Sega wanted Aliens: Colonial Marines to play like Call of Duty - Report

A new report investigates the relationship between Sega, Gearbox, and TimeGate Studios across Aliens: Colonial Marines' six-year development.

Producers at Sega wanted the panned Aliens: Colonial Marines to take a leaf out of Call of Duty's playbook and be more about shooting marines and less about shooting aliens, sources close to the game's development have said to Kotaku.

Developers Gearbox and TimeGate reportedly resisted the idea, but it was one of the many alleged disagreements between the various parties involved in the game's development as to how the ill-fated game should be made.

"There was also the 'too many chefs' syndrome when it came to gameplay, where too many people gave feedback on both ends and it ultimately led to further delays," said Kotaku's source. "In one case, working on a particular task took me a month to finalize, as there was inconsistent and delayed feedback."

Other claims are made in Kotaku's article, which attempts to shed some light on the game's reportedly troubled development. Earlier reports have accused Gearbox of prioritising its efforts more on Borderlands 2 than the six-year development saga of Aliens: Colonial Marines.

"Sega was very concerned that the bulk of Gearbox's resources/manpower was being spent on Borderlands and that they weren't investing the effort in Colonial Marines that they should have been," somebody close to Sega said to GameSpot earlier this month.

One of the key points is that Gearbox had to essentially remake the game in nine months, after finishing work on Borderlands 2 and inheriting an unoptimised build of Aliens: Colonial Marines from TimeGate Studios that couldn't run on the PlayStation 3.

Public demonstrations of the game were running in real time, but on a beefed-up PC with specifications far beyond the average console or PC configuration, the source said. Significant sacrifices to the game's visuals had to be made to ensure the game would be able to run on typical machines.

"[Gearbox made] big changes to lighting, texture and shader complexity," said an anonymous source. "Design elements were altered or redone entirely. It looks like a lot of [TimeGate's] assets remained intact, with the exception of lower-res textures and faster-performing shaders."

Gearbox knew Aliens: Colonial Marines wasn't up to scratch, a source alleges, but the developer felt it couldn't ask for another extension to the project after six years of development time.

"The game feels like it was made in nine months, and that's because it was," says Kotaku's source.

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Discussion

344 comments
johnnyauau
johnnyauau

This might sound like de ja vu but take a look at this site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_3. There's similarities as why compare to Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986) isn't successful. Read it if you're still interested in why it got so screwed. Compare to HK films, it's hard to please everyone nowadays.

GamerNerdTalk
GamerNerdTalk

Ran too high for current PCs and consoles?!?! That is a terrible lie. I have seen and played beautiful looking games on PC and consoles... Developers were just lazy

darkeyez81
darkeyez81

Why try to duplicate a game that haven't changed much in the last 4 years? Try something different Sega, work hard, no pain no gain.

JoiLambell
JoiLambell

Is this a joke ? 

No ?

This one will go for the history books ! (can´t stop laughing)

Arsyad00
Arsyad00

they should make it play like sonic..... HOW AWESOME IZ DAT!!!! ALIEN ROLLING AND ATTACKING!!!!

lfebaggins
lfebaggins

What a coincidence, when I was playing through the first level of the singleplayer, I thought I was playing Aliens: Call of Duty.  Guess this game was doomed from Day 1 of development

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

Well, I'm sure to makeup for their loss, they can go continue with Borderlands series and Brothers in Arms series. Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines will be remembered as the worst games they ever created for their fans.

June-GS
June-GS

In that case, then they are all at fault here.

Sega, I understand you wanna "get in on the action" with COD, but you don't really need to do that. The Alien/Aliens universe or franchise has its own very strong, very mature and well-established fanbase. As long as you cater to us, we'll support you just as well. In fact, if you are very different from COD, who's to say that people won't like you even more?

Gearbox, we love you for making such awesome co-op games like Borderlands/2, but if you signed a contract with somebody, then you should be committed to it. You're not just bound legally, but also ethically.

Timegate, if you know that Gearbox--which outsourced the game to you "temporarily"--will only have nine months to polish up the build from you, then why the heck didn't you optimize it in the first place? You may or may not be legally required to do it, but it's called good service. More companies will want to hire you for having a good record! People barely know your studio as it is, but now, with this demerit under your belt, what do you think will happen?

Lockjaw2000
Lockjaw2000

I've been saying it for years now...and I'll say it again.  COD is ruining the industry.  Seriously...it's almost running a monopoly on FPS games because everyone wants to make money like Activision does, because what they're doing is right.  And what they're doing is actually completely wrong.  The CEO of Activision is an evil man, purposefully keeping his employees in a pessimistic environment.  It makes me sad.  This game is NOT Call of Duty, and it shouldn't have been approached that way.  Shame on everyone involved in the making of this game, because it just wasn't going to work.

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

In the future, if developers and publishers can't compromise, the games they make will hit a brick wall. Duke Nukem Forever is a flat, boring game with little shooting. Aliens Colonial Marines may be slightly better due to multiplayer but it suffers, not in terms of the shooting and story, but that notion or Call of Duty symdrome in which your just a shooter killing enemies in the name of justice. Aliens will bounce back if they can a hint, more like Resident Evil 4, Silent Hill and maybe other horror games with enough balance between being scared and knowing how to kill the enemy in a spectacular fashion, than just kill aliens and the credits roll.

Lance2500
Lance2500

It's a shame I followed I was very interested in this game.

jark888
jark888

So far, I haven't seen any games that have tried to adapt to COD's path ended well.

vunacar
vunacar

This is just an attention diverting campaign, don't buy a word of what they say.

Scarshi
Scarshi

Aliens: CM is like some kid's school assignment they didn't want to do, was given extensions and then half-assed it because of peer pressure, and then shoved a mixed bag of ideas together in one night before the last due date just to get it over with.

I won't buy it and I hope this boat sinking has taught something, anything.

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

lol they prioritized toward borderlands 2?  well then why does that game suck as well?

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

Wish I'd gone in to town bought Ni No Kuni instead...

DownHill911
DownHill911

So easy money made on terrible product strategy did not work?

Why?

/Sarcasm

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

Had a vision of creating a Cod like game that appealed to million's of online gamer's and raked in load's of cash... better luck next time.

LeonRedfield334
LeonRedfield334

Good thing I didn't buy this game. I'm saving up for something worthy for me and my money.

LE5LO
LE5LO

Making a current gen. FPS Aliens game would be a daunting task, getting the AI right would be a totally bitch. 

I say kudos to Timegate for actually shipping it, flaws and all it'll be a long, long time before another developer betters the mediocrity of A:CM. 

Sega expected too much without considering the complexity that would be needed to develop this. In turn a lot of Aliens fans got their hopes up for something no current developer seems capable of delivering. It was to be expected in a market filled with standard FPS, this game (and our imaginations of how great it would be) was asking for too much.

snaketus
snaketus

CoD games ruined the gaming industry. If we want CoD we will play actual CoD game FFS!

AMG
AMG

Typical, everything wants to be CoD these days. If gamers want to play CoD they will put CoD in the disc tray.

con47
con47

developers need to stop trying to be like call of duty ugh idiots

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

So what's next? House of the Dead Overkill or Resident Evil 6? (I'm joking of course since I don't have Resident Evil 6 at all)

xand3rro
xand3rro

Sega sue them now and get some of that Borderlands money because you sure as hell won't see some of that Aliens money.

robotquest
robotquest

Last I heard, a team of modders are working on "fixing" the PC game. Wonder if they can save it.

riff_farmer
riff_farmer

sounds like everybody crapped the bed on this one

colbster
colbster

What a great business model. No wonder Sega has struggled for years. "Let's emulate another game that people are sick of because its tired and uninspired and then do it worse". Sega and activision are the reason people are playing cool indie games on the ipad instead of wasting money on this crap.

System4Ever
System4Ever

What a mother f***ing surprise....What happend to those days when developers tried to make good games instead of making money.... only CD Projekt Red seems to be keeping that spirit alive....

sweatmonicaIdo
sweatmonicaIdo

@Lockjaw2000 The "beginning of the end," so to speak, was when games started to be treated like Hollywood blockbusters. Games used to be a very distinct form of entertainment - now, they have Hans Zimmer doing soundtracks for games and Eminem providing the themes, Hollywood actors and actresses doing the voice acting, etc. None of which are bad things, but the pervasiveness of such actions shows that the gaming industry has become about providing the one-time thrills that the motion picture industry has become notable for. Games, even ones adapated from films, used to be a very unique experience, one that expanded upon or offered a new perspective on things. Now, they are simply interactive action films.

Scarshi
Scarshi

@Crush_Project At least Borderlands 2 is artistic and fun. Aliens was downgraded just to be able to run. My mate bought this Aliens game and returned it after 2 days of frustration. I still play Borderlands 2 online with him when having a bit of free time.

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

@snaketus  

Why do they ruin the gaming industry. I'm not a cod player but have friend's that are and that is bollocks. Most game maker's leave them to there own devices and when has single campaign ever gone down hill because of cod?... Haters hate, but don't create bollocks around it.

frodo10
frodo10

@robotquest Even if they make the game look amazing and polish the game up a lot no amount of modding can fix the terrible story. The multiplayer is decent but it really cant compete with games like left 4 dead 1 and 2.

danielwd
danielwd

@robotquest They could probably make it look reasonable, but the real challenge is to make it play better. Which is also possible but they will need to do a lot of playtesting.

danusty
danusty

@System4Ever the business has always been about making money. I seriously there's any developer out there working hours on end just for the hell of it and have no interest whatsoever in making money

Lockjaw2000
Lockjaw2000

@sweatmonicaIdo What's sad is that you're right.  Games are, for the most part, entertainment and a form of art, because it's created from the mind.  But, like music, that has changed.  It's not about getting your art appreciated, it's about money.  Multiplayer isn't bad, in fact it's a vital component.  However, that's what everything is about now because of COD.  Everything has to be stream lined, everyone has to be able to play, and everything has to be explosions and loud noises.  It's ridiculous.  Now, even games like Dead Space have lost their sense of "purpose" and identity, joining the fray of huge action sequences that rip the control from your character.  I played through Half Life 1 recently, and you experience everything first hand.  No cut scenes, completely fluid way of giving you an immersive story line.  Cut scenes are fine, don't get me wrong, but they used to not affect game play.  Now it's all about, as you say, "Hollywoodizing" game play with QTE's to make everything seem cool, but it's sad because you're not doing anything.  That's why Dishonored was so cool because it was just...such a neat sandbox experience with an objective, then you completed it however you wanted.


System4Ever
System4Ever

@danusty @System4Ever Well of course some money is involved but it used to be kind of a niche genre and now thanks to greedy companies it's been turned into a full blown industry, i'm just saying that gaming was way better when it was not "mainstream"

Lockjaw2000
Lockjaw2000

@sweatmonicaIdo Well of course they have to make money, I don't disagree with you there.  I'd just rather see a company that deserves it get paid over one that pulls "fast ones" over on their employees and customers all the time.  Take A:CM for example.  Gearbox screwed up BAD with this one.  Sega is just as much to blame as well, it's just sad that this game could've been so good.


I do agree that the quality of games have gone down.  There are still really good developers out there, CD Projekt Red, Naughty Dog, and others.  We can only hope that we'll see an upturn?  I think the Last of Us will bring something back.

sweatmonicaIdo
sweatmonicaIdo

 @ Lockjaw2000 I have no problem with game companies being about making money. After all, those companies are run by people and people have bills to pay and mouths to feed. And nobody wants to make a game to get great reviews but turn be a financial disaster.

My issue is with how they go about making that money. A person ought to take pride in their work and seek to create the greatest possible product imaginable. In fact, that is how you make money best in the long-term - establish a good reputation and maintain it, so that people will continue coming back to you. I think the "silent majority" of gamers (in other words, the non-G4 crowd) appreciate a company that is willing to take risks and to stand out from everyone else. That is what the gaming industry used to do - they always sought to do something different with each installment and every game had something so unique that you just had to play it. Now, all you see are games that are exactly the same, except with different characters and settings. The story seems to be more of an afterthought.

I am a very un-nostalgic person, but I have very good reasons for believing that gaming's finest moments were from the late-70s to the late-'90s.

Nightcaper
Nightcaper

@Lockjaw2000 @kohle36 COD ruined the game industry? I suppose violent videogames are the reason there's tons of violence and shootings, too? Sorry, but that's a total cop-out, my friend. I dislike COD, but even I know to only give credit where it is due, and that is within individual developer and publisher responsibility. Typical marketing strategy is to watch the demographic and copy what works, but that is of no fault of Activision; Any ruination to the gaming industry or financial bankruptcy to developers or publishers is of their own accord, on their own decisions. A:CM could have been unique and what it was meant to be, but it was not, and that is not anyone's fault but the people responsible for development and team coordination/communication. I was kinda hoping some developers and publishers would take from the success of some recent indie games and think of how they could make their games unique, but perhaps that's for another generation. Case in point, if blame must be put on anyone, it is those responsible for the design of the game, not a separate company entirely. Hate training on COD gets old after a while.

Lockjaw2000
Lockjaw2000

@kohle36 But what you just explained backs up the "COD ruined the game industry" take.  Because everyone wants to be like them, and Acitivsion NEVER changes.  So everyone wants to follow them.  That's ruining the franchise.  Activision could make something spectacular with how much money they make, but they choose not to.  They choose to feed us the same crap because it works.  Now other devs want to do the same, but it never works.  Thus, I do believe that COD has ruined the industry. 

kohle36
kohle36

@tldr23  @LukeWesty  @snaketus  Nah, Westy's right, CoD didn't ruin the industry. There's obviously a large market for it. The problem was when every other developer and publisher took notice of its success and tried to make everything exactly like it. 

It's absolute idiocy, but many of the decision makers decided to emulate the most successful games in hopes that their too would also be 'the most successful'. Problem is, as large as the market for modern military fps is, it's still finite, and there are many, many other markets in the industry.

The end result, as we've seen, has been an overwhelming number of samey titles all competing for the same (big) slice of the pie, while the rest of the damn (smaller) slices go uneaten. 'Niche' markets get ignored, and the majority of minorities goes without. Kind of a sick metaphor for democracy, when you think about it.

Moi_Hahaha
Moi_Hahaha

@tldr23 @LukeWesty @snaketus  Most hardcore CoD players don't even play what we would call "real games" so no harm done, they play FIFA and CoD, how do you find time for other games when you've just level 10 prestiged?, most people I know who play CoD, only play CoD.

its just hip to slate CoD... who cares? don't like, don't buy, the joy of consumer capitalism.

VitJay
VitJay

@System4Ever @danusty LOL.  Medicine used to be niche, too, but now those greedy companies have gone and turned it into a full-blown industry.  How I miss the glory days of leech treatments and dying of dysentery while still a virgin.

When gaming was "niche", it was still about the money (which is 100% fine).  The difference was that three dudes in a garage could bang out a marketable title with just their own credit cards as a bankroll.  Even if you make the bestest title ever with that approach now, good luck trying to get noticed in some multi-thousand title app store or on primo shelfspace at the tiny handful of gaming retail outlets left.  If you want to blame anyone for how blown-up gaming has become, blame the gamers who demanded more, more, more for their same $50 (also 100% fine).  Free markets, baby -- everyone wins.  

Complaining about "greedy companies" somehow "ruining" an industry (how?  By selling products that millions are willing to fork cash over for?  By generating billions and billions of revenue and giving gamers unparalleled-in-history freedom of choice in hardware and software?) is pointless and self-contradictory.  Put down Lennon's Imagine and stop longing for a past that never existed.  You'll be less cynical about the present and future.