BIONITE: Origins to be Released Despite Turmoil, Developer Confirms

BIONITE: Origins

As many of you know, BIONITE: Origins recently went through a tumultuous time, losing several members of their team in a short period. We have spoken to John Grisnik, Project Manager at Platoon Studios, and he believes that the game is still going to release as planned. Despite the unfortunate loss of some important team members, Platoon Studios plans to continue to work towards bringing Battlezone the spiritual successor it sorely deserves.

About BIONITE: Origins:

BIONITE: Origins is an upcoming, futuristic, first-person shooter & real-time strategy hybrid for the PC and iOS platforms. The core gameplay consists of piloting hovertanks in first-person, destroying other tanks or structures, commanding your squad to attack/defend certain targets, and a full strategy mode with base-building in the Strat game-mode.

Platoon Studios aims to bring back the almost-forgotten FPS/RTS hybrid genre. With BIONITE: Origins being called the spiritual successor to the critically acclaimed, 1998 PC game: Battlezone, there’s a lot to live up to. But, with the help and guidance of Designer/Lead Designer of Battlezone & Battlezone II — William Stahl — the future looks promising.


Indie Game HQ: What exactly occurred this weekend that caused such turmoil?

We were a bit confused and shocked when it all happened. This was a sudden event and some people dropped out before we could even talk to them. For example, we found out that Dan Rhodenizer, our Marketing Director, had quit when one of the team members noticed that he had removed his name from our websites. Unfortunately, Dan decided to make this a public matter and created a lot of negative publicity in order to persuade other team members to leave the project.

We also believe that he crossed a line when he sent out a notification to all of our supporters on Kickstarter, Moddb and FaceBook to inform them of his departure from the project and how he hoped, “the project [would] still manage to make its way to completion.”

As far as we are concerned, the only event that has occurred is that our marketing manager resigned in a very poor way and brought others with him. This, in no way, shape or form, will be affecting our development of BIONITE: Origins.

Indie Game HQ: How many people left the team? How many are left after said dispute?

We had a few of the team members leave Platoon Studios recently. None of them were directly involved with the core development of BIONITE: Origins. We still hold strong with 8 members on the team working to complete the Game.

Indie Game HQ: Do you feel that the losing team members will affect the rate at which the game is completed?

Over the years we have had many team members come and go. We have deeply valued every single one of them and are greatly saddened when one leaves or when we have to let one go.

Regardless of what happens though, we continue to push though and improve each other. So we feel like this recent reorganization of the team will not affect the development of the game negatively, but instead improve our overall efficiency and output as a team.

Indie Game HQ: How is progress on BIONITE: Origins coming along? Is there any reason to suspect that it will not be released?

BIONITE: Origins is coming along just as planned. Nearly 90% of the code is finished for the multiplayer side and we are finalizing the next alpha.

We want to be clear that we deliver what we promise to our fans and that means this game will be developed. There is no reason to think otherwise. Our planned date for release stands at mid March 2013.

Indie Game HQ: What do you think best explains the shortcomings of the IndieGoGo thus far?

With the sudden loss of our Marketing Director, Mr. Dan Rhodenizer, we were caught off-guard for the IndieGoGo campaign. As many know, we prepared long and hard for this campaign and it is very saddening for us to not achieve the results we were striving for.

There are many factors that we think attributed to this but we are, again, unwilling to give up. Battlezone needs a successor and we intend to fill that gap for fans around the world.

Indie Game HQ: Thanks for your time. Is there anything you would like to add for our readers and the fans of BIONITE: Origins?

We would just like to give a BIG thank you to all our fans who have supported us throughout our development. This game would not be possible at all without you guys. Many of us have sacrificed nearly everything to develop this game and we intend to make it the best we can. Battlezone to us was such an influential game that we cannot resist to make our own successor that we know BZ fans everywhere will love.

Thank you everyone for your continued support, it motivates us to push BIONITE: Origins to the limits of what can be done.

Game Page | ModDB | Rhodenizer Interview



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Author: James View all posts by
  • John

    Of course, the game has to be released first.

    I’m one of the game’s former developers (like the others, I was never given a formal termination notice and was simply dropped from communication). A lot of what John Grisnik says in his interviews is simply an attempt to save face; communication throughout this project has been exceedingly poor, start to finish, with badly written contracts that many staff were advised not to sign (leading to more than half of the team being dropped). To my knowledge, the team is currently running on a single programmer, and no writers – for any game with a campaign that is a disaster.

    I’d say John is jumping the shark here. He’s confirming release before any of us know for certain he’ll even finish. Far too overconfident.

    • John

      “For example, we found out that Dan Rhodenizer, our Marketing Director, had quit when one of the team members noticed that he had removed his name from our websites. Unfortunately, Dan decided to make this a public matter and created a lot of negative publicity in order to persuade other team members to leave the project.”

      This is an outright lie.

  • Nielk1

    Don’t quote me on this but it seemed that in my ‘consulting’ with them I was the only programmer with a degree in the field on the team. I am not contracted or paid in any way, I mostly just sat and waited for them to get far enough on the HUD for me to take a crack at the 3D radar (I was the only one around that understood the math behind it). I was mostly involved as a BZ fan with good general knowledge and I helped with some of the formation pseudocode early on (again, out of interest).

    Everything below is to my understanding and may not be exactly what was/is going on.

    A lot of this interview is patently untrue. Dan was surprised by the launch of the Indie-Go-Go campaign, as it was supposed to happen earlier and he was supposed to be informed and kept in the loop; he made his misgivings about when it was started known and why it would not do well, and he was right.

    What started a panic for everyone was when the primary development chat-room on Skype was closed suddenly. What John was doing was creating a proper chat for only the internal development team, that being those that signed the contract. He gave no notice and ignored many messages, so to those members left in the dark, it looked like he was cutting and running. In addition, those that had professionals in the game industry, or friends with legal experience, look at the contract were told not to sign it. I don’t know what was in it, as I was never offered one. From what I hear, some who signed the contract were still cut as John never signed it after they did, and key members that were trying to talk to him about any issues they might have had with the contract were also cut. Some felt like they were being held hostage, which is a strange way to feel when you consider that as their work was un-contracted, they owned it personally, not John.

    Dan quit because, as part of their agreement, he would look for a job at a certain date after the Indie-Go-Go campaign was to launch, as he needed to support his family and had no income. The campaign was delayed numerous times and being a month after when he was to look for work, Dan went to find a job. John didn’t like this.

    In addition, many in the team have asked John about the sate of the funds and all received different replies, with some being told it is all gone (spent on the artists or something else), and others being told its nearly all still there. I talk to the two primary artists, one of them is working with me on a big mod project for BZ2 that is on hold atm because of Bionite, and have no idea what he was talking about in the occasions he said the money had been spent on “artists”.

    What put, and is still putting, Bionite into danger is the lack of transparency and general communication between the lead, John, and the rest of the team. Often, work is done in at least duplicate because John tasks someone with doing something another is nearly finished. There are several cases of there being two different 3D models made for the same unit.

    I again repeat that this is my understanding of the events and may not be correct. All I did in my time there was act as a fly on the wall and give suggestions, such as general algorithms and technologies (potential fields for some AI pathing). (That, and I chased off that one guy who thought PNGs contained sound and that scanning a crumpled piece of paper was the only way to create an image of ‘noise’, whom was a briefly added member to work on the HUD after another “disappeared”.)

  • LtFEED

    where is the facepalm icon for this??? unbelievable how people that have almost nothing to do with making the game are suddenly experts. You guys need to move on with your lives, or get one to begin with…-LtF

    • Dark Lord Volgrand

      *Slow clap*.
      Bravo John, Bravo.

      • CaptainTomato

        Did the project lead just tell the fans to “get a life?” No wonder this is going down the shitter

  • Dark Lord Volgrand

    I feel really ofended with this, as this interview has just launched to the ground all the work I’ve done since January 2011, when I joined the team.

    Normally I stay in silence, maybe that’s going to change soon.

  • Lee Robbins

    The sad part about all of this is the information in these post is being deleted by LtFeed, if he doesn’t like what it says…or displays him in a less than good light.

    • James

      Are you talking about the comments here? If so, I can assure you that these comments aren’t being deleted.

      • steam_user_7575cb22f08b4ccd49d380a558033d25

        Lee is quite emotional at the moment, as much of the team probably is, so he might have messages in the moderation queue that he thought were removed, or he could be referring to posts on the Bionite forum.

        I can’t say I know how these guys feel since I had a feeling something was going to go down and stayed back from major involvement, instead electing to listen and give suggestions and pseudocode on the side. These guys are invested in the project and it seems like they are constantly either getting belittled or kicked in the teeth.

        I hope this sort of thing is rare in indie software projects.

        (I decided to log into Steam to better identify myself. The two essay length comments under the name Nielk1, one in each of the news articles, are mine as well.)

  • Doppler

    I can vouch for what Lee Robins said.

    I have posted many critical comments on his IndieDB page with friendly suggestions. He seems to remove anything that puts him in a negative view. Appalling behaviour.

    I feel deeply sorry for his development team members.

    • Lee Robbins

      Hello Doppler,
      In all honesty I really don’t have any idea as to what you are referring too.I don’t recall removing anything. As a matter of fact I’ve been a bit disturbed with not being able to go back and correct my typos.
      Have a Nice Day!

  • Lee Robbins

    Hey Doppler,
    My bad….I just noticed that you were talking about LtFeed.
    Enjoy The Holidays !

  • Guest

    This is the saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time. A marketing manager who thinks it’s a good idea to go public with internal conflicts and backstab his old team, a team lead who spends time feeding the trolls, and a “consultant” who gives a long critical post even though his largest involvement was being a “fly on the wall.” Save the grievances for the courtroom. Nobody cares what disagreements the dev team had–we only care if the game is good or not.

    • Nielk1

      Be it noted that many of my friends are deeply involved in the project and I continually tell them to put the project first over any of the things we develop together (though John likes to say I am trying to steal Jayden away). The only reason I have said anything is because of the way I have seen them treated. Furthermore, Dan made public notice not to hurt the team, but to avoid issues. Not only was speculation on the removal of the game from greenlight (because John refused to get a Steam account, not because Dan refused to transfer the entry) about to be a big problem but Dan was likely going to have his reputation as a public face destroyed by the massive failure of the further crowd-funding (of which the failure was not his fault). Seeing the way my friends have been treated working on this project, I stayed out of it directly. I did however give code and help entirely for free and without document. I used the “fly on the wall” phrase to try to ensure that my involvement was not misunderstood but it seems that instead it made it less clear.

      I was smart enough to stay out of direct involvement and I warned my friends to do whatever they could to protect themselves while still working on the project. I still fear for how they are treated. The funny thing is that out of all those on the team I am apparently the one with the most programing experience, and the most sense. Instead of this, I went and got a job; not a 100% safe job, but more stable than this would be.

      The truth is that Dan’s article was to prevent issues for himself and the project, and John’s reply was full of falsehoods to try to target Dan as the source if recent issues. I feel great concern for my friends on the team and I wanted to do my best to vocalize it while not trying to tie myself too strongly to the project. I wish them the best of luck for that luck would be of the greatest advantage of my friends, however, I hold no illusions as to the prospect of success given the obvious track record.

      The biggest irony is that should John have actually spoken to me perhaps I would be a major developer. Instead, John was completely unreachable and to this day refuses to reply to any attempt I made to talk to him.

      I apologize for how long my writings are but I tend to be quite verbose. I don’t like misunderstandings, though it seems that happened here in my attempts to lessen my involvement. John will never admit I did anything, and a chunk of the current team are my friends and thus what they would say could easily be dismissed.

      I know that most of what I submitted was most likely never used. This included, most notably, an abstraction of the radar and targeting system to a unified interface based on dynamic properties of given objects. That being, motion based radar, heat based radar, radio based radar, etc, could all be written as basic interface implementations to visualize data such as speed, heat, or other custom data. This system would also apply to missiles, as at the time they had absolutely no proper tracking system and the ability to use the same data as the radar would not only be efficient, but easy.

      I also gave them several possibilities for generation the 3D radar varying from baking a voxel bitmap to create the familiar BZ style grid radar in 3D to simply rendering the collision mesh and terrain in wire-frame. As it appears any such work was entirely thrown out (either due to ignorance or not wishing issues from never contracting me, even though I don’t care at this point). The current plan appears to be a spire based flat radar render with static spites which might not even bother checking radar signature values.

      I only chose “fly on the wall” as my public status because I didn’t want to look like a dolt for proving them with anything, though honestly I don’t care if they use it or not. The limitations of UDK over UE3 sorely hampered the usability of such dynamic designs where instead they are stuck baking nearly everything and creating no dynamic code.

  • rockzteady

    I care about the disagreements. I fear that the atmosphere in the development team and the quality of the teamwork will mirror the quality of the product. This is a game that was supported with public money. It is not only the money of the kickstarter donators that is at risk. Of course do the donators AND the many “potential” donators (like me) share a common interest in the games’ development process.

    • Nielk1

      Most concerning was the way some team members were told all the money was gone, and others that nearly all of it was still present. The additional crowd funding supported the need for new funds, meaning it was used, but no team member could account for being paid.

      I believe Dan received some for his basic needs as the point after which he was to get an outside job (the indiegogo campaign I think) kept being delayed. As it was, the campaign was started without consulting Dan at the worst possible time and things were lined up quite well to blame him for its inevitable failure. Pretty nasty I say.

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