Updated Fri, May 07, 2010 by Sardu
Later in the day, I also had the opportunity to sit down with Scripter Michael Bacigalupo, one of the team members recently let go who offered to work for free this week to help complete his work on the latest game update, which to me speaks volumes about the drive and dedication you’ll find with those developers who are truly passionate about what they’re doing.
When asked about his continued work sans pay this week, Michael explained, “Most people in my personal life think I’m crazy because I’m coming back in and working for 3 or 4 days for free. The thing is, we’re so blasted close on Blood Sports and I was writing a significant portion of the code and I knew we had about three days left. I was committed enough to the project and to the company and wanting all of my friends who are still here to have the best chance possible moving forward.
I think all the people who caused the situation to go poorly are gone. So trying to point fingers or scream doom for the qualified team that still remains is insane. Given the release coming on Friday it’s pretty clear they didn’t do this out of maliciousness or a plan to dump everybody or that kind of thing. They just got kind of screwed by the situation.”
Jessica also noted, “And one thing too which I think hasn’t been released but a lot of people, especially on our forums have said, “It’s always the case where the execs get to keep their jobs and they’re full salary still and they still take all the pay” but that’s totally not the case. Part of management was cut with this and the guys who stayed here were prorated the same way the rest of us were. Our CEO is in that mix – I mean he actually chose to withhold pay, so he didn’t get paid at all. So he’s not your typical corporate schmuck.”
“No, it’s definitely not a “golden parachute” situation where somebody wrecks the company and then leaves with all the money. Their part in it is done and they’re gone.” Michael added.
I was also curious to hear what Michael might have to say to those players who are concerned about the future of the game. “It clearly still has life left in it.” He went on to explain, “This came at what seems like a ridiculously poor time with the relaunch and everything else that’s been happening. If anything is going to boost our numbers it’s going to be the stuff that’s coming out this Friday. Blood Sports is awesome, and for a free patch the thing coming up is absolutely enormous in size.
So I definitely think there’s a future. I mean, if we had investors working with us when we had four times the staff that we currently have, now that we have a quarter of the people it seems like profitability shouldn’t be all that difficult.”
I also couldn’t help but ask what Michael thought about Blood Sports. “I actually prototyped it initially, so it’s kind of my baby. Each one of them came out better than I think we expected them to, including Assault. We were in a panic about [Assault] on Thursday morning because it was so confusing and nobody knew what was going on since we hadn’t communicated clearly what the rules were. I was here until 10pm that night and you would not believe the change in the feedback we got in that one day of work. It’s absolutely fun, although I don’t think we’re going to be able to get that out on the 7th like we were originally hoping to, but it looks like it’s not going to be too far behind. I should know, that’s what I’m finishing today!”
So while the downsizing has obviously had a direct impact on many of the individuals who worked on Fallen Earth previous to last week’s events, it’s not all doom and gloom even for some of the team members who were let go. Michael concluded, “It’s just an unfortunate situation where they had to do what they had to do. I did want to officially say though, that if I’m crazy enough to continue working on it, there’s something still here. There’s something worth watching and looking at, and I think Icarus is down but not out so we’ll see what happens.”
And there you have it folks. While the Fallen Earth team may be smaller, they are no less determined to continue making the best possible MMO experience they can for their players. Everyone that I spoke to during my time at Icarus Studios had the same passion and drive as ever. So no, the sky certainly is not falling on Fallen Earth anytime soon. In fact, earlier this evening Ten Ton Hammer even broke the news that the game will soon be available through Walmart, which is pretty big news for the indie developer and a sure sign that wastelanders need not fear for the game’s future.