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Pandemic Studios Brisbane no more

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/02/09 - 5:43 AM Permalink

Don't worry too much about it man, Cronyism and nepotism run deep though all game studios world wide. This being such a young industry with so many young players in positions of power its nigh on impossible to get a real fair shot unless you play the brown nose. Australians generally having less experience in game development are even worse. 'No worries mate, Ill buy you a beer.'

Submitted by souri on Fri, 13/02/09 - 1:53 PM Permalink

I think you've misinterpreted a lot of what I've said on those guys, to be honest. I never wrote that "Adam and Kirk are going to be missed" by Pandemic. To sum up my posts, all I said was they were pretty talented folk, and it's a shame that talent is not kept here anymore to pass on to others. I have given the basis on that on my correspondence with Adam, his contributions to the old forum, and his presentations. You say that's not enough, and that's fine. I'm happy to leave it at that. (You haven't actually provided any particular reason why you think otherwise, other than to say the people you talk to are happy they're gone.)

I think the crux of what you're saying is that because I didn't work with them, I don't have the right to form or express an opinion on them whatsoever, which I think is a bit unfair.

I think we can argue forever about how much you can know someone to offer a valid opinion on them, and whether you have to work right next to them to form a proper one - I mean, if that were the case, then most people would only have an opinion on just a handful of people in their lives. I have some unfavourable opinions on President George Bush, yet I've never worked with him. Does that make my opinion incorrect?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/02/09 - 4:08 PM Permalink

I'm sorry souri. I think I did blow your comments out of proportion a bit and make them more than they were. What angers me most is that pandemic is no longer... a company that was once successful and had so much potential, only to go off the rails. Many factors can be a contributing factor and I am sure Adam and Kirk cannot be completely to blame. They represent a situation I have seen too many times though. Having worked at a development studio that brought people from EAC to "help" the project, Adam and Kirk represent everything I have seen before... The people who talk the talk and walk the walk but make decisions that can prove fatal. The problem is, these people get away with it.. because they move overseas, they move into a new community that doesn't really know who they are but just sees what games they worked on and their experience. When it doesn't work out, they are okay.. but the people who suffered from their fatal decisions get no second chance. This is how I feel in relation to what happened to pandemic. I like to call out those that cause lots of people to lose their jobs.. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I feel Souri that your opinion has a lot of pull because you are the creator of this website and well known in the industry. There is such a thing as an uninformed opinion and an informed one however, and we run into this all the time. I just felt your opinion wasn't as informed. I'm sorry to get on your case, I am sorry for that .. I just hope you understand where I am coming from.

Submitted by souri on Fri, 13/02/09 - 5:41 PM Permalink

I've written earlier that I don't know anything about the production side involving those guys and so have made no comment whatsoever on that aspect. You've more than made your point that there's much more to the story that I'm aware of, and I understand and agree completely with that - I haven't claimed to know what was going on on that side however. My lament was only about talent from Pandemic going overseas, including that of Kirk and Adam (and also Travis R).

"What angers me most is that pandemic is no longer... a company that was once successful and had so much potential, only to go off the rails."

Everyone is bummed about Pandemic's demise. I remember when Destroy All Humans! was winning awards and accolades, how it woke up THQ into making some changes and announcing that they were pursuing new and original I.P. because of it, particularly at a time when their licenses and sequels were falling flat. To see such an established and highly profiled local studio (with a legacy from the Auran days) come to an end like this is really sad.

Submitted by _CAD_ on Fri, 13/02/09 - 1:51 PM Permalink

Some of the comments here are ridiculous. Now the last thing i want to do here is get into an argument, but to all those posters who said things like 'good riddance' 'I'm glad they've left this country and gone back to where ever it is they came from' 'Good luck to those not at fault' seriously grow up.

As an art graduate still trying to break into the industry i don't pretend to have an overtly comprehensive knowledge about the industry itself but placing blame on a single person or peoples just isn't the right thing to do, obviously many contributing factors added up to the closing of pandemic and its a real shame but what do you people hope to achieve by leaving hateful comments on here??

My sympathy goes out to all those affected by the closure and i hope everyone does well in their future endeavors.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/02/09 - 3:30 PM Permalink

yes it is ridiculous, but it is the reality of the industry. The fact is , and you will find this out once you get into the industry. When you have to deal with difficult people with egos for a whole project , when those people have talked bad about you to make themselves look better. When you saw them slacking off while you work your ass off then see them go for lunch with higher ups and getting a promotion... you will maybe one day say good riddance.. Yes we like to be professional , and like to say good things on this forum.. but sometimes it is too to hold back when you see people getting praised when they shouldn't be

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/02/09 - 4:15 PM Permalink

I think its about time you grew up. It's not just the games industry that is like this, its pretty much every industry. It's not just doing good work, its being *seen* doing good work. It's about your relationship with people higher up the ladder - bitching and moaning about how these other guys get all the credit is pointless. Everyone has an ego, you need to learn to work those egos to your own benefit. Politics are a part of almost every job.

Adam, in particular, is probably the best Technical Artists I've had the pleasure of working with. His technical vision along with Francois' environments produced one of the better looking games of its genre (with the help of environment artists and engine team).

Whinge and moan all you like, you just sound petty and jealous.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/02/09 - 4:47 PM Permalink

I think its about time you open your eyes.

If everything you say is true, then theoretically you don't have to have any qualifications at all, you can just be someone like tom cruise and according to your way of thinking, your charm and ability to say the right things and take credit for everything makes you WAYYY more skilled than someone who studied three years at MIT or the like.

But hey, keep going with it, I'm sure you'll end up in the same place that myhill is headed, people like him can't stay at a company for long, they have to keep jumping from one place to another, but it always catches up.

I'm guessing your one of the overseas programmers

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/02/09 - 5:59 PM Permalink

I think you need to reread what I posted. I said "It's not just doing good work, its being *seen* doing good work.". Notice the first part of the sentence? This implies that you must be good to get somewhere, but that alone isn't always enough.

And yes, you can theoretically have no qualifications and be excellent at your chosen field. I've known a number of people like that. That's not me however, I'm one of the guys that did multiple degrees and worked my way up through the ranks. Experience is eventually far more important than a piece of paper you get after a few years at Uni.

And, no, I'm not one of the overseas programmers.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/02/09 - 8:12 PM Permalink

....multiple degrees, worked his way up the ranks, claims to have experinece, is generally a douche.

this sounds like somebody who was calling some of the mis-guided shots at pandemic.

who are you exactly? to be defending these people so readily? I'm quite curious now, as there are only two types who would do that, either their friends that they've convinced are their best pal, or maybe it's the actual PERSON themselves.

If the latter, you better think about finding a new line of work buddy, The cats outta the bag now, and this IS the age of readily available information and all.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/02/09 - 6:40 PM Permalink

oh here we go.. here is another douche bag! got a job since being laid off from pandemic? oh wait.. i guess one of your high up buddies moved to a new company and recommended you. The disease spreads yet again and It is true I can't do anything about it. But you know one day it will catch up to you and the rest of the guys. Thanks for the advice about growing up, I will try my best.. maybe looking at yourself might be a good idea too..

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/02/09 - 6:46 PM Permalink

funny that you say Adam was responsible for creating a great looking environment. His a Techincal Artist and based on the story from my friends and Kotaku.. batman had huge technical issues. The framerate was horrible, wait a sec. Isn't that partly Adams responsibility. Wake UP!! the game did not get released, it was a complete failure! you talk like they did a great job, how could they have done a great job when the game didn't even make the schedule of DVD release and missed the boat completely? people have to take some responsibility and blame for this.. You unfortunately seem to have your head up in the clouds

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/02/09 - 11:27 AM Permalink

The game ran like crap, I could render a better looking scene in Max and call it 'Best looking game of the genre' My render would not have asserts popping up every odd 5 second period. But that really would be pulling the chain. Wouldnt it.

Admit it - The problem was with the team. Not external publisher, the project was in trouble long before EA picked Pandemic up as a sidekick in the Bioware deal, and everyone knows it.

Upper and Middle management - Fail
Engine Team - Fail
Studio - Fail (Thank's for destroying a great studio from the inside out)

Funny thing is these people, who have no bankable history, no proven worth still managed to get in high paying and management positions. Shocking at a studio who could have once argued to be one of the most mature in Australia. These people are usually prima donnas, but Pandemic did not even have prima donnas, they only had people that thought they were prima donnas.

It's also ironic, historically Team Bravo 'a military term' has been the team that comes in and cleans up the mess created by others before it. In this case the majority of the team Bravo core were rotten right through and caused the mess. Just how many games have those 'core' people shipped in lets say. The last seven years? You could possibly count the combined total for all of them on a single hand. Now count how many cancelled games the same mob is responsible for, probably run out of hands and feet in double time.

I feel for you guys, who really put your heart into this game, take solace that those bull shit artists, con men, and users who are responsible for this life wrecking fuckup, will one day get what is comming to them. Most are not true executive material, and will not now or ever be able to take the next steps into upper management, most will probably already have had to take a step back to gain employment elsewhere. They one day will finally be found out for the piss poor excuse of a game developers they are.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/02/09 - 12:03 PM Permalink

I read a lot of criticism and blaming here, most of seems to be very passionate and vitriolic.

Lets assume (for arguments sake) that the team was rotten. What would you have done differently? (Firing everyone and employing an entirely new team is not an option - you'd delay the game even more). How would you successfully release a game on a new console, new code, new art, new audio, new IP all within 18 months? How could you turn that game around?

A lot of teams out there seem to be taking 3 to 5 years even, to release on these new (for them) platforms. What makes those games any better? Deeper publisher pockets? No Canadians? Better phone manners?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/02/09 - 1:14 PM Permalink

No canadians or Americans in the top positions it probably the most intelligent thing I've heard you say, they may be fine running a team over in the states, but they have no idea that the methods and idioms that they employ and are praised for over in their countries (with the respective misguided corporate culutre that breeds their particular venomous practices) don't fly that well over here in OZ.

Firing the whole team and hiring a new one? who is this?!?! you've read the criticism, but you haven't really understood it, if I were a suspicious man I'd almost say that this was someone who is looking to improve their lack of leadership by having others think of things for them because they are incapable of doing it themselves. The team was fine, it was the people in charge of the team that were corrupt to the core, I would have fired all the people in charge and promoted the leads to those vacant positions.

Then I would have chosen a better game engine, the engine that (Myhill) the tech director decided upon was incomplete and a piece of shit, it couldn't even support basics that are essentials for game development in this day and age. The DAH2 engine was so much better and superior and it was used for last gen games! IT's so funny, because he had such a wide choice of well developed engines that were proven and being used, from DAH to the mercs engine and even engines from Bioware that they could have borrowed, but he went picked the one that was the least developed and most shittiest one to apply changes to.

Sure, it takes three to five years for most developers, but they could have done it in 18 months, if those in charge had been smart about it, but they weren't, they were stupid, and squanderers, and they squandered away 20+ million and a real opportunity to make something special in exchange for some short term gains.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/02/09 - 1:47 PM Permalink

OK, you fire the upper management, promote the leads (who have no experience in production and are good at what they do ie. leading teams in their disciplines.) and then I suppose you you promote the 'grunts' below them into lead positions (even though they have no experience leading)? Anyone else see the problem there? Leads are good at leading, coders at coding, designers at designing. Pushing them out of the area of expertise is a a recipe for disaster.

An engine doesn't make a good game - good game design makes a good game. The Sab engine was used - isn't that an open world game? Why wasn't that good enough? Surely a last gen engine would have required serious reworking to take advantage of next gen capabilities? Wouldn't that have been just as bad?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/02/09 - 3:29 PM Permalink

His main point you are not understanding.. Myhill and the leads in charge made bad decisions. They were bad leaders and bad managers. My current project had this same issue, and we fixed it by hiring a new manager who came in and took over the duties from the previous one. He was given the responsibility and power over the art directors and established people at the company. This helped break up the existing power struggle and put the problem people in their place. The previous manager was put on other tasks where he wouldn't cause problems. If he didn't like it then he could just quit or he could be let go.

I'm sure Pandemic had many leads who were capable of taking on more responsibility.. I have seen many times guys who were hired as a senior artist not in a lead role with lots of leadership experience. So when required these guys could step up. I don't think pandemic needed a huge overhaul by the sounds of it. They just needed the few problem makers dealt with and put into other roles. It seems like their buddie group needed to be broken up. The decision to use the merc engine seems like a deadly one... that maybe shouldn't have been down to myhill. It shouldn't have been his call.. seems hard to believe that it could have been just his call. Anyways it all is down to management, if it is not working then a company can't just sit there and deal with it, there needs to be action taken. It is amazing that no action was taken at a senior level when things were not going to plan early on in the project.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/02/09 - 4:01 PM Permalink

Then please enlighten us. If it wasn't up to myhill who was it up to? it seems a little weird that the technical director wasn't responsible for deciding what tech to use and which game engine to use.

please, tell us the "truth"

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/02/09 - 3:43 PM Permalink

I'm sorry, but your logic is flawed. Your saying that people who were hired as leads had no production experince?!?!? Then how on earth did they manage to become leads? the same way that the higher-ups became directors? Just spending ten or so years doing QA and then BAM, they're qualified to be whatever they want? then why wouldn't those people just try and be directors instead?

Then you say that they're good at what they do, which is leading? but they shouldn't be promoted to leadership positions? you are seriously just typing around in circles here.

"An engine doesn't make a good game - good game design makes a good game" Yeah pal, I mean, who even NEEDS a game engine to make a game anyway? just get a bunch of game designers together and they can talk about how cool it could be if you could do this and that, but...oh....wait, there isn't a game engine to support it, oh well too bad. I mean, it's not like you need a game engine to actually make a game in the first place or anything, right? who thinks like that? You can just sit in a room and circle jerk over gameplay fantasies instead, cuts on the costs of publishing and distribution and all that pointless game making.

And Mercs was an open world game as well, why wasn't that good enough either? if your making a license product in as little as 18 months, wouldn't it make MORE sense to take something that is more or less finished, slap a new skin on it, customize a few gameplay settings, then just spend the rest of that time polishing rather than starting from scratch and having to re-invent the wheel with clunky half developed tools and controls, and not even standard physics in place? Saboteur is over budget and over-schedule yet again as I type this.

I think I know who this might be, and quite frankly, I'm not surprised that he's saying these things, otherwise admitting to the contrary means he's admitting his own lack of skill and leadership abilities, or rather his only skill of being able to make tube amps, and trying to convince everyone that using tube amps is the next greatest technological leap.

Seriously, you need to get a clue.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/02/09 - 10:34 PM Permalink

Implicit in this is an attitude of not planning for succession, or of development of team members-

Leads are good at leading?....Not a given, leading may be their experience but they might suck- same with the other disciplines.
(Surely then HR people too ought to stay HR by your logic, QA stay QA, and barmaids ought to stay barmaids etc but do they?)- Wait maybe that's not such a bad idea haha.

Its true- you shouldn't take people away from what they're best at- but therein is a another problem in an environment where if you aren't a lead you truly are a second class citizen.

And where do 'leads' come from? A nearby factory? (That's a problem in itself not getting people who understand creative industries).

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 15/02/09 - 7:24 AM Permalink

you make it sound like it is impossible to find leads? There are a lot around now that so many people are looking for work. At every company there are individuals that have the potential to be leads. Just because you worked in QA doesn't make you lead potential either... Look I understand that QA is a way to get into the industry and working your way up into development is a significant achievement. I feel QA most often consists of people that couldn't get into development the other way based on the their portfolio or talent. What QA does is it gives someone the chance to befriend the people that will get them into development and bypass the talent part. This is exactly what happened to Adam M. at EAC.. a terrible demo reel but knew some friends on the Need for speed team that could get him into development. Then from there he could just befriend more people and then suddenly he is a Lead Technical Director. Comes to Pandemic, realizes he is out of his depth and then causes a game not to ship and the studio to close down? If this is the end result of promoting someone from QA then obviously it is a recipe for disaster. At EA I have seen so many times, guys come from QA befriend high up guys and suddenly they are leading people who are way more experienced and qualified than them.. This is the sad reality and I feel this is crippling the industry.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 15/02/09 - 8:32 AM Permalink

Good leads are hard to find, definitely. Just because someone is good in their particular discipline doesn't mean they will make a good lead. You can't just promote a good coder (for example) and expect them to be a good lead coder. When this particular project started there wasn't a lot of experienced talent available - it was taking up to 6 months to find a good senior (of any discipline).

This is not about QA bashing either. I agree that many people see QA as an easy entry into game development, but good QA is invaluable and shouldn't be underestimated. Good junior QA should be promoted to senior QA, not design (or art).

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 15/02/09 - 9:53 AM Permalink

I agree with you that good leads are hard to find but 6 months? maybe your HR department wasn't doing a good job. Hard to find is not your fault, it is usually the way talent is found. I also find it is hard to tell from the interview that he or she maybe a good lead. All the senior artists you could hire have potential, the senior artists you already had, have potential also. I don't believe someone is necessarily born a lead and everything comes naturally.. some people will never be a lead , that is true.. but with proper guidance and mentoring , giving someone a chance to prove themselves.. anything is possible I feel. I personally know a guy that was a lead at two previous companies before pandemic, a very good lead. Only to be put in a Senior Artist role without any responsibility on batman. Sometimes I feel their is a power struggle always that prevents artists being promoted also.. a guy who you were working with is suddenly telling you what to do, this can be probelematic if not handled correctly. With proper management I feel their are ways to promote and nurture talent though.

I don't like to bash QA , and I feel their role in games is very important. Like you said, Good Junior QA need to be promoted to Senior QA.. not design or art roles unless they have great skills to back up their promotion to development. In Admas case he didn't

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/02/09 - 11:54 PM Permalink

You don't have to fire the leads, maybe some (maybe none). Instead you hire an effective (associate) producer -- not a bean-counter. Some practically focused, who sees through the BS and dev politics. Of course, they need the authority -- not necessarily from the studio's upper management, better off being the publisher (actually).

Why this engine was selected is a mystery to me. It's a movie-tie-in-game. You're time is finite, even locked in. You pick a reliable engine that you know can be updated to support the features you need, with minimum fuss. This really surprises me, especially as there was another Batman game in the works that looks great and looks like it has solid gameplay.

All this talk about how great the graphics looks, makes me kinda sick. Technology is technology, no matter who great it looks; it doesn't actually make up for gameplay!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/02/09 - 3:18 PM Permalink

Actually, this is the best suggestion I've read in this thread. Of course, finding a producer who isn't a bean-counter and yes-man and will actually engage with the team and ride above the office politics is sort of like finding the holy grail. :/ But if you do find someone who's good at dealing with the team, someone who the lower echeleons feel they can go to when they find themselves in need of getting around a problem in the chain of command... well, that solves bucketloads of problems right there.

I think maybe all this really comes down to is accountability. It seems like there's a great big lack of it, and that's why a lot of people in this thread are angry and frustrated. EVERYBODY needs to be accountable to somebody else, no matter their position or who they're friends with.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/02/09 - 4:39 PM Permalink

This is definately the best suggestion I've read throughout the entire thread. Having a Producer who deals with both short and long terms goals while being able to deal with every single member of the dev team is the best possible solution. The company I am with now has an open door policy between every department of the dev team, which in comparison to the previous company I was with where if anyone had a complaint they would have to go through their supervisor then to the manager and then to HR.

I understand that this the argument against this is that leads and management have information that is "need to know" but from my experience, being transparent and honest will in turn create trust within the dev team and the company as a whole.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/02/09 - 4:37 PM Permalink

you all still keep making up excuses for these individuals and passing comment on a insignificantly small amount of impressions you've gleaned from meeting these shysters, yet you are more than happy to criticise those who have actually been there, experienced and seen what has happenned from a VERY objective standpoint, I mean, you all seem like the jury who despite being shown the bloody knife, pictures of the perpatrator performing the act, and several witnesses who saw the incident, are still willing to deem the criminal "not guilty" because "he has a nice suit and seems like a pleasant enough fellow."

The "This. This I think is" post hits the goddam nail on the head, and it's an exact textbook case of EXACTLY what went down at pandemic. Retarded american/canandian Producer starts up there, decides to hire all his buddies for the top positions, pays them above average wages because, well, "they're his buddies" (case in point: the lead sound guy got paid at LEAST $110k a year, and all he did was just make useless spreadsheets, and be in charge of one person who did all the work, this one person did fine on his own when working on DAH2). Buddies hire more of their buddies for more positions to the point where it becomes quite a little cluster-fuck. It got to the stage where the bravo team was split into two: the canadians/americans and their "friends" (those who were in top management positions) and the "local grunt" workforce which consisted of aussies brits etc who did most of the work and were more or less held-up by the first groups flights of whimsy and un-informed decision making that made their lives hell.

Adam M. was supposed to be the TECHINCAL DIRECTOR, but all he did was talk about how cool looking light flares were. Even though he was a technical director he didn't even understand how camera facing BILLBOARDS were supposed to work. Him, Gibbons, and the retarded "creative" director took a company paid trip to Chicago, New york and LA and they were supposed to be taking reference photos for the environment department to use, they were gone for TWO WEEKS on the company dime, and they only took ONE HUNDRED PHOTOS, TWENTY of which were of them sitting in resturants and drinking beer and taking rides in horse carriages, the other 80 were completely USELESS to the environment team who ended up having to scour through the net looking for better refernece to use, YOU STILL THINK THAT THEY'RE THE TYPE OF PEOPLE WHO SHOULD BE IN CHARGE OF STUDIO?!?! Shit like this happenned ALL THE TIME, it wasn't just an ISOLATED INCIDENT.

You're right CAD, all this hate can be crippling, and people need to move on, buts its hard to do that when everyone is more willing to blame everything else first rather than THE ONES WHO WERE ACTUALLY RESPONISBLE FOR IT for god-fucking christs sake. You say "As an art graduate still trying to break into the industry i don't pretend to have an overtly comprehensive knowledge about the industry itself" well then if you don't know what the hell happened then just shut the hell up, "empty ships make the most noise" as the saying goes.

The external "contributing" factors were irrelevant, THE SIMPLE FACT IS if there had been people who knew what they were doing making the decisions then the project would have been done, pandemic wouldn't have closed down, and there would be two awsome games coming out intead of NON despite those factors.

Reports have come in confirming that the remaining employees at Pandemic Studios Brisbane have been let go after losing their bid in getting publisher interest for their Wii game called "The Next Big Thing" in the hope of finishing its development.

The open world reality show game was in production for the Wii by the second team at Pandemic Studios Brisbane before owner and publisher Electronic Arts let many staff go and cut loose the studio in early January. The final dozen or so remaining staff at Pandemic Brisbane were notified today that all avenues have been exhausted and were let go.