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May 12, 2001

Game Developer Magazine Editorial on “The Passing of a Legend”

Chuck Walbourn's "Soapbox" editorial in the June 2001 issue of Game Developer magazine [Web site] reflects on "The Passing of a Legend," referring to Origin Systems. For those of you who don't, or won't, have this magazine, below is part of his introductory statement to the editorial:

The Passing of a Legend

Origin Systems has always been to me like some Ivy League college, an institution beyond my reach or means. Many refer to it as "Origin U," a place where young, creative people went to learn if they had the chops to make games. Attending Origin U required starting at the bottom — usually working in the QA department or as a technical design assistant — and working outrageous hours for very little pay. A college degree was as helpful in getting into Origin U as it would be at an Army boot camp — more of a handicap than anything else.
Mr. Walbourn continues on with a sense of respect, or even awe, for Origin in it's early days, leading into his sense of loss with the more recent developments of the cancellation of UO2 and all "in-development projects at Origin." He continues later on with the following thoughts:
It certainly seems a sad ending for one of the founding institutions of our industry. Some will no doubt blame Origin's demise on the "suits" at Electronic Arts, but I suspect the company culture was also to blame. There is no doubt that Origin's development teams demonstrated creativity and vision aplenty, but according to many ex-Originites I have known over the years, the teams were often plagued by a lack of engineering discipline and productivity, relying heavily on the efforts of a dedicated few. There is probably an ex-Origin employee in your organization who can attest to this.
He finishes with the following:
The age of heroes is past, and while we remember the buzz of those wild days, we should also remember the wasted human effort, personal lives, and money which could have gone to worthy projects instead of keeping developers in the manner to which they had been accustomed ["...when content was king and developers controlled the concept"].

Posted by Thellaren at May 12, 2001 12:07 AM

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