Denis Dyack Addresses Kotaku Allegations (Vlog) - Plus Notes/References/Posts/Email

Discussion in 'Announcement Archive' started by Denis Dyack, May 19, 2013.

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  1. Notes:

    We could not cover every question because the resulting video would have been too long. Below are the notes and references for the video. If you have questions about how anonymous sources should be handled I have provided this reference from the University of Iowa:

    Journalism Ethics: Sources
    **(Edit) Updated Sources The Essence of Journalism is a Discipline of Verification
    Nieman Reports

    • Using anonymous sources only with extreme caution (and never solely for the purpose of expressing an opinion about someone else).
    • A couple of useful questions for reporters to ask themselves before promising a source confidentiality:
    • How much direct knowledge does the source have about whatever he or she is telling you about?
    • What motive might the source have for misleading you, hiding certain information or otherwise "spinning" the story to his or her advantage?
    Ethical Issues Related to Sources

    The discipline of verification is what distinguishes journalism from other forms of communication. But information is very difficult to verify if we don't know where it came from.
    • Anonymous sources put the public at a disadvantage. Pertinent information needed to judge the veracity or reliability of information is unavailable.
    • If an anonymous source says something negative, derogatory or just plain false about someone, that person has little or no recourse other than to offer an opposing view. And how do we, the citizens, then know who is telling the truth?
    • The fundamental ethical issue involved with the use of anonymous sources is fairness (and the related matter of conflicting loyalties).
    Ethical Issues Related to Sources

    • A bit more about the use of anonymous sources. Again, their use involves a tension of loyalties: to truth, to citizens, to the sources themselves.
      • The material does not involve a personal attack on someone else.
    Ethical Issues Related to Sources

    Some Questions/Issues not covered because of it would have made the video too long:
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2016
    • Like Like x 11
    • Informative Informative x 4
  2. Posts:

    • Informative Informative x 5
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  3. Article:
    From: Andrew McMillen
    Sent: 1/20/2012 11:01 PM
    Subject: Media request: Wired re Silicon Knights, X-Men: Destiny


    I hope you're well, and that 2012 is making you happy so far. This is a reasonably long and important email. I appreciate your time and attention. Please keep this correspondence confidential.

    I'm writing to give you an update of my planned feature story about Silicon Knights, entitled "Why did X-Men: Destiny suck so bad?". I have been working on this story since July 2011, when I was first contacted by someone named 'SK Whistleblower', who tipped me off about SK's plans to not include former employees in XMD's credits. This is how I came to contact you.

    Last week I filed a 5,700 word draft to the gaming editor at Wired. The story is based on interviews conducted with eight former employees of Silicon Knights. It touches on the game's history of development; the way that SK management have long attempted to distance themselves from publishers as much as possible after securing a contract; how around 40% of the studio were diverted to work on an Eternal Darkness 2 demo while seeking a time and budget extension from Activision; and how Activision were the first studio to put their foot down and demand that SK release XMD, despite its poor quality. SK has refused to provide comment; Activision have ignored my requests.

    The gaming editor at Wired, Chris Kohler, expressed significant interest in my draft. However, after discussing the matter with his managing editor, they've decided not to go ahead with the story in its current state. This is what he told me:

    "There are a lot of serious allegations in the story, not least the idea that Silicon Knights is trying to scam publishers out of money and not deliver games. But there are no real facts, documentation, etc. to back any of this up besides the word of anonymous ex-employees."

    Which is fair enough, of course. It is my role, as a journalist, to seek truth which can be confirmed with facts. And it is Wired's responsibility, as a publisher, to verify the truth of any claims before publication.

    As it stands, the most controversial and potentially damaging claim within my story is that Silicon Knights have a long history of deceiving publishers, by intentionally pushing out their deadlines and budgets while using the publisher-supplied cash to fund development of their own IP. I believe this is a claim that could potentially ruin Silicon Knights if it is published. I should point out that it is not my intention to ruin SK. I am simply reporting what has been told to me, by yourself and your seven former colleagues.

    But allegations are hard to prove, especially without hard evidence. I fear that this is one such situation. Though I have independently corroborated from my interviews that this type of behaviour took place at SK, I can't prove it without evidence.

    This is why I am writing to you. If you have anything in your possession that could potentially be used to verify the above claims, I would love to read, see or hear this material (company emails, audio recordings, internal documents - things like that).

    If you've been holding back on anything during our previous discussions, I am asking you to come forward. I fear that this story will remain unpublished - untold - unless we can come up with something.

    In every previous correspondence of ours, I have assured you of your anonymity as far as this story is concerned. Again, I assure you of this. Your name will not be attached to the story, nor will any of the eight sources' names. However, if you have a change of heart, and would like your previous comments to be attributed to you, this gesture would prove extremely helpful. If any - or all - of you decide to be quoted by name, I will write to each of you individually, to let you know that this has taken place.

    If you have any thoughts, suggestions, material or concerns about what I have written above, please reply in as much detail as possible. I hope I have made it clear that I am taking this story extremely seriously, and treating it with the utmost care. It is my intention that this story sees the light of day, eventually, as I believe it is an important story that the international game development community needs to hear. I hope that you share my beliefs.

    I thank you for your time, energy and assistance so far, and for considering the requests outlined above.

    Speak soon.


    • Informative Informative x 8
  4. Thank you guys.:)
    I'll try to come up with something else to say about the whole thing.
    I'm just glad that Denis was asked to do this so that everyone at Precursor can finally move on and can concentrate on making great games.

    We can't change past mistakes, what we can do is learn from them and move forward.
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  5. Well may as well be the 1st to respond here, lol :)
    From myself personally, I think you guys are showing great transparency as a company, not just from Denis, but from the whole team and it really goes to show the commitment you have towards creating something special in the games industry.
    I for one have found the articles like the one published that seem to just slander people and the companies they work for, need to be taken with a pinch of salt. A lot of the industry is just looking for scandal all over the place just to get clicks on their sites and this sort of thing should be brought to light.
    I think you have handled the negativity very well as a team and even if you have made mistake it not an, after all we are all only human :)
    So chin up guys and know that I am probably not the only one who is behind you guys 100% in getting this great game off the ground.
    Thank you
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  6. I watched the whole thing just now and it was breath of fresh air to see this maybe it'll put a rest to some peoples fears who are on the fence about it because of said article.
    • Agree Agree x 6
  7. Though sad, this was an important step that came out of necessity for Denis. The content laid out before us now represents two sides. It was clear from the onset that Andrew planned to write a less-than-flattering article about SK and XMD; but over time, the story took on a life of its own and Andrew could not contain himself. Why write an article about a game so few people experienced when you can write an article about a company that affects so many more? An article for the sake of clicks, I'd say...

    "The fundamental ethical issue involved with the use of anonymous sources is fairness (and the related matter of conflicting loyalties)."

    Andrew did make mention at the beginning of the article that only one side of the story was addressed. But let's face it: prefacing your article about skewing one direction does not somehow balance it. The article was unfair to Denis, Silicon Knights, Activision, Marvel, Nintendo and the consumer.

    I wish nothing but the best for Precursor Games' endeavors. Hopefully this effort will put to rest a majority of the community's concerns. No doubt there will be people unwilling to change their perspective; but the goal was not to persuade, it was to inform--and I believe it did exactly that.
    • Agree Agree x 6
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  8. PFSolitude

    May 12, 2013
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    Local Time:
    12:33 PM
    I can't thank you guys enough for finally putting this to rest. As someone who used to be part of video game journalism (I wrote under the alias 'EdenWirefly' for the now defunct, I can attest to the amount of sensationalist........[for lack of a better word,] bullshit that goes on, only for the sole purpose of ratings/views/hits; there are a few sites out there that thrive of of this idea, using misleading, emotionally/biased, and more than likely completely false information, just to strew up some controversy.

    An alternate example, from the Borderlands 2 Panel at Gearbox Community Day 2012. (16:40)

    More often than not, readers perceive the content before them as the concrete truth, rather than doing a little bit of self-induced research. And with a site like Kotaku, whose monthly traffic is probably in the millions (which doesn't surprise me, since Kotaku's philosophy seems to be "Japanese Breasts, Anime Breasts, Pro Gamers Caught Masturbating- Oh right, we sometimes talk about games. -shrug-"), false information will spread like a California wildfire.

    It's a sad reality, and a damn shame that Denis became the cover-model for the dark reality of journalism; I hope this video not only gives people some clarity towards the intentions of Precursor and Denis, but I also hope that it in tandem, exposes the shifty side of journalism.

    [Edit:] I just looked at the comments on the actual Youtube video page......Seems like the internet hive mind is at it again.
    • Like Like x 4
  9. It was a great video to be sure with a lot of detail put into it. Sad that Denis had to resort to this to battle unsubstantiated and unproven rumors. And of course, you can bet that Kotaku being the scummy site that they are will not take this lying down. Editor Stephen Totillo already commented that they're going to run a piece on this, while at the same time already trying to spin things about Denis talking of the split with Nintendo and how none of that is in the article:

    "I just started listening to the video and one of the odd things is that he's talking about some things that aren't actually in the article. The whole Nintendo bit, for example, and the reason for their split. Very strange."

    when yes, it is in fact in your (Andrew's) article Stephen...

    "Silicon Knights' post-Nintendo releases certainly took a dive in quality, based on the low Metacritic scores for Too Human and X-Men: Destiny, so this theory seems plausible. "Once [Nintendo] were out of the picture, SK could do whatever they wanted," a source says. "Denis believed that SK was finally out from under the oppressive nature of Nintendo as a publisher. Once Denis was given more freedom, things started to fall apart.""

    Yah Kotaku, truly a bastion of journalistic integrity. :cigar:
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  10. Sorry you had to do that Denis, I feel for ya. I can tell you have a great creative mind with games and hopefully people look at that- And bring out to what looks like a killer game. Props to you.
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  11. Yoku dekimashita ne.

  12. PFSolitude

    May 12, 2013
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    12:33 PM
    Wow......does NeoGAF just breed hatred?
    • Agree Agree x 2
  13. @ Marc^HUH?:confused:
  14. I wouldn't blame NeoGaf for this. While there are those who will endlessly hold a grudge against Denis, in this case, it's just Kotaku :troll:

    And if you read that full thread, while there are of course the standard "bad Dyack! Bad Dyack!" posts, there are actually more than a few posts who are looking at things more carefully and starting to question the Kotaku piece.
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  15. A lot of those trolls hate DD as much, so they are part of the problem too.
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  16. blackgate

    blackgate Novice

    May 15, 2013
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    7:33 PM
    I hope you read this Denis: I'M SOOO SORRY!

    Before you adressed the article in this video, I wached the entire stream yesterday and heared you talking about the game and your plans.
    As many people have said before when they had the pleasure meeting you in person, they pointed out how enthusiastic, creativ and energetic you are. After listening you talking over an hour with no script what so ever, just expressing your personality and opinion, I knew you could not be the person discribed in the article. Not the best liar in the world could fake that. I'm proud to be a backer since 14.05.

    During this video, I felt the immense urge to hug you and say sorry that you had to go through this. If I ever will met you in person, I will give you that hug (if you want/let me) and your first favorite poison would be on me!
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  17. I love hugs!:)
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  18. I for one am glad to see this handled so professionally. I also must be one of the only people who had not read (or even heard about) the kotaku article. I do not read article posted on their site due to them being known for baseless and biased stories. For that reason it confounds me that so many people took this article as fact over speculation/accusation. I only knew an article existed after seeing the countdown yesterday and took the time to read it prior to watching the response. The benefit of reading it at such a time made two things glaringly obvious.

    Accusation: Denis is terrible to work with and there was a mass exodus of employees because of such.
    Fact: Precursor Games is made predominately of former SK employees who worked with Denis and have come to work with him again.
    Question: WTF?!?! If so many people ran screaming from a well paying career because of Denis, why then have so many returned to work with him at a start-up that I assume (at least for now) pays less due to the nature of start-ups.
    Answer: They were forced on threat of harm to their loved ones. This is of course the only 'realistic' response if one takes the article for what it claims.
    Conclusion: Accusation = False.

    Accusation: Nintendo hates Denis and Denis hates Nintendo. The name and power of Wii sucks, so we left a profitable relationship.
    Fact: Precursor Games is working on a title you may have heard of, maybe not, I don't know. Said title is being developed for the PC and…WiiU?!?!
    Question: If hate is universal and Wii was a stupid name, why develop a game for a console that has an even more ridiculous name?
    Answer: There must be a third party that is masterminding the whole thing that despises both parties and wishes to torture them with a cooperation neither of them want due to holding blackmail material over Dyack and Iwata-san.
    Conclusion: I can make accusations too. Some even more ridiculous than Kotaku.

    On a hope to further reveal the disingenuous nature of the article I ask if it is possible to get Activision and/or Nintendo to make a statement in response to the article and your rebuttal?
    • Like Like x 6
  19. You know, I'll never understand how people could believe the accusation that Denis was a tyrant, impossible to work with, had nothing but contempt for working with publishers, and treated his employees worse than Brenden McNamara (Team Bondi head).

    Would Nintendo have chosen to work with Denis for 7+ years if he was as these allegations claim? Hell, they'd have Jeff Spangenberg'd his ass (disgraced former Retro Studios head) at the first sign of any of these allegations, thrown him out and absorbed the talent of SK within their own entities as soon as they made them a Second party.

    And yeah, if only somehow Activision or Nintendo could be bothered to issue a tiny comment confirming the audits and their relationships, that'd be beast.
    • Like Like x 5
  20. I felt the same way while doing the stream yesterday and so did all the people in chat I'm so happy to be a part of this community.
    • Like Like x 5
    • Agree Agree x 1

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