Stargate SG-1 Development Halted

JoWooD announces the cancellation of development of Stargate-SG1: The Alliance.

http://press.jowood.com/html/News/news_details.php?id=429&title=NEWS&ber...

Sorry to hear that Perception Studios. My deepest sympathies [:(]

mcdrewski's picture

Ouch. That's not nice at all.

palantir's picture

::Extremely disappointed:: :(

Me109's picture

far out.. who would've thought.. what a waste...

Caroo's picture

payback all assets and money... ouch.. someones gonna get very burnt from all this. my sympathies aswell.

MoonUnit's picture

ouch and a half, sorry to hear that guys

Djenx's picture

Ouch, that?s terrible news.

I wonder how the people at Kalesent studios will be affected by this, weren't they working on some characters for the game?

unknownuser2's picture

Hi Djenx, fortunately we escaped unscathed - as we started almost a year ago to date, and finished up all the character work some 8 months ago now. Still, there were some extremely talented and experienced folks that worked on the game to date and its a real shame they wont be given the chance to finish what they started.

Even though a mutual agreement had been struck, it leaves one to ponder the notion....

Publisher loans developer 10 million dollars, developer utilises it in the best way they know how, toward end of game development publisher cancels the development, gathers all assets and code and requests the loan be paid back in full - now publisher holds an almost completed game .... for essentially the loss of time and zero $$$, in which they fork out perhaps a million or two to complete.

Interesting...

mcdrewski's picture

In my previous job the project probably would have had a number of milestone payments on various demonstrated criteria. (ie: one art complete level, combat system complete, character selections complete etc.)

I guess though in this biz, the one with the money has the power. Very disappointing.

CynicalFan's picture

This is no surprise to me at all, and shouldn?t come as a surprise as the last game that perception completed was a basic arcade title ? I think they were perhaps a little out of depth with this title, and should have hired a more experienced designer / producer ;).

Here is the reality, for them to release on the current generation of gaming platforms, they would need to do this by February, before the next generation of gaming consoles appear on the market, and the publishers lose interest in releasing anything new on the existing ? I here that they are releasing with a solid line-up of titles as well. In fact they really need to do this before Christmas, and from what I can tell by the pretty screenshots that have no gameplay whatsoever, and from what I have heard indirectly on the grapevine, I think they would need one hell of a miracle worker to do so ? hence why JoWood mention development for other platforms, namely the XBOX-360 and PS3, though maybe the PSP is also an option.

But, as far as I understand Perception and JoWood?s relationship together on Stargate-SG1, they can?t just pull the plug and keep what has been done to date and the rights to do the project, as these are Perception?s, as they are the ones that raised the mullah to buy the rights to do the title in the first place. That is unless the project took longer than Perception planned as they did not have the experience to realize that it would in the first place, and struck a new deal with JoWood, effectively signing away their rights to the license and the work to date, if, they did not deliver on time ? who knows, maybe they burned JoWood with their attitude as well, with their actions not backing up their words.

All I?ll say further, is that this is the beginning of the storm, as the next-generation of gaming platforms washes away those that can?t compete in the global market in the way of technology, production and game design ? we are at least a 1-2 year in a few cases, and at least 3-4 years in most cases, behind in technology alone. This local industry is going to be hit with a Tsunami in 6 to 12 months, and the signs of it are already apparent. As I said before, the local industry has grown too fast and too large to be sustainable in the long-term, due to its lack of know-how and overconfidence ? I believe one studio has shut doors in Melbourne already or is on the verge of doing so.

The good news is, that which remains of the local industry, will be far more stronger for it, and, that new studios will spring up and flourish due to the fresh "fertiliser" of the studios that have closed their doors ? the cycle of life, life leads to death, death leads to life, and the world keeps turning.

mcdrewski's picture

o-no - the end of the world is nigh!

souri's picture

"Following the termination JoWooD has asked for repayment of their investment in development and further expenses.
According to our reading of the contract the rights to the title as well as the source code are transferred to JoWooD"

Tell me it doesn't get any worse than this. For most studios, wouldn't this scenario be the death knell of it?

CynicalFan's picture

Not necessarily, by all rights MF should be dead and buried by now, yet they are still twitching with life whilst hooked up to the life-support in intensive care. Perception have stumbled and fallen flat on their face, fallen hard, and it is doubtful if they will get back up onto their feet to give it another try. They were rather creative and thinking out of the box when they secured the rights to do a title for a well-known license, perhaps that business creativity will keep them going, maybe even revive the project ? they should really think about getting a new lead Designer / Producer though.

But hey, that is if the above is all correct and not too hasty on the part of JoWood, I?m guessing a lengthy legal battle will take place as it is determined who can do what and has the rights to and owns what ? but then again, maybe it is how JoWood say, and it will be over quick.

But hey again, for a second-rate publisher to say that about your project, when most of their projects would only get a 7 out of 10, probably more like 6 out of 10, that says volumes about the title and developer, if the title doesn?t even meet their quality expectations. That kind of mud will stick ;).

BTW: Mcdrewski, it isn?t the end, as the last paragraph of my previous post indicates. I don?t appreciate your sarcasm and ignorance, especially at the severity of the changes the local industry is going through and has yet to endure. You might consider listening to those with more experience and insight into the industry instead than yourself, instead of giving them your pretentious attitude, who see what the local industry is in for next year.

Oh, which do you think your studio will fire first if they hit the tough times, the programmers, the artists, the designers or the QA? I suppose they?ll keep you, and inexperienced game developer with programming skills though? right?

mcdrewski's picture

Poor attempt at a joke withdrawn. For the record CF, I largely agree with you - the industry has some growing up to do and I feel terribly for those at Perception who sound like they are the victims of it. The rest of your largely tangential discussion I will leave for another thread.

In response to Souri's comment, I notice that the JoWood announcement is that "their reading" of the contract grants them the rights to the game and code, although I would wager that Perception would have a different reading of that. Unfortunately you're right - this sounds like it may turn into a legal battle for their very survival.

souri's picture

Can we leave the personal attacks out of this, please.

I'm still pondering over that bit of the press release, and if I'm reading it correctly, it's making my head explode. What JoWood are saying is that they're entitled to, from the contract:

1: the rights to the license (which Perception had to get from MGM themselves)
2: repayment of all development investment ([url="http://www.sumea.com.au/snews.asp?news=931"]over $11.5 million?[/url])
3: all code and assets which Perception were paid to make

So JoWood want all the money they've put into developing this game back (so at this point, they break even), but also get the code and assets that they paid Perception to create, along with the StarGate license?! Who would sign on that kind of contract?!

I agree with Cynical about a wasted opportunity. It's pretty easy to see (due to engine choice and the buggy Xbox version/PS2 no show from E3 reports) that the console versions weren't the priority for development, which I personally think it should have been. Should've been aimed for Playstation 2, straight off, that's where the money is. Should've realised that the Unreal Engine 2.5 would be extremely difficult to get going on the PS2 (I've read some post mortems on how difficult this is). Should've had the foresight to see that the Unreal Engine 2/2.5 would be way at the end of its life cycle around the expected release date (Heck, Half Life 2/Source engine was released a year ago).

They did manage to get a great and talented team to start off with, and a game license with huge potential, but somewhere along the way it all fell apart. Whether the project was mismanaged etc, I'll leave that to those who are more in the know. In anycase, it's a damn shame.

Yeh, I know it's easy to sit and give armchair advice, and I'm sure it's a lot more complicated than all that. I'm guessing that everyone will have to be let go now (keeping them on the payroll would burn through money they don't have anymore) and I hope they all find jobs real soon (note: Pandemic, Ratbag/Midway, Blue Tongue/THQ have tonnes of openings at the moment)

btw, I wonder how Namco fits in all this. And also, will the [url="http://www.sumea.com.au/snews.asp?news=1302"]Ebay auction winner get refunded[/url]?

Rahnem's picture

It's not as uncommon as you might think. Development studio wants a shot at making it big so they sign a "bend over and screw me in the date" type contract, development studio fails to deliver, publisher promptly screws developer up the date.

I feel sorry for the guys that work there though :( . Perception should have never signed a contract that allows their publisher to do that. No payoff at the end is worth that risk.

grantregan's picture

As a former employee of Perception (I was contracted to work as an environment, object, and vehicle concept artist on SG-1 Alliance from April 2004 through to January 2005.) I'm deeply worried about my friends and former colleagues at Perception. While I might be 20000km away sitting in an office in Oslo Norway, I feel for them - they're a talented and dedicated group of people and they really don't deserve this.

Ask anyone who works in the games industry and they'll tell you that given the factend up spending a most of your waking life, you inspire and collaborate on so many facets of the games with a bunch of crazily talented and passionate freaks, you end up becoming a cohesive unit - you become comrades (I can't think of a better word for it)... Guys, I hope this works out well for you all. You deserve better than this.

-unit

www.unitstudio.com
www.ageofconan.com

pb's picture

I think you need to take the "we want our money and the source too" as a legal tactic rather than an honestly expressed expectation. They're probably not sure which of the two the courts will be more likely to grant, so they might as well ask for both. I'm guessing the ruling will be that Perception needs to refund the money and if they can't then they need to hand over the source.

Also consider the fact that MGM would have undoubtedly put down a time limit for development. The license must expire some time so MGM can give it to someone else. The Stargate art assets are mostly worthless to anyone who doesn't hold the license to use them. Now that Sony owns MGM they might be inclined to deny a license for versions on competing platforms. It could be game over for everyone involved.

pb

grantregan's picture

Hey Peter...how goes it at Team Bondi?

You made an Interesting point mate...it could well be a ploy on Jowood's part. In the announcement on Jowood's site they certainly seem uncertain about their rights to the source, license AND the money. They say, according to their interpretation.

It could well be a ploy to secure the source AND the money however, effectively getting a free game and in that case only jowood and perception are privy to the contract they signed. I might mention that I''d very much doubt that MGM would've signed a sublicencing contract with Perception that would allow them to hand the licence to a third party, so I don't like Jowood's chances here and I suspect in this case that they are certainly just 'fishing'or at least putting out feelers to MGM to secure the license from them.

In the end, whatever happens is really is down to Sony/MGM and anything else is pure speculation until we hear what they have to say on the matter.

All I know is as someone who worked on the game it'd be shame to see it not ship and I am worried about former work colleagues whom I consider to be good friends...

pb's picture

Hey Grant! It's going great at Team Bondi, definitely glad I made that move even before all this went down.

I think your absolutely right about JoWooD going on a legal fishing expedition, they would surely like to get everything for themselves, I'm just saying that they probably don't actually expect to. Either way, it doesn't do any harm to ask for it.

And as you say, what Sony/MGM does with the license will dictate the value of the source which makes it much more risky than the money. I suspect the money is what JoWooD will really focus on. However they might be concerned that Perception will be unable to repay so they're also going to build a case to get the source.

Even if they do get the source, make a deal with Sony/MGM and continue development they face additional difficulties. For example, some of the technology that Perception has licensed is not transferrable. JoWooD would either have to re-work the game or re-license the technology (for an additional cost).

It certainly doesn't look good for the staff but they're a talented lot, I'm sure they'll find other work without too much trouble. Some might even join you in Oslo :)... How are things going over there anyway?

pb

LiveWire's picture

i can't imagin anyone signing a contract allowing the publised to pull out and take all the assets AND have all their investment payed back. as unit said it essentailly allows the publisher to lead the dev on creating the game, pull out at the last moment, have their investnet paied back (thus recieving an almost complete game for zero cost) and then having some other shmuk finish it up for the very small remaing cost (thus that being allso the total cost of the project)- imagin the profits to be made of a system like that! i mean, i can't even imagin that being legal.

as for the game, i would have liked to play it, seeing as how i enjjoy watching the series. though after reading a few web stories and dev intervirews on the game i wasn't looking forward to much. it seemed to come accorss like a stock standard FPS, dispte what came accross as a very poor attempt by the devs to talk up their team play aspects (which seemd to be infrequent and even the devs in the interview didn't sound very conifdent).[?]

still, can't be as bad as the tv show [:D]

sorry, dispite stargate's glaring plot holes, blatent rip-offs, cliches, steriotypes, anti-climaxes, and frequent exposition, i still find i never miss and episode![:D]

grantregan's picture

Pete, it's going well although I tend to be spending most of my waking hours in the office lately. There's so much work to get through that's in part backlogged from when I was relocating to Norway.

Barring the cost of the place and the weather, and the occasional bout of homesickness, I'm really enojinyg. There hasn't been much of a summer - it's mostly rained but I expect the rain will stop when it starts to snow. [V]

Email me at my personal addy on www.unitstudio.com. It's listed there. I have a personal web journal for friends and family - I'll forward you the link. Ther you can read my inane, pointless ramblings.

As you say the technology that Perception has licensed exclusively will be an interesting matter to resolve, and if this does become a legal rangling for the custody of an almost completed game between two, possibly three parties, then complicated issues like this will keep the game on hold for sometime yet.

Livewire, as rahnem says, it's unfortunately not uncommon for developers to sign thse kind of contracts in order to make it big. But as to the nature of the contract only the courts will be able to decide it's true nature. No doubt, Perception have one interpretation of what they signed and we've seen, given JoWooD's very blunt public statement, they have their own interpretation.

It is going to get interesting no doubt - it's just terrible that there has to be innocent parties caught in the middle of this. No only fearing the loss of your job (even though as you say Pete, PErception has a large number of talented peebs and most if not all will find work in Oz or abroad should it come to that) but how demoralising it is to work your guts out only to have the rug pulled form under at the 12th hour. I can't imagine anything being more conducive to burnout in the industry.

azmodai's picture

Things are definitely interesting, that's for sure. It's a strange atmosphere here inside Perceptions office.

Morphine's picture

Hey Evyn, I hope the guys there aren't too angry, I know it would be very hard not to be, but I think I can safely say, on behalf of the Sumea and indeed the Australian gaming community, we extend our deepest sympathies and well wishes into the Perception camp.

There will probably be a legal process that will be required against JoWooD, but I'll be rooting for ya! :D
Remember to keep all your heads up, from the media that I saw of Stargate, I was trully interested in playing it once released. Good luck guys in the future :)

LiveWire's picture

yes, it certainly looked like a lot of work has gone into the game's artwork judging from the screen shots, it's a pity it has to go yo waste, or at the least go uncredited or some such.

redwyre's picture

Kuldaen's picture

Interesting Pete, I wonder if JoWood took into account the 'non-transferable engine license' into account :) I doubt it. We'll see this resolved in the courts I guess. We'll just have to wait and see what MGM and Perception have to say in reply. As for the guys still at Perception, I feel for them too but they are a talented bunch and would find jobs anywhere. Most of them have been through this sort of thing before. (some more times than others :) )... plus I think they're looking for people here, guys :)

grantregan's picture

Hey Vinh!

Agreed re the talent of the team. If the worst case scenario for Perception does happen, then I have no doubt the team while disperse and find other jobs within the industry. There's a good mix of veterans and newbs who have really had a trial by fire and should be considered experienced artists, programmers, what have you. They're battle-hardend now considering hgouw heavily they've been crunching over the past few months from what I hear.

Pandemic and the other studios who are currently recruiting could do far worse than get some of these people on board...

I won't speculate on the future of either JoWooD or Perception but surely such an aggressive act can't put a publisher in good stead with other developers? They'd be very wary of doing business with them after this...

pb's picture

Is this the (former) Perception employee thread now!? :)

Word at the pub has it that development will continue and a new publisher will be sought. If they retain the rights and fund the development themselves they could probably do a good deal.

The key question is this: can they produce a something that actually works on the consoles and gets approval?

pb

lorien's picture

Thanks all, imho this is exactly what sumea is for and there should be more discussions like this one.

grantregan's picture

Agreed lorien. While this is slightly off topic, Sumea is indispensivle in that it allows those aspiring to entre the industry to gain insights into it from people such as Vinh, Pete, Livewire and myself among others. souri has done a fantastic job...

I'm a frequent visitor but unfortunately work commitments and a busy schedule means I don't participate as much as I should.I hope to rectify that in future.

Pete, that's the word I'm also hearing from the people I'm still in contact with at Perception. Still these are uncertain times and we can only hope things are resolved quickly so that people can get on with their lives. There's nothing worse than a state of limbo - of not knowing. At least if you receive bad news then you know where you stand.