February 15, 2013, 2:43

Aliens: Colonial Marines Development Post-Mortem Takes Interesting Turn

By Dave Irwin, Sub-Editor

So after a strict embargo was lifted on the games’ release date, apparently Aliens: Colonial Marines was a bit of a disaster according to the many game review outlets out there, with it currently averaging at around in the 40s on Metacritic. Perhaps we were hoping for too much when we put it forward as the 16th Most Anticipated Game of 2013, as from what I hear, I’d pretty disappointed by this too. Alas, not good news for Sega and certainly not good news for Gearbox Software – the developers of the game… or are they?

When something bombs as bad as this did, it’s only natural to carry out a post-mortem to figure out what went wrong. As it turns out, a number of things did – including the cardinal rule of “too many cooks spoiling the broth” being dramatically broken. It has since surfaced that Gearbox have outsourced development of the game to not one studio, but four! These are TimeGate Studios (responsible for Section 8: Prejudice), Demiurge, Nerve and Darkside. Gearbox continuously delayed the game as they were working on key titles for the studio, including the well received Borderlands 2.

That isn’t necessarily where the controversy is however. Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford insist that 80% of the game was created by the studio, a statement that Sega supports, but a post found by MCV from one of the moderators has appeared on the TimeGate Studios forums, which claims that after speaking with the developers, they insist that the studio did as much as 50% of the work on the project.

“I’m not really sure how much I’m allowed to say here. I thought TimeGate worked on the MP component, but I was wrong. Messaged a few people in TimeGate and found out that TimeGate basically had a hand in everything. They are responsible for the weapons, the characters, some of the story, a fair amount of the aliens, and I don’t mean conceptualization, they did the actual work of making said weapons and so on. Technically they did work on the MP component, just not in the way I initially thought. This said, the game underwent a lot of changes so TimeGate doesn’t actually know how much of their content is left. Some had the estimate that 50% of what you see in the campaign is their work, others wanted to see for themselves and would get back to me after playing the game themselves. One has to remember that you can’t really ‘blame’ TimeGate for this. They were outsourced to do parts of Aliens: Colonial Marines, and it does not represent current TimeGate design philosophy. Aliens: Colonial Marines is still mostly a Gearbox production and it was they who made the final call on all content.”

It doesn’t seem like this story is going away anytime soon, with each of the relevant parties coming to terms with the potential disastrous consequences of releasing this game. It’s also pretty safe to assume that the two studios will more than likely squabble like kids about who is to blame. Have you played Aliens: Colonial Marines? What did you make of it?