Posts Tagged ‘Rock’

news: Weekend Essentials 150

Make your own history as an assassin, prove your brainpower to friends and outrun the cops with PlayStation this weekend.

Assassins hunt in pairs

Battle lines are drawn: the War of American Independence is about to get under way. Experience the revolution through the eyes of new hero Connor Kenway in Assassin’s Creed III on PlayStation 3, and track your enemies across vast wildernesses and the thriving cities of Boston and New York, as well as on the ocean in epic sea battles.

Ten years prior to the events of Assassin’s Creed III, Aveline de Grandpré has sworn to protect her home and the people of Louisiana. Assassin’s Creed III Liberation on PlayStation Vita will take you on a rich journey through New Orleans as you lure enemies into traps and silently eliminate them.

Pick up both games in shops or download them from PlayStation Store now and explore the birth of a nation on PS3 and PS Vita.

Who are you as smart as?

Prove your brainpower in a series of fiendishly tricky yet challenges, in Smart As… on PS Vita. Test your mind’s prowess in logic, maths, memory and word puzzles, and then see if you’re smarter than your Facebook and PlayStation Network friends. Pick up your copy in-store today or download it from PlayStation Store.

Get sporty with Sports Champions 2

There’s no room for friendship or family bonds in Sports Champions 2 on PS3, so grab your PlayStation Move motion controller and defeat your rivals at golf, boxing, bowling, skiing, tennis and archery. Earn the right to be named Sports Champion in your house this weekend.

Geronimo Stilton returns

Journey with an ordinary mouse on an extraordinary quest, when Geronimo Stilton answers the Queen of the Fairies’ call for help. Tackle more than 60 puzzles and mini-games and explore a magical world in Geronimo Stilton Return to the Kingdom of Fantasy The Videogame on PSP.

Save the world with Phineas and Ferb

Dastardly Dr Doofenshmirtz and his villainous plans must be stopped, and Phineas, Ferb and Agent P are just the people for the job. Join them as they travel through parallel realities and get to grips with strange new gadgets, as Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension lands on PSP.

New on Blu-ray Disc

Wrestle with the cops and other fighters on PS3 this weekend. Confront an entire city’s police force along with the fastest racers on PlayStation Network in Need for Speed Most Wanted. Take down anyone, anywhere as you dominate the roads.

Meanwhile, WWE ’13 crams some of the biggest personalities of wrestling into the ring. Take your pick from the likes of The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker and relive the Attitude era in your own living room.

New to download

In Okami HD, available to download to PS3, you’ll become the sun god Amaterasu as the critically acclaimed adventure receives a sparkling High Definition makeover and PlayStation Move features.

More for your game

Unleash a bitter ex-cop’s fury in four new multiplayer maps for Max Payne 3 when you download the Hostage Negotiation Pack. Adapt to hostile conditions, experiment with new weapons then tackle opponents from around the globe via PlayStation Network.

Add three new stages to Mercenaries mode in Resident Evil 6: an aircraft carrier level in the High Seas Fortress pack, the Rail Yard’s maintenance tunnels and trains and the deadly traps found in The Catacombs.

Visit PlayStation Store to enhance these two PS3 heavyweights.

Test your gaming knowledge

It’s the busiest time of the year for many gamers, with a host of great new titles making it tricky to know which to try first. Have a go at the November 2012 edition of Level Up, focusing on the new wave of blockbusters, and you can prove your knowledge while choosing the game to play next.

Try it out right now at

More from PlayStation

Keep an eye on PlayStation.Blog at for the latest PlayStation news.

Visit for your chance to win great prizes.

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Sign up to Inside PS Vita at to be first with the news on the revolutionary handheld.

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Slim PS3 is updated frequently per day with the latest Free Slim PS3 news and hardware reviews.

Posted on November 4th, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

Slim PS3 news: Weekend Essentials 145

Win a trip to Silverstone, take to the pitch in FIFA 13 and rock out with Rocksmith on PS3 this weekend.

Alive and kicking

Stick the boot into your friends this weekend with FIFA 13 on PlayStation 3. The new season features up to date team sheets, an expanded career mode and the ability to use the PlayStation Move motion controller for defence-splitting passes.

If you’re on the move, you can also buy FIFA 13 for PlayStation Vita to get your football fix wherever you go.

Pick up the definitive Real Driving Simulator

Gran Turismo 5: Academy Edition roars into shops this weekend, packed with special updates, extra cars, additional courses and exciting new features. Pick it up and head over to PlayStation Store to buy three brand new cars for your garage and settle back for hours of four-wheeled bliss. Plus, enter the exclusive GT Academy Challenge competition to earn a day of intensive driver training at the world-famous Silverstone Circuit – find out more including full terms and conditions at

Rock on

Mix real life with video games via the incredible Rocksmith on PS3. Plug any real guitar directly into your PS3 and learn how to master the axe like a pro. Develop at your own pace and enjoy a variety of mini-games that hone specific skills such as scales and finger dexterity. Strum your way to the top with Rocksmith this weekend.

Are you a fighter?

Tecmo Koei’s popular beat ‘em up series has stepped back into the PS3 ring with some familiar faces as well as characters from SEGA’s iconic brawler, Virtua Fighter. DEAD OR ALIVE 5 lets you fight it out across spectacular locations around the world without leaving your living room.

Help Victor Ludus and win

Have you lent a helping hand to the mysterious Victor Ludus yet? He’s building the ultimate LittleBigPlanet PlayStation Vita level and setting a variety of challenges for you to join in on via Twitter and Facebook. Your creative suggestions will help shape the level which will be built by developers Tarsier Studios and Double 11 and made available to download to LittleBigPlanet PlayStation Vita.

The most creative suggestions for selected challenges will be rewarded with exclusive prizes, so make sure you visit to get started and keep an eye on @VictorLudus and Facebook for the latest challenges.

It’s a PlayStation Store games bonanza

It’s a bumper week of games this week on PlayStation Store. For PS3 you can download PlayStation 2 classic Grand Theft Auto 3, unique survival adventure TOKYO JUNGLE (with 20 per cent off if you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber), space-bound thriller Starhawk, the refreshingly original Mirror’s Edge and realistic racer F1 2012.

Want more? Then make sure you sink your teeth into inFAMOUS Collection, which contains inFAMOUS, inFAMOUS 2 and inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood. If you’re champing at the bit for some stealth action, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD is also available to download. Magical platformer Page Chronica makes its debut this week as well, while the Medieval Madness pack launches for Pinball Arcade, which is also compatible with PS Vita.

Speaking of the portable powerhouse, you can also download PS Vita title New Little King’s Story, a colourful strategy role-playing game with intuitive touch based controls. PSP isn’t left out either, with FINAL FANTASY III launching this week on PlayStation Store for instant role-playing game goodness.

Demos galore on PlayStation Store

Thought we were finished with PlayStation Store? There’s even more for you, with some delicious demos to download. On PS3 you can get a taste of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and NBA 2K13, while PS Vita horror fans can send a shiver down their spine with the Silent Hill Book of Memories demo.  

More for your games

Treat yourself – and your current games collection – with a variety of great add-ons on PlayStation 3. Whether it’s The Amazing Spider-Man, Darksiders II, Rocksmith, ONE PIECE: PIRATE WARRIORS, TRANSFORMERS: The Fall of Cybertron or Spelunker HD, there’s something to get the most from your games this weekend.

More from PlayStation

Keep an eye on PlayStation.Blog at for the latest PlayStation news.

Visit for your chance to win great prizes.

Follow us on Twitter at

Join in with a variety of activities on the Official PlayStation Facebook page at

Have your say in the official PlayStation Forums at

Sign up to Inside PS Vita at to be first with the news on the revolutionary handheld.

Check out pictures from recent events and the latest PlayStation games at

Slim-PS3 is updated several times every day with the latest Free PlayStation news.

Posted on September 29th, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

news: Weekend Essentials 137

Treat yourself to a PlayStation Store bargain and show off your video game sports knowledge this weekend.

More PlayStation games for less

Enjoy sensational savings on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and PSP as the PlayStation Store Summer sale continues. With full games such as L.A. Noire Complete Edition on PS3 and add-ons such as Escape Plan: The Asylum on PS Vita available at a great discount, there’s no better time to fill those holes in your video game collection.

Go for gold

The official PlayStation quiz, Level Up, gets all sporty this month with some questions that are sure to get your heart rate going – and your brain racing. Think you’re up to the task of achieving a perfect ten score? Time to prove it…

Fancy a splash?

Dive into one of the most unique games of 2012 – Puddle on PS Vita is a refreshingly different puzzle title. Use friction, momentum and motion to guide your puddles past dangerous hazards such as fires, rifts and potential spills. Download Puddle from PlayStation Store now.

New to download

PlayStation Store isn’t just home to irresistible discounts – there is also a wonderful variety of new games and add-ons to enjoy too, on PS3. Fancy downloading the action strategy puzzler Rock of Ages? What about team shooter Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, which blasts its way on to your screens accompanied by a bundle of downloadable campaigns and bonuses to give you the best possible chance of survival.

If giant robots are more your style, then you can download the TRANSFORMERS: Fall of Cybertron demo to get a taste of the apocalyptic war between the Autobots and Decepticons. For a more hand-to-hand combat thrill, you can grab all 12 unlockable characters from beat ‘em up extravaganza Street Fighter X TEKKEN to give yourself a fighting chance against your friends online.

If you want to wind down after a long day enjoying the summer of sport, chill to new Rexbox avatars from The Studio and download some regal outfits for Sackboy in LittleBigPlanet 2 with the Disney Princesses Costume Pack 1.

A pirate’s life for you?

Risen 2: Dark Waters sets sail on PS3 this week, which means you can swim in the murky waters of this exciting role-playing game. Monsters, ancient gods and voodoo magic are just a few of the things you’ll encounter on the stormy seas… grab a copy from the shops and earn your sea legs.

Dress to impress

Is your PlayStation Home apartment looking a bit bare? Does your avatar need a wardrobe refresh? Then you can win some great outfits, accessories and apartment goodies in the PlayStation Home fashion challenge.

Simply head over to and PlayStation.Blog at where the Community Team will announce a theme for you to dress up your avatar. Then strut your funky stuff by logging in to PlayStation Home on your PS3 and taking a picture using the PlayStation Home camera.

The current challenge is about national colours, with a new theme announced every two weeks – so make sure you don’t miss out on your chance to make PlayStation Home your very own catwalk. Get all the details over at

More from PlayStation

Keep an eye on PlayStation.Blog at for the latest PlayStation news.

Visit for your chance to win great prizes.

Follow us on Twitter at

Join in with a variety of activities on the Official PlayStation Facebook page at

Have your say in the official PlayStation Forums at

Sign up to Inside PS Vita at to be first with the news on the revolutionary handheld.

Check out pictures from recent events and the latest PlayStation games at

Slim-PS3 is updated frequently per day with the very latest Free Slim PS3 news and games reviews.

Posted on August 5th, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

Five great games events for summer and autumn 2012

Here’s a whole bunch of game-related talks, festivals and evenings for your calendar!

okay, so it’s clearly going to rain all summer – we’ll need to stay inside. And what better way to do that, than by celebrating video game culture in all its myriad forms and unquestionable beauty.

Here then, is a selection of game events taking place throughout the next few months. Try and get yourself along to at least one of them – you’ll get to hear amazing things about game design and maybe even play a couple of new titles you’ve never heard of. And the British weather cannot ruin that.

Update: we’ve added another event! (Which makes the title incorrect, but I’m afraid of changing that on a Friday evening with no production editors to tell me if that will break the whole site or not.)FlameCityNightsWhen: 28 JuneWhere: Antenna, NottinghamWhat: The latest in a regular series of evening events organised by the curators of the GameCityFestival will feature Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons and Jonathan Smith of Lego Batman creator TT Games. The duo will talk about how to create engaging heroes, and how they work in video games. There will be opportunities to ask questions, and lots of other indie titles will be playable during the evening. There’s also an Olympic theme, so be prepared to play Kinect games or Hyper Sports or something, too. Of course, the chance to meet and chat with Dave Gibbons should have been enough to have you lunging for the GameCity Nights website for more details. It’s an over-18s only event and tickets cost £5 each.

Games BritanniaWhen: 2-6 JulyWhere: Magna Science Adventure Centre, SheffieldWhat: An enormously ambitious event mostly aimed at schools, featuring hands-on workshops and lectures on game design from leading industry figures like Ian Livingstone. There is also a public exhibition entitled Replayed, which explores Britain’s video game heritage and will include lots of classic games to rediscover. Tying in closely with the campaign to get computer science taught in schools, this should be a fascinating introduction to the games industry.

RezzedWhen: 6-7 JulyWhere: Brighton CentreWhat: Organised by Eurogamer and Rock,Paper,Shotgun, this is a brand new event dedicated to PC and indie gaming. Over two days, it’s set to offer gamers hands-on experiences with the likes of Borderlands 2, Far Cry 3, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Project Zomboid. There will also be gaming tournaments, and Valve is giving a Dota 2 beta key to every one of the 5000 expected attendees. Tickets are £12 a day or £20 for both days.

Bafta Games Question TimeWhen: 2 JulyWhere: Pennine Theatre, SheffieldWhat: Okay, this is strictly part of Games Britannia, but it deserves its own entry. Starting at 8pm on Monday night, this is a chance for audience members to put their games industry questions to a panel of experts including Broken Sword creator Charles Cecil and UKIE chairman, Andy Payne. Tickets are free, but pre-booking is advised.

London Games FestivalWhen: 27 Sept – 28 OctWhere: various venues, LondonWhat: After a break last year, the London Games Festival is back, taking in a range of events around the capital. As usual, it encapsulates a series of self-contained treats including the excellent Eurogamer Expo (27-29 September, Earls Court), Future’s Golden Joystick Awards (26 October) and the always fascinating MCM London Comic Con (26-28 October). more announcements are due to be made over the summer.

GameCity 7When: 20-27 OctoberWhere: various venues, Nottingham city centreWhat: The annual games event that I will go ahead and call ‘utterly unmissable to anyone who has even glanced with ardour at a video game’ is now a week-long odyssey, taking in the usual selection of inspiring talks, indie game expos and amusing evening shenanigans. This year Peter Molyneux will be taking over for a whole day and you can expect lots of insight and indiscreet comments about working for Microsoft. Gamesblog will there too, albeit in a reduced capacity, hosting one of seven different mornings at the Broadway Cinema cafe. We might well find something else to do as well, if the organisers let us.

Have I missed anything? If you’re holding an event or festival with any video game components leave a comment below or get in touch with me via my Guardian email address and I’ll add it to the list!


Game culture


Keith Stuart © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds is updated regularly each day with the latest Free PlayStation news and reviews.

Posted on June 23rd, 2012 by  |  No Comments »

PS3 Slim news: Weekend Essentials 51

Gain some powerful Force powers and take on the undead this week with PlayStation.

Feel the Force… unleashedDarth Vader’s dark apprentice, Starkiller, is back – how? Find out in the epic lightsaber wielding action adventure, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II on PlayStation 3. New Force powers are at your disposal… how will you use them?

The Force is strong on PlayStation 3 – find out why.

Saddle up for a scare! Rockstar Games has unleashed its ghoulish expansion pack on PlayStation Store for Red Dead Redemption, entitled Undead Nightmare. Here you’ll find an all new single player campaign where you play as John Marsden battling hordes of the walking dead, plus a myriad of multiplayer modes including the taut and terrifying zombie survival mode.

Scare yourself silly this weekend and download Undead Nightmare for Red Dead Redemption from PlayStation Store.

“Rock, rock on”It’s time to step up to the stage once more and show the world what you’re made of. Rock Band 3 struts its stuff on PS3 with features such as an 83-song track list and the new Pro mode which lets you develop actual musical skills with the game.

Become a real rock star with PS3.

Return of the kingWield the sword and live the adventure on PS3. The chance to become the legendary Aragorn is yours with The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest and the PlayStation Move motion controller.

Arm yourself with PS Move for a great adventure now.

Wrestle with your PS3Enter the squared circle with the biggest WWE superstars. WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2011 brings the high-impact action of the world’s favourite sports entertainment right into your home.

Get to grips with the latest grappler on PlayStation 3 this weekend.

“Action!”The release of Time Crisis: Razing Storm is almost upon us, so why not get in on a taste of the PlayStation Move enabled action and download the fast and furious demo from PlayStation Store today in preparation for the game’s release on 5 November 2010.

Pull over! Criterion Games’ Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is revving its engines for a November 2010 release on PlayStation 3, you can step behind the wheel right now and hone your driving skills in preparation for road wars by downloading the demo available on PlayStation Store today for free.

Back of the net!Need something to do while travelling to the match this weekend? You’re in luck, as PES 2011 – Pro Evolution Soccer kicks off on PlayStation Store for PSP. Take to the pitch and get ready to score some goals in this realistic football experience.

Download it now from PlayStation Store.

Star qualityPrepare to enter the Lunar world as Lunar: Silver Star Harmony comes to PlayStation Store. A remake of the popular 1992 role-playing game Lunar: The Silver Star, this title sees you embark on a mission to become a Dragonmaster and save your homeland.

Begin your journey at PlayStation Store now.

Killer costumesEveryone is getting into the scary spirit this weekend, even LittleBigPlanet’s Sackboy. The cheeky little guy can now wear his very own Killzone costumes and dress up as a Helghast trooper in both the PSP and PS3 versions of the game.

You’ll find these great outfits now in PlayStation Store.

Fancy a new look?Check out the new Super Street Fighter IV avatars available from PlayStation Store. Choose your favourite character and let everyone know about it.

Head over to PlayStation Store now and pick up a World Warrior.

The latest on yourself into ghoulish goings-on at Halloween with some special articles to get you in the trick or treat mood. Want to know which titles are bound to send a shiver down your spine? Then check out the Games to give you goosebumps feature for a spooky selection of games or the Haunting Halloween highlights on PSN feature for some terrifyingly tantalising downloads to enjoy from PlayStation Store. You can also tell us which games have scared or shocked you senseless with Obsession Confessions: Halloween Horrors in the official PlayStation Forums at

Halloween fun aside, there’s the chance to win a PlayStation 3 system and Time Crisis: Razing Storm prizes in the Time Crisis: Razing Storm competition – as well as the opportunity to grab some Linkin Park tickets in the official PlayStation Forums competition at

Keep an eye on PlayStation Blog at for the latest PlayStation news as it happens.

Be sure to opt in to receive PlayStation emails when you sign up for a PlayStation Network account. If you already have an account, sign in to your PlayStation Network account settings at or via the XMB™ (XrossMediaBar) and opt in. That way, you can keep bang up to date and receive the latest PlayStation news direct to your inbox.

Slim PS3 is updated several times per day with the very latest Free Slim PS3 news.

Posted on October 31st, 2010 by  |  No Comments »

Realtime Worlds: an inside story

Last week, Scotland’s biggest game studio, Realtime Worlds, went into administration with the loss of 150 jobs. Gamesblog speaks to two ex-staff about what led to the collapse…

How did this happen to Realtime Worlds? That’s the question most industry pundits have been asking all week. APB was going to be the Grand Theft Auto of the 21st century – a freeform cops’n’robbers shootfest, taking place in a massively multiplayer universe where player characters were infinitely customisable. Realtime Worlds, founded by Grand Theft Auto creator Dave Jones, was the giant of the Dundee games community, the lynchpin amid a thriving enclave of studios, many spawned from Jones’s original company, DMA Design. Last week, however, Realtime Worlds went into administration with the loss of 150 jobs. The developer had apparently burned through $105m in funding. It was the Heaven’s Gate of gaming.

Here’s what’s left. APB has a small staff, managing the game for its 130,000 or so registered users. Meanwhile, another twenty developers are on Project MyWorld, a hugely innovative and ambitious social gaming platform that’s been in development for several years alongside its higher profile stable mate. Administrator Begbies Traynor says it is looking for buyers and has had promising meetings. Nothing has been confirmed yet.

Those are the facts, but they tell a fraction of the story. Gamesblog has spoken to two ex-RTW staff, who wish to remain anonymous. They have much more of it…First of all, some employees saw this coming months ago. Amid all the pre-release hype surrounding APB, pockets of staff within Realtime Worlds were already scared for their jobs. “The first hint we got was, a few months before APB launched, the company started, quite bizarrely, to make cleaners redundant. I thought that was rather suspicious,” says an ex-member of the MyWorld team. “Later, rumours started coming in from Ruffian Games [another Dundee development studio, formed by ex-RTW staff], that redundancies were imminent. And then RTW let all the contractors go early, which was another sign that money was running out. But they said everything was fine.”

It wasn’t. When APB was released on 29 June, it was clear the game was nowhere near ready. The shooting mechanism didn’t work, the vehicle handling was sluggish, the matchmaking system was hopelessly inaccurate. When Gamesblog previewed the game eariier this year it was running on a LAN and seemed fast enough – and potentially, enormous fun. But the reviews were mostly damning – there was much talk about potential, about ambition, but the Metacritic rating, which currently stands at 58, tells its own damning story. Jones tried to suggest that reviewers didn’t understand the game, that it wasn’t GTA, that there was no pre-written narrative – it would all come from emergent player activity. Really, though, the game wasn’t good enough.

“We were getting the data every week and we could see what the sales were like,” says one member of the APB team. “It was very clear to us a number of weeks ago that the game was not selling in the quantities that the projections told us it would. Couple that with the feedback we were getting on the forums and add in the reviews … it wasn’t painting a great picture. And it became clear that APB was not sustainable given the revenues it was generating. The dev team didn’t need management to tell them that.

“At the beginning of August a board meeting was scheduled which everyone knew about – because, you know, people talk. And it was widely known that the board was discussing the performance of APB and how they were going to address that. So everyone was on tenterhooks – and a lot of people expected there to be a fairly significant change as a result of that meeting. But it took the board another week or so to gather more financial data before they could make a decision. Pretty much the whole of August has been horrible for the team, because they knew something was going to happen, but they didn’t know what.”

There had, in fact, already been a few redundancies on APB in early July. At the time, this was put down to streamlining in the wake of the game’s release. Then on 13 August, the news broke that the entire MyWorld team was being laid off. “APB continues to be our primary development focus, and we remain fully committed to the game and its players,” was the terse statement. “We were told that the budget for our game had been spent on APB,” adds our insider, bitterly.

But because of the reviews, the rumours, the disappointing beta tests, there weren’t enough players. That was the killer.

And you’ve just got to ask again, how did this happen?

There’s no doubting the calibre of the team. Lead designer EJ Moreland came in from Sony Online Entertainment where he worked on Everquest II; before that, he was a designer on the formative Ultima Online franchise. Brian Ulrich, the company’s director of development, came from EA Sports. As for the rest, within two days of the administration announcement, the likes of Sega, Blitz and Activision were flying up to Dundee to set up recruitment events. This was a talented, respected outfit.

But from listening to staff, from following subsequent Twitter conversations and blogposts, it’s clear huge mistakes were being made. “If we’re being brutally honest, we didn’t pay enough attention to the design of the game,” says Gamesblog’s source on the APB team. “When you’re working for someone like Dave, it’s all too easy to not believe what your ears and eyes, and QA and beta testers are telling you. You’re like ‘Dave knows what he’s doing, it’s going to be fine’. The team was saying for a long, long time that there were things that were not quite right with the game … It was never the case that the design was fundamentally broken, but in the execution of a lot of the features there are things that didn’t quite come together, that weren’t polished to the level that people expected.”

Even within the MyWorld team, the APB troubles were tangible. As our source says, “The middle management – and there was a LOT of middle management at this company – they were on that game for years and they continued to run it as though they were managing an architecture project or something. Fun never seemed to be a criterion for what they were doing; managers with little clipboards would go around and tick off things, saying ‘OK that’s done’ and moving on. There was never any consideration for whether or not what had been done was any fun.”

Another part of the problem, it seems, was the money. There was simply too much of it, and no one had come up with a plan on how to spend it effectively. “Having too much money is as much a curse for start-ups as having too little,” says Nicholas Lovell of business blog Gamesbrief. “Instead of identifying clear market opportunities, focusing resources and worrying about delivery, too much money gives you the licence to meander, experiment and play, and the absence of direction can be masked by the money for a very long time.

“This clearly happened in the case of Realtime Worlds. The company meandered with both MyWorld and APB with no clear sense of direction. That makes sense on a Facebook game with a budget of $300,000, or the original budgets of Lemmings and GTA, but not any more.”

This idea of a rudderless development schedule tallies with other reports coming out of the company. When PC gaming site Rock, Paper Shotgun ran a story on the earlier RTW redundancies, someone claiming to be an ex-staff member wrote in the comments section: “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.”

“There wasn’t enough discipline,” confirms our source. “We got all this money, and it made us relax, when really it should have focused our attention on making sure we had a really good approach to managing the project, to ensuring the design was exact what it needed to be, to focus testing early on, and just proving that we were doing the right thing, rather than taking the old ‘it’ll be done when it’s done’ attitude.” And then suddenly, Electronic Arts, the game’s publisher, wanted the game out. Not an unreasonable demand after five years in development.

Last Tuesday, the administrators arrived at Realtime Worlds and from the reports Gamesblog has heard, the APB team was rounded up into the cafeteria and informed of the situation. Over the next 24 hours, staff were told whether they would be kept on or not. Most weren’t. “It wasn’t apparent that there had been any contingency planning,” says one source. “We all expected APB to be this massive success, we all expected to be printing our own cash, a la Blizzard. I feel like our exec team got out of their depth – I don’t mean that in a cheeky way, because we were all out of our depth, but it kind of felt like it was a train that was out of control – and had been out of control for a long time.”

Since then, anger and resentment have spilled onto the internet’s many outlets. On his personal blog, under the headline, ‘Goodbye Realtime Worlds’, ex-RTW staffer Luke Halliwell posted a measured and thoughtful summation of the situation:

“I must say I was shocked at quite how quickly it went down in the end. It felt like we were being let go decently, and then BOOM – not getting paid anything, owed last month’s wages, our notice periods, redundancy pay and unused holidays. A substantial amount of money, all told.”

He later updated the article: “Turns out we got 2 days’ pay!! Not much but better than the previously-expected nothing.”

In the comments section, his wife delivered a much more vociferous response:

“Dave Jones and Ian Hetherington have pissed away millions, they are getting away with not paying over 200 employees for the work that they have done … Moreover these very people have enough personal wealth to pay the money owed to the individuals and families whose lives they have left shattered, heck Dave could probably pay them all just by selling one of his beloved cars.”

It has to be said, though, that the animosity toward Jones is certainly not universal within the company. He’s clearly liked and respected, and our APB source said that he spent Wednesday afternoon touring the building, apologising to staff: “One thing I’ve learned is, you shouldn’t confused creative genius with shrewd business sense. But Dave was very visible and very upset. He feels bad about the effect this will have on people’s lives.”

There are many question marks over the demise of this massive company. Why wasn’t there a strict development structure in place? Why weren’t the problems within APB spotted earlier and dealt with properly? How could the whole issue of latency, especially with an action game running predominantly on the server rather than client side, not have been adequately predicted?

How could this happen?

Well, it has happened before. The ambitious science fiction MMOG Tabula Rasa, created by another talismanic designer Richard Garriott, was delayed before its release in November 2007, having been in development since 2001. Barely a year later, the development team announced that the game would be shut down due to a lower than expected user base. There are obvious parallels. Surely, there were lessons to be taken?

In the end, it would appear to be a story of hubris and mismanagement, of artistic vision clashing with the realities of 150 staff members working on a game that had no proven antecedents and no clear direction. What it had was confidence. “The truth is there was an arrogance,” says our insider. “I think we all got caught up in it – not one of us can stand back and say we weren’t a part of that.” As a lot of reviews pointed out APB would have been an amazing game in 2006, or at least an amazing start of a game. But this is 2010, and smaller companies with greater agility are doing more interesting, coherent things in the massively connected gaming sector. Realtime Worlds was the dinosaur being eaten alive by insects.

A few days ago one ex-employee tweeted about passing the office on the bus. The building looked weird, near empty, no one visible at their keyboards. The rumours are that Ian Hetherington, the chairman of RTW, will put in a bid for the MyWorld IP. Perhaps someone else will come in for APB. It has those 130,0000 players, and there’s apparently a 1.4 patch ready that addresses some of the handling and shooting problems. And really, 130,000 isn’t a disastrous start for an MMO. They usually take a while to grow – even World of Warcraft took almost six months to get to 1.5 million players. But when you’ve already spent $100m, time isn’t going to be on your side.

For a lot of the staff, however, it’s too late. They will drift away, hopefully to other industry jobs, possibly abroad. Despite what some opportunistic politicians tried to claim in the aftermath of Tuesday’s announcement, this one couldn’t be put down to the lack of tax credits for the UK games business – Realtime Worlds had millions and millions of dollars in investment. But ironically, foreign developers may well benefit anyway, through quick-witted recruitment.

However, these staff will be leaving behind a company they cared for and a game some of them worked on for six years; a game that may now disappear within months of its release. “That’s the tragedy of it,” says the APB team member we spoke to. “For me, it’s not really about APB in the end, it’s about all these people who have poured years of tremendously hard work into this thing. They were so passionate, so enthused, it should have been so much more. And in the end they walk away with nothing.”

Gamesblog was unable to contact members of the senior management team for their comments.




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Posted on August 29th, 2010 by  |  No Comments »