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Hellgate? Screwed. Tabula Rasa? Okay. Apparently.

Having since moved to London, I have yet to see this. I feel robbed.

If we paid attention to note the relative amounts of Online RPG noteworthy news, we’d be sure to note that today is the biggest day for noteworthy news since the previous noteworthy news day. Firstly, Bluesnews brings to our attention that Flagshipped discovered Guy Somberg’s blog post about the state of affairs at Flagship. He rapidly deleted it, but Google-cache remembers all, where he despairs how people are leaving Flagship in droves. Meanwhile, over at Eurogamer, a NCSoft spokesman say that Tabula Rasa’s sales are growing month on month. Which must be nice for them.

Full quotations beneath this linky-thing.

Guy says…

Work is depressing right now. Never mind the fact that Hellgate isn’t as popular as anybody had hoped. Never mind the fact that there exists a term “Flagshipped,” meaning where a company basically overpromises and then screws you. Never mind the fact that the forums are totally populated by people who do nothing but complain and talk about how much the game sucks. Never mind the fact that people do the same thing in the game itself.

Yes, Hellgate is not a big success. That sucks, and it’s depressing. I’m keeping a positive attitude about it because of Korea and China. The Koreans really love the game, and the Chinese have yet to see it. I don’t know how any of these deals are structured, but I’m hinging my hopes for Hellgate’s future on the Asian market.

So why is work depressing? (Other than all of those other depressing things, that is.) The reason is that people are leaving. In droves, they’re leaving. We’ve had programmers, accountants, HR people, and artists leave. The founders are all still around, but they’ve been floating away from Hellgate to work on various other projects. The only one still actively on Hellgate is Tyler, but Tyler’s not programming anymore; he spends all of his time on management activities.

Today was our programming intern’s last day; he’s leaving the company for the world of academia to get his PhD in computer science. I also learned today that another of our programmers is leaving in a couple of months (he gave lots of notice, which is very nice of him). With him leaving, I am basically the senior developer on Hellgate. Tyler, Dave, and Peter (the founders) are the only other programmers who were around beforehand, and I was the first programming hire after that. With Dave and Peter on other projects, and Tyler basically no longer a programmer, I’m what’s left after he leaves.

Thing is, the way things are going I’m likely to be the only programmer still working on Hellgate left from the original crew. I’ve heard rumours that other programmers and artists are thinking of leaving.

I was so disturbed to learn that all of these people are leaving that I couldn’t concentrate, and I left work early, claiming illness. I don’t want to leave Flagship. I’m happy here. I like the people, I like the environment, I like the pay, I like the location… There’s so much good about it. I’m not considering leaving. It’s just overwhelming and depressing having all of these people go. Every time a programmer leaves, it’s more work for me. Every time an artist leaves, it’s less content that we can create for Hellgate in the future.

Tyler is talking about replacing our programming intern with a designer. I’m fighting against that, because we need more programmers! We can’t just put it all on me.

Bah. Listen to me whine. It could be much worse, of course. At this point, though, what I need is some fresh projects; I’m getting burned out on Hellgate.

As Blues said in his post, that Guy removed the post afterward does make posting this feel a little sour. On the other hand, we live in the future: just as much as verbally, once something is said on the Internet, you can’t take it back, no matter how much you may wish it so (Much like some old internet questionnaire circa 1997 when I said my favourite TV show was TFI Friday). Guy said it. It’s a matter of the record. It’s of interest. It gets reported. C’est la vie.

On brighter news from Guy Somberg’s blog, he’s coding a splendid gibberish generator. If we can get it working it means that we can say 3/4s of the RPS staff and just leave the code to blog in our stead.

Meanwhile, over with NCSoft, the NCSoft European spokesman says things like “Tabula Rasa has a dedicated player base, which is growing month on month” and “”A recent European trial promotion was met with great demand; we will be doing a similar promotion later in the year”. EG has more here, and some notes on the on-the-record financial statements that currently exist. As we’re actually quite fond of Tabula Rasa, it’s somewhat good news, though Rock Paper Shogun has a natural reticence to look suspiciously at statements issued by someone making pronouncements while hiding behind a company name. Rock Paper Shotgun thinks that anyone and Rock Paper Shotgun will fight anyone who thinks differently.

EDIT: Kotaku follows up on the story. Basically, says Ivan Sullic, their communication manager: “I don’t know the exact number, but we couldn’t have had more than five or six departures. Still, if those five or six dudes are people you work with everyday, it can’t feel great.” Guy puts it down to a bad day at work and is startled at the vehemence. “I was surprised and disappointed at the community’s response to my words, which were more directed at my family and friends to describe my state of mind at the time, than to give any sort of insight into the company. Personally, I think that the ‘Towers of Hanoi’ series of posts on my blog is far more interesting and worthy of commentary and analysis.”

Don’t underestimate the appeal of your Gibberish generator, Guy.

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Kieron Gillen

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Kieron Gillen is robo-crazy.

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