Playback: The Week in Review

Times are good, but that didn't stop this from being a bad week for DWANGO and a number of artists working for developer Papyrus.


Times are good, but that didn't stop this from being a bad week for DWANGO and a number of artists working for Papyrus development house. We save the good news from this week for last:

Developing games is fun and interesting but do you consider the well being of the rank and file artists and art-production staff working those long hours? Of course you do. That's why news of layoffs in the industry is worth following. And it's always interesting to know who – in this climate of climbing sales – has decided to take steps to ensure a possible fatter bottom line. Well, times at Sierra-owned Papyrus (known for the recent Grand Prix Legends racing title) development studio in Watertown, Mass got downright bleak this week. Depending on who you talked to, either ten or fifteen staffers were given notice this week. Seems the company has a Russian art studio that can do the work for a lot less rubles. Unofficial word is that Papyrus usually goes through a churning process with artists and that the employees weren't too shocked over the layoff. Former employees have sent tips our way to the effect that something smells at Papyrus – and it isn't motor oil!

Another disappointing piece of news concerns a game that may not have an enormous number of sales to its credit, but the community of gamers is solidly behind it. Will it (SubSpace, that is) survive? Once plugged as having over 40,000 beta testers, SubSpace appears to be getting ready to shut down. The hardcore community that has grown up with the space shooter over the last two years is searching for ways to keep the game running. But time is running out – word is that the server will meet the great gaming server in the sky on October 31.

The once great multiplayer game matching service DWANGO closed its network routers this week. The pay-for-play, dial-up service tried a formula that rewarded gamers with lag-free gaming, but competition - free services and publishers who run multiplayer support - killed it dead.

Looking for a little good news, maybe? More news on Blizzard's upcoming add-on to the stellar RTS, Starcraft, Brood Wars, shipped to gamers chosen to participate in the beta test. If you are one of the lucky few, keep an eye on you mailbox. Otherwise, you'll just have to wait and see what GameSpot will say about the title in an upcoming preview; we've already spotted our in-house Starcraft addicts popping the beta discs into their machines.

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