Wizardry 8: Blowing Everything Up

Long-time Wizardry designer Brenda Brathwaite has penned a blog entry explaining the reasons behind why she and the rest of the team at Sir-tech decided to turn the entire universe into "a giant cloud of cosmic particles" at the end of Wizardry 8. Spoilers to follow:
When I came up with this ending for the game, I had no idea that it would also be the last game published by Sir-tech Software, nor did I have the slightest inkling there wouldn't be a Wizardry 9. Looking back, though, I suspect we all knew that the days of the single-player, hard-core PC RPG were numbered. You don't make RPGs for money. You make them for love and to break even. They are the most time-intensive games to create with the largest confluence of systems. When I hear people brand new to game development saying that they want to start with an RPG, I want to simultaneously hug them and warn them. Have fun with the balance, kid. Remember not to get too deep into the math or you and your player will never figure your way out. Oh, and there's a system for everything. But, I made RPGs for 20+ years, so clearly, I have a long love affair with them.


So, the industry had evolved, and I wanted to do something new. Blowing up the universe was a radical solution, but it may have been the only one, and it serves as a decent metaphor for my return to full-time game development. There is a similar bababooming happening in the industry, and those who see it coming are making their way to the new game, the new universe, the new way that things will be. The industry today very much feels like the industry of 1982-ish. There are tons of games being released by single individuals or small groups, and they cover Facebook, indie game sites and the iPhone. The means to weed out the bad from the good is still evolving, and many are jumping on the bandwagon. Like 1982, some suspect that this (video game thing) is a fad, and that the love affair with Facebook as a platform and the iPhone will pass. I have heard myriad arguments about how the path to success is covered with lots and lots of polygons, lighting and particle effects, but I just don't buy it anymore.

She then points out that an "In Transition" article that she wrote for The Escapist is now live:
Reading the email, I'm sitting at my desk at the Savannah College of Art and Design, knowing that within a couple months I will no longer be a professor or a chair of the department. Instead, I'll be sitting at another desk at a game studio in California, having returned to commercial development full time. I have fewer than two months to announce my departure, pack up most of my life and move across the country. I received the email an hour before I planned to break the news to the Dean of my school that I'd be leaving the job I loved, one I'd held for only three years.

I know I'm one of many in this transitional space. Throughout the industry, we are going from one company to another. I had the luxury of making the decision to change roles myself. Others are doing so at someone else's bidding, having no idea that in executive offices, headcount reductions were planned days, hours or weeks before. During the time in which I prepared for my move, Pandemic closed, Maxis took a shot to the head, EA announced massive layoffs and a friend's project and team suffered a direct hit from a surprising and uncharacteristic torpedo fired from a studio working for the same publisher. That's merely a sampling. I have seen estimates that over 8000 game industry employees lost their jobs in the last year, and every month, completed, canceled and retooled projects bring still more.

Thanks, Tales of the Rampant Coyote and RPGWatch..