The development team behind titles like Supreme Commander, Dungeon Siege and Total Annihilation has a new game in the works. Called Wildman, the new title is a blend of real-time strategy with action role-playing elements. In other words: it’s a hybrid game made by a team that has thorough experience in crafting some amazing RTS and ARPG experiences. A Kickstarter campaign launched a week ago, but less than four days after that, Gas Powered Games’ founder and owner Chris Taylor let go of almost the entire staff contingent working on the project.
Forty people have been shown the door, leaving Taylor and about two other staff members behind at Gas Powered Games. Shortly after this news hit, Taylor hopped onto Kickstarter to explain what was going on via a teary-eyed video update. In that video, Taylor said: “If I ran this team through the entire Kickstarter campaign, and it fails to fund, then I have to let everyone go, shut the company down and not give any PTO [paid time-off] or severance, or anything.”
Gas Powered Games is in a serious financial quagmire, and therefore Kickstarter seemed like the obvious way to get Wildman funded and out of the door. The campaign’s initial aim was to raise $1.1 million, but after accumulating just over $170, 000.00 in the first four days, Taylor obviously felt things weren’t going anywhere, and that’s why he’s pulled this drastic move.
At present, Taylor is leaving the fate of the Kickstarter campaign up to fans. If he receives enough votes via the comment block to his latest video update, he will keep the campaign going. The thinking is this: if the Kickstarter campaign remains and if it is funded, then Taylor will hire back the staff that were just given layoff notices. If there’s a lack of enthusiasm via the comment block, then Taylor will shut the whole thing down and Gas Powered Games will become another development team casualty.
It’s an odd move, but it’s also undeniably devious in that it’s drumming up a hell of a lot of attention for Gas Powered Games and Wildman in general. At time of writing, the Kickstarter campaign is sitting with just over a quarter of a million dollars, with another 25 days to go. I guess it’s safe to assume then that Taylor is keeping things running for now.