Tony Albrecht, founder and Director of Overbyte and veteran programmer with past stints at studios such as Ratbag, Midway, and Pandemic, has written a fantastic entry for AltDevBlogADay detailing his unusual journey into games development.
Last year, we had the great fortune of being able to show off for the first time the last title that Adelaide's Ratbag games was working on before Midway Studios shut them down before Christmas, 2005. That title was The Wheelman for the PS2.
So what did Ratbag's Wheelman exactly look like? An anonymous has sent in the video of the early Playstation 2 protoype version of the Vin Diesal starring vehicular action combat game to tsumea. This is the video that 70 or so ex-Ratbag staff would have sent out to local studios as part of their demo reel after publisher and owner, Midway, closed the Adelaide studio down just before Christmas, 2005. Most of the industry has probably seen it, and now so can you.
Thanks to the person who pointed out to me that the newly released Vin Diesal game called The Wheelman has its development origins right here in Australia. In fact, The Wheelman was the open ended world / vehicle centric game that Ratbag games was working on in 2005 before publisher and owner, Midway, unceremoniously pulled the plug on the Adelaide studio right before Christmas.
In an annual report by Midway back in 2006, Wheelman is listed as the title which Ratbag Games was working on...
You might know Tony Albrecht from The Great Debate, but what you may not know is that he was a programmer at Ratbag Games for 6 years, that is until Midway pulled the plug on the studio. Not a lot has been written about the reasons why Midway did this or what they gained or lost from the whole ordeal, but Tony has detailed how Midway's CEO, David Zucker, made a personal fortune of $8.5 million (US) from pumping and dumping Midway shares.
It's gone. Gone diddly on, gone. The website for Ratbag games is displaying absolutely nothing. The plug has probably been pulled on the server that hosted all that fabulous info on the once great South Australian games developer, and the domain name is probably on it's way to expiration in a matter of days or years, take your pick.
It's the first official response from Midway on the Ratbag closure, and perhaps it'll be the most we will ever get on the matter from them. Midway's CEO, David Zucker, had a chat with Gamespot at the recent Midway press event, which included a question on the sudden closure of Adelaide's Ratbag Studios...
Sunday, January 22, 2006 - 7:46:10 PM. Posted by Souri
ITwire.com.au summarises the whole debacle on Ratbag studios, and ponders on some of the speculations around for Midways decision to close down the Adelaide studio...