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Kerbal Space Program 2 release disrupted by corporate strife (bloomberg.com)
312 points by tboerstad 35 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 143 comments



It looks like Take-Two studios didn't want to pay the the premium of having another studio do the work, so they switched to recruiting the employees directly instead. And it worked.

> The LinkedIn message went on to say Take-Two was setting up a new studio to keep working on the same game Star Theory had been developing, a sequel to the cult classic Kerbal Space Program. Take-Two was looking to hire all of Star Theory’s development staff to make that happen. “We are offering a compensation package that includes a cash sign-on bonus, an excellent salary, bonus eligibility and other benefits,” Cook wrote.

I won't go so far as to condone Take-Two's actions, but I don't see this entirely as a negative for the employees involved if (and it's a big if) Take-Two chose to pay the employees extra compensation and bonuses instead of giving the money to a middleman.

As someone who went through an acqui-hire only to see our founders walk away with millions while the employees' salaries remained unchanged, I wouldn't be opposed companies directing those acqui-hire funds to hiring bonuses given directly to the employees.


That is a failed acquihire. The whole point of an acquihire from the acquirer's point of view is that while business-unit-specific OPEX budget is used for salaries, bonuses and other overhead, retention packages and equity arrangements are generally covered by the central budget. Otherwise you would just hire people directly, possibly using special packages.

What an acquihire gets you, as an executive, is that people you otherwise wouldn't be able to hire, because you can pay above market without wrecking your budget. These people are either vesting out equity or they are on explicit retention packages, but from a budget standpoint _they aren't on you_.

Another way to think about it is that this buys you the time necessary to, using the normal levers available to you, get employees to the point where a set of overlapping RSU grants are vesting quarterly, thereby both avoiding a steep compensation cliff and getting the total compensation to where it needs to be in a way you could not do on day one.


> That is a failed acquihire. The whole point of an acquihire from the acquirer's point of view is that while business-unit-specific OPEX budget is used for salaries, bonuses and other overhead, retention packages and equity arrangements are generally covered by the central budget. Otherwise you would just hire people directly, possibly using special packages.

Are you saying the whole point of acquihires is essentially an accounting trick?


It’s only failed from the perspective of the acquirer and the employees. The founders made off. Sometimes it can still be considered a gain by the acquirer if it prevents a competitor from acquiring said talent.


Aren't acquihires really about the IP?


No, they’re soft landings for talented people in failing businesses.


There are very few soft landings in the Kerbal Space Program.


No, then it would be an acquisition.


IP, if it can be re-used, is considered a bonus at best. In practice, the IP you want is in the experience of the people you're getting, not their random patent portfolio or source code.


> As someone who went through an acqui-hire only to see our founders walk away with millions while the employees' salaries remained unchanged

I have always understood acqui-hire as "Big company sees a team of talented devs with good cost structure (aka: manageable salaries) so they pay a one time flat fee to get that team working on their problems"

At no point have I ever expected developers salaries to change during an aqui-hire. They might get a boost after the aqui-hire if they have trouble retaining the devs for whatever reason. But usually the whole point of an aqui hire is the relative low salaries of the employees compared to their performance.


This would imply that the very event of being in a team that is acqui-hired should communicate that you are more effective than the norm compared to your cost and that you can therefore either negotiate higher pay at the acquiring company or you could bring to status to the table in salary negotiations for a new job.

FWIW, I don't think acqui-hiring is only about getting a team that is relatively cheap for their output. Regular hiring processes are also not cheap and by buying an entire company you can "hire" several devs in one shot (and at a lower risk) where it might otherwise take much more time to find that much extra capacity.


You also get the benefit of hiring several devs that already trust one another and have experience working together without stepping on each other's toes. That's where you can look at the product they have already developed and for what effort, and with some diligence, hire the teams that aren't dysfunctional. Or at least that's the idea.


Exactly. You're not just hiring the individuals, you're hiring the established working relationships they have with each other.


> compared to their performance

That one part is key. Acqui-hires are justified because the teams display high performance, not low cost. If the truth is that they happen for the second reason, expect a lot of fighting back against it once the word gets out.


> the teams display high performance, not low cost

Performance is relative to cost; you can't have one without the other. Trying to spin it as being only about performance is an attempt to deceive the labor.


If it helps, add "abnormally" before "low" and "high".

As of now, I don't have any certainty that there is any mass deceiving going on. Creating a team with very high performance is not easy, and it makes sense to reward it. But if there is deceiving, it is of one of the worst possible kinds.


And teams is the important bit - not individuals. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts etc.

They might all be top tier workers but there's a benefit to getting a fully functional team with institutional knowledge and processes rather than starting from the ground up.


Frequently acquihires are about opportunity, not cost. I’ve seen acquihires at salaries above what the company would offer to organically recruited employees, because the company is just desperate to recruit. Paying higher salaries can be less costly (once you factor in recruiter salaries, cost of interviews, and opportunity cost of all the time those open positions sit unfilled) than hiring through normal channels.

I guess it’s still fundamentally about cost, but not necessarily first-order costs as you describe.


One of the most important points (from the acquirer's point of view) is retention.

Most aquihires I know lead to an increase in salary and a retention bonus (a pool was set as part of the aquihire negotiations).

Since payout is tied to % employees who stay on for X years, both sides care deeply to keep them on board


it's also not necessarily low salaries, but also possibly performance density. You can get a team of developers that have had the chaff whittled out under more of a boilerroom condition that the administrative structure of a larger company can't do (harder to get rid of unproductive programmers, e.g.)


> The game had been set to come out this year [me: March 2020], but the company said last month it was delaying the release until the fall of 2021.

Is delaying the release by over a year and a half a win? I wonder how much in royalties/costs they're really saving.


What infuriates me is that how can you not see that you need another YEAR right up until a few months remain wtf. Why not announce it sooner.


One example: you might miss the fact that your company will be torn apart by your dominant business partner.


I suspect once you realize the release date is gonna be missed no matter what, you might as well go for a year and uncut all those extra things that were sacrificed in an attempt to make the original reelase date.


Also, for a lot of those devs a successful launch of KSP2 is going to be a career booster; they don’t want to walk away from it.


But if they worked for Star Theory they would likely benefit a lot more than if they worked for Take Two directly (I believe the article touches on that).


Guess that depends on your definition of "benefit". As one developer (from the article) puts it:

> he didn’t want to work for a big company where he wouldn’t have the same degree of influence or financial benefits if the game were a hit. “I was at a small studio, where the work I did had a massive impact on our success,”


As a developer, he would never have had a stake in the financial outcome of KSP2's sales.

Didn't he bother to look into the history of the first KSP? The owners made bank (and are still making bank) and many of the developers didn't even make the equivalent of the US minimum wage for their work.


The way I read what he said he seems more interested by having his work matter and influence the final game than immediate monetary reward.

Given what I keep hearing about the working conditions in the videogame industry it seems like most videogame devs are in it because they like making games and want the reward of telling people "see this cool game everybody plays? Well I made (some) of that!". Otherwise with their skillset they'd probably have no trouble finding work in an other branch of the software industry that'd have better compensation and working conditions, if a lot less cool to explain during parties.


I would think that this engineer's ideas of how things were going to change were mistaken. I don't know the insides of this case, but generally, the impact you have on the game you work on depends on three things:

- the trust and empowerment that project leads give non-lead staff

- the amount of non-lead stuff with a voice

- the ability of said leads to have a say in how the project is run

In this case, the leads remained, the project owner (the publisher) remained, and doesn't sound like the staff increased much if at all; so I really doubt things would change much in that sense. Given what happened, someone thought that something in the studio/project had to change, but I just doubt it would be the presence of staff's voice.


For sure, but the former is off the table. So they’ve got to decide which is more valuable to them: finishing KSP2, or the extra comp they could get somewhere else.


shrug It made me completely lose interest in KSP2 almost instantly.


The core fan base of KSP is super passionate and if the game is good they'll play it regardless of the studio name.


Passion can cut more than one way. It’s quite possible that the poster you replied to is, as you said, super passionate and is turned off by Take Two’s hardball tactics to the point that they don’t purchase the game when it’s released.


I enjoy KSP1 and have a bunch of hours in it. But if they Take2 it I'll just skip 2 and keep playing 1.

The last couple years I've gotten real good at passing on games. ex: I thoroughly enjoyed doom 2016 single player, was ambivalent to snap map, and was extremely turned off on the MP. In immortal my understanding is they took all the parts I didn't like from 2016, and built those up (with a healthy dose of being a jerk to the guy who made the bang'n music for 2016 on the side).

I've played doom since doom 1 shareware (pre v1.666) but I'm skipping immortal entirely. There's just way too much content out there for me to bother with people who make me feel bad for doing business with them.


Passion is goodwill.

Goodwill is profits on the table.

With this new studio they are not beholden to prior promises of not having microtransactions.


> The LinkedIn message went on to say Take-Two was setting up a new studio to keep working on the same game Star Theory had been developing, a sequel to the cult classic Kerbal Space Program. Take-Two was looking to hire all of Star Theory’s development staff to make that happen.

I'm amazed that the contract Star Theory had with Take-Two didn't have a clause prohibiting Take-Two from poaching employees like this.

Edit: A more general question: If I hire a consultancy company to build something for me, would I normally be able to directly hire the employees who did the work? That sounds like the worst possible outcome for a consultancy, so surely contracts prohibit it!?

Edit 2: Lots of people responding that anti-competes are always bad, and I don't disagree, but this feels slightly different.

How about:

Is it ethical for a company to deliberately cause you to be made redundant so they can hire you? (Emailing all employees of a company make it fairly clear it was planned)


Anti-poaching clauses are basically unenforceable. At most you can add a clause that they may not approach your employees. If the employee is willing to tell a white lie on who approach/hinted at whom that's easily circumvented.

Cleanest version I've seen thus far is a financial penalty built in that is probably not enforceable but is carefully calibrated so that it's "fk it just pay it instead of making a legal fuss about it & ruining a good commercial relationship on top of it". Leaves everyone somewhat unhappy but nobody left empty-handed. Both sides saw it as cost of doing business in a way.


> Anti-poaching clauses are basically unenforceable.

Not as part of a contract for work, otherwise, the entire contract labor market that involves specific payment for customers hiring workers off of the contact would die as customers would just ignore the “unenforceable” restrictions and hire desired employees without the contracted payment to the intermediary firm.

Standalone anti-poaching agreements between competing firms are generally unenforceable (and also potentially outright illegal and actionable.)


> the entire contract labor market that involves specific payment for customers hiring workers off of the contact would die as customers would just ignore the “unenforceable” restrictions and hire desired employees without the contracted payment to the intermediary firm.

I've seen this happen over and over again, and I've even been in this situation myself. One of my first subcontracting jobs ended with me being contracted directly by the company I was was subcontracted to, and there was literally nothing that anyone could do (or really even care to do).

This doesn't mean the contract labor force is going to die off- generally speaking people who hire contractors want contractors, not employees, for a variety of reasons (financial commitment, not having to manage the HR aspects of the employee, knowing that you can let the contractors go without having to notify the state of a lay off).


> If I hire a consultancy company to build something for me, would I normally be able to directly hire the employees who did the work?

In my experience, this is one of the main points that legal counsel argues with every contract.

If your company is being contracted to do work, your legal counsel will want to add a non-solicitation clause to the contract to prevent the other company from recruiting your employees.

If your company is contracting with a smaller company to do work for you, your legal counsel will want to strike any non-solicit clauses so they have the option to hire people out of that company later. If the other company is desperate enough for the contract, they might allow this. Otherwise they'll refuse the work.


>> I'm amazed that the contract Star Theory had with Take-Two didn't have a clause prohibiting Take-Two from poaching employees like this.

I'm amazed that people sign contracts accepting this kind of restrictions to their lives.

That's (fortunately) illegal in the EU country I live in, as it creates artificial barriers in the job "market", i.e. it is illegal to limit people's access to work. Still, cartel practices like not hiring from "friendly companies" abound.

>> If I hire a consultancy company to build something for me, would I normally be able to directly hire the employees who did the work?

I see contracts imposing restrictions like this all the time where I live, and people sadly just nod and accept, but these clauses never hold up in court as no company has a right to decide where people can or can't work.

Having worked as a consultant, I'm repulsed by the idea that I'd need my company's permission to leave and go work for a client. Especially because the provision stinks of "cheaper than actually investing in people retention". If the issue is intellectual property transfer, that's what an NDA is for.


> I'm amazed that people sign contracts accepting this kind of restrictions to their lives.

I believe he's talking about a contract between the companies, not contracts with individual employees. That may be different.

An employer making an employee sign a contract saying that they won't work elsewhere without the employer's permission has obvious problems, such as the vast (usually) difference in bargaining power between an employer and an individual employee, and it gives the employer massive control over the employee's life.

I believe that those are the main reasons many jurisdictions make such clauses unenforceable.

In the case of two companies making a deal that company A will buy a service from company B and not hire away B's employees, you are much less likely to have such a great disparity in bargaining power. Unless it's a very small industry, B's employees probably have many other job opportunities in that industry besides A and other companies B has worked for.

That suggests that there might not be such strong public policy reasons for make such contract unenforceable, especially if they have some time limit such as B's employees can't be hired by A for a year after working on B's service for A.

Almost every court case I can recall hearing of in this area was either (1) contracts between companies and individual employees, not between companies, or (2) arrangements between competing companies to try to limit labor mobility to keep salaries down, which raised antitrust issues.


No-one was stopping Star Theory employees from going to work for Take-Two.

The problem was when Take-Two messaged every worker at the company and said "We've just bankrupted the studio you work for. Come work for us on the same product you were working on before".


> Having worked as a consultant, I'm repulsed by the idea that I'd need my company's permission to leave and go work for a client

For a large consultancy with many clients, I agree.

But when a significant portion of your employer's income is a single client:

Are you comfortable with that single client of your employer having a strong incentive to make your job redundant so they can try to hire you under worse terms (as you suddenly lost your job)?

You don't need your company's permission, you're unemployed.

I guess what I'm thinking is something more along the lines of not hiring employees immediately after making them redundant through your own actions?


>> Are you comfortable with that single client of your employer having a strong incentive to make your job redundant so they can try to hire you under worse terms (as you suddenly lost your job)?

I understand what you mean, and that situation doesn't seem desirable either, but I think that that is very uncommon when compared to companies trying to retain/squeeze employees using contracts with employment restrictions.


>That's (fortunately) illegal in the EU country I live in, as it creates artificial barriers in the job "market", i.e. it is illegal to limit people's access to work. Still, cartel practices like not hiring from "friendly companies" abound.

Interesting. I've heard of EU countries where leaving a job requires giving 2+ months of notice or paying a large financial penalty.


Yes, it's usually three months in Germany. It's a bit on the long side but I don't mind that much. I guess I've been lucky to have only nice working environments so I've never been in any particular hurry to leave.


> I'm amazed that people sign contracts accepting this kind of restrictions to their lives.

I'm amazed that there are people out there who think we have a choice. I would not have my most important clients if I refused to sign non-solicitation clauses.


Most consultancies defend themselves from this sort of behaviour in two directions. Firstly there'll be clauses in the consulting contract stating that the client can't hire anyone who's worked on their project for [n] months after completion (sometimes with the caveat that they can, but there'll be a recruitment fee due to the consultancy). Secondly employees of the consultancy will have non-compete clauses in their employment contracts stating much the same thing.

The interesting bit here is if Star Theory are going out of business then any contracts will presumably become void because one of the signatories has ceased to exist.


Companies closing their doors doesn't necessarily mean ceasing to exist. Sometimes it ends up in a holding company with one person (a lawyer) to close up any loose ends and liquidate assets.

Although in Star Theory's case, their development contract was coming to an end, so it's possible it had already expired at that point. And the contract may have also had certain required metrics like development progress and financial health that would lead to it being terminated in cases where the company was effectively defunct.


Another interesting thing is how they managed to acquire assets - somebody had to transfer source code, art, specs, etc.

Also, by this locally-optimized move they sacrificed ability to work with other independents in the future, ie top independents will less likely to work with them.


They would, but the consultancy company would want you to buy them out (it has happened with some of my colleagues), and that's not going to be cheap.

There's also been at least one instance where people left the company and were rehired by their client during the do-not-compete timeout of a year; in practice, a do-not-compete clause cannot be enforced in a court, and given that the client is several orders of magnitude larger in terms of finances than the consultancy company, a legal battle wouldn't pan out the way they want it to.

So the guy took the job and the risk, and he still works there. Probably earns a lot more as well.


>in practice, a do-not-compete clause cannot be enforced in a court

Depends. I've known consulting companies that have absolutely enforced them--though the circumstances have usually been around someone setting up their own shop rather than going to a client.

The broader issue with non-competes is more chilling effect than than actual enforcement. When I was with a small consulting firm we wouldn't touch anyone who had an even vaguely related non-compete. Just wasn't worth the risk or even the effort/cost of getting a lawyer involved.


> A more general question: If I hire a consultancy company to build something for me, would I normally be able to directly hire the employees who did the work?

This is common in the enterprise software world, from what I've seen.


> I'm amazed that the contract Star Theory had with Take-Two didn't have a clause prohibiting Take-Two from poaching employees like this.

Please don’t use the word “poached” to describe getting employees to voluntarily join your company by offering better compensation. Unlike animal poaching, employee poaching is actually good for the employees being poached. In the name of preventing “poaching” many Silicon Valley companies in the past engaged in an illegal scheme to fix employee wages.


I'm not sure you can necessarily call it voluntary if the offer comes paired with "oh and we're bankrupting your current employer".


> to describe getting employees to voluntarily join your company by offering better compensation

Huh? They withdrew the contract from their current employer, making them redundant, then offered them a job.

I'm not sure abusing your position of power as sole "client" to bankrupt my employer to hire me counts as "offering better compensation".

If not poaching, perhaps coercing, compelling, forcing?


>Unlike animal poaching, employee poaching is actually good for the employees being poached.

That depends on their negotiation positions. "We're effectively killing your employer, you can join us for 10% less salary or take your luck on the job market." This situation was more akin to a mass prisoner's dilemma than standard poaching.


In this case the employees were faced with a decision to lose their jobs working on KSP2 or take whatever Take-Two was offering. I agree that normally "poaching" is word used by some really slimly people who want to make sure labour doesn't realize how much it is worth - so it'd be great if a different term was used above. But in this case it might actually be an accurately illustrative word for what actually happened.


I don't think people are interpreting the term "poached" as literally as you are. Losing an employee to a competitor is bad for a company, especially bad for a small company, hence the negative connotation.


"Poaching" is terminology used by recruiters/executives precisely to control the narrative, and justify the kind of employee-hostile decisions that OP is referring to.

It makes sense to reconsider the use of that word given that employers competing on wages and benefits does benefit the employees.


Would you describe this as Poaching:

- Finding a small zoo

- Deliberately bankrupting them

- Buying their animals cheap and slaughtering them

In my mind Poaching equates to using illegal or unethical means to hunt animals. Bankrupting a zoo to rid the animals of their protection feels like that to me.


It's used a lot in sports, where one team "poaches exciting talent" from another, etc. so I don't see a problem with it myself.


This is not true at all. Professional athletes are all independent contractors with explicitly defined terms of engagement and restrictions on changing employers. They even call it "free agency". This is a different legal beast than a standard employment agreement.


It is absolutely true that poaching is a common term in sports[1].

[1] https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2023482-5-milwaukee-buck...


You're making a lot of assumptions that this is a win for the employees. Besides the fact that the employees in question were quite literally being given the choice of "come work for us or lose your job", there's things like the quote below from TFA:

'Patrick Meade, a senior engineer at Star Theory, said he turned down the job offer from Take-Two. He declined to discuss the events in detail but said he didn’t want to work for a big company where he wouldn’t have the same degree of influence or financial benefits if the game were a hit. “I was at a small studio, where the work I did had a massive impact on our success,” Meade said. “When I see myself at any large corporation, that is fundamentally not true."'

It's not all about wages. (But even if it were, notice that he chose not to take the offer because of the lesser profit sharing. So it's not just a net win, even for those that did take the offer.)


Well poaching is a illegal act, none of the behavior above is illegal.


You're erroneously conflating two different uses of the same word. It means both things, but control-freak SJWs don't get to sanitize every meaning of every word.


This is such a stupid assertion and attempt to control others. The world isn't going to sanitize every terminology word because you say so. Get a grip.


there is a difference between offering jobs on an open market and having a bunch of people take on that offer, vs directly targeting people that work at a company they are contracting with, who are not actually looking for a job


They walked away from the deal... no contract.


They walked away from the acquisition deal, but this:

> the same game Star Theory had been developing

certainly means they had an earlier contract.


They had a previous contract for the work up to that point.


No, they walked away from a buyout deal, they had a contract with take two to develop KSP2.


From the article, it seems like the contract was ending, and there were talks of a 6mo extension when everything came apart.


Non-solicit agreements often extend well beyond the terms of work, a year or two seem to be common.


One of my family members worked for Star Theory during this time, and turned down job offers from Take Two in favor of loyalty, but it ended up biting them in the ass unfortunately. They did end up with a great job elsewhere, but still sad to hear this all went down. A reminder to look out for your own interests, even if you like the people you work for, or at least balance them because no one else likely will.


Important to note that Take Two is a huge, publicly traded, corporation with a market cap of nearly $15 billion. They owned 2K Games, Rockstar, and others.

The tactics described in this article would be extremely shady from one small business to another... but a massive corporation swooping in and basically ruining another company? Wow.


I can't read the article. Did everyone except the developers get laid off? Or did Take Two hire literally everyone from the smaller co?

edit: Ah I see they hired only about 1/3 of the staff.


> Brian Roundy, a spokesman for Private Division, said the company contacted “every member of the development team” at Star Theory with an invitation to join the new studio, called Intercept Games. “More than half of the team is now at Intercept Games,”

Granted it's from the mouth of T2, but it sounds like the offer was at least more universal, and they would have preferred or at least been amenable to absorbing the whole team.


They offered jobs to eveyone, 1/3 has accepted


From the article:

> The contract with Take-Two was the studio’s only source of revenue at the time. Without it, the independent studio was in serious trouble.

> The [founders] had been in discussions about selling their company to Take-Two but were dissatisfied with the terms, they explained.

> Take-Two hired more than a third of Star Theory’s staff, including the studio head and creative director.

> By March . . . Star Theory closed its doors.

So, a small game studio played chicken with Take-Two, a $15 billion juggernaut, and lost. Take-Two picked up the pieces.


Said a different way, a small studio tried to stand up for its developers, so they would be rewarded for their hard work, and they got strong armed by an industry goliath so they could keep all the profits.


It really depends on where those “royalties” were going and how they’d be managed going forward.

Somehow I wouldn’t bet on them going to devs, but I’m just an old cynic.


No loyalty nor generosity in the game business. Everybody out for a buck. Eat or be eaten. I think that summarizes it?


Hmm? It sounds to me like there is a lot of generosity- Take Two poaching a lot of engineers, offering them nice bonuses. The employees are the ones winning in this story


Not necessarily. The employees may have been stuck between a rock and a hard place. If amazon sent your whole team messages saying they'll hire you or crush you, taking the job at amazon might be more like trying to keep your job. Especially as others start to take the offer. The only thing saying the bonuses were nice bonus was the "hey come join us" email, and we all know what those are worth.

One of the people involved said he didn't take the offer because he didn't think he'd get the same benefits. Since the contract stuff was about royalties, it might be that joining take-two meant trading royalties for salary/bonus, and as interest grew in KSP2, that might be a shitty deal.


Because it was cheaper than dealing with their current employer. All about controlling costs. The bonus was carefully calculated to balance the development costs versus contract costs.

Those employees can expect precisely nothing once the game is complete, unless coincidentally their new employer has another project they can be immediately put to work on.


That would have been the same result after the game was finished either way, given that Star was only a contractor.

At least at Take Two the employees have the possibility of working on other games.


Can somebody with knowledge about how those contracts are set up comment on what happens to the IP developed by Star Theory? I understand they were contracted to build KSP2, but when "the project was pulled" by Take Two who owns the development to date? Does Take Two/Infinity need to start from scratch (with the benefit of many of the original developers) or do they essentially get to go forward with whatever the latest development version was available?


Usually when you are contracted to develop something custom, you do not own the IP but rather the company that you are building it for. I doubt this is any different here.

There are possibilities that it is arranged differently, for example if the IP you are developing can be used multiple times the company that ordered the IP may want to offer you the rights to distribute and use it further, for a discount, but it is very unlikely a game would make sense for this.


> Usually when you are contracted to develop something custom, you do not own the IP but rather the company that you are building it for.

While it can get messy, generally the IP belongs to the original creators unless otherwise stipulated by contract. Most likely, Star Theory gained ownership of the IP created by their employees via employment contracts. The contract between Take Two and Star Theory would then stipulate the conditions underwhich Star Theory gives that IP to Take Two.

How and when that IP gets assigned should be a part of any such contract negotiations and not something you should gloss over or sign blindly.


That makes sense.

It would seem one way to protect the contracted company would be the right to withhold releasing the source code until the terms of the contract were met. You may not want to fight that legal battle, but at least it would give the smaller guy some leverage. As it sounds from the article, Star Theory Games doesn't have anything to fight back with.


It'll depend on their contract. But if Take Two doesn't get the existing codebase, it's hard to see how this move makes any sense.


If these are the people that dicked over the original team on bonuses and are now getting karma... then good riddance.


The original developer (Squad) was bought by Take-Two who then contracted Star Theory to develop KSP2. Take-Two then screwed over Star Theory.

Or in other words, same people who dicked over the original team, now dicked over another team, and probably have enough content done to still make a financial killing in the process. Given the pandemic I suspect they'll hire on the rest of the Star Theory team at a steep discount as well.


I heard Squad screwed over the developers of KSP as well, their wages were low compared to how successful the game was.


https://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/55xv60/kerbal_space... (thread with some sources)

Squad were paying the original developers next to nothing for working full time on KSP


I wonder how Felipe feels like about it. I helped a little with the wheels way back when (and sent the dev team a rover when they finished!)


Damn. I was really looking forward to that game. I love KSP but the original is so janky with memory leaks / slowdown / physics craziness, the bigger the mission you try, the less fun it is. The same game but with its own custom-made engine learning from the previous game would have been great.

Anyway no way I can buy it now and support that.. Also even if I just pirate it, its probably gonna turn out shite anyway now with giant publisher running everything.


Can someone show me a non paywall version of this? KSP is fairly important to me. (I studied with KSP author, and told him when in college, that a game like what he promised to create was impossible. KSP was among other things, him proving me wrong)



That link redirects me to https://ungleich.ch/en-us/cms/blog/2019/09/11/turn-off-doh-f..., which, what the hell?

It also seems to be conflating me using CloudFlare's DNS with me using DoH. Also, they're ironically removing my choice, because I chose CloudFlare's DNS yet I can't see the content because of that.


Sounds about right given Archive.is has this feud going on with Cloudflare.

https://jarv.is/notes/cloudflare-dns-archive-is-blocked/


I guess, but being against DoH just because the default for that is Cloudflare is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


Yeah, who even knows. I think it's all petty to be honest.


I spoke with the creator of archive.is a while back, he uses the location from DNS to protect archive.is against some attacks, and the Cloudflare cache breaks things for him because they return the cached result instead of a live one.

It's an unfortunate situation, but it doesn't look like an easy solution exists on either side.


Cloudflare denied that though.


As far as I know, Cloudflare said they tried to work with him, I don't know anything about denying caching.


Cloudflare said they filtered EDNS subnet passthrough. They did provide alternative location data, though. Given that Cloudflare has _tons_ of data centers, in all parts of the world, this granularity seems good enough for what Archive.is required.

> EDNS IP subsets can be used to better geolocate responses for services that use DNS-based load balancing. However, 1.1.1.1 is delivered across Cloudflare’s entire network that today spans 180 cities. We publish the geolocation information of the IPs that we query from. That allows any network with less density than we have to properly return DNS-targeted results. For a relatively small operator like archive.is, there would be no loss in geo load balancing fidelity relying on the location of the Cloudflare PoP in lieu of EDNS IP subnets.

> We are working with the small number of networks with a higher network/ISP density than Cloudflare (e.g., Netflix, Facebook, Google/YouTube) to come up with an EDNS IP Subnet alternative that gets them the information they need for geolocation targeting without risking user privacy and security. Those conversations have been productive and are ongoing. If archive.is has suggestions along these lines, we’d be happy to consider them.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19828702


Yes, but his reply was that they cache DNS results, so someone querying from France would get the cached result, which might be in the US. Seems a bit counterintuitive, but I'm just relaying what he told me.


I haven’t noticed that behavior. DNS caching doesn’t appear to propagate outside of a PoP, at least from my testing.


They're sending the full article and just putting an overlay on it, so reader mode or inspect element will clean it right up.


I'm curious why did you think it was impossible?


KSP takes some liberties with physics, simplifying things so that e.g. the N-body does not apply (that is, your craft are only affected by one body at once). Other challenges are the scale and number precision. It doesn't get it exactly right either, especially when you use the time accelleration, things can go a bit... weird. See https://wiki.kerbalspaceprogram.com/wiki/Deep_Space_Kraken


There may not be an analytic solution, but solving the n-body problem numerically with newtonian physics isn't a difficult thing to do...it's simple enough that it has been used as a benchmark for doing computations: https://benchmarksgame-team.pages.debian.net/benchmarksgame/...


I'm sure they know this. The problem is that n-body simulations don't scale well with simulation speed. In KSP you can speed up time by up to 100,000x, which is essential for gameplay. If you want the same accuracy for n-body at that speed, you'll also need to do 100,000x the calculations. Whereas with KSPs simplified model you can calculate the position in orbit at arbitrary points in time, making 100,000x just as computationally expensive as 10x.


I don't know which integrators they're using but an algorithm like RKF45 should handle time acceleration with adaptive step sizes no problem. As grandparent said, n-body is very well-known.

Regardless, KSP's workaround of using SOIs is simple and quite effective.


Why are we all arguing about this if there is already a mod that implements N-body for KSP? It even positions celestial objects according to the calculations, with some changes because the stock system is unstable.

https://github.com/mockingbirdnest/Principia


Principia is great, but it also shows exactly why this wasn't done in the base game. It has a significant performance impact, especially at high time-warp and thus doesn't scale that well with many crafts. They're able to push those calculations across all cores, but that only helps so much.


From a gameplay perspective, there isn't much sense in a full N-body simulation. Players only care about their spacecraft, which is a restricted three-body problem (small spacecraft, massive gravitational bodies) outside of special cases like gravity tractors. And the simplified two-body SOI worked pretty well in practice.

In any case, the bigger gameplay problem tends to be the vehicle physics simulation, where you have hundreds+ parts interacting and not in the most stable fashion especially above 2x time warp. That's the part that seemed amazing when KSP first came out, moreso than the orbital simulation (although the solar system exploration clinched the overall experience).


I haven't played the game, and I don't know if it matters, but I would think that considering the processing necessary for attractive graphics in today's world, doing the physics right would have a cost too small to practically measure.

I don't understand how something that could easily be done on an 8 MHz computer in 1985 could strain a modern machine. Especially if you look up a decent algorithm and don't do the naive one.

Maybe there is some misunderstanding. Like, "n-body" to me doesn't imply a detailed simulation of inhomogenities in the celestial objects, like in real life they talk about mascons and such when landing on the moon. I'm assuming it's just that you calculate the forces of each body on every other body. And while you can do better than a simple N^2 calculation, if you have less than a dozen what does it matter?


From a gameplay perspective, I would love to put some propellant depots at Lagrangian points.


The top entry in my link above simulates 50 million years in 6 seconds for an n=6 system. That's 11,000,000,000,000X running on a normal PC.


KSP is already heavily CPU-bound, so I wonder if part of the reason they've avoided implementing n-body in the game is that it would crater framerates and simulation speed.


KSP community implemented n-body physics: https://github.com/mockingbirdnest/Principia


> Principia is released on every new moon with whatever features and bug fixes are ready at the time. This ensures relatively timely improvements and bug fixes.

This may be the funniest/best way to say "we have a roughly monthly release cadence" that I've ever seen.


Any idea how well it works? Are there trade offs, or is it all upside, physics-fidelity-wise?


It worked really well when I used it. It replaces a bunch of the stock navigation tools, and takes a bit of learning, but really seemed to be a good n-body simulation engine. It's been well over a year since I touched KSP though, so I can't speak for the current versions of either Principia or the base game.


We don't really know the scope of the original pitch, so hard to make a determination of feasibility. But yes, a fully modeled spacecraft simulator would have been effectively impossible.


Goes to show that you don't need a fully modeled simulator, you need modeled enough, and then to iterate on it.

(And let the community do some of the hard work for you. With appropriate mods, KSP can have a very realistic aerodynamics model (that handles supersonic speeds as well), and - as others mentioned - n-body physics simulation.)


The aerodynamics, he was then a flight simulator modder, and said his dream was to make a game where you could use parts to build an arbitrarily shaped airplane and it would calculate automatically the aerodynamics, because the manual setup of aerodynamics for flight simulator was really bad and annoying.

Granted wasn't him that implemented airplane aerodynamics on KSP (it was a modder of KSP, his mod being considered "mandatory" with how much it changed the game physics)


You had the right instinct---what he's describing is done by X-Plane, but X-Plane started as an aerodynamics sim tool that became a flight simulator, so they had to swallow the hard-part elephant before getting to the game part of it.

(On the other hand, someone should note that maybe both our instincts are flawed, because you could also see the X-Plane story and say "Why can't he do it? It's been done before!" ;) )


It was a sleazy thing to do, at least as Bloomberg describes it, but this time it won the day.

... I'm not sure that Take Two wins the war, though. Now other development companies will be more wary about working with them.


Normally these contracts have a no-poaching clause to prevent this.


Take Two decided to outdo EA in destroying studios.

Wasn't original Kerbal Space Program made by Squad? I'm glad they released it for Linux. I doubt Take Two will do the same.


Squad totally abused the original dev see the other comments in the thread. Take Two have some Linux games (mainly Civ, Borderland and X-Com)


The game has gone worse since the original developers left. More and more bugs that ruins game-play. I guess the game still sells good though.



Given how badly Star Theory performed on planetary annihilation, I have minimal sympathy for the company.

Still, the hardball tactics by Take-Two is sad to see.


Oh it's them? Wow, hadn't heard that Uber Entertainment had changed their name.

(Planetary Annihilation was not a bad game; it just wasn't the Total Annihilation / Supreme Commander sequel that people were expecting.)


It wasn't a bad game. Definitely.

That said, they over promised and under delivered on the original, and then had a stand alone expansion (Planetary Annihilation: Titans) that finally filled most of the promises.

I recall that at first they did a bad job of supporting players who had pre-ordered, but eventually walked it back and gave kickstarter supporters the expansion for free and early purchasers large discounts.




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