Micro Forte Officially Cancels Citizen Zero, New IP in the Works

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(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.

Comments

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  • 1. Anonymous Coward - Tue, 6 Mar 2007 11:55:16Z
    CZ 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 12:52:25Z
    I'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 9:38:42Z
    Is 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 20:9:14Z
    No 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 11:34:51Z
    Working 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 4:41:26Z
    Even games studio projects that fail.. can boost your career. Look at Tom Crago now GDAA head, good example.
  • 7. unit - Sat, 10 Mar 2007 23:31:57Z
    Yeah 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 14:18:58Z
    I 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 19:55:31Z
    I 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 20:13:31Z
    To 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 18:36:54Z
    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.

  • 12. Anonymous Coward - Sat, 17 Mar 2007 19:41:35Z
    Actually 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 21:56:38Z
    Maybe 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 3:23:25Z
    Excuse the spelling mistakes of my previou post but I'm pretty pissed right now.
  • 16. unit - Sun, 18 Mar 2007 3:40:24Z
    Incidentally, 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 12:47:40Z
    Unit, 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 19:27:36Z
    Simon, 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 21:19:23Z
    Fair 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 22:13:9Z
    I 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 19:34:48Z
    I 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 19:40:27Z
    I'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 19:44:28Z
    I 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 20:41:0Z
    Shit 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 2:38:38Z
    At 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 19:32:32Z
    Yo Unit you still in norway :)
    I am up in THQ now glad your doing well over there :)
  • 27. Anonymous Newb - Wed, 21 Mar 2007 0:23:29Z
    unit/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 2:42:40Z
    Hey, 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 10:47:14Z
    Saw the latest Crytek stuff at GDC, it's pretty damn good, particularly the character anim system.
  • 30. Anonymous Coward - Wed, 21 Mar 2007 17:42:24Z
    As 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 18:9:15Z
    Craig 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 18:1:4Z
    I 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 1:19:32Z
    Hey 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 4:41:48Z
    Hey... yep I'm still alive and kicking. Things are going fairly well too. Drop me a line and say hello!