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Layoff hits Obsidian?


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#1
funcroc

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Akil Hooper (producer/designer at OEI)
"11 years, nearly a dozen shipped titles, Designer, Lead, Producer. 1 cancelled game, survived 7 layoffs, 8th got me. Not a bad track record."

Jason Fader (producer)
"*sigh*"

Justin Reynard (programmer)
"Today marks my 3 year anniversary working at Obsidian Entertainment. To my coworkers (and sadly the ones we've lost) you guys are amazing.<3"

Ashley Betters (QA tester)
"No longer work at Obsidian. I guess this means I will have to start buying my own pens."

According to LI, producer Tess Treadwell and designer Sydney Wolfram (and three interns) seem to be got laid off too.

Edited by funcroc, 21 April 2011 - 09:57 PM.


#2
Flouride

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That's some bad news. This means less good crpg's in the upcoming years and some good people lost their jobs :thumbsup:

I guess publishers didn't warm up to their next project. Hopefully there's still enough staff to have few teams working on games...

Edited by Flouride, 21 April 2011 - 11:40 PM.


#3
Starwars

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Bad news indeed. Best of luck to everyone involved!

#4
C2B

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:lol:

This is some seriously bad news. Hope you get a job again quick.

Edited by C2B, 22 April 2011 - 12:36 AM.


#5
pmp10

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Anyone know how long will it take before we can find out what project Virginia was?
Someone mentioned that NDA on cancelled projects is even stricter than on the ones in progress.

#6
C2B

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Anyone know how long will it take before we can find out what project Virginia was?
Someone mentioned that NDA on cancelled projects is even stricter than on the ones in progress.


Do we know that it actually IS cancelled?

#7
kirottu

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:lol:

#8
Tigranes

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Depends on the size of the layoff, 3-4 employees doesn't mean a cancelled project and Obsidian's always had a turnover.

That said, Obs' cycle is a little off at the moment, with DS3 only 2 months away then no other projects with even a sliver of information (other than the Wheel of Time stuff). Hopefully they're lining up future projects OK.

#9
Flouride

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Depends on the size of the layoff, 3-4 employees doesn't mean a cancelled project and Obsidian's always had a turnover.

That said, Obs' cycle is a little off at the moment, with DS3 only 2 months away then no other projects with even a sliver of information (other than the Wheel of Time stuff). Hopefully they're lining up future projects OK.


True, but still we really don't know if this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully though it's just few jobs that were lost.

#10
Labadal

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Always sad to hear, good luck to the ones that lost their jobs. I hope this doesn't mean we will see further layoffs, and I certainly hope Obsidian isn't in any trouble.

#11
funcroc

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F:NV (and DLCs) lead artist Joe Sanabria also seemed to get laid off.

Edited by funcroc, 22 April 2011 - 05:17 PM.


#12
funcroc

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From Avellone's LI profile

Joe Sanabria
Art Director at Obsidian Entertainment

I worked with Joe Sanabria while he was Art Director on Fallout New Vegas and on all the Fallout DLCs, and during that time, it's a testament to Joe's ability that I never had to worry about the art pipeline for the project, it was always being handled and handled well. Joe kept his team informed, established a consistent tone and direction, provided feedback both personally with his artists and in paintovers if he felt a paintover would be easier to work from, and he also took care to give visual theme presentations of the artistic goals for each DLC with key props, weather systems, color palettes, and character designs (usually coupled with extensive reference photos and art he had gathered from his library and his own research). Also, Joe just doesn't stop... he loves the craft. He's always got a sketchbook in hand, drafting concepts for vistas and characters, and often spends his off-hours drawing for the sake of the project, then bring the images in the next day to show how to take an area, cinematic, or vista shot in a cool direction. Joe was a leader - he wasn't just someone who provided feedback, he actively encouraged folks to take initiative with their tasks, take responsibility, and also worked hard to improve the art community at Obsidian. When someone shined, Joe was always there to let the owners and production know of someone going beyond the call of duty and specifically called out the positive contributions they'd made to the project. He took critiques well, stuck to his guns when he felt he was right (and was), and never once did I feel Joe was not receptive to a suggestion or critique without weighing it and respecting the person's opinion. Working with Joe was a positive experience, and I learned a great deal from his approach, both in the creative and managerial sense. He cares about what he's working on, he cares about the company he works for, and most importantly, he cares about the team he's a part of. He can not only speak confidently and strongly on a game's theme and direction, he is able to create the vision for a project and work hard to bring it to completion. I'd gladly work with Joe again, and I feel he's a strong leader and an asset to whatever team he becomes a part of. April 22, 2011

Sydney Wolfram
Jr Designer at Obsidian Entertainment

I worked with Sydney Wolfram on Fallout New Vegas and the Fallout DLCs. Obsidian initially hired Sydney to assist with the technical aspects of world building for Fallout, she exceeded our expectations for the position and moved quickly into a full time world and level building role. Not only did she flesh out many areas of the Mojave wasteland in New Vegas, she also designed a number of praised levels for the title as well, including a number (Vault 34) have been frequently cited as being a much-needed challenge for hardcore players. There's a lot to recommend about Sydney's drive and the way she tackle problems - she can't abide bugs in her area, and the way she systematically killed bugs and addressed feedback in her area was rapid and thorough. Sydney also helped us with appraising future world designer candidates for Fallout, helped mentor them on best editor practices, and in addition, she put in many long hours across the Fallout titles to make the design shine. It wouldn't be unusual to make a request of Sydney, ask her to appraise the idea to see if she had time to tackle it, then come in to discover the next day that it was in the build, done, and fun. Lastly, while future Fallout releases will prove the strengths of this, Sydney had the extremely challenging task of designing almost an entire world zone for Fallout on her own, measuring its performance, gameplay pacing, and making it fun and engaging for the player, and by my count, she succeeded. The moment you step into the DLC in question, you'll see everything she brought to life in one huge vista shot, and to this day, I feel it's one of the most amazing shots I've seen in a Fallout title to date. I believe Sydney has a lot to offer any development team, and if the opportunity presented itself, I would work with her again in a heartbeat. April 21, 2011

Theresa Kanae Treadwell
Associate Producer at Obsidian Entertainment

I worked with Tess on Fallout: New Vegas, she was helping to head up production on the title and track art and design across the many areas in the game. There's a number of strengths that Tess brings to the table in her role as producer, and I'll list a few of them: One, energy - if you point Tess at a problem, she'll attack it relentlessly until it's dead. Two, her willingness to put in the hours necessary to make the game shine - there were many nights on Fallout New Vegas where Tess would stay late, much later than others, to insure that work was done and the game was in good shape for submission and QA. Lastly, Tess routinely went outside of her production roles and looked for other ways to help the company by playing our titles, offering feedback, and solutions for how to address art, level, and gameplay flow in all the titles she played. It became customary in the projects that we'd have a "Tess phase" where we'd ask her to stomp up and down on a build to help with critical feedback as well as her gamer feedback on a title. I can't speak enough to Tess's energy, her passion for her job, and her willingness to work hard to make a title (and all a company's titles) shine. I think for any studio looking for game design or production assistance, she's someone that can bring a lot to the table, and she's proved it repeatedly over the years. April 21, 2011


Edited by funcroc, 22 April 2011 - 06:29 PM.


#13
funcroc

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Junior designer Jessica Johnson got laid off.

Jessica Johnson's Experience

Jr Designer
Obsidian Entertainment
May 2010 April 2011 (1 year)

Fallout New Vegas
Fallout New Vegas: Dead Money
Fallout New Vegas: Honest Hearts
Unannounced Fallout New Vegas Project
Unannounced Project


From Avellone's LI profile

Jessica Johnson
Jr Designer at Obsidian Entertainment

Jessica worked at Obsidian as a level designer on Fallout New Vegas and again as level designer on the run of the Fallout New Vegas DLCs. We hired her from a pool of applicants as her test stood out as showcasing a fresh take on a sample Fallout level coupled with interesting quest design and a visually compelling design layout. She proved herself further once she became a level designer at Obsidian - she helped flesh out the Sierra Madre casino for FNV DLC1: Dead Money, and also created a number of cool quest areas for the future DLCs as well (tba). Among our designers, artists, and QA, Jessica was cited as especially easy to work with, and she had a natural ability to work with the environment artists to create visually stunning levels. In addition, Jessica is modest and low-key about her own accomplisments, but her contributions to design and the larger themes for the DLCs speak for themselves. Even seemingly minor hooks and character references provided good fuel for tying into larger narrative hooks for the DLC, and the DLC narratives benefited a great deal from the quest seeds she placed in her area. In upcoming DLCs, Jessica had a great deal of involvement in the formation of character personalities, end slides, and other cool adventure hooks that wouldn't have been present without her involvement, and the DLCs would have been weaker without her design skills. It's worth noting that Jessica also took on a number of what could only be described as "heavy lifting" for much of New Vegas. She spent a great deal of time fleshing out the technical design elements for New Vegas, and during this period, not once did she complain, she simply tackled every task in turn thoroughly, quickly, and efficiently. She proved herself able to be relied on not just for design flow and aesthetics, but she didn't shy away from the more difficult routine tasks either, which is one of the qualities of a hard-working, dedicated designer. Furthermore, she was able to take what she had learned and use that to help evaluate future applicants and provide valuable critiques as to what skill sets were necessary for expanding the scope of technical design at the company. Jessica is a modest, hard-working, and skilled level designer, and she's an asset to any company she chooses to work with. Not only would I recommend her work and work ethic, I would work with her again if the opportunity presented itself.



#14
Flouride

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Funcroc, I liked you better when you were posting good news :lol:

#15
Nightshape

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Its for reasons like this, I've not even contemplated buying a house or settling down.

When redundencies hit its really sad, I'm lucky, it hasn't happend to me - yet.

#16
Tigranes

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I know it's LinkedIn, but interesting how those references are publicly available - is that normal?

Hopefully we'll know soon what's up with Obsid's new projects, and how their business plan looks to change. Aliens/AP was meant to have kickstarted the age of original franchises / engines, obviously there's been some rejiggling over the last year or two.

#17
Gfted1

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Can someone explain to me if this is the norm? Do developers always overhire when they have a project and then let all non-essentials go when the project is complete? Is this just a case of short-sightedness and they thought they would be able to use those people on the next project? Seems like a lot of people hitting the heap in a short amount of time.

#18
Tale

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Can someone explain to me if this is the norm? Do developers always overhire when they have a project and then let all non-essentials go when the project is complete? Is this just a case of short-sightedness and they thought they would be able to use those people on the next project? Seems like a lot of people hitting the heap in a short amount of time.

I don't know what Obsidian is doing, but I've seen a few studios hire to do multiple projects, then have those multiples fall through, resulting in a surplus of talent at the studio with a scarcity of work.

It seems a number of these individuals were involved in New Vegas and DLC. Is some of the DLC being cancelled? I think it's too early for them to have actually completed it all. Maybe they have completed them enough to lay off some. *shrug*

Edited by Tale, 26 April 2011 - 08:52 AM.


#19
Flouride

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Can someone explain to me if this is the norm? Do developers always overhire when they have a project and then let all non-essentials go when the project is complete? Is this just a case of short-sightedness and they thought they would be able to use those people on the next project? Seems like a lot of people hitting the heap in a short amount of time.


From what I've read this is not even bad. Some companies are just so damn ruthless when it comes to using people on a project and then letting them go. In this case it seems now that they've (mostly) wrapped up working on FNV dlcs they are letting some people go since there isn't enough work for all of them (for example Bethesda didn't opt. making few more dlcs, still no guarentee about DS3 dlcs since it's not out yet etc..)

#20
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The game industry in general has a high rate of turnover, and this round doesn't seem as bad as the post-Aliens cancellation thing. Good luck to everyone who lost their jobs! Sucks.

I would like to see more evidence that Virginia is dead / in jeopardy. Do we have confirmation that it hasn't stuck to a publisher?




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