I worked at a small consulting shop that had one large client providing most of the work. There were rumours of problems with this client not having the funding to continue the upcoming projects. One day a couple people were let go which lead to rumours that serious layoffs were coming.
The next day the director sent out an email stating how everything was fine and while, two people were let go yesterday, we shouldn't expect any more layoffs.
The next week I was let go with about half of the remaining company and another layoff followed which reduced the company down to a shell.
I really don't think it was malice or lying. Most people are just optimists and want to believe that everything will turn out.
That being said, if I worked at a place again where I heard rumours going around I wouldn't wait to start looking for something new.
I might say that has the sense of a central-bank chairman saying "the market will be fine" in the middle of a downturn: even though he has information that clearly states otherwise, saying anything negative will only make the market worse. Consequentialism, pure and simple.
In a business's case, you want to lay off exactly as many employees as are needed, with the least essential going first. If employees think the ship is sinking, usually you'll lose more employees than you would have otherwise laid off, and usually those will be the most essential (the good strategists, after all, are the most aware of the zeitgeist.)
Only the naive wait for the end.
The CEO called an all hands and gave the canonical "we're too
far ahead of our time but now we're out of cash" spiel.
Somebody raised his hand and asked "just to clarify, does that mean we
put our stuff in boxes and don't come back tomorrow?"
The CEO said "Well, actually, we don't have money for
boxes. We do have garbage bags, or you could go to
Safeway (supermarket) and get boxes."
However, 20 years is a good run for a small software company. I do hope they get another break though, for old time's sake.
I too was a beta tester on Nova; I actually won a bet with Andrew and my reward was a character named after me in the game. :)
I later worked for Ambrosia for several years, and it was one of the best times of my life. The team then were absolutely great and a lot of fun. I hope they are all ok.
I bought way too many ASW games in the day as well as beta'ing quite a few things. It will be very sad if they're actually going :(
Publisher of a unique genre at the time. An inspiration for many, including naev (http://naev.org), starsector (http://starsector.com), and more.
When I was 6 or 7, I watched my parents play Apeiron and Maelstrom on their PowerMac.
Multiwinia is fun too, and I actually own a copy. :)
Nova was also fun, I'll never forget the hours spent downloading the betas over a 33.6 modem, they were over 70MB!
What always impressed me most though was the community that emerged from Ambrosia's games. The forums and IRC channel were vibrant places to discuss game ideas and politics alike and the developers of EVN had a podcast before podcasts were cool . It was a great place for a teenager on the Internet to hang out. You will be missed Ambrosia.
 ATMOS Tonight: http://at.atmos.com.au/
Maelstrom ran on my Mac in my dorm for months, open for anyone who wanted to sit down and play a game. Friends in the dorm would just come by, chat for a few minutes, play a game. Good times.
A few years later, I really got into the online tank game, Bolo. Andrew Welch, the owner of Ambrosia, became a Boloer of some skill. Before a Bolo game gets going, there was often some down time when players would text chat, plus there was an IRC channel that had good traffic. I got to know Andrew a bit through that. He was a good guy. He had started Ambrosia with Maelstrom and grown it in bits and pieces with new titles. He never struck me as being hugely ambitious, but he definitely liked owning a little software shop that allowed him to make a decent living.
It's really sad to see that Ambrosia isn't doing well, to say the least. Makes me nostalgic.
Founder Andrew Welch is an RIT grad: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambrosia_Software
I purchased Uplink before I knew it was produced by a local, and joined the fraternity before I knew that one of the brothers had been involved to produce a game I liked. I am sorry to hear that they are closing up shop!
* that<- if (I do not have inside information)
Sometimes I wonder what the software job market is like in Rochester these days.
I know that Rochester used to be a boom town (Kodak, Xerox, Bausch and Lomb, probably others) and a place of cultural and moral significance (Frederick Douglas, Susan B. Anthony). It's a nice place, and I spent 4 years there. But it's definitely a place in decline. The same way that Detroit was a boom town and now is not. If I made a similar sideshow saying "You're welcome. -Detroit", would that prove anything?
(It's also ironic that this slideshow assigns Rochester the credit for the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. Was it not corporate HQ in Rochester who made the bad decisions not to do more to productize those gains?)
Another port that wasn't in-house, if I remember correctly -- some enterprising individual just decided to port it to iOS, Introversion liked the result and decided to publish it properly.
But all things end -- and Ambrosia's gaming business has been dead for a while, unfortunately. I just keep hoping they release the source code for their old games, so someone can create OS X ports...
But I'm filthy liberal scum, so what do I know :P
I remember speaking to Andrew (Welch, CEO) about this a while back, and I believe he felt that the App Store (at least for games) was too unpredictable.
However, their PR guru has tweeted from his own account saying they are still up and running. It is clear something has happened; I don't want to speculate but my hope is that the core team is still there and they will live on and support their products and move forward.
As to whether they sell the rights to others for App Store versions, that is an interesting idea and I'd like to see it happen as they have some great products.
I know of a local company that basically sells an iOS app through enterprise channels, though they did get a lucky break being featured by Apple once.
I don't know about games, but I'd definitely try that.
It looks that iOS port will never happen after all.
edit: Were they so niche that a kickstarter for EV wouldn't have helped? Or did they lose all their game coding expertise?
That said, I probably would have bought an iPad/iPhone version.
The lead programmer on all three games was Matt Burch, a freelancer; he was responsible for the main engine. Ambrosia supplied and adapted their large array of libraries (Sound, Graphics, Licensing and more).
For EV Nova, a team under the name ATMOS in Australia were developing a complete rewrite of the story/graphics as a mod. Ambrosia brought them on board (as an external team) and supported them. Matt was still programmer, whilst ATMOS did copywriting and graphics.
So yes, a lot of the work was done by two external teams, but Ambrosia contributed heavily towards the code, support/testing and perhaps most importantly they helped guide the production.
That was a model Ambrosia used on many of their games (though normally Ambrosia were also doing the artwork); they solicited pitches for game ideas from people who had an idea and needed support. It was a great model and lead to same fantastic games!
It is a shame that there seems to be less games created with that sort of spirit in mind nowadays.
That said, while nothing is 100% certain, there are jobs and companies that are more stable than others. Even in trendy companies, not just IBM-style monoliths. You don't often here about massive layoffs at Apple or Google, do you?
For the time being I do have job security and it is what I need at this stage in my life. That will change (hopefully), but the 9-5 is a godsend right now.
Plans and discipline don't have guaranteed "security" either, so beware.