An extensive report over at Kotaku claims that the offices of developer Silicon Knights has become a ghost town, with less than five employees remaining at the company. Citing multiple sources who worked at the company, the report claims that the studio was playing fast and loose with the funding of X-Men: Destiny coming from Activision, while secretly working on an Eternal Darkness 2 demo to pitch to publishers. All this, the report claims, was at the direction of Silicon Knights boss Denis Dyack.
"I am certain that if you contacted former and current Silicon Knights employees and offered them anonymity, you would receive evidence of an appalling antipathy from management towards the employees, publishers, and the quality of their games," one insider told Kotaku.
The report goes on to paint Denis Dyack as the kind of boss that thinks that artists are "a dime a dozen' and can be replaced" and that he runs a "benevolent dictatorship." The thrust of the report claims that Dyack was pushing resources meant for X-Men: Destiny to a concurrent project: an Eternal Darkness sequel. It also claims that Dyack would order employees to deliberately miss targets and milestones to increase funding and extend deadlines. Ultimately that plan would backfire when Activision finally announced a release date for the game… This forced SK to start taking the X-Men game's development seriously.
"SK didn't take the development of XMD seriously the entire time I was there," said a source. "They were working on an Eternal Darkness 2 demo that they could take to publishers. While I was there, they were even siphoning off staff from my [XMD] team to work on it."
Ultimately SK decided to put the focus back on the game they were getting funding for but at the expense of employees.
"The entire company was refocused to work on X-Men. At this point, they also started instituting a mandatory six-day-a-week, 10-hour-a-day minimum crunch. That lasted, and got worse, until they shipped," a source claims.
All of this pressure and crunch time, and long work hours led to a huge staff turnover; 25 employees resigned in a single six-month period.
"For some former employees, it became ‘a bit of a sick game’ to come into work each Monday and see how many more people had resigned," another said.