Is he truly being a dick or just (voluntarily)taking all the blame because the company isn't doing well?
What a piece of shit.A Message From Ken Levine
When Jon Chey, Rob Fermier and I founded Irrational Games seventeen years ago, our mission was to make visually unique worlds and populate them with singular characters.
We built Rapture and Columbia, the Von Braun and The Rickenbacker, the Freedom Fortress and some of the nastiest basements a SWAT team ever set foot into. We created Booker and Elizabeth, the Big Daddy and the Little Sister, MidWives and ManBot. In that time, Irrational has grown larger and more successful than we could have conceived when we began our three-person studio in a living room in Cambridge, MA. It’s been the defining project of my professional life.
Now Irrational Games is about to roll out the last DLC for BioShock Infinite and people are understandably asking: What’s next?
Seventeen years is a long time to do any job, even the best one. And working with the incredible team at Irrational Games is indeed the best job I’ve ever had. While I’m deeply proud of what we’ve accomplished together, my passion has turned to making a different kind of game than we’ve done before. To meet the challenge ahead, I need to refocus my energy on a smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers. In many ways, it will be a return to how we started: a small team making games for the core gaming audience.
I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it. I’ll be starting a smaller, more entrepreneurial endeavor at Take-Two. That is going to mean parting ways with all but about fifteen members of the Irrational team. There’s no great way to lay people off, and our first concern is to make sure that the people who are leaving have as much support as we can give them during this transition.
Besides financial support, the staff will have access to the studio for a period of time to say their goodbyes and put together their portfolios. Other Take-Two studios will be on hand to discuss opportunities within the company, and we’ll be hosting a recruiting day where we’ll be giving 3rd party studios and publishers a chance to hold interviews with departing Irrational staff.*
In time we will announce a new endeavor with a new goal: To make narrative-driven games for the core gamer that are highly replayable. To foster the most direct relationship with our fans possible, we will focus exclusively on content delivered digitally.
When I first contemplated what I wanted to do, it became very clear to me that we were going to need a long period of design. Initially, I thought the only way to build this venture was with a classical startup model, a risk I was prepared to take. But when I talked to Take-Two about the idea, they convinced me that there was no better place to pursue this new chapter than within their walls. After all, they’re the ones who believed in and supported BioShock in the first place.
Thanks to Irrational and 2K’s passion in developing the games, and the fans who believe in it, BioShock has generated retail revenues of over a half billion dollars and secured an iconic place in gaming. I’m handing the reins of our creation, the BioShock universe, to 2K so our new venture can focus entirely on replayable narrative. If we’re lucky, we’ll build something half as memorable as BioShock.
We do our best to update an FAQ in this space as questions come in.
Is he truly being a dick or just (voluntarily)taking all the blame because the company isn't doing well?
I don't know what 2k can do with bioshock but civilization has been and still is amazing.
MWS Natural "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving black people approaches 1."
Yeah, that does kind of come across as 'well, I want to do something smaller, so I'm blowing the place up and working on something smaller within Take Two. Peace' doesn't it?
He isn't a piece of shit. He is a genius. And he realizes what is wrong with the industry when projects get too many people in them, people wear too many hats, he loses creative control (Something he should * always * be in charge of) and needs to condense down to make the game he wants to make.
We need more people like him in the industry. With news like this I cannot wait to see his next project. The guy is a developer God, takes his time on all the little things that really make memorable experiences in a game, and with tighter control of the ship and a handpicked group he knows are dedicated to creative freedom and making fantastic games players will love, this is probably the only way to go about it. That said, he also cares for his employees enough that he isn't shooing them out the door, letting them stay to build up their resume and portfolio, even bringing in other competing companies so those people can find a place to work. If this was EA they would be walked out the door by a security guard with about 10 minutes to pick up half their family pictures.
People here need to see this for what it really is.
/applaud Ken Levine.
So spin the "extra" people off into another company. Or appoint someone else to manage them and keep them around in the same damn company. If you want to demote yourself to project lead, go nuts, but don't fuck with peoples' livelihood to do it.
Also, Bioshock Infinite had its flaws. "developer God" did not make that game.
Yeah I actually had a fair amount of respect for Utnayan's opinions until that post. What a piece of shit.
Yeah way to put some spin on it. At least Ken Levine is firing them with dignity!!! Suck his cock harder maybe he'll give you a job bro.If this was EA they would be walked out the door by a security guard with about 10 minutes to pick up half their family pictures.
So what you are saying is he should sacrifice his values and the very company he started in his own living room to help 50% of the people that simply don't belong in the same room with the guy wanting to hold more worthless meetings on how the next term of "combat technique in an atmospheric shooter" should be defined as for 6 months before a project gets off the ground?
Sorry Gavinrad - my opinion is firm on this one. That doesn't mean I do not feel sorry for most of the folks that are getting laid off. Some deserve to get laid off, some don't. But you cannot expect a guy with the passion he has for making great games with very intricate development cycles and resources dedicated to even the smallest things that make a game what it is (that most publishers would see cut today) continue to follow the mainstream. We saw what happened when he did that with Bioshock 2 and lost all control.
Considering the way most are being laid off, you cannot tell me for one second that this isn't the best of all options. Most developers get laid off without notice and shipped out of the building at a project end date. You tell me where you have seen a company let their developers stay to develop their portfolios, hold open houses to find a new job, recruit other companies to come in and interview those folks, and then let's have a chat. Because all I have seen in the last 3 years is an entire company being fired in a fucking parking lot, developers from another studio finding out their 1st house was never sold while losing all their health insurance in the middle of their wife pushing out a baby, or an entire in house firm under EA cut without any notice and out of an office 10 minutes after they show up for work.
Last edited by Utnayan; 02-18-2014 at 07:06 PM.
developer god hired them, he gets to live with his choices.
You're not getting it. No one here gives a shit about his ulterior motives. We're discussing how he went about it and this was probably the worst way possible. This was a childish knee-jerk reaction to "I just want to work on my stuff!".
Last edited by Deathwing; 02-18-2014 at 07:06 PM.
All that staff will get reassigned to whatever studio is pumping out shitty Bioshock sequels that Ken Levine clearly wants no part of. Take Two already said that they consider Bioshock a franchise that they intend to put out a new game for every 2 years, but Levine said in the DLC announcement for Burial at Sea: Part 2 that he considers this the end of the Bioshock+Bioshock Infinite storylines. I'm gonna guess it ends very unsatisfactorily.
So now he wants to go make some Stanley Parable knockoff and Take TWo is giving him enough rope to hang himself.
Last edited by Mist; 02-18-2014 at 08:39 PM.
I'd be ok with all this if it meant we were getting SWAT 5 or even another Freedom Force game.
That's not going to happen though, but at the same time I never really liked any of the BioShock games much anyway, so... meh.
Yeah this guy thinks he is Lord British or something. Artistic freedom aside, he is really shitting on a lot of people over his distaste for the part of the industry that pays the bills.
668 The Neighbor of the Beast.
Originally Posted by Erronious
Can you guys really not read PR?
"2K is closing us down, but is still keeping me on contract with a limited budget. I'm taking the blame (and should, since it was my job keeping Irrational profitable enough to stay alive)."
I've been saying it for years: the future is 20 disc based games a year (half of those are sports), with everything else digital. Even Infinite's sales won't keep it in the running for one of those 10 slots a year.
split the company, step down from CEO and form a new company. There are about a hundred different better ways then firing most of your staff.
I mean, if 2k is taking over control of the bioschock IP..... Why did the team get fired? why aren't THEY working on the bioschock as part of teamB. or whatever?
Push for narrative driven games. wonder what that exactly will entail. wants to be naughtydog? or realized the gameplay was the worst part of bioshocks, and wants to make adventure games finally. hrm, actually as noted with the digital comment, it probably was the Walking Dead that got him.
Last edited by Caliane; 02-18-2014 at 07:58 PM.
I sure hope he doesn't want to making a Snoring Dead game.
They're obviously going to continue making Bioshock games, as has been said, why not keep the team and put them on that instead of firing everyone and riding out into the sunset?
Seems like a great way to cut your average people and grab the rock stars to go build something new and interesting. Sucks for those losing their jobs, but it does seem to be part of working in the gaming industry.
I'm imagining it went something like this:
2K: Make more Bioshock games and make them faster and cheaper.
KL: Can I make one with a female protagonist?
KL: Well, I can make them faster if I get rid of the shooty bits.
2K: No. In fact, make them more like Call of Duty. A lot more.
KL: Can't do it.
2K: Okay, we're cutting your team down to 15 people and your budget down to a tenth of what it was, and we're going to have someone else make Bioshock games.
KL: You can't do that because the gaming industry will cut you to shreds.
2K: No we're not, because you're going to take the fall for it. Have fun trying to make art with the 5 PCs and a ham sandwich we give you. You'll be begging for a job at 2K SanFran, at half your current pay, in a year.
I'm also going to guess that Elizabeth kills herself at the end of Burial at Sea just so 2K can't use any of his old characters.
Last edited by Mist; 02-18-2014 at 09:00 PM.
I missed the part where this guy owes everyone a job? I mean, it's HIS company right? As has been said, there are a lot worse ways to go. I've been through the "we're laying off half the staff and going solely by seniority, so stay here while we go get your stuff for you, then escort you out" - this guy is doing it a helluva lot better.
Nope, try again.
I am not sure how anyone here is supposed to read other than that we think it means.So spin the "extra" people off into another company. Or appoint someone else to manage them and keep them around in the same damn company. If you want to demote yourself to project lead, go nuts, but don't fuck with peoples' livelihood to do it.
There's plenty of other ways to read that, you just don't WANT to. For example, he was not obligated to do those things, but they would have been objectively or just humanely better options. The facts we have from Ken's single post make it out to be a fucking dumb way of handling things, but likely he didn't actually have as much control as he appears to in the process.
Sorry, not going to waste my time explaining such a simple concept. Let me know when either of you figure out why you(1 of 1 or Utnayin) think the layoffs were necessary to achieve his stated goal.
yes. running a company is exactly like playing a game of street basketball with 10year olds.
CEO doesn't like the choices the board makes? Fire everyone, shut down the company.
Levine isn't beholden to those employees, and this isn't even a blip on the radar compared to shitty things that have been done to employees, at game companies or otherwise. If Irrational Games was still really Irrational Games ca. 2005 you'd have a point, but it's not. It's a small division of a huge corporation. Ultimately the decision to shut down Irrational was made by 2K management; if they wanted to keep it running without Levine they would have done it.
Well, then you're an idiot too. Congratulations. Is everyone here just fucking dumb? It's been stated multiple times by multiple people that this could have been handled a different way based on the PR. Yeah, sure, there's quite likely more going on than what's stated, but that's speculation.
And really good job on the "well, at least they're not THIS fucked!!" to excuse away shitty behavior.
Hey buddy, still waiting for you point out where I said they are owed jobs. All I said is that there are different ways for him to work with a small team again and not all of them involve layoffs. Wouldn't you prefer not to get laid off if it wasn't necessary? See that? These last few sentences aren't necessary but I'm including them because you don't seem to understand basic word concepts.
Impossible to know what really happened. Formulating strong opinions is a waste of time.
Hopefully he finds a place he can make good games in, and the people responsible for the excellent bioshock games should have no trouble finding work.
Curt Schilling fucks up and his company is dissolved. Utnayan thinks he is a horrible person for abandoning all these people.
Ken Levin voluntarily shuts down his company and is going to fire everyone. Utnayan thinks the guy is a fucking hero.
Such logic, such consistency.
I'm not going to post the same shit over and over. Plenty of people have explained how he can achieve what he wanted without laying anyone off. That's the exact opposite of necessary.
I came to this thread for news, but stayed for the inexplicably passionate debate.
Does anyone here blame him? Be stuck in a shitty position under corporate overlords or tell the man to fuck off and go back to doing what you were doing before you were originally bought out. This isn't a fucking pickup basketball game. This is what this guy does for a living. Better to die on your feet than live on your knees kind of thing.
And Deathwing, no one offered up alternative scenarios. Just people shitting on him that this was a bad way to handle it. I'm sure we have about 5% of the facts.
explain to me again under your scenario, how Ken Levine quitting, involves everyone else getting fired?
Ken didnt want to work under the evil overlords. Ken is still working there, everyone else is fired.
I mean I dont know.
Was Kens ego too big to let someone else head Irrational? While he broke off and worked with this smaller team?
Did no one want that job? did they look?
Maybe these employees ARE just being transferred internally to 2k or something. "fired" by Irrational, hired by 2k. maybe. probably should have said that, if so though. much better PR.
And as noted, with Shilling. you know what, companies do owe their employees. (although, maybe they did get good packages. who knows)
Last edited by Caliane; 02-18-2014 at 11:31 PM.
Why couldn't they get someone else to take over Irrational Games then? I don't see why it was KL's life duty to always be a part of Irrational Games.
Are any of those scenarios KL's call though? He doesn't outright own the company right? Isn't that the problem here?
Rest assured that we will know more in the coming days/weeks. For know it looks strange at best.
Bunch of board warriors arguing over the way something was written. Sounds about right.
I'm at that point in my life where being colossally selfish is both a thing I fully hate and despise because the selfish are the ones who fuck it up for the rest of us, and yet, I can't exactly blame him because I cannot myself claim to be fully selfless.
In conclusion, he's a dick and I would have done the same thing.
Major portions of the story were changed late in development, which of course added tons of dev time and costs millions. Maybe Ken Levine wants to (or is being forced to) focus on smaller games where he can change his mind on a whim without such ridiculous costs. Like the nightmare stories about making Stick of Truth, or what went on at LucasArts. He could be a perfectionist to a fault.
Makes me glad I never bought any of these bioshock titles. It remains true that large publishers are the biggest evil here.
Not that I'd ever defend Utnayan's past antics here or at FoH, but anyone who can't see the difference between what happened at Sigil/38S and what was said in the letter Levine wrote needs help.
yeah. you're right.
curt didnt do it on purpose.
Ken took a successful IP and blew millions of dollars,2-3years extra, and left "2games worth of content" on the cutting room floor, making a game which sold millions and was highly received not profitable.
Thus, costing 150-175 people their jobs, due to his ego.
huge ego and mismanagement. totally different.
curt aimed higher. and crashed and burned before shipping.
Last edited by Caliane; 02-19-2014 at 10:54 PM.
So nothing will change then, besides the timeframes.
thats pretty crazy if bioshock infinite cost $200m to make, but only sold 4m copies. i wonder if the rest of the burial at sea dlc's are coming out.
Bioshock Infinite is basically good in spite of itself, the good parts shining so brightly that they overshadow all the terribly bland parts.
Maybe it will end with a machine where Elizabeth can destroy all universe, save all universes, or combine all universes, and they can be conveniently color coded red, blue, and green.
Those of you in this business...Would a history of this type of thing prevent you from wanting to work with Ken in the future?
I don't care for Ken Levine personally or professionally, however I will give him credit as someone with "artistic vision" or whatever you want to call it and a strong tendency to stick to his guns, of better or worse, so none of this surprises me at all.
Best of luck to the others being laid off though. Hope y'all land on your feet!
Star Wars is an excellent example of this.
Small reminder. This vid just touches on the superficial. But if you really go back and look at art, and all the videos over the time. Seriously its like 2-3 different games entirely. Only people at the studio might be able to tell us what happened. Was it just not fun? were they unable to actually get things to work as seen int he videos? were xbox/ps3 tech restraints too much causing the game to be gutted for consoles? Doe someone at Irrational just have no idea what makes good gameplay? This game clearly had a shit ton of bloat. work was done over and over.
They had to higher a guy to come and and get the game ready to ship, because the studio would not allow them to blow more millions on more revisions.
Working with him wouldn't be my first choice, but I wouldn't turn it down. While that article was a good read, some of it was just bullshit. Like people complaining about crunch time? Motherfucker, EVERYBODY CRUNCHES. If I was taking another industry job and someone told me I would have minimal crunch time on the project, I'd laugh in his face.
BioShock sucks anyway.
Draegan sold us out to MMORPG.com
Exodus underway to ReReRolled.org - A Gaming Community
As far as crunch time? The only example I have even close to this field is a web team of about 25 people, and we had someone in the office who's sole job was to poke the team lead a few times a day saying "Focus, focus, focus" simply because that was his personality type and we knew it. He didn't have an ego about it because I hired his wife for the job. They had a huge bonus incentive (Not in the contract) that everyone (Even admin) would receive if goals were timely. This company's web team is basically just a support role that overlaps customer service so I make this comparison very loosely.
BioShock To Live On Despite Irrational Closure
This week brought surprising news that Irrational Games will be closing. Founder Ken Levine will be starting anew within 2K Games, bringing with him approximately 15 people. The remaining employees (reported by the Boston Globe to number over 100) are now seeking new opportunities.
We reached out to 2K Games for additional comment on the matter and received some information about the disposition of the BioShock franchise. “BioShock is one of our most beloved and critically acclaimed franchises, and we are indebted to Ken and the talented team at Irrational Games for their contributions to the series with BioShock and BioShock Infinite; the latter being one of the most decorated games of 2013,” a 2K Games representative told us via email. “The BioShock universe remains a rich creative canvas for many untold stories, and we look forward to exploring the next BioShock experience.”
In addition to helping with internal placement. Irrational is holding a recruiting day for the employees who will be leaving. A number of developers and publishers have already confirmed their attendance, including Crytek (USA and global), BioWare, Retro Studios, Insomniac, Turtle Rock, Bethesda, and Gearbox. Additional studios are likely to confirm before the event.
2K should give BioShock over to Gearbox. I'm sure Randy Pitchford would give the series the respect it deserves.
Infinite left a sour taste in my mouth so I honestly do not care about Irrational or Mr. Levine. As for those losing their jobs -- if they are talented they'll have no problems finding new ones.
What's wrong with Randy Pitchford? I like the Borderlands games a lot.
Kind of the opposite actually. The rumor/allegation is that Gearbox was given a pile of money to develop Aliens and instead put most of it into Borderlands. Then when Sega started asking what was going on, Pitchford farmed A:CM out to TimeGate to cobble together something that vaguely resembled a game.
Duke Nukem Forever is the game that the defunct studio (3D Realms) handed off to Gearbox. It was a piece of shit too.
For that matter, so was all the BL2 DLC except for Tiny Tina's.
Somewhat relevant to this thread, Pitchford's actions with A:CM--since it was ultimately his responsibility to oversee the game that eventually shipped, and he was the one who made all the promises of features that never existed--resulted in a bunch of people at TimeGate losing their jobs.
Last edited by Vorph; 02-20-2014 at 09:46 PM.
If that's true, what was the true cost of BL2?
It's tough to say how much Gearbox is to blame for the disaster that is DNF but yeah, ACM is one of the biggest frauds in gaming history. At least games like SimCity and Spore had all the best intentions.
Did Sega ever pursue any type of litigation against Gearbox?
20 seems awfully low. The future is making games without spending so much fucking money to do it. Reusing game engines, reusing level design and other content creation tools. That's why they can keep pumping out Assassins Creed games without them costing a bajillion dollars. They're like 20-30 million each, and I'm assuming Watch Dogs's new engine is what they're using for the next AC games for a while.
It seems like studios spend a lot of money reinventing the wheel when they don't have to. Bioshock Infinite costing 200 million is just poor management, that game could have been done for under 20 if they hadn't fucked around for 5 years trying to make it into an open world game when it worked fine as basically a linear FPS. It's like they couldn't decide if they were making a sandbox game or an rail shooter, or if they were making an FPS or an RPG...
200 million is like 8x what it cost to make Mass Effect 3 for what is basically the same game: a bunch of hallways and vistas with some loot in them and a lot of dialogue. Except Mass Effect 3 probably had 3-5x as much dialogue.
There's a good chance that Ken Levine is just incompetent at managing a large team and that the failure of Bioshock Infinite to make money is not indicative of any larger industry trends. I mean fuck, Skyrim reportedly cost 85 million for development + marketing combined. For 200 million there should have been a whole game inside every one of those god damn lighthouses at the end.
Last edited by Mist; 02-21-2014 at 01:19 AM.
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