The Chinese Room has not officially closed, but it no longer has any staff aside from husband and wife directors Dan Pinchbeck and Jessica Curry. The studio – perhaps best known for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture – has decided to “go dark” for the immediate future, as it figures out what it’s going to do next. All of its staff – a team of eight people – were laid off all the way back in June, and have now found work elsewhere.
A long and fascinating interview with Eurogamer.net reveals the motive behind the hibernation, but it essentially amounts to financial pressures and serious burn-out. Rapture doesn’t sound like it was the easiest project in the world to complete – a combination of business challenges and development headaches – and Pinchbeck reckons that it’s time to “take a break, recharge, recover, and have a good think about the future”.
So is it the end of the road for The Chinese Room? Not quite, as all of its titles will remain on sale, and it’s continuing to beaver away on other projects at its own pace. But maybe don’t expect “the next big thing” from the studio anytime soon – it doesn’t really have any staff, after all. In the meantime, you should definitely read this Eurogamer.net interview for some fascinating insights – some of the bits about Rapture are insane.
[source thechineseroom.co.uk, via eurogamer.net]
I cant be the only one to think that title's just a little bit in bad taste.
Not a fan of the kind of games they make, nor did I care for them having a go at CD Projekt Red, but the industry is worse off when studios disappear. The more variety, the better and games like Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and Dear Esther have generally been received pretty well. Hopefully they take however long they need and comeback better than ever.
Man, I loved Rapture, the soundtrack, felt like I was in a Boards of Canada game or something (aka, gem).
Hopefully they can get things sorted and start anew.
I've yet to play this, I don't mind some of these walking simulators as long as there's a good enough story and mystery to keep you intrigued.
@Enuo It's not bad considering the rest of the staff have found jobs else where.
Yeah having to pay 40k a month to keep going was always going to be a struggle. It doesn't help when some key people at the studio burned bridges with Sony which probably cost them any chance of their next project been funded by them. Plus been outspoken to "industry darlings" like CD Projekt Red just adds up to them been a studio that are difficult to work with. It's all well and good been indie of course but you are living from game to game, it's why many just stick with 16bit artstyles because it's cheaper to produce, as soon as you start developing with higher end 3D graphics the budgets balloon.
As a hard-working superhero cat who has been playing computer games since 1984, I'm not fan of The Chinese Room, and I'll tell you why:
Is The Chinese Room supposed to be a games developer, or are they a jobs creation scheme for tedious out-of-work Guardian columnists? Maybe they should just pack in the games thing and concentrate on being outraged at stuff on Twitter.
Yours in Purrs and Pixels,
@Enuo I thought it might be, but I read the full story and saw that everyone at the studio now has new work and has known about the situation for months.
In this instance I thought it was probably okay. I wouldn't have run it if it was sudden news and everyone was unemployed.
@get2sammyb Fair enough.
@get2sammyb @Enuo I read the title a few times before it even made any sense, so I was too confused to be offended. Though it is past my bed time.
I spent most of my time trying to decide if that pic was my PS4 screensaver - or whatever they call it. I think it's for Days Gone. Or Far Cry 5. Whatever game looks like it's a new season of Sons of Anarchy. Pic is ok but the music is great.
I just don't buy their version of events.
Seems to me like typical Brighton hubris. Self absorbed bores reliant on other people's money to create tedious vanity projects, whilst inflicting their snobby identity politics on the rest of us.
Now the money has run out, they get Eurogamer (whose head office is also based in Brighton...fishy, fishy....) to write a long winded polemic about how it is everyone else's fault.
You can only ride this kind of arrogant, right-on B.S. train so long before reality catches up with you, and somebody needs to pay the bills.
The games sucked but I don't take pleasure in people being laid off.
I am gutted to learn this - I often check their website and they have just released a Google Dream game in VR (or a mini experience).
I am not going to judge anyone at the studio since I don't know them - I can only go by their output which I greatly enjoyed. EGTTR is one of my favourite gaming experiences ever. I listen to the soundtrack regularly - in fact, it is my go to soundtrack to chill out to and turn my brain off.
Also, comments insulting a team they know little about does nothing for anyone. This was a team that produced Dear Esther as a mod and pretty much inadvertantly created a new sub genre. Maybe they weren't ready to move into the publisher sphere, maybe their version of events isn't correct or is skewed but any story is.
@Deadcow That's not really the point of the interview, though. The lead says in the interview how Chinese Room could have easily made walking sims for the next 20 years. It's what the publisher expects even. The layoffs happened mainly because they didn't want to make a sequel.
@Rudy_Manchego Hear hear! You kinda said what was on my mind too.
@CountFunkula78 You're using polemic language yourself too. One of their employees, on a personal note, made a comment about sexism in The Witcher. That isn't representative of the company.
I agree however on the interviewed person here being a bit snobby. Certainly the remarks about the "running button" made no sense. So; testers told the developer they wanted a run button, instead of auto-run. The developer agreed to put this button in last-minute. Dev forgot to put this in a tutorial, or in the controller layout menu. And after people complain about not being able to run, he blames the testers for "not being right"...
That's not how this works. The dev forgot to communicate an otherwise fine control scheme. That's on them, not on the testers being wrong. The fact that he wants to turn this mistake on the devs part in something so self-righteous rubs me the wrong way.
I didn't care for them at all; I just can't stand people in this industry that act they way they do. Virtue signalling against CD Projeckt Red and Kojima Productions is toxic to the prosperity to the whole industry and is egregiously disrespectful to said devs and the fans.
Just look at what this BS has done to the comics industry in the U.S. It's honestly disheartening.
It's time to stop!
Shame. Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is one of my favourite sci-fi stories of the last few years. Had a very faint hope of a VR port someday, too. Fingers crossed for them!
@SuperCat Morgana! I knew you were real. I have a spare space in the attic if you fancy it?
On topix I enjoyed Rapture, anyone making similar games do me a favour.....
Have a better run / speed up button. (Not the RT move 6% faster rubbish)
@SuperCat I am confused by your argument - they have voluntarily closed up shop because they freely admit they couldn't get funding from private publishers, primarily because they can be difficult to work with. At no point do they bemoan not getting tax payer bail outs? I mean, they got Uni funding for Dear Esther unless I am missing something. That said, as a Super Cat, you do have the right to wee everywhere. I will give you that
So basically, they threw their toys out of the pram and pretend its a calculated move ?
@Deadcow sorry I misunderstood! Good point though
Everyone wants to leave because the studio is overrun with social justice warriors.
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