EverQuest dev: Curt Schilling "busted his ass" trying to get funding for Amalur MMO

Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley says 38 Studios founder even approached Sony to help with funding, calls RI gov. an "idiot."

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38 Studios founder Curt Schilling "busted his ass" in an attempt to get funding for his Amalur MMO Copernicus, and the former Boston Red Sox pitcher even approached Sony Online Entertainment for money, president of the EverQuest studio John Smedley said today on Twitter.

"Curt's only crime was believing in his own ability to will things to be better," Smedley said. "He busted ass trying to get funding."

Schilling approached SOE "many" times looking for money, but a deal was never made--despite Smedley's admiration for the game--because the project was deemed too risky, he said.

"The quality was undeniable. It was gorgeous. It had smart people working on it. It was just too expensive is all," Smedley said. It's not clear how much money specifically Schilling was hoping to raise for the game.

If Copernicus was coming along so well, why did it fail to sell at auction in December? Smedley said he thinks Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee calling it "a lot of junk" had something to do with it.

"The idea of suing someone when Chaffe's own comments were what poisoned the well at the end is beyond the pale," Smedley said, later calling Chafee an "idiot." "All [Chaffee] had to do was give Curt another week and we wouldn't be here today."

Smedley also addressed the controversial $75 million loan that brought 38 Studios to Rhode Island in 2010, saying it was unwise given the "risky" nature of online games.

"Dear people of Rhode Island. Look to your elected government for failing to protect you. That 38 studios deal just never should have been," Smedley said. "Public funds shouldn't be backing risky things like online games. If the fact that no other [venture capitalists] were investing wasn't enough of a clue then you damn well shouldn't be surprised by failure."

Smedley also took time to defend Schilling himself, saying people often forget that the man--recently diagnosed with cancer--invested millions of his own money into 38 Studios. "He put his own money where his mouth way," Smedley said.

The very public and years-long crumble of 38 Studios is expected to reach somewhat of a resolution tomorrow, when the Rhode Island House votes on legislation that will encourage out-of-court settlements in the lawsuit against Schilling and other architects of the loan.

Discussion

97 comments
mcrawf21
mcrawf21

Offer void in Rhode Island.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

It's unfortunate that no one told Curt that MMO development is a sure way to kill your company.  AAA companies are losing millions trying to keep their MMOs afloat.  Failed MMO development killed THQ.


MMOs are the hardest genre to develop for, require the most expertise amongst your coders, and require constant support after release.


You were an idiot to try and make one.  And now your company is bankrupt because of it.  You should have had everyone working on Kingdoms of Amalur 2.

glacius_x
glacius_x

"He put his own money where his mouth way,"? Good one GS. Nice proofing.

bibleverse1
bibleverse1

38 Studios put too much faith in one AAA game. AAA games cannot be your only offering. They should have made a game for mobile and facebook as well that took place in there Amalur universe. 

DragonessAthena
DragonessAthena

Too risky?... Too risky?..... Like the time they put out the NGE in SWG?

Anigmar
Anigmar

Sounds like Rhode Island needs a better governor. Peter Griffin would be better than the current.

Hurvl
Hurvl

Too bad he busted his studio as well and got cancer.

Michael83917
Michael83917

People never mention that this used to be a Massachusetts company. I remember when they moved shop to RI because of financial incentives - probably that $75m loan being part of it. I remember it was big news at the time, the guy who taught my 3D modelling class left to go work at 38 studios in RI - had to relocate even though its only like a half hour drive away (it was part of the deal, the idea being to bring jobs and home-buyers - IE taxes - to RI).


When the politicians started saying negative things in the press about the game, I was like WTH do you understand how investing works? Why torpedo a project you've already invested in? Politics. Well you reap what you sow. I hope people in RI are paying attention and hang the blame on the right officials, but I'm not holding my breath. Tell you one thing though, if I ever start my own studio it won't be in RI, lol.

Unholy123
Unholy123

*GASP* A Bureaucrat being incompetent and then trying to shift the blame to another?

Say it aint so... that be like the sky appearing blue or the sun rising in the morning.

I've always been amazed at the ignorance of the media and the ability of the RI governor to get to act like they were somehow in the right for their stupid investment in the well know dangerous money trap that is MMO development and then later basically making sure it was a failed investment.

Fenixx
Fenixx

From what I recall, the Amalur game didn't do all that great.  So why proceed to try and make an MMO out of it, especially when it's a way tougher market.

And just some common sense I'll throw out there... If you don't have the money, then don't try to make the game.

speckledknob
speckledknob

just drank a beer and read all 72 comments and man was it awesome

cornbredx
cornbredx

The most amazing thing to me in this article is that John Smedley is still president of SOE. I would've thought he'd move on by now. Must be doing ok, there, or his bad track record means he cant really go anywhere else. He been working there since forever and was a big focal point of blame when the star wars galaxies NGE hit.


He actually tried to be diplomatic about that, and while I'm not really mad at him he's not totally faultless, but whateves. 

Just surprising to see him come up in gaming news again. Been awhile.

Born_Lucky
Born_Lucky

Kingdoms of Amalur is jaw dropping.


Every time I get to a new area, I'm just amazed.


It's a shame this studio is gone.


They were geniuses.

tonytones21
tonytones21

Sad... really sad. This had so much potential.

randomkidlol
randomkidlol

Rhode island's follow up to this is absolutely hilarious.

Nepti
Nepti

I've read quite a bit about this drama over the last few years. I have to agree with Smedly as it concerns the actions of the RI governor. He seems to be on some kind of hell bent mission to screw everybody over. Both Schilling and his now defunct company but also the taxpayers of RI. All his decisions to-date are perplexing and seem harmful to everyone on every side. Just bizzare.

surfwalrus
surfwalrus

kingdoms of amalur was a decent game but just tried way too hard to cram useless boring sidequests into it. I had 40 hours of questing before i even left the first continent/area, so by the second area I blasted through it as fast as I could and then the same for the 3rd and 4th zone, even the expansion packs. The expansions were a bit better but still the same old stuff.  All the dungeons were repeated and lame. Combat got boring and enemies were repeated like crazy. Theres only about 15 actual monsters in the game. So any hopes of an MMO set in that world is pushing it. I was sad to know RA Salvatore had a hand in the lore of the game and it turned out that bad. It was just boring. The game is good if you choose to do only a few quests in each zone and then move on but you need to in order to level up. So its a double edged sword. 


Anyway, an MMO is a terrible idea, with elder scrolls trying their hand at it, they should wait to see if they do well and then copy it lol

sunyatanada76
sunyatanada76

Jock pretending to be a nerd just to make a schilling.

dethtrain
dethtrain

You guys need to proof read before you post articles up

naomha1
naomha1

What that Sony dev said is what I've been saying forever. The governor of RI poisoned the whole game, the system in which it was being fulfilled by bad talking it.  When you trash talk something, who in their right mind is then going to take it seriously? The governor of RI is an idiot. Whatever happens down the line, I hope Curt gets to wash his hands of the whole RI fiasco. All the governor had to do was give Curt a week. A freaking week, but nope, he had to get on his little pedestal and demand everyone pay attention to him, he was speaking after all, and what he had to say was important. Moron. I hope Curt isn't found liable and the governor IS held liable. Liable for bating investors, liable for baiting state money and liable for lying to the public about the appropriation of the funds in question. The governor just dropped the ball. Plain and simple. Now he doesn't want to take ownership of his mistake. He's playing the blame game and all those suckers in RI are falling for it. 

codac
codac

Whats funny if not tragic was that KoA, which did good critically and financially, was an after thought for the studio when it should have been the main focus.

Realmjumper
Realmjumper

The best option here would of been to start small with a dozen of so people in an indie studio like environment. No more than 1 million dollars for a project. That is money he could of afford losing. No loans, no b.s., no government as part of the video game development.

Vodoo
Vodoo

What role did Big Huge Games play in KoA? I'm playing through it for the first time now and on the title screen it says EA & Big Huge Games. EA obviously published but did BHG co-develop it with 38? 


I think it's a great game. It's like a good clone of Fable. 

geek_iit
geek_iit

I feel a clenching feeling in my gut whenever I watch the fly-by. Such a talented team torn apart! It could have been such a wonderful game...

Kr3isen
Kr3isen

He greatly underestimated how hard/expensive it can be to make videogames and eventually that did him under. I still think he shouldve just taken say half of that amount and put it all into KOA.


SunicoXD
SunicoXD

How about both parties bust their own kneecaps? Everybody should just quit spouting nonsense and let lawyers and PR do the talking/damage control/lies/blaming while both the dev and RI gov starts something to make the money back. A kickstarter campaign would be a good place to start.

nparks
nparks

Smedley's comments are at odds with themselves.  Maybe he is the "idiot" here?  No wonder WoW ate EverQuest's lunch.

Stiler
Stiler

@Thanatos2k You don't seem to know this but KoA wasn't before the MMO.

They were working ont he MMO long before KoA even existed. 

They bought Big Huge Games, which were working on an rpg (at the time it was not known as Kingdoms of Amaulr). ONce they bought them they had them take this rpg and make it into KoA. 

All while they were still working on their mmo. 

Even though KoA sold extremely well for a new IP it wasn't enough to keep them afloat without investors. 

It would have been much smarter had they started out with develping a single player game rather then an mmo, but Curt is a huge fan of mmo's and it is what he wanted to make.

DaRq_MiNoS
DaRq_MiNoS

@Unholy123 Also love the way the governor used his political clout to get the feds to investigate Schilling and 38 Studios.  What a freaking joke.  All so that he doesn't look like a moron to the taxpayers for investing in something so risky.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@Fenixx It sold more than a million, which is wonderful for a new IP.

OrgeLambart
OrgeLambart

@Fenixx The MMO was in development before the Amalur game, the Amalur game was set in the same universe as the MMO IIRC.  The amalur game was done as a way to bridge the gap while they worked on the MMO.


The Government opposed the loan prior to his being elected, and once he was elected he used his political power to do everything in his power to ruin the studio.  He wanted to prove he was right to not go along with the loan in the first place.


Like the above said, he was out calling for blood weeks prior to their first loan payment being due.


This guy pretty much tossed the studio under the bus so he could say he was right to oppose the deal.  Then he also called it a lot of junk as pointed out in the article which probably helped result in it not selling at auction. 


Also Amalur made money, it's just no way existed for them to make enough money to cover their cost of development for the MMO.  MMO's require so much money at the start, you need to be able to bleed money for years before you see your first money start to trickle in.



xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

@Fenixx  

I don't think the Copernicus mmo was set in the world of Amalur, but I could be wrong. I assume the work on Copernicus started somewhat before the release of Amalur, the employees had to do something, but even so, the project was way over their heads. Amalur was too ambitious for its own sake.

mr_nee
mr_nee

@Born_Lucky  I started to play it three times, each time i get out of dungeon I quit gaming... just isn't that appealing, neither was dragons dogma

michalmis
michalmis

@surfwalrus Back in the day the amalur devs did say that this was just a proof of concept for a mmo, and it sure felt like one... an unfinished game.

spikex8
spikex8

@surfwalrus Salvatore wrote the lore and history - which is solid. He did not write the boring quests or actual storyline of the game. That is a very big difference. I liked the game overall but I found the combat and skill lines to be pretty shit.

nparks
nparks

@naomha1 You know that Chafee wasn't governor when the loan guarantee was made, right?  That ball wasn't his to drop.

northArrow
northArrow

@naomha1You've got your facts entirely wrong. Chaffee didn't "trash talk" anything until Shilling failed to make payments on his loan and was no longer giving his employees a salary. That's not "trash talk" that's exposing a poor businessman for what he is.


Shilling also didn't need "a week", he needed several million dollars to keep his company afloat. The "week" he was referencing was a flat out lie - he assumed he would be able to close a deal for that money within the week. Everyone (even Sony as referenced in this article) refused to fund his studio because they knew KoA was a bad investment.When nobody made a bid for the KoA franchise, Chaffee called it "junk". What else would you call something that nobody wants to buy? If EA, Activision or anyone else wanted a bland, generic RPG they could make up their own without assuming someone else's liability.


The only person liable for bating investors, liable for baiting state money and liable for lying to the public about the appropriation of the funds in question is Shilling. If you or I did what he did, we'd be in prison right now (and rightfully so), but because Shilling is famous we're willing to look the other way and blame government.

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

@codac

Funny thing is, Amalur was more on their main focus than it should have been. Yeah the game was good, but got really boring really fast. So instead of spending all that huge loan on a huge world with repetitive stuff, maybe they should have focused on a smaller world with lots of variety. Still, the loan was too damn high.

northArrow
northArrow

@codac It did well critically but not financially, and that's why the studio is out of business.

They needed roughly 3 million copies of the game to sell - an obscene number for a new IP. In reality they sold around 1.2 million (last I heard, I could be incorrect about that). A number like that should be profitable, but 38 studios bit off more than they could chew

phoenix1289
phoenix1289

@Vodoo Big Huge Games developed the whole thing. 38 studios solely worked on the MMO but they bought Big Huge to develop the single player game.

Born_Lucky
Born_Lucky

@spikex8 @surfwalrusYou found the combat to be "shit"??


As compared to what?


Go ahead smartass  . . name an RPG with better combat.

J5_isAlive
J5_isAlive

Sony said it was risky, not junk. All game companies know MMOs are risky start up projects. The only ones who deemed it worth the investment was the ones in RI signing off on the loan, who obviously didn't understand what they were investing in. The fact that $75 million in taxpayer money can be given to anything without enough research to show the risk when it's apparent is pretty sad.

Sure, the company lost the money. The government should have not backed it with taxpayer money in the first place, though.

Also, publicly calling something junk after only the first attempt to sell, and still intending to sell it, especially to recoup such a loss, is quite asinine. That's not how you get someone to buy something. That's bad business.

codac
codac

@xsonicchaos @codacNot really, the loan went into the MMO and was for the MMO alone. The game was designed to show the engine and combat system of the MMO would work and the game needed to recoup some of the cost of the MMO, enough to buy them time to find a backer, not the other way around. So it was a bit of a success on that front, it brought in a substantial amount of money for a new IP, and a backer. 

It's just that the cost of MMO was far too high and the development time was far too long and Chafee wanted to see '3 million units sold". Had it not been for the standalone singleplayer game 38 would not lasted as long nor have gotten it's 'potential' backer. 

Hints to the statements above.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@northArrow @codacThey needed 3 million copies to MAKE UP FOR THE MONEY BURNED IN DEVELOPING THE MMO.


KoA was a huge success for itself.  Problem was it was supposed to prop up development costs for their failed MMO.

codac
codac

@xsonicchaos @codacMaybe, but we don't know for sure. I actually wouldn't mind watching a documentary or reading a book on this development, so many underlying things that went wrong.

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

@codac  

I completely agree, although you might have more details than I have, I didn't quite followed the story as much as others. I just said that Amalur had too much focus than it needed and could have been less than that, still would have made the money it did, not enoug, but still. And if the MMO was their main title, then they should have spent more assets on that. That is all.