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. 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.


  3. 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.