If you haven’t heard, Gas Powered Games led by its CEO Chris Taylor, have a Kickstarter project up for a new game called Wildlman. He recently updated it to make it clear that the Kickstarter project is do or die for his studio and in preparation to see which way things go, he has laid off most of the staff (most of whom can be recalled if the Kickstarter project is successful).
Let me tell you a little bit about Gas Powered Games and Chris Taylor.
Chris Taylor is one of the best people I've ever met. Let me tell you about the man I know and why he deserves everyone's support.
Chris Taylor has run Gas Powered Games in a way that most people claim they wish companies were run. He has always run GPG as a compassionate person who cares deeply about each person he works with.
It’s not just a studio. It’s a company that was founded by people who have seen the cut-throat ways of the game industry and decided to do things differently. They’ve made some great games over the years – Dungeon Siege. Supreme Commander and yes, Demigod to name 3.
One of the things most people don't know about GPG is that one of the biggest challenges they've had is that for every game project you hear about there's often a project that got canceled that you didn't hear about. That is, big publisher X contracts studio Y to make a game and half way through there's some re-org at the publisher and they kill the game. So what does the studio do with all those extra people? MOST studios would just lay those people off. Not Chris Taylor. He would go to heroic lengths to try to keep everyone he could. He'd find some other project for them to work on even if it meant he would personally suffer financially to do it. He really cares about providing a stable environment for his people. He puts them first over his own interests.
I've seen people online (wrongly) claim that GPG has struggled because of game X or game Y. That's that even remotely the truth. The truth is that their struggles have come from the games you've never heard of that got canceled by a major publisher leaving GPG holding the bag. It's the plight of many studios and it's why there are so few of them left. The fact that GPG has been so successful for the past decade is a testament to Chris Taylor and his management team's skill.
Chris Taylor is universally admired and respected in our industry because he's an avatar of what our industry *could* be if we treated our employees, our partners and our customers better. It's easy to stand on the outside and come up with "Well, they did A, B and C!" without realizing that behind the scenes, he was having to choose between terrible terrible options.
I hope GPG is able to keep going. It's non-trivial to put together the kind of talent that Chris has put together over the years. It would be a huge loss to our industry as a whole.
If you want to learn more about their Kickstarter project, go here.