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Former game developers sell web 2.0 company

Following on news that Naughty Dog's founders Jason Rubing and Andy Gavin launched a web 2.0 company called Flektor, I now hear that MySpace intends to acquire them.

MySpace will acquire Flektor, a just-launched service that allows users to create widgets from photos, video and text, according to two sources with knowledge of the deal. This comes right after the news of MySpace’s pending acquisition of Photobucket last week for $250-$300 million. This will be a much smaller deal, in the $10-$20 million range, possibly with an earnout.

Former Rockstar Games employee develops messiah complex

VIENNA, Austria -- Almost exactly one year after the sudden closure of his workplace, former Rockstar Vienna employee Reinhard Schmid announces the release of the game "I Am Jesus".

Released as a free download for PC on the website of aptly-named Suicidal Entertainment, this may be the most offensive game since Postal. We cannot describe the contents or topic of the game on a family blog, but be warned that it makes even atheists blush. Schmid, father of two and described by former co-workers as a mild-mannered animator, credits himself for every aspect of the game, with help from God and the Lord Jesus Christ on the story and voice recordings. On being asked about the highly controversial nature of his game, he claimed that "people need help to not take themselves too serious."

Former game developers start web 2.0 company

Just caught this via TechCrunch: Naughty Dog founders Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin started a web 2.0 company called Flektor. It's sorta kinda like YouTube, only with a stronger focus on quality content, and it has all of the hallmarks of a web 2.0 thing. (I didn't look inside, I am waiting for them to add Safari support.)

This is the first time I heard of this - I didn't even know Andy Gavin had left Naughty Dog. These are two very smart guys who always had a good feel for what people want. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

A year after Rockstar Vienna closed its doors

It's now one year since Rockstar Vienna closed its doors. So what has happened since?

As far as I know, everyone has found new jobs. Some have gone abroad, to Ubisoft, Ninja Theory, Climax, Traveller's Tales, Guerrilla Games, Electronic Arts or Sony London. Some have joined local companies such as Sproing Interactive, Rabcat, Xendex Entertainment and Avaloop. Some have started new companies, such as Team Vienna and Games That Matter. And some have left the industry.

Most people were shocked and sad a year ago, now most seem to have moved on (although there are still some grudges against Rockstar and Take 2). As I looked over pictures from last year, I was reminded of how close a group Rockstar Vienna was in many ways.

I didn't really talk much last year about what was happening to me. Here are some key points:

  • There are worse times for being laid off than late spring.
  • I basically spent most of last summer doing interviews. In retrospect I had 5 months off, but at the time it seemed I continuously had to decide to move to another country in about 3 weeks, or not. The constant interviewing (and waiting) was one reason why I didn't post much about what I was doing.
  • I got some job offers I would've killed for only 1 or 2 years earlier, and I said no. Figuring out why I did so took a long time. (Basically, I have become very, very picky about employers, and I quite like living in Vienna.)
  • I collected unemployment money for the first time in my life. I still feel a little bit ashamed, even though I paid contributions for 15 years.

And now I am growing used to the life of a free-lancer, i.e. meeting people to talk about working together, then waiting weeks for them to get back to me. (I've been on the other side of that, so I know how it happens.)

Recently, to fill the time, I started helping some friends of mine with a project of theirs. It's fun and has nothing to do with games. I am not officially part of their team (and I am still available for free-lance design and production work) but it could easily occupy all of my time. Will it? Time will tell.

Finally, some people asked me what traffic on this site looked like one year ago. Here it is:


A 2000% traffic increase, then back to normal after a day or so. So it goes.

20+1 Useful OS X Tips

Another post that has nothing to do with the games industry, but I need to close the browser tab.

Here is a list of 20 useful OS X tips by Chris Howard over at Apple Matters. I am not a hard-core Apple geek, but I am not a noob either - I didn't know many of these, and some of them are quite handy.

9. To select a block of text, click the start position, then Shift-click the end position.
  1. Option-click the minimize button minimizes all windows in the application - and makes for a really cool animation (hold the shift key too if you want to slow it down to see it more easily).

  2. Option-click on a minimized window will restore all windows for that application.

  3. When menus are selected, press the option key to reveal alternative functions. Eg In the File menu of Finder, the Get Info item becomes Show Inspector which is like a context sensitive info pane.

And here is one I found out through TextMate - I can't believe this is OS X standard. Select a block of text, press Command-E, then Command-F (or just select Find in the Edit menu of an application that supports it). The block of text is now in the Find dialog. (I'd prefer it if all Find dialogs would just take my selection, but eh.) The TextMate manual claims Command-G does something related, but I couldn't figure it out.

Gangsta rap from Guetersloh

Very few people are going to find this funny. But some of those people read this blog. Basically, if you don't find the title of this post funny, you're probably wasting your time reading the rest of this post.

I just stumbled upon a gangsta rap video from Guetersloh on YouTube.

I lived in Guetersloh from 1991 to the middle of 1994. It is a small town in Germany. Bertelsmann AG, the global media giant, has their headquarters there. This is why a) the town is quite well off, and b) it was the center of a German game industry cluster in the late 80s and early 90s. Activision, EA, United Software, Rainbow Arts, they all had offices there at some point or considered opening one. Ascaron and Synetic are still there.

The idea of gangsta rap from this town is just hilarious. It's pretty bad too.

A little meta-post

Games news is slow. Or rather, my reading of games news is slow. I am sure some news item will catch my eye in a while. In the mean time, here is a little meta-post with some fun info I recently found out about Intelligent Artifice.

All of the following is true now, but may no longer be true when you read this. These things fluctuate. Also, while I can't deny this is self-indulgent, I am not posting this because I think it's a big deal. I just find it weird, yet amusing. So:

  • If you google 'bad stress', I am in the first 10 links, because of this post.
  • If you google 'boyfriend addicted to world of warcraft', I am in the first 10 links, because of this post. This explains why I get a comment there about once a month. I should extend it with links to some resources on the web. It's kind of sad.
  • If you google 'Aufbaustrategiespiele', this site is the number 1 hit. I guess I have Greg to thank for that.
And, finally:
  • If you google 'Jurie', this site is the number 1 hit. How cool is that?

Like I said, this is of no relevance whatsoever in the larger scheme of things. It mainly shows Google likes blogs.

Spider-Man 3 may be the most expensive movie ever made

This article in Radar Online discusses the budget of Spider-Man 3. The exact budget is not known, but 'industry insiders' claim the production alone cost over $350 million, which with marketing and promotion means the whole movie cost half a billion dollars. Sony, 'still reeling from a flurry of bad press on its PlayStation 3 gaming console', disputes the $350 million number but won't say what the correct number is.

Which is all well and good. One little bit made me think of games:

One filmmaker notes that a project as massive as Spider-Man 3 can be beyond human ingenuity to manage. "Once a behemoth like this movie rolls out, it's like a glacier," he says. "It moves forward at its own pace." And veteran production manager Marty Katz adds that budget overruns are not necessarily a sign of poor leadership. "When we did Titanic, we thought we were doing everything right, but certain shots we just could not get," he says. "You plan and plan.... But that's the nature of these kinds of movies."

Interesting. I wonder how that's like on big, 100+ person AAA game development projects. Too bad it is so hard to get any real data on that kind of development.

(Via Kottke.)

Kitty Pidgin

Anil Dash has written about a subject I have been pondering lately (the weather's too nice for my tinfoil hat sigh): Cats Can Has Grammar. Or, in other words, the "lolcat Internet meme" (see this site for instance) involves a grammatically consistent subset of English. Technically (I am taking Anil's word for it) it's a pidgin.

Funny cat picture

I find this fascinating, as well as funny. Be sure to read all of Anil's post, and the comments.

I can't believe I am late for a business meeting because I wrote this post.

(Via Brent Simmons. Picture created using Gordon McNaughton's LolCat Builder.)

Update: Massive over-analysis of the phenomenon here (with fancy diagrams).