Friday, 16 December 2005

Midway shafts Ratbag Studios...

Midway shafts Aussie developer, Ratbag Studios

OK, here's what happened.

On Sunday, Greg Siegele got a phone call saying that Matt Booty and the HR guy were coming down. They arrived Tuesday, and we held a meeting at 2pm. We were told that we hadn't reached suitable quality levels in our deliverables, and that as a result Midway had decided to close the Adelaide Studio, and that we were all laid off. We were told that we had a day to offer suggestions to keep the studio open.

We suggested - bringing in people from OS, reducing the scope of operation, reducing the size of the team, and moving to another budget title, and a few other things.

We also had calls from the Premier and Federal Government asking if there was any assistance they could offer. With only one day notice, we had to decline.

Yesterday we had to go in, grab all our personal stuff, and delete our music, pictures, documents, emails, etc off our hard drives. We were given our redundancy notices. We went into the Ballroom next door, Greg put a tab on the bar, and we got hammered. They also ordered Pizza, which was always an in-joke around our office. When we've had bad news in the past, beer and pizza were ordered for the staff.

Some people have already found work interstate and overseas.

Now, I'm going to take off my journalist cap, and say what I really feel...

Midway are CUNTS.

We were exstatic when they brought us out - it was our chance to work on a game and not pander to different publishers and be fucked around like we had on Saturday Night Sprintcars, Dukes of Hazzard, and our Activision project.

The testers were given full time contacts, and I saw it as a chance to get into game design or more senior QA role down the track. But Midway have dashed all those dreams.

I feel sorry for those who've moved from Interstate and overseas. We had one guy move from the UK and start on Monday. He worked a total of 15 hours and then was told he was sacked. There's people who bought houses and land here, moved their families here.

And of course, it wasn't REALLY about our game. It was about the $29.1 Million loss Midway made this quarter. But instead of looking about why they're losing money (could it be because they're making generic, bland, MTV-audience friendly games, like LA Rush perhaps??? Maybe if they didn't pay Matt Booty and the other Senior execs $millions a year) they decided to close down two of their studios, thus destroying an Australian gaming insitiution in the process.

Our game was looking fantastic. They looked at a November 15 build, which admittedly wasn't great, but we had and made a Verticle Slice (which is essentially like a fully fledged demo of the game) deadline last week, with some people working from 6am to midnight every day of the week, Saturday and Sunday included.

We looked at our PS2 game on identical monitors next to the major games in the genre - True Crimes 2, GTASA, Driv3r and the original GTA, and our game looked like an Xbox game - even I was amazed at how much effort and work had gone into the game in the last 4 weeks.

The game featured stuff never attempted before in a driving / GTA style game, and it was stuff that was actually working as a mechanic and looked great too. If you've got a mechanic that's fun to do over and over, you've essentially got your game. Bungie said that about Halo.

I am of course utterly devastated and heart broken. This was my dream job. Not only that, the people I worked with were amazing. You simply don't find talent like that anywhere else in Adelaide. Those people made me realise Adelaide isn't all that bad, that people can be creative and intelligent and different here and get ahead in life whist still living in one of the nicest cities in the world.

I guess you can't get ahead here.

I'm at a total loss as to what to do. There's not many jobs for games testers in Australia or really elsewhere in the world, not permanent anyway.

There's NOTHING else for me to do in Adelaide, except call centre work, which is a soul destroying, meaningless existence according to most of my friends.

I am totally shattered.

When Robyn left me Ratbag was the only thing that kept me from losing it altogether. Now what the fuck do I do?


  1. dude that really sucks. i hope that things get better soon.

  2. Holy crap, dude...

    I was happy knowing that Adelaide was putting it's own into the gaming industry. Now we have nothing.

    I feel sorry for ya. =(

  3. Ummmm.... I'm almost at a loss for words. Here I've been wondering what the hell is taking Ratbag so long to come out with a new dirt track game, waiting so long I've even thought of a few ideas that I would have loved to share with you and your people and I get to the internet and find out this. I'm a little sick to my stomach right now
    but would like to atleast give you your props by telling you Ratbag was awsome, you guy's made the best game ever, "Saturday Night Speedway" ,"WoO's was great too but
    nothing can compare to the late models. I am a racer who live's for dirt track racing. I own a digital force feedback wheel and play S.N.S almost every day. You guys were the best thing that ever happened to "Midgay" and Someday they will regret there decision.
    You think in a world this big, where thers any kinda game you could imagine, there would be dirt track racing games, but I guess you and your crew were the 1 and only's. All in all, after all this time(3-4 years)of waiting, I will know who to thank if I never see a real dirt track racing game again.

    By the way, Toca 3's dirt track racing dosen't even hold a candle to the games you made 3-4 years ago. My advice, I don't know if that game you were talking about is a circle dirt track game, but we need more of those games there is a demand for them in alot of places, I would promote for free and sell them at the race tracks. maybe a little more advanced with 3-wheeling action out of the corners, but mainly more real tracks that do actually exist, I love how you guy's used Eagle raceway(My Home track) so anyways not sure if you can or if Midgay owns what you speek of, but to whom it may concern there is $ to be made and games to be played.
    Truthfully sorry you lost your job
    that sucks but please don't give up and make sure you spread the WORD!

  4. Typically Adelaide, What a shitty place.
    There I was 2nd Job Fantastic pay rise in a truly innovative company. Then a couple of people got let go. Just 4 weeks after taking out a mortgage we got told the company was taken into the banks management. Yes they gave us 2 days seems the accountants couldnt find anything of value (they couldnt see software). Same year both my brothers got shafted in some other adelaide businesses, one a defence contractor the other writing some CAD software. What a shitty place. Get the hell out of there. Im now in London and earn a 6 figure UK salary. I am NEVER going back. What a hole get out and meet the rest of the world.

    Better still become a plumber, better pay and better hours. Or become a train driver in the Pilbera. 130K+ housing and benefits. Oh yeah and 2 weeks on 2 weeks off. Oh Yeah you dont need any traiingeaither your employer pays for it on the job.

    Piss of Australia.


  5. A couple of years on and I still cant believe Ratbag were disbanded the way they were.

    I was a beta tester for Leadfoot and enjoyed every moment of it. I looked forward to the next RB release.

    Since Ratbags departure there have been no true Dirt Track Racing games.

    It was obviously an open ended game that was in development hence the comparison to GTA - True Crimes.

    Trully a shame.