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Chris Avellone: The Final Frontier

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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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

To me, the biggest issue is the timing. People have asked before about the issues that lead to him leaving Obsidian, but he either didn't comment or said he was under NDA. Now suddenly just before Obsidian's biggest game is about to launch he comes forward with everything he has. Some of it is  quite ****ing trivial (oh, boo-hoo his forum account is locked) and normal corporate stuff. Yes, sure Obsidian is at fault as well, clearly they haven't dealt with the issue properly back then, but then again some of what Chris is saying doesn't add up. Unless of course the US corporate laws are totally insane.

 

Chris claims he doesn't want to hurt the developers at Obsidian, but his tirade is doing exactly that, while his main target obviously is Feargus (who he thinks is incompetent) and the Parkers.

 

I don't know maybe Feargus is an evil mastermind, or Parker is a psychopath who gets rids of everyone who looks at him the wrong way. But, how he could lose his stake in the company without getting paid for his share of stock is quite unbeliavable to me.

Losing his medical insurance is quite normal, he quit. Should they pay for it after he quit?

 

The NDA part, he implied or people misunderstood that it meant forever, but clearly that is not the case and he hasn't cleared that out either which is quite a ****ish move. It's totally understandable from Obsidian's point of view. He is/was a partner in the company so that NDA protects them for at least some period of time. And apparently it's not even forceable in California... So why bring it up? Just to hurl something at the "upper management" and see if people bite on it?

 

Nepotism claims... If you are starting a company, naturally you want to help out your family and friends when possible. That's human nature.

 

He claims Feargus is bad with money, yet the company is still running when most mid sized indie developers are gone. So is he really that bad at running the business? Chris even claims there's a curtain he couldn't see through, so he is claiming Feargus is bad at it without knowing everything and while the evidence point out that Feargus has kept them from going under.

 

To me it sounds like Chris, when he realized that he enjoyed freelancing more (FTL and Wasteland 2) decided to cash out and he needs that money for the cancer treatments his mother is having. At which point he realized his stock isn't valued as it should be, goes after Feargus/Parker to get his stock prize up so he can get millions instead of few dimes.

They shoot him down obviously, since they can't afford to pay him out at the right stock prize. Chris goes on a tirade and doesn't stop until they are forced to buy him out / take away his stock ( which still sounds quite wrong from my legal understanding, but it's MURICA so who knows) and they offer him an olive branch (to keep working on Tyranny). Which he takes as a **** you and quits then and there.

 

I feel bad for Avellone, I really do. Going through family member having cancer is horrible. It leaves scars that never heal, but at the same time I don't think his timing or actions on this issue are healthy for anyone involved (that includes the 175 staff members at Obsidian).

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But, how he could lose his stake in the company without getting paid for his share of stock is quite unbeliavable to me.

 

The recent jab about Fair Market Value might put that a little into context.  

 

Say, 15 years ago, Chris bought-in as a 20% owner for $200k.  He further said FMV was adjusted a little bit since then, but not much.  When it was decided that e would be "de-ownered", the buyout offer for his 20% stake in the company might have only been for $300k, even if Obsidian has significantly grown in the last decade.

 

Rather than deal with the terms a buyout might subject him to, he rode off into the sunset deciding that freedom to do what he wanted was worth more than what was being offered.

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But, how he could lose his stake in the company without getting paid for his share of stock is quite unbeliavable to me.

 

The recent jab about Fair Market Value might put that a little into context.  

 

Say, 15 years ago, Chris bought-in as a 20% owner for $200k.  He further said FMV was adjusted a little bit since then, but not much.  When it was decided that e would be "de-ownered", the buyout offer for his 20% stake in the company might have only been for $300k, even if Obsidian has significantly grown in the last decade.

 

Rather than deal with the terms a buyout might subject him to, he rode off into the sunset deciding that freedom to do what he wanted was worth more than what was being offered.

 

 

 

So they can force a buyout according to US laws?

 

Edited by Flouride

Hate the living, love the dead.

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Hah, see those mismanagement stories I can accept easily. Last company I worked for before quitting the game industry, the CFO was the CEO's best friend from college and he was only still there because they started the company together, his daily job as "CFO" was to get coffee essentially. The CEO himself took on most financial duties but often failed in both capacities because he was too busy 3D modeling art assets, because he'd hired two dozen interns to do that but as expected, that doesn't really work. My job was animation and motion capture technician, but I ended up doing stuff like writing risk analysis documents for projects, a job that I'm wholly unqualified for. I googled how to do it. And here's the part that really blew my mind, a really high level publisher in the mobile market once said no one else had as thorough documentation as we did. The game industry is insane.

 

Not just the game industry, in most industries that I have worked with it's the same. And it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with lack of formal qualifications either. Documentation is often an afterthought done by motivated staff members in their free time during lunch or after hours, because nobody in upper management ever wants to set aside the budget for it. As soon as one project is done, it's on to the next.

 

Personally I feel that bad management is rarely a personal failing of the managers involved. It's a cultural problem that exists in a capitalist society where upper management's priorities are often to do with things like share prices and share prices are generally affected by growth and market share and things like that. If you don't have real growth to make shareholders happy, what you can do is cut costs, this usually starts with small things like removing minor perks like the free weekly fruit basket, then minor day to day stuff like free printing(printing now charged to projects), then stuff that are seen as non-essential e.g. documentation.

 

As for giving official positions to relatives, I don't like that in theory and yet my one and only experience in seeing that happen was a positive one. A company I worked with maybe 10-13 years ago now, the CEO/founder gave a fairly senior position to his cousin who had no formal qualifications and yet that guy was great. He wasn't only good at his job that he wasn't formally qualified for, he was also just an overall good person. Left that company on good terms because I was moving to a different city and they're still doing well today with the same CEO and his cousin running everything.

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From the codex:

 

 

Chris Avellone since my question got buried I'll repost it again: Let us say that hypothetically you'll kiss the game industry goodbye next year. Do you have any backup plans? You had experience writing comics, so is that a possible alternative? Novels?

If the question wasn't something you wanted to answer, do forgive me for the annoyance.

If hypothetically, the game industry is an overall "no" next year, I could relax for 200+ years and not worry about a thing. Even my funeral is paid for.

 

I don't have many expenses, and I don't need to work anymore - I work because I love writing for games, so I do. Shocking, I know, but... yes, it's the truth.

 

Couple years ago Avellone was in debt, he left Obsidian and got nothing from them. Now after two years of doing freelance games writing, he has made enough to never have to work again. Never mind his writing skills. He should become an agent and negotiate contracts full time.

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Seems like a good fanboy response. I like the repeated insults on Avellone :lol:

No, it seems like the response of someone who has dealt with dumb asses like Avellone in the real world, many times.  I have zero tolerance for his type of person, they are nothing but problems waiting to happen.

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I think the only concrete truth to be gleaned from all this is that Chris really doesn't like Feargus. >.>

“Don’t hate your enemies. It clouds your judgement”
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"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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Seems like a good fanboy response. I like the repeated insults on Avellone :lol:

No, it seems like the response of someone who has dealt with dumb asses like Avellone in the real world, many times. I have zero tolerance for his type of person, they are nothing but problems waiting to happen.
People like Avellone are why I climbed off the corporate ladder.

"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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So they can force a buyout according to US laws?

 

Sure can.  Though it's not so much a matter of law, the terms of any forced buy-out clauses are subject to whatever buy/sell agreements that originated the shares in the first place. 

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Actually what I read from this is that while Chris knew that this is legal, he feels that is was not the good way to run a business. And it is not. A CFO without accounting or financial qualifications? Family members on a payroll just because? I know there are companies like this out there, but it is still not a good way to run a business.

Let's play a game.

 

You own a profitable construction company that builds houses.  You find out your parents apartment has electrical issues and water leaking problems, the super refuses to fix them and wants to charge your parents for part of the costs to do it, claiming it was caused by their usage.  You review their lease agreement, and it does have clauses stating if the property can prove the damage was due to renters they are not required to pay.

 

Do you say .... Tough, deal with it on your own?  Do you say.... get legal aid for your parents?  Do you say.... go oh wait I own a profitable construction company why don't I just build my parents a new home and cover whatever fees this jerk is aiming at them?

 

I hope you didn't pick option three you immoral piece of crap nepotist!  Oh wait... that's only the most logical, humane, and decent option though?  I guess nepotism isn't as simple as people thought.  Unless you are suggesting you aren't actually going to pay your workers when they build the home?

 

I wonder how much Feargus wife makes?  Oh wait he doesn't know does he?  Ok, so her pay could be deducted for Feargu's pay?  Could be she makes almost nothing and simply gets a living wage to cover food/car?  Could be she donates it all on behalf of her and her husband to her favorite charity?  You don't know, do you? 

 

Speaking of charity, is there any charity work on the company expenses?  Your not sure, you don't want to say?  Hey that "unethical" stuff is actually unethical or is that just your opinion?  Oh just your opinion, okay.  Is it even illegal?  Oh it isn't?  Hey how much did that Eternity release party cost to celebrate Eternity 1 with the whole team? Oh that expense was okay, you needed a night of boozing and partying?  I see.

 

Anyone buying this guys crap deserves to choke on it, just please never get involved in business because I would hate to be one of your employees destined for failure and a lost job because you believe good business decisions are "unethical".

Edited by Karkarov
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Seems like a good fanboy response. I like the repeated insults on Avellone :lol:

No, it seems like the response of someone who has dealt with dumb asses like Avellone in the real world, many times.  I have zero tolerance for his type of person, they are nothing but problems waiting to happen.

 

 

You seem to know a lot about Avellone for certain to carry on like a dog, heh.  Also, people seriously believe that ranting on the Codex is going to damage Obsidian (though, why people care that much is also odd - not like Urquhart pays my mortgage) ? As someone mentioned earlier about grousing over beers, as everyone does, seems a lot like just the online version.

Edited by Malcador

Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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though, why people care that much is also odd - not like Urquhart pays my mortgage) ?

He pays someone’s mortgage. Some people have the ability to look beyond their own circumstances.
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"Art and song are creations but so are weapons and lies"

"Our worst enemies are inventions of the mind. Pleasure. Fear. When we see them for what they are, we become unstoppable."

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He probably knows about as much about MCA as most of us know about Feargus.

 

Yep, which is why banding about insults on either is most comical.  But oh well, people here.

Edited by Malcador

Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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He probably knows about as much about MCA as most of us know about Feargus.

Yep, which is why banding about insults on either is most comical. But oh well, people here.

Fair enough. I have had my foot in the Codex door every little bit, and am just getting snowblind coming back over here because of the sentiment toward Feargus and Josh over there. Reality is bending and I'm having trouble separating the two.

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Actually what I read from this is that while Chris knew that this is legal, he feels that is was not the good way to run a business. And it is not. A CFO without accounting or financial qualifications? Family members on a payroll just because? I know there are companies like this out there, but it is still not a good way to run a business.

Let's play a game.

 

You own a profitable construction company that builds houses.  You find out your parents apartment has electrical issues and water leaking problems, the super refuses to fix them and wants to charge your parents for part of the costs to do it, claiming it was caused by their usage.  You review their lease agreement, and it does have clauses stating if the property can prove the damage was due to renters they are not required to pay.

 

Do you say .... Tough, deal with it on your own?  Do you say.... get legal aid for your parents?  Do you say.... go oh wait I own a profitable construction company why don't I just build my parents a new home and cover whatever fees this jerk is aiming at them?

 

I hope you didn't pick option three you immoral piece of crap nepotist!  Oh wait... that's only the most logical, humane, and decent option though?  I guess nepotism isn't as simple as people thought.  Unless you are suggesting you aren't actually going to pay your workers when they build the home?

 

I wonder how much Feargus wife makes?  Oh wait he doesn't know does he?  Ok, so her pay could be deducted for Feargu's pay?  Could be she makes almost nothing and simply gets a living wage to cover food/car?  Could be she donates it all on behalf of her and her husband to her favorite charity?  You don't know, do you? 

 

Speaking of charity, is there any charity work on the company expenses?  Your not sure, you don't want to say?  Hey that "unethical" stuff is actually unethical or is that just your opinion?  Oh just your opinion, okay.  Is it even illegal?  Oh it isn't?  Hey how much did that Eternity release party cost to celebrate Eternity 1 with the whole team? Oh that expense was okay, you needed a night of boozing and partying?  I see.

 

Anyone buying this guys crap deserves to choke on it, just please never get involved in business because I would hate to be one of your employees destined for failure and a lost job because you believe good business decisions are "unethical".

 

 

And yet on corners of the internet they're are people loosing their skulls over Josh and his supposedly SJW team being preferentially treated by the managerial cabal of Obsidian or some utter ****. MCA has done a real disservices in bridging his issues in the manner that he has done.

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He probably knows about as much about MCA as most of us know about Feargus.

Yep, which is why banding about insults on either is most comical. But oh well, people here.

 

Fair enough. I have had my foot in the Codex door every little bit, and am just getting snowblind coming back over here because of the sentiment toward Feargus and Josh over there. Reality is bending and I'm having trouble separating the two.

 

 

Yep, the Codex thread has a bunch of crap to skip over.  Though I do like the part where they were going on about where different forums have their sacred cows, Codex has Avellone, SA has Sawyer, etc. :lol:

 

 

 

though, why people care that much is also odd - not like Urquhart pays my mortgage) ?

He pays someone’s mortgage. Some people have the ability to look beyond their own circumstances.

 

Hm, would wager such sympathy would be far too selective, but fair enough.

Edited by Malcador
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Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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Can our sacred cows be Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky? We should go ask the Codex for their permission.

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Can our sacred cows be Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky? We should go ask the Codex for their permission.

 

Our sacred cow is Volo.  Praised be His Name.

Edited by Malcador
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Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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Go read read some decent literature, video games are not the bastion of world class writing, and he is no where near a great author.

Umm, has anyone here said that, or has this anything to do with the hand at matter? And for the record, Chris was always humble about his writing, and contrary to other "writers" in the industry, he never tried to write a novel (cough cough, Dragon Age books anyone), probably because he knows his place. The most he did is some novellas for Kickstarter games. And if you don't think that his writing is pretty good in terms of videogame writing, you don't know what are you talking about. So thank for your insight, it meant a lot.
Actually, he did try to write a novel. It was one of the Wasteland 2 backer rewards. Back then they said the novel is shaping up great and it is so good that they wanted to make it bigger or something, which is why it got delayed. It hasn't been released till today if I remember right, and I'm guessing inXile hopes everyone forgot about it already.

 

Other than that, he wrote a lot for comics and pen and paper games and stuff like that. So your point of him only writing for games is simply wrong.

 

Wasn't there also a planescape book that was awful similar to all the stuff in planescape torment? Some folks claimed he took plenty inspiration from it years ago. Don't really remember the details about this, though, so might as well just have been BS.

 

Good point. Still, in the end we haven't seen any novels from him, and he sticked to videogame writing.

Edited by Zack Fair

J_C from Codexia

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Can our sacred cows be Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky? We should go ask the Codex for their permission.

 

Our sacred cow is Volo.  Praised be His Name.

 

 

Can we get a refund?  Asking for a friend. :brows:

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Actually what I read from this is that while Chris knew that this is legal, he feels that is was not the good way to run a business. And it is not. A CFO without accounting or financial qualifications? Family members on a payroll just because? I know there are companies like this out there, but it is still not a good way to run a business.

 

I wonder how much Feargus wife makes?  Oh wait he doesn't know does he?  Ok, so her pay could be deducted for Feargu's pay?  Could be she makes almost nothing and simply gets a living wage to cover food/car? 

LOL. If Feargus brings her wife to the company and he only gives her minimal wage, or better yet, her salary is deducted from Feargus' pay (which means she doesn't get any salary basicaly), then Feargus is pretty bad at this. Oh wait, he is a saint, so that must be it. You can't be serious that this is the case. Oh, you don't know this either.

 

You don't know what happened just as we don't. The difference is that you brush aside Chris's accusations and blindly believing in Obsidian, just because this is business. Yes, this is how businesses are running. Pretty ****ty, isn't it? I'm sorry but I wouldn't want to work at your company if you think treating co-workers like this is good practice. I hate it when whenever some bad practice is brought up in the news about gaming companies, there are some people who think it is alright because this is how profit is made. And then developers leave companies burnt out because of crunch, unpaid overwork and so on. But hey, it is business, so how dares a former employee talk about these bad practices?


J_C from Codexia

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Can our sacred cows be Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky? We should go ask the Codex for their permission.

 

Leonard Boyarsky was the lead of Bloodlines, right? You have my vote.

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Can our sacred cows be Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky? We should go ask the Codex for their permission.

 

Leonard Boyarsky was the lead of Bloodlines, right? You have my vote.

 

 

Yes, and he and Cain made Fallout and Arcanum too.  They both have stellar track records for cRPGs.  Albeit sometimes the Troika stuff was rough around the edges.  They were still fantastic in their own way.

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