Krome Studios to close doors on Monday, contractors will continue work

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While attendees enjoy the second and final day of the Game Connect: Asia Pacific conference held on the Gold Coast which aims to inspire local developers in these tough times, news is flooding out that just nearby, a major Brisbane based studio is on the verge of collapse.

More troubling and credible reports concerning Krome Studios are currently spilling onto Twitter as well as into our comments areas, and if these new details along with the additional reports received yesterday relating to the Emergent agreement are true, then there is considerable cause for concern for what was once Australia's largest game development studio.

The rumours began with more drastic job cuts today (confirmed to be hitting both the remaining Melbourne and Brisbane studio), but it seems to be a lot more serious for the company than that.

The current report is that Krome Studios have let go of all remaining staff, including those in their base studio in Brisbane, and will be closing their doors on Monday. Some staff will be rehired as contractors to finish some remaining work.

The latest developments at Krome Studios ends a tumultuous twelve month period for the company which had started to dwindle down as the global financial crisis hit after having just reached a milestone of 400 employees.

Beginning with the axing of 60 employees in November 2009, the company shed an additional 50 employees in April this year. Four months later in August, an undisclosed but estimated 100+ employees were further let go from Krome, marking the end for the Adelaide branch of Krome Studios.

While admirable attempts to save Krome Studios Adelaide proved unsuccessful, the closure of the both the Adelaide and Melbourne arms of Krome Studios will mark the final end for the Ratbag Games and Melbourne House legacy. Krome Studios acquired the iconic 80's games developer, Melbourne House, in late 2006 from previous owner, Atari, while a studio was opened in Adelaide by Krome to accomodate the remaining Ratbag Games staff who were left unemployed after Midway closed down the Powerslide developer in late 2005.

Comments

Lach's picture

I reckon that it's good if it discourages people from a poorly paid, poorly respected career.

Much better to learn how to dig stuff out of the ground and sell it or how to charge people for using their own money.

Anonymous's picture

As an old ex-employee I'm not surprised by this at all. While I worked there I wrote a complete new physics system, and a couple of mini games in a very short amount of time (3 months!). I got fired for being in some senses "too good". I made other people look bad. I can remember putting in sound code (eg play_sound("crash.wav"); and then, getting revved by the sound guy because I added "his one line of code". BTW there were 5 sound programmers! Multiply that mentality by 100 and that was Krome. There were some good developers though. I'm surprised that lasted as long as they did!

Anonymous's picture

An entire new physics system in 3 months? And some mini games? Wow. Send me your contact details I have a job offer waiting for you right now. In fact your so good I can probably not afford you. How did you possibly manage to squeeze in enough time to write sound code in amongst all that and the other awesome work you were doing.

DanS.

Anonymous's picture

You were revved for adding lines of code that caused 5 problems for every one they fixed.

Getting fired for being 'too good' happens to all the great programmers. Let's pause for a moment to bask in your awesomeness.

Anonymous's picture

Coders giving each other shit.
Brings a smile to this animator.

Whoes first?

01000010 01110010 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101001 01110100 00100000 01101111 01101110 00100000 01100011 01101111 01100100 01100101 01110010 00100000 01100010 01101001 01110100 01100011 01101000 01100101 01110011

Anonymous's picture

Yes, programmers are fascinating to watch for us animators. Here we see two in their native environment fighting for mating rights.

The outcome, however, seems certain. Even if the first programmer could prevail in this fight, he would still almost certainly be rejected by the female for being too sexy.

Anonymous's picture

As a programmer I find this post offensive.

Anonymous's picture

Great! That was what I intended. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous's picture

As a programmer, I found it hilarious. Because I know it's all too real in many cases.

Anonymous's picture

01001110011011110111010000100000011000010010000001100011011011110110010001100101011100100010000001100010011101010111010000100000010010010010011101101100011011000010000001101000011000010111011001100101001000000110000100100000011001110110111100100001

Anonymous's picture

wow. amazing anyone can be delusional enough to think they would get fired for being "too good" and making other people "look bad".

it doesn't happen dude. wake up to yourself.

Anonymous's picture

Did it occur to you that perhaps you got the bums rush for doing stuff you weren't meant to be doing, causing countless issues due to your overwhelming sense of self wonderment which evidently blinded you to those very issues?

Fired for being too good ... if you could hear all the laughter at that statement perhaps you might rise out of delusion into the real world if even only for a moment.

Anonymous's picture

If things continue along the current trend, the gdaa may not have sufficient developer backing to continue.
A comment might be in order?
Silence is not really a great way to go, people are looking for direction.

Anonymous's picture

It's a sad thing to see one of Australia's few "big" studios collapse.

My regards go to the developers and their families.

Anonymous's picture

Coming from the UK and Sweden I was quite taken back by the inflated view that most of the guys I worked with had of themselves. Most had very little talent or an understanding of the mental toughness required to stay alive in this industry. Having seen the dark side of the industry, I was far more prepared to deal with it, and given the lack of talent and competition at Krome it was far easier to stay afloat and drain the company of funds long past my usefulness considering the lack of meaningful work. Hard times? Not really, just the ebb and flow of the industry that is common outside of this country. These posts are laughable reading though.

TheRealErikS's picture

First of all, I must say that I am truly flattered that I have my first internet imposter, and also I must say that I am grateful how you make my English skills look so much better than the usual Swenglish I deliver! Also, kudos for catching that I spell my first name with a k not a c, something that not even governments etc are usually able to, you must have spent a lot of time on your research! :)

I havent been checking in on this forum for a while, so applogies for the late reply though.

To all of you that think it was me ('The real' Erik S) making that post, no it wasnt. On the countrary, its my belief that there were a lot of great talent at Krome and a lot of people that I will surely miss and I do hope to work together with again at some point.

So to all of you that (just like myself) were and are affected by Krome going down, the best of luck to you all and I do hope you will be able to land on your feet!

And to my imposter, I do hope that one day you will find something more meaningful to do with your life than trying to be others than yourself, and if that doesnt work out, maybe try LARP, at least you get to wear latex then :)

Kind Regards,

Erik 'The Real Deal' S

Anonymous's picture

You are kind of asking for it Erik with your comment, but I actually agree with you. I don't work in the Aus dev scene, but when I did I found many people were like you said, just thought they were too good when they weren't. I don't know if it is the Aussie arrogance or Ego but Krome closing down is a good reality check for these guys, they will actually find out the hard way and that is a good thing.

At least you are prepared and are grounded. Being humble and not having an inflated view of yourself is one of the keys to success in this industry.

Anonymous's picture

Would also agree - at a lot of studios there is a nieve expectation of how a game company is supposed to be. The reality is fundamentally making games is back breaking work. Once the novelty of getting into the industy has worn off, a lot of the lower echelon just degenerate and bitch about how a studio should be, when they don't have the work ethic to compete with the studios they idolize.

Realise that as far as landing AAA projects, you are competing with teams that are working 48-49 weeks a year at around 50 hours a week with seasoned, realistic staff.

That said, there is some really outstanding talent in Oz that does work really hard. Hopefully can be brought together to work right. Good luck lads!

M

Anonymous's picture

You all make good points but I hope nobody assumes that Krome even had a chance of making a AAA game out of the majority of their titles - it simply cannot be done when you have a a 9 month window. In any case I think it says more about the shrinking budgets and timeframes the industry expects when it comes to work-for-hire. The unsung heroes of modern game development are the heads of studios like Rocksteady that manage to take a team with potential, get a license and kick and scratch for 3 years in order to make a AAA game like Batman Arkham Asylum.

Anonymous's picture

Most of us weren't disappointed for games not being AAA though, but rather that they simply weren't fun because of fundamental problems in the way projects were run.

Hellboy was a licensed title, but it had a decent sized team and time to work on it. The gameplay was fundamentally flawed however in ways that had nothing to do with the budget or time available to create it but rather things that would have been simple to fix, like Hellboy feeling unresponsive and laggy.

Spyro a New Beginning was a good game, Eternal Night turned out badly however because it was basically created on autopilot with most of the work being outsourced.

The Force Unleashed PSP/PS2/Wii had its problems, but any project does. In the end the game could have been better, but what was created was a fun game with a lot of content. Not fully AAA, but for a last gen version of a AAA game it was a great achievement. Primarily because TFU had something most Krome games didn't, fun mechanics. The game was successful because even when level design or boss battles were uninspired, it was still fun to walk into a room and throw stuff around and use your force powers.

Viva Pinata Party Animals was great for what it was, a family party game.

Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels is one of the few cases when you can truly blame the budget. The initial plan for the Clone Wars game was a Wii Exclusive Star Wars game based off the Force Unleashed engine, but time and budget constraints meant it was cut back to the pure fighting game it was. In a lot of ways it was a successful project, and while it didn't succeed in some of its control ideas that was a very common theme among Wii developers at the time who were collectively taking time to discover the power and limitations of the Wii controller.

Clone Wars: Republic Heroes was a disaster for much the same reasons as Hellboy. The fundamental gameplay was just not fun, and attempts were made to remedy this by adding more gimmicks and game modes rather than addressing the basic problems such as animation driven movement that left you feeling like you didn't have complete control of your character. Not long after the SKU's split I remember playing the Wii version of the game and the responsiveness was one of the first things the Adelaide team seemed to fix. The last gen sku's were inferior in some ways and definitely less polished, but they were more fun to run around in and didn't have the same clunky feeling. Time/budget definitely wasn't a problem here though as the initial attitude from Lucas Arts seemed to be that they were looking for Krome to pick up where the loss of the Lego license had left a hole in the Star Wars game market.

There was a subsequent Lucas Arts project that did collapse due to intense time/budget pressure, but since that project was never publicly announced I won't discuss it here.

Anonymous's picture

I think you hit the nail on the head there. There was a lot of inflexability in the implementation of those games. Everything was designed and scheduled. Nothing was set aside to tune the game. Find what is fun and make more use of it, take out what doesn't work and find something that does. The focus was so much on time and budget with very little flexability. Guardians almost ended up the same way. Luckily there was a little time to spare before it was to be release and some people learnt from Clone Wars that being on time and budget isn't everything. The game was looked at critically and improved. Improved out of site really. It was terrible before that. I am not saying the game is great but it was one game I was looking forward to playing. Most of the rest were tossed in a draw never to see the light of day.

Anonymous's picture

Probably the only fun prototype to be done at Krome in recent memory was 'Chase'. It had real gameplay. The art was minimal - the work went into making it work as a game -- driving mechanics, the AI, etc. It looked really primitive but it was FUN. Pretty cars can come later. (Disclaimer : I had nothing to do with it :)

Every prototype and game was based on banging out artwork before the game mechanic had been solved. Even if the game wasn't working, steam ahead because all this stuff is built and can't be discarded. Management never seemed to learn. The project that moved from Adl->Bris was a bad example of this. It wasn't fun. There wasn't really even a 'game' there. But characters and level meshes were being churned out. Look at BK. It's a platform/fighting game. The fighting isn't good. Every review I've read mentions it. You can get through the demo spamming X and never dying. That's a fundamental problem that needed to be worked out before building millions of props and piles of levels. It's not a bad looking game, but making it smaller and better instead of bigger and sloppy-er hurt it. Regardless of your feelings about pink kitten-women.

Anonymous's picture

Yes, Blade Kitten really shocked me. It was starting to look quite nice and there were some decent levels with hidden areas, etc. All good, I like the hidden stuff in a platformer. The combat and player controls though, ech! I kept waiting for them to get beyond what I thought was prototype stage. A lot of Krome's games suffered from this, what seemed like rough controls to get things up and running still being there in the final version. It had such basic flaws. Climbing walls and swinging on the roof the hands would slide around all over the place. You never got the feeling you were interacting with the environment. Lack of visual clues as to whether something in front of you would block you or you would walk in front of or behind it. And that combat...

Anonymous's picture

Hellboy and Republic Heroes were the biggest failures and were made by the same team. I think that speaks for itself, though it should be mentioned that both projects had major tech troubles. Why those troubles existed is a whole other story.

TFU was one game I actually really enjoyed playing even after working on it for ages. BK, I read in an interview with Steve that "it was as close to being an auteur as you can get in the games industry". The results should tell everyone what one of the fundemental flaws at Krome was.

Nobody has mentioned Legend of the Guardians. It's a little short, and maybe slightly repeditive but it's good fun and looks very pretty. For an film tie-in owl combat game I think it's very good!

It's wrong to say everything Krome made was bad. It's wrong to say everything was good. Nothing came out AAA, but it's rare for studio-for-hire titles to achieve that, especially on below AAA budgets. Lots could've been done better, but they weren't and now Krome is gone.

Anonymous's picture

Ty..Ty2..Ty3 Metacritic ~69
Spyro A new Beginning Metacritic 64
Spyro Eternal Nights Metacritic 60
Staw Wars TFU Metacritic 71
Hellboy Metacritic 47 44
Viva Pinata PA Metacritic 56
BK Metacritic 59 58 53
Transformers Metacritic 53
Scene it Metacritic 76
Star Wars Lightsaber Duels Metacritic 56
Star Wars Republic Heroes Metacritic 46 43 43 48
Guardians Metacritic 66 64 60

Yes every game Krome made was pretty bad.

Mario's picture

You know 70 is "Average", right?

While there may be no critical hits in the above list, there are some solid titles that I don't think are accurately described as "pretty bad".

Anonymous's picture

OK TFU was average. The rest were pretty bad. Scene It is not a game with design it is a clone. I think it is fair to say Krome made bad games.

Anonymous's picture

Maybe.

It's also fair to ask "What have you ever made?"

Anonymous's picture

I have not made anything but that is not the point. We are talking about Krome not me.

Anonymous's picture

(I'm not the poster you were addressing).

>>"It's also fair to ask 'What have you ever made?'"

It's the furthest thing from fair.

It's a cop out.

Either a criticism has valid points or it doesn't. Going after the background of the critic doesn't diminish the argument.

The way I see it - if we made a game, and people didn't buy it, we failed. Full stop. It's a non-debatable point.