Gas Powered Games Hit By Layoffs, Company's Future Relies Heavily on Wildman Kickstarter Success

January 19, 2013 -

After multiple reports from various sources revealed that a majority of the staff at Gas Powered Games had been laid off, Chris Taylor took to the Internet to comment. Apparently Taylor and a few employees are the only ones left at the studio behind such titles as the Dungeon Siege series, Demigod, and Supreme Commander. Recently Taylor and company launched a Kickstarter for a new game called Wildman but concerns over its early performance cause Gas Powered Games, who is short on cash, to lay off its staff.

Speaking to Kotaku Taylor offered the following comment:

"We do have a layoff, and we'll be updating our Kickstarter as well with details as well very soon. I'm way behind, so many wonderful people to talk to and share stories with, so it just takes time. It's actually been a fairly positive experience, because I run a very open company and everyone knows what's going on."

Speaking to Gamasutra Taylor said that GPG is still running, though at a diminished capacity, obviously:

"The studio is still operating, but we had to slim WAY down to conserve cash reserves."

Speaking to Joystiq Taylor said 40 employees had been laid off but the decision to do so was not sudden and it allowed the company to pay severance and remaining paid time-off.

Finally Taylor took to the Wildman Kickstarter to let everyone know what was going on and how important the Kickstarter for this game is to the future of Gas Powered Games. In an emotional video Taylor explains how important the Wildman is to Gas Power Games and its employees. Finally he asks those that have invested in the Kickstarter if GPG should continue the funding drive or give up:

"Do we kill the campaign, or do we keep it going? It's up to you."

As of this writing the Wildman Kickstarter has generated $209,046 of its $1.1 million funding goal from 3,948 backers with 27 more days to go. By our estimates, GPG would need to raise a minimum of $32,999 a day for the campaign to hit its funding goal. Obviously earning more than that on any given day changes the number dramatically. Right now they need roughly $891,000 more in funding.

 


Comments

Re: Gas Powered Games Hit By Layoffs, Company's Future ...

Gas Powered Games is Chris Taylor.  IMO, he's kind of lost his way.  Total Annihilation made him famous.  TA was the first real RTS worth playing and still kicks the butt of the Starcraft series with features like:  AI that can navigate terrain without babysitting each unit, Nanolathing construction, unlimited unit command sequences, unlimited following of units (e.g. unit A follows B follows C follows A is allowed), the ability to quickly select 300+ units and tell them to go do something (e.g. attack) and they all arrive at their destination in groups rather than single-file, a 500 unit limit per player (IIRC, there's also a 1,000 unit limit hack that modifies the EXE), 10 player max (i.e. max 5,000 units per map, which makes TA have roughly 10 times the hard unit limit of most RTS games), weapons like Buzzsaws and Big Berthas blowing stuff up 4 to 5 screens away, moddable units, and moddable AI.  Plus air, land, and sea units along with nukes and ballistic missile silos as well as missile defense silos offer rare unit type diversity.  I'll be the first to admit that the base game of TA sucks, but mod it out and you've got something that no RTS game made today compares to.  TA was released in 1997.  StarCraft I was released in 1998.  Somehow the latter became more popular.

Supreme Commander I and II were supposedly TA's "spiritual successors" but failed on so many fronts.  I wanted it to be a better game, but it wasn't.

I realize I'm in the minority, but I actually enjoyed Space Siege for the most part.  It did have a contrived story and the gameplay got repetitive but had a couple messages about cybernetic enhancements that were interesting but not fully explored.  Chris Taylor is simply better at making RTS games.  So if he had made Space Siege a corridor RTS against an alien invasion while the player simultaneously struggles to accomplish various objectives, it would have been more up his alley and would have been far more interesting to play.  RTS games tend to operate on an open field with nearly unlimited resources, but if he had put a limit on, for example, the number of humans available to put forth toward the onslaught and you choose which humans to cybernetically enhance, the game would suddenly take on a whole new twist with a serious challenge.  StarCraft I, for example, has one map that was actually interesting in this vein - the first time you have to defend your base in the campaign, you have 30 minutes to set up a defense capable of surviving the onslaught.  What I always wanted to do with that scenario was push back a bit, then defend the new positions for a while, push more, etc. but the map ended before being allowed to do so.

Wildman seems silly.  I laughed when he said "Wildman" for the first time in the original video and stopped watching the Kickstarter campaign video about 75% of the way through mostly because I view Kickstarter as a platform for those getting started in game development, not established game studios.

- Left4Dead Why are zombies always eating brains? I want to see zombies that eat toes for a living. Undead-related pun intended.

Re: Gas Powered Games Hit By Layoffs, Company's Future ...

I do not mind flawed games that have some depth in designs, I really did love DS1 but DS2 was generic and Supreme Commander was so so. Space seige was a joke they should not have watered down their games so much.


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Re: Gas Powered Games Hit By Layoffs, Company's Future ...

As I've said in the past, shouldn't have treated past products poorly (or even in development) after they were released otherwise they wouldn't be in the situation.  Damaged reputation leads to poor outlook on the company, and in the end.. layoffs.  Sucks for the people that got laid off, hopefully they can get picked up and move onto good jobs before severance runs out.

As for GPG, I'm very skeptical of products developed by this company after they've released so many mediocre or less than stellar products.  I don't necessarily want them to fail, but I also wont be swayed to contribute to a kickstarter for them.

 
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