ORION: Employee Beatdown

ORION: Employee Beatdown

Behold ORION: Dino Beatdown, a game whose background I’ll discuss right before release.  Why before its release?  Because I feel its only right I educate people on what they’re doing when they give money to a developer with shadier motives and history than Volition Games.

Introducing Spiral Game Studios, creator of ORION—an indie developer with an obscene list of accusations, scandals, and damage control.  Head of the team is David Prassel, with his most infamous act being his alleged KickStarter scam.  Supposedly, he received $20,000 in community donations, and then proceeded to fire his team without warning, leaving them with no compensation for their work.

Many of the employees who worked for the company were pushed to extreme points in order to push out content and meet deadlines. One notable employee blacked out from being overworked while another had to purchase his own plane tickets to support David.  Along with other employee allegations of an intense autocratic work environment, you can tell that working for Spiral Game Studios must’ve been absolute hell.  If you want to read more on what the employees had to say, you can check out this thread where they reveal all: Reddit


Quote by IronTaxi: “I can Confirm that myself and another close friend were put in a similar situation by David. Having worked on Project Reality (for bf2) and several other modding projects it only took me about 2-3 weeks to see what was going on. I actually called this young man out in his common skype chat thread and he promptly fired both myself and my associate. (who had nothing to do with the situation.) He wants to be successful and he wants control. We were very sad to see the kickstart campaign do so well but the ball of yarn is starting to unwind as we knew it would. Anyone else who had similar experiences don’t refrain from chiming in. There is no “I” in team, a lesson learned hard by some.” – [1]

Not too long ago, a video was released of Orion: Prelude containing what looks to be an exact copy of Natural Selection 2′s armory.  It was quickly made private and a new edited version put up when people started questioning the origins of said armory.  News quickly arose that the armory was an “inspired” placeholder which had made its way into the demo build for PAX.

This isn’t the first time Spiral Studios had been accused of stealing content.  Many alleged models and weapon sounds (which have an uncanny likeness to Counter-Strike might I add) are said to be taken from countless other games, and this has been a constant throughout the development of the Orion series.  According to some, they took a T-Rex render from Primal Carnage and skewed the portions slightly, retextured it, and redid the head.  You don’t need sharp eyes to spot just how similar the models are; just by looking at the feet and scales you can tell it’s a copy/paste job.  I can imagine Spiral Studios lack of appearance at the Game Developers Conference was sorely missed by many an indie dev who were ready to shower them with praise and placeholders alike.

How PAX allowed this on their floor is beyond me, but by all means they aren’t the worst offenders.  How Spiral Studios haven’t been repeatedly named and shamed by every website who considers themselves at least interested in the videogames industry is appalling.  Here we are, game due tomorrow, and every uninformed spendthrift on the planet will help endorse these bad business practices, partially in thanks to a gaming media that often refuses to depict any developer or company in a bad light.  Maybe it’s the constant onslaught of bad news in gaming today which has allowed these practices to slip by; game sites seeing it as a small drop in an ocean of greed not worth noticing.  On the contrary, bad business is bad business, and if we don’t stop funding it now we’ll find ourselves drowning in everything todays gamers find despicable and unfair.

Any rational thinking person should take a stand against these shady kinds of practices by not supporting ORION. But then again, I’m probably just being “entitled”.

  1. Verace LaBoissonniere says:

    I’d feel dirty giving them my money after reading that. You wouldn’t see stuff like this on Kotaku/IGN/The Escapist. Great article and ballsy for calling them out on poor business ethics.

  2. conlac1 says:

    your site seems nice and all but try to call off all your forum trolls that keep trying to pimp your videos on forums

  3. Cool article. Looks like some of these Kickstarter projects are proving that even minor-league scumbags can still try to trick you out of your money. “Indies are our savior…” Nah, this behavior is happening high and low.

  4. Catpunchers says:

    Honestly, it seems the more we push profits as the end all be all, the lower developers are willing to go to get that extra buck. First day DLC, scamming people out of money via Kickstarter, exploiting minorities (like Arkh project), destroying IPs because they didn’t get an “85 or more” on the metacritic score. How can we even begin to take games seriously, both indie and mainstream, when shit like this continues to happen on such a wide scale?

    • Amelia says:

      Could you specify what you mean about the Arkh project? I’ve not heard anything negative of it till now and would like to know if it’s trying to exploit me.

  5. Delio Pera says:

    I used to think that games were, in some way, sacred. That the people that played and made them there a bit above the riff-raff that would scam and cheat. Boy… I knew I was wrong, but this is just sick.

  6. ur face says:

    this is just some butthurt ex employee looking for their 15 mins, fuck off

    • CHT says:

      You sir are plain stupid. If an employee was doing that, how do you explain the calmness there? This is an opinionated article.

  7. Verace LaBoissonniere says:

    This sure is stirring quite a bit of controversy from many less-than mature people.

  8. Tommeh says:

    The game is shitty, who cares who made it.

  9. Dert Jarlin says:

    I see no sources, references, citations in this article, other than links to forum posts which in themselves are not reliable for correct information. If this is true, there would be some sort of lawsuit involved for copyright infringement and would be big news in the gaming community, but I don’t see anything to validate any of this. How do I know this isn’t just a bunch of baloney?

    • Anon says:

      This. You need to provide some sources, otherwise I would dare to say that you’re stirring things up to provide hits for GatherYourParty and you’re not better than a Kotaku writer.

      • Ziomare says:

        Exactly, you can’t go throwing all these accusations around without a single scrap of proof. And these copyright infringements? They’re a stretch at best.

        • Verace LaBoissonniere says:

          You know, the article does not say “THIS IS ABSOLUTE, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED DEFINITIVELY”– it’s listing accusations that have been made, and citing where the accusations came from. It’s substantiating on the thoughts centered in these accusations and elaborating on them. If you don’t want to believe the accusations made (not in this article, but in other locations, and spread through this article), then don’t.

  10. Irvine says:

    Very insightful comments.
    Anyway, good article. I agree, no one should support this kind of business.

  11. erick says:

    Not exactly on topic, but what was//is shady about Volition? Their wiki entry is bare of anything, and I don’t remember hearing anything, but I haven’t been around the gaming scene all that long, is it something from quite a while back?

  12. DxShinecrow says:

    Haha und ich kann euch sagen das Game ist einfach nur Schrott es geht einfach noch nicht aber hier noch mal Danke an die Herrsteller das ihr mir so ein mist aufgabellt :(

  13. Euanicorn says:

    oops, i feel bad for buying it now

  14. Cameron says:

    Oh my god, they made a T-Rex that looks like a T-Rex and may or may not have vaguely copied the visual design for a health station from a crappy sequel to a classic mod. As for the employee thing, unless this guy was throwing around huge wads of cash, there’s literally no reason anybody would have put up with the crap described in this article. No indie individual developer has the clout to “force” anybody to do any of that crap.

  15. Michael says:

    What is shady about Volition? They’re a AAA developer that has existed forever and made Freespace, Red Faction, Summoner, and Saints Row?

    • justin says:

      This! care to explain connor rory?

      • Most certainly. More than a year ago there was controversy surrounding Volition and THQ regarding the layoffs of certain new and long-term employees after a certain game was released.
        While they deemed it necessary, it was also very harsh on the employees part.

      • Verace LaBoissonniere says:

        More than a year ago there was some controversy surrounding THQ and Volition regarding layoffs of both new and long-term employees right after a title was released. THQ deemed it necessary– it was very harsh on the employees’ part.

  16. Bumblesee says:

    Spiral GS Sucks. They dump triple A developers and run away with their work. not even mentioning their names. The only advice they took was going ti udk yet when it comes to configuring the game design they didn’t. makes it resulting in a triple -A game. pretty much every graphic you see is either stolen or a rip off.. People don’t pledge. They are a disgrace to those whom are really trying to make a kickass game.

    David prassel or some… U suck.. Finish you’r education or something. and let the game development in the hands of those who actually have an degree in it.

    • SwolManol says:

      Meh, a lot of devs don’t have a degree and are still better than people who do. People like David just don’t care about the industry at all and just want to make a quick buck.

  17. A Bear says:

    I bought a 4-pack of Dino Beatdown. I played it for a while, and was annoyed that I wasted my money. Now, having read this article, I’m pretty pissed off. Wish I had known beforehand. Well, crap…

  18. CityHoods says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for the fantastic article. I hardly ever read gaming journalism these days because it’s mostly just paid/bought “opinions”, and the journalists are too scared to actually criticise a developer or a game, because they don’t want to offend them and lose early access to their upcoming games. Opinion articles usually end up being toned way down so as not to get on the wrong side of developers or publishers, and that’s not the type of opinion I want to hear. I want pure unadulterated honest opinions, and this is what I’m getting from this article. Fantastic job mate.

  19. Anonymous says:

    It’s not the first time that devs have been caught stealing from AAA games. Just search ‘truebones stolen unity’ in google and you’ll see that even indies may accidentally end up with stolen content in their games.

  20. Anonymous says:

    For those who don’t know how to get a refund if you have bought Orion or Orion Prelude: Follow the instructions here: https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=6695-QIKM-7966 I have heard that in some special cases they will ignore the “owned for less than 14 days, less than 2 hr play” rule. Leaving a note in your request about why you don’t want Orion seems like it would be a good move. Hope this helps!

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