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


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20 minutes ago, ShakeNBake said:

Unfortunately, in this connected corporate world, absolutely yes. Because what if you want to get another job after the one you were offered? You can leave the previous employer off of your references, or you can let future employers contact your previous employer who will tell them that you are “not committed to the company” or some other diplomatic version of traitor.

Granted, this is a hyperbolic statement and I’m sure there are other companies like valve that aren’t that toxic. But many companies value loyalty much more than competence. That is why there are so many internal promotions of incompetent employees just because they’ve been there the longest. While leaving a position on anything less than excellent terms is not complete corporate suicide, it is shooting yourself in the foot and limiting your options in the future.

Here is what is was missing, thanks (I finshed the likes for the day).

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2 minutes ago, Numberyellow said:

They couldn't get what they wanted on their terms...

 

2 minutes ago, razark said:

What were those terms?

 

Feel free, at any point, to admit that you don't know.

Edited by razark
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So the constant postponing of the release seems to be more because of internal strife from the developer's part. 

Do you guys think this will impact negatively on the final product? What I fear the most is all of this corporate fights bringing commercial impacts such as "we are already losing money due to the postponements, let's release this as it is and later we see how things go" etc. Decisions meant to be provisional tend to become definitive over time; I specially fear that moddability is diminished in order to get the game done sooner, due to them going over their deadlines as this corporate bickering continues. 

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40 minutes ago, Duhya said:

You are reframing the problem.

T2 had a dev studio for ksp2, T2 held that dev studio by the balls in negotiations, and the dev studio didn't give in to every demand. T2 creates a new dev studio with a new name, with the intent of cannibalizing the old studio into the new one. They aren't getting a better deal, they are being forced to take the deal, or be without a job.

Disgusting.

This isn't poaching it's corporate domination.

This reminds me something from my past...

I used to work for a company. I was a field supervisor, fairly high up in the company.. i only answered to a handful of people. A guy who was just a manager of one of our affiliates SOLD his company to the owners of our company, in exchange for a sum of money, and a position as a part owner of the new merged company, with direct control over all operations for the division his former company was responsible for. As a part owner, he also had the ability to make policy, and eliminate people from other divisions.

He didn't like me very much. We butted heads constantly, but because of the fact that i was in another division, and untouchable by him, his resentment grew, and grew. As soon as he became a partner in the company, he set a plan in motion to get rid of me. One day, during a particularly difficult job, he harassed me on the phone. I argued with him, and he threatened to create a new position within the company with an identical job description to mine, hire someone, and then eliminate the position i was occupying, "this is how i'll get rid of you", he said to me. Unfortunately for him, i had him on speaker...i thought i was alone, but it turns out the customer i was servicing overheard the conversation. They, unbeknownst to me, called the company our company was under contract to, and made a huge stink, threatened to cancel their account. Next thing i know, i'm in a room with one of the owners (not the one who was trying to get rid of me), who's telling me about the whole thing.... this effectively put an end to the guy's plans to get rid of me cleanly. Sadly, i couldn't outmanuver him entirely. He decided to do things the hard way, and pushed me out of the company, making me as miserable as possible, along the way.

I tell this story, to illustrate that i have first-hand knowledge of how these things happen.

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42 minutes ago, nikokespprfan said:

wall of text

I like this. It's very well thought-out, and is thought-provoking.

Good job.

20 minutes ago, razark said:

What were those terms?

Is that level of specificity really necessary? You remind me of an attorney trying to get his client off on a technicality. It smacks of reaching. Is it not enough to simply know that there was a disagreement between the parties, as to the terms of the sale?

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[Moderator note:  this post is in response to this one.  Posts were merged from another thread.]

Uh...no, it's not dead. We might be sad and disheartened by Take2's actions but the game is still being developed. In fact, one of T2's motivations for gutting Star Theory and creating the new studio was probably having more control over its development so that they could make the team finish it. This may be unethical, but it hasn't killed the game.

Also, have you ever posted anything that's not about KSP being supposedly 'dead'? You've created numerous threads like this in multiple subforums, and the consensus of everyone who has ever replied to them is that no, KSP is not in fact dead.

Edited by Snark
note added by moderator
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4 minutes ago, Numberyellow said:

I like this. It's very well thought-out, and is thought-provoking.

Good job.

Thank you :3.

It still needs work, a lot of work, but lets all work through it bit by bit.

Edited by nikokespprfan
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2 minutes ago, nikokespprfan said:

It still needs work, a lot of work, but lets all work through it bit by bit.

I think this effort you have started, to try and focus the conversation, is worthwhile. It shows you are able to see the bigger picture, and the gaps in it.. It is good.

Whether or not this bears out, is another story entirely. I do hope it does, though.

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People who are complaining about the Big Shark eating up the smaller one, almost always fail to understand that the smaller shark would have done the same if it got bigger. Only a psychopath will find the actions of T2 ethical and fully support it. But sadly, in business, that's the norm.

For us, as customers, the ONLY issue which matters is how the game turns out. Is the gameplay better or worse? Do we have day one DLC or not? Will I get a Kerbal Customizer DLC? Stuff like this, tangible stuff that matters.

People are sentimental, and in their sentiments, they forget practicality. He who's all good, can never be all powerful; and he who's all powerful, can never be all good. That's how it has been, and that's how it will be, especially in businesses.

3 hours ago, KerikBalm said:

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

As far as I knew, and now I know better. And I still maintain my stand that what T2 did was scummy and unethical but lawful (read: as its contract permitted)

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8 minutes ago, Numberyellow said:

Is that level of specificity really necessary?

Yes.

Or are you trying to say that even if T2 offered one thousand times more than ST was worth, and ST was still holding out for more, that T2 was in the wrong?  Your position is that no matter what, the big company is going to be wrong, and the small company is in the right?

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Just now, Selective Genius said:

People who are complaining about the Big Shark eating up the smaller one, almost always fail to understand that the smaller shark would have done the same if it got bigger. Only a psychopath will find the actions of T2 ethical and fully support it. But sadly, in business, that's the norm.

For us, as customers, the ONLY issue which matters is how the game turns out. Is the gameplay better or worse? Do we have day one DLC or not? Will I get a Kerbal Customizer DLC? Stuff like this, tangible stuff that matters.

People are sentimental, and in their sentiments, they forget practicality. He who's all good, can never be all powerful; and he who's all powerful, can never be all good. That's how it has been, and that's how it will be, especially in businesses.

As far as I knew, and now I know better. And I still maintain my stand that what T2 did was scummy and unethical but lawful (read: as its contract permitted)

Yes, but doesn't the WAY the big one eats the small one matter? If Star Theory simply got bought out by Take-Two, like the way EA bought out Westwood back in the day, it would suck, but it wouldn't have been scummy. small companies sell out to bigger companies all the time, either because they're tired of trying to compete, or because it's fiscally advantageous. Willingly merging with another company is one thing, having your company dismantled, having everything forcibly taken from you...that's something entirely different.

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3 minutes ago, razark said:

Yes.

Or are you trying to say that even if T2 offered one thousand times more than ST was worth, and ST was still holding out for more, that T2 was in the wrong?  Your position is that no matter what, the big company is going to be wrong, and the small company is in the right?

you are implying that worth is static. It is not. Take your car for example. It has a blue book value....that is nothing more than an average of it's market value....which is determined by sales data. The prices being used for that average are the result of what individual parties value the car at. Now, you may think your specific car is worth more, because that's the value YOU put on it. I may not think it's worth that much, and i may offer you blue book for it, or less... there is literally nothing wrong with you saying you don't want to sell to me, because i'm not offering you a number you think is fair.

The value of a thing is entirely subjective. So, no, i'm not saying Take-Two was in the wrong, if Star Theory owners were holding out for more.... i'm saying they're in the wrong for destroying the company after negotiations fell through. You're employing a straw-man.

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2 minutes ago, Numberyellow said:

Yes, but doesn't the WAY the big one eats the small one matter?

Either way the small one's dead.

4 minutes ago, Numberyellow said:

Willingly merging with another company is one thing, having your company dismantled, having everything forcibly taken from you...that's something entirely different.

 

8 minutes ago, Selective Genius said:

People are sentimental, and in their sentiments, they forget practicality.

I still maintain my stand that what T2 did was scummy and unethical but lawful

 

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5 minutes ago, Selective Genius said:

Either way the small one's dead.

 

 

Not necessarily. Until it was shut down, Westwood survived as an EA subsidiary, same thing with Visceral. Hell, BioWare still exists as an EA subsidiary.

If we're going to stick with the animal death analogy.. Is it not better to kill an animal peacefully, and humanely, rather than hacking off bits of it until it dies?

I absolutely believe the method matters

Edited by Numberyellow
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1 minute ago, Numberyellow said:

If we're going to stick with the animal death analogy.. Is it not better to kill an animal peacefully, and humanely, rather than hacking off bits of it until it dies?

For a vet, it's humane to put an animal to sleep peacefully; for a Halal merchant, it's necessary to do some extreme stuff (which I cant write on the forum, I think) to an animal before further processing of meat.

Different establishments have different standards. And I would like to reiterate: What T2 did was scummy and unethical, but well within it's legal rights.

The Game is scheduled for Fall 2021, and by then, the only thing that would matter would be the game itself, nothing else. We are CUSTOMERS, nothing more nothing less. And the quality of the product is all we should care about.

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1 minute ago, Selective Genius said:

For a vet, it's humane to put an animal to sleep peacefully; for a Halal merchant, it's necessary to do some extreme stuff (which I cant write on the forum, I think) to an animal before further processing of meat.

Different establishments have different standards. And I would like to reiterate: What T2 did was scummy and unethical, but well within it's legal rights.

The Game is scheduled for Fall 2021, and by then, the only thing that would matter would be the game itself, nothing else. We are CUSTOMERS, nothing more nothing less. And the quality of the product is all we should care about.

I disagree that the quality of the product is all that should matter. However, one's sense of morality is all their own. I'm not saying you should agree with me, or hold the same values i do. I'm simply stating, for the record, that i disagree with what you've said. I already wasn't going to buy KSP2, and i made that decision, the moment Take-Two became involved, because of OTHER scummy things they've done. This affair just reinforces that decision for me. I believe the way in which companies conduct themselves matters, when they engage in behavior that is repugnant to people, people should rightly choose not to reward such behavior. "vote with your wallet", i believe they say..

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2 hours ago, Master39 said:

Can someone working in the software development market explain to me why "Poaching" would be a bad thing for the person being "poached"?

I can understand why it can be bad for small studios and used as a way to go around acquisitions (but I've seen also the contrary, famous devs selling their studio to a big publisher and then leaving it to found a new one), but I can't see how receiving a better offer from another employer could be bad.

It's not obviously, you wouldn't agree to be poached if they weren't giving you a better deal than you have now.

But it is bad for everybody else in the team that got poached from. Small studios take a lot of risks and usually barely manage to stay afloat. If a big company poaches their best talent, they're usually sunk. In this case, as somebody else put it, 12 people got new and presumably better jobs, 18 people lost their jobs. That is not cool.

It is also what business-speak calls a "reputational risk." This kind of thing will make small studios a lot less enthusiastic to work with T2 in the future. I would not want to sign a contract with someone if I thought they were likely to simply kill off my company if something didn't go quite to their liking. There is a huge power asymmetry here. Private Division's whole image was all about a big corporation doing something cool in a win-win public-spirited way. That's now out of the window. 

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7 minutes ago, Numberyellow said:

I disagree that the quality of the product is all that should matter. However, one's sense of morality is all their own. I'm not saying you should agree with me, or hold the same values i do. I'm simply stating, for the record, that i disagree with what you've said. I already wasn't going to buy KSP2, and i made that decision, the moment Take-Two became involved, because of OTHER scummy things they've done. This affair just reinforces that decision for me. I believe the way in which companies conduct themselves matters, when they engage in behavior that is repugnant to people, people should rightly choose not to reward such behavior. "vote with your wallet", i believe they say..

The sport shoes and shirts from sweatshops in Africa will always find a way to our wardrobe if it's quality is good; a smartphone built by force labor in China will always find its way in our palm, if its better than the alternatives.

Take 2 is scummy? Of course it is. That's what I have been talking about. But despite that, it's now evaluated at $15 billion.

The world is built by the wicked on the foundations of the bones of the good, like it or not. That's how it has been and will always be, despite our bickerings and disagreements from the comfort of our rooms.

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On 6/3/2020 at 6:50 PM, snkiz said:

Regardless of why it happened, it was dirty. This move has destroyed any trust or good will Private division had with This community and I'd imagine future developers as a whole. I don't blame the devs who jumped ship. They were witnessing their passion project slipping away. And bills still need to be paid. Cozy up to the monster, get paid and get out. Mark my words that is what's going to happen. They already killed Linux support, next it will be epic exclusive, and micro-transactions and everything Nate promised it wouldn't be. I paid squad 4x full price for ksp 1 so I could give to friends and family. Private Division (T2) will be lucky if I pick it up in a humble bundle, assuming they don't ruin it.

  

On 6/3/2020 at 6:50 PM, snkiz said:

Regardless of why it happened, it was dirty. This move has destroyed any trust or good will Private division had with This community and I'd imagine future developers as a whole. I don't blame the devs who jumped ship. They were witnessing their passion project slipping away. And bills still need to be paid. Cozy up to the monster, get paid and get out. Mark my words that is what's going to happen. They already killed Linux support, next it will be epic exclusive, and micro-transactions and everything Nate promised it wouldn't be. I paid squad 4x full price for ksp 1 so I could give to friends and family. Private Division (T2) will be lucky if I pick it up in a humble bundle, assuming they don't ruin it.

Speak for yourself. 

Star Theory had been given an extension. 

Star Theory was in negotiations for a buyout, that fell apart.

 

So they failed to deliver on schedule, and then they were asking for to much $$$ in a buyout. Their creative team jumped ship immediately, so they were most likely offered better options than they could get elsewhere.

The two guys pointedly who *didn't* get brought along? The two owners of Star Theory.

I've been around alot of startups and indie devs. I don't know for sure, but it feels like the owners at Star Theory pushed things too far, and didn't realize just how ruthless big business can be. It ain't puppies and roses. If you take an *expensive* IP, delay delivery, and then start yanking their chain during negotiations? At some point they decide f*** it, we don't need the problem children. 

 

When you are out of compliance on your only contract, and you get a buyout offer, you better damned well have another offer in hand before you reject it. That 'buyout offer' translates to 'you guys are screwing this us, here's some cash to hit the road, we're taking over'. 

 

At the end of the day, the one thing a large soulless corporate behemoth has going for it is that it tends to make mostly rational decisions - if the cost calculus is good, it acts. If it bad, it doesn't. 

 

Star Theory's owners wanted more than their studio was actually worth. Then end. They had *no* negotiating leverage. They have no other solid income stream. They had no other games in the pipe. The only thing they had were their people, and those people were *very* willing to jump ship. TTI could probably offer the entire team a raise and better options by just cutting the two owners of Star Theory out of the pie completely. 

 

If you want to be a small company and work with the big boys, you (as management & owners) had better be something really special. So much that the big boy doesn't just decide to push you out. 

 

 

Edited by Doc
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6 minutes ago, Selective Genius said:

The sport shoes and shirts from sweatshops in Africa will always find a way to our wardrobe if it's quality is good; a smartphone built by force labor in China will always find its way in our palm, if its better than the alternatives.

Take 2 is scummy? Of course it is. That's what I have been talking about. But despite that, it's now evaluated at $15 billion.

The world is built by the wicked on the foundations of the bones of the good, like it or not. That's how it has been and will always be, despite our bickerings and disagreements from the comfort of our rooms.

That’s just too depressing for me. The world has been changing since forever. I have to hope that it will continue to change. 

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I find it odd that people are entering the point into the discussion that star.theory MIGHT have been wanting "too much" for a sell out. Think about what you just said.

It is their company. They can ask for whatever value they want. If its too steep, nobody is forced to actually buy it. EVEN IF they actually wanted to sell the company (which we don't know) and EVEN IF they were asking for a googol USD (which we also don't know), that has ZERO bearing on the morality of their company being effectively stolen from them. That's not how things work.

Try to distinguish between legality and morality. They only occasionally overlap.

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YongYea also did a coverage of this on his YouTube channel now. It seems to be catching. (Not going to link, since link to Jim Sterling's coverage link got removed, I'm assuming because of the harsh language used, and this one's no better.)

I also want to add, I keep seeing some people talk about this as if it's par for the course. I've been working in game development for a while now, in studios covering a broad range of sizes. This crap is not the sort of thing that's done. Pulling the IP, that happens occasionally. T2 does own it, and if they have no trust in people developing the game they can pull the IP and give it to someone else. This is always sad to see, but it happens. That's not what happened here. First of all, poaching from contractor is EXTREMELY poor taste. I wish I could say it never happens, but it's rare, it's frowned upon, and even when an employee from a contractor firm comes to you and says they want to switch to your company, it's usually handled with care. Poaching a third of the studio in one go? That's extremely bad look. You buy the studio, then you offer contracts to everyone in the studio you acquired. I've been part of such acquisition, one that has been done purely to get the team, and acquisition is how it's done. Not a LinkedIn message. And these two things in combination? That's just bad. The fact that you're hiring back people from whom you've taken IP, including the team's leadership, screams that you're not doing it because of lack of trust in ability of team to develop the product. This is extremely scummy. Even by standards of large publishers this is bad. My trust in T2 handling KSP IP has hit an all time low.

I'm also worried about the timeline now. Knowing the attitudes in game development, outside of a few team heads who were undoubtedly lured with very high salaries, people who went over to T2 are the ones who are less certain in their work, who are not sure they can find another job, and these are not your best people. All of the people who were critical to the project's smooth transition almost certainly left, because they can get another job even during a pandemic and they aren't going to take this crap from T2. (Our studio is still hiring, so are most others. I constantly get invitations from head hunters for jobs all over the country. It's not quite as easy as it was before pandemic, but getting game dev job is still not hard if you're good at what you do.) I'm sure Intercept will be able to staff these positions eventually, but that takes many months, sometimes over a year, and that means Intercept will not be firing on all cylinders for the near future. Looking at the current openings, they are missing some critical people, primarily in senior engineering roles that are notoriously difficult to fill, and which are absolutely required to ship a performant, stable game on a tight schedule. And this is entirely self-inflicted wound by T2, which will reflect on the quality of the product.

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1 hour ago, Brikoleur said:

Private Division's whole image was all about a big corporation doing something cool in a win-win public-spirited way. That's now out of the window. 

Not necessarily... If this thread is any indication, most people are only worried about "is the game going to be good?", and are completely ignoring the bloodbath behind the scenes. Corporations depend on this "spare me the growing pains" public attitude. Everyone wants the shiny new bauble, and has little to no concern for the cost of it's production, or the ethics or morality of the company bringing it to market.

 

Additionally, you said that being poached is a good deal for the one being poached, and that they wouldn't allow themselves to be poached, unless they were getting a better deal. That's not necessarily true. If your company has just ONE contract, and that one contract is the company's only source of income, if that contract gets pulled, and you get another job offer, you're most likely going to take it, whether it's a better deal or not, because at that point, it's the difference between having a job with any kind of future, and not.. Context matters. It's not always good for the one being poached.

1 hour ago, Selective Genius said:

The sport shoes and shirts from sweatshops in Africa will always find a way to our wardrobe if it's quality is good; a smartphone built by force labor in China will always find its way in our palm, if its better than the alternatives.

Take 2 is scummy? Of course it is. That's what I have been talking about. But despite that, it's now evaluated at $15 billion.

The world is built by the wicked on the foundations of the bones of the good, like it or not. That's how it has been and will always be, despite our bickerings and disagreements from the comfort of our rooms.

I'll grant you that there is some truth to your words.. we can still make choices in keeping with our personal code and values.

If someone is selling the best bananas in town, and someone comes along, cuts their throat, and then starts selling their bananas, i'm obviously not going to buy them.

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