This was out of the team’s hands. The game has issues, but I think if you separate the business model from the game itself, it holds up at least a little better. A large scale team based shooter, in big urban environments, with unprecedented customisation and some really cool, original features. The problem was that management looked at the revenue they wanted to generate and priced accordingly, failing to realise (or care) that there are literally a dozen top quality, subscription free team based shooters. Many of which, now, have progression and persistence of some sort – for free. The game would have been immeasurably better received it had simply been a boxed product, with paid-for in-game items, IMO. This may not have been possible, given what was spent on the game and the running costs, but the market is tough. You can’t simply charge what you feel like earning and hope the paying public will agree with your judgement of value. Many of us within RTW were extremely nervous at APB’s prospects long before launch, and with good reason, as it turns out.

    They also failed spectacularly to manage expectations. When Dave J spoke out saying there would ‘not be a standard subscription model’, he unwittingly set expectations at ‘free to play’. When it’s announced that we’re essentially pay-per-hour, we get absolutely killed in the press, somewhat understandably. The game also announced far too early (though it kept being delayed), and had little to show but customisation for what seemed like years, largely because internally we (correctly) judged it to be the stand out part of the game. But we should have kept our powder dry. Our PR felt tired and dragged on and on, rather than building a short, sharp crescendo of excitement pre-release. We also went to beta far too early, wiser heads were ignored when it was pointed out that any kind of beta, even very early beta, might as well be public as far as generating word of mouth. The real purpose of beta is publicity, not bug fixing. We never took that lesson on board. We also made the error of not releasing fixes externally to many of the issues early beta testers were picking up, keeping the fixes on internal builds, I presume to lessen the load on QA. This simply meant that to early beta testers, it looked as though we were never bothering to fix the issues they found, when in fact, they were being fixed, simply being deployed back into beta very infrequently. This lesson was eventually learnt, but only after we’d pissed off a large number of early-adopters.

    The sheer time spent and money it took to make APB is really a product of fairly directionless creative leadership. Certainly Dave J has great, strong, ambitious ideas for his games. But he’s a big believer in letting the details emerge along the way, rather than being planned out beyond even a rudimentary form. For most of the lifetime of APB, he was also CEO of the whole company, as well as Creative Director. His full attention was not there until it late in the day. This has ramifications for how long his projects run – many years, on average – and the associated cost. This, in turn, means that the business model options were constrained, conspiring to place APB in a really difficult position, commercially. Ultimately, it’s this pairing of a subscription model cost with free to play game play that really did for the game. And many of us saw it coming a mile off. I must admit I’m dismayed about the scale of the failure, however. Many of us thought APB might do OK at retail and sell a few hundred thousand, though struggle on ongoing revenue, and gradually carve a niche. But it absolutely tanked at retail I believe (though I’m not privvy to figures) I think due to the critical mauling it received. It never made the top 20 of the all format UK chart. It’s scraping along the bottom of the PC-only chart, a situation I’m assuming is replicated in its major markets. And being at the bottom of the PC-only chart is not where you want to be as a AAA budget game. God knows what the budget was, but when you account for the 150-odd staff and all the launch hardware and support, it was in the tens of millions of dollars.

    MyWorld is an innocent bystander caught up in the demise of APB. Which is a real shame, because it is genuinely ground breaking, though not aimed at the traditional gamer audience. It was going great guns over the last year or so, coming on leaps and bounds, impressing everyone who saw it. MyWorld might as well have been a different company – there was very little staff overlap on the two projects, they worked under entirely different production methodologies, and because we were not the next in line for release we received very little attention from the execs (which was a good thing, to be honest). We knew that time was limited, and tried to encourage management to go the ‘google-style beta route – release a limited, but polished core feature set early, and iterate. What happens to it from here on out is not clear, but without the people who wrote it, the code isn’t worth a damn, so I can’t see the project being picked up. Management tried to get a publisher onboard to fund continued development, but the time scales involved meant that was always unlikely, despite some considerable interest from potential partners. God knows what will happen to it now the team are gone. Probably nothing. Years of my life were poured into that project, but it was a blast to make, and at least it was made public so I can point and say, “I helped make that”.

    RTW tried something bold, and fucked it up. It tried to make what amounted to two MMOs at once, as well as self-publish. I have to hand it to Dave J. He’s ballsy. But in the end, we couldn’t do it, and I think the whole company will go under sooner rather than later. It’s a shame, too, as Dundee can’t absorb the level of game dev redundancies that are about to hit, which means the Dundee scene gets that little bit smaller. But that’s the price of failure, and we certainly failed. No excuses, really. We were well funded, hired some great engineers, designers and artists, and great QA guys. Ultimately, the senior management team must take responsibility. I think they had far too much focus on the company’s ‘strategic direction’ and not enough on day-to-day execution, which was where it really matters. And I think a huge part of the blame lies with Dave J, though I can’t emphasize enough how nice a man he is personally; ultimately APB has torpedoed the company, and it failed largely under his creative leadership. It has other issues (technical, for instance), but the design and the business plan are largely down to him and the board, and they are what have failed so irrevocably for the rest of us.

    ExRTW

    • Choca says:

      Thanks for the post, mate, interesting stuff. Good luck in your future endeavors.

    • Billy says:

      Thanks for that fantastic description of the events leading to APB’s launch, it certainly was incredibly confusing how a game had been worked on for so long with a large staff and a lot of investment could end up falling so far below its expected quality. It’s always really interesting to hear how these monumental projects can be undone by lack of oversight or external interests and so on.

    • krikey says:

      It really is a shame to hear that. It’s always nice to hear what the folks behind the steering wheels have to say about their passengers who are giving them directions. The reality usually sucks. Sorry to hear that MyWorld is going under too. I hope whatever endeavours you and your buddies have in future works out better.

    • Chris D says:

      ExRTW

      Yeah, good post. That’s really too bad, especially about MyWorld going down too. APB looked like it could have been good but with that business model it needed exceptional reviews and it just didn’t get them. Hopefully it’s salvageable somehow. Good Luck

    • Burningpet says:

      May i ask what was so ground breaking about my world?

      because from the video seen, it just seem to take exactly the same route as APB did, great designing editor but with sub par / lacking real game.

    • Garg says:

      I’m not so sure I’d put so much of the failure of APB on the business model. Good games sell; you only need to look at the amount of people who still happily pay for WoW, even now there are good free to play alternatives.

      I think the real problem was that it was principally a game of three parts; driving, shooting and socialising/customisation, and only one of those was any good. If the first two had been as good as in GTA (in my opinion that’s not a very high standard, especially with the shooting), and maybe a more compelling open world (something GTA/WoW do really well) then it would have been a very good game, and I’m sure people would have picked it up inspite of the cost. People will buy quality.

      I hope you and your coworkers land on your feet, its not a nice time (if any ever is) to be made redundant at the moment, so good luck.

    • Ben says:

      Fantastic inside view, thanks for sharing

    • Crozon says:

      Thanks for the post. Really insightful. I am still keeping my fingers crossed they can make good on APB. I still play the game and it can be very good fun when it comes together.

      Have to say i like the subscription model. The fact you pay for time means you don’t feel like you have to keep playing the game. Can dip in and out when you feel like it. Free would be good, but not sure if its possible right now.

    • Commander Gun says:

      Thumbs up for a great inside view in which you manage to descrive everything from your point of view, not excluding some self-criticism, without blaming it all on 1 person!

    • terry says:

      Great post, thanks for the insight. You should work for gamasutra with postmortem skills like that :-)

    • Dhatz says:

      I’m not gonna read your article here, but it’s undisputable that problems come from the amount of people working on games, as you can have 500+ workers there is ton of things that will fuck up if the boss didn’t make sure they wanna develop a perfected game. Worse if the staff ain’t capable of innovation.

    • KindredPhantom says:

      Thanks for the post, as an avid APB player since the beta it is interesting to read what happened behind the scenes. It is just a shame what happened and that hopefully lessons will be learned.

      I have heard that RTW are trying to sell off APB, i do wonder if their is any truth in this.

    • Freud says:

      Sad to hear it. I can only imagine how demoralizing it is to work in a situation where you slowly are moving towards a crash, without any real opportunity to do something about it.

    • Tei says:

      What are you talking about? :-D

      I have played the Closed Beta, and It was the game that got released, minus yet more focus on making people play in groups (that is a good call). You guys have made a great game, I have put about 300 hours in it. Is actually Spore + a real game put togueter. Maybe not what some people want, but you can’t satisfy what is different tastes.

      Whats with that? the game are evolve really littel, if anything, in the latest … years?. I only see “upgrades” on interfaces, things that used to be good.. and now are… good too.

    • DrGonzo says:

      @ Garg

      Absolute tosh. Good games do not sell simply because they are good. One example is Pyschonauts.

    • bob_d says:

      Deepest condolences, I feel your pain. I’m in the process of looking for work myself, after working for three failed game studio start-ups in three years.
      People outside the industry don’t seem to understand the costs and trade-offs that are the nature of game development, and expectations are getting seriously out of control. A case in point:

      @Garg:
      The problem is, if the game had an open world of the sort in GTA or WoW, it would have cost five times as much money to make (at least). You just mentioned two of the games with the biggest development price-tags ever, and the reason for those huge development costs were the features you seem to think would have been free for APB. There’s a reason APB didn’t include those features: they couldn’t afford to. With development costs that huge, NO business model would have allowed them to make a profit; the market just isn’t big enough to support multiple games that are that expensive.
      As ExRTW says, no one sets out to make a bad game. What you describe as “good games” are those that had huge amounts of development money to build all the features they wanted and take the time they needed to work out bugs. Most developers don’t have that. Any developer trying to learn from WoW by copying is going to fail, as no one who isn’t Blizzard can afford to either copy or compete with it.

    • Jimbo says:

      Thanks for sharing, I wrote this on a forum yesterday, and it seems that things looked mostly the same from your position on the inside as they did from mine on the outside:

      “They never should have gone subscription in the first place. Smart money was on establishing a user base, then finding a way to charge them for optional shit they don’t really need. They could still turn it around, but they’ve made it way harder than if they’d just gone that route to start with. Other games have been turned around by ditching subs before though, so it’s not necessarily a lost cause just yet.

      That other game they were working on looked terrible, so no great loss there apart from the job losses. RTW needs to be a bit more realistic about their ability and not keep overreaching. Dave Jones – much like Tim Schafer – isn’t compromising enough to succeed in the modern AAA market imo. That isn’t necessarily a bad trait, it just means they can either choose to make smaller games and succeed, or keep trying to make AAA games and fail.”
      —-

      (Sorry for trashing your other project, but I stand by what I said – based exclusively on that video that got put out.)

      I had heard DJ put the APB budget at $30 million at one point iirc, inc. setting up the servers and so on. Not quite a WoW or GTA IV budget, but certainly in the same ballpark as something like the Modern Warfare games. The problem is, nothing about APB is AAA quality; every aspect of it feels shoddily made.

      If that $30M figure is correct, it should have been plenty to make APB correctly, and they had plenty of development time, so the team who worked on it needs to take a look at themselves. Where has the money gone? Where have the years of development gone? The buck does stop with DJ, but it’s not just the overall design that’s lacklustre here; virtually every element is poorly executed, and the team themselves need to take some responsibility for that.

      Like I said above, RTW / DJ have just become too ambitious for their own good. Look at Lemmings and GTA 1: simple, simple game ideas executed extremely well. That’s what they need to get back to.

  4. Trollface says:

    I’m really interested in this game and would love to try it, but sadly there’s no Mac version, and i don’t think that they’ll port it to mac, seeing as they used something horrible to create it with.

    Ok, you guys say that it’s not fun, but i think that it’s more important to try the game yourself, because fun means different things to different people.

    • Trollface says:

      Of course, this makes me wonder: Should more people use the Source engine to do stuff for the PC, as apparently, Porting PC games that use Source engine should be a bit easier, taking into account the ports of Valve games that used source.

    • Sagan says:

      Until the Source engine doesn’t support Playstation 3, you bet people are never going to start using it.

      That being said, form my naive outside perspective I don’t think porting to Mac OSX is all that hard, since all engines support OpenGL anyway. (because the Playstation 3 and Wii don’t support DirectX) I guess it still depends on how much other stuff from Windows you are using (like encryption or whatever else) but even then porting using Wine is a real option nowadays.

      … I wonder why more people don’t do that. Even modern games like Fallout 3 now work in Wine except for the DRM and GfWL, so they could just put it on a disc together with Wine for Mac and ship it…

    • Garg says:

      I think Portal 2, a noteable Source game, is going to be available on the PS3

    • bob_d says:

      The problem with licensing a game engine is that it tends to make games similar, in looks, game-play and possible features. Trying to retro-fit certain features into a game engine not designed to support them can sometimes be harder and more expensive than just making a new engine. When games using the same engine all tend to be the same, making your game stand out from the pack is that much harder.

  5. Meat Circus says:

    This is what happens when you ignore your beta testers. PEOPLE GET HURT.

  6. Sagan says:

    The one thing I really want from RTW is, that they do more stuff with the customization tech in APB. License it out to MMO developers and please make it open source a couple of years down the road. That editor should be in every game.

  7. Lobotomist says:

    Flagshipped

    This is perfect term for trying to sell game with Subscription model , when all the competition is subscriptionless (and in most cases better)

    This games are doomed to fail from start.

    Same happened to Hellgate. And as we see from Global Agenda , even changing model to subscriptionless later on doesnt help. Because the rep is allready damaged.

    What a sad sad decision on part of RTW. The guys that decided on subs, are probably still employed. While workers that poured all the love and work into the game had to take the beating…

  8. Dude says:

    Change is coming to APB, patch 1.4.1 is going to change the weapons fell and driving. But it might be to late as the game at the moment as an easy money exploit that completely ruined any feeling of progression, most people can know have the best gear as soon as they want and it really hurt the game. Running against team of high upgrade character is like fighting against a brick wall if you just started, you are not going to win.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      And we didn’t say *any* of those things during the beta, of course. Nope. Not one of those things. Especially not that the game was completely unbalanced, and that being matched up against someone 30 ranks higher than you was complete BS.

      And RTW didn’t already claim that every patch they’ve made, both in beta, and release, was going to be “completely game-changing” and make everything better.

      Of course not.

  9. Mac says:

    It’s a real shame they were dipshits in beta and didn’t address the gameplay issues then, rather than waiting for release, then blaming the playerbase for not playing it right … retarded launch !

    Another one to put alongside Tabula Rasa, Vanguard, Warhammer Online, etc …. lots of potential, just a borked launch.

  10. Freud says:

    Shame that they weren’t able to get such a good idea the game it deserves.

  11. Woop says:

    Sad news. An ex-colleague of mine went to RTW after our studio (small indie dev) went into adminsitration last year. Haven’t spoken to him yet but he may be out of work, again.

    The sad fact is that it is a difficult time for all types of buiness, including game development. A good number of my former team, me included, have still not found work. The great explanation (or one person’s perspective at least) sounded very familiar. But then everyone has to try and make space for themselves in a competitive market, and I have no doubt that the RTW management did what they did because they thought it was the right thing to do. Sadly though, there’s no margins nowadays, being close to a good game isn’t enough, and as ‘ExRTW’ said, APB’s failures may well proved to bury the company completely.

  12. Godl1keStev3 says:

    Just to point out, RTW seem to have canned MyWorld in order to FOCUS on APB… isn’t this a good thing for APB’s future?

    Or am I missing something?

    • Woop says:

      Well one reason to have multiple projects is to reduce risk. So going down to one project isn’t great news, and when it’s a project that’s already had a troubled launch it’s really not very good news at all. It certainly does mean that the APB experience may well improve, but if it is the only project left running it is going to have to really start to fly and generate decent revenue to keep everyone employed.

  13. Moonracer says:

    That’s a lot of sad news, for the employees and the fans. I still pop in APB once in a while but I bought the game knowing it would be a casual thing. I’ve burned out my MMO addiction tolerance. But as far as gameplay failure I think the casual and hardcore elements were just mixed poorly.

    I like the payment plan. Not only does it allow me to pay for hours instead of month blocks but with the RTW points exchanged in game and ability to sell custom clothing I’ve been able to sell items I made with my art skills to other players, essentially letting them pay for my additional game time. Though I haven’t been using as much as I’ve been earning. Still, it’s the first MMO type game that I haven’t had to pay for the subscription. I know lots of games do similar things but they usually only work for the most hardcore of users making an excess of in game currency.

  14. kadayi says:

    Interesting to hear a viewpoint from behind the velvet curtain. As a long term tester I think that what you said about the failure to roll out fixes promptly was a big issue. The approach seemed to be to patch during the beta once a month with one big update. Which in itself is all well and good from a programmers perspective (tidy), but is less than satisfactory from a player/testers perspective when they are highlighting major game play exploits that aren’t being actively attended to in their eyes. Developers if you are reading note please that generally players are forgiving of the occasional crash (after all pretty much all programs crash), but far less forgiving when it comes to a failure to address balance/exploit issues that are widely reported within the community ASAP.

    Certainly I agree that the game should never of shipped in the state it was in with certain exploits still in place (which now at least have been addressed), however I do feel that overall the game received a rather unfair kicking from the press, with a large contingent seeming to elect to ‘review’ it from the perspective of being a single player experience rather than the team based game it clearly is. RPS for there part helped in this to some degree with John ‘I’ve not played the game’ Walker opting to cry hysterical over the ‘reviews’ embargo (oh the tyranny!!!). Personally I think RTW should of stuck to their guns and held out for the week play test. That way numpties like Rich McCormick of PCgamer to might of actually gotten a clue and teamed up rather than elected to dismiss the game after a few hours of solo play.

    Hard to say where RTW can take APB. Albeit there is an audience for it, by heading to release as they did they’ve allowed the game to become a hardcore preserve, and the game space as it stands is an intimidating environment for new players to step into (much like Counterstrike). Something some suggested a while back was the introduction of training servers (distinct from the tutorial servers) . Servers dedicated to new and low level players (Sub R50) which would allow people to find their feet and bearings in the game without being subjected to the relentless gang rape that constitutes the usual encounter between a set of high ranking clan players Vs newbies.

    • Kid A says:

      “Personally I think RTW should of stuck to their guns and held out for the week play test. That way numpties like Rich McCormick of PCgamer to might of actually gotten a clue and teamed up rather than elected to dismiss the game after a few hours of solo play. ”

      Did you actually read the review? He talks multiple times about teaming up with other PCG writers and PUGs (were you expecting him to make a long-term commitment to a clan or something?), and the review came out in the Sept 2010 issue of PC Gamer, which was released at the start of August – APB was released at the end of June. Even allowing for print time, Rich must have had time to play a hefty slice of the game.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Kid A

      http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/07/02/apb-review/

      The online review came out before the paper release (about 3 days after the retail release). In the comments Graham Smith admitted that Rich only teamed up intermittently with one other player during his assessment (in a game where a team of four using VOIP is preferable). Personally I didn’t bother picking up the paper copy of the review (though I note they gave it a marginally higher score according to metacritic) as I don’t see the point in giving my money to people who say things like ‘Without a cover system, gunfights are imprecise’ (how exactly does a lack of cover system impact on aim?) and clearly aren’t thorough in their work.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      So what you’re saying, then, is that the game is only good if you play it in one specific way, and all other ways are trash?

      Then I might as well go watch a film.

    • kaday says:

      @RvLeshrac

      Would it be fair to review a film like ‘one flew over the cuckoo’s nest’ with the volume turned off for example? Sure certainly that’s one way to watch it, but it would be hard to give any such review much credence now would it?

  15. Kid A says:

    I get the feeling RTW are so heavily invested in APB, personally as much as financially, that we could see them cutting everything but APB in an attempt to keep going. If the panning it’s gotten from all but a (admittedly significant) hardcore following is anything to go by… is it just me that’s afraid we could see RTW turn into a studio that can just about afford to keep APB going, but can’t really afford to do anything else particularly interesting?

  16. Snall says:

    Game is fun if not for balance issues and not enough content. I have 6 months free from selling APB$ in the first few weeks…so I log in and play with my clan a few times a week. Even using the nerfed weps (Im crim of course) I still do ok, meh…it’s like the Meridian 59 of this genre I suppose..

  17. Ayam says:

    APB is amazing to me, I love how missions can go crazy and it ends up like the movie Heat in the streets trying to gun-battle your way to the next checkpoint, I love the challenge up against people ranked way higher than you and giving it all against them, I love playing in a group of 4 and screaming in joy or frustration at the tight conclusions, I love the tension of arriving at a scene and wondering if the enemy’s there yet or not, I love the latest patch’s changes with no rooftop camping and slight nerf to OP weapons. If you’re wiling to try it, try to find a nice clan already engaged who might be able to slide you some upgrades for a less frustrating initial phase (it must be rough for newcomers without thick skin now), because it would be great to see more people join the game in Europe.

  18. JKjoker says:

    i know a death sentence when i see one, they are doomed

    this game smelled of the Flagship disaster since the beta, the worst move imho was the pricing model it was just like with Hellgate, when everyone thought it would be free weeks/days before release bam! subscription and not any standard subscription model but a new model to confuse and enrage their fans a little more, instead of building themselves an audience like Blizzard did with free to play bnet in diablo, warcraft and starcraft before going into wow and the current Activision infested bnet2, they wanted wow from day 1, it looks so futile from outside i always wonder what goes though the suit’s heads when they take these kind of decisions

    and btw for those that keep defending it, no amount of patching is going to erase the lethal bad pr the game got already, its hopeless

    • Kadayi says:

      Eve pretty much got butchered at release by a lot of reviews, yet that managed to build itself a niche. APB could well do the same, though RTW will have to reconsider their financial model.

    • JKjoker says:

      correct me if im wrong but afaik EVE has always had a lot more content than APB, players who left have things to go back for, many gamers left APB without completely expending their retail time, they did not leave because they didnt want to pay, they will not come back should the game go free to play, and i doubt a desperate move to save the game would include releasing massive amounts of content

    • kaday says:

      @JKjoker

      Eve has what 5 years of history to it now? Where as APB has barely 2 months. I think it’s a bit premature to say what people will or won’t do at this stage.

  19. Dr John Sutherland says:

    Terribly sad. We’re gobsmacked at TuDocs. Hope things sort themselves out for Dave and the rest.

  20. .... says:

    Wait…you were not even part of APB’s development team…

    umm….

    wat ?

  21. GarbageDonkey says:

    APB reminds me a lot of EVE.

    It’s vaguely like some games, but manages to make itself unique in many aspects.

    If you play it alone, you will quickly become depressed and want to stop playing.

    If you have no imagination, you will in no way be excited whilst playing it.

    APB is a game that allows you and your friends to practically create chaos in a city. It gives you a huge area to run around, commit crimes, and occasionally escape by the skin of your teeth through back alleys and over hopped fences. No. It doesn’t play like every other game that you’ve ever played does. It is highly unforgiving if you are grouped with people that have little to no idea how tactics work. Like most games released in the past 5 years, it has had a rough launch, yet is quickly (and might I add : vocally) addressing issues on damn near a weakly basis. The developers seem to be doing a good job of listening to the community AND responding to them. Wonderful.

    I suppose the largest reason I have for suggesting people try it (again in some cases) comes down to one of the best FPS games of all time that I ignored for a very long time… TF2. Being a huge CoD4 players, I made endless excuses for not playing the game. Too cartoon like, goofy weapons, not fast enough. Then a few years back someone convinced me to try it out on a free weekend. I loaded it up and after an hour of play on random servers found myself justified for my previous hate. The game was FAR too lame for me. Yet after a few friends convinced me to give it another go only this time, in a group and on TS, suddenly the paper, rock, scissors (or shotgun) aspect of the game started to make itself apparent. The team work involved was wonderful and fulfilling if you managed to work together well, and to be honest the cartoonish graphics were kinda welcomed after looking at the brown, grays, and greens of CoD.

    Some of the people that play APB now everyday used to be those that didn’t like the game because they didn’t really have a purpose. So give the whole fun group thing a try if you decide to install it again. With built in leagues and competitions it can give you all something to strive for, and in turn make all the difference.

  22. someguy says:

    I think fundamentally APB failed to execute on the idea for the gane. 10/10 idea implemented at 6/10.

    The actual ideas behind the game mechanics were poor, and there was a large amount of missing polish.

    That’s what killed APB, bad game design, by launch it actually hung together technically, but nothing could hide the shockingly bad design decisions that meant it was boring and immensely frustrating.

    Rockstar will nail this one day…

    • RvLeshrac says:

      If you ask the fanboys, the reviews killed APB, there’s nothing wrong with it, and yet every patch “completely fixes everything that’s wrong with the game,” at least until the next patch is announced.

  23. someguy says:

    Oh and Project MyWorld an innocent bystander? How long had that thing been in production? Looks like it spent it’s own fair amount of time meandering about and burning cash only to get to a point where no publisher was willing to pick it up.

    Sorry ExRTW, but you don’t get off that easily, I heard they layed off 60 staff from your project, how many years had you been working on it? That must have burned at least $20M? looks like that one was mismanaged too, not such an innocent bystander after all…

    • Kadayi says:

      I’m fairly sure that they guy (or gal) wasn’t management or necessarily a lead on Myworld, so you can hardly hold them to account over it’s development. I’d also love to know where you’ve pulled that £20 million sum from.

    • ExRTW says:

      I thought about this comment last night, and ‘someguy’ has a valid point that I should really acknowlegde.

      We did have production problems. We did cost a fair bit of cash no doubt, and were in full blown production since 2006/7. But in our defense, we were subject to some forces beyond our control – noticably board-driven radical changes of direction not once, but two or three times as we struggled to figure out what the project should be. And we were also ludicrously ambitious – (come on, build the whole world and make it a games platform?).

      But it’s entirely fair to say that if the situations had been reversed, and we had come out first, it may very well have been us that sunk RTW, and not them! I certainly didn’t mean to sound like I was judging the team harshly, I really don’t feel that way. At least they got the chance to fail though :)

      It would be great to hear from a primary source on the APB team at some point – as close as I was, I can only comment on the things I saw myself or could infer directly with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

  24. Sullyville says:

    What breaks my heart the most is that you all could have done Crackdown 2 magnificently.

  25. Kripke says:

    It’s hard to believe, but MyWorld had begun development a year or so before APB.

  26. MyWorlder says:

    No it really wasn’t. APB had been in development since 03 in one form or another with a substantial amount of time (and money) being sunk into it during the development of Crackdown 1. Hopefully the real time scales and budgets for both projects will come out in the wash whilst the company implodes as all estimates of either I have seen so far are significantly below numbers circulated whilst I was at the company.

  27. Ravious says:

    Thank you for being so honest, insightful, and unhindered by rage. I think honesty in development like this can only help everybody from current developers and future developers to consumers.

  28. LionsPhil says:

    And another MMO that isn’t Warcraft or EVE starts the deathmarch toward inevitable server shutdown.

    You’d think the money men would have spotted the pattern by now.

  29. mr distended rectum says:

    RTW is in administration.

    Oh dear.. So much for 100% behind APB..

  30. JOBS FOR EX-RTW says:

    Any programmers or effects artists recently made redundant by RTW and willing to work in San Francisco see below…

    http://www.unknownworlds.com/jobs

  31. AESC says:

    Maybe it would have sold if it wasn’t so ugly.

  32. Dave says:

    1 word. Bugger. i love APB and was in the beta. as soon as their ‘new’ payment model was announced i knew that was a bad move. i hope for everyone who cares sakes that it gets back on its feet and doesn’t shut down.

    Good luck with APB and all the best

  33. SEKCobra says:

    I really like the game and want to support it, so the devs could fix it and it could expand to its full potential. Actually I think it was driven to death by the PR and that no Publisher picked it up. Even while I was in the Beta, I didnt know what the game was until I bought it, because I never could be bothered to download 8 GB for a agame I know nothing about because it had ZERO PR.

  34. anotehr exrtw says:

    I’m anotehr ex RTW and I can tell you it was £70 million spent on APB, a crazy and uncontrolled production process (how many build branches guys?), no control over the dev team but at the same time no direction and an attitude to spending money that was frankly insane generated largely through an arrogance on teh part of the management which means they really do deserve all they got. Running costs for servers meant that recouping the huge development budget and keeping the servers going was never going to work unless millions of people bought it straight off… Hence the crazy business model.. And the game design considering the budget is flawed, shallow etc. It should have cost a lot less for what was produced. Otehr developers in the industry would cut their arms off to get those kind of budgets. For soemone with this reputation to waste that kind of money on a product which has failed so spectaculalry is sickening and will damage the games industry in Scoltand massively. DJ does have good ideas but he’s out of touch with the reality of making games today as evidenced by this result.

  35. Anon says:

    RTW’s downsizing is gonna heavily affect the games industry in Scotland, especially in Dundee. Not just the games companies, but you have all the courses at Abertay. I’m pretty sure a hefty chunk of the students that do the games courses had a plan to get into RTW after they graduated. Its scary how fast the industry in Dundee has declined, with the likes of Denki and Cohort all cutting back on staff. RTW going into admin just seems to be the icing on the cake.

    Hope everyone from RTW lands on their feet alright.

  36. Abertay Student-to-be says:

    Hey there! Computer Arts student-to-be here! I have got an unconditional place for 3rd year and I’m one of the students you’re talking about. It seems weird they were boasting about their long-term employment benefits (yet offered no internships) only a few months ago at the Games Industry careers day. I’m worried about the effect RTW’s liquidation and redundancies will affect my education and future career. :(

    Good luck to all former RTW employees. I’m sorry it had to come to this! :(

  37. Abertay Student says:

    Oh shi-

  38. PISSEDEXRTW says:

    At 8.30pm yesterday the administrators met with representatives for the MyWorld Team.

    They were informed that the project would carry on but with a skeleton crew so that the IP can be sold to an interested party.

    This interested party will try and complete the deal this weekend for the IP and also the reduced team of 20.

    This certain interested party was also interested about a month ago just after we were told our jobs were at risk.

    The interested party is also associated with some of the board members of Realtime Worlds and is in fact one of them.

    So not only have they made 40 people redundant on the MyWorld team, they have not paid us for this month!

    We are not getting any actual money from Realtime Worlds yet they are still operating and we have to go to the government and fill in forms which will take months we are only going to get around £380 statutory redundancy for each year served and they can’t even do the decent thing and pay us what we are owed.

    We are unlikely to get paid from the sale of the IP as this will go back to the other shareholders that got ripped off when they spent all the money.

    They will move the team to another location and set up shop under a new name like nothing happened in the next 4 weeks.

    A similar thing this afternoon for APB, they are keeping a team of around 40 people to make sure they can sell it if they can.

    I have no money to feed my family next week, I cannot pay my mortgage. Yet they can play trading the IP game like ping pong and destroy our lives.

    So when they sell it they will be hailed as the saviors of the RTW team as they helped save the 20 jobs on MyWorld and the 40 or so on APB yet these are the same people that destroyed RTW in the first place and left us without our wages or notice money.

    They don’t care about any of the staff, jobs made with blood to make the directors richer!

  39. Xodar says:

    I think the developers did a good job. The designers failed miserably.

    ABP was an extremely unfun experience. As a newbie I was just slaughtered over and over. The matchmaking was terrible.
    There are no Computer Opponents. This game is 100% PvP. You cannot run missions and have computer Mobs shoot you, they do not exist. What the fuq?

    The problem with PvP is that in every matchup there is a winner and loser. The main point being that there is a loser, and losing sucks.

    The coding I thought was good. While others bash the driving, I thought it was excellent. Better than most driving games I play. Different vehicles controlled differently. Surfaces effected vehicle performance There was a large amount of variety in the vehicles. It was coded well.

    Customization was good, of course.

    The world size was pathetic! Two zones is all. That is not acceptable in an MMO.

    And this game was marketed as an MMO, but without any computer opponents. No mobs to kill, or be your adversaries. No fake cops or robbers, only players to gank or get ganked by. It should ahve been stricktly marketed to the FPS guys with no mention of it being an MMO. As an MMO we expect differnt things. FPS guys dont mind as much getting killed.

    I have good respect for the coders. The in vehicle radio rocks.

    At launch the game was more stable than most MMOs at that time.

    But the failure lies with the designers. Design decisions kill games. Dont hire the designers for future projects please. Grab the developers, they are fine.

  40. FluffyM says:

    ^The matchmaking was/is horrible for more experienced players as well- matching people by threat-level, and completely disregarding numbers (I had a 6v1 once when I still played) is ridiculous, and symptomatic of the rest of the game.

    Either you try to appeal to the FPS crowd, then the shooting/movement/driving/UI has to be a bazillion times better than it is, or you try to appeal to the MMO crowd in which case the progression/amount of missions/diversity of missions/social content has to be a lot bigger and better. As it is, the game is like a facebook game that only runs smoothly on high-end machines. Gee, I wonder why it tanked.

    APB does many things, and literally none of them it does well.

    • FluffyM says:

      I actually want to add to that, it is quite ignorant to think that customization amounts to more than a gimmick. Customizing a character is all well and good, but if you don’t have decent GAMEPLAY in your GAME then customization isn’t going to be enough to justify the outragous price-tag.

      That seems to be a common theme with releases lately, all fluff and vanity crap, no actual focus on gameplay.

      Condolences to the ex-RTW’ers who lost their jobs.

  41. Bigbaloobear says:

    What were the marketing people doing all this while? No– I’m not laying blame on marketing; As a marketing MBA, I’ve always been very curious how the game industry handles marketing. Great brands tend to perform a lot of marketing analysis before a product is introduced. So, is marketing at RTW just about promotions and events?

    Did anyone perform a needs based segmentation to identify and evaluate the profitability of the target segment? Did they follow up with some form of conjoint analysis? Logit?

    As game development gets more and more expensive are game studios using the best in marketing practices? Or are they just being ignored?

    Anyone know? It’s an industry I’ve dearly loved but watched from the sidelines. I want to know what happened.

  42. Pete says:

    ” This is what happens when you don’t listen to BETA testers ” – Meat Circus.

    That’s exactly the way i feel about APB, If they ever truly wanted it to match WoW and become a huge AAA game that would cement the future of the company then why were they also using money and manpower to make Myworld at the same time, which frankly didn’t even look like a game, a very poor decision from the ground up.

    I was involved in closed beta testing from the very beginning and never missed a playtest, and regularly visited the forums. As the release date drew closer and closer the forums were awash with people yelling at RTW “APB is not ready, take a few months!”. Of course there were the people saying “bahh i just want to play now!” And those people are probably already long gone.

    I believe the blame lies squarely with whoever decided to release the game in its current state, The damning reviews, People didn’t want to spend money on a game that was clealry still in BETA state.

    If you want to make a AAA title that will be as successful as the compeition they were aiming for then the money men have to be prepared for any delays that are needed until the game is ready and in a state that customers are prepared to pay for.

    They rushed the game out amidst a storm of Beta testers telling them the game is not finished and RTW response was “APB is a project we will look at the game once we have your money” And that was a fundamental mistake that they are paying dearly for.

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