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MAY to JUNE 2000 STORIES
 
 

6/28 The World Has Had Enough Already

THE WORLD HAS HAD ENOUGH ALREADY
(Fun and Games in the Evil Empire)
by FatHammer

If you think problems inside EA.COM are reaching epic proportions (bet you just are dying to play EA Checkers on AOL), you ain't heard nothin' yet...

When EA snaked the James Bond license out from under Nintendo and Rare, they began boldly proclaiming that The World is Not Enough would be the Goldeneye of the next generation and be ready for the launch for PS2.  Well, if you were going to pay a ton of dough to steal a license and do the typically arrogant: "we're EA" braggadocio thing and take on one of the best console games of all time...  you'd think you'd have your shit together.

So what did these morons do?  They handed off this license to the same lame-ass bunch of late-sleepers who spent the last 5 years fucking-up the Road Rash franchise.  (Has anyone played Road Rash Jailbreak lately?... that is such a piece of shit it is almost cynical).  Can you imagine this group of clowns thinking that they can outdo the brilliant Goldeneye and Rare.  I mean what in hell was Larry Probst smoking?  Or was this a joint John Ricietello ("Hey, I know how to sell basketballs and shoes") and Don Mattrick (ex-President-in-waiting forever) screw-up?

So here's the skinny.  These jokers go on a big time hiring spree and make the poor development bastards crunch and sweat big time to meet their deadlines worse than a Kathy Lee Gifford sweat shop.  Meanwhile "Designer" Randy Breen (and we use that term loosely here) is coming in a few hours a day, hanging out, and then taking a 7 week sabbatical.  And all the while... there is NO design.  There still isn't!!  Everyone is flying around by the seat of their pants.  And to top it all off, Breen leaves EA for LucasArts.  Ohmigod, Head of Development for LucasArts... Randy?  I don't even want to imagine what that place must be like now.

There are close to 65-70 slotted heads on this project with NO design.  18-20 programmers all working (I mean quitting) their little piece with no goal or end-site in mind.  They don't even call the game programmers game programmers... but Content Engineers.  I mean, shit, they are just one step away from being punch clock factory workers.  (Now you know why nothing out of EA Redwood City in recent memory even feels like something fun to play).  Total disaster.  People are leaving for the exits like going through a turnstile and there is constant turnover.  At last count 20 people had quit the project in the last 2 months, with at least 6 more about to hand in their resignations! Talk about Enough Already...

So what does Executive in Charge of Production Rich Hilleman do?  He tries to fly the coup to San Francisco to "work" (and we use that term loosely here) with his pal American McGee (more on this clown later) and drop the whole bag of shit on his two "yes-boys" John Horsley and Ric Neil.  Rich has been great at this kind of shit for over a decade... somehow doing nothing for over 10 years but getting credit for something or other... no one can figure that part out.  The shit that Road Rash turned into? Good 'ol Rich.  The decline of the golf empire?  Rich.  Remember the fiasco of the $14 million dollar Wing Commander a few years back... and all of the general excess and unprofitability of Origin?  Mr. Hilleman again.  It is absolutely amazing how some people can stay employed!

With the pressure of the launch date mounting, shit is finally starting to hit the fan.  Larry Probst finally woke up from his tracking-stock IPO-induced-stupor long enough to throw a hissy fit and halt Richie-boy from moving up to San Fran and playing with his friend American Mcgee (who has been at EA for almost 5 years now and produced absolutely NOTHING).  Ric Neil, the Line Producer, threw a hissy fit in a recent production meeting arguing for a more realistic schedule AND WAS SENT HOME FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK.  Kinda like high school... do something your manager deems is naughty (no matter whether or not you speak the truth) and you are sent home for the
rest of the week or given detention.  This leaves John Horsely (the over-his-head Producer) and Jim Rushing (Mr. Tech Spec) running around like chickens with their stupid heads cut-off trying to figure out what to do with a huge staff, huge turnover and no design and a bunch of fucking morons in charge.

Even worse, these jerks are trying to do this game by porting over the Quake engine for PS2 and it just ain't working.  Looks like shit and is SSSSLLLLOOOWWWW.  (Unless their target is 15 hz.)

Prediction:  Not only will this thing NOT ship for launch, but we wouldn't be surprised if it misses Christmas 2001.  In any case, it is a given that it will suck.  But everything EA produces lately sucks and they still manage to flood the channel with it.  So whaddya gonna do.  Remember when EA Sports missed the launch of the Playstation?  Heads will roll on this one.

And speaking of sucking, here's 2 more little tid-bits to chew on.  Who the fuck is American McGee and why does he deserve star billing anyway?  I mean, shit, this slimy little hype-weasel did a UI screen or level for Quake or some shit like that and comes to EA like he is the 2nd coming of Carmack or something.  Gimme a fuckin' break.  I mean Alice might be kinda cool, but he hasn't done squat at EA except burn through cash for 5 years now... and all of a sudden he gets top billing?  He must give great head.  Come 'on Amery baby... fucking ship something before you take all that credit you little hypster you.

And speaking of great head, the biggest blow-job in the industry actually left EA (hard to imagine this loser leaving those hallowed halls) for greener pastures at Activision.  Michael Pole, if not the biggest ass-hole EVER at EA was certainly in the top 5... and that is saying something!  Probably no bigger incompetent in the world of gaming than this obnoxious, rude and unintelligent slug.  This guy did nothing but politic, connive, and backstab his way to a top position at EA (which is in fact the only way to advance there) and rarely, if ever, did anything worthwhile... although he was certainly quick to take the credit.  Here is a clown that knows nothing about games, could care less about gameplay and is only concerned with his next step on the "Entertainment Executive" ladder.  When he wasn't given the head slot at EA Redwood City (Mattrick brought in another one of his ass-kissing Canadian Mounties, Bruce MacMillan) Pole left in a huff.  Poor Activision.  I can see it now for next Christmas: Michael Pole's Tony Hawk?!?

The Hammer has swung...
 

-FatHammer
 

There you have it.  A story of epic proportions.  It only represents one person's opinions, and we posted it as it was sent to us.  We leave it up to the reader to make up his or her own mind on what's going on over there.  You be the judge, jury, and if need be, the executioner.


Remember Sir-tech?  Anyone?

Whatever happened to Sir-tech?

Well, your question has been answered... Sir-tech Canada is the developer of games such as Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games, Jagged Alliance 2, and Wizardry 8.  They were once the subsidairy of Sir-tech Software, the publisher of the classic Wizardry series.  If memory fails, Sir-tech the publisher closed down in the fall of 1998 due to repeated cluster fucks--they released shitty games such as Virus: The Game, Armed & Delerius, and other forgettable titles they distributed for the UK publisher Telstar.

Sir-tech Canada has lost one employee per month, either through resignations or terminations, since September of 1999.  This is very painful for a company that had up to 25 employees at one point (including two owners running the studio at the time).  There are only three remaining members of the nine original team who had worked on Jagged Alliance 2.  Morale has been very low for the past few years, and it doesn't help that Wizardry 8 has been in production for the past four years and may take another year to complete.  It also didn't help that management (which happens to be the owners of the privately owned company as well) are incompetant as managers.

Another problem is that the Siroteks, the owners of both the defunct Sir-tech Software and Sir-tech Canada, cannot get publishing deals.  The reason?  They are still used to being a publisher, which meant they got to push the little developers around for the most money for publishing deals, and now they're on the other side of fence.  Talonsoft, the publisher of Jagged Alliance 2, refused to publish the expansion pack for JA 2 because the Siroteks had demanded too much money upfront.  "Hey, if something fails, why not keep at it, right?"  That was their motto as they continued to shop around for publishers who might pick up JA 2 and Wizardry 8.  They were asking for the publisher to front the ENTIRE development costs.

So at the moment, Jagged Alliance 3 has put on indefinite hold, the remaining members of the JA 3 team moved over to Wizardry 8, who have lost their share of team members, and Wizardry 8 will be lucky to be done be year's end (it will be the Daikatana of CRPGs).

Oh joy.


6/26 A Closer Look at EA Seattle

More on Electronic Arts, Seattle.

It seems there has been a lot of flap coming out of that studio recently, and this will shed a bit more light on the situation over there.

When we reported in our Rumors that it could get worse, well it definitely will.  The layoffs were just the beginning of a terrible situation over there, forced upon the studio by the real powers that be.  Mike Ryder is nothing but a filter for EA Seattle and the execs in Canada and EA Redwood City, so we'll say that he's in a horrible spot.

We'll focus on the game Motor City, as it is the main product coming out of that studio.  Motor City has been in development for almost 5 years from first concept.  Five years!!!  As recently as 6 months ago, it was shaping up to be a great racer, could have been one of the best in the NFS series, but unfortunately two producers took on the task of making a huge portion of the game support on-line play, and that got out of hand rather quickly.  More assistant producers were hired on to churn out more work.  This resulted in too many chiefs in the kitchen, and the game is now in shambles, undergoing constant re-designs to make it 100% on-line.

So what does this mean for the game?  Well, let's face it, this is a test of what the true on-line racing experience can be.  But it seems to be getting pounded with harsh feedback from the dedicated followers of the NFS series.  Check out NFS Cheats for the latest thrashing of the game design.

While we have no doubts this game will eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel, the poor development planning has taken its toll on those already off the project an on to another, equally doomed, project.  This mystery project began an initial design phase over a year ago.  The producer in charge has droped the ball on more than one occasion and has presented countless designs to the executive committee for review--not a good sign.  So we have 2 projects that are running out of control, and everyone there knows it.  That's why morale in the studio is at an all-time low.  Rumors are spreading that a few key people are getting ready to leave and follow in the footsetps of the head NFS track designer who left last week.

Until things can settle down there and the bad seeds get cleaned out, we see carnage there in the near-term.  As Mr. Spock once said, "PAIN!"


6/26 EA Insider Trading

There's been quite a bit of insider trading going on from folks over at Electronic Arts.  In the last week of November, right after the AOL announcement and while EA was still pumping their stock internally and externally, every senior person without exception was selling their options (shame they didn't tell the staff that would be the high for a long time).  Now Bing Gordon has bought 20,000 shares back... Check out the insider trades:

17-Dec-99 PROBST, LAWRENCE F Chairman of the Board
30,000 Acquired Shares via Exercise of Options at $2.13/Share.Cost of $63,900.
30-Nov-99 CARBONE, DAVID L Vice President-Finance,
5,000 Exercised Options at $4.09/Share and Sold at $111.06/Share.Proceeds of $534,850.
30-Nov-99 SMITH, GREEN NANCY Vice President
10,000 Exercised Options at Average of $41.47/Share and Sold at $104.86/Share.Proceeds of $633,875.
30-Nov-99 MATTRICK, DON Seinor Vice President
19,500 Exercised Options at $23.50/Share and Sold at $115.06/Share.Proceeds of $1,785,420.
30-Nov-99 MATTRICK, DON Seinor Vice President
30,000 Proposed Sale (Form 144).Estimated proceeds of $3,450,000.
30-Nov-99 KENNEDY, RUTH A Vice President
3,000 Exercised Options at $43.63/Share and Sold at $115.12/Share.Proceeds of $214,470.
30-Nov-99 SMITH, NANCY GREEN Exectutive Vice President, Sales
10,000 Proposed Sale (Form 144).Estimated proceeds of $160,625.
30-Nov-99 GORDON, WILLIAM B Executive Vice President, Marketing
3,000 Sold at $109.00/Share.Proceeds of $327,000.
29-Nov-99 RICCITIELLO, JOHN S President , Chief Operating Officer, Director
63,000 Exercised Options at $36.75/Share and Sold at $115.10/Share.Proceeds of $4,936,050.
29-Nov-99 MATTRICK, DON Senior Vice President 30,000
Exercised Options at $23.50/Share and Sold at $116.99/Share.Proceeds of $2,804,700.
29-Nov-99 PROBST, LAWRENCE & NANCY Shareholder
50,000 Proposed Sale (Form 144).Estimated proceeds of $5,850,000.
29-Nov-99 PROBST, LAWRENCE F Chairman of the Board
50,000 Exercised Options at $4.25/Share and Sold at $116.32/Share.Proceeds of $5,603,500.
24-Nov-99 RICCITIELLO, JOHN S President , Chief Operating Officer, Director
15,000 Exercised Options at $36.75/Share and Sold at $119.00/Share.Proceeds of $1,233,750.
24-Nov-99 CASE, DANIEL H III Director
5,000 Exercised Options at Average of $43.80/Share and Sold at $116.88/Share.Proceeds of $365,416.
24-Nov-99 MCKEE, E STANTON JR Executive Vice President, Chief Financial & Administrator Officer
85,000 Exercised Options at Average of $17.62/Share and Sold at $117.52/Share.Proceeds of $8,491,700.
24-Nov-99 KENNEDY, RUTH AV ice President
9,000 Exercised Options at Average of $36.86/Share and Sold at $116.72/Share.Proceeds of $718,704.
24-Nov-99 KUSIN, GARY M Director
12,000 Exercised Options at $34.13/Share and Sold at $116.62/Share.Proceeds of $989,880.
24-Nov-99 GORDON, WILLIAM B Executive Vice President, Marketing
26,664 Sold
24-Nov-99 GORDON, WILLIAM B Executive Vice President, Marketing
5,000 Exercised Options at Average of $18.50/Share and Sold at $117.50/Share.Proceeds of $495,000.
24-Nov-99 GORDON, WILLIAM B Executive Vice President, Marketing
15,000 Sold at $116.83/Share.Proceeds of $1,752,450.
22-Nov-99 GORDON, DEBRA RADABAUGH Shareholder
26,664 Proposed Sale (Form 144).Estimated proceeds of $2,906,376.
 

Source:  Yahoo Finance.


6/26 A New Reign of Terror at SCEA Test

Something bizarre has been going on in Sony Computer Entertainment America's 1st Party QA department.

Several weeks ago, the night shift manager of QA quit.  The logical next step at this point is to hire a replacement, correct?  Well, this is SCEA we're talking about, and things don't always work logically.  So the day shift manager decides somewhere along the line that it is God's Will that he should lead SCEA 1st Party QA to glory and world domination.  Crown Chris Caprio the 1st Party QA Mini-Mussolini!

No we have Il Duce sitting in his corner office and trying toplan out the most effective path for the future of the department, but all the while he's stomping on the freedom everyone has come to expect in a working environment, such as changing policies and potentially spying on his staff.

Some IT folks have said in passing that Mini-Mussolini has asked that tester e-mails be logged and saved, possibly for potential review at a later date (maybe while he's taking a shit?).  Apparently he doesn't feel everyone rallying around his appointment as Il Duce.  Hmmm.

Unannounced policy changes have come with the new regime as well, such as not paying the test group when "acts of God" (such as power outages) force the employees to go home.  Previously they had always received payment when something beyond their control happened to interrupt their work day.  But Chris Caprio felt it was time to change the policy, but he did so without letting anybody know.

A second unannounced policy change has to do with the temporary testers.  Temp workers are supposed to sign in on a sheet when they arrive at the office.  Prior managers haven't made a big issue out of this, but suddenly Il Duce is walking around the department with the sign-in sheet forcing anyone who didn't sign it when they came in to now sign in a half hour late.  It wouldn't have been a big deal had he first informed everyone this was going to be the new policy, but it seems Il Duce has a problem with communication.

As the pressure mounts with the coming release of PS2 and the flooding of the test group with products, you can expect more draconian measures from Mini-Mussolini and his cronies.  We'll keep you informed and report them as we hear 'em.


6/21 Eidos

Where's EIDOS headed?
by FatMethod

Man, after that article by 'Tissimo, the only things I could even think of for days on end were donuts and cankles.  Thus when I got the image of a cankle wearing a donut, I knew it was time to sober up.

And lo and behold the best sobermaker of them all has arrived: The Buyout of EIDOS and Black Wednesday revisited.

Just about every single gaming site is frantically posting this as news, so let's look at what's happening here.  The major bidders are of course the French and Microsoft.

(I'd rant here about Avault's chief editor saying that Infogrames and Ubi-Soft are new companies and haven't been around....  but then I'd get too tired from all the finger exercise.  ACK the e -word, now how'd that slip in there..)

Well anyways let's take this a step at a time, from past to present to future.

Past:

EIDOS got rich off of Tomb Raider and then started looking for some real "talent" and "creativity" to publish.  Thus came Thief, and I must say they did themselves a big favor for their publishing image (esp after that botched FF7 port at the time).  Thief wasn't supposed to be a moneymaker, as it was a new venture, and hell nobody knew if the public was to like it or not.  However it was a great game to show off, and also sold over all expectations. LGS went back to work, to create Thief 2, and then came the silence before the storm....

The ION Storm to be exact...

The list of problems with this company never ends, but let's look at both sides.  EIDOS' best people must've been off in the Antarctic or dead at the time of deal negotiation.  Which major publisher would in their right mind fund a new company, let alone sign a 6-game contract with someone who only has a famous name?  Do we skip procedure all of a sudden to take a risk for one man's "idea"?  If anyone knows what really went down there, be sure to submit it to me, because this seems to be a very well kept secret.

Well fact is, ION got $30 million to start out with, LGS got $2.5 million to develop Thief 2.  ION took its sweet time, LGS was threatened to ship a Quarter earlier or face the consequences. W ell by the time EIDOS got back to its senses it was too late.

Present:

EIDOS knows that it's going to die a horrible death without extra funds in the future.  The Tomb Raider Franchise is almost milked dry.  ION has 3 more games to deliver (after Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3 and Daikatana) and the only one with a prayer to sell well is Deus Ex, although it'll all be diminished by the public opinion.  So all that leaves is a few console games and PC ports.

Actually, I must commend EIDOS these days, as they really seem to have gotten their business act together again.  But time will tell for whether it's too late or not.

Future:

EIDOS bought by Microsoft...
Actually the best move, even though many people scream down with M$.  I have to say that Microsoft offers the best in job security in the industry, for what little that's worth.  Only thing is that MS is really in the baby-stages at being a games publisher, and needs some experience which EIDOS can offer.  Honestly the best out of the bad.

EIDOS bought by the French....
Napoleon has struck again my friends, and it won't just be Lara Croft that gets shafted with a baguette.  We all know what happens when Infogrames takes over: the local printers burn out making pink slips and people get pretty pissed off.

My Conclusion:
Well since Romero and several EIDOS people may be out of jobs in the future, they'll probably team up to form a publishing / development house funded by Microsoft...... or then again maybe we'll get to see some good action as to who gets to sleep in the cardboard box and who gets grocery cart pushing privileges.

Well my stomach's growling which means that I must leave.  Someday I'll just install a seat and a workstation inside my fridge--should do wonders for overclocking.
 

-FatMethod


6/14 Cankles

CANKLES
by FatTissimo

The Waddle.

The Flap.

The Dingly-Dangly.

Best epitomized by Richard “Fish” Fishbein on “Ally McBeal,” the fascination with one or more specific parts of the female anatomy is as old as attraction itself.  Honestly, all guys (and secretly, all women too) fantasize about certain body parts of the opposite sex.

When a man sees a woman – breasts, butt, legs, face, pretty much in that order.  And all you guys who deny it – you’re either blind or gay.

When a woman sees a man – earning potential, clothes, butt, chest, shoulders, penis size (hard to imagine, but true.)

What is it about specific body parts that fascinates, titillates, allures?

What hypnotic quality lies within a fleshy elbow, a loose waddle, a rounded kneecap?

What siren’s song lures us to the length of leg or roundness of breast?

These are all valid questions, but the chest or the leg is not what I choose to focus on in this article.

Rather, I focus my attentions on a little known, neglected body part known as the cankle.

I'm a fucking retardCankle, you ask?

Perhaps an explanation is in order:  the cankle is a part of the body that only a select few have in their possession.  It is on a person’s legs (cankles ALWAYS come in pairs, like buttcheeks) and can best be described as, well, when the calf goes straight down to the foot.  That’s right, the calf turns into the ankle, with no individuality or distinction separating the two.

Cankle = Calf and Ankle, no separation.

Are you feeling my mojo?

I'm the ugliest creature aliveLike a Discovery Channel documentary, the cankle in its natural state is truly something to behold.  Firstly, it is unique; the host body (fat, thin, black, white, etc.) usually has no idea that it possesses such a magnificent creature.  Secondly, when recognition is finally achieved, it is too late; there is no course of action that can be taken.  Like the barnacle, the cankle has latched onto the host body.  Unlike the barnacle, it only serves to benefit its host.

*Benefit,* you say?  How is that possible?

Remember a few short paragraphs ago, my mention of the fascination certain folks have with specific body parts?  (Jeez, you kids today, no memory retention!)  Anyway, there is a group of folks out there (much like Richard Fish’s obsession with the female waddle in “Ally McBeal”) who is utterly, completely, and fully in love with this part of the body.  It is almost completely male.  It is, like most obsessions, illogical and slightly insane to the person outside of the circle.

Oh my god, cankles!  RUN!To those people, I say:  you will NEVER understand!!!  It is beyond your scope.

This is beyond “like” or “dislike”, “right” or “wrong”.  It, quite simply, IS.

An example of this obsession?

Three simple words:  Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Three more words:  Bare legs exposed.

Gimmie your nads!One word response:  (Homer Simpson-esque, drool escaping from the corner of mouth) AAAAHHHHHHRRRRRR!!!!!

Next time, I shall give specific examples of the power of the cankle.

NO ONE IS SAFE!!!!
 

-FatTissimo


6/12 The Westwood Saga Continues

Some say we backed down too easily to Westwood Studios.  Many folks, claiming to be former employees of WS, wrote in and supported what we initially reported in our 5/24 article.  To give our readers an idea of some of the supporting information these folks contributed, we'll list their paraphrased comments here.

- Your recent Westwood mayhem is great.  It would only be better if you didn't back down so much.  Aaron is on super thin factual ice, pressing his advantage of working on site while he knows you are not.

- All I can say is it's about time somebody came clean on the mess that is Westwood.  I worked for WS and left after 3 months.  I was originally supposed to work with Eric and Damon, but they had quit just days before I arrived.  I was dumped onto a misdirected and hopeless project, already 2 years in the works, called Renegade.  In the 3 months I was there, I watched as some of their best artists left--Miguel, Buck, Frank, etc.  And finally I bailed myself.  Nobody cared, and the status quo was the almighty grail.  (I even had one dick threaten me physically for "rocking the boat").  On the day I was leaving, I had veteran employees say to me, "I should have done 3 years ago what you are doing today... I fucking hate this place."

- When others, outside of the company, questioned my sanity and decision for leaving such an "amazing company," I began to question my own point of view.  Was I just bitter and lame?  Thank you for bringing this to light with your story.

 - Brett, Lou, Steve and much of the senior management are very happy to suckle at the teat of EA.  Brett and Lou make $500,000 per year to do so, therefore why wouldn't they?  Besides, of the three, Lou is the only one with any head-out-of-assness.  (Ouch!)  Brett spends virtually his entire day and night playing EverQuest and has gone so far as to require that the teams he manages play the game. (Hey Brett, what server are you on??)  Steve is just an incompetent boob with a wife and kids to feed.  As for the rest of the senior management, think Russian athlete during the Cold War.  Therefore, they aren't privy to the nastiness.

- Many important folks have left the company other than Yeo.  7 Studios was formed with mostly Westwood folks who went with Yeo, and Ed Del Castill, Producer on C&C and Red Alert, formed start-up Liquid Entertainment.  Ed took some old WS guard with him as well.  This is in addition to the one at a time filtering of artists and programmers who had been there from the earliest days.

- Lunchroom talk has shifted from internal development and cool games to stock price and options.  The hallways have gone from the constant hellos that come from knowing everyone to the quiet passings of a workplace full of strangers.  Family environment?  Indeed, but only if Big Brother is your idea of family.

- Which brings up this point.  There are hidden cameras throughout the building.  Next time you are in the lobby, look at the sprinkler head above the receptionist.  Looks a little different than the others, doesn't it?  The employees don't know about them either, and when told they just shrug it off because its too hard for them to believe that Brett or Lou would do such a thing.

- Internet connectivity and e-mail to the outside remains a perk for the priviledged few, rather than a tool for the masses.

- QA is currently holed up in unpermitted trailers on the Westwood backlot.

- Most of the senior employees have some bone to pick with the management, but those people are now paid well (as a result of the 7 Studios and Liquid Entertainment double exodus).  Cost of living in Las Vegas is low, so it's tough to leave your big house and boat on the lake for a dinky apartment in CA.  And Westwood is the only game in town.

- Move past Aaron (Cohen).  He's just the messenger.  At Westwood, nothing happens unless Brett or Lou will it.  If Aaron is writing, then Brett is behind it (hello, Brett!).  Aaron's just the heat shield.  When your story was discovered, you can bet there was an emergency meeting and action items were derived, mail written, approved by Brett, then sent.  Just look at the tone of Aaron's mail:  it is written as a lackey who doesn't fully understand what he writes and he writes to impress his master.  It's too bad they no longer move that fast for their games... and that's the saddest part of all.

But, in keeping with the "fair and balanced coverage" we always have (heh, heh), we did receive this e-mail defending Westwood Studios.

Wow, I've been an employee of westwood studios for the past 5 years.  From my perspective I really don't see what the fuss is about.  I certainly wouldn't call it a shithole.  Some people have left over the past 2 years to start their own company but I think that was more just their own ambition to make it rich rather than "jumping ship".  I'm still friends with all of them and talk to them once in a while.
So there you have it... the bad and the good.  We'll continue to reveal the goings-on over at Westwood as time passes.


6/12 Midway Insanity

We received word that Midway's Nicastro and the rest of the Chicago gestapo was out visiting Midway San Diego recently, and here's the skinny:

Sometime during the visit, the lead programmer for Hydro Thunder interrupted their tour by handing them his resignation.  This programmer was quickly pulled into an office and asked what prompted his resignation.  He said, with John Rowe in the room, that he can no longer work for or around John Rowe.  Nicastro, having heard that, asked Rowe to leave the room then asked what it would take for him to stay.  Apparently the ultimatum would have been pretty hard for Midway to meet.

Just more fuel for the "down with John Rowe" fire.

Hey, we didn't start it, but we'll continue to report on the situation.  Heh, and you thought the US Department of the Interior starting the wildfire blaze in New Mexico was bad.  That ain't nothing!

Midway San Diego is imploding.  Four key employees, two programmers and two artists, have left in the last two weeks.  With more to follow?

Due to mismanagement of certain people who shall remain nameless (David Simon), many projects are behind and are going to be canceled except for Freaky Flyers which is his bastard baby hidden under FMV budget.  Always being up to his old tricks he has lowered himself into such ploys as filling offices with dummy computers in order to keep empty office space hidden from a Chicago visit by Ken and Neil.  (Did Abbot have anything to do with this?)

With Ranck gone, and two games left incomplete, Mike Hunley has been given lead responsibilities over these major titles, how smart is this, after eight years with only Off-Road One to show for it, need we mention what happened with Off-Road Two?  Makes you wonder what Ranck's old teams think of this.

Has anyone ever stopped to wonder what part upper management plays in all of these decisions and what part of ass kissing or under desks extra-curricular time is spent to achieve the goal?

Management from John Rowe (hasn't he left yet?) to David Simon and even H.R. Manager Carla Block is worthy of a Mike Meyer's movie.  Who do employees have to go to when even the H.R. Manager is playing favorites.  By the way, how many raises has she received in the last year and is it due to her managment talent or skills mentioned in above paragraph?
 

NEWS FLASH!  Surprise, there's more!  Brief clips:

During the gestapo visit, Dave Schwartz lobbied to have Dave Simon fired.  Simon turned the tables on the hapless Schwartz and fired him instead.

The network admin, Sam Duval, left after tiring of Simon's act.

Steve Rank, who made "Thunder" a must-have for Midway titles (4Wheel Thunder, Offroad Thunder, American Thunder, etc.), has put in his two weeks notice.  This puts the future of Hydro Thunder 2 in jeopardy.

If Simon does succeed Rowe, we hear more departures will follow.


6/7 Radical's Crazy Management

Can this be called idiocy?  You make the call…

Radical Entertainment has recently signed a contract with THQ to deliver a PS2 snowboarding game in 6 months and a sequel to the snowboarding game within another 6 months.  HUH?

The contract has become a political hot potato with more of the last of Radical’s experienced artists leaving—pulling the ripcord as they did not want to take responsibility for such idiotic mismanagement and planning.

What we want to know is who makes these decisions over at Radical?  How is it senior management gets put in place then suddenly “forgets” anything and everything they have learned about product development?  We see this as a clear indication the company is absolutely hurting for money—they will be and probably are living milestone payment to milestone payment.  If one deliverable is late, employees won’t get paid.  It has happened to Radical employees before—remember the sports group based out of San Francisco a few years ago?  Towards the end, the company just stopped paying the employees.  At the end, employees were walking out the door with computers, monitors, TV’s, VCR’s, and software as their paychecks.  Nice, huh?  We see it happening again in the near future.


6/5 Infogrames Bids Adieu

There were recent layoffs at Infogrames North America, and we’ve heard the employees were let go rather harshly.  Word has it that someone sent an e-mail from an outside account to everyone@us.infogrames.com (apparently you can do this too!) posing as ex-CEO Jim Barnett telling it like it is.  The e-mail, shown below, is pretty on-the-ball and shows how much respect the company has for its employees (long-time ones or otherwise).  The place appears to be a circus!
 

-----Original Message-----
From: James Barnett
Sent: Thursday, May 25, 2000 12:38 AM
To: everyone@us.infogrames.com
Subject: Goodbye lunch for Nick, Mike, Scott and John

If you would like to express your regrets to these fine young men and ask
them yourself as to why they were laid-off, please attend "TDOR's Last
Supper" at ElAmigo, 12:30 sharp. After talking at length with of one the
honoree's, I feel compelled to tell all at Infogrames NA that within two
years, three of the four men in question shipped four SKU's not to mention
European and Japanese versions of all, creating the only profits this studio
has seen in many a long cycle of moons. For this, they only asked for some
small amount of respect and the chance to do it again. What they got was:
(in this order) canned, blocked from their email, and immediately escorted
out of the building all in a matter of just a few short minutes. And this
just weeks after the French gave us all assurances that our jobs are
protected. <SIGH> We work for the devil.

Oh, Nick just got canned for doing his job.

"Just another dark moment in the downward spiral that is Infogrames."

PS: Try the enchiladas, they are divine.


5/30 FatTissimo's Thoughts on the Westwood Thing

FatTissimo chimes in with his own comments to FatSlicky on the Westwood Stupid err Studio e-mail from Aaron Cohen.

Hey FatSlickman--

Okay, here goes:

1)      Mr. Cohen, as you so eloquently put it, must have been dropped on his head as a child (or maybe when he got out of bed last week - I heard those bunk beds are pretty high up).  Why do I say this?  Because he's acting like a CHILD.  Firstly, your article was informed, well written, and humorous - but nowhere in it did you proclaim that the article itself was FACT.  Actually, it's a combination of rumor and opinion - which any person with two brain cells could distinguish.  Secondly, his opinions on employees (his belief that the only person of note who left EA in recent months being Eric Yeo) is misguided and preposterous.  Yes, Mr. Yeo was a key figure of the WS fold, but as you candidly stated in your response, WS is not a medieval fiefdom of royalty, serfs, and peasants - the IT, admin, test, and marketing folks who have left (bitterly, if I go with my gut feelings) are vital, in some cases more vital than the so-called "vice-presidents," "directors," and "managers" in place not only in WS, but in many major corporations.  You received information from them - what's the problem?  You've stated that you take the info given with the proverbial grain of salt - as such, any and all information distributed on www.fatbabies.com should be taken with the same sort of practicality.  It is a mix of truth, rumor, hilarity, and opinion - not gospel truth ALONE.  Mr. Cohen should realize this, should he ever take his head out of the ground (or is that his ass?)

2)      The libel "threat" appears to be just that, a threat.  Mr. Cohen realizes this on a certain level, hence the libel issue, which I think he brought to play a "cease and desist" ploy.  However, his insinuation that you have some sort of an agenda against WS is absurd.  Our site pretty much goes straight down the middle; we don't slam EA and then praise 3DO wholeheartedly, for example.  If anything, we could be MORE vicious and malicious, if we were so inclined.  Therefore, our journalistic integrity is intact.

3)      Instead of engaging in one-on-one discourse, Mr. Cohen saw fit to go down point by point on the strengths of EA, then shoot straight for the libel angle.  Sounds like a typical PR spin:  his angle's the only one that's correct, and any other viewpoint, even with concessions, is automatically deemed not only incorrect, but unworthy.

        Whatta BASTARD!!!

Again, just my thoughts.  Personally, I think the whole thing is HILARIOUS - Mr. Cohen's rantings, and your point by point dissection.  Good stuff!!
 

-FatTissimo


5/26 Westwood Responds

It took but a few mere hours for us to receive a response from Aaron Cohen, PR Director at Westwood Studios to our "5/24 Resistance is Futile" story.  While there is so much we can do to poke holes into the flimsy arguments that Mr. Cohen laid out, we'll post his letter here verbatim, and you can see for yourself his debunking of the information we posted on 5/24.  While we only desire to get the true facts out, keep in mind he is the PR guy for the company, so pretty much everything he says is coming to you with a nice coat of gloss on it.  Doesn't everything just smell of roses?  Ahhhh.  (Oh wait!  Behind that nice smell it reeks of bullshit... heh)  On with the show.
 

From: "Cohen, Aaron" <aaron@westwood.com>
To: "'fatslicky@fatbabies.com'" <fatslicky@fatbabies.com>,
Cc: "Sperry, Brett" <brett@westwood.com>, "Castle, Louis"
Subject: From Westwood Studios: A request for immediate retraction
Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 18:59:00 -0700
 

Dear whomever runs Fatbabies.com,

I realize your site is supposedly all in good fun, but you're still
technically journalists, which means you can't print outright lies and
expect not to get called on it. And yes, you have every right to post your
opinion, no matter how ill-informed, but again, if you get the facts wrong,
and you know you got the facts wrong, and you printed them with clearly
malicious intent, you are on thin ice.

First off, how would we "know" we got them wrong?  We don't have a crystal ball, and from the information we have received from various sources ("Oh, I'm sorry... I cannot recall who") does paint Westwood as the company we wrote about.  Yes, yes, we end up here with your word against ours.

And here you make the assumption our intent was to harm the Westwood.  Why?  Because we write what we perceive to be a truthful article?  To prove malicious intent, we would have to have something to gain.  And tell us, oh all-knowing Aaron, what would we gain?

Just to be clear about the facts you got wrong, here are some examples...

"The assimilation of Westwood Studios is nearly complete, and all former WS
branding has been stripped out of the company once called Westwood."
Not true at all. If you had done even a little research, you would have
learned that the Westwood name will be prominently displayed on the front of
every game we create. Westwood branding is here to stay.

Too bad ignorance is not a crime.  You make the mistake that many other formerly "assimilated" companies of EA have made:  that they would keep their own identity and brand.  And tell us, how many have?  You could argue Origin Systems, but even that is going away and will be folded into EA.com.  Other than Origin---there have been zero companies---EA has incorporated them all into its hive.  So we only speak from past history.  If you have it within your buyout contract that the Westwood logo and brand will stay, then more power to you and we were wrong.  But come back in 3 years and we'll see who turned out to be correct (our money is on us).

"...with the recent talent exodus following the EA acquisition, it is a
question of how long those brands will continue to be profitable."
Exodus? Who would that be? Our company has never been larger. The only
person of note who left after the EA purchase was Erik Yeo, who left to help
create his own company. It had nothing to do with EA. And even if it did,
one guy is clearly not an exodus.

Don't make us rattle off the names of folks who left dissatisfied with what was going on there.  They left and wanted to close that chapter of their lives, so we will respect their decisions.  You need to count all people who have left, not just senior staff.  Guess what---your administrative assistants, IT people, testers, and marketing coordinators are employees too!  You, from your mighty director position, might not count "the peons," but we do.

"Westwood has lost key personnel lately, including the brains behind the
design of C&C:  Eric Yeo."
For the record, Eric is a talented guy, as well as a nice guy, but was not
the brains behind Command & Conquer. That would be Brett Sperry. Eric
started work on the first C&C after the project was underway. He left T-Sun
about four months before it was completed. He only sporadically worked on
Red Alert 2, the best selling game in the series.

Ok, we concede this one to you.  Apologies to Brett Sperry--didn't mean to take anything away from his idea and accomplishments.  C&C was a fucking awesome game, and still is.

And we believe you mean "Red Alert" above, not "Red Alert 2" which hasn't shipped yet.

" Red Alert 2 was developed almost as an afterthought..."
Another lie. Red Alert 2 has been in production for more than year, with a
dedicated team of more than 30 people working on it. You don't devote that
kind of manpower and money behind "an afterthought." Red Alert is the result
of careful planning and the creators' passion for the game.

Ok we didn't qualify this then.  In our eyes, from strictly a gaming perspective, RA2 was simply "pooped" out without significant design/gameplay enhancements.  Sure the interface and building structure is different, and sure some of the graphics are different, but those are essentially cosmetic upgrades.  Because we did not see a significant design effort going into RA2, we tagged it an an "afterthought."

"EA's marketing machine demanded last minute design changes to NOX, and it
shipped with a lackluster reception..."
More malicious lies. EA's marketing machine had nothing to do with the game
design of Nox. Westwood has its own marketing department (a mini-marketing
machine, if you will), which employees almost the same exact people it did
before the EA purchase.

Also, Nox got solid reviews and sold quite well. There was nothing
lackluster in its sales or reception at all.

Again you assume malicious intent?  Were you dropped on your head as a baby?  It was reported to us that one of the reasons NOX shipped late was due to EA's marketing department's involvement.  And our PC Data reports show the sales of NOX as "lackluster" just as we reported--certainly not a chartbreaker like Unreal Tourney, or even strong staying power like The Sims.  Granted, it could be selling steadily at a level where it doesn't break into the top 20, and over time accummulate strong overall sales.  If that's what you meant, we concede this point.

"As EA attempts to shift personnel around from its corporate and satellite
development groups to attempt to bolstar the staff at EA-Las Vegas (which is
what Westwood is now known as), the former Westwood culture is all but being
destroyed.  The once fun-in-the-desert-sun development company is now
riddled with company politics, bitter infighting, and people jockeying for
position, as they scrape and claw their way onto projects."
Westwood is almost the same exact company it was before EA bought us. We're
still Westwood, not EA-Las Vegas. The Westwood culture of "work hard, play
hard, make great games" is exactly as it was 15 years ago when Brett Sperry
and Louis Castle started the company. It's a great place to work, with a
family-style corporate culture that attracts, and retains, some of the best
people in our industry.

Ok, we'll take your word on this one.  We're not there, and you are.

And for the record, EA has not "bolstared" (sic) our staff with anyone.
More than anything, things are immeasurably better with EA. We know EA isn't
going to go bankrupt at any second. We have access to EA's amazing worldwide
sales force, as well as marketing expertise. We can draw from the huge
technological knowledge base EA has.

Yes, thanks for that spellcheck.  Touché.  Good points about EA--they certainly are the biggest and have deep pockets, amazing distribution, strong brand recognition, industry clout, and lots of other positives.  We agree with you.

We have a parent company that truly understands games, how to make them and
how to market them. In short, EA is an awesome company to work for, even
before you consider the excellent employee benefits package, the always
healthy stock price, and the fact that it's been the most successful creator
of entertainment software for several years.

Definitely.  We agree.

"Key executives Brett W. Sperry, Steve Wetherill, and Louis Castle are
locked in for 5 years following the purchase of Westwood, but we have word
they are all chomping at the bit to bail out of that newly formed shit-hole
and head for greener pastures."
Feel free to call any time to actually talk to Brett, Lou and Steve and ask
them if they are chomping at the bit to do anything other than continue to
run Westwood and make great games. All it takes is a phone call. If you had
made one, you would have been able to write actual facts, as opposed to all
the stuff you made up without knowing what you were talking about.

Again, we can only report what we hear.  Brett never answers his phone (we know, we tried calling!).  And we were told senior management were upset with the acquisition and how it was handled, among other things.  But again, we take your word for it, since you work with those guys and know them much better than we do.

So, that's the list of some of the stuff you either had wrong or knowingly
lied about. Consider yourself informed. Now comes the lesson in libel.

Uh, teacher?  May I get up and go to the bathroom please?

Libel, in most states, is defined as the "the knowing printing of
misinformation, with malicious intent, that affects a company's ability to
do business."

Exactly.  But how do you know we did not believe the information we were printing was correct?  If we assume the information we were printing was correct, then your libel argument goes out the window.  And again, what do we gain out of this that makes what we posted "malicious?"  If we have nothing to gain, your libel argument goes out the window.

It couldn't be easier to prove that you knowingly printed lies; the tone of
the article reveals your malicious intent, and you have affected our ability
to do business because someone we are recruiting brought this piece to our
attention. By telling potential employees these blatant lies, you unfairly
affect our ability to do business.

It is well known across all media that the tone of an article or broadcast is brought out by the content that it is delivering.  Tragic natural disasters are described with an empathetic voice.  Bank robberies are presented with shock.  Murders with disgust.  You see the point?

The information we received was, from the company's perspective, negative towards it.  So the tone of the article was generally negative.  Call it journalistic license.

Here is where we have a problem with what you are saying.  You make the assumption we know you are hiring.  And how would we know that?  Your parent company, Electronic Arts, is under a hiring freeze.  Therefore how would Westwood, a division of EA, be hiring?  And who is this so called "potential employee" we are supposedly "blatantly lying" to?  You could just be making this shit up so we fit within your definition of libel.

Nice try, Bill Clinton.

So, you've committed libel against us and we are officially telling you to
remove the piece headlined "The EA Collective to Westwood:  You Have Been
Assimilated" by an anonymous author.

You're saying we committed libel against you?  You have made COUNTLESS assumptions for this to be true.  And this is in no way "official."  We would need a certified letter, from the company's general counsel, on company letterhead, hand delivered by courier, in an attaché case handcuffed to his wrist, with a self destruct button in case of emergencies.

We allowed you to respond to clear up any misinformation.  We did not alter your words in any way.  If someone wants to believe that Westwood is a great company, there's nothing we can say or do to change their mind.  If someone wants to believe Westwood is a shitty company, there's nothing we can say or do to change their mind.  All we do is report what information is passed along to us.  People make up their own minds.

Granted, we understand that many times we are receiving negative information from a former or a currently disgruntled employee.  We try and account for that by re-writing what we receive in a less harsh tone (you should see some of the stuff we get).  Sometimes we will undoubtedly post false information (unknowingly, of course).  But we always allow companies/people to respond.  We don't want to have a site full of known lies---that doesn't benefit anyone.

And here's the part where I sign my real name, without hiding in cowardly
fashion behind a pseudonym...

Witty guy, playground flashback!

Aaron D. Cohen
PR Director
Westwood Studios
 
 
 

The following was our response to Mr. Cohen via e-mail:

Well hello Aaron Cohen, et al.

Thanks for the information from within Westwood.  As we have stated on numerous occasions on our site, we can only report things which have been brought to our attention.  Yes, it is true that sometimes, perhaps more often than naught, this information comes from a former employee who has an axe to grind, we understand that.

Perhaps some would indicate our story about Westwood had a negative tone, some others would not and say it is just "reporting."  Is the mainstream media any different?  Hardly.

We do appreciate your mail debunking some of the things we wrote about, and we will (as we always do!) post a follow-up article with your responses to what we wrote.  If you have known about our site, you would know this to be the case in many of our articles about both people and companies (see our interviews with Alan Pavlish and Eric Hammond as examples).

So we have no problem with follow-up stories or clearing the air of some rumors or inaccurate reporting (hey, it happens).

Which brings me to the last point of your letter--your implied threat of a lawsuit.  Why did you have to go there?  Are you much like many of the poor sods of this litigious country, always running to court whenever something doesn't go your way?  Shame on you, for it is because of people like you that our legal system is bloated and unwieldy.  Shame on you.  Anyway, we digress... You make the assumption that we KNEW something about your so called "potential employee."  How the hell could we know that?  Must we ASSUME that you are ALWAYS hiring, even though EA as a whole is on "a hiring freeze" (that from a recent conversation with an HR rep).  I think not.  Does this "potential employee" even exist?  Or are you making him/her up to give you a reason to claim malicious intent?  Your argument is tenuous at best.

Just wanted to toss that above piece in, because we don't take kindly to legal threats, and if we buckled everytime somebody threatened legal action against us, we wouldn't be around.  (We should set up a template response to speed things up!)  We'll add your name to the list of those companies/people.

Anyway, look for a follow-up article with our Friday morning update.  Since you gave nice, glossed over "PR" responses (fit to be printed!), we'll post them verbatim.  Oh, and thanks for spell checking "bolstar" for us... don't know how that one slipped through our usual "eagle eyes."
 

-FatSlicky
(who likes his pseudonym, thank you very much)


5/24 Resistance is Futile

bye bye WestwoodThe EA Collective to Westwood:  You Have Been Assimilated by FatSlicky

The assimilation of Westwood Studios is nearly complete, and all former WS branding has been stripped out of the company once called Westwood.  Now it is just a small part of the whole that is called EA Games.  Sure the Command & Conquer and Red Alert brands still exist, but with the recent talent exodus following the EA acquisition, it is a question of how long those brands will continue to be profitable.

Westwood has lost key personnel lately, including the brains behind the design of C&C:  Eric Yeo.  Tiberian Sun sucked as a game.  It was great as a movie, but the game was a joke.  Red Alert 2 was developed almost as an afterthought, and at E3 more people were laughing AT it than will be laughing at the bank when it ships.  EA’s marketing machine demanded last minute design changes to NOX, and it shipped with a lackluster reception.  The upcoming C&C: Renegade looks to go the way of C&C: Sole Survivor.  “What is Sole Survivor?” you ask?  Exactly.

As EA attempts to shift personnel around from its corporate and satellite development groups to attempt to bolstar the staff at EA-Las Vegas (which is what Westwood is now known as), the former Westwood culture is all but being destroyed.  The once fun-in-the-desert-sun development company is now riddled with company politics, bitter infighting, and people jockeying for position, as they scrape and claw their way onto projects.

Key executives Brett W. Sperry, Steve Wetherill, and Louis Castle are locked in for 5 years following the purchase of Westwood, but we have word they are all chomping at the bit to bail out of that newly formed shit-hole and head for greener pastures.

Watch for the future implosion of EA-Las Vegas, as we see it head the way of Origin Systems (EA-Austin):  a one product company with no creativity, bureaucracy up the ass, company politics that make Washington look tame, and most employees just passing the time until they die.

What fun!



5/22 A Star is Born
LARA CROFT
PART 1: THE PAYBACK
by FatTissimo

PROLOGUE

Okay, let’s get one thing straight: Lara Croft is a goddess.

This is rare, especially in the world of gameplay. From the shoot ‘em ups of Quake and Doom, to the drive-vibe adrenaline of Gran Turismo and Rally Car, from the basics of Pac-Man and Q-Bert to the strategy and sheer mayhem of Red Alert and Total Annihilation, the female hero has been woefully undefined.

Then came Lara.

Think of Lara (apologies to Christopher Cross for the larceny, will pay royalties soon) and you see not only the female of the population represented, but a new kind of hero: dashing, daring, rugged, intelligent, gorgeous, and utterly, distinctly female….

FEMALE.

Completely.

Ah…um…oohh….

Where was I?

As I’m pulling my pants back up, I want to ask one simple question:

How can a fictional character affect us so much?

The answer is simple: a heroine has come along to challenge our beliefs, inspire our spirits, and set fire to our loins.

That combination is not only lethal, it’s a SUPERPOWER!!!!!!

She is tough as nails, hard as ice, smart as Einstein, blessed with the ability of quick judgement, stylish wit, and a body built for sin.

All that, and blessed with more guns than Smith and Wesson could make in a YEAR.

Oh, yeah, this will take some in-depth analysis.

END OF PROLOGUE

NEXT: Part 1, Lara Croft, The Early Years


5/16 FatBango's E3 Report

FatBango just returned from E3, and has the latest scoop on 3 of the best new games coming out.  Read his exclusive report below.

Diablo III from Blizzard
Blizzard officials announced that the third Diablo game will be out sometime in the next ten years.  Blizzard announced this game will use state of the art sprite graphics, and can handle an impressive resolution of 640x480.  Expect even more character classes, and a huge variety of creatures,  "We are one of the only companies that use the bleeding edge technology of palette switching to increase the number of monsters.  With it, we can use only 4 models, and create the illusion of 40 different monsters." Quoted one designer.

Ultima Online 2 from Origin
This game should be on the shelves by the time you read this.  Entering pre alpha, Ultima Online 2 will run like Ultima Ascension on a Pentium 60.  Origin plans to charge $100.00 for this game, and an additional $10.00 an hour to play.  "We feel confidant that the gaming public will pay us to beta test our game.  We've been doing it for years now.  It really makes the players feel like they are part of our world."  Quoted one Origin marketing rep.  Gamers can call Origin's 900 number to report bugs, at $3.95 a minute.

Elian:Resurrection from Fox Interactive
The latest installment of the Elian series finds a young Janet Reno, cloned from cells obtained at end of the last Elian film, "Elian3", once again fighting the Cuban brat.  This Playstation game looks decent, but is coming out so long after the fact that I doubt anyone will even remember who Elian was.  Let's all remember how bad the Elian line of games usually are.  For those looking for a good Elian game, I suggest that rare jewel, Elian vs Predator.


5/9 Acclaim Terminations

Acclaim recently laid off a number of employees, and more from many Acclaim Studios in the US and UK are rumored to join them soon (in the next few months).

Here is a copy of the Acclaim press release:
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Acclaim Entertainment Announces Layoffs for Everybody.

Fischbach says, "I spent too much money in 99' on male prostitutes...Somebody's got to pay for these boys"

Glen Cove, N.Y., May 3, 2000 -- Acclaim Entertainment, (NASDAQ:AKLM), a
leading worldwide interactive entertainment company, today announced today
that a quarter of the workers at Acclaim's "flagship" studio were being
dismissed to make room in the budget for higher executive salaries.

"These kids are soft," says Kevin (The Hatchetman) Walling.  "They've had
their cushie jobs long enough, time to move back into mama's basement."

Insiders claim that severely incompotent mismanagement in New York combined
with a failure to learn a lesson from almost going out of business years ago
due to the consumer shift from 16 to 32 bit games is to blame for the
layoffs.  "Yes, I feel like such an asshole", says Walling.  "I was supposed
to be Acclaim's white knight.  I was gonna storm in with my Harvard degree
and tell all the game makers what they've been doing wrong.  I was Acclaim's
Golden Boy.  I had a big plan to turn the company around by implementing a
long list of dumb-ass policies...  But that didn't work because I'm.....
(whispers) unqualified... to work in this industry.  I don't even
know how I got this job."

"He (Walling) was a huge disappointment and a waste of valuable revenue,"
says Fischbach, co-chairman and CEO of Acclaim Entertainment.  "If Walling's
salary were back in the coffers we could afford to keep everyone and there
would be no firings, so as punishment for his failure we have assigned him
the responsibilty of dismissing the employees we can no longer afford.  The
sad thing is, he seems to be enjoying it."

"If I had back a fraction of the amount of money I spent keeping that guy
neck deep in transvestite whores, I would be able to spend six months in
Europe... Or, let ten people keep their jobs.... No, I would go to Europe."

"This is a very exciting time for Acclaim, if you don't think about the
layoffs", said Greg Fischbach. "Acclaim is dedicated to developing quality
games...." (hysterical laughter from Fischbach)... "Who wrote this shit?
Whoever it is, fire them."  (more laughter from Fischbach)

"We had a meeting after the layoffs with the surviving employees to make
sure they realized how lucky they are, then again, they do still work for
Acclaim," says Walling.  "I suppose it's like being told after enduring an
anal rape 'at least you won't get pregnant'... ya know.... big deal, the
situation still sucks."


5/9 Back in the Saddle Again

Rod Nakamoto, late of Sega, Origin, Microprose, Origin (again), Bootprint, and now Hasbro is once again starting ANOTHER development house in Austin, this time with Hasbro money.

Just like his GT funded Bootprint fiasco, he is offering WAY LARGE CASH to all of his cronies at various developers in the Austin area, and they are again flocking to his call.  It will be interesting to see if Frank Roan, his last partner in crime at Bootprint, now in charge of 3DO Austin, will dump Trip for Rod.  It will also be interesting to see how he does without his star programmers, who are all at the new Verant Austin office.

And still no word about Richard "EA Owns my Lord British Trademark" Garriot, who has all of his sycophants waiting for HIS company to start up.

Some day, some one in Austin will actually ship a game....


5/1 As Midway Turns

Midway Games has been going through some tough times as of late.  We have a report that one of our recent stories we ran about Midway about the company shutting down some operations was run in Cashbox International (an Australian coin-op magazine).  At the recent ASI show, Cashbox was handing out copies of their mag like they always do.  People were walking over to the Midway booth and asking them, "Is this true?  I'm not going to buy from you guys if this is true!"  Ha!  Thus all the denial from Midway...

Midway's Mark Loffredo resigned on Friday, April 28th.  He was Eugene Jarvis' sidekick, designing all the video hardware from Narc all the way up to Crusin' 3.  Just more proof that what we reported about their arcade division going the way of the Oompah Loompa is true.  It's been rumored for a while that Jarvis would jump ship after finishing C3, so we might see him head out soon as well.

During the recent shareholder's conference call, Neil's mea-culpa was a riot:  "Right now is a black moment for Midway and we are embarassed to release a report like this."

Nicastro has been living in a dreamworld for years, thinking that arcade equipment is not cyclical.  In the old days of Williams, pinball would support video when video was in a slump, and vice versa.  People would tell Neil this all the time, and his response was always, "Fuck it, I can make video last forever."  So he kills pinball while it's on an upswing and puts all the company's resources into the video game basket, right as it goes into the toilet.  50 years of collective pinball knowledge is sitting in a closet on California Avenue and he won't sell it to anyone (people would have tried).  It will probably be in a trash dumpster before the year is over, written off as a tax credit.
 
 
 

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