Where Realtime Worlds went wrong, part 3

Last time, I painted a fairly bleak picture of what it was like to work at RTW, leaving me with an uncomfortable problem: why did so many smart people put up with these problems?  There are fundamentally two reasons: complacency, and love of what we did.  In this post, a few words on complacency.

It’s perhaps best summed up by our own words, the blurb from the graduate recruitment section of our website.  It’s still on our website as I write this, but I’m going to quote it in full as presumably it will disappear at some point soon!

If you’re looking for your first job in games, it’s worth thinking very carefully about your future employer. Do you want to work on jaded, derivative titles that receive scathing reviews and go straight to the bargain bin? Do you want to work large amounts of unpaid overtime because your project is underfunded and poorly managed? Do you want to work on codebases that are messy and poorly-designed because there’s never time to do things properly? Do you want to live in fear of your company’s financial security?

It’s sad that these and other games industry horror stories are more frequent than they should be, but it’s not like that here. We only work on original, ambitious projects: our first title, Crackdown, was a number-one hit, winning critical acclaim and multiple awards, and our best is yet to come, beginning with our first online game, APB. And while making games is great fun, we take our work seriously. We pride ourselves on our unusually sensible, sustainable and professional development practices, resulting in smoothly-run projects and far less overtime than is normal for many game developers. We’re passionate about engineering and crafting our games to the highest of standards. We cultivate an open working environment where ideas are valued on their own merits, no matter whose they are. The growth of our company and size of our projects allows us to provide a wide range of opportunities. And the investment we’ve raised puts us in a strong financial position with security and creative control over our projects.

Ouch, ouch, ouch.  I don’t know if a comic writer could have hand-crafted a more deliciously ironic piece for us.  And yes, complacency did stray into arrogance at times.

From the creator of Lemmings and GTA!

For a long time, Realtime Worlds cultivated an air of success about the office.  Raising $100m sounds pretty cool on paper, we all walked past the Crackdown awards cabinet each morning, the press were excited about APB and we had Dave who apparently could do no wrong.

But after the investment, we lost our scrappy startup mentality and used our money to build this highly “corporate” culture, mimicking an established, successful organisation.  We lost our hunger, our fear of failure, our focus on staying lean and making do, on building the simplest thing that could possibly work.  The external signs of success were everywhere but the driving force was gone.  We forgot to tell ourselves that the investment was just a small step towards success, not to be confused with success itself.

The complacency showed through in so many ways.  We were complacent about game design, papering over APB’s obvious shortcomings and telling ourselves it would somehow come together at the last minute before release (an argument that was strengthened by the experience of seeing Crackdown do just that).  We were complacent about business planning, deciding to spend all our investment getting APB to launch, assuming that we would sell zillions of copies and over-spending on server hardware.  When we were told we were being made redundant, we were told something along the lines of “the market is just so bad right now … we could never have predicted this … even our worst sales projections were so much higher than this”.  I think that was supposed to be consolation but it was just complacent, and dumb.

It’s a gross generalisation to say the whole company was complacent.  It’s deeply unfair to a few pockets of incredibly passionate, hungry developers that worked their socks off and created some amazing stuff – like APB’s character customisation system, and its super-reliable back-end software, to name just a couple (apologies to all the other good examples of work I missed).  Sadly, it was not enough to overcome the problems.

The investment and Crackdown’s success were obviously contributors to complacency.  Another reason is that we forgot to wear tin foil hats … because

Dave has his own reality distortion field

I was reading “The Pixar Touch” recently, when I came across these passages about Steve Jobs:

We’d have to deprogram our troops after he had made a visit, because he has this charisma.  When he starts talking, he just takes people’s minds.  He would start talking to the Pixar people and I would just see their judgmental faculties go away.  They would just sit there and look at this guy with what I would describe as love in their eyes.

– Alvy Ray Smith

And yet when we would go down to a meeting with Steve, he would be so convinced that this [3D rendering] had Everyman potential that he would talk tough to you.  He would say how this was really like PostScript and that we can have it in every printer, we can follow the Adobe model.  So while you are in the room with him, you’re thinking, Well, yeah, that’s true … But when you get back to the real world, you realise, I know that wasn’t going to work.

– Pam Kerwin

There was something quite eerie about reading this, because this is exactly what Dave Jones does to people.  I hadn’t heard about it before, but it turns out Steve Jobs’ “Reality Distortion Field” is famous.

Dave’s version was also famous, amongst people who’d worked with him before.  There was a running joke from the old DMA days, that everyone should don their tin foil hats when Dave entered the room, to block his mind-control rays.  There’s an old picture from the DMA office of them all sitting with tin foil hats on, although I couldn’t find it.  If anyone has it, send me the link and I’ll do an update and stick it here because I seem to remember it being pretty funny.

Unfortunately, Reality Distortion Fields do not provide total mind control.  They can convince people to believe anything, but they cannot direct people’s efforts.  Once we became over-sized, I think Dave really struggled to direct our projects as he’d have liked.  Our best efforts were in our early days when we were small – Crackdown, the early builds of APB including the core of the customisation system, and the prototype of MyWorld that essentially won the initial investment.  That last prototype was built by Mike Dailly all on his own, and represented perhaps the best outcome-to-effort ratio of anything we ever did.  The contrast with our 20-person committee meetings to review APB builds could not have been more stark.  I genuinely felt sorry for Dave in some of those.

The Reality Distortion Field was a double-edged sword for us.  I’m pretty sure it was a big part of us raising $100m.  It also obviously contributed to our complacency.  If anything ever reached crisis point, Dave was always, always able to convince people that everything would be ok.  I think at times this prevented us from actually taking problems as seriously as we should have.

I don’t blame Dave for that though; it’s a brilliant skill to have and I don’t think he ever wielded it maliciously.  We were the fools for not staying hungry.

Finishing up

I’m going to put together one more post.  As I mentioned at the start of this one, part of the reason we put up with the bad stuff is that we loved what we did.  For all the frustration that I’ve poured out over the last three posts, I had an amazing time over my 6 years at RTW.  While I regret not doing more to help fix our problems, and am deeply disappointed by our failure, I don’t regret taking part in the adventure.  I learned a huge amount, met some incredible people, and fully intend to leave my retrospective on a high note 🙂

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80 Responses to Where Realtime Worlds went wrong, part 3

  1. Joe Bain says:

    Great series of posts Luke. It’s interesting to get a bit of an insight into the slightly higher parts of the organisation that were black boxes for lowly juniors like me. Such a shame it all went down the pan.

    Good luck in America too.

  2. TooNuRaccoon says:

    It sounds like madness, from my gamer view.

    I hadn’t heard from one single gamer who was going to play APB that had not done research into what Beta players were saying. I think as soon as the “you can’t review our game” moment happened it was like shooting out a flare of fail-waiting-to-happen.

    MMO’s need to be flawless from day one to get real hype going about it these days, or there needs to be no MMO’s around at the time that look as great (WoW for example considering UO wasn’t that pretty). And I guess your APB was not strong enough to survive the fickle short attention spans of most internet dwelling gamers who read “broken game” from Beta player comments or get suspicious and cynical when misleading “free to play” phrases get thrown out along with “don’t review our game” (what are you hiding?) media f’ups.

  3. Kurt Larson says:

    You are not alone. This happens almost precisely as you have described it at other companies too. I think there is an anthropological learning opportunity here.

    • Paul Burg says:

      You don’t say…

    • AnonymousYellow says:

      Definately happening at the company I work for. Some of it is just too close for comfort.

    • Otis says:

      As I mentioned in a post to part 2, it’s all playing out right now at the company I work for. I think Kurt Larson is dead right.

      I also think hungry, lean indie studios may be the only hope left for quality game development. Several good-looking projects have died recently to these very same forces, and an awful lot of money has been pissed away in recent years.

  4. Mike Mason says:

    Thank you for these posts Luke, they’ve been a hugely interesting read. It’s not often that somebody gives such open insight into the failings of a company such as this. It’s been fascinating – and disheartening – so far, and I look forward to reading the rest.

    It’s such a huge shame what happened to Realtime Worlds; Crackdown remains one of my favourite games released in the last five years, so there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that there was something special in the company. I’ve not played APB (due to a sub par PC more than anything else), but the team should be proud of what they achieved with Crackdown at least. It’s sad to see money and poor management become the downfall of yet another company.

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  6. Mr. White says:

    Great post!

    Interesting to see how much the size of a project can hinder its success. I used to work for a very large software company and we had all the problems you described, although we were doing boring financial software. Meetings over meetings, either with pointless discussions or where nobody was sure why we needed to meet in the first place. The whole “This is not your job! We have team X who is responsible for that!”. Hiring hundreds of people and later try to save money on conference visits…

    I’m sure there are thousands of book out there how to avoid such things, but apparently nobody know them.

  7. Peter Saumur says:

    Funny that I came across this while reading your posts. I wanted to ask if the culture you had starting the project with changed near the end of things and if that, also, could have contributed to the results that we are all reading about now?


  8. Jim says:

    I have worked for studios / big project suffering the exact same problems. Once things start to go bad on a project all sorts of weird effects pop up and start mixing and multiplying together.

    Usually more staff get hired – normally management, further adding to confusion and internal beaurocracy. People that were once involved in driving development simply become part of running the machine and keeping it moving at all costs, whether backwards or forwards.

    Also anything good about the project that actually works ends up being focused on too intently. When a lot of what you have is pants, people really cling to the half decent bits like mad, even if they don’t constitute a full game – this maybe seemed to happen with APB’s customisation.

    An infectious psychosis seems to sprout up in management once the realisation dawns things aren’t going well. It spreads from person to person, those who are not infected and instead persist with reality become opaque and blurry in the eyes of the mad ones. They are seen as not getting with the program or being negative. The psychosis is most prominent when a deadline or milestone has been missed or a new member of staff highlights how fucked things really are. Meetings and presentations really do seem like listening to some mad preacher trying to convert people to the cause and believe.

    I am always surprised at the ability of big game businesses to survive and make a profit despite being run so badly and having so many incompetant staff. Are all big organisations like this? Or are games just so inherently insanely profitable but hard to make this is the natural way things are going to end up?

  9. Nicco says:

    I feel bad for the people who had bought lots of points.

    Also I feel bad for myself for actually buying the game, what a waste of money.

    • JC GAmer says:

      I too bought the game and bought several thousand points. 😦 Though, it’s o par with my entertainment budget, but still, wasted money.

      Whats even worse is wasted time and talent.

  10. Piper says:

    As per the Steve Jobs / Pixar comment… Ideas might seem impossible to do, but you might find them doable if you have the resources and support to go after it – which is how I understand it works at Apple. Some of the biggest innovations came from Steve asking for the impossible.

    As per your previous post about all the hiring and inefficiencies… You can only grow so fast and keep the same culture. That’s also a big deal at Apple. Find someone who fits the culture and team… hire them. Period. Doesn’t matter if you have it in the budget or if there is an open position. Add someone to the team if you can keep the team working well. Can’t add enough people in the given timeframe of the project? Change the project.

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  12. Jordi Rovira says:

    Thank you Luke for all this report. Some of us always wanted more explanations about what had happened along these years.

    “Our best efforts were in our early days when we were small – Crackdown, the early builds of APB including the core of the customisation system, and the prototype of MyWorld that essentially won the initial investment.”

    Even back then, we were already fending off “The Process”. I remember a short secret meeting where the developers of the customization system decided to “lie” to the immediate management stating that we had already all the details of the system figured out, and were ready to start production code for the customization system. Some details were still missing, but we improvised them on our way there. All those documents we were writing were not being understood by people outside our team anyway…

    Despite my short time in RTW I guess I belonged to the proto-Blue team, and gave up too early. Funnily enough now I work for a company called Blueside.

  13. Rm4g3dD0v says:

    Damn, the RTW administration, especially those “reds” look too much like greek and italian politicians. So full of bullshit that they actually convience you that there is deep in there something higher than your level of understanding which gives meaning to the bullshit you hear.

    I had similar experience with such ass-headed “big-grand-major-giant-uber-corporate-leader” way of thinking for even smaller companies (alas, a 50 person callcenter company that tried to play microsoft, and ended up with 400 persons for 1.5 years and then fell back to 70 losing all their projects and market credibility), and I can tell you that if you see more that 1 meeting per month, stray away or you’ll definatelly get disappointed.

    Even large and established companies have trouble with this behaviour as it was invented to inspire employees. But now this system has proven that it’s a big bunch of bull and doesnt impress anyone anymore. So instead of weekly meetngs where everyone says the same stuff every time, and daily reports that none really reads or take under consideration, large companies are tending to reduce meetings to 1 per month and reports to one weekly or monthly or none depending on the nature of the business. So only the wannabes take this failed model seriously. RTW was one such case.

    As every single person is responsible for this failure, the employee-managed-corp is getting more and more intriguing. The companies that will suvive will be those that have the wisdom of MODERATION in all they do. Those who dream gaussian curves up will get straight lines down. These people should be prevented by law to ever work again in management field. Harsh, but it will save companies, jobs, products and economies. If company managers have no sense on moderation (like animals), they should either be taught of it by legal force, or be removed for the sake of al the others. If the cancer cant be cured, it’s being REMOVED.

  14. baconman says:

    One other critical thing factored into the unfortunate demise of APB (which I saw in stores recently, and was pretty tempted towards getting!): using the “boxed-game” business model for a prominently online game. With a good, offline single-player/in-game experience that isn’t online-dependent (or, you know… online AT ALL), you can afford to put all of your time and money into producing and releasing an all-inclusive product, and expecting the sales to speak for themselves after that. Once you’re at that point, it’s copy-paste-burn away.

    Using an online gaming model, on the other hand, you have a lot of ongoing costs like maintenance, server bandwidth, and ongoing salaries that don’t simply “end” with the distribution and sale of said product; things that the old-fashioned “boxed-game” model clearly does not take into consideration. Online gaming is not simply a “product” that can be redeveloped from scratch, with a finite beginning and end – the whole idea of it is to create and ongoing, sustainable (and fun) environment, both in-game and in-reality. Rock Band 1-2 (even to this day) is a good example of this. RB3, at it’s core, is simply a feature-upgrade package.

    Finally, a 3-month launch window?! Are you serious?! These are times when MOST game-playing people generally have to save up, wait for price drops, and make other, more vital priorities come first in purchasing stuff, and then “get around” to cool stuff like game purchases later on, when they can afford it.

    For instance, I personally didn’t get around to purchasing RB anything until 2Q 2009, and I’m a music-gaming enthusiast. Most successful games I’ve heard about don’t even become successful until about 2-3Q’s after they’re launched. Re-reviewed. One person gets it gifted. Other friends come over to play/try it, or word gets around. Then there’s the saving for it (see that post on your Turbo C++? Yeah, like that…).

    At 3 months, your staff would most likely still make up at LEAST 25% of the “player pool.” And yes, it’s not unheard of that the game-world begins with (hundreds of) staff and still-active beta players, which give the initial gaming pool somebody to play along with. After all, isn’t that one of the key selling points of onling gaming?

    Well, at least take solace in this: Everything is a step forward. Without this experience, and your pretty-wise analysis of it, you’d never know what a disasterfield that certain kinds of corporate sponsorship can bring. Now you just need to learn how much pull you can have in negotiations like this – because before you sign anything, ALL of the power starts with the developers.

    • salesman says:

      just a small note regarding your comments on the time frame for games to become profitable: you just wrong.
      around 80% of what you get from “standard” AAA games comes from the sales in the first few days after launch.

      • Thomas says:

        Where’s your proof? I would like to see that.

      • bonjovi says:

        ‘standard’ AAA title you talk about must mean: well established IP with huge marketing budged.

        then I agree with you. as this type of game is usually mediocre at best, people buy it based on the hype, and hardly anyone makes a purchase after hype dies down.

        if we are talking about new IPs, new concepts, new gameplay, or jsut somethign off the main stream; the game needs to earn the credibility and then sales come.

        look at mine craft, did not become a success on the day notch let peopel download alpha. took a while.


  15. Jakkar says:

    Having witnessed such a fall, Luke – what do you feel is necessary for a development studio to avoid the same fate?

    My own vote would be to hang anyone who seems more interested in money, management or organisation than in creating a good game, and making/keeping people happy.

    I appreciate that this may not be the ideal solution, so I’d love to hear your more reasonable answer, as briefly or as verbosely as you feel inclined.

    My sympathies for the way things went, and my thanks for the view you’ve provided into the events that led to the fall.

    Looking forward to Part 4.

    – Jack O’Hare

    • Rm4g3dD0v says:

      Jakkar says:September 17, 2010 at 6:26 am

      Having witnessed such a fall, Luke – what do you feel is necessary for a development studio to avoid the same fate?

      Yes. it’s avoidable as Global Agenda proved.

  16. Jeromai says:

    Thank you for the brilliant insider commentary that doesn’t point fingers, yet still highlights learning points for all. I have a feeling that anyone who’s worked for any sort of company has run into some uncomfortable echoes of what ran things aground here. It’s good to relook every now and then at what worked and what didn’t in order to course correct before the ultimate end.

    For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the theme and promise and potential of APB, especially the customisation options, but found the actual product having one too many critical flaws for me to consider a purchase. A fond but unsurprised farewell for APB having reached the end of the line.

  17. Robbie Th'ng says:

    Fantastic set of posts, some of the stuff we never got visibility on from where we sat that you saw just sounds frightening at times.

    I wish you could extend this to some kind of book.

  18. J. H. says:

    We could use you at the aerospace company I work for. Its almost the exact corporate culture you described in your earlier posts. Especially the committee to develop communication processes. There literally are meetings about how and when to have other meetings.

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  20. Chad Austin says:

    Hi Luke,

    Thank you for sharing your story – it sounds frighteningly familiar. IMVU’s founders previously experienced a similar implosion at There.com. There.com raised $40 million, employed hundreds of people, and built a technologically amazing product without a sustaining userbase. We built IMVU with the opposite philosophy: focus on market needs above all else.

    I hope this painful experience leads you to the success it has shown us.


  21. These posts are brilliant – thanks for expressing so eloquently what so many of us have experienced. I’ve seen the same thing happen at three employers so far – one game company, and twice in telecomms (not in my current employer, I hasten to add!). A small company scores a whack of investment, or gets acquired, and suddenly you’re reading Dilbert and saying “Hey! That just happened here!”

    When that happens, then unless your revenue is in the hundreds of millions of EuroDollarPounds – and note: investment is not revenue – you’re in a death spiral. The only real question is how long you can ride that burning plane before bailing out, or waiting for the crash then digging your way from the wreckage.

    One day I hope to work for a mid sized employer that realises that any job which doesn’t directly contribute to producing a tangible product that customers will pay for is a cost to the company that must be kept to an absolute minimum. IT, development, QA, sales, marketing, accounts receivable. The people doing those jobs, actually touching the code, testing the binaries, schmozing customers and getting the money in the door, they pay the salaries of everybody else.

    HR, the accounts payable size of finance, legal, anybody with the word “manager”, “leader”, “director” or “process” in their job title, they’re costs. Some of them are necessary, some of them may even indirectly contribute to revenue from time to time, but primarily they’re costs. Yes, big companies have lots of these people, but that’s a symptom of success, not the cause of it.

  22. Alfred Hindsight says:

    June 2010: “I don’t suppose it’s often you get to work on something this cool, and I’m very excited to be a part of it. Here’s to shipping a bloody awesome game”

    Sept 2010: “We were complacent about game design, papering over APB’s obvious shortcomings and telling ourselves it would somehow come together at the last minute before release”

    • Roger Sarcasm says:

      I hate people that rub other people’s noses in past comments that turn out to be false when the falseness of those comments are not entirely down to them (unforeseen circumstances, etc.) Just what the hell was the guy supposed to say, that the game sucked donkey balls? FACT, the game needed to sell well for him to continue in employment where he was, even Stallone bigged up “Judge Dredd” in interviews and we all know how THAT turned out. Get over yourself…

      • J. H. says:

        Yeah awesome is how it turned out, I loved Judge Dred but yeah why jump on a man while he’s down? No person no matter what field they work in goes against the company line. Well they do if they want to be fired but thats about it.

  23. Brian Baglow says:

    I think I have the tinfoil hat photo somewhere. As I recall Gaz had a skullcap, Brian a viking style helmet and I had a mitre (complete with crucifix).

    I remember the unshakable conviction that he was *right* and just *got it*. So it doesn’t fade with age then. Damn.

    I’ll try and dig the photo out…


  24. Karim Shakankiri says:

    Hey Luke,

    These articles are pretty much spot-on in my view. It was a real pleasure working with you but the whole Process / bureaucracy thing was very disheartening to me. The whole point of doing what I do and working for games and graphics is the excitement, the creativity, the flexibility of the whole thing – palling around with artists and designers – which when I joined RTW was pretty much absent. I would have loved to mix with the art team, the designers etc… find out what and who I was actually working for which is extremely motivating.

    As my lead, one of your major roles seemed to me to be protecting your team from the incompetence of management. You did a good job there and we loved you for it but as such we were isolated from the rest of the company and pretty oblivious to the reality of the goings on where it mattered. Most if not all horror stories were heard in the pub…

    I would add one thing to the article however: that talent was misspent. Like you said. developers are (usually) pretty smart, and can have good ideas. Concerning gameplay and fun, the best people to ask are those who play the most games, and high concentrations of them can be found in QA. All of these people were ignored… there was no sure way to send information up the ladder, only orders coming down. I feel there was a “we know better” mentality coming from the people upstairs who had probably not actually worked hands on in game production for a decade.

    And unfortunately for me I wasn’t an “old timer”. I was one of the post-investment mad expansion hires and as such had no real influence over anything – my only means of expressing my views was resignation 😦

    All the best Luke, and my love to your family too!

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  27. Jill E. says:

    Thanks for the skinny on all of this. I pre-ordered the game, despite all of the issues I experienced throughout the beta testing. From a gamer’s view, this was innovative, but not unfamiliar. I remember trying to discuss it to friends and they would rather look at it as a whole than notice the little things–things that a lot of poor devs worked their asses off to create. If you are still in touch with any of them, let them know that I appreciate their amazing work, and I wish them the best.

    I gotta say, I was miffed to hear APB was getting shut down. I thought, “Who the hell gives up on a game only months after the release?”. I didn’t know the whole company went belly-up, and that’s shocking. After reading through your posts, I can see why now. Poor management, poor budgeting, and poor communication–it’s what has chewed up and spit out so many small companies in the past. I wish I could say that some are lucky to get bought up by bigger companies, but look at EA Games. I read a LiveJournal of a former employee there a few years ago, and my dreams of working on Sim games went down the toilet after the first paragraph. As bad as things seemed at RTW, just be glad you didn’t work for them. 80 hours a week with unpaid overtime, working on the same sports games, management breathing down your neck constantly, all while working in what could be best described as “a padded room”.

    My deepest condolences for those who lost their jobs, especially those who have to move back to the States with no means. Maybe some of them will get hired by Epic Games, I hear they plan on buying APB (or at least, pick at the skeleton of it)…

  28. kanomi says:

    I thank you for this honest assessment of what destroyed your game and wasted how many years of your life.

    You would do well to read a book called “Disciplined Minds: A critical look at salaried professionals and the soul-battering system that shapes their lives” by Jeff Schmidt

  29. Sympathies says:

    So sad to hear that your company folded as I enjoyed “Crackdown”, I wasn’t interested in “APB” when I saw it advertised on Steam ages ago, my gut instinct just said that it COULDN’T be all it was supposed to. But I’m not the “I told ya’ so” type and I take absolutely no pleasure in being right. Life’s a process of highs and lows, mate, when you crash you pick up the pieces and move on as you have, (good luck with the new job).

    I just wish I could home your horse…

  30. Charles Palmer says:

    Great posts Luke although you make my brain break, “red-teaming” is usually seeing things from the enemies point-of-view. It’s nice to read a view from someone who was on the whole outside the project and that I trust.

  31. J. H. says:

    Heres to hoping that Epic picks up the game and the ideas dont go to waste. The idea of a “GTA MMO” can still be an amazingly successful one it just has to be executed differently BUT I for one would like to say thank you for trying and the project “My world” looked incredible, I also hope that time effort and energy does not go to waste. Look what gearbox is doing, nothing has to “die”.

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  35. Daniel says:

    So sad to see a game with such potential fall into obscurity and ultimately failure. I can appreciate all of your efforts in this game even though I bought it approximately 5 days ago. The gameplay was very engaging, the “quests” (if you will) were interesting, and the customization was superb. The main drawbacks from my perspective were the occasional glitches and the enormous amount of hackers. My only wish is that the wish of almost all of APB’s players comes true: Will someone please SAVE APB. Even if the purchasing company has to pull it for a while to rework it so that it will run on their server base. The criminal faction had a huge group even named SAVE APB and the enforcer’s group HAY GET ON IT was on that bandwagon (of which I was a part) as well. So to all gaming franchises: please consider and reconsider purchasing the rights to APB as there is a loyal following that will follow it wherever it will go. I am aware that my pleas may be too late and APB may be already 6 feet under, but I hope not. I am usually against the “pay to play” games, but this game was my one exception. When we (the APB players) were informed that it was shutting down and would be free until then I had only 2 hours left on my account. I was ready to pull out my already over-stretched budget to make the payment necessary to keep playing. So please Epic (you were looking at this game) and EA (also was interested in this game) SAVE APB.

  36. Jake says:

    i have to sad im so sorry all went down the toilet over there in realtime worlds.

    but i still feal APB should not of died broken or not it still could of been fixed its not like it was in a unfixable state. im not a coder or game maker or anything like that but i have been around in the mmo market alot played meny pay to play and free to play mmos from fps rpg and all in between. so to me if it got the update fixes that the most complained about got fixed it would not of died.

    still miss APB loved the name of Realtime Worlds both are now in the toilet but i hope maybe someone will buy APB and fix what needed to be fix and relaunch it.

    hell one can dream!

    but i thank you for this info i do think you guys did a great job i hope you can get a job soon and work on a new game with what you learned from success and failure.

    i have to add though to me i liked APB with all the little time i had before it went down the toilet. i though all the blah going around was just that since other mmos i heard worse and well there still around. but anyway.. good luck on your next adventurer.

  37. Lewpuls says:

    Excellently explained, Luke, good luck wherever you end up.

    Someone once said that if you work for a company small enough that you know the owner (or the person where the buck stops, with no alternative), and he or she knows you, then you have a good chance to have a great work experience; and if you work for a bigger company, then corporate politics and cliques will often make like miserable.

    Unfortunately, with The Investment it appears that the Powers That Be in your company turned it into that bigger company–which need not have happened. But once it does, then the trappings of corporations that are only there to support cliques, not to promote efficiency, take over. People are worried about whose job it is, instead of worrying about getting the overarching job done. (In many ways, people worry about keeping their jobs/making themselves more important rather than about the success of the company.) The story about the QA guy being reprimanded for writing a summary of problems reported on forums epitomizes this. Where a big company with successful products bringing in lots of revenue can survive the disastrous attitudes, a little company with little revenue cannot.

    There evidently are large companies that manage to operate like small ones, but they are very much the exception.

  38. UnSubject says:

    Looking forward to your next post on this Luke.

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  40. Mari says:

    Thank you for posting this, Luke. It’s a stunning look at what went wrong but it can be very informative if the right people will take the right lessons from it. As a gamer, one of my greatest frustrations with many developers and publishers is that it seems like the only lesson the companies ever learn is “don’t innovate.” No matter what the real lessons are, that seems to be what comes from every failed game. I’m hoping that your critical look at what went wrong will steer the suits away from “don’t innovate” when planning their next projects. It’s probably a fruitless hope, but I’m an eternal optimist.

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  43. Рафик says:

    ABP – dead forever?

  44. Roman0612 says:


    Made sure it worked!

  45. Haku Haku says:

    EPIC GAMES, buy buy buy buy it, up the patch and go go go play together ! >.<!!!

  46. Hibiki says:

    Traduction (français > anglais)
    Certainly that PDB has not started as COD 5, GTA or BC
    but the principles were simple and cool.
    if they wanted to make this game without firing personnel (250 …) and detested more than 80 million.
    I think they should have not to sell the Xbox 360 and to charge a subscription … (bad idea), to advertise, have a better anit-cheat and defend this game

    Unfortunately EA have released RTW without valid reason … and that senior executives have pumped all the money and left hands full

    What I can advise personnel (remaining) to read the call of players and we’re here!
    I do not know how many players are there to support to PDB and we are a (very) large family!

  47. Hibiki says:

    PDB ->APB (sorry^^’)

  48. boby74 says:

    😦 😦 😦 LOVE APB

  49. Genuine-Crazy says:

    We miss our APB…

  50. Bilish says:

    COME BACK APB !!!!

    Sorry but in french “Un des meilleurs jeux auxquels j’ai joué”

  51. Joe Russell says:

    These posts are all well and fine indeed. But..
    The largest mistake that was made was not listening to your playerbase and their needs from the game. All the internal spat means nothing to your playerbase.

    When players began to ask that hackers and aimbots be dealt with, RTW should have listened, and in turn, would have had a larger playerbase that may have just kept your head above water. By ignoring, your playerbase left and leaving a 100 or so players that kept waiting and waiting for the fixes but never got them, along with this playerbase now down to a handful saw quite a bit of potential in the game. it was over then. You do not know how many people that got word of mouth ( I pretty much did) about the hackers and aimbots and why they are not going to even bother with the game.
    This hurt you more than anything.

    Playerbase = Money, Money = Success

    • Casualslacks says:

      You have to realize that these posts point to the reasons why they didn’t “just listen to the players,” or more importantly, respond in decisive, effective ways. RTW didn’t have a culture prepared to do that.

  52. Genuine-Crazy says:

    Lots of ppl like me are there wishing to play APB again even if someone buys it and re-release it and even if we will have to buy game again we will because we see that game trough… We love APB and we hope it will be risen from dead….

  53. ThinGZinC says:

    I just want to know if there is a chance one day to see the return APB?
    Or if we put the game in the trash?

  54. Joe Russell says:

    “Casualslacks says:
    September 24, 2010 at 8:53 am
    You have to realize that these posts point to the reasons why they didn’t “just listen to the players,” or more importantly, respond in decisive, effective ways. RTW didn’t have a culture prepared to do that.”

    So, what you are agreeing to that was posted, that RTW new the game was sinking from within, but decided to release and take whatever money they could get from people in 3 months? 100M is a fekin lot of money to just squander, please get fekkin real.

  55. Nexecus says:

    Fortunatly being a part of the beta for a long time i noticed and experienced the parts that Luke elaborates upon namely the communication and division, there was infact indeed no listening ear to the beta players what was missing, what was wrong about this game. This stands hand in hand with what Luke said: Community reads the forum… Customer Support is for bugs…Customer Support doesnt read forums cus thats for Community… That is also what made me just not play the beta anymore, and with me i think alot of testers went away because what were we testing for? Input not handle properly, not being listened to and their own staff oblivous how to handle things.

    Community teams are fine to keep in touch with your community, but they are not bug fixers, they can post and post and post and develop bonds with the community and even become “popular” but what is that all when the true essence of testing is forgotten? Searching, Finding the flaws, the anomaly’s to improve the game to make it wanted.

    Unfortunatly even in closed beta the company/game was in such a stage that all the focus and effort were already focused towards certain areas that pleased and the playability of the game was not looked at.

    In all my time i never seen a company being so blind when the answers and explanations are right in front of you and you fail to realise and accept and work on it.

    The reason APB failed is one on one with what Luke explains as the company’s culture.
    That culture made it happen a game was put into production with only a few key features but with not “real” future for the people that would play it.

    APB was a great concept except you CANNOT statisfy an entire playerbase with only shooting, robbing, shooting, stun, shooting, driving, shooting, rinse repeat.

    There is absolutely almost NO progression in the game besides new guns which results in repeating the same action over and over again.
    Ofcoarse you can keep the players satisfied for a while with a sugarstick while they drool over creating and customizing the ultimate badass with the ultimate car… that was indeed a great feature but….. what the hell is it good for if the world you play in is nothing more then a static enviroment. in the end you end up running around with the same set of guns, same set of wheels, and same ol same ol bunch of enemies who ocasionally plunder a store, which has absolutely no impact on the world that is being played in except that you can rush to them to kill them…which you can do well…. forever untill it gets boring.

    Note that i did not even mention the horrible driving and shooting yet. i wont go into detail on that because theres already enough said about it.

    These people or at least some, failed to create what an Online game is REALLY about… that is INTERACTION…. PROGRESSION… DIVERSITY…. COMMUNITY

    I cannot count getting the new guns as the type of progression an online game can rely on nor a new car.. its a PART of a progression cycle that needs way more then just these two to keep ca customer happy. same goes for the customization…. if we wanted to play dress up well go play the sims or something. there has to be a goal to play towards too (if they would have looked to the succesfull games) you have to create an enviroment a player wants to live and spend time in. instead APB became a semi online game, it had the online interaction but the elements of a single player game. it would have been more succesfull as a single player this way, toss up a story line, missions, etc.

    Oh well i could go on and on from what i experienced during the years of testing APB but all i can do is agree with Luke that the mentality and culture took away the clear sights of the big and needed decsisions resulting in this epic fail-cascade. such a shame since if this would have been developed slightly diffrent it could have been a great great game for people to relax in.

    Loved the read of the posts Luke and waiting for your next post.
    Good luck in the future and in the US.


  56. Toshiki says:

    Ah well, what can I say… Good luck in your new job =).

  57. Carlitos says:

    Cmon… sell the game to a company and all gamers will be thankful, we still have hopes

  58. Hill says:

    One of the best game I ever played.

  59. Belpheee says:

    i really hope, we will see it again.
    Why we haven’t seen any message of the direector of apb? it s easy to explain and give some news, i hate this politic

  60. EL says:

    APB Revient STP….

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  62. Just another one says:

    what are the latest news about APB? please give us some infos. Also when nothing changed. I still try to start apb every day cause i don’t know whats going on in this moment… Thank you luke!

    • Anonymous says:

      APB’s dead, for good. The company’s having its assets stripped and trying to sell some of the technology off, but nobody wanted to buy the game with the intention of continuing service.

  63. Jon H says:

    “He would say how this was really like PostScript and that we can have it in every printer, we can follow the Adobe model”

    That must have been around the time of NeXTSTEP 3.0. Renderman was bundled with the OS, along with the ability to farm out renders to other NeXT machines on your network. For rendering on screen they had ‘Quick Renderman’ which I suppose had a simplified shader model. This was originally on 68040 hardware, but later also on 486 and Pentium machines, and HP PA-RISC workstations.

    It was pretty neat to be able to play with such high-level graphics software, although not terribly useful. There were some 3D modeling apps that used it, but the performance wasn’t really competitive with OpenGL. I played around with the Renderman shading language a little.

    I think the ‘have it in every printer’ might be a bit garbled in recollection. If I recall correctly, when you had a window open and hit Print, you’d be presented a panel allowing you to pick render hosts to use for it, along with the resolution to render at. Then you’d get the Print panel, allowing you to either select printing options for the finished rendered image, or save it to a file.

    Maybe Jobs wanted to license Renderman for printers, but the person quoted might have misunderstood or misremembered what the NeXT OS was doing.

  64. Joseph says:

    APB était vraiment un jeux super, j’éspère que RTW pourront le reprendre, ou bien qu’une autre société de jeux le rachète.

    Aprés qu’il ait fermer, je ne sais vraiment plus à quoi jouer, ce jeux était unique en son genre, la customisation était parfaite, les mission amusantes, et les armes variées.

    J’éspère voir revivre ce jeux, sincérement.


  65. panda says:

    Sounds like your management had some sorta odd “cargo cult” mentality going on there, I mean it seems they thought that if they look like a big corporation with all the bells and whistles and inefficiency, they automatically become big rich corporation.

    Just like cargo cultists doing re-enactments of air cargo droppings, with all their best effort. Of course nothing ever materialized.

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