Project Director of ORION: Prelude, David Prassel, Leaving His Employees High and Dry?

By Allen Park

March 14, 2011

You may not have ever heard of Spiral Game Studios, or their upcoming UDK-based game called ORION: Prelude. It’s a sci-fi shooter with jetpacks, mechs, and dinosaurs, and the numerous screenshots I’ve seen looked very very promising. It didn’t hurt that head of Spiral Game Studios and “big boss” David Prassel made regular rounds in the online community, making himself a welcome presence in the bigger online forums on the Interwebs. I myself have seen him on the IGN PC Boards promoting this game and answering any questions the users had, and in true indie fashion, it seemed like a great community relationship.

Well, looks may be deceiving, as over the weekend this thread was posted on reddit. Allegedly, Prassel raised $20,000 via a Kickstarter account in order to fund the game, and instead of using that money to compensate his hard-working team, he instead fired select key members of his team, including the entire sound team and the main environment artist, without warning and without reason. Hit the jump for more details.

What’s even curiouser is that the source of the thread, a post on the Polycount forum, has been mysteriously deleted, seemingly leaving no trace of the incident ever occurring. Fortunately, thanks to the magic of the Internet, here’s the cached version of the thread which you can read.

Additionally, this fiasco has apparently spread to the Epic Games forums in a job recruiting thread for Spiral Game Studios, where Prassel himself has made a reply and stated the following:

“It is simply the act of disgruntled employees. If this was the overall case of the ‘experience of Spiral’ – I don’t think I, the game, or the company would be where we are. For every outbreak like this, we have a handful of happy employees that could counter-converse all of these statements.”

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What makes this all the more intriguing is now more people who allegedly worked with Prassel are now coming out of the woodwork to air their grievances about Prassel’s general nature and character on the reddit thread and in the Epic Games thread, and it doesn’t sound very good at all.

I’m really not sure what to make of this. My friends and I have indeed kept up with Prassel’s work via his numerous threads on various forums, and he’s always seemed like a nice guy. Additionally, there’s yet to be any proof that these supposed employees are real; it’s not unfounded to think that, in typical Internet fashion, they’re all fake and have a bone to pick with Prassel. On the other hand, Polycount is a website created by developers and artists in the video games industry, and there’s quite a bit of professionals in that thread speaking out against Prassel’s supposed unprofessionalism.

Whatever the case may be, there’s always two sides to the story, and although attempts to reach him have been futile, for the time being I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully we’ll have an update on this situation fairly soon.

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Allen Park

Allen is an utter whore of a gamer; he's completely open-minded to all games, be they AAA blockbusters or $5 casual children's games. His focus is on indie games specifically, valuing gameplay and ingenuity over sparkly visuals and ridiculous gimmicks. When he's not geeking out over the newest art game, he's out toning his sexy, sculpted shoulders while surfing epic 1.5ft waves, or having a good time with local, high-gravity microbrews.

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