Catalyst Games, Defiant Criminals

Well, since their well-spun tale of “someone stole some of our money but it’s all OK now, we’re all OK here now, how are you?”  Catalyst Game Labs (CGL), the company putting out Shadowrun and Battletech, appears to be sliding into a morass of slime and (semi-?)criminal activity.

Besides the owners stealing an assload of money (check the detailed data/graphs on the RPGSite!, originally from, and originating with a Catalyst co-owner named Phil DeLuca) They asked freelancers to lie about financials (see them give details at Dumpshock), aren’t paying freelancers despite selling their wares (and more at Fear the Boot)…  And haven’t been paying royalties, this has resulted in Cthulhutech (WildFire) and Eclipse Phase (Posthuman) being yanked from them (CGL was publishing those games too).  A number of people (writers mostly) have quit Catalyst due to the organization’s behavior.

Summary: Loren Coleman and his wife appear to have stolen about a million dollars, Randall Bills was trying to cover it up, and loads of folks were and appear to still be involved in all sorts of probably-illegal shenanigans.  However, of course Coleman hasn’t even been fired let alone had the cops sicced on him.  Note their names down and add them to the list of other scumbags that freely prey upon people in the RPG industry – it’s a long list, sadly.

As usual there’s folks still involved with the company (including Jason Hardy, Shadowrun Line Developer) making excuses and saying “If you were all to just continue to buy our stuff, then surely one day we’d pay these freelancers and whatnot…”  And fans saying “Well but why shouldn’t I keep buying stuff from them…  Coleman shouldn’t go to jail, why that would cause people to lose their jobs!”  And the most deluded, some freelancers saying “Well they just hired me and I’m sure they’ll pay *me* for my work…”  Oh and of course the standard smear campaign against the freelancers and others who are coming forward with all these details (same thing the sleazebag who inspires us all, Jim Shipman of Outlaw Press, did during his own scandal – they must be reading his playbook).  Apparently very few people have meaningful ethics any more, sadly.

More info as it develops – the best source used to be Dumpshock but they banned Frank Trollman, who has the best info, so probably now it’s theRPGSite – proud to be the place where all the people banned from the snooty forums go to die!

60 responses to “Catalyst Games, Defiant Criminals

  1. It seems like criminal activity and gaming market seem to go hand in hand. This isn’t the first big scandal for us and will not be the last.

  2. Wow, I had no idea it was this serious.

  3. I certainly hope you are not portraying this as impartial news and not an unbiased report? You are only quoting negative sources and it looks like you are taking their words on the data they are reporting being factual.

    • It’s confirmed by multiple insiders including big ass charts of data provided by a co-owner. Catalyst basically cops to a lot of it (the embezzlement) in their press release. The evidence is quite sound and the sources confirmed.

  4. Wow. We still have folks who are holding on until the very last. How much proof do you need? What source would you find reputable enough?

    How about Messrs. Coleman and Bills themselves? But you’ll never hear them make a clean breast of it.

    Make no mistake, we are dealing with people for whom there are only two likely outcomes – they go to jail and lose their remaining money and are shamed forever in the gaming community. Or they swallow a shotgun.

    There don’t seem to be very many other paths for egos like that.

    • Yeah really. The vast majority of this is proven beyond a reasonable doubt – the embezzlement by Coleman and the rough amount is detailed by a co-owner and cited in a Catalyst press release, the lack of paying freelancers is confirmed by a big ass raft of freelancers… The only things here that don’t have multiple sources of confirmation is the claim by a specific freelancer that she was asked to falsify financials to cover up the thing, and since she was privately asked by Bills there’s no one else to corroborate that – and all the rest of her info has been confirmed by others so that one looks pretty good.

      Geez, if you go click on any of these threads and read the statements by people who used to work for Catalyst, people who still work for Catalyst, and former business partners of Catalyst, no one’s coming out and denying any of it. Of course the two primary perpetrators aren’t going on record as “sure enough we stole money and you can’t do anything about it neener neener” but no one does that except on TV shows.

      No, the facts themselves are pretty much set. But the funny thing is, now that the facts are set, it just means people wiggle at the next level up. “But if Coleman went to jail it would probably put people out of work!” “Well because of the LLC laws unless the company has some really good internal documented processes (and it’s an RPG company, you know they don’t) it’s unlikely he’d be convicted… So shouldn’t bygones be bygones? Ifhe’s not goign to jail then why can’t he continue as an officer of the company and keep up his stealing?” Crap like that.

      Every person that justifies activities like this FUCKING DESERVES IT when they get jacked by, oh for example, the global economy collapsing because of similar unethical activities on Wall Street. I hope they all get laid off for economic reasons and get to taste the consequences of destroying the notion of personal responsibility.

  5. Whenever I see comments like that – when I see someone attack the statement’s veracity and the ‘right’ of the person making it to say such things without first getting the attacker’s personal approval, I am reminded of Jack Nicholson’s comment in ‘As Good as it Gets’.

    He was playing the part of a reclusive romance writer and was standing in the office of his publisher when he was approached by the receptionist, who gushed over him, complimenting him and making Jack quite uncomfortable. Finally, she asked him “How do you do it? How do you write women so well?”

    Jack’s reply was classic Nicholson.

    “I think of a man (pause) and then I take away reason and accountability.”

    There is just something about all of this that makes me feel a lot of the egos who are (curiously) still in charge at CGL would make good characters in that author’s romance novels.

  6. Hah! Or how about the forums whose moderators make their allegiance clear as they delete post after post?

    Your example seems to be typical, unfortunately. It’s a common tactic for them to change the topic so that we’re no longer talking about CGL, we’re talking about me. Nice bit of misdirection, but not everyone is misled.

    It’s good to be king, apparently. Too bad most of the rabid fans haven’t heard the saying ‘the king is dead, long live the king!’

  7. It’s worth noting that apparently (and I am definitely *not* a legal expert here) nothing that Catalyst has admitted to is technically illegal. It all seems to be violation of contracts, which can carry fines that it’s illegal not to pay, and leaves the way open for lawsuits, but is not strictly speaking a crime. Even the apparent embezzlement isn’t really illegal (and so isn’t really embezzlement) because of how Catalyst is structured.

    The one thing in all this that does appear to be a crime, if proven, is the owners asking people to cook the books. Even then, if they didn’t outright say “Do this illegal thing” on record somehow there’s not much chance of a conviction.

    No matter what happens, no one’s going to jail over this unless new allegations come to light.

    • Sure. To go to jail for stuff like this you pretty much have to be a complete idiot because the law is so easy to sidestep. Doesn’t mean you’re not a thief though. Because the law is so unlikely to generate a useful result, it’s doubly important for people to know what’s going on and take ethical actions.

  8. GeneralMcClellan

    the main issue is that people are biased. Both the people who think Coleman is the Devil, and the others that think Bills is a saint. the truth is likely in between the two extremes.

    But it must be pointed out that deLuca’s graph just shows numbers, and doesn’t say what those numbers are for. Doesn’t say whether or not the draws are legit – I’d be very surprised if they all were, but equally surprised if they all weren’t. Games simply aren’t that profitable that you can take that much cash without people noticing it. I’d be surprised if each CGL book had a print run bigger than 10k honestly. Both BT and SR are remembered fondly, but they’re no Pathfinder.

    what is interesting is how people are willing to take something at face value when it comes from an admittedly biased source. Yep, Frank’s numbers are sort of accurate – if you look just at the graph. Most likely because whoever leaked the numbers to Frank also saw the graph. And probably wasn’t in the loop about the (il)legitimacy of the draws. So they add the two big numbers together and voila! $850k missing – or not.

    As for the forums…well, the BT forum is an official forum. No surprise the mods there are quick with the delete button.

    the fact that the two main perpetrators (and afaict Bills’ biggest crime here is turning a blind eye – even Harding’s forum posts have not implicated him – just said that he said if she couldn’t work with Loren then she should leave.) haven’t said anything (other than Bills’ letter that was leaked – probably with that intention) is most likely due to the fact that if it does go legal, they don’t want to have anything on paper, as it were.

    But the fact David Stansel-Garner and Adam Jury have both said nothing to support Harding’s claims says a bit too. Probably because they realize associating their name with the mess is bad career move, but neither has publicly supported Ms Harding’s comments.

    But what has become readily apparent in reading all the forums and blogs and what have you is that there is the SR 4e hating/BT Jihad-hating crowd who are happy to believe any negative about CGL, and conversely that there is the crowd that think CGL can do no wrong.

    As always, the truth will fall somewhere in the middle. We’ll know soon enough when Topps decides whether it will let CGL renew the licenses or not. Though I think those holding out hope of a new company taking the properties and righting all perceived wrongs are going to be disappointed. Can you really see any other company (rather than group of fans – which is basically what CGL was) want to take these cursed IPs onboard?

  9. I think he means that if everyone keeps their mouth shut, no one can prove anything conclusive. And the folks who think there was embezzlement will still think that, and the ones who think TPTB can do no wrong and in fact, have done no wrong, will still think that.

    Meanwhile the money is gone, the license is up for grabs and there is not one shred of evidence that any of the instigators will pay for their perfidy – nor even that it won’t happen again with the next licensor.

    Ain’t America great?

  10. I’d just like to point out that in the Dumpshock thread freelancers (and outspoken ones at that) have acknowledged getting initial checks from Catalyst to cover payments owed. Not sure if there’s been any follow up yet about checks being cashed, and not all money owed has been paid yet.

  11. Oh, to the people who are acting all butthurt about this post on Dumpshock – I’m not saying Trollman got banned from there because of mod bias. I’m just saying that:

    1. He was one of the few insiders coming through with real info, besides Tiger Eyes who seems to have gone quiet – so you may want to go see where he’s posting now (and see the graphs and whatnot that are NOT posted on Dumpshock). I think it’s a fact of note worth including in the recap for those who want to find out more. (Note that some people may want to find out more about this who are NOT chronic forum dwellers. Surprising I know.)

    2. All the whiny over-modded forums where people get banned for telling other people things like “you’re not intelligent” are snooty. And sackless. It’s not just Dumpshock, it’s and many of the other ones. It’s where those mod decisions seem to lean on one side of a debate and not the other that people start bringing up bias. That’s not my angle; an unbiased whiny bitch is only marginally better than a biased whiny bitch – there’s still a lot wrong there. Anyway, enjoy your own lack of free speech, don’t hate on others that still enjoy it.

  12. GeneralMcClellan

    Frank isn’t an insider with info. He’s a conduit for the insiders with info who want to get that info out. Frank in this situation is nothing more than a mouthpiece (and a negative one at that – for every good point he makes, he ruins that credibility with some rant about D&D or religion, or whatever.)

    he also has an axe to grind and makes no secret about it, and kudos to him for being honest. But it does mean you have to take what he posts in a certain light.

    • What of the points that Frank posted have been refuted by anyone? Haven’t they all been confirmed by other freelancers/company people posting? Hell one of the co-owners validates those graphs about how much money Coleman took out. The fact he did it is copped to in an official company press release for God’s sake!

      Sure Frank is eccentric. But we shouldn’t use what I call the dumbed-down new evening news model to decide what’s up (one side talks, the other side talks, you conclude with “there’s two sides, I guess we’ll never know”). There’s at least 5 other insiders posting in various places on this and though at least one is still a “company man” and not confirming the facts, he’s also not denying them, instead just playing the “but we’re still trying to get Shadowrun products out” card.

      Furthermore not all of this is “Frank speaks.” As you should know, a lot of the above is from these other people (freelancers, co-owners, etc.). It’s not even Frank that claimed the most criminal of the activities, the attempt to falsify financials, that was a separate insider.

      This is why I say “smear campaign.” Continuously trying to turn this into a referendum on Trollman or any of the other people involved (Tiger Eyes, etc.) is a blatant attempt to ignore the well-established facts of the case. “But Trollman says mean things about people on other topics!” “But why won’t Tiger Eyes answer us about those convention receipts?” By continuously trying to use those tricks, people are somehow trying to imply that Coleman DIDN’T take somewhere in the neighborhood of 3/4-1 million dollars from Catalyst and that Bills ISN’T hushing it up and covering for him, both of which are obviously true (though may or may not be against the law due to the habit of not regulating corporations worth a damn).

      All of the above are solid claims verified by insiders and/or multiple people. Calling it “biased” is just another way of saying “But it makes Bills and Coleman look bad!” Yes, yes it does. Criminal activity does that.

  13. More info also in this thread (they banned Trollman too, I see…)

  14. GeneralMcClellan

    No, my point was that Frank has become the focal point, and people from both sides are missing the fact that he’s only as good as the info fed to him – he’s not a freelancer anymore, and he wasn’t a freelancer for very long in any case . And freelancers are low on the totem pole when it comes to info being doled out. What Frank has done is taken the pressure off those “sources” (and as yet we’re not sure if they’re owners, freelancers, or office staff – which *is* important) by being the focal point.

    But look at my point about the numbers again. Franks initial claim that $850k is borne out if you simply look at the graph and add the two biggest numbers on there together. But Phil deLuca has also posted that he made that graph way back when. So it’s been floating around for a while in the CGL backlot. This has all come to a head because SR freelancers pulled out C&Ds to prevent stuff being published. So what happens when one of those disgruntled folks finds/is given/whatever a copy of that graph, without any sort of context? They pass it on as gospel, and Frank dutifully passes it out to the masses. Improper stuff has happened, no doubt, but how much and by whom is unknown. It’s the posting in absolutes, without any evidence (and until the graph has context, it’s not evidence) that turns this into an Us vs Them situation. Frank is largely irrelevant, which is why it’s annoying so many of these threads and posts make it about him.He can only give us what he’s told. If he wasn’t around, it’d be someone else. the sources are the important bit

    Notice how Phil deLuca has never expanded on what the numbers mean too? He was obviously distressed and annoyed by the fact the draws were made – hence the graph. But when the context of the numbers has been mentioned, he’s never explained. Pretty much said read into it what you will. As an owner, he knows whats going on, and he’s obviously mad. But he’s not saying much at all.

    Look I’m not saying Coleman isn’t guilty (well, he technically isn’t – LLCs are screwy when it comes to this sort of thing, and no laws have been broken, unless there’s been misreporting of taxes), what I’m saying is that information has to have a context – and we currently don’t have one. We have a graph with no explanation, and we have “inside sources” putting out (through Frank) “X amount has been stolen by Coleman” – where X is likely just what they got when they looked at deLuca’s graph. You make the point about the dumbed down evening news model, but it goes both ways – until I see the context of the graph, I’m not making my mind up either way. Mainly because I doubt CGL sales have been that high that that quantity of money could go bye bye, and the company still pay for manufacturing, printing etc etc.

    It’s interesting to note though that people are willing to take Frank at face value, but not Randall Bills. As much as I feel for the freelancers – say all the accusations are true, then Bills and the other owners are the ones that have been injured the most (financially). But because he hasn’t villified Coleman, Bills is seen as an accomplice after the fact. I feel sorry for him caused he’s damned either way – supporting Coleman (or rather not villifying him) makes him an accomplice in the eyes of the mob; hanging him out to dry likely means Bills never gets the money he’s owed.

  15. GeneralMcClellan

    to further clarify this is what I mean:

    – the financial issues became known last year (November I think)
    – people only quit/left in March this year
    – The SR freelancers made their C&D ultimatum in March this year
    – deLuca’s graph was for cumulative draws totals at $726k; which + the $120k of convention monies (which no one other than Frank and his “sources” has mentioned) = the $850k mark.
    – but if you look at the individual Draw graph totals, $190k + $310k = ~$500k, not $726k – so where did the other $226k on the cumulative draws come from? Again, no context.
    – if you examine the graphs closer, you see a steady withdrawal history in the early years, which signifies legitimate actions. In 2007-08 this accelerates, but again with no context we’re not sure why.
    – Then there are the claims by Frank’s sources that monies had been used to paid contractors building extensions on the Colemans’ house – only people who have visited the house reported that there was no extensions.

    this is what I mean – I don’t care what the outcome is, but I want accurate info from both sides, or at least the acknowledgment that it’s all suspect. From both sides.

  16. Seems like a lot of worrying about whether the theft was of 500k or 726k or 850k or more. That should certainly matter to someone, but the bottom line is “dude stole a metric fuckload of money and other people aren’t holding him responsible out of various misguided desires.” Exact weight of a fuckload and exact nature of the misguided desires are of secondary interest to the main point.

  17. Time Will Tell

    So to be clear, the exact figures matter when Frank gives them out, but not when discussing the actual matter of why the money was withdrawn?

    Is there anything Catalyst can do that you won’t vilify them for? Is there anything Catalyt can say that you won’t claim is a piece of PR spin? You’re responding to everything with “dude stole a fuckload of money,” which isn’t proven and utterly destructive to having a meaningful discussion about this.

    Context matters. Legalities matter. Random numbers without either of the above are not proof of a crime.

  18. We’re not trying to prove there was a crime, only that there has been odd behavior, even irresponsible behavior, behind the immnent failure of the company producing these products. The money was ostensibly for running the company and putting out product. It isn’t there anymore for that purpose and it appears one of the co-owners was responsible for the money going away.

    Whether or not it was criminal or illegal is for a court to decide. Who did what, that is the issue that Frank brought to light. If he had not, it might never have come to light until after the collapse of the company – if it collapses at all.

    Which, you know, I think it will. And I think we’ll see justice done. But it might not be as much or as soon as some of us would like.

    • And whether this guy is convicted or not – no one should ever do business with him again. They’d be stupid to do so. “Whoops your $800k disappeared!” Whether it makes it all the way through the courts or not, these guys are scumballs of typical caliber and need Do Not Touch signs tattooed on their foreheads.

    • GeneralMcClellan

      Thing is Frank didn’t bring it to light. The guy/s who gave it to him did. And from what I’m seeing atm they’re getting 2+ 2 = 5, which suggests they’re not as connected as first thought. Which also brings the validity of their other claims into question.

      I find it fairly significant to claim that $850k was stolen, and only be able to demonstrate (after the the fact too) $500k was. Because it brings into question how much of that $500k was actually stolen, how much was bad business practices, and how much was simply legitimate business.

      “Co-mingling of funds” suggests personal accounts were used as a business account, which is a bad idea, but not illegal and certainly not unheard of in small business.

      I agree though the best thing to do for CGL would be to remove Coleman (not Wiseman) from a management position, and require multiple signatures on all outgoing checks (which I think someone said they’ve done) Then Coleman can pay the monies owed to the company, and hopefully we can all move forward. the only illegal thing is the tax fraud, and honestly, if you’re going to have an ethical issue with that enough to quit, you’d damned well have enough ethics to report it to the IRS, not make the statement on a fan-run message board.

      • Jesus, stop with the “Frank.” No one gives a shit about Frank. Here’s graphs about $726k in pure cash draws from Coleman (besides other income gone missing) that came directly from the desk of co-owner Phil De Luca, who says they’re legit. There’s Jennifer Harding, who says she quit Catalyst “after being asked by Loren Coleman to falsify royalty reports to Topps”. Making all this about Trollman is just a dodge.

        • GeneralMcClellan

          *Sigh*, I guess there’s no point continuing this because you seem unable to read past the first sentence in a response. Throughout this entire debate I’ve tried to point out that Frank is irrelevant; had it not been him, it would have been someone else. what’s important is the info, and the info is suspect. Maybe not all of it, but at least some of it – which calls the veracity of the other parts into question.

          I know the graphs come from deLuca…that’s why I mentioned him in every single post here. I’ve also tried to point out that those graphs have no context. Examine the graphs and explain how he got $726k from the Colemans’ individual draws? He’s also said the graphs were his; but that’s it. He never explained them. Probably because it would have an impact on whatever course of action he is choosing to recover the monies.

          I made my point about Harding before – the fact that David Stansel-Garner and Adam Jury haven’t come out in support of that statement says a lot to me. Not that she’s lying – but that the situation is not clear cut. Or perhaps even that there is criminal proceedings underway.

          *You* are the one making this about Frank. Both by taking everything he’s posted as gospel, and equating any questioning of the veracity of his sources (which are the real instigators) as a personal attack on the man. I’ll say it again – Frank is irrelevant.

  19. Time Will Tell

    “We’re not trying to prove there was a crime”

    Sure doesn’t sound that way.

    -“Catalyst Games, Defiant Criminals”
    -“appears to be sliding into a morass of slime and (semi-?)criminal activity”
    -“Besides the owners stealing an assload of money”
    -“Summary: Loren Coleman and his wife appear to have stolen about a million dollars” (funny how the numbers don’t matter after this quote is blown out of the water but they mattered when the quote was made)
    -“The vast majority of this is proven beyond a reasonable doubt – the embezzlement by Coleman”

    All those are the quotes of somebody who not only is trying to prove a crime, but already has cast judgement without all the information. My question to him is simple: what does somebody who disagrees with Frank Trollman and him have to do to be a reputable source?

    He has belittled and ignored every opinion and statement of facts that disrupts his viewpoint of the situation. I am just trying to ask a simple question, can a person disagree with his opinion on this and still have a valid point of view, and if so, what can that person(s) do to provide evidence to support that viewpoint?

    If anyone and everyone who stands up for Catalyst, or at the very least doesn’t immediately jump on the Catalyst Lynching Bandwagon, is some sort of naive, moronic, company hack, then there is really no point to continuing to read this discussion.

    • Boo hoo hoo.

      What reputable (or otherwise) source is denying any of this exactly?

      The only “other viewpoints” are Pollyannas like yourself that don’t want to accept the obvious. Catalyst admits Loren Coleman took a lot of money.

      Do you have some other fact to present, or are you just whining about how bad it all looks? Just throwing out random “But all this data doesn’t prove everything totally” statements is FUD not contribution.

  20. Time Will Tell

    Thank you. That’s all I needed to know.

    • Ah, a tacit admission that NO ONE is contradicting any of these facts or has presented any other facts, stories, or data that contravene them. “Wishing there was another side” isn’t “fair and balanced.”

  21. Again, *I* am not establishing that a crime has been committed, but some hanky panky has been going on.

    And since when do I have to have incontrovertible proof that someone is guilty to speak about his actions with suspicion.

    Of course you can hold another opinion. Just not very long on a blog whose author has decided that something nasty is going on and that there is a name or names to be associated with it.

    Really… you can see how he feels about it. How a LOT of us feel about it. Don’t look at it as a bunch of whining internet babies making unjust accusations. This is the voice you hear when someone tries to pull what appears to be a fast one and then gets caught.

  22. Time Will Tell

    “Here’s graphs about $726k in pure cash draws from Coleman”

    I’m glad you can neither read nor add. General McClellan has clearly demonstrated that the sum total was not 726. But hey, why confuse the issue with math when your opinion and ranting is proof enough.

    • Yes, I agree that the total amount isn’t crystal clear from the graphs.

      So. Fucking. What.

      It’s clearly a lot. Sure, in court it’ll matter the exact down to the dollar amount, not that it’ll ever be possible to really validate every single draw and know whether 1% or 5% of them were legit. You’re all talking like “if the EXACT dollar amount isn’t established then… What’s the problem? No crime! All the people reporting malfeasance must be lying! There’s no proof!”

      Dude, it’s still proof. They’re not always sure the exact dollar amount that was in the till when the armed robber jacks the 7-11. But guess what, he gets to go to PMITA prison anyway. You are providing some bizarre legalistic bar for evidence that doesn’t exist in the real world.

  23. GeneralMcClellan

    To be honest – I don’t care either way. I’m just sick of being half truths being reported as fact – by both sides.

    • GeneralMcClellan

      on a side note – getting sick of the quiet on the CGL side of things. If the facts posted are wrong, outright say so, not some cryptic “things are not as they seem” type posts.

      The Chapter 7 being filed against IMR LLC is something that should be addressed almost immediately to the fans at large.

  24. “Dude, it’s still proof.”

    Yes, that withdrawals were made. Not a single person who has talked about this has argued that point. You are claiming, with your magical ass of fact, that everything there is an illegal, immoral, criminal withdrawal.

    Well, your ass of magic isn’t good enough. Until you can tell me what the 19 December 2008 withdrawal was for you don’t have proof of jack shit. You have your magical ass of knowledge thinking you have proof.

    General McClellan and I are not denying that there is money missing or that something fishy went down. I’m simply stating that your frothing at the mouth and spouting of facts not proven is asinine and wrong.

    • Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

      Oh, if I cant’ say what the 19 December withdrawal is for then I don’t have any proof of anything, eh? So no one who has put out any evidence surrounding any of this has no proof, since they don’t have that?

      Your claims are ludicrous. And it’s unclear what you’re arguing against – I haven’t said I know what every single transaction is for. If you’re not trying to cast doubt on the evidence that there was wrongdoing – what are you spouting off about?

      No, you’re just trying to cast doubt by picking at any little thread you can get your hands on, when the overall tapestry is clear for anyone to see.

      Can the news not report on anything that isn’t detailed down to the last bit? Can a court case not close if there’s anything left unclear? Your burden of proof, Internet Douchenozzle Level, is only relevant to you and not anything else.

  25. GeneralMcClellan

    Looking at the court docs, I find it both disheartening and surprising that Wildfire LLC is claiming after already stating they’d made an arrangement. Obviously the transfer of stock and such was either reneged upon, or the $37k is the remainder of what Wildfire percieved they’re owed

    Mr Sugarbroad I have no idea of (but $2k is either a freelancer, or someone who painted the IMR offices, who knows.). That’s an unpaid debt, but given they’re paying off the SR freelancers (probably at the expense of the BT freelancers I’d say.) probably one that would be cleared pretty quickly.

    edit: JP Sugarbroad is listed as a Software guy on LinkedIn, so it’s either work he did for IMR (like the BattleCorps stuff), or he’s a freelancer in his downtime

    Mr Stansel I’m guessing is David’s father, and who ponied up some cash when DSG lost the WK gig. So that’s likely a loan that was not so important until Dave left the company. (Which is fair enough – if my son/relation left the company I’d loaned money to, I’d be pulling out too. Point being the loan was likely seen as less important in the eyes of the IMR owners because Dave was around)

    ofc, if the company can afford to have $850k go missing, $58k should be easy enough to pony up. I wonder how this affects the non-US freelancers too – including guys like Adam Jury. If the company goes bankrupt the chances of them seeing a dime are greatly diminished.

  26. Otherwise, I think things are proceeding in an orderly manner.

    You know, the only thing I am concerned with is who picks up the license for SR and BT. Or if they get picked up.

    Whether the individuals involved get justice done or paid for their work (if they are victims) or their comeuppance (if they are the alleged looters), it is going to happen at the hands of others, not me. No amount of yakking about it will change that. All it will do is create hard feelings among folks I have never met and would probably like if I did.

    It ain’t worth it, in other words. Let’s just see what unfolds. It is definitely unfolding, that’s for sure.

    • GeneralMcClellan

      If CGL loses the license, I doubt very much anyone else will be rushing to pick them up. Contrary to Frank’s conviction otherwise.

      Actually, I could see Smith and Tinker stepping up and absorbing CGL whole, keeping the same people (developers, freelancers etc) in place, and simply removing the management structure.

      anyone else would be wary of getting the license, and moreso, would have to deal with a lot of disgruntled freelancers.

  27. From what I have seen in the industry, I suspect you are correct. Smith and Tinker would step in because this is Wiseman’s baby, but equally because the properties are profitable. I would personally like to take a crack at Leviathan.

    Otherwise it might be years before anyone could afford to pony up and assume the liabilities. And they would have to like the games very much. I have been assembling new art and writing over the past few years and am very close to publishing a fan-sourced Technical Readout for BattleTech. It might actually end up being the only thing issued this year which is related to the property.

    See for more info.

    • GeneralMcClellan

      Weisman (not Wiseman) is pretty good at bringing in venture capital though – he does have a proven track record at taking an idea and making a lot of money really quickly. Whether you like Clix or not, they made Weisman a pretty penny.

      If he can show to his investors that he can do it again with SR and BT, I’m sure there’d be a few folks willing to fork out.

      Weisman might also rip and run, but he’s a astute businessman, and the last thing the lines needs is another group of fans banding together, which is what I’m gathering Frank and Co have in mind.

      Same reason I thought bringing in Jen Harding as bookkeeper was a stupid move – have business people do the business side of things; have the creative people do the creative side; and never the twain shall meet.

  28. Time Will Tell

    Smith and Tinker doesn’t have the cashflow right now. I’m not even sure what they have that’s bringing in ANY money. Their website posts no jobs, they haven’t announced any news from themselves since November, their flagship product, the new Mechwarrior game, is still in legal limbo. Nanovor seems to be the only product they have that’s actually out, and no single game is going to provide enough cash flow to sustain a company, provide the development money for the new Mechwarrior game, and provide the capital needed to acquire and start-up two more heavily established IPs.

  29. Here is my problem with all of this.

    What I care about is seeing freelancers get paid and customers get product they preordered.

    The he said, she said, who mismanaged funds, and how much, I could care less. about

    I know a freelancer or two who are owed $5,000+ (we are talking mortgage payments here) and one of the huge problems with CGL (and many game companies) is they pay 45 days after publication. So these Freelancers won’t see a dime of their money if CGL goes under.

    And if you think they will from a bankruptcy your ABSOLUTELY wrong.

    I hope CGL retains their licences, I hope they don’t go under, because I care about their freelancers and I care about customers who have preordered products.

    That is all I have to say.

    Steve Russell
    Rite Publishing

  30. u know im a freelancer and worked for thease people , i cant say one way or the other if its true in a leagle sense , but all the rest from exprence is defently true , and its why i stoped working for them after a few runs .

    a typical exchange with them would go like this
    “hay u want to work on x ? your great and all that we really want u to work on this ”
    me “id love to but you still owe me for the previous product and as that is 6 months over due , i cant work on a new one till that debt is payed ”
    them “ok great well ill send u the briefs ”
    me “um no i dont think you understand , while i love the games , i cant work for some one that doesent pay me ”
    them “ok so is the 15th good day to start on this project for you ?”
    me “listen i cant work for you if u dont pay me what your allready owe me , and you are verry late in paying ”
    them “oh ok hay cool then ill send u the briefs and u can get started any time befor the 15th ”
    me “um im not sure how you keep missing this but let me try and put it as simply as possable IF U DONT PAY ME , I WILL NOT WORK FOR U ”
    them ” oh hay why would you say that were good guys here , its not like it was befor , we got a new accounting person and everythign is fine now , dont worry ok , so ill send over the briefs for ya ”

    now thats the short virson , as it went on for over 20 emails to each person i delt with , that number bing 3 .and it still wasent resovled untill , i had to threaten them with a lawsuit and threaten them with not compleeting the current work i was on with them , due to non payment . thay acted hurt and all that , and this is typical of them . thay say nice things compleetly and totaly ignore everythign except waht thay want and when thay are called on it , thay act hurt and offended .

    a guy a few posts up says , “if thay could jsut let 700k just vanish , thay can surely pony up 500k” well its my impression that thay didnt have money in the bank to cover who thay were hireing . and this embezzlement is apprently why .

    this is as it appeard to me , catalyst didnt have the money to pay the freelancers and knew thay didnt , and didnt know if thay would . waht thay were doing was puting out the pdf downlaod for a few months hopeing that would bring in enough cash to pay for the pritning, and the freelancers first half <for art thay payed half the total on finals ,and half 30 days after publish

    now it seems to me , reguardless of wether the company apprently dosent mind geting riped off to the toon of all most a million bucks ,>>>

    if thay did this as i described , and did it with the intent to keep the cash and not pay it thats fraud , as thay were workign interstate , and also had guys workign itnernationaly then thay are voilateing sevral laws , state and fedral labor laws , inter state comerce laws , and it might be a streach but wire fraud , if some one pressed it im quite shure some one would end up in jail , and i used that as my levrage to get payed the second time .

    and thay still owe me and many people i know money

    now alot of the other people that worked for them too and every single one had the same exprence .
    i was informed that , by catalyst people that ,this was actualy not bad and i shoudl be happy it goes so smoothly , beause after all fan pro totaly screwed every one, one guy was happy to share that it took 3 years for him to be payed , while he coninuned to work for them .

    fanpro wiz kids , to catalyst its the same people doing the same shit over and over , thay arent shy about telling it either

    this is what will happen if thay are able to keep the licneses and even if thay cant thay will keep oign with the other propertiys , thay will change their name an dit will agean be the same people and a few years form now some ones going to accidently end up with a shit ton of money in the bank account . and freelancers are gnna get fucked agean .

    as for wildfire , thay operate in the exact same way so i have no sad feeligns for them . thay use the same tactics same speaches

    i cant speak about post human i have no idea really

    sucsk cuz thease are all quality games and qulaity books , but run by total pricks , or total idiots or a combination of boath

    if thay are just that stupid thay should still be held responsable . if thay hired people with out the money to pay them , then thay should be held responsable . if thay hired people with no intent to pay them , thay should be held responsable .

    how any one could try and be an apologyst for them is mind blowing . if you ever worked for them , or know thease guys , u know this is all true , if your just a fan dont try to defend them cuz thay scrwed u too

    • LOL, you weren’t working for them as a copyeditor I assume.

      Yeah, there’s a lot of chronic ill treatment of freelancers out there. Everyone should always stick to the policy “pay me for the previous job before I do the next one.”

  31. haha defently not a copy editor or writer or secretry “:P

    ive worked for alot of companys in this and other industrys as a freelancer/or contractor and this one is allmost unexplainable

    its very strange to me how consistant it was too , and like i said not just with them but with one of their related companys , its like thay were reading from a script , thay probably had to repeat it so much it was just a script

    i mean serously , did thease guys all just fall into this company ? who gave them the money or how in the world did thay come up with …u know i give up on that part as its totaly baffling to me . how some one can steal allmost a million bucks and every one is cool with it . how is that possable ? how is it possable that u can work for some one and thay dont pay you and you say ok np wahts the next job ?

    to me its not shocking that thay got riped off , that thay fucked over a stack of people to do it . it is shocking that thease people can rember to breath or tie their shoes .

    inreguards the to the freelancers , i suggest it was more then just poor management skills . i would be currious to see how much was in the bank at any given time , when thay were hireing people . i suggest thay knew thay didnt have the money to pay them , i dont thay intended to pay any one in the time frame thay gave in the contracts , becasue thay knew that thay couldnt , so thay only payed people that made a fuss

    the company demonstrates a willingness to commit fraud , and has desplayed a pattern of it over time , streaching back to its previous incarnations .

    and waht the hell is with the mormon thing ? who write that in a biz letter ? baffling

  32. GeneralMcClellan

    I’m closely related to a BT freelancer for FanPro and CGL, and your story is lot different to his. I’m guessing you didn’t work on BT during your freelancer tenure, that’s for sure. Mainly because BT writers have to pitch for something – there’s no exchange of “hey do you want to work for us?”, it’s “here’s a mass email to all people on the writer’s list (including guys like Stackpole who haven’t worked on BT for ages), outline for the product, pitches are due on Xth of the Yth”

    I’m sorry, but this (late payments to writers) isn’t uncommon in the publishing industry – IMR is not the only company that pays after publishing, and plenty of wide-ranging freelancers have horror stories about other companies. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not the story here – what is the story is the financial mismanagement that allowed Coleman to take what wasn’t his.

    From *my* sources (now I’m sounding like Frank), which are admittedly on the BT side of things, Randall Bills and Herb Beas (BT line developer) did everything they did out of faith – they fully believed money was in the bank to pay people – it just wasn’t their department, and Randall was wearing six different hats at once as creative director, plus trying to contribute to several different game lines as a designer, developer and writer. From my understanding, he wasn’t aware of what was happening because he was running the games side of things, not the business side. He trusted others to do that. That trust was misplaced

  33. If he did work for BT, it must have been a nightmare to edit his work. I had a hard time just reading his post. It’s text-speak all the way through.

    I remember doing the Union Class dropship for Bill Burt back in 2007 when we were working together on the CGL GenCon gaming table. Bill had to fight like mad to get the money for that dropship and insisted they pay him in cash.

    I think – no, I *know* – he knew their reputation even then. He’d told me about unpaid artists and writers while we were working on the table.

    Hard to believe they held on this long without someone making a stink over late payments, but when you are a writer, any chance to become an author (that is, officially published through means not your own) is a rare opportunity. Especially in the gaming community.

  34. GeneralMcClellan

    At the end of the day, the pay for work is just gravy – compared to the amount of time put in, you’re never going to get any sort of accurate recompense. Especially when you’re first starting out, and you’re doing maybe 2-5k words in a 120k book. You get access to every .pdf for free, and any book you contribute to, you get a(sometimes multiple) copy’s of. So say you write 5k words @3.5cents a word. You’re owed $175. But you’ve been given access to thousands of dollars worth of obscure pdfs, and you have a physical copy of the book with your name on it. $175 is like a day at your regular job, so it’s not a huge deal initially (you can wait). And besides you love the game, and are just happy to contribute.

    It’s when you start getting to 20k word mark per product, and you’re owed $700 for that book, plus all the other back pay that the pdfs and pile of books with your name on loses some of it’s lustre. The cachet of being a writer on the forums loses it’s shiny factor. And you start wondering when (or if) you’re going to get paid. so you send emaisl, and the guys on the otehr end dutifully send it up the chain, fully believing you should get paid.

    That’s where the fall down is atm – between the line developer who’s looking out for his charges, and admin side of things who are asleep at the wheel.

  35. “At the end of the day, the pay for work is just gravy”

    are u kidding ? lol seriously ? u must really be a fan

    no defently not a writer , that should be obvious . i dont know waht yoru mate said or who or waht your sources are , but i did work for them thay still owe me money , thay are shifty as thay come , and its imedately apprent .
    thay owe me money still , thay owe comrads of mine money still , hell thay even owe people i dont like money . why cant thay pay the money ? cuz some one swiped , waht do thay do about it ? u know exactly waht thay are doing , and you can get a blow by blow from this frank trolman fella
    the down fall appears to be not some mis comunication in the line , but the fact that thay have no money to pay anyone cuz some one walked off with it , and thay seem to be doing f all to get it and pay it to its rightfull owners .
    see at this point thats not catalysts money , thats the writers and artests , the 3 other companys , and the irs ,money . if you think that its all ok and geting payed for work is just gravy , well then i guess you being you is your own worst punishment .

    x-ing my fingers for every one to get payed .

  36. GeneralMcClellan

    My mate is Jim Rapkins, aka IvanR on the BT and Leviathans forums. According to him he is owed payments, but he’s not that fussed by it as he’s an international writer (he lives in australia, we went to college together there), and has to wait a month for checks to clear in the first place – so he stockpiles them until its actually worth it (as he has to pay transaction fees on each check if he deposits them individually; where only one fee if he does a bunch – something to do with how the Ozzie banks works). probably not a good example, as he’s a cop in his day job, and writes largely for fun, and as stress release. For him, the money *is* gravy

    But he actually works closely with Randall Bills on the development and design of Leviathans, as well as having worked with Randall on the TacOps and StratOps BT books. By his words, Randall was the one making sure he had signed an ICA for stuff like web-fiction etc, to make sure he got paid. conversely, he says he never talked to Loren Coleman once – though he did get an email once. From all accounts Randall sounds like decent, if very busy, guy.

    That also said when Jen Harding took over as bookkeeper he got one email from her and it was for a W-7 which had no relevance to him as an ozzie.

    basically, from what I understand – he’s owed a bit of money, but his opinion is that he has a better chance of getting paid if the company pulls through. He thinks if it goes bankrupt he won’t see anything that he’s owed.

  37. ic well i think that you maby have a problum understanding the basic fact that , this is work , it might be a hobby to you and u enjoy it as a hobby , but for the people that did the work , its exactly that work , wich is supposed to be payed work . now it dosent matter if this is a “normal” situation for rpg companys , if u hire some one for a job , and thay do that job , you need to pay them , its that simple .

    the people thay hired at least for the art jobs are professionals , i cant speak for the older stuff , but from eclipse phase to sr4 to the other new sr books and the new battle tech stuff like the rpg , thay hired people from concept art and illustration, and not some fan that really wants to be published , and dosent care if thay get payed or not . all of thease people spent years and moeny to beable to do what thay do , and thay do it well thay all have student loans to pay , bills to pay , thay have to keep the lights on and thay have to eat. the culture set up by and maintained by catalyst , weither it grew organicly or wether it was set up intentionaly so things liek this theft could take place , created a situation that hurt alot of people , see its not randalls money that he can just forgive his best frend for stealing it , its all the people that money actualy belongs to , and thay dont seem to have the same feeling as randall.

    now u might think oh randal is a nice guy , well he might be personable and might be liked , but a nice guy dosent faclitate theft , dosent help try to cover it up when it happens and screw stacks of people out of money that is rightfully theirs , money that thay worked for and money that thay need to pay bills , eat , keep the lights on , keep their children alive .

    you allready partly understand this , when you talk about who might buy up the licneces , you understand that its a bisnuss , and that the people buying it want to turn a profit , not for some sad intense fan status

    let me further help you to understand , what ever it is you do for a liveing , what ever it is that you count on to keep food on your table and a roof over your head , i want you to go to work and tell your boss , or tell your clients , that you will work for the next week or 2 weeks or month for free now think about that for a minunt , ok now when you go into work for free for the next week or month or what ever , i want you to tell your clients or boss or who ever , that the reason your workign for free , is because you think the product or service is soo cool that your just soo happy to be a part of it , that you dont care if u can eat tomarrow ,or if u can make your house payment , or fix your car , or keep the lights on .

    now does the above seem reasable in any way ?ofcorse not . but this is exactly the attitude that seems to be going around , and in your case it seems very acutely so .

    aslo reread what you just wrote , about your friend , its not that he doest care about geting payed , its that he thinks this stratigie will give him the best chance to get payed

    yes randall very friendly , every one that you deal with is very frendly and happy about working on thease games , untill you ask about your mony , then its all ignore , evade , and redirect . randall wouldnt have to ware 6 hats , if ! the people thay hired to do the jobs were payed or went asked to do illagle and moraly reprehensable things. thay could have kept the art directer
    that worked on eclipse phase and SR4 , thay could have had cleen books and people would have been payed ,and there wouldnt have been this mess , and “fans” wouldnt be waiting on books and fans wouldnt have to worry about a product going into limbo agean if thay would take care and run the bisnuss in a normal sensable honest way .

    u can use any system you want to play a game , you can use any setting youo want , so what makes thease games great ? waht makes you want to buy and play them , well ofcorse its great writeing and good art , it lets you feel the world and the vision . if you dont pay the people that make that then there is no product , theres no fans

    lc stealing from catalyst is not only bad for the people he stoled from , not only bad for catalyst and the investors , but its bad for the fans , its bad for the industry .

    think about it liek this , if companys put out shit , and do so with huge delays and cancles , people stop buying the books . the less profatble this industry is as a whole , the less money will go into devlopment , the less u will see on the shelves , to the point where your left with dnd4.0 and magic , why ? because thay are professional in the long run it will hurt smaller games , because no one will want to take a chance on them , and no one in their right mind would put up money for them .

    so your left with a coupel companys , dnd4.0 and magic because thay keep a healthy release scedual , and high levle of qulaity , and thay are able to do this because thay pay properly their workers , and well actualy pay them lol .

    it is rediculuas to try and defend this shit in any way shape or form , just because you like the game , i like it too , i like games and the industry , i like them so much infact , that im on here teling a random stranger how 1+1=2

    i really wish all the involved partys would get burned from this , so the next time around , it dosent happen agean

    good luck to your cop friend and any one else involved .

  38. Dude, if you want anyone to take you seriously, you have to stop using ‘leet’ or text-speak.

    ‘U’ is not acceptable for ‘you’.

    I don’t believe for five seconds you ever wrote anything for any game company, and the reason is right above this post. You are nearly incoherent with all your mis-spelling and grammar errors.

    The worst part of this? The reason I disregard your entire post? This blog has a built-in spell checker and you won’t use it.

  39. lol hey now 🙂 i dont see any spell checker , an i an u , makes no diffrnce , this isent “leet” speak this is shity typeing and spelling , so obviously , if i write and type like this , im not now , and never have been a writer for any one , i dont keep a blog and typeing is something i never am required to do , other then i suppose write invoices .
    this should be apprent , unless you read from the bottem to top ,have a look at the 3rd line , as the first line is a quote , and the second only contains the offensive “u” and lack of caps , i think you shoulda got that far 🙂 but it really dosent matter .

    seriously? // April 23, 2010 at 10:12 am | Reply

    “At the end of the day, the pay for work is just gravy”

    are u kidding ? lol seriously ? u must really be a fan

    no defently not a writer ,

    the reason i didnt disreguard your post ?
    you have me currious , where is this built in spell checker ? i think it might have somethign to do with me not being a member ?

    why would i post at all ?
    because your man mxyzplk is spot on .

  40. Play nice kids.

    And in the comments, there’s not actually a WordPress spell-checker, but if you have a spell-checker built into your browser it works. Like I see the “red wavies” while typing this content in Firefox but not in IE. Just to clarify the technical issue.

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