Aliens: Colonial Marines Development Structure in Question, SEGA Responds

By Jorge Ba-oh 13.02.2013 27

Aliens: Colonial Marines Development Structure in Question, SEGA Responds on Nintendo gaming news, videos and discussion

Reports have shown conflicting reports in the development structure of the muched talked about Aliens: Colonial Marines.

The eagerly anticipated Aliens: Colonial Marines has been the news this week with claims from those who had worked on the game about the proportion of development from developer Gearbox Software and other studios working on the project.

The game has only just reached store shelves on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC but has found its fair share of critics.

Comments from one of the ex-developers didn't offer high hopes for those waiting for Colonial Marines, suggesting that "development of that game has been a total train wreck" and that "Gearbox isn't even making the game, except for the multiplayer".

The main concern comes from just how much of the project was outsourced to the other studios like TimeGate and Nerve, given the low scores so far.

It has been noted previously that it wasn't a purely Gearbox-only affair, and CEO Randy Pitchford confirmed that TimeGate had worked on around a quarter of the game.

The Wii U version has been in development by Demiurge Studios and is scheduled for release at some-point this Spring - given it was created by a different studio all-together in conjunction with Gearbox, the Wii U edition might redeem some of the factors brought up in the other versions.

Publisher SEGA has since replied to these concerns after the community outrage earlier this week, expressing that "The game has been developed by Gearbox Software. Other studios [like Timegate] helped Gearbox on the production of single and multiplayer."

Have you played Aliens: Colonial Marines yet? What are your thoughts on the project?

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Every site I've seen review this game has said it is terrible.

It would be really awesome, though, if the Wii U version turned out to be pretty good since it is by a different developer.

The MP is good fun but still needs work post-patch, it's the one saving grace, as it has some good MP modes which discerning Alien fans will appreciate. I don't think it has any balancing issues, but I imagine a large number of brainless FPS fans may well think it does.  

The singleplayer is terrible, poor AI, graphics, design decisions, and a lack of direction in keeping with the films. There's never any feelings of dread. The game needed less ammo and weaponry, and more of the tension which is a hallmark of the best films. The story lacked an early event that resulted in less weaponry being available to the player.

A generic shooter skinned with Giger-esque design does little to appease fans, the complete lack of horror, is the only horror in this game. I don't think it's quite as bad as many have made out (3), but knowledge of the BG of this games development, have naturally made many angry. I'm only angry at Gearbox's CEO, this franchise has been treated very poorly by his company, when he personally kept reiterating it was a labour of love for his team. Aliens above any other, is perfect for videogame adaptation, but with shitty modern Sega at the helm, it will continue to go nowhere.

 

( Edited 14.02.2013 11:41 by Linkyshinks )


 

 

Demo vs. Final Game comparison. Watch with annotations, since they messed up a couple of the labels.

But speaks for itself. I find it fascinating more than anything. I feel sorry for fans but I'm just really interested in what happened with this game. Really strange.

I remember this demo walkthrough well, I watched it repeatedly. It's shocking to see this comparison.

The demo was made by the guy leading the Wii U team at Demiurge, if he's stuck to his guns and got an adequate budget, hopefully it will look like the demo. 

Edit

Poorly edited video.

Edit


 

 



( Edited 13.02.2013 19:13 by Linkyshinks )

It was shocking to me that a Gearbox game could be such a clusterfuck. These are the guys who did Half-Life's DLC and Borderlands, they aren't new to first-person shooters. They also aren't new to Aliens, having co-developed a very well-received DS title. I was flabbergasted at the reviews and videos I saw.

This seems to shed a little bit of light on things, with the game apparently being plagued by development problems.

I mean, it's usually not a good idea to compare a demo and a final product. Yeah, the demo looks way better than the final version. That doesn't mean what they did in the demo was stable and able to be run by modern game consoles, there are a lot of factors involved. But that really only accounts for the physical appearance of the game. It looks like actual story elements changed for the worse for no apparent reason.

It's a cool video anyway, because it shows how drastic a difference changing just the lighting can have on a game.

I truly hope the Wii U version of this game is better. This was going to be a day one purchase for me, and the initial reaction has whittled it down to GameFly at best.

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing: http://www.davidjlovato.com

the Wii U edition might redeem some of the factors brought up in the other versions.

Wishful thinking. It'll be a ball of shit like the other versions. And you'll have had to wait for it. Get a good game for your 'U, instead.

Our member of the week

Linkyshinks said:
The demo was made by the guy leading the Wii U team at Demiurge, if he's stuck to his guns and got an adequate budget, hopefully it will look like the demo.

That's my biggest hope right now. And actually even recent trailers for the WiiU version shown on Nintendo's Youtube channel show these effects from that work in progress demo.

I wonder what version they used for the comparison (what "already released" version, I mean).

EDIT: Ah sorry, should have watched the whole thing, he clearly says it's PC footage. Wow!

( Edited 13.02.2013 23:18 by RudyC3 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

RudyC3 said:
 
That's my biggest hope right now. And actually even recent trailers for the WiiU version shown on Nintendo's Youtube channel show these effects from that work in progress demo.

To be fair, I'm pretty sure trailers for the currently-released game also used footage from that demo, so that doesn't necessarily mean the Wii U version will look like that either.

Edit: Yeah, the trailer on Nintendo's channel appears to be the same as a trailer released for the game in general, they just put a Wii U banner on it.

( Edited 13.02.2013 23:28 by justonesp00lturn )

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing: http://www.davidjlovato.com

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=513227

Unconfirmed, but it aint looking so hot...

According to Jason Schreier's reply to his own article on Kotaku:
Quote: "We heard from a tipster about a month ago that the Wii U version had been "postponed indefinitely."

We reached out to Sega, and they denied it. I'll let you guys fill in the blanks there. Smilie

Also Amazon no longer lists a Wii U version of the game.


:/



( Edited 14.02.2013 00:13 by Azuardo )

Our member of the week

Zavvi confirmed to me today that they still had my pre-order and were still planning on shipping it to me as soon as they get copies...

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

If the Wii U version is on par, they would have to cancel the Wii U game in light of all this, there would be no point releasing the game on Wii U, no point at all. 


RudyC3 said:
Linkyshinks said:
The demo was made by the guy leading the Wii U team at Demiurge, if he's stuck to his guns and got an adequate budget, hopefully it will look like the demo.

That's my biggest hope right now. And actually even recent trailers for the WiiU version shown on Nintendo's Youtube channel show these effects from that work in progress demo.

I wonder what version they used for the comparison (what "already released" version, I mean).

EDIT: Ah sorry, should have watched the whole thing, he clearly says it's PC footage. Wow!

According to the Reddit post, TimeGate Studios removed Gearbox assets (4 years worth of quality driven design -app Gearbox only found out in late 2012). The big question is, has the Wii U lead designer retained it all.

https://www.facebook.com/timegatestudios


The post on Reddit matches what our source has told us, but there's more. When TimeGate took over the project, our source said, they threw out most of what Gearbox had done beforehand. All of the art and design that Gearbox had produced during the previous four years was gone.So from 2010 until late last year, while Gearbox was working on Borderlands 2 (internally codenamed "Willow 2"), TimeGate handled the bulk of development on Aliens. A small team at Gearbox helped out with multiplayer work, as explained by both our source and the Redditor, but TimeGate built the single-player campaign.In late 2012, when Gearbox saw what TimeGate had done, most of their developers weren't interested in taking the game back, our source said. Gearbox's team was upset that their work had been thrown out, and they didn't want this to be a repeat of Duke Nukem Forever, a game that took over a decade to develop until it was finally finished by Gearbox and released in mid-2011 to tepid response.But Gearbox had to finish the game, and according to our source, they had to throw out much of TimeGate's work and start from scratch. This lines up with what the Redditor claims:Campaign didn't make much sense, the boss fights weren't implemented, PS3 was way over memory, etcetcetc. GBX was pretty unhappy with TG's work, and some of Campaign maps were just completely redesigned from scratch. There were some last minute feature requests, most notably female marines, and the general consensus among GBX devs was that there was no way this game was going to be good by ship. There just wasn't enough time.Considering that SEGA was pretty close to taking legal action against GBX, asking for an extension wasn't an option, and so Pecan crash-landed through certification and shipping. Features that were planned were oversimplified, or shoved in (a good example of this are challenges, which are in an incredibly illogical order). Issues that didn't cause 100% blockers were generally ignored, with the exception of absolutely horrible problems. This isn't because GBX didn't care, mind you. At a certain point, they couldn't risk changing ANYTHING that might cause them to fail certification or break some other system. And so, the product you see is what you get.


 

 



( Edited 14.02.2013 08:29 by Linkyshinks )

Our member of the week

Makes me wonder even more, what with all these last minutes changes or so it seems, how could the other studio in charge of the Wii U version keep up with all these changes, if they were aiming at keeping the game identical accross all platforms? Perhaps it was indeed cancelled then?

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

I suppose the NA Nintendo Direct may let us know. If it fails to show it's unlikely.


 

 


( Edited 14.02.2013 11:26 by Linkyshinks )

Our member of the week

Linkyshinks said:

 

 

Nice Space Balls reference XD. But more seriously, this is insane...

( Edited 14.02.2013 13:38 by RudyC3 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Why in the shit would Gearbox give another studio the power to scrap everything they'd done, and have no backup of it?

The Wii U version is scheduled for a Spring release. I would think they're too far along to just outright cancel the game.

Something I find interesting though is that a lot of the people griping about the game still found it fun in some way. Most people are pissed that it didn't live up to the hype and that they paid full price for an essentially unfinished product, and I think that led to lower scores than the game deserves (not saying it's an 8/10 or anything, just that people are giving it a 2 when really it's a 5 or 6). People complain about huge glitches like missing textures and animations, and others report having no problems the entire game.

Still, I'm not sure I'll pay money for this. I do plan to rent it at some point, and I was hoping to get it on Wii U for the always-on motion tracker on the GamePad. If it's canceled, I wish they'd just tell us so I don't wait forever to just get the Xbox version.

Apparently, DemiUrge, who are behind the Wii U version, are also responsible for the first DLC, which is a multiplayer map pack. I'm wondering if they were focusing more on that than the Wii U version. If so, I doubt they have any reason to now. I don't think many people are going to spring for DLC for this game.

Linkyshinks said:
I suppose the NA Nintendo Direct may let us know. If it fails to show it's unlikely.

I don't know about that. Nintendo Direct is usually based around games that are already out or right about to release, so a game with a projected release date of March isn't likely to show in an early February update anyway.

Unless Nintendo Direct has changed since I last watched it. I tend to ignore them because they're a waste of time and I could never get them to load on my Wii anyway. It's been a while.

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing: http://www.davidjlovato.com

justonesp00lturn said:
I don't know about that. Nintendo Direct is usually based around games that are already out or right about to release, so a game with a projected release date of March isn't likely to show in an early February update anyway.

Unless Nintendo Direct has changed since I last watched it. I tend to ignore them because they're a waste of time and I could never get them to load on my Wii anyway. It's been a while.

It's obviously been a long time since you last watched one.

Sonic_13 said:

It's obviously been a long time since you last watched one.

It has indeed. Looks like they're pretty cool as of late. I usually just catch up on news later since the videos tend to air before I've even gotten up, had no idea they've been announcing games regularly on there.

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing: http://www.davidjlovato.com

justonesp00lturn said:

Linkyshinks said:
I suppose the NA Nintendo Direct may let us know. If it fails to show it's unlikely.

I don't know about that. Nintendo Direct is usually based around games that are already out or right about to release, so a game with a projected release date of March isn't likely to show in an early February update anyway.

Unless Nintendo Direct has changed since I last watched it. I tend to ignore them because they're a waste of time and I could never get them to load on my Wii anyway. It's been a while.


You're wrong.

Edit:

http://uk.ign.com/articles/2013/02/14/did-aliens-colonial-marines-screenshots-lie-to-you

http://uk.ign.com/articles/2012/04/04/how-gearbox-got-the-jump-on-the-next-generation

http://youtu.be/ADqIh9_zAp4


 

 



( Edited 15.02.2013 06:53 by Linkyshinks )

gigi kent (guest) 15.02.2013#19

Randy pitchford should be  hanged and impaled (not necessary in that order)  for  for insulting Aliens fans with (t)his garbage. The game had so much potential and he ruined everything for us. For instance I didn't understand why 3/4 of the game I shot humans in an Aliens game !! Why the graphic look terrible compared with the demo ?? Who did he take us for ? I am glad I didn't buy his crap, I heard rumors that something is fishy about it and I wanted to convince myself. I played it in a night and  am disappointed. I won't be buying this crap.

From NeoGaf

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=513398


The one thing that made me excited about Aliens: Colonial Marines was its supposed lighting tech. People seem to have completely forgotten about it and either don't realize what's missing in the final game compared to the demo videos or aren't as (negatively) surprised as I am that the game's visuals ended up being so bland. (I've been wondering myself)

So let's remember what Pitchford said and showed, shall we?

http://www.1up.com/previews/e3-alien...arines-preview


Quote:

The game's still powered by Unreal, but its rendering engine is a brand-new renderer that Gearbox has created. "It's exclusive to Marines," continues Pitchford. "It's a real-time dynamic lighting, dynamic shadow system. When you see the images in this game you're going to realize how alive everything is. The way the lights move in the environment -- it affects everything in real-time. Nothing is baked in."

The lighting and shadow shadow system is impressive and has to be a necessary component for the game to capture the feeling from the films. The renderer was on full-power towards the end of the demo when the marines were forced into a last stand situation. The power gets cut off, the Aliens invade, red emergency lights flicker to life, and pulse rifles start firing away at the moving shadows. It really captures the feeling of a film that has inspired other game developers for years.The renderer even has a name: 

http://www.gamespot.com/aliens-colon...eview-6318046/

Quote:

The sundered colony made full use of the game's Red Ring engine, easily rendering creepy lighting and shadows touted as influenced by Dead Space.And we even know who built it: 

http://www.destructoid.com/aliens-co...g-225194.phtml


Quote:

When presenting Aliens: Colonial Marines to a room full of writers, one thing Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford wanted to boast about was a technique he called "deferred rendering." According to Gearbox's most charming mouth, this is the "next generation" of lighting that developers will be bigging up in the next few years.

"We have this guy, we call him The Zoner, Sean Cavanagh," Pitchford told me in a following interview. "He said, 'Dude, because of the nature of this franchise, I can rationalize the effort, time, money, and some pretty fucking hardcore brains, to build this engine now. He's never been wrong. He built the original tools for Half-Life that did all the baked-in lighting. That was all compiled with Zoner's tools. Everyone's going to do , he wanted to do it now, and see if he could do it on these existing platforms. 

"It's pretty cool. You want the most realistic lighting possible, but machines are slow and only have so much computational power, so what you do is you bake the lighting in advance. The way Gears of War looks so amazing is that most of the lighting is rendered ahead of time. It's baked onto the surfaces, which is awesome if the lighting stays in the same places and nothing moves, but when the light or something in the environment changes, it breaks it."

According to Pitchford, deferred rendering makes lighting more flexible, delivering the same kind of atmosphere as Gears of War in a way that isn't pre-packaged. 

"The next generation wants to get over that trade-off by doing the lighting simulation last after all the physical objects are in place. Not only do you need to add the lighting last, it needs to be a better lighting than it was when we pre-baked it. Zoner found a way of doing it. On Xbox 360 and PS3, we get about 90% of the way there. It obviously looks a lot better when you're playing it on PC, but it turns out the consoles are powerful enough, and all the software's optimal enough because we're so late in the life cycle, to where he found a way and we're fucking doing it. 

"It's pretty exciting for us. When you hear some of the big guys talk about their next generation lighting, you're going to hear about deferred rendering a lot. It's very possible that Aliens: Colonial Marines is the first commercial product to ship with deferred lighting."

I can't say I know much about the technical side of things. I know real-time lighting itself is nothing new, but I do know that, regardless of how "next-gen" the tech actually is, the lighting in Colonial Marines does look bloody fantastic. I'd say that's a score for this deferred rendering malarky, be it a marketing term or not.

Screenshots: http://www.geforce.co.uk/whats-new/a...lonial-marines

Image for

Image for

Image for

Image for

Image for

Gotta love the lighting. It doesn't look like Unreal. It indeed looks like dynamic, lighting. Of course the screenshots might be downsampled from very high resolutions, and post-processed with photoshop to improve them, but overall they look nothing like the final game.

So what happened? I have some theories:

1) Console builds were lagging behind / they might have overestimated the "90% of the PC quality" lighting of the console builds.

Pitchford said:

Quote:

"Everyone's going to do [this lighting], he wanted to do it now, and see if he could do it on these existing platforms." "On Xbox 360 and PS3, we get about 90% of the way there. It obviously looks a lot better when you're playing it on PC, but it turns out the consoles are powerful enough"But are they?

http://www.reddit.com/r/LV426/commen..._at_the_final/

Quote:

About 5 of those 9 months went to shipping BL2. In that time, TimeGate managed to scrap together 85% of the campaign, but once Borderlands 2 shipped and GBX turned its attention to Pecan, it became pretty apparent that what had been made was in a pretty horrid state.Campaign didn't make much sense, the boss fights weren't implemented, PS3 was way over memory, etcetcetc.This wouldn't be the first time we've heard of a similar story. For example Crytek had to eventually remove GI from the console builds of Crysis
2, when they found out "it still had visible issues/artefacts which we ran out of time to address".

2) As of April 2012 the lighting engine was only 45% completed

http://www.polycount.com/forum/showp...&postcount=182
http://se.linkedin.com/pub/ryan-hawkins/24/a69/604

TimeGate Studios (June 2011 - April 2012)
Title: Aliens Colonial Marines (Xbox360/PS3/PC) 

Quote:

Not the greatest screenshots in the world but its what I could get at the time when I left the project. The lighting engine was only 45% donefor the project and it really made it hard to get good cubemaps and gi on the environments. Hopefully I can get my hands on the game soon and get better screens. For now this is all I have also on ACM a lot of the game art asset wise was outsourced to Shanghai so nothing you can do to really point fingers. Also keep in mind the game was in development for 6 years so when a lot of us polycounters joined the project the game was still filled with 6 year old assets that we had no time to fix or replace.3) After Borderlands 2 shipped in September 2012, Gearbox went into "panic mode/scrap everything we don't have time to properly make":


Quote:

GBX was pretty unhappy with TG's work, and some of Campaign maps were just completely redesigned from scratch. There were some last minute feature requests, most notably female marines, and the general consensus among GBX devs was that there was no way this game was going to be good by ship. There just wasn't enough time.

Considering that SEGA was pretty close to taking legal action against GBX, asking for an extension wasn't an option, and so Pecan crash-landed through certification and shipping. Features that were planned were oversimplified, or shoved in (a good example of this are challenges, which are in an incredibly illogical order). Issues that didn't cause 100% blockers were generally ignored, with the exception of absolutely horrible problems. This isn't because GBX didn't care, mind you. At a certain point, they couldn't risk changing ANYTHING that might cause them to fail certification or break some other system. And so, the product you see is what you get.There have been rumblings that Sega are planning to sue Gearbox. No party in this is available to comment.


====================


It's reading right, man...



 

 


https://www.facebook.com/GearboxSoftware?fref=ts
https://www.facebook.com/timegatestudios?fref=ts
https://www.facebook.com/DemiurgeStudios?fref=ts
https://www.facebook.com/Sega?fref=ts

Edit

In a mere two days, PC gamers have modded the game to add better DX10 graphical effects...
http://www.destructoid.com/aliens-colonial-marines-mods-add-better-lighting-245047.phtml


( Edited 15.02.2013 17:22 by Linkyshinks )

Linkyshinks said:


You're wrong.

Edit:

http://uk.ign.com/articles/2013/02/14/did-aliens-colonial-marines-screenshots-lie-to-you

http://uk.ign.com/articles/2012/04/04/how-gearbox-got-the-jump-on-the-next-generation

http://youtu.be/ADqIh9_zAp4


 

 

Well I already admitted I was wrong, but none of the links you posted have anything to do with Nintendo Direct, so I don't know why you posted them.

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing: http://www.davidjlovato.com

They're not directed at you...

Linkyshinks said:
They're not directed at you...

Then why did you quote me?

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing: http://www.davidjlovato.com

justonesp00lturn said:
Sonic_13 said:

It's obviously been a long time since you last watched one.

It has indeed. Looks like they're pretty cool as of late. I usually just catch up on news later since the videos tend to air before I've even gotten up, had no idea they've been announcing games regularly on there.


Yeah, Nintendo has really turned them into must-watch events for Nintendo fans.


Critical eye back on Gearbox.

http://www.destructoid.com/developer-gearbox-lied-to-sega-2k-over-colonial-marines-245986.phtml


Sterling on the fiasco

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/6832-A-LIE-ns-Colonial-Marines

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