As has been repeatedly said, the development of video games is a complex and difficult process, therefore it is impossible to avoid problems. During the work, some projects still get to the players, others do not survive, and others completely change beyond recognition.
But the intense production of some games can last for years. There are many projects that have survived production hell. For example, Ubisoft is still trying to finish Skull & Bones, and the news about Beyond Good & Evil 2 stopped coming a long time ago. In our material, we propose to recall five of the most famous such cases.
3D Realms in the mid-90s wanted to get a powerful franchise that would bring profit for many years. To do this, the company hired eminent game designers Tom Hall and John Romero and announced Prey. The game was planned in a sci-fi setting, whose plot revolved around the protagonist abducted by aliens.
It wasn’t until 1996 that Hall and Romero left the team to form Ion Storm. The leadership passed to Paul Schuyem. He kept the original concept, but added an organic spaceship, several alien races, and a Native American protagonist, Talon Brave.
The main feature was portals, with the help of which players would move from one location to another. However, what was supposed to set Prey apart from the rest, in the end, created the main problems. The game engines of the time simply couldn’t handle the new technology, and the developers didn’t understand how to implement it.
As a result, the project was frozen with the wording “insurmountable technical problems.” But the publisher did not want to give up just like that, and they wanted to recapture the money spent as soon as possible. The very next year, 3D Realms invited programmer Krin Yu to finalize the engine. But this attempt was also unsuccessful, after which suspended animation began for several more years.
In 2001, the development was handed over to Human Head Studios. By that time, the engines had enough power to properly display portals. After five years of hard work and numerous reworks, the team was finally able to bring Prey to release. The project did not become that crazy hit, but the sequel was still put into production. However, the sequel also fell into production hell and did not live up to the release.
Silent Hills, Star Wars 1313 and Prey 2. We were waiting for 8 great games, but they never came out
2. The Last Guardian
After a spectacular trailer at E3 2009, the authors of The Last Guardian firmly and clearly announced that they plan to release the game before the end of 2011. By that time, the PS3 exclusive had been in the works for two years. Fumito Ueda planned to complete his own trilogy with a novelty. It also included ICO and Shadow of the Colossus.
But the release had to wait many more years. The game designer wanted to perfect the idea of a gamer interacting with an animal partner. It was in its infancy in Shadows of the Colossus, but Ueda wanted the characters to be as emotionally attached to each other as possible by the end of the adventure. As a result, months and years were spent only on the detailed study of Trico, honing his behavior and drawing animation.
Additional problems appeared due to the PS3 hardware – it did not cope with the needs of the adventure game at all. Sony management sensibly reasoned that the long-awaited game should be transferred to PS4, although even that pulled the game not without problems.
At some point, Fumito Ueda unexpectedly decided to leave Sony, and he finished development together with most of the team in his own genDESIGN studio. Such turbulences greatly affected the speed of development, so the official release happened only in 2016.
The Last Guardian, although it was received positively, nine years of production hell could not but affect its quality. A great-looking Trico was paired with frankly outdated level design and clumsy controls – although that had its own charm. But the idea of a relationship with a living being did work if the players could overpower other aspects of the adventure.
3.Final Fantasy 15
Final Fantasy met 2006 with stagnation. Looking at this, Square Enix decided to shake up its main asset. Plans were made to merge future games into the Fabula Nova Crystallis universe with different worlds. One of the first creations in the new line was to be Final Fantasy Versus XIIIwhich was officially announced at E3 2006. However, the title went down in franchise history as the game whose development lasted the longest.
During this time, the game managed to change the entire technical part and the list of platforms, but the main character, plot and concept as a whole remained the same. As a result, Square Enix decided to restart development with Kingdom Hearts author Tetsue Nomura.
Despite finished character designs and a draft script, production hell could not be avoided. Many important aspects changed until 2011, and after negative reviews of the Final Fantasy 13 trilogy, the publisher decided to abandon plans to include Final Fantasy 15 in the failed universe.
In order to clean up the mess that had been created, the leadership made a castling. The long-term construction was handed over to Hajime Tabata, who previously worked in the mobile sector, and Tetsue Nomura himself was transferred to the development of a remake of Final Fantasy 7. Several more delays followed, until Final Fantasy 15 finally reached the store shelves in 2016. In general, the project was greeted controversially: someone liked it, someone did not. But the excitement of the game just did not justify.
4. Duke Nukem Forever
The story of Duke Nukem Forever is a true embodiment of the saying “Perfect is the enemy of good.” The phenomenally successful Duke Nukem 3D simply couldn’t do without a sequel. 3D Realms thought the same way. And although no one called the exact release date, everyone was guided by Christmas 1998.
The developers wanted to turn DNF into a showcase for the latest in technology. However, their own Build engine couldn’t achieve what they wanted, which forced them to buy a more advanced Quake 2 Engine for a huge amount. Work went on as usual until the more technologically advanced Unreal Engine came out. The studio immediately switched to it, thereby throwing all previous developments into the trash and pushing the release even further.
Wealthy 3D Realms continued to spend huge amounts of money, hoping that the new Duke would top all sorts of sales charts. This feeling was reinforced by screenshots and a spectacular trailer from 2001. But the game was not released in 2002 or 2006, although, according to the workers, it already worked perfectly. In an effort to make perfection, the authors continued to constantly add new features, finish existing ones and throw away other developments. There was no end in sight.
Serious problems soon began. Due to too long development, exhausted employees began to leave the studio en masse. At some point, only 18 people remained in the team. New programmers seriously shoveled engine modules, which immediately destroyed the designs of all levels. Finally, by 2009, 3D Realms ran out of money. The publisher announced its closure, followed by litigation. It seemed that the Nuclear Duke would not recover from such a blow.
But Gearbox managed to hurry up in time, which bought the rights to the series and, under the publishing house 2K Games, began to finish the almost finished Duke Nukem Forever. It took only a year to complete the finishing touches, and sales began in 2011. However, to the great regret of the fans, the game could not justify the expectations at all. It was a failure.
5. Dying Light 2
The most recent example in our collection. Dying Light 2 was announced at E3 2018 with a plan to release the game in the spring of 2020. However, closer to the end of production, big problems began. The ambitious project was repeatedly postponed, and some of the promised mechanics had to be cut. And while Techland admitted that they rushed to the announcement, various sources reported that the studio was going “complete chaos.”
It turned out that for seven years the game was remade several times, since the production managers could not decide on the final vision of the action for a long time. Techland President Pavel Marchevka constantly got into the work, often forcing them to rework already approved ideas. Because of this, as well as general burnout, many workers left before the end of production.
Dying Light 2 was hit particularly hard by the allegations of sexual harassment by Chris Avellone and the subsequent departure of art director Pavel Selinger. As soon as the scandal broke out, the Poles hastened to disown the eminent screenwriter. According to Avellone, he worked on drafts of five to six Fallout: New Vegas-style branching stories, and also compiled over a hundred different quests. The studio removed almost all of his work, transferring work on the plot to an internal team.
However, due to the tight deadlines, it was not possible to write a coherent and thoughtful story, which is why the game was full of illogical dialogues, strange plot moves, quests in the spirit of “bring it, give it, incomprehensible character motivation, incoherent events throughout the city.
At release, the game suffered from many small bugs. Crooked and torn animations, broken scripts, characters and objects appearing out of thin air, facial expressions disappearing, because of which NPCs spoke with their mouths closed – in Dying Light 2 this “wealth” was more than enough. Variability, difficult moral choice and the ability to influence the game world with any of your actions got to the release in a clearly more truncated form than planned.
However, it was still possible to avoid a disastrous release in the spirit of Cyberpunk 2077, despite the obvious problems, in general, the developers released approximately what they promised – although not in full.
Handsome man jogging, girls in bikinis, sunny California, the perky track The Bomb by rapper Pigeon John and the zombie apocalypse that began against the background – the second “Dead Island” promised to be many times more fun and provocative than the original. The high expectations were reinforced by comments from the developers at Yager, who said that the sequel will surpass the original in everything, resembling a “miniature MMO”.
Since the authors really wanted to recover from the failed sales of Spec Ops: The Line, they got down to business with great enthusiasm. So, they spent several days researching the demographics of California in detail in order to present the “right” set of zombies in the game. The appearance of the walking dead was created based on the appearance of the developers themselves.
Released in 2014, the video took the award for “Best Trailer at E3”, and the vertical cut of the gameplay impressed players and journalists with a well-developed combat system. Everyone was optimistic about the next year, for which the release was planned.
However, the publisher soon fell silent, the site stopped updating, and the developers no longer shared new materials. Fear for the project grew like a snowball. In April, the game was postponed for a year, but the truly shocking news came a month later. After three years of work, Yager was suspended from work. The reason is creative differences with the publisher.
The true motives remain unknown. The most likely hypotheses blame the success of Dying Light. Some thought that the publisher wanted to work with Techland again, and they cleared a place for this, but the deal fell through. Others said that Deep Silver was constantly pushing in and asking for popular mechanics from popular games. Not everyone in the studio liked it.
Yager with difficulty, but survived the break in the contract. The development of Dead Island 2 was first handed over to Sumo Digital, but the public was not shown any developments from the creators of LittleBigPlanet 3. After the production was entrusted to the publisher’s internal studio, Dambuster Studios. According to rumors, they have already almost finished developing the sequel and are preparing to release it in a few months.