So the Realtime Worlds adventure is over, save for a small skeleton crew. For those of us on the inside, it’s been expected for a while – at least since the release of APB – but 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.
[UPDATE - 26/8 - Turns out we got 2 days' pay!! Not much but better than the previously-expected nothing ]
I shouldn’t complain; there are people far worse off than me. I feel particularly for our American colleagues, who packed up their lives, in many cases asking their wives and girlfriends to give up good jobs, and moved half way around the world to work for a company, that to this very second, says on its website, “The company is on very secure footing from significant investment and dealings only with top-tier partners.” They now get a month to leave the country and no help with the cost of getting them and their stuff home, to no benefits and no health insurance.
I could go on and on about the various dire situations people face now. I wholeheartedly hope everyone lands on their feet; they deserve it. The best thing about Realtime Worlds was the incredible group of people I had the privilege to meet and work with. You couldn’t wish to meet a more intelligent, fun, warm-hearted and open-minded group of people. They made my 6 years there very, very special and I will miss them as we scatter to the winds.
There had been mounting discontent internally about the competence of our top management – and what better proof could you need than this. How they could keep operating the company when they couldn’t even pay this month’s wages, I don’t know. Presumably they continued to think we had a chance somehow; the behaviour of a deluded, greedy, addicted gambler.
We made a lot of other mistakes too, most of them more interesting and deserving of analysis than a failure to count how much money we had left in the bank – and at many different levels in the company. You don’t get to burn through $100m without, shall we say, some opportunities to have done things differently.
I’ll hold off on a full analysis though, firstly until the future of remaining friends at the company is decided – and secondly until I’ve calmed down and got some perspective on things. I also feel like I need time to do it justice, and right now there’s a lot going on with moving house for the new job.
Talking of the new job … well, I’ll try not to get too excited about it until I’ve got out there (it’s in the US). But it is super exciting. It’s also not in game development, which means it’s time to rename the blog as well. I’d been thinking of doing this anyway – when I started it, “modern game development” was, apart from being the least lame thing I could think of on the spot, intended to be some kind of reflection of a longtime game development trend that Realtime Worlds exemplified: bigger and bigger teams, with the requisite increase in organisation and professional management, and a whole set of resulting new challenges to overcome.
Then a few things happened. Facebook. Farmville. The iPhone. Nintendo’s resurgence. “Casual gaming”. “Free to play”. It started to feel like Realtime Worlds was a massive dinosaur, building these massive things that nobody wanted, and I’ve felt very, very uncomfortable with the “modern” bit for a while now.
Dinosaurs don’t last forever, but they sure have a fun time along the way.