The Truth

Dear online news sites,

David Jaffes socalled response is a total joke compared to Jeff Prestons. If youre going to do the fair and balanced thing then here you go. Anonymity is for cowards <- Best negative response so far.

Also. More people are speaking out. Cover this too. The Truth About IceFrog: Behind the Bullshit

Finally for all the people who have read my initial rant and wanted more there will be more. What I did was rant though and whine and bitch and moan and play the attention whore. Here is a response that needs real attention from another anonymous dev at Mythic. It is balanced and fair. Well spoken. I have highlighted important things in bold.

kno won says:

Hi everyone,

Call me insider. I’m going to spare bullshit and dive right in. First I’m ignoring SWTOR in this post. We have less than 15 people in our studio working from all departments as merely far far backup assistance for them. Trust me, we are not going to change the course of that game. Hell our studio is down to probably what? 150 people if you include in game CSRs. Anything said on it is purely conjecture IMO. Even our studio doesn’t have beta access… aside from a few >.>

Moving on. Because sadly his comments on SWTOR have detracted from the point of the topic. Warhammer online.

Reading this post is extremely conflicting for my emotions. I have been with this company well before we were aquired by EA. I was in the area on 2. Listening to Jacobs talk about how this was great for us, the doors it was opening. How it was on OUR shoulders. Hoping in my heart this endeavor would be a lucky one and turn out for the best. In a lot of ways what people from Mythic have posted previously is true regarding the buyout. EA is concerned about the money folks. They figured if we were successful all was well and best not to get involved. WE dealt with GW, we GREW because of their budget for us. I think sadly what people are missing in this is EA was not the problem haha. WE were the problem. No EA coporate execs came our way. No one MOVED to the studio from EARS as overseers. We did acquire someone from EA chicago when they dissolved years later. Only one sadly. Good guy, I digress. In the end what the employees saw was a lack of direction. We saw management being promoted beyond need. Anyone who challenged their newfound authority and “EA managment” status, debunked. You have to understand this was on all fronts in departments. Who doesn’t want their shot at promotion in a studio? EA of all places, a giant studio. They all dreamed of what was happening, it went right to their heads in most cases. So let’s get this over with.

The part about Hickman being the manager of customer service is true. Some might think talent can come from anywhere. I am one of those. You would have thought someone of his roots would have been humble to those around him. It would appear not.

It was really obvious from our persepctive that our marketing was suffering. I can’t say why, maybe we didn’t have the funds. I don’t know I wasn’t in marketing. I’m amazed with the commercials for other EA games we didn’t beg them for assistance though. I can only speculate here as well. Though I admit it was heavy on the heart to see us spend the kids college money to blur for a CGI intro and then never run a single TV ad. Hell Bethesda covered the metro signs for fallout.

This brings me to Paul. He tried to sell a game, true. He was a great face for War, and advertised well in his blogs. Why that comes into play with design choices and influence is beyond me. His newfound glory and long time standing with Hickman are prone to speculation though at work currently. They both made out really well in the end. On a seperate note, office relationships should be addressed. Especially since they work for the same game now. I’ll leave it there.

So many choices made by management leave us with bitter tastes in our mouth every day. To “them”, and I know they will read this. Remember your choices have consequences far greater than you can see. Careers, friends, loved ones and families are collateral. We were, and still can be a great studio. Some accountability is needed. Love for your employees would be a great place to start the rebuild too. Start open discussions amongst teams allowing for input. Teams NEED to be able to guide directions of working titles and no one person has all the answers. There is no I in team.

To EA corporate, your hands off approach to this company helped lead to it’s failure thus far in regards to WAR specifically. I’m not saying you needed to come crack the whip, but as a smaller studio you could have help guide us a little bit better down the roads of multi million dollar projects. It’s like the ugly divorce and no one is winning. We can come out of it with our heads high though and a bit of dignity. We forged DAOC. We helped forge some of the great mmo pvp concepts in the industry and we can return to that. **We don’t need anymore existing IP’s**. We had our own and it was something to be proud of. Come up with something new if you can’t commit to DAOC. Hell we poured/are pouring our hearts and souls into Warhammer and did the best we could. Now come talk to us, ask us what WE think went wrong and where we want to go. Let’s start again. Look at UO and DAOC now, for those of you who are fans, we have some of the best talent in those games now. Calvin and Stuart have assembled amazing teams and are still creating awesome content and ideas. Our two oldest games are our money makers. We did something right there and we need to rediscover it. EA Louse, you are obviously upset and I won’t discredit you. I personally believe you were/are an employee. I know you are entitled to your opinions and that is what you saw from your standpoint. It’s actually rather funny no one is really quite sure who you are at the studio.

Now I’ll be honest. If Warhammer were a person in the middle of a circle. And surrounding it are doors all around. My point of view is askew. I see what I see. Not what others do from other departments. I can’t speak for his art department or anyone elses. I can offer no proof in the end haha. None to support you, my difference with you either. Sadly its all speculation. It is a widely shared speculation though. I want to say who I am but I can’t… I am sorry. I can’t let this person be thought a liar however, because I do in part think he’s right. Anyone at our studio is capable of greatness. We saw people rise in our studio above what we thought or what they were originally hired and come up with great ideas and take on new positions well. We all come to work with more layoffs looming in the back of our minds. We’ve already lost so many. What we need are lines of communication open. We need inspiration and collaboration. We need to be Mythic again. I dont think of this as the end, more like a crossroads with two distinct paths.

Thank you, insider. Thats what these people needed to hear. Not my hate filled tirades.

EA. Save Mythic, dont just shut it down. Save the good people and the good products.

Posted in Uncategorized | 92 Comments

And another thing(s)

I am a louse.

I am not like EA Spouse. Our problems are industry wide but she fought with eloquence and honor. Im not. Im not pulling punches and Im hiding behind a cloak of +5 anonymity. I am just telling people what went wrong as loudly as possible so MAYBE just MAYBE the big boys will wake up and pay attention.

The rest of this post is a best of comments section. Ive gone through the 700+ comments and singled out current employee and exemployee posts that I can verify are true and some funnies.

* * * * *

Walter Yarbrough says:
October 13, 2010 at 3:01 am
As the Producer of Dawn of Camelot, the very, very, very short life that it had before being killed didn’t affect WAR (or really isn’t the root cause of WAR’s problems).
Sure, there were people who needed a place to land, but the WAR team swelled up just fine after Dawn was killed – producing a playable prototype that was the selling point for the company at the next E3.

Mr. White says:
October 13, 2010 at 6:00 pm
I worked for GW many years ago, and that sounds entirely consistent with their policy at that time (even though what became their most valuable property, 40K, still had joke models like the Christmas Marines and silly in-jokes and pop-culture references in the fluff). GW’s mandate has, and apparently always will be, “We will make our customers conform to our vision for what they want; what they actually want doesn’t matter.”

Walter Yarbrough says:
October 13, 2010 at 2:18 pm
I was going to note that this bit on Sanya isn’t entirely accurate, but it looks like Sanya has already said her piece:

http://eatingbees.brokentoys.org/2010/10/13/yes-i-saw-the-louse-blog/

Ex-Mythic Working Retail says:
October 13, 2010 at 2:52 am
I hear through the grapevine that the shit is hitting the fan over this, hope things turn out well enough for you. I know many people who want to shake your hand, after dealing with this.
While I do not know about the more recent events described, sounds like what was going on when I was there.
You didn’t even get into the Tool Support for devs, or the lack there of!
The items team had to manually make the items before the release (spread sheet, cell by cell) until it was clear they were not going to be done by the 3rd (or was it the 4th?) attempt at release. The guy they had to make a tool to help had 1 month to make it, and after that month, it was crashing, and making broken items.
I, on my own time off the clock, wrote a replacement tool in less than 12 hours (over 3 days after work) The day I finished the tool, I was fired for ‘not being early’ because of the same management BS you described.
They were still using MY tool a year later.

JR says:
October 13, 2010 at 5:33 am
Hey EA Louse
As a current (for now) employee of EA myself, I feel you.
I heard about the lay offs a month ago (%25 worldwide) and I am bummed out.
I know what divisions that will be cut, and I see people who I KNOW FOR SURE will be cut everyday, multiple times a day, and it just breaks my heart.
Heck, I don’t know if I’ll still have a job come this November. It will be 5 years come this November too (For all you out there, 5 years in the games industry is like dog years).
Well, there’s always Sledghammer games.
Take care and God bless

Walter Yarbrough says:
October 13, 2010 at 12:54 pm
No explanation?
We discussed with the community a bunch of ideas, and the community wanted the hardest of hardcore PvP, which is what we delivered.
God that was a long time ago, but I know that was discussed extensively on the Pendragon boards, and certainly in our interviews at the time.
As for Origins, I had left the company by then, not going to speculate.

Walter Yarbrough says:
October 13, 2010 at 12:57 pm
#1 Didn’t happen. If we were going to rig votes, the results would have had to be public.
Admittedly, as I helped write many of the early poll questions, I wrote some of them poorly, but that’s because no one at the company had training in these things in 2003/2004.

Mr Monkey says:
October 13, 2010 at 10:43 am
As a member of the original WAR (WHO) team from years before even the mythic guys got WAR, I recognise Paul Barnett’s name from when he was parachuted in to rescue “us” from failure. He was a c*ck then and, to all intents and purposes, it seems like he still is
TBH, we’d screwed up WAR before it got canned and before PB came on board. He had a cute sidekick tho… She made coming to work every day a little more bearable.
I guess this project was doomed right from the inception.
I must admit that I’m sad to learn that PB is doing so well in EA. He was the kind of person who’d try to act all tough and lord it over you, but push back a little with more confidence and he’d cave. I’ve never met such a bullsh*tter in all my life and he is living proof that evil will always triumph because good is dumb. What a weasel.

Bob says:
October 13, 2010 at 11:25 am
What about using EA Shanghai for art work?
What about Paul’s girlfriend’s job?
What about all the crazy promotions?
What about switching offices every 4-5 months?
What about firing people on donut day.

(Haha. Awesome. EA Shanghai stealing our jobs. The girl who we also didnt know how she still had a job or what she did. The crazy promotions. Mythic Musical Chairs. The Day Donut Day Died.)

Tom says:
October 13, 2010 at 12:24 pm
I worked for mythic for about 8 months. I had to leave because I felt very uncomfortable when I used the restroom. Rob Denton used to follow me in to the Men’s room and watch me pee. When i confronted him about it he just said that he took an interest in all aspects of his employees lives as any good employer does

(Too funny not to post. Unverified.)

Casualty of EA games says:
October 13, 2010 at 3:08 pm
I too am a casualty of EA layoffs, however compartmentalized. I wasn’t involved in production but I did have the opportunity of supporting Warhammer, and I had a nice title for myself. I cherished it and I enjoyed my job immensely.
I also enjoyed the game circa 2008-2009. In the early days it was fun and exciting. Everyone knew the game had shortcomings, but RvR was like nothing else and we thought it would just be a matter of time – several patches down the road – till things shaped up, because even WoW had its humble beginnings. But that never happened.
And then I showed up to work that fine Nov. morning last year, to learn I was locked out the building. I’m still mad about the money I worked for and never received. I just hate how everything can be so compartmentalized. That was my goodbye. They told me the decision to let me go did not come from anyone in the building, and the woman in HR didn’t even know the persons name… I’m still melancholy about it. I want them to pay, but alas, I’m no one and I have no means.
My only consolation – a comped account that I occasionally log into to check things out, but the game died a long time ago. If only it were a WoW account instead… But that’s neither here nor there.
In conclusion, thank you for making this post and bringing this to light. I don’t know what good can come of it, but may the Truth set us free. Best wishes.

Brat says:
October 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm
Sanya simply said that part of the story was wrong, and the part that was wrong was a private matter that would only be known by a select few because of legal NDA’s. Office rumors abound and this person was probably informed wrong by the talking heads. This in no way debunks anything. You people are worse than those retards that think 9/11 was an inside job.
Why on earth would someone start a blog to complain about getting laid off from EA if they didn’t work there? Who could possibly gain from that? I mean…do you actually think that someone that hates your precious Bioware/Star Wars MMO would create this site just to get on your nerves? HA HAAA…what a bunch of tools!

yet another former employee says:
October 13, 2010 at 3:28 pm
I must admit, I am glad someone had the balls to come out and tell it like it was. I loved every single minute reading it and it all rang so. so. true! I even love the dig at Paul’s new project. Hands down, the new “management” has ruined what was once a fun studio to work at. It became who you knew and not what you knew. Thanks again, brings a sort of closure for this ex.

Anonymous EA says:
October 13, 2010 at 5:16 pm
DAOC: 50k
UO: 50k
WAR: 110k
That’s the best I know.
So the OP is exaggerating unless he’s combining the two other products. The other numbers he’s quoting are off too. Some down. Some up.
Is it on purpose to hide or is he just a low level monkey who’s pissed about the layoffs and quoting everything he’s heard around the office? Hard to tell. Bit chaotic over there today I hear though.
Also. Yes, the people OP mentions are assholes.

(Close enough)

Somebody says:
October 13, 2010 at 5:21 pm
This guy is ‘at least’ 99.9% accurate. I know this because my friend of 20 years worked at Mythic in a management role (pretty high too). He would fill me in on things to get stuff off his chest due to not being able to do that with anyone else. There was definitely fear in loss in the environment they established. It became a click of yes men and woman and if you weren’t prepared to ‘drink the kool-aid’ you would be ushered out eventually… and made to look like you did something wrong in the process.
I can’t comment on the TOR stuff as he either a: doesn’t know due to when he was let go or b: just hasn’t told me. Personally, I’ve been hoping that game would be great.
Yes, of course you can say I’m just fabricating all this… whatever. This is probably more for me than you. I really was disgusted with how my friend was treated, especially after the work he did there. He refused to be a ‘yes’ man and payed for it. He couldn’t stand seeing the game be destroyed internally with stupid decision after stupid decision. Most of the these guys in management weren’t even playing the damn game! They really knew nothing. I’m fairly certain the head of RvR wasn’t playing consistently… how that makes sense I do not know.
In the end the Hickman got what he wanted. The thing is tho… what goes around comes around. He’ll have his day to pay up for what he, and his cronies, have done. Oh, and Paul Barnett… yea the people actually doing work in Mythic know/knew he was a waste of resources. Completely pointless – yet corporate has a hard-on for him.
another anonymous ea louse says:

October 13, 2010 at 5:59 pm
Also why was/is Paul Barnett’s girlfriend promoted to lead a content development team hrrm? And why did she argue with some of the most talented terrain artists in the industry about content layouts? There are some horror stories from the content development side as well.

(Haha! Remember Grimm Online??)

I do work for EA says:
October 13, 2010 at 6:39 pm
Truth be told , we had a problem with this employee who posted this blog. Coming in late all the time. Caught drinking on the job. Didn’t finish any of his work on time, and was very lazy. When we found out about the heroin habit we just had to let him go. He was lucky he was only laid off he would have been able to get unemployement for some time. Now he is just gonna get the boot.
Jeff, don’t come back into work anymore, you are NOT wanted.

(You got me!)

Another ex-Mythic employee says:
October 13, 2010 at 8:43 pm
I was laid off back in November of ’09 and I can pretty much confirm everything EA Louse has said. I have since moved to another AAA studio and things are just as bad. The whole industry is a goddamn mess.
My advice for anyone looking to enter the industry: don’t. You won’t be making the games you’ve been dreaming of. You will just be an expendable drone, slaving away 12+ hours a day under incompetent upper management.

Sabranic says:
October 13, 2010 at 8:47 pm
Tweety weighs in on this:

http://eatingbees.brokentoys.org/2010/10/13/yes-i-saw-the-louse-blog/

(For those of you who were not following back during the EQ/Bowl of Mice years, Tweety is Sanya, formerly of Mythic.)

 

I am a louse.

 

I am not like EA Spouse. Our problems are industry wide but she fought with eloquence and honor. Im not. Im not pulling punches and Im hiding behind a cloak of +5 anonymity. I am just telling people what went wrong as loudly as possible so MAYBE just MAYBE the big boys will wake up and pay attention.

 

The rest of this post is a best of comments section. Ive gone through the 700+ comments and singled out current employee and exemployee posts that I can verify are true and some funnies.

Posted in Uncategorized | 51 Comments

Why Warhammer Failed

Hi everyone,

I would think myself to be part of some noble cause, like the original EA Spouse trying to save her husband from a hellish work environment at EA. That had a happy ending, however, with tons of publicity and a total change of overtime wages and salaries and how they are handled within the company. I do not expect a happy ending, so Ill be personal and selfish, and this is just for me.

So just call me EA Louse.

I found out recently that I will be dismissed from Bioware Mythic during the next round of layoffs EA coming this November. Im sick of seeing EA outsource their art and find every excuse to get rid of us and still not achieve anything. Mythic is dying, and its not us who killed him but were taking the fall.

But if you want to know what really went down with Warhammer, Ill tell you right now.

First, the project leaders did not know what they were doing. Jeff Hickman was the saddest excuse for a producer Ive seen. All he did was drink the Koolaid and suck up to the right people. He was the perfect yes-man, and this reached down to almost all managers.

My boss who will not be named, again and again would tell us that Rob Denton, one of the original owners, said we should do this and do that and we would say omg it makes NO sense, please explain A, B, and C to him. And then hed come back and tell us, after we thought he had gone to talk with him, No, Rob wants in this way. Jeff agrees, this is what were going to do. Understood? They never actually talked back to Rob. We didnt talk back to them.

Rob said jump, our leaders said, How high?! And on who?

So we shut up and did what we were told, by people too afraid to tackle real problems. It is a culture of fear, especially since Mark Jacobs was fired.

Oh, he left voluntarily you say? No, he was fired, and everything placed on his shoulders by those closest to him so they could divide his salary and annual bonus. I bet Rob is enjoying that sweet new Maserati he bought after leaving the knife in his partner of 15 years.

Want to know more? Keep reading. I can keep ranting.

Rob was never there during the development of Warhammer. We always joked about when his next weekly holiday was coming. (Answer? Next week!) Mark was not available, was way too head down trying to design his own contributions or whatever. Rob always handled things. We were told NOT to speak with Mark in person, never, or else we would be explaining to Rob.

The coup began long before Warhammer, and Jacobs did not even realize it.

And yet, this is common gossip in the company, and nobody in this industry seems to get it. So get it! Rob was responsible for the entire project, then blamed Mark when things went wrong.

Ah, but could not do it alone. No, he needed Jeff Hickman, promoted from customer service to produce the Warhammer project. Wait, let me let you have that sink in. The man running customer service, on the theory that the management of a large team of CSRs qualified him to run a game development project, was put in charge of a $50 million project with no previous experience.

And he needed Eugene Evans, the man who brought you the almost non-existent marketing campaign behind Warhammer. We could not even believe how bad they fucked up the marketing campaign. There was almost none. We slaved for years, and this is how we were rewarded for it by Eugene and the people of EA? Being told that Warhammer was not worth a lot of money spent on it? LOL. Now hes in charge of Bioware Mythic.

Oh yeah, and he needed Paul Barnett. You know him as the crazy British dude that appears in random videos at EA to promote his latest bullshittery. We know him as the crazy British dude who we have no idea of how he still has a job. This man was supposed to be the savior of Warhammers vision and design. Now all he can do is promote his strange ideas about his little secret project web Ultima game thats been almost universally criticized by all of us and focus groups. Whats that? You didnt know Paul loves one of those old Ultima games sooooo much hes making a literal copy of it for Facebook? Well, the cats outta the bag. Too bad it sucks ass.

So what do they all have in common? All of them failed, badly, in Warhammer, and each of them is in a position of authority in the new company, while the rest of us are facing pink slips. How do they sleep at night? They spin aruond, blame everything on Mark, divide his old salary between them, and never speak about it again. Oh, and they fuck us little guys as well.

Almost makes me congratulate them for having the balls, but after watching them work, its obvious they dont have any. Theyre cowards running scared trying to hide under the wing of Bioware, now that Rob has become a general manager of EA.

And Bioware? Dont make me laugh. Theyve spent more money making the Old Republic than James Cameron spent on Avatar. Shit you not. More than $ 300 million! Can you believe that?

And you know what theyre most proud of? This is the kicker. They are most proud of the sound. No seriously. Something like a 20Gig installation, and most of it is voiceover work. Thats the best they have. The rest of the game is a joke. EA knows it and so does George Lucas,theyre panicking , and so most of Mythic has already been cannibalized to work in Austin on it because they cant keep pushing back launch.

Old Republic will be one of the greatest failures in the history of MMOs from EA. Probably at the level of the Sims Online. We all know it too

Anyway, back to Warhammer. We shouldnt have released when we did, everyone knows it. The game wasnt done, but EA gave us a deadline and threatened the leaders of Mythic with pink slips. We slipped so many times, it had to go out.

We sold mor ethan a million boxes, and only had 300k subs a month later. Going down every since. Its stable now, but guess what? Even Dark Age and Ultima have more subs than we have. How great is that? Games almost a decade make more money than our biggest project.

So there it is. Rewarding the incompetent. Firing the competent.

I say it anonymously so I can keep my next few paychecks coming.

So Im a louse. A big fat EA louse.

Want some more questions answered? Ask away.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1,312 Comments