Timeline in denial
Michael Crichton's computer games company shuts down, blames everyone but self
Michael Crichton might be a great novelist and script writer, responsible for films like Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain and Sphere, but when he turned his attentions to the gaming industry the results were rather less impressive. Timeline Computer Entertainment's eponymous debut game Timeline was based on the Crichton novel of the same name and launched at the same time as the paperback version of the book. It was still a critical and commercial flop, apparently selling less than 50,000 copies worldwide and proving that simply printing the magic words "Michael Crichton" on the front of a box isn't enough to make a game a hit.
So it was perhaps no surprise when the company "temporarily" closed its doors at the end of June, sacking all but one of its staff and aborting work on a PlayStation 2 version of Timeline. Thank god. The sole remaining employee of Timeline is now CEO David Smith, who ironically moved to Timeline after leaving another company he had founded with another best-selling author - Tom Clancy's Red Storm.
Unfortunately he doesn't seem to have learnt anything from the experience. "We're disappointed with how the Timeline game performed and how Eidos marketed the project", Smith complained to The Hollywood Reporter, apparently oblivious to the fact that the game stunk and no amount of marketing could change that. "Michael Crichton realizes that video games are going to be a huge business, and we'd be crazy to walk away from it after one try. Once he's finished with his current project, we'll decide what direction we want to go and assemble a new team of game developers to follow through."
Crichton's current project is a movie based on .. you guessed it, Timeline. And David Smith is hoping to celebrate this by re-releasing the game, bringing the pain and misery to a whole new audience. "We're talking to publishers about re-releasing the product with some new features in conjunction with the feature film next year at a more mass-market price point". We fear for the future.