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Default Daggerdale - Bedlam Games Shut Down?

August 23rd, 2011, 01:34
Joystiq reports Daggerdale developer Bedlam Games has been "effectively shut down":
Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale developer Bedlam Games is, for all intents and purposes, shut down, an anonymous source close to the developer tells Joystiq. We were first alerted to the situation by a tweet from the (also anonymous) "veracious_shit," which said that Bedlam has "laid off most of its staff and effectively shuttered last month." Last year, veracious_shit earned his/her reputation in early 2010 with tweets about troubles at LA Noire developer Team Bondi.

Following these Bedlam tweets, we spoke to a source, who told us that around 90 percent of Bedlam employees are officially on "temporary layoffs," and have received no severance pay. Many of the staffers, we were told, have already found other jobs.
More information.

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August 23rd, 2011, 01:34
HAH and yet the game is #1 on xbox live. The game had potential but was rushed and came out a turd.

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August 23rd, 2011, 02:33
How can they expect us to trust them with another game, Daggerdale was unplayable. Who ever rushed this out the door to make a quick buck deserves to FAIL misrably.
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August 23rd, 2011, 04:06
We'll see as more info comes out, but most of the time you can blame the publisher for getting impatient before blaming the developer for being incompetent.

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August 23rd, 2011, 08:22
My guess, based on the timing and how recently the game was released, is that the studio had blown their advance, was nearly out of money, released the game when they did because they really had no choice, and failed to secure a new project in time to keep them afloat.

Incidentally, my former boss is in jail because he did NOT lay off a big chunk of the studio when bad times like this happened. He assumed that pending milestone payments from publishers would eventually arrive (they did not - the publisher went bankrupt while owing us nearly a million dollars), and paid us with money that was supposed to go to the IRS and to employee 401k plans.

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August 23rd, 2011, 09:52
Not going to celebrate the misfortune of other people, but Daggerdale was indeed a travesty of a game.
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August 23rd, 2011, 10:26
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
We'll see as more info comes out, but most of the time you can blame the publisher for getting impatient before blaming the developer for being incompetent.
I don't agree. A publisher hires a developer to give X product by Y date. If the developer agrees but then can't deliver the goods they usually only have themselves to blame. Same as any other business.
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August 23rd, 2011, 10:40
I doubt it's that simple.

Personally, I think the process of developing a game under this publisher-system is very challenging as a newcomer - and there's really no way to feel certain as an up-and-coming developer. You basically just have to make promises and hope to be able to keep them. You could also not make these promises, and get no funding for your game.

But aside from the newcomer aspect, every development process is unique, with unique challenges - and I think it's an illusion to claim that it's a predictable concept.

Also, I don't think "the blame" is too interesting a concept as it relates to the human beings involved. The publisher is also bound by the system - and they have to make money. They can't just ignore that risks are taken - and they have to apply pressure. While I don't have much love for their money-orientation - I don't think their path is all that easy either.

Essentially, the problem and "the blame" lies with the system moreso than it does with the participants. That's generally speaking, of course, and we've no shortage of people interacting with the system in the most unspeakably stupid or tasteless fashion time and time again.
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August 23rd, 2011, 11:19
Originally Posted by RampantCoyote View Post
My guess, based on the timing and how recently the game was released, is that the studio had blown their advance, was nearly out of money, released the game when they did because they really had no choice, and failed to secure a new project in time to keep them afloat.
This sounds very reasonable.

I'd also assume it could have something to do with the Hasbro vs. Atari thing … By the way, who gets the royalties now ? Still Atari ?

To put it extremely cynical, I'd use this imaginary statement by Atari (beware ! strong satire !) :
"We're extremely pleased that our schemes to bring out another (A)D&D game before the license was taken from us came to a fruitful result of a developer having to shut down - which leaves all of the royalties to us."

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August 23rd, 2011, 12:24
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
This sounds very reasonable.

I'd also assume it could have something to do with the Hasbro vs. Atari thing … By the way, who gets the royalties now ? Still Atari ?

To put it extremely cynical, I'd use this imaginary statement by Atari (beware ! strong satire !) :
"We're extremely pleased that our schemes to bring out another (A)D&D game before the license was taken from us came to a fruitful result of a developer having to shut down - which leaves all of the royalties to us."
LOL I like it Alrik

Don't think it could happen like that (creditors might still get access to the royalties until their debts were repaid) but it's a suitable Dr Evil plot
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August 23rd, 2011, 13:17
Atari is to blame as well they were losing the license and wanted to make some cash before it happened.

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August 23rd, 2011, 14:20
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
Don't think it could happen like that (creditors might still get access to the royalties until their debts were repaid) but it's a suitable Dr Evil plot
That's why I do hope that Bedlam still exists as a kind of Skeleton - just to collect the money that comes in from the game and doling it out to their former employees, I hope …

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August 23rd, 2011, 15:46
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
That's why I do hope that Bedlam still exists as a kind of Skeleton - just to collect the money that comes in from the game and doling it out to their former employees, I hope …
Now playing in my head: The Skeleton paymaster visiting employee homes one by one at 2:00am, bony fist full of cash. Here is your… severance!

Well said!

FYI, in the U.S. the first financial obligation of a company going bankrupt is to pay outstanding wages to employees.

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August 23rd, 2011, 17:10
Originally Posted by RampantCoyote View Post
My guess, based on the timing and how recently the game was released, is that the studio had blown their advance, was nearly out of money, released the game when they did because they really had no choice, and failed to secure a new project in time to keep them afloat.

Incidentally, my former boss is in jail because he did NOT lay off a big chunk of the studio when bad times like this happened. He assumed that pending milestone payments from publishers would eventually arrive (they did not - the publisher went bankrupt while owing us nearly a million dollars), and paid us with money that was supposed to go to the IRS and to employee 401k plans.

Making games isn't all fun and games.
So your former boss is in jail because he's a decent guy that wanted to give your guys your paychecks? So it would have been better if his company just had went bankrupt, then? Since, by US laws, firms are then required to pay the paychecks to their employees.

As for waiting for milestones to be paid, isn't not paying those, a big part of what publishers do? I think I remember reading this somewhere…here, maybe…

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August 23rd, 2011, 17:30
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
So your former boss is in jail because he's a decent guy that wanted to give your guys your paychecks? So it would have been better if his company just had went bankrupt, then? Since, by US laws, firms are then required to pay the paychecks to their employees.
My understanding is that US bankruptcy law places employee compensation claims at the top of the creditor list during the bankruptcy proceedings. That means employees would be paid… eventually. But bankruptcy takes time. How many of us could easily handle a multi-month delay in receiving our paychecks? It'd still be quite a hardship and I can understand a manager wanting to spare employees from that if he thought it possible.

That said, one does not screw around with the IRS. They seem to think that all your money is theirs, and any they deign to let you keep is a gift for which you should be duly grateful — and they have guns to back up their attitude.
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August 23rd, 2011, 18:05
Daggerdale had two horrible bugs then a crash requiring me to do a hard restart of my Xbox within 20 minutes of playing. And those 20 minutes showed very little imagination as far as game design.

I feel bad for the layoffs. I'm sure there were a lot of talented people there, but Daggerdale was the worst Xbox Live demo I've ever, ever tried. I can't imagine paying for it.
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August 23rd, 2011, 19:40
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
So your former boss is in jail because he's a decent guy that wanted to give your guys your paychecks? So it would have been better if his company just had went bankrupt, then? Since, by US laws, firms are then required to pay the paychecks to their employees.

As for waiting for milestones to be paid, isn't not paying those, a big part of what publishers do? I think I remember reading this somewhere…here, maybe…
That's basically the problem. He was trying to be a nice guy, and was trying not to lay people off while waiting to get new projects in. He was not buckling to business reality, did some creative accounting to paper things over in the short-term, and then got stuck holding the bag when the people that owed HIM money declared bankruptcy.

Since I'd managed to get out early with everything the company owed me, I'm not personally as vengeful as some of my former coworkers who worked for him on empty promises for weeks - sometimes even months.

But the jail-time was because of the creative accounting. If he'd *just* ripped off his employees… well, folks get away with that all the time. But rip off the government, and you are screwed.
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August 23rd, 2011, 22:25
That's a really sad story. But I know from experience that the IRS will fuck you over without a moment's notice, no matter your hardships and situation. Even if you try to be an honest taxpayer, you get screwed.
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August 24th, 2011, 00:40
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
That's why I do hope that Bedlam still exists as a kind of Skeleton - just to collect the money that comes in from the game and doling it out to their former employees, I hope …
It's entirely possible they aren't due any royalties from sales whatsoever, it would depend on their contract. It's almost certain they wouldn't have a straight cut/ proportion earned deal and even if there were provision for bonus payments it is unlikely those targets were met.

They may well have been relying on good sales and the prospect of sequels for future funding. Without them, problems.
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August 24th, 2011, 14:47
Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
That's a really sad story. But I know from experience that the IRS will fuck you over without a moment's notice, no matter your hardships and situation. Even if you try to be an honest taxpayer, you get screwed.
I can also attest to this. I have experienced it first hand. They are heartless bastards who don't give a flying fuck about anything. If they did what they did to me while I was actually trying to work with them, I can imagine what they would do to someone who ignores or tries to screw them.
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