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CCP cans  World of Darkness  MMO after eight years of development
CCP cans World of Darkness MMO after eight years of development
April 14, 2014 | By Kris Graft

April 14, 2014 | By Kris Graft
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EVE Online developer CCP said today it is canceling its long in development MMO World of Darkness, and laying off dozens of staff.

The game was in development since 2006, with CCP’s Atlanta, GA location heading up development. With the cancellation of the game, 56 people in Atlanta will be laid off, CCP said in a statement today. Some employees were offered other roles within CCP, which has offices in North America, the UK, China and Iceland.

The World of Darkness team suffered headcount cuts in 2011, and more recently late last year.

"The decision to end the World of Darkness MMO project is one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make,” said CCP CEO Hilmar Petursson. “I have always loved and valued the idea of a sandbox experience set in that universe, and over the years I’ve watched the team passionately strive to make that possible.”

He added, “To our current and former employees and fans of World of Darkness, I am truly sorry that we could not deliver the experience that we aspired to make. We dreamed of a game that would transport you completely into the sweeping fantasy of World of Darkness, but had to admit that our efforts were falling regretfully short. One day I hope we will make it up to you.”

Petursson said going forward, CCP will be able to put all of its focus on the EVE universe, including the MMO EVE Online and the online shooter game Dust 514.

The Atlanta studio is still operational, according to CCP, with the remainder of the staff there working on games in the EVE universe.

If you have any further information about this news or were affected and want to share your story, please contact us via news@gamasutra.com.

UPDATE: CCP has confirmed to Gamasutra that 45 staffers remain in its Atlanta offices after the project shutdown and layoffs.


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Comments


Matthew Fundaun
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Wow. That's truckloads of manhours and money to just cut your losses on.

I wonder what happened behind the scenes. Games usually aren't just straight up cancelled before release like this unless things are pretty bad somewhere.

jeff grant
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Sometimes the initial cocktail napkin is wrong, and a ton of work, that doesn't actually work, has to be scrapped.

Big online architectures are not easy, and if you're trying to figure out something new, sometimes the iterative learning process required to get something usable isn't finished before you run out of money.

I've been brought into a couple of large projects where huge amounts of work had to be thrown away and everything started over from scratch. Usually it's because of the "I can figure this out" mentality of smart developers that lack subject matter experience and expertise.

It's a shitty lesson to learn the hard way.

Lance Thornblad
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Usually the team is built up too fast. Better to build a functional prototype with as few people as possible, then add on. It seldom happens that way, however.

Christian Nutt
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There was a little more in the Venture Beat story -- sounds like they kept scaling it down from the initial design as a production but the design couldn't be scaled down, and inevitably that Didn't Work.

Scope and production team mismatch, in the end...

http://venturebeat.com/2014/04/14/world-of-darkness-mmo-an-unfort
unate-casualty-of-latest-round-of-ccp-layoffs/

David Rico
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I kind of wish they had cancelled Dust instead and spent their time on this.

I was hoping for EVE online minus the space spreadsheets. I'm super disappointed :-/

Cary Chichester
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I still kind of wish for them to cancel Dust and spend time on anything else.

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Greg Scheel
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I am of the opinion, perhaps wrong but I doubt it, that 50+ people cannot design a game, they can only build it. Design must be limited to one or at most two people, as the communication overhead and ego conflict will otherwise get in the way.

First, core gameplay has to be prototyped, and found fun to do, then world building can commence.

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Michael G
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True. Even Valve's structure relies on lead designers where ideas are funnelled through one or two people who make the decision whether to include long before it's ever properly fleshed out. The idea that everyone can just throw their concepts at a wall and see what sticks is completely naive and certainly inefficient.

Ruthaniel van-den-Naar
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This another victim of stupid MMO race. Developers should get that it is almost impossible make WoD like complexity game with today gamers graphics technology demands and present state of game engines without few thousands developers team.

You simply need too much content, if this game should be good representation of WOD, there should be locations 1000x bigger that AAA Deus EX Human revolution and for this you need huge manpower + users storage capacity or some very big miracle in procedural generated technology.

I thing that last good MMO is still one of first Ultima online, because there are wasnt such demmand for such high quality content, all later MMO are only castrated derivates of this game. I personaly wont to play such crippled games, because single player rpg are more complex, but if need to social, and need to seeking friends online, its your choice and your game experience damnation..
If you need to be social go outside or play games with simple game mechanics which are realy working like - simple shooter deadmatch shooter in small closed arenas - like Quake 3 or Titanfall.

Something like Bloodlines from Troika with some cooperative elements would be realy better development goal.

Greg Scheel
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The only thing a thousand developers can do is create a communications clusterf**k. Keep in mind that communication overhead increases exponentially in regard to the number of entities/people that need to communicate.

This stuff is programmer 101, pretty sure I can find a citation in Code Complete, by Steve McConnell, Microsoft press.

Ruthaniel van-den-Naar
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Is there overhead yes, could it works, yes look at Ubisoft or some non game projects..
I think that is better way, try it make complex, that try make it boring and content and feature less.

Mike Griffin
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CCP should accept a good offer on the game and/or the game assets, and sell it away.

Perhaps another team could pick it up and run with it, maybe even as an altered non-MMO experience. 8 years worth of planning and production may provide some excellent source material/art/systems to jump-start a new game.

Christiaan Moleman
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We really need a digital museum of cancelled games. For posterity and to learn from.

Lihim Sidhe
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Spoilers: In the original World of Darkness all vampires are what they are because they carry the Mark of Caine (from the Bible's Caine and Abel). Vulnerability to the sunlight wasn't some poppycock like allergic to UV rays. A vampire bursting into flame's under the sun's presence was because it was a curse from God - our creator.

In other words this vulnerability was a major part of the vampire mythos in the WoD.

CCP said they couldn't figure out how to make this work so they were designing the WoD MMO to be night time all the time. Just from that one little tidbit I knew the game was in trouble. If the designers couldn't be bothered to read the dozens of printed sourcebooks and make workable game mechanics what hope did this game have?

steve smith
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Considering that we're talking about the company that created and runs EVE, neither technical infrastructure nor funding could have been the issue. Insufficient iteration is a possibility, but few games that sink from that make it to three years, never mind eight. I can't believe that lack of content (or content congruency) was an issue either, considering that White Wolf has one of the oldest, largest, and most passionate global LARP communities in existence (the Camarilla). They do know how to do these things.

It's pure speculation, but my guess is that it's not the property or the development team that failed, but rather the partnership. Both CCP and WW aim to offer an organic experience to the player, which is probably why they felt the partnership would work - but they do it in incompatible ways. WW's foundation for player interaction is the relationship between individual players and the storyteller chain of command; EVE's foundation for player interaction is their universally-applied economic simulation. WW's approach would be insanely difficult to accomplish technologically; EVE's approach would ruin the fun of a World of Darkness game.

I'd love to see dual postmortems on this - one from the CCP side and one from the WW side. That would be enlightening.

Timothy Ryan
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Poor vision, lack of real MMORPG experience at the helm, unattainable design expectations and insurmountable restraints. We saw a sneak peak a year ago that showed the graphical vision (which was EXCELLENT btw, clearly some great artists lost their jobs) but as we all know, a good graphics demo does not a game make.

Mathieu Brassard
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Sad, very sad, because it was the only MMO that I had hope in to change the tone. It was the only original idea for a MMO that could potentially lead to a new experience.

I'm personally sick and tired of TAB 1,2,3 dead loot rinse and repeat dull and bland gameplay of currents MMO. Right now, the only MMOs that provide a somewhat different experience are Planetside 2 and DAYZ
(+clones). Not only that, but mos ''classic'' MMOs are a step back from Ultima online and other old MMOs. They are all heavily instanced and far from massive. Anyway that being said...

EVE development have always been messy and convoluted from day 1. Its no surprise that they could not deliver on that universe, but to say that its impossible or you need thousands developers to create such a game is very ill informed and defeatist.


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