I-Team: One 38 Studios employee still goes to work every day - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

I-Team: One 38 Studios employee still goes to work every day

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Jeff Easley Jeff Easley
PROVIDENCE -

His fingerprint opens a heavily secured door. A sticky floor mat clears his ostrich leg boots of any dust or debris.

The room he's entering is full of expensive computer equipment. A loud hum of the machines is palpable.

In a space of roughly two small coat closets, Jeff Easley, a systems administrator, is keeping what's left of 38 Studios alive. Out of nearly 400 employees Easley is the last one to go, literally the last man standing from 38.

"It has been a challenge to wear a lot of hats. I've had to learn a lot of stuff," said Easley.

He's sitting in front of his computer wearing a T-shirt, blue jeans and donning his signature beard long before "Duck Dynasty" became a popular TV show.

It's been more than two years since 38 Studios collapsed in May 2012. Employees stopped getting their paychecks. The video game company, owned by former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, went bankrupt.

"People were so crushed they just walked away. And in a lot of cases there were empty coffee cups, their running shoes were still under their chairs. The shock value was just tremendous," said Easley.

While others left, Easley kept coming to work.

"It was the most exciting job that I've ever had in my entire life. I would have kept coming until they told me you can't come back, just don't come back to the building," Easley said.

Although bankrupt, 38 Studios had considerable assets to move out of its corporate headquarters in downtown Providence and in a Baltimore location.

Computers, desks, and other equipment sold at two public auctions and the profits, after expenses, totaled about $436,452, according to court documents.

Some money was made when Microsoft purchased the rights to the Rise of Nation/Rise of Legends series.

The remaining intellectual property though, which includes Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and the big unfinished game named "Copernicus" needed to be maintained and preserved.

Easley seemed like a good fit for the job.

"The biggest piece, of course, has been Copernicus," added Easley.

NBC10 got a peak of images never publicly seen before of the massive multi-player video game.

In 2010, 38 Studios received a $75 million taxpayer backed loan, to not only move to Rhode Island but finish Copernicus, get it on the market and make millions. That vision, fueled by Schilling, never materialized and is a little more than half complete.

"We've got what amounts to in some respects a playable game. Does that mean you can buy a disc and pop it into your computer and run a game? No," said Providence attorney Rick Land.

Land is the state receiver charged with selling off 38 Studios assets to satisfy the debt carried by the bond holders.

He hired Easley for the technical end; Land keeps the company's patents and trademarks viable.

"The overall costs haven't been disclosed to the court yet, and I'm not in a position to be specific, but it's in the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it's cost to maintain the system," said Land.

On a monthly basis, the costs exceed $15,000, said Land, not including his attorney fees nor marketing costs for the unpurchased games.

Asked whether his efforts are tantamount to throwing good money after bad, Land said he's cognizant of the costs.

"I don't believe I would be doing my duty as a court-appointed receiver if I was to just walk away. I'm hopeful any money earned from the sale of assets will exceed the costs of maintaining the system," Land said.

After the bankruptcy, Easley worked more than 40 hours a week. Now, he said that number has dropped to around 15 hours at a rented space in a Providence data center called Prov.net.

But with a state lawsuit pending against Schilling and 13 other defendants, in addition to potential buyers wanting to kick the tires of the 38 Studios property, he's on call.

"Despite all the difficulties we've had to go through, it's just been a matter of keeping optimistic, finding the right buyer that had enough intelligence to know what they are getting involved with and having some kind of business plan to get this to market," said Easley.

And the system administrator holds no ill will toward his old boss Schilling.

"You could love or hate the man. He'd give you the shirt off his back. He was always very generous with me," Easley said.

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    NBC 10's I-Team was the first investigative unit in Rhode Island.

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