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Bloomberg insight article into studio transition from Star Theory to Intercept Games


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2 hours ago, Numberyellow said:

except it's not generosity.... that's like putting an injured field tech on desk duty, and acting like you're doing them a favor... Labor law says you can't get rid of them because they're injured, so you HAVE to put them somewhere. They wanted to buy Star Theory, Star Theory wasn't willing to sell on Take-Two's terms. so they pulled the contract, poached the staff, and got everything they wanted, without having to make any compromises. Assigning a new team to the project wouldn't have been a viable option, as it would have resulted in lost development time while the new team got up to speed, and it probably would have resulted in a product that was substantially different from what's currently being worked on.

They wanted the company, and that's essentially what they got, because a company is nothing, without staff. It was a scummy thing to do, and trying to characterize it any anything else is just plain ignorance and naivete.

I think you glossed over my conclusion...

2 hours ago, shdwlrd said:

The corporate world is nasty, dirty place where every nicety is vailed in corporate interests. Even the truly good companies will have to something distasteful at times to survive.

Instead of flaming TTI/PD for their apparent motives, and treating Star Theory as an innocent victims or vice versa. (We don't know the full details.) I was making a general statement about the business world. 

All we know is this:

  • TTI/PD tried to renew the contract with Star Theory. That fell through. We don't know why. Could be either companies fault.
  • Star Theory showed interest to have TTI/PD purchase them, negotiations failed. We don't know exactly why. Either TTI/PD was low balling the offer, or Star Theory was over valuing theirs.
  • Development is pulled from Star Theory, (TTI owns the IP and can do that.) And gives it to a new dev studio that they created. Well within their power to do so.
  • They get personnel that they need continue development of KSP2. They happen to be from Star Theory. It sucks for Star Theory, but is prudent on TTI/PD's part, you know, to reduce the time to learn the code, keep the vision for the game the same, and to save money. (Which is the 2nd biggest goal of any company.) There can be other circumstances that we don't know about to why these people left Star Theory.
  • Star Theory was forced to close their business after not being able to find new contract to work under, or sell a new idea for development. Bad timing, business practices, we don't know. Obviously they didn't have the funds to continue to operate.

There is no intent evident in this timeline that shows that TTI/PD did anything malicious. Nor does it paint Star Theory in a good light either. It just shows that TTI/PD can play the game better than Star Theory did. And that's the corporate world.

 

Edited by shdwlrd
grammar and complete thoughts
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1 hour ago, Jacke said:

And it'll stay that wrong way if this is tolerated.

The business world will never change, someone will always find their way on top. Either on the dead husks of their competitors or their competitors succumb and join them. The business world is a constant battle for survival where one wrong move, or an unforeseen event can mean bankruptcy.

The only way to fix it is to remove all consumerism and services, which isn't going to happen.

Sorry but this isn't Star Trek. You know what, scratch that. Even in the utopian setting of Star Trek, there were different contractors vying for work, services offered for payment, and crewmen being head hunted or poached to make the best crew possible. 

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4 hours ago, Numberyellow said:

 So i guess you could say i'm not really a fan of either party, which would mean i'm not really biased..

No, it means you are biased against two companies. And again, its not an insult. I'm on your side...or I should say I would like at least more information to see what happened and make my own conclusions, but this will be like an air crash investigation. We will only know what actually happened until much later.

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1 hour ago, shdwlrd said:

The business world will never change, someone will always find their way on top. Either on the dead husks of their competitors or their competitors succumb and join them. The business world is a constant battle for survival where one wrong move, or an unforeseen event can mean bankruptcy.

The only way to fix it is to remove all consumerism and services, which isn't going to happen.

Sorry but this isn't Star Trek. You know what, scratch that. Even in the utopian setting of Star Trek, there were different contractors vying for work, services offered for payment, and crewmen being head hunted or poached to make the best crew possible. 

No, this is the real world.

Where a British society, run by its upper class males, still managed to ban slavery throughout the Empire by 1833.  Where despite being reactionary to the Chartists, sometimes violently so, still massively improved their own society and voting system in a trend that continued throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries.  Sure, far from perfect and often spotty.  But progress none the less.

This ain't Star Trek. This is the real world.  Where change is possible.  The first step is realising things can  change for the better.

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One predatory capitalist shark swallowed a smaller one. Just another grim day in horrendous world of cash and profit.

No developer was harmed in process. Everyone got an offer and can continue working on same project.

(So, technically, one predatory eucaryote swallowed a smaller one and possessed its mytochondria as hers).

***

Once again. Was it more ethical to take another one's (Squad's) project which is still in active development?

When somebody (let's don't point the finger) starts updating and modyfing a KSP mod maintained by another user, even if the license allows, is it appreciated by the community?
And what about the whole game? Were ST people protesting and saying that those guys are working on the project, why should we do this?

As well, do we know, why and how HarvesteR left Squad and his project, and if Squad itself is white and fuzzy?

I currently see just a matryoshka

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1200px-Russian-Matroshka_no_bg.jpg

of sharks. A sharkyoshka.

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depositphotos_1095266-stock-illustration

 

3 hours ago, Jacke said:

Take 2 has had over 6 months to put out a statement on this transition.  They didn't.  They wanted it to remain quiet.  That was foolish of them.

Unless they were forced by some ST action we don't know about.

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21 minutes ago, Jacke said:

No, this is the real world.

Where a British society, run by its upper class males, still managed to ban slavery throughout the Empire by 1833.  Where despite being reactionary to the Chartists, sometimes violently so, still massively improved their own society and voting system in a trend that continued throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries.  Sure, far from perfect and often spotty.  But progress none the less.

Sorry man, I don't understand your example. I'm from the US. British history isn't that detailed here and cuts off around the founding of the colonies. And there is a few mentions around the war of 1812 and the world wars, but again, not that detaled. 

World history isn't my thing. 

Can the world of business change, no. Can it be ethical, sometimes. Is it polite, sometimes. Can it be downright ruthless and disgusting, oh definitely. But the competition will still be there. The winners stay in business, the losers don't exist anymore. It's a lot like life itself. The successful survive, the rest is just food for something else. 

 

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4 hours ago, m4v said:

It was written by Jason Schreier, the same guy that got the news about what went wrong with Anthem . Like the only guy I know that does real journalism about games, I think that the chances of Schreier making stuff up and TakeTwo behaving in good faith are like... nil.

The thing about journalism is this: every article is approached with a certain bias.

I am confident to claim this because I was an editor for a national newspaper in my country for many years.
Everybody has biases, and these biases influence the way we write or talk about things, most of the times unconsciously. If you look at certain wordings in the article, it is clear that Schreier approached the story from a "poor indie guys, they didn't deserve that" mindset.

The article begins:

Quote

One Friday evening last December, employees of game designer Star Theory Games each received the same unusual recruitment message over LinkedIn. It struck them as bizarre for two reasons.

Okay, "it struck them as bizarre" ... who exactly? All of the employees? Or just the few that Schreier was able to talk to? Look at the rest of the article, most of the comments are from former Star Theory employees. Of course they are not happy with how things turned out, who would be? This is now their bias coming through in their comments, understandably.

Then there are other wordings like "It was strange and disconcerting news..." or "cutthroat standards of the business" or "extreme tactics". This makes it clear to me that the article is not intended as a mere report of the things that happened, but Schreier wants to tell a story. The story of a small indie studio eviscerated by big corporate.

Side note: when I started as a journalist, I was mostly criticized for my writing style by my colleagues and bosses, not my fact checking or objectivity. Sometimes entire paragraphs were re-written by them to make them "prettier" or "more exciting" to read, at one point even completely distorting the meaning of an article at which point I protested and retracted my name from that piece.

Quote

The view inside Star Theory was that development on Kerbal Space Program 2 was proceeding smoothly, according to the people who worked on the project.

Again, who said that? The disgruntled former employees? Or did Schreier also talk to people who are now at Intercept/PD/TTI? What was their measure of "proceeding smoothly"?

I hope this does not come accross as me trying to discredit Schreier. Far from it, I applaud him getting that much information out of the events that transpired. I myself tried to find out more about the dealings that led to the transition from Star Theory to Intercept but hit many brick walls on that end.

But, and this relates to EVERY type of media, be it an article, a news broadcast or yes, also my youtube videos, every type of media is produced with at least some type of bias. There is no objective truth in media. The only thing you as a journalist/reporter can do is to try to be as objective as you can, get as many facts as possible and have the guts to accept facts that are not in line with your own confirmation bias. The latter part has become a huge problem in media general over the past 10 years, by the way.

Based on the information available to him, I do believe Schreier wrote the best article possible, but with a certain picture he wanted to paint.

 

Now, to my own bias.
I am over 40 and have lived through 4 to 5 takeovers in my line of work. Some friendly, some hostile. In neither case was the transition completely smooth. And in every case there were things that happened that left a sour taste in my mouth. Especially the first one, that was brutal. There were shouting matches, tears, thrown objects, almost fistfights, livelihoods destroyed. During another transition, the new bosses fired a pregnant woman, which is illegal where I live. They then retracted their decision for fear of litigation and payed her a hefty amount of money so she would leave on her own and stay silent. What happened to ST sounds like a walk in the park compared to that.
Loyalty in business doesn't mean much, to be honest. That's why there are contracts.
I had people claiming "I'll stick it to the new bosses" or "when they do this or that I'll leave, that will show them" just to have them stick around for a few years more after realizing that other companies wouldn't treat them any better but probably would pay them less.

Also, I really want this game to succeed. Does that cloud my judgement? Maybe. I like to think I am old and jaded enough that stories like the current one don't faze me anymore and that that is the reason why I can stay so calm in the face of it.

Edited by ShadowZone
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These are absolutely appalling and unethical business practices on display here. You can defend them, if you like, on Ayn Rand grounds or whatever, or you can play at internet attorney and inform us all in your wisdom that, akshually, this is all legal and therefore correct and good and cool. (I mean, you can continue to do that.) But that's a boring conversation that's not going to go anywhere: I find this unethical and wrong, and you're not going to convince me otherwise with clever arguments.

So that aside:

If the only thing you care about is the quality of the game when it comes out, that's fine, but I would encourage you to look extra hard at critical reviews, at user reviews, etc., before making the decision to buy. If Take Two is comfortable with cutthroat tactics like this, then at the c-levels they clearly view this franchise as a money machine exclusively. And, sometimes that works out! Especially if the executives and the managerial folks mostly keep their hands off and let the artists do their work, sometimes that works out. But the thing about executives and managers and bean counters is, that when they view a thing as purely a fiscal pursuit, they will tend to mess around with the product, against the better judgement of the artists they pay to create it, because they don't want the artists "wasting money." That is, they think they know better how to make a game, and do it more cheaply, than people whose life's work is making games. And when that happens, very often the product suffers greatly for it. Take Two doesn't seem to have a problem with this on the whole, compared to let's say, EA, and everything I'm saying here would apply even before this news came out of course, but I think in light of this news some extra caution is warranted.

So don't fall for the pre-order stuff. Try to resist the hype. Make sure this is a good game and an improvement on KSP before you buy it, and just as importantly before you sink a bunch of time into it.

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The only surprise in any of this is that they didn't gut Squad and pull the same trick. Luckily for them, the game had already been out years when they got taken over.

You can make excuses for T2 all day long, but the facts are on the table. Private Division's sole purpose for existence was supposedly to support indie game studios. Instead it takes one over, guts it, and discards it like trash because they didn't get the renegotiation they wanted. So in actual practice, Private Division's purpose is to sugar coat Indie devs into working for T2 so they can control them, then do a Star Theory if things dont go precisely how T2 want, instead of supporting them.

 

Edited by Stevie_D
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Personally, I avoid all of Shakespeare's plays, because he wore a ugly color shirt while writing Julius Caesar.

 

Well, I don't know what color it was, but I'm going to assume it was just horrible.

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10 hours ago, shdwlrd said:

There is no intent evident in this timeline that shows that TTI/PD did anything malicious.

Poaching another company's core staff is usually considered a mega [self-redacted] move. 

I can sort of understand negotiations falling through and consequently the publisher calling everything off and taking the IP + source code to somebody else, that kind of thing sometimes happens without anyone actually doing anything outrageously nasty. But the other part is low. 

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1 hour ago, Stevie_D said:

The only surprise in any of this is that they didn't gut Squad and pull the same trick.

If KSP2 is a flagman, then KSP1 is a legacy.

So, I see this as "let the current team continue the legacy project until the new brand team makes their masterpiece and we see that it's successfully being sold".

For some reasons, the masterpiece gets postponed, and the legacy is prolonged.

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2 minutes ago, HansonKerman said:

I will boycott ksp2 if it’s not the sequel portal 2 was. And if it isn’t, it’s not worth my money. Intercept games can release ksp2 tomorrow for all I care.

and Kerbol is a deadly lazer

 

2 hours ago, Stevie_D said:

then do a Star Theory

this phrase shall live on in KSP forums until the death of KSP itself (not those fake deaths that lasted months), as the verb for “throwing a temper tantrum and terminating a corporation”, or in more... professional words with lots of unsolicited big words, “did not satisfy our requirements, and thus were terminated”.

everyone has agreed that they’re not getting KSP2 day one anymore. Everyone agrees they aren’t pre ordering. In my eyes, KSP2 for me is on the edge of a cliff, the pool of toxic goo burning the tips of their shoes, the Kerbal on a plane with only control surfaces to land, waiting to be stepped on, control surfaces locked, I don’t care. I’ll wait for reviews then play the demo myself thank you very much. grr

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Ok, so now that my mind is free from all the emotional stuff regarding the news, I thought about how this affected me. As far as I know, the devs are not jobless, they work for a Take-2 subsidiary. So livelihoods were not destroyed. I will get my game by Fall 2021, and if it's not as good as promised, or has exploitative 'surprise mechanics' then I wont buy it,simple as that. As customers, what is it exactly that we lost?

"But-But the devs will be subject to inhumane working conditions.." Do you think Star Theory was a utopia where every body held hands and sang 'Kumbaya' around a camp fire? No, Star Theory's bosses would have overworked their employees to meet targets. Or have we forgotten our apprehension when we first realized Star Theory , of all studios, was making KSP 2?

"But-but the corporations are evil!" Man if we really boycott every 'evil' company in existence, then perhaps we might have to walk naked and give up electronics. Fast food chains underpay their workers, electronics and clothing companies employ children at their sweatshops in China and Africa and we munch on our McDonalds happily, wearing that fancy Nike shirt.

"KSP is just another money making scheme for them, they dont have the passion of SQUAD!"  I agree with that statement. KSP 1.3 was probably the last 'free' KSP version that we had the fortune to enjoy. But, you are upset that your passion is seen as a money making scheme by a multi-billion dollar company? Yeah, they are business men. Greed is their nature. Can you hate a poisonous snake for biting you wen you touch it in it's burrow? No, for it's the snake's nature, why the heck did you touch it???

So, in summary, as customers, we have had almost nothing to worry about. Yeah, what would have been a 'Buy at release' would now be a 'Buy after reviews'. Most of the devs still have  a job. Take-two made an unethical move, and it's an unethical move no matter what the apologists say. But how many successful companies do you think out there are surviving by the virtue of their ethics and have not resorted to underhanded tricks to maintain their lead in the capitalist rat race?

Edited by Selective Genius
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30 minutes ago, Brikoleur said:

Poaching another company's core staff is usually considered a mega [self-redacted] move. 

I can sort of understand negotiations falling through and consequently the publisher calling everything off and taking the IP + source code to somebody else, that kind of thing sometimes happens without anyone actually doing anything outrageously nasty. But the other part is low. 

I agree, this sounds like a mega [redacted] move. I'd be interested in hearing TTI's side, but I suspect they will be silent.

If they weren't happy with the work ST was doing, I doubt they would have tried to poach so many of its employees. If they weren't happy with the work ST was doing, they wouldn't have entered into negotiations to buy ST.

Now... even if you don't like was ST was doing (such as progress being too slow), it would make sense to poach some people, to at least explain the existing code (trying to follow what someone else has done if they aren't there to explain it, can waste a lot of time). They'd need people familiar with the code, but I don't think they'd do a blanket offer to all ST employees... they'd probably start with Simpson and 2 or 3 others, not 30. This doesn't sound like the team was underperforming.

I will say though, if Nate hadn't jumped ship, I don't think TTI would have gone through with it. If he stayed with ST, that would delay KSP2 even more, increase the development expenses by a lot, and generate a lot of confusion and doubt among customers. I think TTI would have returned to the negotiating table if Nate and perhaps 2 or 3 other senior team members hadn't taken the offer.

Of course, I don't know what happened, that's just my thoughts.

Whether or not ST wanted to be acquired by TTI, or TTI wanted to acquire ST, they already had a contract with ST to develop KSP2, and if no deal was made, you'd think they could just proceed under the original agreement.

When TTI poached the team, that made the original agreement untenable. I can't see how TTI could have been "forced" to do this/had no other choice.

Its an unethical move, and I am much less enthusiastic about KSP2 now... I will certainly wait longer before buying it, to look at reviews and wait for sales.. not gonna pay full price for it

6 minutes ago, Selective Genius said:

As far as I know, the devs are not jobless, they work for a Take-2 subsidiary. So livelihoods were not destroyed.

.12 out of 30 got jobs... 18 out of 30 lost their job.

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Spoiler

This was an incredibly difficult decision for us to make, but it became necessary when we felt business circumstances might compromise the development, execution and integrity of the game

In human (not psychopath talk) talk:

”This was an easy decision to make. We decided that this game isn’t going our way. We don’t like what you’re doing. We want it our way”.

Spoiler

To that end, we encourage you to apply for a position with us

Come on now. We’re a huge company! No requirements. Well... one. Do what we say. No questions”.

Spoiler

We are offering a compensation package that includes a cash sign-on bonus, an excellent salary, bonus eligibility and other benefits

here’s a bribe. Let’s do it!

 

and then, it’s at the beginning of the article but I’m putting at the end:

Spoiler

it said the game—in the works for the previous two years—was being pulled from their studio.

<turret voice> “Goodbye”.

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It seems to me that the real point is missed by many commenters here.

The outrage should not be concerns over the quality of the game. That might be affected, it might not. The real point is the way a small studio was gutted and its employees forced to abandon it. Yes, forced. It is extremely hard to abandon a project that is close to your heart, let alone face the financial consequences the employees would have faced if they had declined Take Two's offer. And now, after that show of force, the publisher will be able to get away with any pressure they put on the devs.

Regardless of the face value of the final product; KSP2 will be forever tainted.

Saying: "I'll wait for initial reviews instead of first-day-buying KSP2" utterly misses the entire point.

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7 minutes ago, bitzoid said:

let alone face the financial consequences the employees would have faced if they had declined Take Two's offer.

What consequences were those? Are you saying that ST was under paying its employees, or are you saying that ST was barely soluble and the employees knew they would be out of a job soon anyway?

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2 minutes ago, MechBFP said:

What consequences were those? Are you saying that ST was under paying its employees, or are you saying that ST was barely soluble and the employees knew they would be out of a job soon anyway?

Star Theory had one major contract (and maybe not any others), with Take Two Interactive, and the employees know it.  They also would have learned at least something about the negotiations going on, if not the exact details.  Then a TTI rep contacts all of them individually saying come work for us.  On that project you're already working on.  Which is why ST had a meeting with everyone on the following Monday.

If you can't see the consequences (one set of obvious ones that took place)....

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