musings

The 3DO Company is finally dead.  Trip spent all of E3 attempting to wheel and deal the company off to the highest bidder.  The problem was that there weren’t any bidders!  What assets does the company have?  High Heat Baseball is probably the best one, however it always finishes a distant 3rd to EA and Sega Sports, despite the glowing reviews and fantastic gameplay.  The company banked all its hopes on the upcoming Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse console game, but there were several problems with this strategy:  1) the game sucked, 2) there were 100 people on the development team, making it a management nightmare, 3) it was still 8-10 months from release, and 4) did we mention it sucked?The doors closed at the beginning of June, leaving approximately 10 employees left to inventory the assets, turn off the lights, and cry in their alcohol.  Even Trip’s seemingly endless bank account couldn’t save the company from oblivion.  Bankruptcy is their savior, though word has it the senior management knew it was coming at the end of May, but they kept their employees around for another 2-3 weeks knowing they couldn’t be paid.  Nice guys!Let the feeding frenzy begin.6/23/03 UbiSoft MontrealWe received this e-mail about UbiSoft’s Montreal office.  Apparently they made a rather nasty hiring blunder:Here’s a minor tidbit for you that may yet turn into a major catastrophe for Ubi Soft Montreal. They’ve just hired Andre Roy, formerly from Vircom Interactive, a small Montreal-based Cryo-owned company that used to develop MMORPGs. Following Roy’s devastating passage within the company (compounded no doubt by Cryo’s own cash flow problems), the whole interactive division was shut down and two dozen very talented individuals lost their jobs. At Vircom, his job was to handle a game operation center for The 4th Coming, a Vircom-produced/published MMORPG. In France, GOA was successfully operating 10 servers and doing so quite successfully (that’s 2000+ players at peak time). At Vircom, after 9 months of Roy’s “enlightened” guidance, the company managed to peak at 30 users simultaneously, before poor performance led to a downward spiral that cost Vircom 7-digit figures. Roy’s special blend of management involved sabotaging middle managers from other teams, undermining their authorities, and setting them up as 
scapegoats for crisis he helped create through his own incompetence. When things got bad at Vircom, upper management decided he deserved a promotion for all this and put him in charge of Vircom Interactive, which he efficiently ran into the ground during the following months. The good news was that he was let go with the rest of the production team. Serves him right. The bad news is that he has conned Ubi Soft into believing he was competent, and now occupies a position as Online Producer. He will produce (if you can call it that) expansions for Splinter Cell and RavenShield. We’ll keep you posted of Roy’s managerial blunders. I pity the fools who work under his military-styled management. He may be ugly, he may be dumb, but he has enough chutzpah to fool everyone into believing *his* mistakes are *their* fault. If I were them, I’d start polishing up my resume and look elsewhere.
As you may or may not know, UbiSoft moved all of their online operations up to the Montreal office—guess they enjoy the high Canadian tax rate or the lack of a quality talent pool.  Perhaps they are all simply idiots.  6/23/03 3D Realms E-mail ExchangeCheck out this e-mail exchange between a member of the Duke Nuke’m community and one of this contacts at 3D Realms:To: fatinsider@fatbabies.com ; fattissimo@fatbabies.com ; fatbango@fatbabies.com Sent: Friday, April 25, 2003 2:55 PMSubject: 3D Realms New Game Insider Gossip!Basically I have a friend in the utterly pathetic Duke Nukem fan community who is very close friends with Brad Wernicke, a friend of 3D Realms and who used to run Dukeworld.
 
Wernicke, being chummy with the 3DR guys, had seen Duke Nukem Forever last year, and although this wasn’t a secret, what he had seen obviously was.
 
Bigmouthed Brad told our mutual buddy about DNF (it’s a long way off, apparently they’re just getting lots of content in place) and – something he now denies as 3D Realms aren’t pleased with him – another game in development, too. An action game, not an existing franchise however, and certainly not Prey. Not Shadow Warrior either. All new. I think I can recall him as saying it was partly 3rd person but don’t quote me on that.
 
Anyway I asked Brad and 3DR about this and, hilariously, they slipped up in emails! :
—————-(From Brad)Do I know you? Why are you dropping my name to Joe and George? I didn’t see another game in development besides Duke Nukem Forever. I don’t know where you are getting your information from, but it is not accurate. Brad —–Original Message—–
From: Joe Siegler [mailto:joes@3drealms.com] 
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2003 9:51 AM 
To: George Broussard
Cc: Brad Wernicke
Subject: Fw: Question (No, not about DNF) 
… 
Brad? Is there something going on I should be aware of? 
Joe 
——— 
Joe saying  “Is there something going on I should be aware of?” Hmm!  Sounds VERY SUSPICIOUS.  Surely this just confirms that there IS something Brad could be doing 3DR aren’t liking? And surely gossiping to loose-lipped pals is one of them?  6/23/03 Sony Pulls Trademark ApplicationSony withdraws “Shock and Awe” trademark application Apologizes for “regrettable bad judgement” after media battering Responding to media outcry and accusations that it was attempting to capitalise on the recent war in Iraq, Sony Computer Entertainment has withdrawn its trademark application for the term “Shock and Awe”. Ha Haw!  Maybe they realized, like the Iraqi elite did that the “Shock and Awe” didn’t exactly work too well… and was beaten to death term-wise by every damn newscaster for weeks on end.  Anyways, rumor is that Don Rumsfeld already filed for use of the term as the title of his upcoming autobiography.4/11/03 Response About GDCA faithful reader wrote in to respond to the 3/10/03 Bitter GDC Attendee post:To “Disgusted” who complained bitterly about GDC, “it was pretty much the same people giving the same talks as last year” — Welcome to your second GDC.Every GDC is the same list of lectures every year.  Here is the template lecture list they use each year.Production Track 1.  Postmortem on my game.  What went right: Smart people and we kicked ass in crunch time!  What went wrong: We needed more time and resources, and our publisher made this and that bad decision.  The game sold well because of the incredibly creative team (or: the game didn’t sell very well because of the incredibly bad marketing; or, because the public did not grasp my genre-bending storyline).2.  How to master Problem X (project management, building a team, making a good game). Here is my pet theory about one point on which I will obsess a lot based on my experience making my last game.  This is obviously strictly better than doing it the other way, although here’s an alternative I thought of that somebody should try.3.  Big time celebrity doing a puff piece.  Resembles a keynote because it’s heavily attended, and almost content free.  May include photographers snapping pictures to show the important celebrities you’ll see if you pay $1000 for the full conference pass for next year’s GDC.4.  How to work with QA.  A session attended by testers only.Artist Track 1.  How to master Maya/Max/Photoshop.  Here are two tips that I have learned which will be useful to you, and 78 things that are either obvious to everyone who has used the program for a week, or useless because the technique only comes into play when animating a flaming reptilian nose hair in zero gravity.  I will explain them all anyway.2.  How to animate a character well.  I will show you how I animated my favorite character from the last game I worked on.  Notice how his swinging hips give him attitude!!!Design Track 1.  My abstract game design theory.  I will list twelve platitudes and tell you my 15 design rules, and don’t forget, to be innovative you have to break the rules!  By the way, did you know the best games, like SimCity, came from game designers and not big companies?2.  The next big thing is going to be (episodic content, wireless gaming, massively multiplayer Defender, collaborative online story development, women gamers, indie game developers, interactive stories, games for the mass market) and here’s how it’s all going to go.  The days are numbered for shallow experiences like first person shooters such as Quake 3, which I have been told that all of you play all the time.  By the way, I will not be around in 2 years for you to taunt me about my vision of the future of gaming.Programming Track 1.  Enjoy the ExtremeGameTech(tm) shader engine!  This sponsored session will teach you all about how to [can’t complete paragraph, all reading stops after this point.  This talk is repeated 8 times and comprises over 50% of available sessions.]2.  Keynote from Carmack or similar respected programmer celebrity.3.  Here is my needlessly complicated talk about the (pipeline, system, optimization, effects programming, simulator) that we did for the last game I worked on.  It is not useful to you but sure sounds impressive.  Man, did I write a lot of lines of code creating this tool.  Look at how the interface works!  I wrote that.  God, that took a lot of late nights.  (sighs)Audio Track 1.  Nobody reading this has ever gone to an audio session, right?  Let me tell you that the session titles are all fake.  All audio sessions consist of wanna-be musicians or movie scorers sitting around smoking hash and bitching about having to create SFX all day.  They also make up the titles for the audio sessions for next year’s GDC.========This is not to say that the GDC is bad.  Every talk usually gives me one thing to think about.  If you lower your expectations to this point then you’ll probably enjoy yourself at your third GDC.  Unfortunately the price has gone up a lot in the past years and it’s probably not worth the money the second (and third…) time you go.
 FatMassivelyMultiplayerDefender
There you have it.  Spoken like a true war veteran.  Why are these sessions the same?  Why can’t they offer up anything new?  Why are the parties so lame?  And why are the prices still going up, up, and up?  But at least the chicks are getting more numerous and better looking.4/11/03 Stolar Departs as BAM is DowngradedFrom the newswire:BAM! president and COO Bernie Stolar is leaving the sinking publisher, which is just about to be delisted Bernie Stolar, the president and COO of troubled publisher BAM! Entertainment, has announced that he intends to leave the company in order to “pursue other opportunities”. Stolar, who was previously involved in the launch of the PlayStation at Sony Computer Entertainment America before serving as COO of Sega of America, was seen as a heavyweight addition to the management team of the publisher when he joined less than two years ago. However, his departure comes as BAM! faces an increasingly uncertain future – with the company’s stocks, BFUN, set to be delisted and transferred onto the NASDAQ Smallcap Market as of this Thursday. The company has already seen serious cost-cutting moves this year following the announcement of disastrous financial results, including the axing of many products in development and the sale of its London studio to Scottish developer VIS Entertainment.
BERNIE STOLAR TAKES LIFEPOD FROM BAM–After the worst company launch in interactive History, Ray Musci’s band of Con Artists have run out of steam and have lost their key player, Bernie Stolar.  After staffing up on French Hippocrits like Alain Tascan from UBISOFT(Licensing guy to run development) and Yves Legris from INFOGRAMES (Org Guy to do biz development), BAM began the sad journey into Stock oblivion.  Rumors have surfaced of an SEC investigation into possible fraud charges to be levied as Ray promised the investors that BAM would be at $100 million in revenue the first year.  All that happened is that the initial $40 million in investor money has been wasted on luxurious trips and ego stroking.We’re sure Bernie just popped his usual ‘golden parachute’ and floated away richer than he started, if we know Bernie.  Expect to see his executive resume circulating soon…  There is a sucker-company born every minute…4/11/03 THQ Slams Profit GrowthAfter a lack luster Christmas season and the weight of mounting costs crushing the bottom line, THQ slashes products, staff and rethinks online strategy.  Insiders blame much of the avoidable disaster on Mike Rubinelli.  Although some of the shit that hit the fan should fall on Dave Kelly and Brian Farrell who lived in the same building with the guy who single-handedly ruined Madden 1995 for EA.  The year that Madden never shipped!   Unfortunately for THQ, their ridiculous purchases of several studios like Pacific Coast Power and Light and Volition, continues to crush their bottom line forcing them to cancel projects and people.  Hey guys, where is your product?  Canceled!  Instead of just licensing or buying product, they made the fateful mistake of buying overhead!4/11/03 LuxofluxAcquired by Activision–In another blunder move by stagnating Activision, we have gotten wind of this little manuever that will cost Activision investors $9 million bucks!  Once again, an executive must justify his paycheck and cast the company headfirst into overheard building and profit reduction!  Luxoflux as a developer only does “ME TOO” products like Vigilante 8 (copy of Twisted Metal) and their upcoming copy of Grand Theft Auto based in LA.  The people at Activision have been shocked to see how poor the level design is and how it will be seen as only some lame clone.  You would think that after buying the team that worked on the Quake mod Metal Of Honor and has given them a multi-title deal for $5 million, that Activision would get a clue.  If anyone gives a shit about running a business, stop wasting the investors’ money on insider deals.  People should look into who really make the Metal Of Honor mod since most of the EA folks in LA claim to have made it.4/11/03 UbiSoft Funds Developer in Austin, TXA new developer made up of former EPIC employees has appeared on the radar.  After all being fired by EPIC for working on their own title, they relocated to Austin to start up this insane new developer to syphon money out of UbiSoft.  Like lemmings, UbiSoft signs checks over to this developer for making a MOD for the Epic Engine.  Sources inside the new developer have bragged that they pay all their internal people very well to the tune of $150K each per year.  It is no surprise that UbiSoft is being taken as their head development Monkey is Brett Barry and his nefarious banana peeling sidekick Dexter Chau.  These two clowns run the zoo.4/11/03 Angel Studios Takes TwoIn a heart stopping move, Take Two spends $40 million to acquire Angel Studios and their band of developers.  Jonesing to spend their money, they foolishly acquired a developer that will only be a drain on the bottom line.  After realizing that the days of free money were ending, the management at Angel decided that it was time to “get out” while there was a willing moron with money.  Before Take Two could re-consider, the ink was dry and the dirty deed was done.  Move over United, there is another hunk-o-shit flying the friendly skies headed for eventual layoffs and shutdown within 18 months and a total waste of $40 million dollars.4/11/03 Activision Sees RedMark Struhl, Activision’s Exec Producer on the Star Trek brand, buries the axe.  After consistently taking the credit for everyone else’s work, Mark has really done it this time.  What Activison doesn’t know is that the latest Star Trek budget is out of control.  The chief architect of this is Marc Struhl.  This time, the buddies that have protected him have turned their back on this guy because of his habit of taking all the credit and then eliminating all those that can tell the truth.  When Marc is not out acting like one of the FAST and the DUBIOUS, he is surfing the web and yelling to get attention.  So far it has worked… time is running…4/11/03 FatBabies Mentioned in ArticleFatBabies.com was mentioned in an article for Online Journalism Review: Ethics in Video Game JournalismPretty good stuff there.3/10/03 Sovereign CanceledVerant’s massively-multiplayer online real-time strategy game Sovereign was canceled recently.  Didn’t we call this years ago??Over and over Sony Online/Verant repeated “No, it’s still in production.”  How many team members did it burn through?  To Verant employees, being put on the Sovereign team was akin to being a German soldier in WWII and being told you were going to be sent to the Russian Front.  It was the kiss of death.Only John Smedley’s ego kept the project running, as Sovereign was his baby.Well John, sometimes babies need to be aborted.Read about it here.3/10/03 Bitter GDC AttendeeWe received this e-mail from a bitter GDC attendee:From: [censored] To: <fatbango@fatbabies.com> Date: Mon, 8 Mar 2003 01:20:19 -0800 Subject: GDC 2003This was the lamest Game Developer’s Conference I’ve ever attended.  It was just more of the same.  I couldn’t believe the lecture list—it was pretty much the same people giving the same talks as last year!  I half expected to see Peter Molyneux giving yet another talk about Black & White.  Oh wait, HE DID!  Pathetic! You’d think, in the year that the industry has advanced, developers would have something better to talk about than last year’s drivel. I’m done with GDC’s . Pathetic was the word for GDC 2003. Oh, to Gordon Walton:  You’re not GOD.  You’re just a foolish egomaniac who likes to hear himself speak.  Get a clue:  nobody cares! Signed, 
Disgusted 
We do agree with you to a certain extent.  This year’s show contained much less substance and more EA keynotes.  Look at Bruce McMillan’s photo:  it’s right out of GQ magazine.  Here’s our clue for Bruce:  it ain’t about the hair, it’s about the substance.3/10/03 EA.bombAs reported in our forums:—Ehhhh heh heh heh heh heh!!! The better to hide this debt-ridden mess with my pretty!!! Electronic Arts Calls It Quits With EA.com Subsidiary Electronic Arts said today that it plans to roll its online unit, EA.com, back into its core operations. The company said that the move will eliminate dual-class reporting as of April 1, 2003, the start of its new fiscal year. EA executives said the consolidation is expected to improve efficiency, simplify the staff reporting structure, and better integrate EA’s online activities into the company’s core console and PC business. EA had long hoped that EA.com would turn the corner and post a profit, but a string of online disappointments prevented that. The company had hoped that the release of The Sims Online would be the magic bullet to achieve profitability. But the game’s longer-than-expected development cycle and slower-than-expected sales were a setback to a near-term turnaround. On top of that, another EA.com marquis title, Motor City Online, was cancelled on February 26 due to a declining player base. EA will record a charge of $55-$75 million in fiscal Q4, which ends March 31, as a result of the reorganization. The charge covers restructuring costs, some of which entails the consolidation EA.com operations from the San Francisco Bay Area to the company’s new Los Angeles studio. 
We expect shares of Electronic Arts to begin the decline to the more realistic $15-20 range.  It is still trading at 22 times earnings!  This is a short waiting to happen.3/10/03 Codefire FoldsLooks like Codefire has finally died.  This e-mail was posted by Codefire’s CEO Michael Williams in the wiz-war.com message forums:”Well, I’m sure this will please Anonymous, and disappoint everyone else, but CodeFire has gone out of business. It went out of business in large part because of Anonymous (and Anonymous stole equipment), but that’s neither here nor there. I’m still talking with Tom Jolly about future possibilities. I’m working on fulfilling the promises that were made. It’s a matter of pride (plus I don’t like letting losers like Anonymous ruin the day for the rest of us). Hold faith. There is something in the works. I will join the rest of us in supporting and encouraging any effort to bring out a digital version of Wiz-War and I do have some things in the works that might restore this project to prime time. With regrets, 
                   MikeW
We were surprised they actually survived this long!3/10/03 Sad DayWhat a sad, sad day it is.http://rome.ro/comics_index.html3/10/03 Protest at GDC for CashThose of you who went to GDC probably noticed the mock protestors in front of the convention center.  We have the “job” listing that was posted up on craig’s list:Mock Protesters Needed 3/6/03! Reply to: Ogelement@aol.com Date: Mon Feb 24th 08:24 PROTEST BAD ART! INTERESTED IN PICKETING AND ACTING TICKED OFF? SMALL VIDEO GAME CO. LOOKING TO BUG OUT THE COMPETITION WITH FAKE PROTEST. WHEN? THURSDAY MARCH 6TH (San Jose convention center). HOW LONG? APPROX. 6-8 HOURS. 
E-MAIL ME AT Ogelement@aol.com FOR MORE INFORMATION. 
This will be a great experience but please only respond if you are interested. Pay is $65, plus potential for bonus if things go well. 
Not to mention daring perks to tempt not the faint at heart. 
Phone Tim at (707)829-6494 
Not that it really mattered, the “protest” was plain stupid.  This is, however, the technique that the Democrats use to drum up all those anti-Bush protestors–they pay top dollar!  And who says the DNC can’t buy friends?2/13/03 Angry Over WestwoodAn email from either a now former Westwood employee, or simply from someone who hates Electronic Arts.  You be the judge:Westwood articleThats right, after they layed off over 1/2 of the original staff at Westwood, they decided to close the studios! At least Eric Wang (Sucker) won’t be able to find a job in the industry now! Ooo wait I hope he does get a spot at EA so he can ruin them from the inside too! Hey the good news is at least good ol’ Louie C. has a spot already picked out at EA… now he can really focus on making those mediocre games that EA loves to make… no point in doing anything that requires talent or creativity anymore eh Louie? Well at least we won’t have titles like Lands of Lore 3 cluttering up the store shelves now! I hope at least some of you saw this coming and at least appropriated some hardware into your private inventory. In closing, I just want to say FUCK Westwood, FUCK Louie C., FUCK Brett S., and mostly FUCK EA!!
Such anger.  It can only lead to the dark side.2/13/03 Check Six StudiosFollow-up to our our recent Rumor about Check Six Studios, sent in by a French guy supposedly “in the know:”I saw the rumor on Check Six Studios:- The big Rumor around these here parts is that Check Six Studios (of Spyro 4 “fame”) is now Check Sux—because they have closed their doors.  Thank the maker, as Spyro 4 was a large turd.If it’s not the case yet, it should be right in a couple of days.In fact, they work on a PS2 game for a fucking french publisher called LSP (www.lspgames.com ).  LSP is a very bad and small publisher who fired half of the initial team just to leave Paris to Marseille (South of France). Unfortunately, they fired the good ones…They’ve got the shitest properties such as Felix the Cat, Antz and so on.They tried to make a PS2 game (Inspector Gadget) in 6 months (!?!!) The game is so bad that SCEE didn’t want to see it published. LSP had to pay an extra fee to publish it.In the same spirit, they tried to make Gremlins (Warner property) always on PS2, but they can’t make a good game once again so Warner stop the game approval process until they meet all their expectations. They also bought a PC game called Escape From Alcatraz developed by Phylos.This game was originally sold to german publisher CDV, but there was a breech of contract from CDV as the game couldn’ be ended by Phylos in more than 2 years.Back to Check Six, the game is Return of the Mummy (the cartoon serie not the movie !!) but as LSP is near of the bankruptcy, they won’t be paid for the work done, so long Check Six !!!2/13/03 Bam EntertainmentBam or Sham?A new year, a new leaf?  No way.  More losses, more excuses, and more 
dragging their people down with them. http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/030114/sftu075_1.htmlhttp://biz.yahoo.com/t/b/bfun.htmlhttp://www.fatbabies.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=1486&highlight=bammed http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?section_name=dev&aid=950http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?section_name=pub&aid=976
 What a bloody mess…1/29/03 Goings on Down at Midway, San DiegoKit Fisto wrote in to tell us about the goings on down at Midway in sunny San Diego, CA:Fatbango, Some truths to this regarding Dave Simon. Despite what it seems, Neil and Ken both have been defending him through all the ordeals at Midway from the great games he’s mastered like WarGods, Bio Freaks, and Freaky Flyers (the only 3 games he ever worked on by the way) to all the sexual harrassment cover ups. He’s cost the company a little more than $15 Million all together over his fantastic stretch at Midway. No wonder he was kept around so long. Finally the pressure was so much after the last Stock reportings where Midway acknowledged that “Bad Management” has been the cause of stocks falling. (Yeah that along with HORRIBLE games) and Simon is part of this Bad Management. However several others still remain and with majority of the talent gone, Midway has nothing left. After his leaving close to 40 people (some internal and 3rd party production crews as well as people in the Marketing, HR, Art and Programming departments), all have been let go of or quit at Midway since. Not including the 60 some from QA. San Diego is in trouble but no more than the rest of the company. It’s unfortunate that all the Division’s Management took everything good about Midway and pissed it away. They are trying desperately to sell the lump of crap that’s left but the asking price is $200 Mil (which is 200 Million too much). Nobody in their right mind would attempt to by out Midway because they do not offer “ANYTHING” to the industry. Look at the sales. Thanks for listening and for God’s sake: DO NOT WORK AT MIDWAY! – Kit Fisto
Sounds like numbered days over there.  And with no real brands to speak of (is Mortal Kombat still a viable brand?), not having the talent to create compelling new products spells certain doom for the studio.1/29/03 Infogrames Story Follow-upThe 1/8/03 Story about Infogrames has sparked a few responses from industry veterans:Would someone please tell FatNonFrog that you dont need a college degree to be sucsessful in this industry (or any industry for that matter).  Thats one of the problems with Infogrames.  They hired moronic college biz majors who had no clue about games,  but were quite adept at french kissing french asses.If you look at a lot of the problems in this industry they can all be traced back to someone with a “college degree”.  College degree is code for “I dont give a shit about games and could care even less about my co-workers.  Just show me who I can step on next to make more money, while I drive this company straight into a brick wall”.Otherwise,  his story on Infogrames was pretty much dead on.- Fat-uneducatedHey Mark Long here.  I’m with Zombie in Seattle.  Look, I never do this kind of thing.  I love your site, but your story on Infogrames is bullshit – and someone needs to call you on it.  It’s arrogant to claim you need a college degree to be a manager and it’s racist to say that because you’re french you’re inherently incompetent.  What are you, thirteen years old? Infogrames is the single best Publisher we’ve worked for.  All the Producers and Directors I’ve worked with are sharp as fuck.  They know exactly what they want and we get paid with alacrity.  They are NIGHT and DAY from the standard we-know-the-license-is-a-piece-of-shit-and-10-months-is-all-
you’ve-got, take it or leave it Publisher. They don’t know to pick titles?  Unreal, Neverwinter Nights, Driver, Civillization, the whole Tycoon series – have you ever looked at Survivors sales numbers? And some play testers got so drunk at the company party, the bar called the cops?  Sounds like my kind of party. Mark
It’s true that you certainly don’t need a degree to be a skilled employee and a solid contributor to development, but as the economy worsens and competition for candidates heats up, having a degree, or even an advanced degree such as an MBA, Masters, etc., is going to help.  While degrees might not mean jack to the job, it means the world to the human resources departments who ultimately have the final say when it comes to hiring people.  And in today’s tough job market, a person should take all the help he can get.1/29/03 Unreal Tournament 2003 Training VidsWe received the following e-mail from Rob Rolnick, who wanted to share with us the work 3D Buzz has recently done, and to offer their services to other game developers:Hi Mr. FatBango, I wanted to share a scoop with you. Epic Games (www.epicgames.com) has recently contracted 3D Buzz (www.3dbuzz.com) to produce free, video training for their upcoming hit Unreal Tournament 2003. Jason Busby (aka Buzz), renown for his free VTMs (video training magazines) covering 3D Studio Max (www.discreet.com), Maya (www.aliaswavefront.com), XSI (www.softimage.com), Photoshop (www.adobe.com), Houdini (www.sidefx.com), and other high end software, has already created an eight hour long piece that teaches how to create, animate, and import a weapon into Unreal Tournament using 3D Studio Max. However, this new line of VTMs underway will focus on Unreal Tournament 2003 in terms of UnrealEd, static mesh creation, and even character rigging and animation! 3D Buzz began as a small site that shipped these CDs containing hours of quality video training (encoded in DivX) straight to your house. They offered (and continue to offer) free global shipping. Within the past few months, they have expanded their system to include the download of VTMs, as well as a free online course that focuses on Houdini. Jason Busby firmly believes that everyone, regardless of their location or financial situation, deserves the right to a quality education. During the day, he is the director of animation at a non-profit 3D training facility, in Tennessee, The Renaissance Center (www.rcenter.org). During the evening and often continuing until early morning Jason Busby, will film, master, and ship out these VTMs at his own expense. He does this with the help of his wife Angela, some of The Renaissance Center’s alumni, and some of his current students. I was wondering, if you could please take a look at 3DBuzz.com and possibly mention its endeavors on your site. The training Buzz offers in gaming development as well as 3D will be invaluable to many of your readers who are interested in Videogames and Film, but would otherwise be unable to afford expensive classes that often range upwards of a couple thousand dollars. I’m sure that upon looking at any of his VTMs you too will be impressed, and agree that this is news worthy material. Feel free to sign up, for free, and then download a few sections from any VTM. See for yourself the quality of training Mr. Busby offers, for free, to anyone willing to learn. You’ll need WinRar 3.0 ( www.rarlab.com) in order to uncompress the videos. After you see how inspiring this free training is, be sure to contact Jason himself. (busbyj@3dbuzz.com) and possibly run an interview with this amazing man. Thank you for your time 
Sincerely, 
~Rob Rolnick P.S. You can read all about the deal between Epic Games and 3D Buzz here.
Thanks for the mail, Rob.  Sounds like 3DBuzz is the way to go if a developer is looking for training videos.  Now if only they would do some in-game tutorials… Perhaps that’s an area for future expansion by the company?1/29/03 EA’s European PR DepartmentWe received an e-mail response to our recent Musing about EA’s PR department going cheap on editors:Hi, I would like to respond on the musing about EA going cheap. I don’t know how it is in the other countries, but in the Benelux, EA (and its PR agency) are doing a great job. We get almost everything we want from them.Companies that should think again about their PR on the other hand are Infogrames and Vivendi. Vivendi’s distributor in Belgium (who also is responsible for the PR) doesn’t seem to care about online press as we and many of our colleagues tend to do nothing but complain that it’s hardly impossible to get your hands on any reviewcopies from them. When sending a mail to f.i. Sierra, their answer is to ask reviewcopies from the distributor (duh! Been there, done that!). This has been going on for years already and it’s not likely that this will change. I already hear loads of people hoping that Vivendi will sell their gaming division to another company which would hopefully use another PR agency and/or distributor.Infogrames is almost as good. In the first half of 2002, everything was still ok and reviewcopies were not too difficult to get (although we were asked not to request too much anymore due to budget cuts). After a couple of months (August) we suddenly noticed that no reviewcopies were coming in anymore… When calling our contact person to inform what was happening we heard that their complete budget for reviewcopies was drained and that internet sites we no longer getting any (magazines would still be provided with some). Pretty cool seeing that their financial year started in June. So in less than 3 months Infogrames Benelux managed to almost completely use up their yearly budget for reviewcopies… I’m wondering what they did with the money ? Oh, but they did have money to invite the whole press in Belgium and The Netherlands for a presentation of Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 in the Six Flags Belgium and Holland entertainment parks. To be honest, I would have prefered some more reviewcopies than some stupid presentation of 1 game…Still, we didn’t quite give up and hoped maybe other Infogrames offices might come in handy and help us get reviewcopies. Not so. About 2 weeks after we contacted the UK office (logical as they are the closest big office next to Benelux and we wouldn’t want them to have too much costs, would we?), we got a mail from our representative at Infogrames Benelux that we “are not allowed to contact other offices”.Irony at best : the same day we were told not to have contact with other offices than the Benelux one, we got contacted by an Infogrames US representative to ask whether we were interested in some info on some of their games… After they heard that we were located in Belgium, no more responses were given of course.I guess Infogrames does not realise that outside US and UK there are also other sites which target an international audience. After all, the internet is local, isn’t it ?regards, 
Fragland 
 Thanks for the e-mail, Fragland.  Check out Fragland’s website here:  http://www.fragland.net1/8/03 EA “Fan” Speaks OutWe received this e-mail from a “fan” of Electronic Arts products:Hey, I found your site today (from uncleclive’s links) and it’s really nice to find a gaming news site with some bite. I’m only a lowly emulation junky, and I spend most of my time cruising mIRC channels & news sites for my next hit. But I can appreciate that the work you’re doing is great. I was just wondering: Where do all these people come from? I was reading through the ‘Musings’ section and pretty much half the e-mails are defending EA. Why would anyone defend EA? Everything they put out is terrible and they think that they can make up for it with blanket advertizing. I used to be on the mailing list for review copies of EA games (I did some reviews for a piss-poor e-magazine) and I have never had so many coasters in my house, I had to buy more mugs to make use of them all. We’d wile away hours playing plastic pigeon shooting: I’d throw a poorly made EA psx game into the air and my friend would try to shoot it out of the air with an air rifle, and I can honestly say that is the most fun you can have with most EA titles. AppleJuce – gamer & man of leisure
Well AppleJuce, it’s like this.  EA built up some amazing brands through the hard work and dedication of people 10 years ago!  It was those people who set out to create the first John Madden FootballNHL Hockey, and NBA Live (called Lakers vs. Celtics/Bulls vs. Blazers/what have you).  Those are the people who created fantastic gameplay with archaic graphics and sound on the Sega Genesis platform.  Those development teams made EA what it is today.  And how many of those guys ever saw any return, other than the satisfaction of shipping a great game?  Very few of them.  Indeed, how many of them are still with EA?  A scant few.You are right in that today’s EA products are me-too knockoffs of other great hits, or regurgitations of existing brands with updated player rosters and graphics.  Oh, don’t forget the marketing flash that has been added.  Instead of giving us great gameplay, we now have music videos included!Lucky us.1/8/03 A Tester’s Experience with EAA former EA tester laments his experience with The Evil Empire:Well, as my contract with EA winds down, I’ve decided to take a quick look at what I’ve learned in my first 6 months of the industry. 1. Electronic Arts views testers the same way the nazi’s viewed the jews.  Change thier badge color so they’re easily distinguished, and then ship them all off to the showers when thier usefullness is used up. 2. The new “Language Integration Department” at Electronic Arts is a completely useless department.  The theory behind this department, is to streamline the transition between regular testing and Language testing.  However, any issues reported will quickly be swept under the rug and deemed “Not our problem”. 3. The old theory that hard work and commitment will actually mean something to your employer, means absolutely dick.  An employee, who we will call “Pierre”, was recently promoted to Language Integration Lead tester, despite the fact that he is the single most transparent kiss-ass in the western hemisphere.  His new position of $16.00/hr should reinforce his belief that kissing ass pays off.  This would not be so horrible, if it hadn’t meant the sacrifice of 12 Hard-working, dedicated, and talented young testers, now thrown to the winds of the Free-agent pool of the gaming industry. that’s about it.., print it or burn it.., just felt like bitching to someone, thanks for the shoulder. Peace. Anonymous
We say, “Welcome to the game industry”EA says, “Now go home.”1/8/03 N-Space Apparently LivesAh, so supposedly n-space lives!  In response to our 11/6/02 Rumor on n-space, an n-space employee wrote in to tell us “No, we’re still here.  Fear and Hope is our new project we are working on.  There was a big layoff over a year ago, but our new page is now up.”If you check out their website, all it allows you to do is submit an e-mail requesting information about Fear and Hope.We’d say it appears they’ve still got problems.1/8/03 Want to Be on TV?We received this e-mail from Gamer TV in London.  If you are interested in talking with them about gaming, development, or anything industry related, drop them a line.Dear Fatbabies, I write from Gamer TV, a television production company based in London (UK). We specialise in producing a wide range of entertainment shows and factual documentaries about the video game industry, which we distribute to a worldwide audience. Please check out our website at www.gamer.tv We are currently researching for a very exciting new 8-part documentary 
series entitled AROUND THE STATES IN 80 GAMES – landing in New York and 
ending up in Seattle we travel across the United States to visit the sites and meet the people that have helped define (and continue to define) American culture and the extraordinary phenomenon that is the modern video game industry. And as the title suggests, our travels will remind you of eighty games that have touched the hearts and minds of gamers all over the world. From Pong to Grand Turismo, game developers to pro-gamers, hi-tech studios to grand arcades and virtual reality attractions, this will be the ultimate ‘gaming pilgrimage’, encompassing thirty years of American history at the forefront of video game technology and innovation. We’d love to meet and interview as many lively /interesting/ crazy video games people (gamers and industry ) as possible and was wondering if your website could aid us in finding out key interviewees. Our interviews would not take up too much time and we would be happy to film at a location convenient to you. Our team has yet to finalise a filming schedule but we expect to be doing 2 routes Boston to Chicago and Las Vegas to Seattle. So please get in touch by email as soon as is possible if you are on our route. Any help is appreciated! We look forward to hearing from you. Regards, Dishad Husain 
Assistant Producer 
Gamer TV 
dishad.husain@gamer.tv 
(+44)20 8233 7825 
www.gamer.tv
Perhaps John Romero, Stevie Case, Will Wright, American McGee, or those other glory hounds will now make contact.  How much you wanna bet Stevie is going to flash her boobs to get a gig?1/8/03 EA Is CheapIs Electronic Arts being too cheap for their own good?  Some media sites have been upset over EA’s refusal to provide review copies of products for free.  Yet EA expects reviews of those games!  Over at GamerWeb.com, they recently blasted EA in a feature article.  Here’s an excerpt:Since we don’t require our staff to purchase games for review, there are some games that you will never see reviewed here – most notably, those from publisher Electronic Arts. Electronic Arts hasn’t sent GamerWeb a game to be reviewed in ages.
Read the whole thing here.12/6/02 Wright and WombleyOne of our Fat Fans mailed in this link to us.  He said that after several years of seeing horrible management practices at a variety of game companies and other software developers, he came up with Wright & Wombley, two fictional managers who advocate CEO’s running their own companies into the ground for fun and profit.  While not totally game industry related, it’s worth a listen.Check this out, as we’re sure you’ll appreciate the humor.www.mp3.com/w_wEnjoy, and if you like it, please pass the link along to your readers. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you. Steve Ogden 
Wright and Wombley 
www.wright-wombley.com 12/6/02 More on EA’s Jeane WongIt looks as if EA’s Jeane Wong had some fans in this industry, as one of them mailed in to chastise us for running our 11/6/02 Musing slamming Jeane.Subject: jeane wongas a writer for entertainment weekly, wired, the new york times and the gaming industry news, i have to say i have never, ever been treated by ea pr and jeane wong in anything but a professional manner.  i really like the fact that you’re out there muckraking, but this kind of stuff about wong is just plain wrong. 
Can’t we all just get along?  Ummm, no12/6/02 Defending EAFatPimp takes it to the streets and busts a nut on us for running the 11/6/02 “Anti-EA PR Rant” Musing.  Has it really come to this?Subject: A New LowI used to read Fatbabies because it was fun and informative, but that long vacation must’ve gone to your heads. You guys have reached a new low by printing a letter from a guy who obviously has an axe to grind. Say what you will about EA’s public relations, I certaily have had my beefs with them, but those vicious personal attacks against Steve Groll and Jeane Wong are totally uncalled for. Just think how many people who know them are going to read that mindfart of a “letter.” That anonymous dumbass who calls himself Dan Morris is simply a frustrated little boy who’s trashing Jeane just because he couldn’t score with her. In the future, don’t print something just because it’s going to cause a stir. It does you a disservice when you grope for attention just to pull in a few extra hits to your navel-gazing website. Best, 
FatPimp 
We never print things just because they will cause a stir.  We only print things that are anti-EA.12/6/02 3DO Hits New LowAs if 3DO has not been slammed by everyone in the industry enough already, there is now an article ranting on the company for being “One of the 20 Most Embarassing Companies.”  It’s a hilarious read:Toastyfrog.com
 
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