Archive for June, 2006

Shiny toys

Posted in Tales from the grind-stone on June 25th, 2006 by MrCranky

Writing this entry from the latest addition to the Company’s inventory – a shiny new Dell Precision M65 notebook. I finally got fed up with the fact that I was essentially hamstrung whenever away from the home office, just due to not having the software/data available to me to work, even when I found time. So now I can work while travelling, and should hopefully be more productive.

Lots going on the last couple of weeks, trying to sort out a plan for a potential development deal which would allow us to ramp up and start hiring more people. Nothing confirmed as yet, but the project is interesting, so I’m eager to make a go of it!

Looks like the release date for Brave (US) is going to be the second week in August this year; don’t know how solid that is, but I’ve passed off the components of a Brave build to Evolved, hopefully they should be moving forward with that.

More Brave (US) updates

Posted in Tales from the grind-stone on June 15th, 2006 by MrCranky

Well, before DC went under (literally just the day before luckily), Tenon (the liquidators of VIS) got me to go retrieve all the assets relating to Brave from the server machine that DC had bought from the liquidation of VIS. So, I now have a little more than 250GB of assets sitting on a disk in my office – representing pretty much the whole 4 and a half years of development. I must say, it was fun strolling down memory lane looking at the old demo and concepts for it.

Not looking back in the code though. <shudders> There’s quite a bit of code in the history of it that I’d dearly rather forget. Let that be a lesson to you children – don’t make a demo in a few months and then expect to be able to reuse the demo code to build the real game!

But there was plenty of marketing stuff though, which has all winged its way to the new US publishers (Evolved) who’ve been putting the game around a fair bit! Good stuff. I believe IGN are going to be running some more coverage on it, and hopefully we’ll see some more of the concept and marketing stuff put out. There’s some lovely concept work and a whole raft of screenshots that were never published in the original SCEE marketing push, hopefully the US people will see them instead!

Other than that, busy busy working on Barco contract still (it was extended another month), mixing in all the stuff I’ve been meaning to do for a while. My shiny new Dell Precision laptop is on its way; should be here next week for when I get back from the Lake District. I’ll have a couple of weeks to fill it with equally shiny software, before its off to Develop at the start of July. Hopefully the laptop will mean I can be productive even on the seemingly neverending train and bus journeys I seem to take – its been quite noticeable that when I’m not in the home office I’m pretty much crippled as far as work things go. Of course, I had to get the Company VAT registered to take advantage of the ability to claim VAT back, but I’m sure the extra paperwork will be worthwhile.

DC Studios caput

Posted in Industry Rants on June 15th, 2006 by MrCranky

Well, I did start writing a post about this at the time (a week or so ago now), but it turned into a windy rant about bad industry practices; then I ran out of time to finish it up and it seems to have been eaten by WordPress since then. Since it would probably be very depressing to type it all again, I can sum it up in some very simple points:

  1. Letting your staff work an extra month when you know you don’t have the money to pay them is totally, flat out, unacceptable. At least VIS had the courtesy to tell us at the start of the month so we didn’t work any days for free.
  2. The way the Edinburgh staff were treated was shocking – being flat out lied to so that they’d migrate the equipment and incur travel expenses that had no itention of being reimbursed is just shoddy management.
  3. Letting your company run down all its money and go bankrupt, then when it goes into liquidation immediately starting up a phoenix company with none of the debt and scavenging all the assets for cheap is, frankly, tantamount to fraud in my book. How you expect to hire back developers onto such a team after seeing the way the previous company went is beyond me. Unless of course its all just a temporary thing so the maximum amount of blood can be sweated out of the assets before abandoning everyone to their own fates (again).
  4. Damn – thats 3 out of the 4 big Scottish players out of business in less than 14 months; leaving Rockstar North and Real Time Worlds as the only large employers.

I must admit to being a little selfish in this matter – as I mostly want other Scottish games companies to survive so I can poach their good staff when I get the opportunity. But with the liquidations going on, more and more talent is migrating south of the border (where there’s a drought of good people), and there’s little to tempt them back up. And then, there is a hurdle to any new developer wanting to set up shop in Scotland – the fact that talent would have to be relocated in to get it going.

Its small wonder so many good people are leaving the industry – they’re being offered no stability, no decent prospects, and companies which want to offer them opportunities and build are being priced out of the market.

Anyway – my condolences to those people out of work because of this, although from those I talked to on Wednesday while there, I think it might be better off redundant than continuing to work there!


Email: info@blackcompanystudios.co.uk
Black Company Studios Limited, 14 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3BL
Registered in Scotland (SC283017) VAT Reg. No.: 886 4592 64
Last modified: August 14 2014.