Author Topic: Star Citizen - Chris Roberts Legacy Of Failure  (Read 7543 times)

Offline dsmart

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Re: Star Citizen - Chris Roberts Legacy Of Failure
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2017, 05:10:59 AM »
In my Interstellar Pirates blog from Nov 2015, I had written about Chris and Ortwin's involvement with a guy, Andreas Schmid, who was later indicted (1, 2) on fraud charges in Germany for pissing away investor money.

In that same blog, I also wrote about some of the primaries connections to the failed Gizmondo console. In Jan 2016, I wrote a separate post about it. Prior to that, someone had also written up details about it, and which I had tweeted with a link to the pastebin.

So that's no less that two companies (not counting Digital Anvil which Microsoft later bought and closed) which led to their closure, as well as claims of fraud by investors and the authorities. Coincidence?

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As for Ortwin, he too was linked to legal issue in Germany related to raising money for movies that were never going to be made. As one story goes, in 2007 Andreas Schmid and Andreas Grosch were both sentenced by a German court because they defrauded investors. Schmid was sentenced to 6 years in Jail.

The scheme was one in which investors would fund films and were promised a huge return on investment. Some of those films were either never produced, or were produced at a huge loss. The tax incentives for those loses remained with the company, while the investors lost their investment in whole or in part.

In the German media reports, (1, 2) Ortwin appeared in one of those cases and several of the movies listed Chris Roberts as the producer.

Aside from all that, Ascendant Pictures which both he and Chris were partners of, ceased operations and sold all its assets to Bigfoot Entertainment back in 2010. This was amid the legal tussle with Kevin Costner over – you guessed it – broken promises; and following a string of bad movies.

Darkoff wrote up a missive about Chris and Ortwin's past foray into investor shenanigans and which had one person arrested for fraud.

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Chris roberts and the VIP4 incident

Back when chris roberts was doing movies. He got regularly financed by company called VIP Medienfonds LLC ([1], [2], [3]). As a bonus heres ortwins capella films that also received funding from VIP ([4]).

How VIP Worked was following:
If you - during the 1980 until 2010 - placed money in some film productions, the german tax authorities didnt consider this as an investment, but a partnership on a production. So you do have costs, not an investment, and for costs goes the rule: they reduce your tax rate — more costs, less tax to pay. So it was attractive to invest in VIP funds and pay less in taxes.

Chris Roberts and head of VIP originally met up during punisher film where he, Andreas Schmid and Andreas Grosch were acting as producers ([5]) after which the funding continued in various roberts movies. Raising up whopping 750 million dollars in total:




Ascendant Pictures claims 250 million dollars in  funding to produce 14 movies in 2003,  the company was founded in 2002. in 2004 VIP4 package raised 350 million dollars and most of it was spend in chris roberts movies. The fundings was to be spend on film 100% and investors would get 100% of the income the movie would produce. But what ended up happening was that 20% of money was spend in making of movie and rest of funding gets funneled trough several companies into fixed deposit accounts. However they matched that 80% of money with bank loans Using investor money (15% of loan) as guarantee for loans.

Unfortunately for investors however only 20% got spend in films leaving 80% of investment without tax benefits
Even worse as movies started to bring in profit chris roberts would only pay 20%  back to investors rest going into paying back loans and presumably  again into fixed deposit accounts.

Unfortunately after VIP4 the company was put in charges for fraud, and man in charge Andreas Schmid was jailed for it. At same time most of board in Ascendant Pictures left and Ortwin joined in ([6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12]).

Even worse for chris roberts he was in law suit with Kevin Costner over movie that never got made.


Final nail for ascendancy pictures happened when 2010 a former investor of VIP went to court and sued VIP and major banks for damages. The court calls up several people to make a statement, including Chris Roberts and Ortwin Freyermuth.

in previous cases both only talked via mail, shifting the blame completely to the VIP, but this time, the judges asked for answers and proof. The set date was the 16.07.2010. On the 06.07.2010, cr sold his company to Bigfoot Entertainment

Invite for chris and ortwin for german court:



https://www.bundesanzeiger.de

• On the bundesanzeiger site, there is a search bar Suchbegriff
• Type: Rising Star
• Hit the Suchen button
• On the left, you should get 90hits, go for Gerichtlicher Teil (9)
• There is a doc called Terminladund, date: 17.05.2010

Judges called them for answers

1. Was CR forced to use only 20 % of the vip money?
2. If he was forced, did he know that this was illegal?
3. How much money did they get for all of the rising star company stuff?
4. Where are the contracts?
5. Who signed them?
6. Did CR know, that this system took away the majority of the income for the investors?
7. Why did he say nothing?
8. Why was he selling the entire company during the run time with the vip?

Ofc everyone involved in the final days of ascendant pictures were also hired into Star Citizen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmY7nToxFJM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mhyO26bVVw

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2014-06-23-how-indie-film-financing-could-shape-the-future-of-games

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When Chris Roberts and I founded Cloud Imperium Games to launch the effort, we were not only drawing on Chris' legendary abilities and track record as a game designer in this field, but also on a combined experience of three decades in independent film financing and production.

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Rather than opting for the Kickstarter site, we created our own platform to establish a frictionless, direct relationship with the interested community. This allowed us also to fine tune our Terms of Use for a favorable legal and tax treatment.

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We learned a lesson when our initial platform was not stable enough and collapsed intermittently during the campaign. Due to our limited funds, we had commissioned the site design to a small developer. (Kickstarter graciously allowed us to create a parallel campaign on its platform to receive funds during our site outages. We since used the campaign funds to partner with a Canadian platform developer, and together we have built a very stable and advanced platform which now is not only serving our site, but is currently readied for other developers who are interested in following our path.)

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Any unforeseen changes in the development process would be reviewed and approved by experienced specialists who monitor that process - something very familiar in the film production process as well. The completion guarantor would assure that the project will either be delivered to the early buyers as promised, or return the funds. Based on the fees charged in the film business, the insurance premium for such a completion guarantee and associated monitoring would probably be around 5 to 7 percent of the development budget.)

End of part 1. Hopefully i have enough material for part 2

« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 04:18:13 AM by dsmart »
Game developers are just human beings who happen to make games for a living. If you want to hold us up to higher standards of conduct, then go ahead ...but don't be surprised if we don't uphold them.

Offline dsmart

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Re: Star Citizen - Chris Roberts Legacy Of Failure
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2017, 12:47:01 PM »
Continued...

Sure thing. I mostly sourced this from a person that claimed to be friend of investor that invested in VIP.
He then sourced his quotes in public german law documents. You can read those up in
https://www.bundesanzeiger.de

• On the bundesanzeiger site, there is a search bar Suchbegriff
• Type: Rising Star
• Hit the Suchen button
• On the left, you should get 90hits, go for Gerichtlicher Teil (9)
• There is a doc called Terminladund, date: 17.05.2010

other documents on that page contain interesting information as well for example heres a sample google translation

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The Rising Star companies were not active as actual production service providers, but rather were an artificially interposed level.

The Klageseite argues that the missing 80% of the budgeted production costs of the respective foreign coproduction partners procured. This means that the VIP4 fund does not produce a film by a production service provider, but that the resulting coproduction company between the fund and the foreign coproduction partner commissioned the film and subsequently obtained the resulting film rights in order to obtain proceeds from this, . The respective manufacturing and sales company in the USA should be regarded as a tax-relevant factory. As a result, the loss of the plant in the USA is attributable, so that foreign losses with the limited partners of the fund company can be determined separately and can only be offset with foreign income, § 2a EStG.

rising star mentioned in example was Ortwin Freyermuth shell company that in turn funded ascendant pictures.



in addition i presume RS guarantors paid back guarantee's that were required by investors incase the film failed to produce.
guarantees that were supposed to be paid by chris roberts.
So investors basically paid their own investment guarantee's

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To issue 9:
The Senate is of the opinion of the defendant that it is clear from the factual sources cited in the prospectus (see, in particular, the letter of the prosecutor of the prosecutor of 1 March 2009, page 69 f = sheet 348 f dA) that a final payment of the Transfer to the fund company, but not to the individual investors.

However, a final assessment of the extent to which this is compatible (in the absence of a prospectus error) is necessary to show that the fund is shown as a "guarantee fund" on the cover sheet of the prospectus.

The protégé of complaint to 1 (appendix of 15.03.2011, there Bl. 68 = Bl. 764 dA) and the protégés of 2 refer to it correctly (the record of March 14, 2011, there page 16 = sheet 689 dA) Senate in its note dated 11 February 2011 is attributable to incorrect advice (outside the prospectus). This explains, however, only the misunderstanding at the customer, but not the misunderstandings of the consultants also mentioned in the mentioned note. To this extent, it should be considered whether the presentation as a "guarantee fund" did not suggest this misunderstanding - even for the sample complaint to 2. In addition, it should be borne in mind that the prospectus occasionally uses the notion of limited partnership capital in a meaning which is more specific to the investor 's individual contribution (notes 9 and 30: "Kommanditkapital ohne Agio", especially note 40: "Zu 01: Kommanditkapital in Amount of 100% of the subscription sum must be paid within one week "). It should be borne in mind that the prospectus is not addressed to the debt-taking bank or to licensees whose debt is to be borne by the bank, ie to the parties to the debt-taking agreement, but to the customer. The right understanding of this is therefore the point.

the reason i haventh posted the answers is mostly because i haventh read those up yet. And these answers can be quite lengthy. For example

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The defendant (1) argues that the fund company is not only involved in the distribution of revenue in the amount of 20 per cent of its "risk capital". One would have to start from the contractual agreements between the respective contracting parties. Thus, the licensee guarantees the Fund certain minimum income from the exploitation of the film produced by the fund and made available for exploitation. This minimum license fee, which is agreed with the licensee and secured by the assumption of debt by the HypoVereinsbank, is the first stage of the distribution of revenue from the fund's point of view. It is part of the distribution of the respective cinematographic work and does not constitute a participation of the licensee in the production costs Of the position of the fund company. The latter alone bears the risk of production, which is already apparent from the fact that it is also the sole copyright. The distribution risk of the licensee must be strictly distinguished from this.

The only sensible reference quantity for the contractually stipulated minimum license closing payment at the time of prospecting was the (blind-pool) production costs, which had not yet been established at this time. In the case of VIP 4, on this basis, the licensee would have to guarantee a minimum license payment of 115% of the total cost of the project to the entire limited partnership capital (without agio) as consideration for granting the right to evaluate the filmproductions. This means a minimum license closing payment of 132.64 percent based on the production costs used in the respective project (production costs = limited partnership capital minus investment overheads and liquidity reserves, cf. page 67 et seq. Of the prospective prospectus). For this minimum closing payment a hedge had to be made by means of assumption of guilt by HypoVereinsbank.
Since the licensee is contractually obliged to secure his distribution guarantee before the completion and evaluation of the film by means of a debt takeover, he is entitled to deduct the expenses he has made for the "first" adjusted gross revenues. In the so-called "master agreements" one generally defined this distribution of the gross income. It should be borne in mind that the proceeds from the sale of the fund have already been hedged by the debt transfer agreement between the licensee and the defendant at the end of the fund period.

"Revised gross revenue" is the income that the film incurs after deduction of film distribution fees. Only after importing the film distribution fees, the distribution of the proceeds to producers (funds) and licensees. This is also shown in the contested prospectus on page 90 under the heading "license agreement". The defendant in paragraph 1) states: "It is clear from the clear text of the prospectus on page 90 that the obligation to obtain written sales estimates for the initial use of at least 125% for TV and 150% for cinema productions is included The distribution fee is the average value between the asking and accepting price of the Fund's share of the budgetary cost of production on the relationship between the licensee and the final licensee.

The further stages of the profit sharing rule the Master Agreement, as was the case, for example, in section 9 of the Master Agreement for the Soul of the Age project. The profit distribution scheme results in the hypothetical production costs of EUR 10 million, the actual revenue of EUR 16 million, and the distribution fees of (assuming) 30% of the revenues: the distribution of income (exemplified and simplified):

Production costs: EUR 10 million
Revenue from all recovery stages: EUR 16 million
Minus sales charge 30% from proceeds EUR 4.8 million
Adjusted (gross allocation) gross income EUR 11.2 million

As you can see theres a lot of information to digest. And frankly i suck at these long write up's




Game developers are just human beings who happen to make games for a living. If you want to hold us up to higher standards of conduct, then go ahead ...but don't be surprised if we don't uphold them.

Offline StanTheMan

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Re: Star Citizen - Chris Roberts Legacy Of Failure
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2017, 01:18:28 AM »

Offline Motto

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Re: Star Citizen - Chris Roberts Legacy Of Failure
« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2017, 01:38:32 PM »
Dear Chris, now you are in jail and have plenty of time on your hands, please study the following text. I hope knowing that other people were able to do it correctly will lighten the days left to come. That is, assuming you didn't life without parole of course.

From the Dual Universe Board

Hi guys,

Here are some news concerning the Crowdfunding portal evolution and the Alpha.

First, thank you so much for your support as we take this amazing journey together. There are more than 9,000 backers who have shown their support for our vision of Dual Universe with more than 675,000€ pledged. Thanks to you we have met all of our crowdfunding goals and all but one of our stretch goals, the Bounty system (725,000€).
 
We're amazed by the support you guys show us every day. You know how crucial the Kickstarter campaign was and how it allowed us to make it this far. For all of you that couldn't make it during the Kickstarter, and who made it very clear they wanted to help us achieve our vision, we opened our own Crowdfunding portal in November, 2016 to make sure everybody had a chance to get on board for the first Alpha and to actively support the development team.
 
Kickstarter upgrades can't go on indefinitely, though. Many of you have asked how long we’d allow new pledges and upgrades from your Kickstarter pledges. While we didn’t put an exact date on it at the time, we made it clear the opportunity to upgrade your pledges, or make new pledges, wouldn’t last forever.
 
The time has come to announce a date for the end of the Kickstarter upgrade opportunity and an evolution of our crowdfunding in general. You'll have until the 7th of September 2017 to perform an upgrade of your current pledge or to make a pledge if you haven't already. Your sharp eyes will probably notice that this date is special: this is indeed the day we launched the Kickstarter campaign last year!
 
Many of you mentioned that you needed time to perform upgrades (especially for those who wanted to upgrade to the highest pledge levels). We totally get that and we think giving you a full year after the campaign started is a fair amount of time to upgrade and make changes to your support for Dual Universe.
 
After September, 7, we will remove the upgrades from our crowdfunding portal. At the same time we will temporarily disable the Crowdfunding portal entirely to prepare it for a refresh. No new pledges or upgrades will be possible during that time.
 
After we complete the maintenance and revamping, the portal will reopen with a slightly different approach. Because the initial push to raise funding and make Dual Universe a reality will have ended, the current “Founder” packs will be retired. However, as we are aware that new members of the Community may still want to support the game, we will provide "Supporter" Packs in a new format. These packs will be available to let supporters either join early to give feedback that could help shape or improve the game mechanics, or just to support the vision Dual Universe carries and help us to remain as independent as possible.
 
However, some current rewards won't be available in these new “Supporter” packs. For example, we will remove the lifetime subscription reward. If you are planning on purchasing or upgrading to a Ruby pack or higher to earn this reward, the time is now. Once we suspend the upgrades on September, 7 —the lifetime reward will not appear in any future packs.
 
Another example: some “Supporter” packs will still provide Alpha access, but at a later stage than the Founder ones. We’ll share more details later in the year about the new “Supporter” packs to come but for now, here's what's planned: as we announced in the June DevDiary, at the very beginning, Alpha won't be the full game but a preview of some selected features. This "Alpha 1" will be updated over time with more features and fixes as the team progresses on its roadmap and with community feedback.
 
Access to this Alpha 1 is guaranteed for every Founder pack with Alpha access (Gold and above). So all early backers who trusted us on Kickstarter or the Crowdfunding portal before September, 7, 2017 will be onboard for the Alpha first steps.
 
When the future "Supporter" Packs will be available in Q4 2017, those packs that provide Alpha access will grant access to Dual Universe Alpha 2, that will come at a later stage of development (it will be an update of the existing Alpha 1 that will bring new features and fixes).
Why proceed this way? To thank our early backers for saying "dibs!" to help of course, but also to control on the amount of players online. We're building the cluster server progressively. Once we are confident that performance with many players under live conditions is acceptable then we’ll open the Alpha to the players who pledged with the new “Supporter” packs.
 
Since we mentioned it earlier we wanted to let you know that, due to recent hirings, we’re currently reorganizing our roadmap. We can't comment on the changes just yet, but we will at a later date.
 
A word about the Bounty System stretch goal: we know the community has been working hard over the past several months to reach it. This is why we’re giving you until September to help us hit the 725,000€ goal. If we don’t hit this goal on September, 7 the bounty system  won't be included in the official release. Though it will probably be included at a later stage of development but it’s impossible to say when exactly.
With Alpha out next September and a bit of word of mouth, Dual Universe should attract more attention and we hope many new members will join the community!
 
Another important note: when we release the new version of the portal, we don't plan to add any new stretch goals. We’ve spoken several times in the past about our concerns of "feature creep". Having the Crowdfunding portal open can lead to a vicious cycle of promising new stuff to collect new funds. This leads directly to feature creep. We're currently focused on Alpha and we still have much work to do. New features can take away from that focus and we don't want that.
 
That’s all for now! And again, let us thank you warmly for your support. Whether you've been there since the beginning or just joined the community, you're all important to us. Our backers are real patrons and Dual Universe couldn't be made without you. See you soon in Dual Universe!
 
Cheers,

Nomad

Offline helimoth

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Re: Star Citizen - Chris Roberts Legacy Of Failure
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2017, 01:53:59 PM »
When somebody next asks what on earth croberts has been smoking when he makes his next outlandish claim, I think I might have a good answer for them


Offline dsmart

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Re: Star Citizen - Chris Roberts Legacy Of Failure
« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2017, 06:16:18 PM »
In prep for what's coming, brush up on your Chris Robert's disastrous history "Chris Roberts - a bit too ambitious"

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In the wake of the collapse of Digital Anvil, co-founder and soon-to-be-former CEO Chris Roberts has spoken about his decision to leave the company he founded just four years ago. As we suspected, the company's troubles were down to "wanting to develop not only hugely ambitious games, but too many hugely ambitious games", leaving the company's finances stretched after four years without a single game being released - the sole title to emerge with the Digital Anvil name on it was actually mostly developed by a small British company.
===
Taking three and a half to four years to build a massive title just seems like a huge amount of effort. There needs to be a better way to do it."

http://uk.ign.com/articles/2000/12/05/digital-anvil-interview

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If you read the newsgroups or message boards at all, then you've heard the rumors that Chris Roberts is out and Microsoft is in over at Digital Anvil. Repeated calls to both Microsoft and Digital Anvil have, until today, resulted in little more than "no comment." But early this morning Microsoft finally put and end to the rumors and issued a press release revealing that they've reached "a preliminary agreement to acquire Digital Anvil." This is just the latest in a long line of studio acquisitions made by the Microsoft Games Groups including FASA Interactive, Access Software and Bungie Software.

We just spoke with Ed Fries, General Manager of the Games Group at Microsoft, and Chris Roberts, founder of Digital Anvil and creator of the Wing Commander series, about the change. Key on our minds were the status of the four titles currently under development at the company -- Freelancer, Loose Cannon, the recently cancelled Conquest: Frontier Wars and the as yet unnamed strategy title for Xbox. We were also keen to discover what effect the acquisition would have on Chris Roberts and producers Erin Roberts and Tony Zurovec. But being the wily interviewers that we are, we decided to open with an entirely different question just to throw them off.

IGNPC: The first thing I want to ask is how preliminary is this deal? What's the timeframe for this?

Ed Fries: We're moving very rapidly. We expect that it's going to be completed. I was down in Austin yesterday and we did the announcement to the employees offers are going out and that people will join up to the company next week

IGNPC: Really? So it should be final pretty soon then?

Ed Fries: Yeah, very soon.

IGNPC: What's the disposition of the existing titles under development?

Ed Fries: You can think of there having been four titles under development. Conquest, which was just wrapping up so that's basically done, Loose Cannon, Freelancer and an unannounced Xbox title. And really those last two are the biggest most ambitious titles. They're the ones that employ the most people down there. And what we're really trying to do is focus on doing a smaller set of things and make sure that they really reach the high bar that we set for Digital Anvil which is to do amazing, amazing things. We're continuing on those two. Conquest we had already announced that we had made the decision not to publish that title and Chris will be taking that out to other publishers and then he'll also be taking Loose Cannon as well.

IGNPC: So those titles are still alive, they're just looking for new publishers.

Ed Fries: That's correct.

Chris Roberts: Yeah, I guess this week and next week I'm actually spending a fair amount of time talking to other publishers about it and hopefully finding a home for those two products. I just hadn't done anything over the past month because we were in negotiations over the acquisition.

IGNPC: I know that you're very connected with Freelancer and Erin's connected with the Xbox title. What sort of role are you going to play in the development of these games from this point on?

Chris Roberts: I'm basically going to be a creative consultant on Freelancer and I'm not involved in the Xbox title.

IGNPC: And what's Erin's status in all this?

Chris Roberts: He's still on the Xbox title so he'll be staying with Digital Anvil.

IGNPC: A lot of the rumors have speculated that you were both leaving.

Chris Roberts: No, it'll be just me and Tony actually. So hopefully we're going to set up Loose Cannon somewhere and then Tony will obviously go with that. I'm going to stay as a consultant on Freelancer and take some time off to kind of rethink what I want to do in the interactive entertainment field.

IGNPC: So you don't have any definite plans right now?

Chris Roberts: No, actually I just want to see Freelancer out the door and then I want to take some time to reassess everything. Taking three and a half to four years to build a massive title just seems like a huge amount of effort, There needs to be a better way to do it.

IGNPC: Right. How does this change the calendar for development? Are you going to have to push the release of the games back further as a result of these changes?

Ed Fries: It's really a little early to say. We have offers out to a lot of the really great people in the company and in the next week or so we'll know exactly what the team is that we have working on it. Then they'll have a chance to look at the title and assess where it's at and how long it's going to take to ship. So it's just kind of a bad time to ask that question.

Chris Roberts: The plan is that hopefully both titles aren't affected by this.

Ed Fries: They could actually end up with more people working on them.

IGNPC: Why did you guys decide to acquire Digital Anvil in whole instead of going for more of a Big Huge Games model? Why is important for you to own the whole company?

Ed Fries: Well we kind of see this as a natural evolution of the relationship that we have. It was always more than just a one-off publishing relationship. We always had a minority equity investment and over the last six months we've had a chance to take a step back and look at what's work and what hasn't worked over the last three and a half years of our relationship. Basically what we've decided is Digital Anvil is doing what we want which is to really try to push the boundary of what's possible in games, to really try and do some super ambitious things. It's hard to completely change where the bar is for games and do it five times at once. You know what I mean?

So that's when we decided really we needed to step back, be more focused. We had some problems with the split of resources between the people we had here in Redmond working on the project and the people we have in Austin and by doing an acquisition we'll be able to bring everybody who's involved in the project together in one place. So it's all really about bringing the kind of focus that we need to make the project successful.

IGNPC: But you're still going to keep the studio open in Austin?

Ed Fries: Oh, absolutely. You know, my group more and more is becoming a collection of studios. Whether it's the internal Bungie Studio or the Access studio in Salt Lake, this'll be our Austin Studio. It'll retain the Digital Anvil name. I even have a studio in Japan now.

IGNPC: Are you looking towards maybe switching brands among studios to find better fits for things? You have FASA which is more sim oriented. Is there some idea that you're going to reinforce that emphasis by taking titles from other studios and moving them among different development houses?

Ed Fries: Yeah, my job becomes more about trying to keep the different development studios out of each other's way. Try to make it so that we're not doing the same thing three times in three different places. If you really look at how my group was three or four years ago versus where it is now, three or four years ago the group was broken into divisions by genre -- a simulations group, a racing group, etc. Now it's more individual creative studios that have their own ambitions and their own direction that they want to take their title. Like I said, I'm just kind of the traffic cop to keep them out of each other's way.

IGNPC: Okay. Thanks very much for your time and good luck to both of you.

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/gamespot-interview-chris-roberts/1100-2662128/

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In a surprising press release issued yesterday, Microsoft announced that it has acquired Digital Anvil and the rights to Freelancer and an unnamed Xbox game. Even more surprising was the news that Digital Anvil's famed designer and CEO Chris Roberts will leave the company once the acquisition is completed in order to pursue other interests. We spoke with Roberts about this announcement briefly yesterday, but this morning we took the time to sit down with him and talk about these recent developments in length.

GameSpot: Chris, how long ago did you start talking with Microsoft about the acquisition? Who initiated these talks?

Chris Roberts: Microsoft started the talks about six months ago.

GS: In a time when a developer's freedom is fast becoming scarce, why would you choose to make Digital Anvil a division of the world's largest software company?

CR: It's very difficult to build wildly ambitious games without the financial security of a larger company, especially when their development cycles are so unpredictable. Freelancer was meant to take three years - it will probably be four and a half years by the time it is done. It's very tough for an independent developer to weather that kind of slip, and it's not just Digital Anvil. I believe all A+ games require severe patience and funds - witness Team Fortress 2 and Black & White.

GS: Does that mean that Digital Anvil was ever at the risk of running out of money? Was this acquisition necessitated by a need for funding?

CR: Partly. Whenever something runs later, it needs more funding. Becoming part of Microsoft made this issue less of a problem.

GS: And how will this acquisition benefit the development of the Digital Anvil games?

CR: Security in being part of an ambitious publisher. In-house games always are the favored children [of publishers]. Believe me, I know - this was totally the case with Electronic Arts when I was there on the other side of the fence.

GS: Conversely, how could this acquisition possibly hurt their development?

CR: It gives Digital Anvil less independence. [The games become] more susceptible to the political whims or needs of a big organization (the same issue was at EA) or sacrificing for the greater good of the organization, like making Christmas no matter what cost because the games group really needs a hit.

GS: When Microsoft acquired Bungie, the entire company was relocated to Redmond, Wash. Does this mean that Digital Anvil employees will have to move from Austin, Texas, to Washington?

CR: No. Digital Anvil will continue to operate in Austin, from the current offices.

GS: What's the mood like in the office? Does the team view this acquisition as a good move?

CR: Generally, most people are positive. The extra security of being part of a big organization is good.

GS: As part of the acquisition agreement, Microsoft only picked up Freelancer and an unannounced Xbox game. Where does that leave Loose Cannon?

CR: I (along with the other key shareholders) retained the publishing, intellectual property, and code rights to Loose Cannon and Conquest: Frontier Wars with the acquisition. I am working hard to set up Loose Cannon and Conquest with another publisher.

GS: Why didn't Microsoft choose to publish Conquest: Frontier Wars? After all, the game is finished, right?

CR: Microsoft's publishing model is very different to most other publishers' - if they don't believe they can sell more that 500,000 units, they are not interested in selling it (with their overhead it means they will probably lose money just releasing it). Conquest was on this cusp. This is not true for other, smaller publishers. I believe very strongly in Conquest, it's fun and it looks fantastic. We will shortly be posting a Web demo, and we're currently talking to publishers. I'm pretty positive it will find a home before the year is out and you will see it on shelves next spring. At that point, everyone can judge for themselves.

GS: Have other publishers expressed interest in picking up Conquest: Frontier Wars?

CR: Absolutely. Everyone who has seen it to date has expressed strong interest. In fact, most people can't believe Microsoft didn't want to publish it.

GS: Is Tony Zurovec going to found his own game company?

CR: Hopefully he will finish Loose Cannon. After that, who knows?

GS: Is Erin Roberts staying at Digital Anvil? What's he been working on since StarLancer?

CR: Erin is staying. He is producing our unannounced Xbox title.

GS: What's going to happen to the other team members who were previously working on Conquest and Loose Cannon?

CR: Some will move over to Freelancer and the Xbox title. Some will leave Digital Anvil to continue working on Loose Cannon and ensuring Conquest meets another publisher's requirements.

GS: Let's go back to Freelancer. What will your role in the project be following the completion of the acquisition?

CR: I'm now the creative consultant. I'll be polishing off the script, giving ongoing creative guidance to Phil Wattenburger (my co-director on the project), and helping with all the press stuff.

GS: Are you pretty confident that Microsoft won't change the game? To make it more marketable, for example?

CR: Hey, it's fully mouse-driven. It's already marketable! I wouldn't have done the acquisition if I thought that Microsoft would compromise Phil's and my vision for the titles.

GS: Do you think Microsoft will port Freelancer onto the Xbox? Do you think it could be a good Xbox game, despite its mouse-driven interface?

CR: This is really a Microsoft question, but my guess is no for Freelancer. Freelancer 2 is another question.

GS: We know that you can't divulge too much information on Digital Anvil's unannounced Xbox game, which was picked up by Microsoft, but can you give us any hints as to what kind of game it will be? What genre does it fall under?

CR: Ed Fries would hunt me down and kill me. But it has been in development for two years and it is sci-fi...

GS: You've previously told us that you'd like to do more work in film or explore ways to exploit broadband technology. Can you elaborate?

CR: I'll be ready to tell you more later.

GS: Looking back, do you wish you could revisit the Wing Commander universe, or do you feel you've taken that series as far as it can go?

CR: I still love Wing Commander. Given the right opportunity, I would definitely revisit it.

GS: Does your departure from Digital Anvil mean that you'll be leaving gaming altogether?

CR: No. I love interactive gaming. I just need some time to recharge my batteries, because working on four-year projects is very draining.

GS: Thanks for your time, Chris.


« Last Edit: September 08, 2017, 07:13:27 PM by dsmart »
Game developers are just human beings who happen to make games for a living. If you want to hold us up to higher standards of conduct, then go ahead ...but don't be surprised if we don't uphold them.

 

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