Tales from The Trenches Archive

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It’s a Sabotage

One game inside my company was being made by a new and very promising studio it had acquired in the old Soviet Block countries.  The brass was really looking forward to them working out when they invested in the studio, and their big game project was ambitious and well designed.  The long and short is an Eastern European post nuclear disaster wasteland First-Person quest driven exploration and survival shooter.

Sounds like Fallout 3, right?  But this game was designed and even released long before FO3 ever hit the shelves.  It was something that could have swept the market and become a smash hit, especially since it would have been easy for the localization for Europe and Russia because of the studio’s location.  The guys that tested the game sang of it’s potential, but more often they lamented it’s situation.

You see, the management had a few people they wanted to “dispose of.”

The big brass in the company decided to place people they didn’t like in charge of the new, small, and suddenly under-funded studio and then blame them when the new builds still retained Alpha version bugs and flaws.  Every person placed in charge of handling the unfortunate game was held responsible for a lack of progress when they were being actively undermined by their own bosses.

About three guys got discredited this way, the game itself getting older and inching closer to completion during this entire process. With three months until the promised release date, they were suddenly given funding, a new manager that was not being targeted by the higher ups, and a team of forty full time testers, a size only found on flagship projects inside the company.  But it was too late.  All the bugs that had been in the game since it’s Alpha build were present, and there was only enough time for surface polish and handling the “Game Breaker” bugs, and then the game was forced out the door.

I just now went and checked the old game’s Meta-score, and each review says basically the same thing.

“Great atmosphere, great writing, and immersive.  But the bugs kill the fun, so go find something else to play if you can.”

Even so, the game got an 80% rating and additional DLC.  But I just can’t help but feel that if those guys in charge hadn’t have been petty assholes to each other then this game would have been the one to define a genre in place of Fallout 3.  Instead, they pissed their money away and hamstrung a promising studio for their own personal vendettas.

Bet they would’ve acted different had they known how much money Bethesda would make.