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Micro Forté

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A feature written by Laura Parker for Gamespot AU did a great job covering three of the pioneering studios of the earliest days of the Australian games industry: Beam/Melbourne House, Strategic Studies Group (SSG), and Micro Forte. Local games veterans who saw the birth and rapid growth of the local games industry also shared their experiences of what it was like in the early days and gave their thoughts on the current 'rebirth'. These guys need no introduction. They are John De Margheriti (co-founder Micro Forte), Steve Fawkner (SSG), George Fidler (EA, Creative Assembly), and John Passfield (co-founder Krome Studios).

The veterans described how the industry had come a long way with work-for-hire and seeing a big surgeance of startups in the late 90's, but agreed that it was no longer a sustainable way of business. And despite having decades of experience each where you'd think they'd be set in the old ways of the industry, they're all embracing the new change that has been sweeping the games industry and share an equal level of optimism for the future of local games development. From Gamespot AU...

(Steve Fawkner) To be honest, the old industry was heading into a meltdown anyway. The focus was shifting toward games like Call of Duty with movie-sized budgets and long production times, a model which can only support a few big developers.

Fawkner says that the local industry had an over-reliance on work-for-hire and a lack of original IP development, but believes that digital distribution is the key in moving the industry forward opening some exciting possibilities for local developers. George Fidler agrees...

(George Fidler)“In the past, this has been difficult for two reasons: a lack of local venture capital and huge development budgets. It cost tens of millions of dollars to make video games. The budgets for casual and social games are much lower, which gives us the opportunity to fund projects ourselves. I think social-game mechanics are pervading every genre, on every platform of interactive entertainment. Electronic marketing and distribution, lower purchase prices and revenue streams, from in-game purchases and advertising are all here to stay.”

The shift in the gaming landscape certainly hasn't escaped the attentioned of Micro Forte boss, John De Margheriti, and he describes the change that we are seeing locally as a "renaissance" and just a beginning of even bigger things to come...

“As numerous Australian studios started floundering, it gave the amazing talent pool the opportunity to strike it out and go at it alone focusing on much smaller, self-funded titles. This is the renaissance of the games industry in Australia and I believe it will eventually be bigger than what it was. Now is the time because we are at the beginning of a new product life-cycle...”

John Passfield emphasises the need to embrace the new and adapt to change rather than clinging on to the old and that success doesn't necessarily come from the size of your games studio...

“I would argue that we, as an industry, are more successful than ever. Will we have 300-plus person studios again? Probably not. But I never saw that as a sign of success. What I count as success is high quality games in the top 10 around the world and great return on investment. It's easy to work out what should have been done in hindsight. What is important is for those still stuck in the old way of thinking to change quickly--embrace digital distribution, embrace metrics, explore free-to-play models and social play. Don't stick your head in the sand waiting for the old industry to recover.

Of interesting note, the veterans gave honour to the late Adam Lancman, the CEO of Beam Software/Melbourne House and head of the Games Developers Associaton of Australia (GDAA) who passed away unexpectedly in 2005. John De Margheriti revelaed that discussions were underway with Adam for the CEO role of Micro Forte until his untimely death.

For the entire feature, head on over to Gamespot AU...

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Micro Forté was founded in 1985 by John De Margheriti with co-founders Steve Wang, Stephen Lewis and John Reidy, making the Sydney games company 25 years old this year. Other developers who've recently celebrated birthdays are Melbourne House with their 30th anniversary earlier this year, and Blue Tongue Entertainment who hit their 15th birthday just a few weeks ago. The company who has the oldest Australian games developer title is the Strategic Studies Group (SSG) who released their first game in 1983.

As the Micro Forté staff celebrate their incredible milestone with a sailing race in Sydney harbour today (a nod to their first game, America's Cup Challenge for the C64/128), Atomic PC have published an interview with co-founder, John De Margheriti on their 25 year journey of ups and downs, how they've been able to survive all this time, as well as the current state of the local games industry. From Atomic PC...

What do you think about the current state of the Australian Game industry and where do you see it headed?

(John) It's full circle basically. The Australian industry is back where it was. This is similar to what the US industry was in the mid 80s where game development projects were one hundred thousand to make and required one to two people to make the product. So it's moving very much to iPad/iPhone, eventually HTML 5; it's game development moving towards flash games

John has cited the lack of Government incentives and support as having a detrimental effect on the local games industry, so much so that it could have prevented the recent closure of studios like Krome Studios. Also insightful are some of the grants that Micro Forté have taken advantage of in the past (some of which are no longer available or have been heavily downsized), as well as some of the new grants planned by Labor which games companies should keep an eye out for.

So how has Micro Forté been able to survive all this time? John explains how the company was able to diversify their games related business from setting up an educational instituion (The Academy of Interactive Entertainment) to producing middleware for the MMOG market (Big World Tech) which has helped bring in a steady source of revenue to ride out the cashfall and contract problems that been affecting local games developers. In fact, they stopped depending on publishers seven years ago.

For those smaller studios or those who are looking into getting a start up off the ground, John predicts that the next two year period as a limited window for small independent developers to establish themselves as things will inevitably get more competitive in the emerging casual / app markets...

(John) The key thing now is there is a window of time, a year or two, for people to start their development studio. You know, start ups of one or two person teams struggling away, before things get bigger. The reason there is a small window of time is because as more people enter that market the price point... the quality of the games is going to get better and better and people are going to spend more money, therefore its harder to get in.

Something that you could do with a few friends in six months all of a sudden requires a full-time staff of three or four people, and you need money for that. That's what's going to happen in the next two or three years. The Academy is getting involved; we have a few announcements soon.

As for the future, Micro Forté are looking into ways into incorporating their Big World tech for the emerging spaces like the iPhone/iPad and Flash platforms (which could include Facebook etc), and the AIE will also be announcing stategies soon too.

Congratulations must be given to Micro Forté for reaching 25 years of existence, it's an incredible milestone to survive this long considering the industry events that have transpired in the past two years. Be sure to read the full interview with John at Atomic PC at the link, it's an incredible insight considering his long tenure in the local games industry of which he has undoubtley been a very influential part of.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/06/08 - 9:07 AM Permalink

Thing is is tho, I don't think anyone expected this to work, right?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/06/08 - 10:31 PM Permalink

The reviews for Kwari have been poor, with GamesMaster Magazine described the graphics as "laughable" and "a decade out of date". They also said it was "very, very standard online shooting, with no innovation or imagination." Friday's Gamer said the game was "pointless, unenjoyable, and unreasonably expensive", scoring the game just 07%, the second lowest score in the website's history after High School Musical: Sing It! received four.

- Another MicroForte masterpiece.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/06/08 - 9:16 AM Permalink

Developers are still in their deluded fantasy worlds, where they can't see that what they're creating is garbage. Wake up.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/06/08 - 6:18 AM Permalink

Micro Forte is also the studio which cancelled Citizen Zero in 2007. What is the next game using Micro Forte's BigWorld engine?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/06/08 - 9:41 AM Permalink

From memory, it was licensed to a developer in the Asian region for an MMO? Souri?

Submitted by souri on Fri, 06/06/08 - 5:15 PM Permalink

...and they're based in China. BigWorld tech has roughly around 40 licensee's, including publishers like Sierra Online, developers like Slipgate Ironworks (headed by John Romero), and Perth developers Interzone Games.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/06/08 - 10:28 AM Permalink

To be fair, Microsoft cancelled Citizen Zero when they announced the XBox360 platform and dropped a whole bunch of in-development XBox titles, and Interplay dropped the Fallout game MF were working on when they went under.

Still. 3 cancelled games in a row has to hurt.

I hope their Bigworld technology licencing is enough to keep them going. It would be sad to see such a long-standing Aussie game company close shop.

Submitted by souri on Fri, 06/06/08 - 5:48 PM Permalink

but some of those cancellations weren't entirely Micro Forte's fault. From what I can remember, and memory is a bit hazy (I will have to look up the exact circumstances of the Fallout sequel getting pulled, although I don't think it was officially publicised) but from what I can recall, Interplay screwed over MF on that one. Citizen Zero, well, if you can remember how quick Microsoft were to totally drop the Xbox when they started talking about the Xbox 360, they were as equally as eager to do the same for Xbox titles they were funding. Citizen Zero was dropped as the Xbox's life cyce was coming to a close, and heck, True Fantasy Live Online was even dropped too. I thought Citizen Zero looked pretty cool for an Xbox game... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrWdvIoV9GI

Finding different and sustainable revenue streams for online games is definitely one tough cookie to crack. Auran is trying it with their now freely downloadable Fury title, but it seems to be the end for another Australian made online game.

Kwari, which was developed at Micro Forte Canberra, had an interesting idea where you could purchase virtual bullets using real money in the multiplayer online first person shooter game, and in return you could also win real money while playing. The news over at gamesindustry.biz is that Kwari is getting shut down, and Kwari Limited, the publisher behind Kwari, has gone into receivership. Slightly more details as well as a very interesting old interview with the Kwari Limited marketing manager over at gamesindustry.biz...

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/01/08 - 7:23 AM Permalink

  • 1. Anonymous Wed, 16 Jan 2008 03:05:59 EST

    Shit, that writer's position sounds right up my alley. Too bad MF would probably not even bother reviewing my app -- I'm on their blacklist ;).

    Their loss I suppose...

  • 1. Anonymous Wed, 16 Jan 2008 06:26:42 EST

    ooh...blacklist...you sound dangerous mystery man.

  • 2. Anonymous Wed, 16 Jan 2008 10:47:46 EST

    How did you get on their blacklist?

  • 1. Anonymous Thu, 17 Jan 2008 20:11:11 EST

    Because I reminded the geek founders running the Sydney studio, of the guys that used to beat up on them in high school ;).

  • 2. Anonymous Thu, 17 Jan 2008 01:29:00 EST

    Wait, did it just say that they will licence Bigworld to make mmorpg's? Why would they have to licence something that belongs to them?

  • 1. anon. Thu, 17 Jan 2008 09:08:24 EST

    keyword: 'licensees'

About Micro Forté
Micro Forté is a veteran of Australian game development which has been established for over 22 years. As well as their success in developing games, Micro Forté successfully researched and developed one of the world's leading MMOG middleware platforms with their BigWorld Technology. The BigWorld Technology is now a separate business and Micro Forté are free to focus on developing MMOG for licensees of the BigWorld Technology and self-published titles. Micro Forté is currently developing a groundbreaking espionage-themed MMOG. If you have a passion for making games, are talented, a self-starter and believe that you can contribute valuable ideas to a project, then you may find what you are looking for at Micro Forté.

Writer

Position Description
Micro Forté is looking for a skilled writer to bring depth and soul to our groundbreaking espionage-themed MMOG. This is a very varied role. You will work with the lead designer and art director to shape the storytelling within the game, direct the work of external writers, create back stories for the game NPCs, and write mission briefings and general NPC dialogue. We are looking for someone with a passion for games who is excited by the challenge of non-linear storytelling and the prospect of creating a compelling world that is home to a thousand different stories, dramatic events and adventurous opportunities.

Requirements
- Proven ability as a professional writer
- Ability to work within a team
- Ability to embrace the challenges and possibilities of storytelling in an open-ended RPG
- Excellent communication skills

Desirable
- Experience in writing for computer games or closely related medium
- Passion for computer games
- Passion for science fiction and/or espionage
- Deep knowledge of at least one MMO

If you believe that you are the right person for this position, please forward your resume and examples of your work to: gamejobs@ microforte.com

Concept Designer

Position Description
Micro Forté is looking for a concept designer responsible for designing compelling environments that resonate with our sci-fi target audience. From dramatic vistas from mountain peaks, to the bowels of an alien underground civilization, your role will be to help imagine and detail this world.

The primary task of the concept designer is to supply highly detailed blue-prints and designs for outsourced asset development. A background in Architecture or Industrial design is highly preferred. The key to success in this role is good social and communication skills, especially during collaboration with the level designers and other concept designers.

Requirements
- At least three years of experience in any professional creative field, preferably games, Architecture and/or Industrial Design
- Excellent personal and professional portfolio
- Passionate about, and with good knowledge of, industrial design, graphical design, architecture, art and culture including games, movies, comics, video clips, etc
- Excellent technical knowledge of design software and techniques
- Comfortable working in a multi-disciplinary team
- Ability to work within a predefined style
- Strong communication skills

Desirable
- Bachelor degree (or equivalent) in relevant area (Design, Architecture)
- Keen interest in weapon concept creation
- Avid gamer

Application and Portfolio Guidelines
Online portfolios will suffice for the initial application, however you will be required to provide a full portfolio at interview stage. Please supply examples of:

- Thumbnails showing creative process
- Final concepts
- Emotive pieces, highlighting lighting and atmosphere.
- Subject matter we are interested in includes scenery (cityscapes as well as outdoor), items and weapons, characters and animals.
- Explain which parts are your work if the examples are from games or other collaborative work.
- You will need to be prepared to do a concepting test as part of our interview process.

If you believe that you are the right person for this position, please forward your resume by email to: gamejobs@microforte.com.au and quote reference code DLF2D.

Interface Designer

Position Description
Micro Forté is looking for an Interface Designer with excellent skills in Adobe Flash and a passion for games. This role will be primarily responsible for designing and implementing a UI and HUD for our upcoming title. Other tasks will include design and implementation support for the web-based components. This role requires strong social and communication skills, and will require ongoing collaboration with the game design and art teams.

Requirements
- At least two years of professional Flash experience
- Excellent personal and professional portfolio, emphasis on visual communications and motion graphics
- Previous experience with user interface design, games or web
- Passionate about, and having good knowledge of, graphical design trends and games culture
- Excellent technical knowledge of Adobe Flash, with an emphasis on Actionscript
- Comfortable working in a multi-disciplinary team
- Ability to work within a predefined style
- Strong communication skills

Desirable
- Bachelor's degree (or equivalent) in Visual Communications / Multimedia
- Motion Graphics experience
- Previous Scaleform Experience
- Avid gamer

Application and Portfolio Guidelines
Either online Portfolios or CD/DVD, presenting a full portfolio at interview stage. Please supply examples of:
- Examples of creative process
- Final concepts
- Motion Graphics
- Breadth of Style
- Please specify which are your work if examples you present are from games or other collaborative work
- You will need to be prepared to do an art test as part of our interview process

If you believe that you are the right person for this position, please forward your resume by email to: gamejobs@microforte.com.au

Senior 3d Modeler

Position Description
Micro Forté is looking for a senior 3D artist who has strong artistic and technical skills, complemented by at least three years experience in asset generation for titles on PC or console. The ideal candidate will have experience in concept art, modelling and texturing assets and the ability to innovate to create the best possible visuals within project constraints such as memory budgets, lighting models, modular content and looming deadlines! This role will include establishing modelling benchmarks and aiding the development and implementation of a variety of assets, from characters to set-dressing.

Requirements
- Extensive hands-on 3dsMax skills
- Strong artistic and creative skills as well as technical insight
- Minimum of 3 years Games Industry experience, including at least one shipped title
- Good knowledge of game development processes
- A showreel demonstrating modelling and texturing ability
- Ability to model and texture to a given style and direction
- Good team player
- Strong communication skills
- Avid gamer

Desirable
- Bachelor's Degree (or equivalent) in Visual Communications.
- Level design and construction experience
- Concepting skills
- Animation skills
- Shader development
- Maxscript knowledge

Application and Portfolio Guidelines
Online portfolios will suffice for the initial application; however you will be required to provide a full portfolio at interview stage. Please supply examples of:
- models and scenes, including mesh renders,
- textures
- polygon count information

Subject matter we are interested in includes scenery (cityscapes as well as outdoor), items and weapons, characters and animals. Please specify which parts are your work if the examples are from games or other collaborative work.

You will need to be prepared to do a modelling test in 3DS MAX as part of our interview process.

If you believe that you are the right person for this position, please forward your resume by email to: gamejobs@microforte.com.au and quote reference code DLF3D.

Senior Games Programmer

Position Outline
We are looking for an experienced Senior Game Programmer with a passion for playing and making games to bring our groundbreaking espionage-themed MMOG to life. Your creative solutions to the designers' impossible requests will shape the gaming experience. We expect you to have strong abilities in combat systems, game scripting systems, user interfaces, and all those other bread and butter games programmer bits. You must be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of game performance and resource budgeting issues. You must have worked on at least one published title. Lead programming experience preferred.

Requirements
- Very good C/C++ skills (you will need to do our C/C++ test)
- Games industry experience (two plus years)
- Ability to demonstrate creative solutions to difficult problems
- Avid gamer
- Good teamwork skills

Desirable
- Previous team leadership experience
- Python
- DirectX
- 3D/maths
- Database systems
- A deep knowledge of at least one MMO
- AI systems

If you believe that you are the right person for this position, please forward your resume and examples of your work to: gamejobs@microforte.com

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/12/07 - 4:22 PM Permalink

  • 1. Anonymous Tue, 18 Dec 2007 09:05:58 EST

    "one of Australiaâ€'s most recognised game developers"

    most people say " who?" when you mention MF. they aren't very recognised...

    when did they last release a game?

  • 1. Anonymous Tue, 18 Dec 2007 14:41:37 EST

    when did you last release a game?

  • 1. Anonymous Tue, 18 Dec 2007 15:06:54 EST

    not very long ago :P

  • 2. Simon Lissaman Tue, 18 Dec 2007 11:13:56 EST

    Hot Wheels Bash Arena in 2002.

  • 3. Farbs Tue, 18 Dec 2007 13:58:33 EST

    That was a question in a recent quiz night. It won me an Irrational Games keychain :)

  • 1. rezn0r Tue, 18 Dec 2007 18:34:02 EST

    The one with the bottle opener AND the torch?

    Aaaaaaw yeah!

    *pats keys*

    Scott.

  • 2. Simon Lissaman Wed, 19 Dec 2007 08:35:40 EST

    Seems incestuous somehow =0)

  • 4. kazi Tue, 18 Dec 2007 14:40:40 EST

    Happy birthday MF

  • 5. Anonymous Tue, 18 Dec 2007 17:37:14 EST

    Typo!

  • 6. Anonymous Tue, 18 Dec 2007 18:30:55 EST

    22 years since they registered their business name perhaps...but they haven't been running continuously for the last 22 years.

  • 7. Dele Tue, 18 Dec 2007 21:47:32 EST

    When i was studying in Canberra, there was like, 3 people working at the canberra studio

  • 8. Simon Lissaman Wed, 19 Dec 2007 08:50:42 EST

    They may have grown a little since then.

  • 9. Anonymous Wed, 19 Dec 2007 11:23:27 EST

    Micro Forté... Hmmm... Yeah, I think I worked for them once. I seem to recall getting layed off along with just about every one else in the Sydney studio. Ah yes, it's all coming back to me now. Great company. Glad to see they're still alive and making games.

    They are making games, aren't they? What's that? Last released game was when?

    :D

  • 10. Anonymous Wed, 19 Dec 2007 13:55:10 EST

    come back when it's 22 years of game production, not sitting idle.

  • 1. Anonymous Wed, 19 Dec 2007 16:08:41 EST

    can't anyone ever just be happy and say nice things sometime?

    people always just fling mud or be negative all the time.

    ever heard " If you've got nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all?"

  • 1. Anonymous Wed, 19 Dec 2007 17:04:46 EST

    If you're good at making games you don't have time to post negative comments. If you're bad at making games, or can't get a job, or got fired. Guess what .... Lots of spare time to make stupid posts

  • 1. Anonymous Wed, 19 Dec 2007 18:28:25 EST

    MMmm.... I'm good at making games. I'm happily employed. Haven't been fired from a game company for many years.

    But I make time to post snarky comments about Micro Forte. Something about being laid off after working a full year on a project just rubs me the wrong way I guess.

  • 11. Tom Wed, 19 Dec 2007 16:43:11 EST

    22 years and still no wikipedia entry. Someone get to it!

  • 1. Anonymous Thu, 20 Dec 2007 18:52:19 EST

    that's because they are insignificant.

  • 1. Anonymous Fri, 21 Dec 2007 10:02:44 EST

    Lol, angry little person aren't we

  • 1. Anonymous Thu, 3 Jan 2008 15:14:20 EST

    Isn't everyone here?

I missed this fairly recent press release from Micro Forte who are celebrating a whopping 22 years in the games industry. That's a pretty incredible achievement and very worthy of much applause.

Congratulations Micro Forte, here's to another 22! o_O

Press Release
(Canberra, AUSTRALIA): - Micro Forté has celebrated 22 years in the games development industry, making them the oldest surviving Australian games studio. As one of Australia’s most recognised game developers, Micro Forté attributes their success to adaptability, innovation and gaining support from key individuals and government bodies that have recognised the potential of their ambitions and offered ongoing support.

“We have received enormous support from our staff, the business community and various levels of Government” observed Stephen Harris, Chief Financial Officer “The support given to us particularly by AusIndustry has been outstanding. As a company negotiating the various legalities and potential traps of exporting a product, we could not have achieved the success we have without their continued support”.

From their first title, developed on a Commodore 64 in their Sydney flat, to their more recent work on massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) in their Canberra and Sydney Studios, Micro Forté has proven itself as a company with longevity, passion and a focus on innovative and unique concepts.

CEO, and co-founder John De Margheriti said “We are not the biggest Australian studio, and we haven’t developed the biggest game titles either, our success lies in the innovative and ground breaking products that we choose to work on. Despite the significant challenges throughout the life of the business, we have continued to be innovative, adapting the business and exploring new ideas. We are true survivors in a lucrative, though challenging industry and it is worth celebrating!”

Micro Forté’s fearless exploration into the future of gaming led them to develop and conceptualise BigWorld Technology™, a leading MMOG middleware solution on a global scale. The innovative technology is now a company in its own right [BigWorld Pty Ltd] and Micro Forté have focused their attention on developing client MMOG titles using BigWorld Technology™.

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Worthplaying.com have 20 new screenshots which showcase the Micro Forte developed online first person shooter called Kwari. As you know, Kwari sports the unique 'cash for bullets' subscription model, and you can read more about it at the page at Worthplaying.com ....

The Kwari game, which has been developed out of Micro Fort?'s Canberra studio since mid 2006, is being built on BigWorld's award-winning Technology Suite, and is due for release later this year. It goes to show that one can develop an action MMO in under 18 months using the BigWorld platform.
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Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/09/07 - 3:32 PM Permalink

  • 1. :) - Tue, 11 Sep 2007 07:30:57 ESTUnreal 2.5: Kwari
  • 2. Apologetic Abuser - Tue, 11 Sep 2007 11:47:52 ESTYou saying that it's using Unreal engine 2.5?
  • 3. Anonymous - Tue, 11 Sep 2007 11:50:23 ESTUsing older engines is a logical business decision for games like MMOs and money-makers like this. It means a wider player base.

    It looks good regardless.

  • 4. Anonymous - Tue, 11 Sep 2007 12:20:43 ESTIs this pronounced "quarry" or qu-arr-ee?
  • 5. :) - Tue, 11 Sep 2007 12:38:47 ESTLOL...

    I meant that the game looks just like an Unreal game.

  • 6. Apologetic Abuser - Tue, 11 Sep 2007 14:51:09 ESTNah, don't think so.
    And you're right, it's good business sense, but it suffers on the visuals.
  • 7. Anonymous - Tue, 11 Sep 2007 18:39:10 ESTIs the microforte website updated yet?
  • 8. Anonymous - Tue, 11 Sep 2007 18:49:40 ESTWhitch state in America has their HQ again?
  • 9. Gendo - Tue, 11 Sep 2007 18:55:29 ESTThat's one big a**'s shotgun lol. The bad thing is about this game is strange visual's.

    But really who gives a dam when you can run around with a shotgun that big.

  • 10. Dele - Tue, 11 Sep 2007 22:51:08 ESTpretty sure microforte are australian. HQ in sydney, mini base in Canberra
  • 1. Anonymous - Tue, 11 Sep 2007 23:00:27 ESTI think you are right must of been thinking of some other company. Lol that shotgun is so big.
  • 1. Anonymous - Tue, 11 Sep 2007 23:00:27 ESTI think you are right must of been thinking of some other company. Lol that shotgun is so big.
  • 11. Anonymous - Thu, 13 Sep 2007 18:02:47 ESTHoly cow big a** shotgun.
    but the colour of it looks kind lame.

It was announced last week that Kwari was a licensee for the BigWorld Tech for their online first person shooter. More news today from Worthplaying.com reveal that Kwari is actually a title that has been in development at Micro Forte Canberra since mid last year...

Steve Wang, Head of Studios for Micro Fort? commented, "We're really excited by the recent announcement of Kwari and even more so to announce our involvement in bringing this unique game title to the table."

"Working on Kwari has reinvigorated the act of making games for me, without sounding crass it really does represent a paradigm shift that is going to happen sooner or later in gaming whether we like it or not." said James Sutherland, Producer for Micro Fort?.

Kwari has an interesting subscription model of free-to-play / pay-to-shoot, and you'll be able to nab the free download when it's released later this year. If you're eager to check it out now, however, you can sign up for the beta test program, starting next week at www.kwari.com!

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Micro Forte is looking for an experienced QA lead to join our Canberra studio for our exciting new project. Managing a small team of internal testers, liaising with large scale external functional and focus test companies, you will be organised, process driven and methodical.

You will be responsible for ensuring the QA team is integrated closely with the development team and are positioned to provide maximum benefit throughout development. This may mean altering process and infrastructure to best support the requirements of your team.

This is a great opportunity for an organised professional to move into the games industry and whilst a passion for games is crucial "Wannabe" game designers need not apply.

Requirements
- Experience of QA in a software development environment
- Experience of Bug Tracking software and workflow requirements
- Ability to define and institute new processes
- Ability to define and institute new infrastructure as required
- Strong management skills
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- Ability to work well in a team environment with schedules and reliable milestone delivery
Desirable
- Games industry experience
- External contracting experience

Above all you must be enthusiastic and passionate about games and enjoy working in a team environment.

Salary: Commensurate with ability and experience.
If you believe that you are the right person for this position, please forward your resume either by email to: jobs@microforte.com or

Mail to:
Human Resources
Level 3, 431 Glebe Point Road
Glebe, NSW 2037
AUSTRALIA

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IGN have a very brief interview with Micro Forte Lead Designer, Paul McInnes, on using Big World tech with their new spy themed MMO, and also on the future of MMO's in general. Although not much is revealed about the new MMO, it's an interesting insight on the technology behind it...

One of the huge advantages in working with BigWorld so closely is we have access to all their technology. There's a bunch of stuff that does for us at a production level and at a content level. From a production point of view, we know we have the server, we know it's stable, it works. Easily scriptable, easily extendable, a whole bunch of stuff that works for us right away. From a tools point of view, they're fast, they're efficient, they're easy to use, they're intuitive, they're visual. They're the kind of tools that level builders dream of using.

The article says that there will be more about Micro Forte's new MMO at the Austin Game Developers Conference in September. Read the interview over at IGN!

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Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/03/07 - 11:55 AM Permalink

  • 1. Anonymous Coward - Tue, 6 Mar 2007 11:55:16ZCZ cancelled??? Nooooooooooooooo....

    I spent a full year working on that game, and now it's never going to come out?

    *Pout*

  • 2. Anonymous Coward - Tue, 6 Mar 2007 12:52:25ZI'm sure many ratbag staff felt the same when some internal projects just never saw the light of day. Got mates who have worked on more games than a lot of people, but can't use them as official credits to their name because they were never published.
  • 3. Anonymous Coward - Thu, 8 Mar 2007 9:38:42ZIs it really that much of a surprise? The CZ dev team was laid off more than three years ago, after all.
  • 4. Anonymous Coward - Thu, 8 Mar 2007 20:9:14ZNo not a surprise that it ended at all, just that it took so long for them to finally realise it.

    Their better off for it IMHO.

  • 5. Anonymous Coward - Fri, 9 Mar 2007 11:34:51ZWorking with any games studios can either boost or mute ur games career, u just gotta pick the right ones!

    Well you can always look on the bright side of life.... there are others.

  • 6. Anonymous Coward - Sat, 10 Mar 2007 4:41:26ZEven games studio projects that fail.. can boost your career. Look at Tom Crago now GDAA head, good example.
  • 7. unit - Sat, 10 Mar 2007 23:31:57ZYeah I was a part of that layoff and for three years we weren't really able to publicly state anything although everyone in the industry knew about it. Now here I am working in Norway as an assistant Art Director on Age of Conan for Funcom. They were sad times but I've done alright.

    I look back on that time at MF with fondness. It was tragically ironic that Microsoft dropped the game mainly due to an internal restructuring (Mythica was dropped at the same time for example) just when the game was a tremendous amount of fun to play. CZ would've have been a fantastic game, truly.

    I wish Steve, Paul and all the Microforte guys, old and new all the best with their new projects and I'd have to hesistation in working with them again sometime in the future (if they'd want me of course :) ).

  • 8. Anonymous Coward - Tue, 13 Mar 2007 14:18:58ZI worked on that project too. Canned, huh? Frankly, I was more surprised when the sun came up this morning.
  • 9. Anonymous Coward - Tue, 13 Mar 2007 19:55:31ZI worked for the other studio that brought in money so that Sydney could work on CZ. We were mostly canned so that they could keep on playing at being game developers :).

    Funny, get rid of the ones that are bringing in money and have the dev experience rather than the ones that aren't and don't.

    Smart move MF ;).

  • 10. unit - Fri, 16 Mar 2007 20:13:31ZTo the most recent anonymous coward. Clearly you have no idea what was taking place in the Sydney studio.

    There was a mix of experience (with generally high level of talent - some newbs and a lot of people who'd been in the industry here and abroad for many years) but when the game was canned mostly due to a change of management at MGS which resulted in restructuring and a s streamlining at Microsoft, any game not guaranteed of turning a profit was dropped. CZ wasn't the only title at that time. The game was great fun to play and looking good - I've never seen a game looking . With the Bigworld development taking place in Sydney, it made sense to base the team there. I've never seen a game so balanced and so polished at that stage of development. Admittedly we were behind schedule (what game isn't?) but all we needed to produce was content. The core game and mechanics were there.

    I don't know why they dropped the Canberra team but your anonymous disparaging of the Sydney team is totally unwarranted. Basically you weren't there, you didn't know the people and so basically you have no f***ing idea what you're talking about.

    We can debate the merits of persisting with making CZ or the dropping of the Canberra team but your portrayal of the Sydney team as a bunch of untalented newbs floundering around is completely false.

  • 11. Anonymous Coward - Sat, 17 Mar 2007 18:36:54ZI do "know" the people, I do know the tech, I do know the game. It is obvious why MS canned the project to me. It was a lemon :)

    You don't know what your talking about. You should stick to drawing pictures.

  • 12. Anonymous Coward - Sat, 17 Mar 2007 19:41:35ZActually Unit is correct. Management changed at Microsoft and they were dropping titles left, right, and centre. Ever heard of True Fantasy Live? That was another MMORPG that Microsoft dropped for the Xbox.
  • 13. Anonymous Coward - Sat, 17 Mar 2007 21:56:38ZMaybe they had good reason to do so... ever think of that one?
  • 14. unit - Sun, 18 Mar 2007 3:21:4Z"I do "know" the people, I do know the tech, I do know the game. It is obvious why MS canned the project to me. It was a lemon :) You don't know what your talking about. You should stick to drawing pictures."

    It's so easy to attack me from a position of anonymity.

    And so, what are you doing with yourself these days? I'd ben interested to know. you posts smack of bitterness to me. Perhaps you found youself without employment for good reasons also? you seem to think you were highly indispensible. So what makes you so indispensible hotshoy? Oh and incidentally, what was this 'great' project you were walking on that what supporting all us loafers and amateurs in Sydney? Mobile gaming? Don't make me laugh. I seem to recall that the biggest cash cow for MF was the licensing of the tech? and it's such a lemon then perhaps you would care to explain why MF is constantly securing licensing agreements?

  • 15. unit - Sun, 18 Mar 2007 3:23:25ZExcuse the spelling mistakes of my previou post but I'm pretty pissed right now.
  • 16. unit - Sun, 18 Mar 2007 3:40:24ZIncidentally, a number of people from the old CZ team have since gone on to work in many international studios - UbiSoft in Montreal and Shanghai, Crytek, Bioware, Blizzard among others, and many have worked on manjor AAA titles. I'm here at Funcom with another ex-CZ'er working on Age of Conan. A few others ended up in the film industry at Animal Logic, Plastic Wax, the Lab et al.

    Yep, we were a talentless and clueless bunch of hacks alright. You got us.

    Canberra were slated to work on another MMO using the Bigworld Tech but things fell through for reasons that I can't recal nowl. At the time when Mobile gaming was seen to the 'the-next-big-thing', there were moves to have the Canberra team venture into that field, except that still to this day mobile gaming has proven to be little more that a marginal gimmick at best. Meanwhile the bigworld tech secured a number of licenses during that time resutling in a growth of the suport team and as far as I can see it continues to do so.

  • 17. Simon Lissaman - Sun, 18 Mar 2007 12:47:40ZUnit, it's great that you have such positive memories of your time at MF Sydney, but to paraphrase you 'You weren't in Canberra, you didn't know the situation or the people, so you basically have no f*cking idea what you're talking about'. Yeah, you're quite rightly pissed at a blanket slagging of the CZ team but don't make the same mistake of pissing all over the Canberra studio who were, after all,bringing in money to keep the BW development ticking over before BW was standing on it's own feet as well as doing a shitload of the boring support, sales and marketing for BW.
  • 18. unit - Sun, 18 Mar 2007 19:27:36ZSimon, I'm not pissing on the Canberra team but if anonymous here wishes to apply spurious arguments then the point I was attempting to make was that he can equally expect such arguments to apply to him as he also found himself without work. A number of complex factors contributed to the events which took place in Sydney just as I'm sure a complex series of factors led to the events which took place in Canberra. My point is this guy is attacking me and others I worked with without having the guts to reveal himself and without being there. And I stand by statement that in the final months the game was incredibly fun to play and incredibly polished. It only needed content which perhaps should have been a task applied equally to the Sydney and Canberra teams so as to get the game out the door. I wanted to demonstrate how ridiculous his simplistic arguments sounded.

    Let me state this clearly and for the record, I don't think for a minute that the Canberra team were anything but a group of talented and dedicated people. It was a huge mistake and miscalcuation that a second major project never seriously got off the ground in Canberra - I said so at the time. MF had two studios and should've been using it's talent pool effectively. It always seemed like a terrible waste to have a team of developers dedicated to marketing BW rather than getting stuck into a serious project. There were simply too many eggs in one basket and as I said we could debate the merits of persisting with the development of CZ.

  • 19. Simon Lissaman - Sun, 18 Mar 2007 21:19:23ZFair enough, but doing exactly the same thing as him/her was not, perhaps, the best way to address his/her issues.

    Anyway, to no-one's surprise, CZ is officially dead and everyone has moved on to bigger and better things. Good luck to the MF Canberra crew and I hope MF as a whole can get a game on the shelves soon.

  • 20. unit - Sun, 18 Mar 2007 22:13:9ZI agree Simon, on both points - on holding me accountable for what I write and on wishing the MF Canberra (and Sydney) crews all the very best. While CZ is dead, I have no doubt that substantial parts of it will make it's way into the new projects.
  • 21. Anonymous Coward - Mon, 19 Mar 2007 19:34:48ZI personally doubt how successful Bigworld had become, and if it has had any success, it is due to the server technology - nothing else, and most importantly, not due to the "success" of CZ, which was a big lemon and was justly dropped by MS, and is "about time" it was dropped by MF as well ;)

    Oh, I went on to better things. Much better things :) And I don't think I attacked the talent as much as I was attacking the aging incompetent management of CZ and MF - who I think are still largely incompetent and also full of sh*t.

    Though I could be wrong, as I am far to lazy to re-read my comments let alone read yours in entirety unit - so perhaps my comments can be read as an attack on talent.

    BTW: you're pictures are awfully pretty. Keep up the good work!

  • 22. Anonymous Coward - Mon, 19 Mar 2007 19:40:27ZI'm also too lazy to check the facts and ask around as to how "successful" MF have really been. So I can't be certain of my remarks to that effect as well. However, going off of the bigworld site, and counting up the number of licenses that they have reported in their news - which lists the most recent announced ones. I cannot see how bigworld is a "success" yet at all - meaning, how it has recouped development costs, including government grants.

    Sure, there might be a good number of un reported 50k early licensing deals that were not mentioned, but that added to the ones that have been... falls kind of short, as the only thing I see licensing is the server tech - which certainly can't be more than 1 million, probably not any more than 250k at best, if not less than that.

  • 23. Anonymous Coward - Mon, 19 Mar 2007 19:44:28ZI also think a good number of those "early" adopters are not listed because they went bust soon after - they relied on the whole package to get them a deal, when the server tech is the only strong and competitive part to the tech.

    Anyway, enough said from me... this is getting boring and I think MF don't need anymore publicity :)

  • 24. Anonymous Coward - Mon, 19 Mar 2007 20:41:0ZShit this is funny. Those same arrogant defensive remarks is what I think the Canberra team were used to from the Sydney team. Like they were better than us and we were beneath them or something. Even though we brought in the money for them to work on bigworld and CZ.

    MF is a company I at least never worked at again, and it was not because I didn't want to, but because the Sydney positions I applied to never got much further than a reply or two.

    It was like hiring me back, especially to the Sydney team, was like admitting that they had made a big mistake - you wouldn't tell though, from the elitist attitude that the Sydney management would give you...

    I guess that is why I am not shy of at least giving them a piece of my mind or why some don't think very highly of them.

  • 25. unit - Tue, 20 Mar 2007 2:38:38ZAt 21. -) Ok then let's this matter rest, I prefer not to quarrel. Your initial comments stuck in my throat at a gross simplification of the situation and I had to respond. I cringe at the work I produced then and I know that there were a number of mistakes made both by team members and management (what project doesn't have such problems), but all in all, the team had a lot of talented people and the game was fun to play towards the end, which is sadly ironic (the wind changed and we were left stranded - perhaps if we'd finished it sooner it wouldn't have been a problem but who knows. Hindsight is a wonderfully useless thing at times).

    My intent was not to bash the Canberra team in return but merely to highlight how a complex situation can be erroneously simplified for the sake of an argument. I know there were a lot of talented people in the Canberra office who should've been working on a major project, and there were indeed many of the guys down there who got a very rough deal after Fallout: Tactics. The events are common knowledge in the industry and have almost passed into folklore.

    I hope that the guys remaining in the Sydney office -people whom I consider friends - see the benefits of their hard work. Yes there have been numerous grants but perhaps the investments are beginning to bear fruit? Time will tell but I wish them all the best

    I'm glad you also went on to much better things and I hoipe it's the story with all the ex-Canberra guys. Regrettably I met very few of you but I'm sure if there'd never been this artificial divide between the teams, we wouldn't have had this disagreement.

    Oh and lastly, thanks for the compliment. I haven't updated in some time and I barely find the time for personal work. All the best to you.

  • 26. Karl Fentiman - Tue, 20 Mar 2007 19:32:32ZYo Unit you still in norway :)
    I am up in THQ now glad your doing well over there :)
  • 27. Anonymous Newb - Wed, 21 Mar 2007 0:23:29Zunit/cowards - Could be worse...you could be at Team Bondi. Now thats a f**ked company if ever there was one. Why can't Sydney have a decent games company?
  • 28. Anonymous Coward - Wed, 21 Mar 2007 2:42:40ZHey, who was it that worked at MF Sydney that went on to work at Crytek?

    Just curious as I've seen pics and vids of Crytek's recent work, and hell... that is just stunning to say the least - talk about some great technology, wouldn't mind working for those guys :).

  • 29. Anonymous Coward - Wed, 21 Mar 2007 10:47:14ZSaw the latest Crytek stuff at GDC, it's pretty damn good, particularly the character anim system.
  • 30. Anonymous Coward - Wed, 21 Mar 2007 17:42:24ZAs far as I know, no one that worked at the Sydney studio - worked on Bigworld and CZ - went on to work at Crytek.

    Someone's been lying to Unit :)

    Yeah, Crytek's second iteration of their game engine, is looking pretty spiffy to say the least. I suppose the real test will be when their new game is released - wonder how the AI has progressed...

  • 31. Anonymous Coward - Mon, 26 Mar 2007 18:9:15ZCraig Tiller (craigtiller dot blogspot dot com) left Bigworld and MF Sydney just before CZ hit the fan, and did indeed go to Crytek, where he still is today.
  • 32. Shams - Tue, 27 Mar 2007 18:1:4ZI worked at both the Sydney & Canberra studios (many moons ago now...), and can only thank the management for giving me the opportunity for getting into games in the first place. I know there were plenty of talented people at both studios (just have no idea what happened to most of them - apart from a certain artist who I keep in touch with).

    Best of luck to all ;)

  • 33. unit - Wed, 28 Mar 2007 1:19:32ZHey there Karl. Yes, I'm still in Norway. I've heard good things about the team at THQ. Congrats on securing a position there - it's very well deserved.
    This is what I like about Sumea - it's a meeting house for former comrades in arms :)

    @27 I'm sorry to hear that things aren't going so well at TB - that's a real shame. What i saw of American Noir (Is that what it's called?) looks extremely promising.

    @31 Yes it was Craig Tiller. Good to hear he's still there. I've not spoken to him in quite a while.

    @32 My sentiments exactly. Best of luck to everyone. There's a tonne of talent in Australia - we just need a level of professionalism from studios to match.

  • 34. Craig Tiller - Wed, 2 May 2007 4:41:48ZHey... yep I'm still alive and kicking. Things are going fairly well too. Drop me a line and say hello!

(press release)

Micro Fort? cancels Citizen Zero project ? Announces development underway on new IP.

(Sydney, AUSTRALIA): - Micro Fort?, a leading Australian developer of MMOs, today announced that it has cancelled development on the ?Citizen Zero? project, with internal development now focussed on a top secret spy-themed MMO.

Steve Wang ? Head of Studios for Micro Fort? commented, ?Although we were sad to stop working on CZ, we are extremely excited about the progress of our spy project.?

The top secret project has been in production since mid '06 with a core development team working out of Micro Fort??s Australian studio.

?We?re not giving too much away at this stage,? commented Micro Fort? Lead Designer, Paul McInnes, ?Obviously our new project is a spy-themed MMO, but it incorporates new game-play elements and technologies that we are really looking forward to delivering to the public.?

Steve Wang added, ?We are at an exciting crossroads where many new game-play styles and experiences have become possible in virtual world environments. This is a great opportunity for us to leverage our 7 years of development in the MMO space to bring the social MMO experience together with game-play that has been traditionally the domain of single player games.?

Micro Fort? will be making further announcements in the coming months with a view to showcasing the project toward the end of this year. Micro Fort? is currently taking expressions of interest from distribution partners and has already begun discussion with some of the world?s leading publishers.

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