Usually, when it ends, it ends in acrimony -- sometimes abruptly, with a faxed or emailed announcement that shocks everyone into silence, or with security officers standing in the doorways as employees are forcibly removed.
No, it's never pretty when a game developer is forced to shut its doors.
We've been getting a lot of that lately, even before Activision, the industry's current number-one publisher (and parent company of Middleton-based Raven Software) took a swig of profit-flavored Red Bull, broke out its corporate chainsaw and shredded the developers of every one of its franchises that wasn't operating in the black.
Guitar Hero's strings? Forever broken. DJ Hero's mirror ball? Smashed into a million shiny pieces. The wheels on Tony Hawk's skateboard-gaming empire? They've finally -- and in this case, mercifully -- come off.
The reactions from those associated with the displaced studios have run the gamut. The former head of Red Octane, the shop that gave us more than 10 Guitar Hero games, lashed out, accusing Activision of "abusing" the franchise. (He's got a valid point.)
The folks at DJ Hero developer Freestyle Games quickly flipped their turntable fade to "politically correct," issuing a statement that said they were still talking with Activision. Translation: Jesus, I hope they decide to let us develop some map packs for Call of Duty. Don't you think a soundtrack featuring Eminem mashed up with DeadMau5 would be great for that next rocket launcher firefight?
These are valid, and in some cases even savvy reactions to a professional world turned suddenly upside down, the same way the guys at Robomodo, Activision's go-to Tony Hawk developers, used to turn digital skateboarders upside down in pursuit of strings of combo-tricks.
But the reaction that's hitting home for me is from Bizarre Creations, the brilliant British developers who gave us the Project Gotham series, Geometry Wars, last year's James Bond: Blood Stone game, and one of my favorite racing games of all time -- Blur.
Instead of raging at their corporate masters at Activision or vengefully venting to whatever gaming press sites were lurking to greedily post their complaints, Bizarre Creations has put together one of the most graceful goodbyes we've seen in some time -- a moving video montage of clips from some of their best games, set to the haunting strains of "Claire de Lune."