Oath’s developers show the receipts and its own evidence in the ongoing art studio payment controversy

    
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“We never wanted to take this to the public,” starts the opening of Oath developer Ready-Up Studios’ statement. “However, since Ocean Spark decided to make it public, we have no choice but to respond.”

The response, readers will remember, is regarding accusations from the UK art studio Ocean Spark that Ready-Up Studios did not pay $5,000 US, is “incapable” of creating the promised game, is being wasteful with crowdfunded money, and is refusing to pay developers. Ready-Up Studios have made their official statement public.

In the statement, a number of literal receipts were shown confirming several payments to Ocean Spark, as well as several other contractors. The point of contention now moves to (oddly enough) grass assets, which, according to Ready-Up, is where Ocean Spark comes at fault and breached their contract, which states that Ocean Spark is required to create entirely original assets.

According to screencapped accounts, Oath had asked Ocean Spark to create some grass assets. When the team attempted to use the assets but received error messages in Unreal Engine that indicated a model was missing in the texture file, Ocean Spark was informed and they quickly sent a model over, which was found to be the exact same model as one in the Unreal Marketplace. When confronted about this, Ocean Spark stated it was an accident (which, according to Ready-Up, is not possible when working in Unreal Engine) and that the model was indeed original, a point that is refuted in another screenshot that the model is from a project called Project Survival (click to enlarge the image).

This, according to the post, is where Ocean Spark broke the contracted agreement, and so the developers elected to withhold a £2,000 GBP payment while they audited every file Ocean Spark sent to them to ensure their originality. The audit was done without directly informing Ocean Spark why in order to make sure the art studio didn’t “cover its tracks,” but when the studio realized what was happening (and after a couple of failed attempts to meet via Discord), Ocean Spark allegedly “tried to get ahead of the story” by releasing their account as well as morphing the £2,000 into £4,000 “just to make their story more serious.”

The post also directly responds to its connection to Extrinsic Studios (an old and now-closed company Ready-Up’s CEO used years ago, which still uses the old PayPal business account because opening a new account “is annoying”), addresses the official Discord’s closure (it was temporary), and that the game is simply not being made (not true according to the post) and using Unreal Engine Marketplace assets (“The plan from the start was to use the marketplace for what we need, pay artists for things we want original to Oath, release the game, then slowly over time when we are making money, update things as we go.”)

At this point, Ready-Up Studios are threatening to take YouTuber Cryy, who posted the video relating Ocean Spark’s story, to court for defamation, though they prefer to settle out of court.

The post further accuses Ocean Spark of removing its online presence to hide from legal repercussions. “Our opinion is that their studio was dying anyway (How does 4k bankrupt a company?), so they sold some stuff they had already to us in a last ditch effort to make some money. Then when they [realized] it was over, tried ruining us and then closing their company down,” closes the statement.

You can get the full details with all of the associated pictures and screenshots at Oath’s official site.

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kjempff
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kjempff

Low budget drama, but I guess serious enough for those involved. Not terribly exciting read but atleast finally something that is not about ActiBliz.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

“How does 4k bankrupt a company?”

And it wasn’t even 4k, that was the inflated number. It was 2k (GBP).

So the question would actually be, how would a slightly delayed 2k payment bankrupt a company? And this was only a few weeks after the asset was sent that they were complaining. If the company was going to go under if it didn’t get 2k within a few weeks (and the asset wasn’t even original as they found out), it definitely was failing already.

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cursedseishi

So thanks to this new information here…?

Yeah, still don’t care. Nobody funds an MMO with 65k. Even if they had 100k as I’ve seen floated around a little? No, not happening, not from a bunch of literal nobodies who refuse to even talk about the team. No names, one guy on Discord whose proven himself to be a nutjob regardless who goes by a first-name only basis. No. I’d be calling them a scam before any of this popped off.

They wanted money to fund the chance to reach closed beta? Good for them, I guess, but that is ridiculous. What then? If nobody plays it? Nobody buys into it past the kickstarter? Or what if it is simply a bland, boring schmuck of a job?

And as for Ready-Up? Yeah, no. Regardless of who done did a bad, I’ve seen nothing refute the biggest issue here. It’s a group of nobodies who don’t know what they are doing. And when they responded to the idea that there isn’t a game? No gameplay video. No testimony. Nope, just a ‘Look, see! Images! Screenshots! You can see water and a boat moving around! TOTALLY A GAME!”.

As if someone couldn’t more cheaply and more easily just rig a brief animation up for it. And before anyone might say “Unreal Engine isn’t for animating stuff though”, sorry but it has been used for it. As much of a stinking hot mess as it is, ReBoot’s reboot proves as much there.

Let’s see some proper names to the team. Let’s see some actual experience listed.

edit: Also, none of that addresses the rather poor way they’ve handled everything. Kickstarter presence is dead, Twitter presence is dead. Even for their backers, whom they are indebted to, there wasn’t even an attempt to address anyone on there and link to this. Nor has there been an update since May.

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Bruno Brito

At this point, Ready-Up Studios are threatening to take YouTuber Cryy, who posted the video relating Ocean Spark’s story, to court for defamation, though they prefer to settle out of court.

Ken, is this RICO?

Anyway, this shitstorm is getting extremely interesting. Please, keep it coming.

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Michael Sutter

It’s interesting that Ocean Spark has taken down their website and all their social media accounts are disabled.

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NecroFox4

Very interesting development. I still cannot help but feel there is more that we’re not being told by Ready-Up, though. And threatening to sue Cryy for defamation is still about the shittiest way to go about this. Their statements prior to today were pretty unprofessional, as well.

But despite all of that, and despite my gut feeling on the Oath project as a whole, I genuinely find myself hoping Ready-Up is being totally above board about all of this, and that development is progressing.

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Tanek

I am still looking into how things played out, but a lawsuit in this case might not be all that crazy . Especially if, for example, the youtuber was used by Ocean Spark as a megaphone, he did not check up on any of their presented “facts”, and it turns out that the Ready-Up side of the story is correct. Might not have been the case had the youtuber put out the video without representing it as the absolute truth and had not asked viewers to specifically “spread it where there is misinformation”.

I’m not sure I’d ask for much from the lawsuit other than to highlight what kind of damage can be done, but sometimes a lawsuit is needed to help undo (or at least highlight) some of the problems and damage caused.

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NecroFox4

You’ve got a very valid point here. It’s also worth noting that Ready-Up definitely seems to be more interested in handling things with Cryy out of court than in.

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Brown Jenkin

So I agree with the general issues folks are raising with Ready-Up broadly speaking, but definitely disagree regarding their suit against Cryy. In many ways I think this could speak to broader issues in the US and internationally regarding social media and the responsibility of our new flavor of journalists to research and report accurately. All things considered, there should imo be some responsibility not to just stir shit if one is theoretically making money off of their social media presence.

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NecroFox4

We have the same issues in the old-school media. For all we know, there was absolutely no other information available at the time that Cryy posted their video. They may have tried to contact Ready-Up and been rebuffed or ignored.

My concern is the chilling effect a suit against a journalist will have. I do not take Ready-Up’s word for it that Cryy never even tried to get their side of the story, but even if they didn’t, so what? Cryy posted the information they had available at the time, just like newspapers and TV news channels do every single day.

Cryy could easily post a correction, or even an apology for reporting erroneous information. But suing the journalist for posting information is the absolute wrong way to go about this.

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Brown Jenkin

We have the same issues in the old-school media. For all we know, there was absolutely no other information available at the time that Cryy posted their video. They may have tried to contact Ready-Up and been rebuffed or ignored

I mean yes, certainly we do have these issues but I think there’s literally no argument that they’re held to a higher standard of accountability. Broadly speaking, so far people have been free to say whatever the fuck they want on social media without much fear of consequence.

> My concern is the chilling effect a suit against a journalist will have. I do not take Ready-Up’s word for it that Cryy never even tried to get their side of the story, but even if they didn’t, so what? Cryy posted the information they had available at the time, just like newspapers and TV news channels do every single day.

With all due respect traditional media has had that problem literally forever and thus far the chilling effect hasn’t been a problem. I definitely get where you’re coming from but accountability is important imo. I don’t think this is a gaming thing, I think it is a new/old media issue in general. Setting aside the fact that he’s a crappy human being, I think the example of right-wing fearmongerers like Alex Jones are relevant here. There has to be some responsibility in journalism, regardless of the platform the journalist uses.

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NecroFox4

I’m referring to the chilling effect on internet journalists who lack the billions of dollars and armies of lawyers to protect them. I’m certainly not advocating for a journalist to be able to make up stories out of thin air, but reporting on information you were provided is a different story. We could quibble all day on what is an effective level of verification prior to publication, and for all we know Cryy did everything they could to verify the info they had.

My point is that suing an individual journalist for publishing information that later turned out to be inaccurate and/or simply untrue should only be done when the journalist knowingly and intentionally published incorrect information. Perhaps that’s what Ready-Up thinks happened here, so perhaps that’s the reason they are pursuing their present course of action. But I still firmly believe it is the wrong approach for Ready-Up.

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Armsbend

This is what game development was always meant to be.

Gaming sure has gotten better since kickstarter chased away the suits and starting making games on their own time. Just think of all the games you can play in the 7-10 years since crowdfunding came on the scene. There are a literal 4 or 5 you can boot up and “enjoy” at any moment in time. Before kickstarter could anyone even think about getting 4to5 C-level or lower games in a decade? I think not. That is almost a half dozen games with a quality that brings one squarely in yesteryear – a happy time for sure.

Power to the people I say.

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goobie-goo M

Divinity Original Sin 2 – 93
Undertale – 93
Divinity Original Sin – 88
Shovel Knight – 91
Pillars of Eternity -89
Sunless Skies – 86
Wasteland 2 – 87
Bards tale 4 – 84
Darkest Dungeon – 84
Thimbleweed park – 84
night in the woods – 88
Hyper Light Drifter – 88
Shadowrun: Dragonfall – 87
FTL – 84

superhot – 82
Indivisible – 83
Awesomenauts – 81
Grim Dawn – 83
Volgarr the Viking – 80
Risk of rain – 81
Banner Saga – 80
Broken Age – 81
Sunless Sea – 81
Freedom Planet – 83
Elite Dangerous – 80
Shadowrun: hong kong – 81
Torment tides of numenera – 81
Shante: half genie hero – 82
Bloodstained – 83
Children of Morta – 82

Scores taken from metacritic as that is the best aggregate resource I know of (for an ‘average’ perception on the game).

That is quite a few more than 4-5 games at above a “C-level” and this is not even an exhaustive list of well received, released games that fall under the umbrella of crowdfunding.

If you get into “C-level” games you end up with many, many more (I am considering games with an average score in the 70s). This isn’t even accounting for the more niche nature of crowdfunded games (an element that is a strength or at least a selling point of crowdfunding over traditional funding) which logically leads to lower average scores over-all.

I felt compelled to make this post because I really feel like crowdfunding, indies and similar efforts get a bad rep without enough reason. Yeah there are stinkers out there who make things look bad. There are also amazing games constantly being made with these means that would be laughed out the door being pitched at a AAA publisher’s office. Many of these amazing titles, people are even aware of but don’t realize were made possible through crowd funding.

Despite the controversy that is happening, has happened, and will continue to happen, I believe crowd funding and other alternative funding methods plays an important niche role on the market. I am not the least bit unhappy that it exists and I hope it continues to exist to give unique or niche ideas an opportunity to succeed.

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Bruno Brito

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Armsbend

Someone breaking out the infamous “list” of laughable metacritic scores isn’t predictable at all. Not only is that list, the one defenders always feel compelled to break out when placed against a mirror, but it is beyond awful – reminding everyone how fucking terrible klckstarter really is.

Look at that sad, pathetic thing. That is what they have achieved in a goddamned decade. That is it. The quality before that monstrosity would have numbered it 100x – but the brain drain on greedy developers sucked the life out of gaming and left it with mindless drones doing paint by numbers coding.

Someone giving Broken Age an 81 anything shows you exactly what an 81 means. Nothing.

Gaming is an absolute, albeit predictable, disaster. Kickstarter is a large part of that.

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Ashley Bau

There is nothing wrong with that list, you seem to have very odd expectations. Kickstarted games are only a small portion of the market… they also are not directly connected at all (in comparison where you may directly compare all titles that fall under a single publisher for example). Your entire argument appears to be non-sense.

The list illustrates that crowdfunding CAN and DOES on a relatively frequent basis result in a favorable outcome. Crowdfunding is not meant to take over the market, it is meant to supplement it. Many of my favorite games, games I would easily rather play than many big name titles have resulted from crowdfunding or similar efforts to get around the formula locked main stream publishers. This applies not just to the current gaming market either, games like Divinity Original Sin 1 and 2, pillars of eternity, hyper light drifter, Dusk (funded through early access and indie publishing as opposed to a funding campaign), night in the woods are examples of this method of funding games resulting in titles that have earned a seat with classics for me.

As someone who laments many of the things in the gaming market today, I get your frustration but you have taken it to an extreme where you just refuse to see the positives even when they’re right in front of your face. Anyone can see there are risks involved and that crowdfunding is a ground ripe for scams, but they also are a tool that allow for one of a kind games in the current market. I wish it wasn’t something so easy to abuse but I am never going to wish it didn’t exist because of the opportunity it provides to make something great. Since I imagine you’re just going to be dismissive and acknowledge nothing i’ve said I’ll leave it at this, but my ‘opinion’ is that your attitude is akin throwing the baby out with the bath water.

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Brown Jenkin

Jesus christ, thanks for this. I really get tired of the provably absurd claim that kickstarter or crowd funding is the problem, or worse yet that it is providing worse games than traditional models have. The number of “Game of the Year” level titles in your list speaks for itself.

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Armsbend

No – it speaks to just how far gaming has fallen since the advent of crowdfunding. Gaming, objectively, is in the toilet right now.

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Greaterdivinity

Holy crap, Ready-Up came with some bangin receipts. Looks like they took the time while this was blowing up to get all their ducks in a row, and it sure doesn’t look good for Ocean Spark. If it’s all legit, and it sure seems that way, that’s super messed up and I hope Ready-Up can move on from this mess quickly.