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Scissors avatar 12:00 AM on 06.14.2012
What Is Going On With Retro Studios?



Earlier today I read a blog by Emily Rogers about Retro Studios. I think she did a fantastic job at detailing what past staff member have moved onto. If you've yet to read her write up I'd suggest you go do so now. However I have one issue with the article & more info to add.

My issue with this article was the conspiracy about Other M being their to put Retro Studios in their place, or as she put it...

"As soon as Prime was finished, Nintendo seeked out another developer to work on Metroid to send a message to those employees who walked out on Retro that no designer or engineer is bigger than Metroid”.

Anything is possible, I'm not a staff member so I can't deny that that's what truly happened, but this seems unlikely for for these 2 reasons

1) Yoshio Sakamoto has been involved with the Metrois series since the first game, he said he started gathering people together to form Project M back in 2006. I don't think having one of the original Metroid directors create a new entry in the series should be considered a way of Nintendo being hostile towards Retro.

2) In 2007 Metroid Prime 3 Game Director Mark Pacini said "We are taking a break from Metroid series and from Samus," "I'm sure there will be other [Metroid] titles created, [but] as far as the Retro Studios is concerned, we're taking a break for a little bit." Him saying that somewhat contradicts that they were being forced to work on Metroid Prime 4. Source

Other M existing to be a message to Retro Studios doesn't really seem believable to me.

The focus of her article was entirely on who left, so the inclusion of many new staff members was only vaguely mentioned. So to shed light on the other side of this fiasco here's the new staff members.

Design
Aaron Black (Zipper and Sucker Punch)
Nestor Hernandez (Red Fly)
Paul Schwanz (Red Fly)

Senior Art
Gray Ginther (Vigil and Insomniac!)

Art
Timothy Wilson (Escalation and Gearbox)
Sylvia Rowland (NetDevil and Backflip)
Eric Koslowski (Naughty Dog, Planet Moon)

Animation
Chris Torres (Midway, Critical Mass, and Creative Threat)
Dominic Pallotta (Moonbot and Visceral)
Kyle Ruegg (Raven and Gameloft)

Engineering
Nathan Nordfelt (Bethesda)
Tony Bernardin (tricky to find, has a linkedin page with nothing, but his supposed moby page is old)

Contract Environmental Artist
Brad Taylor (Edge of Reality, Paradigm)
That list was copy pasta of NeoGaf member Baby Yoshi

The influx of employees leaving is common for any company, however I don't know exactly how much fluctuation would be considered normal for a video game company. For comparison's sake during development of Metroid Prime 26 employees of Retro Studios got laid off when Raven Blade was cancelled, and at the bottom of Emily's piece she wrote "Note: Significant portions of staff were lost and gained between MP1 and MP2 and between MP2 and MP3."

A lot of very talented people have left Retro Studios, but also a lot very talented new people have also joined. Fluctuation of staff members is fairly normal for any company, but what makes this noteworthy is that many of these people who left held major roles in previous games. Retro studios was founded in October 1998, and within that time the company has changed staff dramatically. Retro has recently moved development to a different (assumingly bigger and better) building so relocation has with a doubt impacted why some people have left. Although it is disheartening that so many talented people have left, I'm not entirely worried about the future of the company. They are a very important developer for Nintendo, so I'm sure many precautions are being made for them to continue to make high quality games. I hope that they can retain what made them one of my favorite developers, and I'm still eagerly anticipating their Wii U project which is supposedly "a project everyone wants us to do."

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