We talked to a number of people currently at Artifact off the record, and they all agreed – the number one problem with Horizons can be expressed in two words.
Thanks to his personality (we’ve gotten multiple reports of his flying off the handle and screaming at the top of his lungs during meetings in which he was told something could not be done his way) and his unabashed willingness to play favorites (often with female employees, and the usual rumors that such spawn) Artifact is a company that can be very difficult to work for. While only having 50 employees, the office politics easily rivals that of a large corporation, with team set against team purposefully by managers who see internal strife as part of the creative process. The backdrop behind all of this is a perpetual struggle for day-to-day control of the company waged between Allen and James Jones, Artifact’s VP.
Surprisingly, beyond the politics and the screaming, work on Horizons the game continues. The people actually tasked with creating Horizons unanimously take great pride in what they’re working on (although the greatest struggle is often convincing Allen that his latest harebrained notion isn’t remotely technically feasible, at which point he will announce to the Horizons community that it will be implemented) and are all convinced that the game will eventually be released. Late, of course, but it will happen. The cash infusion by NCSoft promised as a result of the Asian distribution deal will help, as well as other publishing deals not yet finalized. People at Artifact, while confirming the political infighting described in the Fatbabies story (and, if anything, saying that its description was far too mild) denied vehemently the technical issues that Fatbabies reported.
Finally, I asked one Artifact employee what his advice would be to someone seeking a job on Horizons. His response? “Keep your head down, and your mouth shut, and you’ll get to work on a great game.”