Halfbrick Created A Game That Made People Not Want To Come To Work

Halfbrick Created A Game That Made People Not Want To Come To Work

We know that Fruit Ninja was the game that set Aussie mobile developer Halfbrick on its path of success. What we didn’t know is that studio’s creative powers could be used for eeeeviiillll, as the deceptively simple, yet oddly nefarious game Tank Turn Tactics showed.

If you’ve never heard of it, don’t beat yourself up. As Keith Andrews over at PocketGamer writes, Tank Turn Tactics only ever existed as a prototype board game — of sorts. In a talk at GDC 2013, Halfbrick CCO Luke Muscat described it as a concept for a massively-multiplayer game, now shelved, due to the surprising amount of animosity it generated between co-workers.

You can see an image of the game over at PocketGamer, but essentially, it’s just a board with square tokens on it, which represent the players’ tanks. Each player has action points they can spend to move or, if they’re adjacent to another player, shoot. But, you could also choose to give your points to another player.

What happened next was unexpected, but strangely understandable. From the article:

Instead of shooting each other, players teamed up and passed their action points from person to person so one player would have enough points to take out one player on the other side of the grid … Later games then saw players pairing up to exchange points before turning on each other, and — in extreme cases — led to people spending hours of their day devising strategies for victory.

As a result, players/employees would be singled out and eliminated. Muscat says that it eventually came to a head when he was approached by a “really, really upset” employee who did not “want to come in” to work thanks to the game.

And so the decision was made to shelve it. Perhaps it was a case of introducing Tank Turn Tactics into an environment full of highly-competitive people (a situation I’m familiar with having worked in a studio myself). Even so, it’s crazy to think such a basic concept, composed of nothing but a square board and some tokens, could be so evocative.

#GDC 2013: How a game that never was almost tore Halfbrick apart [PocketGamer]


  • Either that person is over-sensitive, or their colleagues were trolling them. Either way, I don’t see how a game should be to blame for those actions.

    • because working in a hostile environment, however trivial the cause, is a pain in the ass and can create a hell of a lot of unwanted stress. if the game was creating said environment then I can easily see how it is to blame.

      • I would argue that because the employees were forced to play it. The political stress it creates would be too much for some people. However, this would also demonstrate it wouldn’t rate well as a huge market success because most app games that make millions aren’t ones that make people feel bad.

        However, a game that can entice so much emotion can potentially be a really great game. I can think of a few ways to fix this kind of game. But I’m sure halfback can work it out 🙂

      • Sure, I understand bad working conditions are stressful – but you still say “if the game was creating said environment”, without actually stating how. Again, I argue that if people were repeatedly teaming up to defeat a single person it’s more a reflection on their nature rather than the mechanics of the game.
        It’d be no different to playing a FPS at work where they consistently targetted someone and spawn camped them. I’d guess it’s just a matter of people being jerks at work.

    • I don’t think the game is being blamed, more they don’t want to release a game that may have this effect on players. After all, games are meant to be fun, not distressing.

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