SNIP - Interesting points!
There is a lot you write here with which I agree.
Years ago, in an article for PC Gamer, a Russian Dev from War Thunder stated how much he liked Relic's ability to retain a core audience.
I think Katitof and Esxile are describing a state of mind which Relic maybe had when they launched COH1. When I joined the COH1 community in 2009, there was a lot of bellyaching about the lack of patches and people complaining they had paid a premium price and expected better support. But ofc, there was no DLC to support the cost of patching, unless Relic released another Expansion, which they never did after TOV.
I know for a fact that one of the Relic aims for COH2 was to make the game more user-friendly for new players with a view to expanding the player base. The DLC was introduced to finance the patching costs. Eventually, COH2 became a popular game, but almost inevitably it lost a lot of the better players from COH1, who had rejected COHO and did not like the COH2 new format.
So in a sense, Relic cannot win, because if they satisfy the strategists, they annoy the CPM micro afficionados. As Von Ivan has noted in his Twitch stream, COH3 is effectively COH1 lite with enhanced graphics, but there are a lot of sharp edges which should not be there.
As you observe, Nigo has jumped the gun on the stats for consoles. It will be interesting to revisit those numbers a month from launch.
Lead sound director for coh1 was a female.
Which is the game imo, that had probably the best overall audio
The Lead Sound designers for COH1 were all male, FWIW.
I can't remember the guy's name, unfortunately. But wasn't there somebody else as well, who was heavily involved in the sound department and was responsible for some quite innovative design choices... He died in a car crash I believe? Someone help me out here... I first heard someone mention him on this forum i think.
Completely agree it was the best, everything from weapon effects, the radio static and of course the voiceovers for units as well. Clearly a labour of love.
The late Brian Wood was responsible for the Opposing Fronts campaign and was appointed joint Lead Designer for Tales of Valor. He was sadly killed in a car crash during the lead-up to Co0mpany of Heroes Online for which he was the Lead. Incidentally, COHO was free to play but was pulled after approx 6 months, by which time Relic had opened a shop ingame and some had paid into it.
It's not even the Sistine Chapel, it's more like one of those modern art pieces where one person says they see a brooding meditation on the finite nature of existence and I see a canvas that a Dr. Seuss character sneezed on.
Or even Tracey Emin's Unmade bed
Dobermans have a bad reputation in the United States, as do Rottweilers, pit bulls and a few other breeds. The problem is that assholes are allowed to have dogs and they teach the dogs to be assholes like them.
The UK Armed Forces and its police forces rejected Dobermans and also Rottweilers long ago. Apparently, they are liable to lapses in concentration and therefore unreliable. Alsatians seem to be the order of the day.
My guess is that Janne is also well compensated. He certainly has skills. For reference, one of my relatives is a developer for a financial company and makes double the average game developer salary, another works for and IT consulting company and makes about 1.5x.
I would agree with your guess, but as I last spoke to Janne some years ago when he was studying, I don't know what he is doing now.
Relic mostly just needed a competent project manager for COH3. My view from afar is that they didn't. I've managed projects in a couple of industries for 30+ years and am sure that I would've been fired from any position I've ever had if I would've delivered something like COH3.
As far as the number being indicative of something else, my impression is that Relic has way too many employees for a studio that doesn't have a major release soon. Also, the org chart for COH3 looked way too fat. One trivial example is having an Art Director and a Technical Art Director. When you have multiple people doing similar jobs, the result is usually that it slows progress, and makes what should be simple decisions into nightmarish committee decisions.
If Sega was going to pull the plug, it seems like the cuts would've been much deeper. You don't need to keep a couple hundred employees to transfer the intellectual property to another development studio.
Broadly, we are in consensus. However, SEGA apparently took something of a reputational risk back home when they acquired Relic at a bankruptcy auction for approx $26 million at the start of 2013. Allegedly, Japanese companies should grow their product from the ground up and take-overs of foreign comnpanies are (or were) something of a no-no. So there was a save-face element attached to the launch of COH2 and when the request was made for a 3 month extension before release of COH2, SEGA complied. As we know, the eventual COH2 release was innovative but lamentable in so many aspects. I don't want to exaggerate but the COH2 release saw off a fair few of the COH1 afficionados because it was a different game and poorly executed. It was November 2013 before the first real correction took place and it was a year from release before COH2 was up and running, free of the clown car/sniper combo.
DOW2 took an almighty tumble. While I believe COH3 may be retrievable, I somehow doubt if the Japanese in charge want to relive the COH2 experience again and again. If they can sell on and capture their initial capital, it saves face and gives them a get out. There was speculation that SEGA might sell Relic to Microsoft in advance of the AOE rerelease.
Many game companies seem to be currently shedding staff. Kotaku report
I guess it comes down to how you might want to present a company for sale. If you have some workers apparently working on a new project as well as a core title just launched but ripe for improvement and exploration, maybe it might appeal to e.g. Smoking Gun?
1. Enable full modding again, like CoH1
2. Pickup some Community maps and the balance mod (rebalance tuning pack) in Steam Workshop
3. Hire Janne252 for codding replay, obs mode and other sutff
4. Hire Inverse for gameplay designer and Whiteflash for mapping designer
5. Hire AmiPolizeiFunk and AE for Community managers.
6. Profit again.
The conventional reply to your post would be "What are you on and can I have some of it".
I doubt if Relic could afford either Inverse or Whiteflash who appear to be successful in their own commercial fields.
If Janne had wanted to work at Relic, he would have been there by now.
Following the live stream in 2014 with Yoink and remarks passed in a haze (to the enjoyment of all but Relic), I am afraid Ami became persona non grata for certain chaps at Relic, hence Operation Charlie Fox in 2015 (CF = crowd funding), which was the only way we could set up a big tournament without Relic support. Even with the success of OCF, Relic did not budge.
Apart from that, I agree with your post.
I have the impression that Artists were hit on the redundancies. I agree the art was average, which is odd, given that Relic had previously relied on Rita (B)Rush to produce skins.
MP hasn't been Relic's focus for those 3 months, so I don't know how it can be qualified as dead unless unborn things are dead.
Campaigns is what will make the game sold on console so I can understand that the gameplay/balance teams were totally focused on making a RTS game enjoyable on console thus not working on multiplayer adjustment.
We're now close to the console release date which seems clear today to be the primary focus for SEGA, dunno why, maybe the phone version of Coh1 had good return so they wanted to do something bigger in this area.
Anyway people are passionate but quite wrong on some points, the game sold, lower than Relic expectation (or SEGA expectation), but it probably sold enough for what has been delivered: 2 solo campaigns and an eratz of multiplayer. We can all say Relic/SEGA management is stupid if we want but I don't believe they are that stupid to think the game will have good retention without retention assets developed/implemented in it (multiplayer).
They sold the game, they took the cash and they're planning to do the same with the console release. On the mean time since both games are complete by now, they're reducing their work force to adjust to their cost, maybe they're laying off more people that expected initially cuz they didn't meet their highest sell expectation, maybe not.
But just remember one thing, Coh1 Opposing front was not developed by Relic but at the same time the external studio was also including various coh1 devs who left (got layed off?) Relic after coh1 release. So the scenario we're seeing today isn't new at all.
In my opinion, June will be the cornerstone for Relic and Coh3 multiplayer, and since I like coh games, I really hope they come with good stuff next month.
I pretty much agree with most of what you have written, except my own take is that SEGA have slimmed down Relic prior to a sale of the asset. As you know, the DLC stuff was designed to pay for the staff needed for maintenance and patches. At some point, if not already, Relic has to work on another game(s) for which it needs staff.
My only query is an historic one: whether Opposing Fronts was outsourced. I had thought that the Lead Designer, Lead Artist and Lead engineer all left Relic shortly after COH1 was released in order to start up their own studio: Smoking Gun. Consequently, I thought it was the later Brian Wood and Quin Duffy who developed OF internally? Happy to be corrected.
Well, bad news, relic laid off their coh 3 gameplay lead
Plus Ryan McGaechan - who is almost totemic.