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      These Forums are closing!   10/04/2019

      After more than a decade of serving this community well, these forums have finally run their course and it's time to close them down. That doesn't mean we want to close the doors on our community, quite the opposite!
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Gamasutra: Double Fine loses a project, lays off 12

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The thing is, when you run a software development company like this, you're bound to hit bad patches. The same thing has happened to my workplace, many times, and it takes a hell of a lot to bring down a company if they're responsible with their money. As as tough as a descision like this may seem, it's descisions like this that are a sign of of a responsible company (quite certain that not all those effected of the layoffs will agree with me though).

Our job as supporters should be to appreciate the work of the ones let go, and the ones staying, but also to not be doom mongers ourselves, but to try to make these forums a more interesting and positive place.

If Tim and the rest have managed to keep a company like this running for more then 14 years, then I'm quite certain that they will be able to go throug this patch also.

The future of the company as a whole has to come before the future of any one employee, that is for granted. I see this everyday now in my field of work which is the oil business - the consistently low oil price has already caused thousands of layoffs - hundreds just in my area - and will continue to cause thousands more going into the next couple of years (I have so far been spared). Working in the oilfield service industry is a lot like the games industry in that if there are no new projects, your job is instantly redundant, and the new projects are controlled solely by the big oil companies, like the big publishers in the games industry.

I'm sure DF will survive somehow - at least they'll probably manage to come up with a couple new projects to retain core staff - but expecting more layoffs at DF in the coming year is hardly doom mongering.

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Holy crap, that's sad :( I LOVED The Cave. Seriously underrated if you ask me. Very sad news.

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Best of luck to those who have left / will be leaving.

Smiles

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At the risk of engaging in magical thinking, this news may not be as surprisingly bad as seems. It doesn't really say much that wasn't already known.

Doublefine has recently wrapped a few projects (Hack 'n Slash, Spacebase, CQ2) in short order. If I recall, there weren't any immediate layoffs even when Spacebase was stopped. Layoffs at the end of big projects are a common feature in game development and other industries that operate on the basis of discretely-funded contracts. Construction companies hire when they get new projects, and lay off when the work is done. Not only sometimes, but *usually* there isn't a consistent amount of work for such a company over time. They expand and shrink, shrink and expand. If you can't shrink, you can collapse.

Doublefine has resisted these vicissitudes with different methods of crowdfunding, but crowdfunding hasn't made them entirely immune. They probably could have tried to kickstart another project on their own, but I imagine they feel compelled to first finish the two projects they've already funded that way. If that's true, it's a wise decision. Rather than making today what would look like a desperate appeal, next year they can hopefully point to two proud kickstarted accomplishments when they set out to launch a third, which might mean hiring again. They just will have had to take a bitter pill to get there.

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The thought of Double Fine going 'dark' is horrible to me, because part of the reason this has been a fun place to hang out is that there's always something to talk about.

That said, I wonder if there aren't times when it's appropriate to step back from the public eye a bit and re-emerge with something to show when heads are cooler. Once the current announced projects are out of the way.

It would be a real shame to lose the interactivity we have, but DFers so inclined could still hang out on the forums, so I'm almost ready to say 'Okay, DF, take a breath, concentrate on your unannounced projects and come back once you're ready.

It's sad that it has good this way. It's very sad that one of the most transparent companies out there is being called 'shady' by some people. Some of it is due to mistakes, sure, but a lot of it is to do with a mountain of misinformation. And there are people yet again hailing this latest development as 'proof' that DF are incompetent, rather than proof that sometimes the way this industry is funded is cruel.

But sometimes all you can do is take it on the chin and then step back for a while to recover. The constant pummeling at the moment has got to be bad for morale. DF can't say or do anything at the moment without people interpreting it in the most negative possible way. What a year.

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Not much input from me except my best wishes to everyone current or former DF employees! Incredibly sad. Good luck to all's future endeavors.

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Transparency does invite pummeling from the internet, since transparency exposes vulnerabilities as well as strengths.

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Some of it is due to mistakes, sure, but a lot of it is to do with a mountain of misinformation.

Yeah.... this.

I thought and still think that DF was doing something really great by trying new models, e.g. kickstarter and ongoing development, but it's becoming more and more clear to me that people in general are not ready for that. There were too many people who could not get their head out of the retail model, out of the regular digital distribution model. Too many people who misunderstood what was happening every step of the way, then in the end blamed DF for "being irresponsible with other people's money", when really it was more like a lot of people not being responsible with their own money. These are surely the very same type of people who sign up for and use credit cards without reading the details, then get themselves into repayment trouble and insist "the credit card company is screwing me". Right.

And now of course the Majesco/Midnight City business is being touted---even BY DEVELOPERS in the comments of this gamasutra article---as "evidence" that DF is "not good with money", when this is something that is known to happen in the publisher model. It's sad, but it can happen to ANY studio. When EA pulls its funding on another dev studio, resulting in the canning of a project in development, do we accuse THAT studio of being "incompetent with money"? No, because we know that the game industry narrative THERE is that EA is the devil, so we'd blame EA for that one. Or what about when Blizzard pulls funding and cancels one of its OWN projects that it's had in development for years? Surely, in THAT case someone would suggest that maybe Blizzard wasn't being very responsible with its money? No one says any such thing, because Blizzard.

The fact of the matter is that facts don't matter to people. Narratives matter to people. People understand the world around them by constructing and telling stories about it. They tell stories to themselves, and believe their own stories. They tell stories to others which they may or may not entirely believe. And when you let people make up THEIR OWN story themselves, they see themselves as the protagonist, and they will therefore always, always, always tell the story with themselves as the good guy. That they are the good guy is for them an axiom. It is the starting assumption of all their reasoning about the events.

Aaaand... I'm ranting. Shutting up now.

TLDR: This is why we can't have nice things.

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Mm, the take away for a studio who has never had a big hit and makes kinda niche titles and yet has survived for 14 years before they had major layoffs is not that they are bad with money. Sigh.

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In a world saturated with Asassin's Creed, CoD, and MOBA-fever, I need a company that tries crazy experiments and makes quirky niche titles and has a good sense of humor. I seriously put them right up there with Nintendo as a company that doesn't just make games, but actually tries to push the envelope and do NEW sh** for crying out loud. And like Nintendo, it sometimes hurts. But I love them for it. My world would be more grey without either of them.

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When EA pulls its funding on another dev studio, resulting in the canning of a project in development, do we accuse THAT studio of being "incompetent with money"? No, because we know that the game industry narrative THERE is that EA is the devil, so we'd blame EA for that one.
People's perceptions of what goes on in the game industry can be weird. It's actually not the first time I've seen developers get badmouthed due to the actions of publishers. I always hear people, both on forums and video game journalists, berate Autumn Moon for the fact that they can't get products released, when the indefinite hold of A Vampyre Story 2 happened because the publisher pulled the plug and the indefinite hold of A Vampyre Story Year One happened because the kickstarter didn't succeed (largely because it didn't get a lot of attention because the game journalists wouldn't post about it since they felt that Bill Tiller couldn't be trusted to release a game because the publisher pulled the plug on A Vampyre Story 2).

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I think Tiller's project didn't do well because a) many people didn't know A Vampyre Story, b) some adventure gamers didn't like AVS this much (the MI-loco-crowd sometimes can be hard to please when it's not about Gilbert/Schafer/Daedalic) although the game was good [contrary to MI3 the art in AVS was great, Mona's voice was fantastic and unique, though Tiller replaced her for Year One which in my opinion was a loss], c) Tiller wasn't open for a new engines those days (so the project was more expensive), d) the game sounded way too short (what people really wanted was AVS2 or at least a game [with a beginning, an end and something in between, no episode/tech demo] which was as long as AVS, which already was short and ended with a cliffhanger), e) Tiller didn't think this through properly enough (with $8 for a game, justified due to the small scope, you need quite some backers to fund $200k those days), f) another MI copy, g) terrible title, h) maybe a lack of exposure but on the other side adventure forums and gaming sites also were reporting about the project.

This project just didn't aggravate people. Tiller was more known for starting things but not finishing them properly, doing several things in parallel (like with Duke later on too and without the announcement of Grossman ...). He was known for drawing great art but not for designing/producing great games. Adventure gamers in Germany wanted to see AVS2 but Autumn Moon's AVS and GPOVI also had their issues. They weren't free from bugs. There was a noticeable lack of polishing. The story in AVS didn't end convincingly. ... I don't know who (Autumn Moon, Crimson Cow, DTP, ...) is to blame for what but sometimes you blame the dev whilst a publisher screwed it up, sometimes it's the other way around or both sides are responsible. These things are hard to tell when you're not involved on your own and even then there still might be different point of views.

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Or what about when Blizzard pulls funding and cancels one of its OWN projects that it's had in development for years? Surely, in THAT case someone would suggest that maybe Blizzard wasn't being very responsible with its money? No one says any such thing, because Blizzard.

Did someone say "Starcraft: Ghost"? By all accounts that game was like, 99% complete, too. ;_; And then Blizzard went on to make very little of value over the next decade and yet maintained their loyal fanbase, even after the colossal yawn of Starcraft 2 and the disasterous insult Diablo 3 was at release (I've heard they made it better since, but still..)

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I dunno, I was a big Starcraft 2 fan for a while. It basically started the current "esports" phenomenon -- made it big.

So it was a pretty huge hit. Hearthstone is another recent big hit that will probably win lots of GotY awards before the year is out.

Say what you will about Blizz, they're still a pretty successful company.

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I was going to put in my 2 (more) cents about eSports and Blizzard, but every time I say something cynical or pessimistic in these forums I get these horrible pangs of guilt...

Plus I should stop derailing the topic anyways; I'd be disrespecting the subjects of our condolences.

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For those keeping score, John Bernhelm also was one of the 12 laid off:

Ah crap. This thoroughly sucks :(

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For those keeping score, John Bernhelm also was one of the 12 laid off:

Ah crap. This thoroughly sucks :(

Sadness for Steed.

Smiles

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Yeah, it's really sad. Apparently Casey Lynch also had to leave Midnight City (publisher of Costume Quest 2). I can't help but feel that these two situations are related and I also have a strong feeling that I know which project this was about (which makes me even more sad).

I hope all the talented people that had to leave will find a new job soon and that Double Fine will be able to recover!

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Yeah, it's really sad. Apparently Casey Lynch also had to leave Midnight City (publisher of Costume Quest 2). I can't help but feel that these two situations are related and I also have a strong feeling that I know which project this was about (which makes me even more sad).

I hope all the talented people that had to leave will find a new job soon and that Double Fine will be able to recover!

Costume Quest 3??

What project do you think it was?

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Costume Quest 3??

What project do you think it was?

In an interview on Costume Quest 2 (I think on IGN) Casey Lynch expressed an interest in Black Lake. John Bernhelm was designer of the Amnesia Fortnight prototype. So no rock solid evidence. It might as well have been Steed or something else.

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Yeah it's a pretty huge coincidence if Majesco downsizing Midnight City and the cancellation of this publisher-funded DoubleFine game just coincidentally happened at the same time.

Patrick Hackett's twitter(https://twitter.com/playmorevgames) now lists himself as 'former' at DoubleFine. He's been working on TiltBrush for a while, and it's not exactly clear to me if he's still with the company or left before this layoff or what.

Levi doesn't tweet much, so I'm not sure what his situation is. If the project was Black Lake, he would have been on the team 100%.

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Costume Quest 3??

What project do you think it was?

In an interview on Costume Quest 2 (I think on IGN) Casey Lynch expressed an interest in Black Lake. John Bernhelm was designer of the Amnesia Fortnight prototype. So no rock solid evidence. It might as well have been Steed or something else.

No, Levi was the lead for Black Lake. I know this because I am Black Lake fan #1.

BLACK LAKE LIVES!!!

(even if in my heart)

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Skillman and Hackett both left DF before this event went down. Tiltbrush was introduced quite a while ago.

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No, Levi was the lead for Black Lake.
You're both right! Levi was the lead and John was a designer/programmer on the prototype.

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Patrick left earlier this year along with Drew Skillman to start http://skillmanandhackett.com

Levi's still with us.

Thanks for the confirmation, Bert. Now that it's been a couple weeks, any chance we could get a list of people who were affected?

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Thanks for the confirmation, Bert. Now that it's been a couple weeks, any chance we could get a list of people who were affected?
I understand wanting to know but I don't think it's appropriate for me to say.

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Thanks for the confirmation, Bert. Now that it's been a couple weeks, any chance we could get a list of people who were affected?
I understand wanting to know but I don't think it's appropriate for me to say.

To me it already felt a little weird talking about such private things on the forums, but - as others have already stated - you do feel more of a connection with most of the individual team members because of all the 2PP video content and open development stuff we've had over the past few years.

Glad to hear that Levi is still there. I would love his art to feature in Double Fine's next adventure game, just like we now have with Bagel on Broken Age. From what I've seen, he's amazing at creating new worlds and atmospheres.

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