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Chris Avellone: The Final Frontier


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#1
Infinitron

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Gentlemen, prepare to have your minds blown.

 

http://www.rpgcodex....-8#post-5590121

 

I didn’t get anything when I left Obsidian. There were no share payouts, no equity, and this was in addition to the other logistical problems around the departure – the sudden cancellation of my health insurance, problems with my 401K, errors in Obsidian’s accounting, and several existing independent contracts they refused to uphold.
 
Realizing my family issues and the debts therein, however, they did make an attempt to leverage that into a far more confining separation agreement that would remove my right to work on RPGs, and my silence on all issues that could pertain to Obsidian or any other company they were involved with or the CEO had a % in (Fig, Zero Radius, Dark Rock Industries, etc.). This included an inability to critique games I’d worked on – much of my critiques on my own games tend to be blunt, and not being able to speak to them felt unnatural to me.
 
The company involvement silence worried me more, however, as it meant that if anything illegal happened with any of those companies (these could include serious charges like accounting issues, silence on harassment issues with regards to employees, perjury related to company documents and payments), I couldn’t speak about the issue, even if I felt strongly against what was being revealed.
 
While all this is good for Obsidian's upper management and is what is sometimes considered "good business," I did feel it showed a lack of ethics.
 
Still, that attempt at leverage did cause me to re-evaluate aspects of my life. Realizing debt was affecting my decision, I instead focused on working as hard as possible to make up for the amount Obsidian tried to use as leverage to force a signature – and succeeded.
 
When that happened, I realized I was free of the situation – completely free, for the first time. Feargus and the owners had no hold on my voice, my time, and my creativity any longer. And it was great.
 
When they made me an offer to contract me to write for Tyranny (which might seem to be an olive branch, but it turned out to be something they needed for contractual reasons with Paradox, but no one had ever communicated it to me), these were the reasons I refused – I didn’t wish to be part of Obsidian’s upper level development process and their pipelines any longer, as these processes were coming from a bad place, and it showed.
 
Also, realizing there was no restitution for the issues mentioned, I made a promise to myself that nothing I would do would ever cause Feargus and the owners any further financial gain. If my silence was that important to them, then there's no need to be silent because that right hadn't been signed away. Simply put, I like the developers at Obsidian very much, I work and correspond with many of those who are there or have left, and I would work with the developers again. I do feel upper management at Obsidian has serious flaws that need to be addressed, and I stand by that statement.

 


Edited by Infinitron, 01 May 2018 - 11:03 AM.

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#2
Ethics Gradient

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Yikes.  That thread over on Codex has been a trip to read.

 

Nice work, Infinitron.


Edited by Ethics Gradient, 01 May 2018 - 11:43 AM.

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#3
Drowsy Emperor

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Highly disappointing to read.


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#4
HoonDing

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delete my account i can no longer take this
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#5
Hurlshot

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Kind of confused, did he have an ownership stake?

 

I expect fair recompense for my posts when I decide to retire as well. This is serious. :(



#6
Ethics Gradient

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For those not following the gossip chain, Infinitron's post above is Part 3 of this week's WTFBBQ Drama

 

 

Previously on WTFBBQ Drama

Part 1: The Initial Post.

Part 2: The Rebuttal.


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#7
z_liquid

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Pretty good timing to dump all this info. Sounds like he is trying to smear Obsidian's name right before the release of Deadfire
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#8
Sharp_one

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They wanted Avellone to sign NDA that banned him from ever working on RPGs? Wow...
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#9
Drowsy Emperor

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To deaden their fire?

 

...I'll leave now


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#10
Blodhemn

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Thought this was going to be info about a new game instead of the rehashed drama. Yawn. Might as well write a book about it.

#11
Ninjerk

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That is shocking.  I hate that I had to visit the Codex (a place I despise and never visit) to get the context.


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#12
Hurlshot

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Thought this was going to be info about a new game instead of the rehashed drama. Yawn. Might as well write a book about it.

 

That actually seems like a pretty good idea. I mean, he's a good writer, so it seems like the right way to go about this. Not sure what the interest level is but it'd probably sell a few copies. 



#13
TrueNeutral

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For those not following the gossip chain, Infinitron's post above is Part 3 of this week's WTFBBQ Drama


Previously on WTFBBQ Drama
Part 1: The Initial Post.
Part 2: The Rebuttal.


I find it interesting how Avellone and Fenstermaker describe completely different experiences.

Also, sadly non-compete clauses wherever you can get away with them seems the standard in the game industry nowadays. :(
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#14
Infinitron

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That is shocking.  I hate that I had to visit the Codex (a place I despise and never visit) to get the context.

 

05d.jpg


Edited by Infinitron, 01 May 2018 - 12:43 PM.

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#15
z_liquid

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For those not following the gossip chain, Infinitron's post above is Part 3 of this week's WTFBBQ Drama


Previously on WTFBBQ Drama
Part 1: The Initial Post.
Part 2: The Rebuttal.


I find it interesting how Avellone and Fenstermaker describe completely different experiences.

Also, sadly non-compete clauses wherever you can get away with them seems the standard in the game industry nowadays. :(


I don't think they're "completely different experiences". Rather, they're just worded differently. Not to mention Eric's comment was made yesterday, when parts of the interview was done a long time ago.

#16
algroth

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That is shocking.  I hate that I had to visit the Codex (a place I despise and never visit) to get the context.

 

What do you mean? They all seem like nice life-loving sweethearts in that thread! 1_0_by_babblingfaces-dbdhcc6.png


Edited by algroth, 01 May 2018 - 01:01 PM.


#17
Zoraptor

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Trouble is, as always, that Chris's recollections don't fit what everyone could see, to whit (1) Obsidian didn't make any real comment about him at all, and no negative ones and (2) they didn't have a restrictive employment agreement when he was actually working for them- since he was off working and being a stretch goal on multiple projects outside Obsidian, even prior to leaving. If they wanted to leverage debt to 'control' him all they had to do was stop him working independently. He either didn't have a contract anywhere near as restrictive as made out or he was allowed to work independently to get that money and remove the 'control', which I rather suspect was just a standard employment contract, as below. Indeed, that freedom to work on FTL, Wasteland 2 etc allowed him a natural lead into and exposure for his work for the Larians and Bethesdas.

 

It looks far more like he asked for an early contract release and didn't like the terms offered for it so took that as being 'unfair' and leveraging whatever his situation was, and worked out his contract doing stuff for other people. If he wanted an early release from a contract then he has to accept that the company he works may want something in return- and that's especially true if you're obviously going off to work at the opposition. That isn't a personal slight, it's standard practice since you've made an agreement, you're asking to vary its terms and they're not obligated to indulge you in any way. Indeed, depending on how the company is set up indulging friends to vary their contracts may well be exactly the illegal/ unethical treatment Chris rails against.

 

I actually started out supporting Chris as well, but everything he's said since has steadily reduced that support to the point I wish he's shut up about anything other than rpgs, if only for his own sake. I say it every time, but he comes across as That Guy At Work who thinks management hates him and everything is set up against him and everyone else at the company hates him too. They usually do- because he wanders around seeking support for his grievances and basically not doing his job while making it unpleasant for everyone else. He usually has a point with his grievance, but blows it out of proportion. I have some personal experience of that sort, my dad always ranted about how his employer was crap and the management was crap etc. I ended up working with him for a while (because no one else would, which is a bit of a spoiler) and you know what? Management was crap and incompetent and was actively  trying to get him fired or to resign. You know what else? My dad made life unpleasant for just about everyone else there whether they were management or not and was deliberately and pointlessly obstructive all while claiming he was fighting the good fight. He did do his job, more or less, but spent so much time arguing with management that he'd stopped doing it well.

 

Just a reminder, by Chris's own admission he had one friend left at Obsidian, out of 150ish employees. That's not a number that says that management was the only problem.

 


Nice work, Infinitron.

 

More like nice work Fairfax, or maybe nice work Sensuki. Infinitron's just the newsbot.


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#18
injurai

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If you're taking payment as a form of stake in the company, wasn't Obsidian on the brink at the time? Was MCR sure that his shares weren't dilutable ones?

 

I don't say this to hand wave any faults of Obsidian's upper management, but I'm not understanding why a law suit wouldn't have been launched. It seemed it was counting out equity that wasn't there, and Obsidian was trying to pull all this contractual stuff to manage their reputation in light of a angry employee departing out into the world.


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#19
Majek

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We should get David Cage to make a game about this.  :disguise: 



#20
Hurlshot

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I've said it before, but MCA seems like the kind of guy that is just miserable in management positions. He's better off as a freelancer.


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