It’s been an absolute heart wrenching day in the video games industry today. As THQ filed for bankruptcy, everyone knew that their assets would need to be split up and sold. This was the case for most, but not all of the studios employed by the publisher. As we found out earlier today, no one, absolutely no one, made a bid to purchase Vigil Games. The Austin, Texas based developer had done moderately well with their Darksiders franchise and was reportedly working on a new game. In an open letter on NeoGAF, lead combat designer, Ben Cureton expressed his rather painful feelings on the matter.
My name is Ben Cureton, and I was the Lead Combat Designer at Vigil Games. I’m sitting at my desk among… what appears to be a warzone. The walls look bare. It’s quiet.
The seats are empty.
We’ve all been on edge for the past couple months… and more so, the last couple weeks. I mean, I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like to wonder if you will have a job tomorrow. Most of us here joked about it just to keep the mood light, but we all knew what could happen. Now I look around and I realize… it did happen.
Am I sad? Well yea. I’ve been in this industry for 20 years. Seriously. Two decades. I’ve been laid off more than once. It sucks every time. But am I sad I don’t have a job? Not really… I’m sure I’ll get another one eventually. I’m sad because it won’t be THIS job. It won’t be at Vigil. That’s why I’m sad. The people I waged war with are no longer together. The people that I bled with, vented with, argued with (often times LOUDLY), and kicked back with… these people will never be together again in the same combination.
Not that it was perfect. But what is perfect? Did I like coming to work? Yes. Was I proud of the work that I did? Yes. More importantly, was I proud of the work that WE did? Absolutely. I knew, without a shadow of the doubt, that the project we were working on (Codenamed: Crawler) was going to blow people away. In fact, it DID blow people away. We did, in TWO months, what many companies haven’t done in a year. The pride of knowing that no one was doing anything like us was so satisfying, it kept us coming to work and giving 100% every single day, even through the dark times.
… so maybe you can imagine what it feels like when you read the list of who bought what only to discover your name is not on the list. Why? Did we do something wrong? Were we not good enough? Were we not worth ‘anything?’ Imagine that.
Vigil was filled with people that I would put up against the best in the industry. People that made my work better, people that made me a better designer, and people that made me a better person. And now they are gone.
Their seats are empty.
It’s OK, though. I guess this post makes it sound a bit melodramatic. Seriously… if you work in the video game industry you have to be resilient. Doing what you love often comes with a price – anyone who has been around for a while can tell you that. Today, that price has been paid. That being said, I’d still never dissuade anyone from following their dreams if their dream is to make video games. While it’s not as romantic as it sounds, it’s sure a hell of a lot of fun.
So don’t cry for the people at Vigil. We made games for game players. I have no Horror stories from working here… only Honor stories. Through both praise and critiques alike, our goal was always to make a product as if we, ourselves, were the end-user. We may have gotten pushed and pulled in certain directions by forces out of our control, we were always in it to make games for game players. And that’s what we did.
I can only hope that those spared from the other companies remain employed long into the future. There is not much worse than false hope, and these people deserve to continue making great games. You may not know their names, but they exist, and they bleed, sweat, and cry for your entertainment. I mean that honestly, with no negativity. They do it… no, WE do it… because we want you to have a good time.
In closing, I can only say thank you to the fans of Vigil games. Your support means more than you can imagine. Your feedback (both positive and negative) gave us long-lasting insight that we will all take with us, wherever we may go. You are the reason we made Darksiders 1 &2… and you are the reason we will continue to make games.
And with that… my seat is empty.
Lead Combat Designer
P.S. This is no place for a horse.
I think I speak for us all when I say that we wish the best to everyone who lost their job or was affected by the auction in some way.