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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Alien RPG - Feargus: "Felt like a finished game"

Default Alien RPG - Feargus: "Felt like a finished game"

April 29th, 2010, 01:15
Joystiq briefly caught up with Feargus Urquhart to follow up on a promise to talk about their cancelled Alien RPG. Turns out not enough water has passed under the bridge but he did offer this tidbit that infers the game was a good way along:
At a press event last week, we asked Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart some followup questions about the axed title, which he'd previously asked us to do; however, it still hasn't been the required year since we first talked to him, so we're still missing the details as to why the title got the guillotine. But we did learn that the game looked and felt nearly complete before its cancellation. "Oh, if you had come in and played any of the last builds we were working on, you would have said it was a finished game," Urquhart told Joystiq. "That's how close we were. It looked and felt like it was ready to ship."
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April 29th, 2010, 01:15
Little typo: the title reads Feagus instead of Feargus.
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April 29th, 2010, 01:48
Fixed. Thanks.

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April 29th, 2010, 03:30
Well, crap.

Been on the receiving end of that kinda thing too - just as we made our beta submission, WE thought the game rawked and had all kinds of potential, and the publisher said, "Ummm… on second thought guys, we've been meeting over this, and we've decided to pull the plug."

What? WHAT?

Hurts as a developer. And hurts as a gamer, reading that. was kinda looking forward to that one.
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April 29th, 2010, 05:12
Why does these things happen?

I assume that the publisher has paid the developers up untill they cancelled it. Why not go the the last bit and release it and make some money on it instead of just loosing money for nothing?
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April 29th, 2010, 05:50
I still say if Alpha Protocol is a hit, Sega could make enough to let them finish it.

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April 29th, 2010, 08:46
I'm with Foss on this; I really don't understand such decisions, even from a business PoV!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 29th, 2010, 09:07
Mind you, this contradicts the lead's statement, since Sawyer actually said that the game needed at least another year of development. So yeah, it may have FELT just like it was finished but it was nowhere near finished and developing game costs a lot.
I also remember Avellone saying that it was for the best, and quite a lot of rumors that the project wasn't coming out too well..
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April 29th, 2010, 12:43
Originally Posted by RampantCoyote View Post
Well, crap.

Been on the receiving end of that kinda thing too - just as we made our beta submission, WE thought the game rawked and had all kinds of potential, and the publisher said, "Ummm… on second thought guys, we've been meeting over this, and we've decided to pull the plug."

What? WHAT?

Hurts as a developer. And hurts as a gamer, reading that. was kinda looking forward to that one.
It's just the result of the philosophy of looking at games like Wares. Nothing more.

They aren't games anymore; they are just considered as any time disposeable products of profit maximizing.

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April 29th, 2010, 12:46
Originally Posted by Foss View Post
Why not go the the last bit and release it and make some money on it instead of just loosing money for nothing?
Marketing, more marketing, printing, distribution, licensing, remaining development time, support, Sega's internal company politics, Sega's available capital (or lack thereof in the middle of a worldwide financial meltdown), the need the juggle quarterly balance sheets for the shareholders …
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April 29th, 2010, 12:57
Just an observation (which might not be relevant since I haven't followed this project at all):
He said that it felt like a "finished game" which doesn't really mean that it was also a good enough game… maybe it's not as much an issue of how much money they could save but rather of whether the game's quality would 'hurt' the company by making people lose their trust - which would be disastrous for Obsidian at this time since they have two major and very hyped releases on the way.

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April 29th, 2010, 16:30
It's the economy whole countries and states either going bankrupt or on the verge, and banks are NOT lending. There is a 50% chance the commercial real estate will have a huge fail in about 3 months. Commercial banks won't be as bad as housing crisis since even if properties go bankrupt, there will still be some income from tenants.

Publishers borrow most of the money they use to finance games.

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April 29th, 2010, 19:04
Why not go the the last bit and release it and make some money on it instead of just loosing money for nothing?
Because the costs of marketing and distribution are significant.

A lot of the publishing business is actually about gambling/calculating risks. Only about 1 in 3 games released make a profit. So publishers take calculated risks, they weigh up whether the costs vs risks vs projected returns make sense so that overall they (hopefully) earn profit.

But this is going to be an ongoing analysis during development. The situation when AlienRPG started might have made the calculations come out favourable, but then later maybe another game flopped or the economy changed and suddenly it looked like a bad bet from the publisher's point of view.

Since marketing and distribution costs a significant chunk, they may have decided that it was better to accept the loss of the money they already invested than gamble even more money on a risk.

For gamers and devs it sounds completely miserable but we're not the ones who ultimately bear the burden of our shareholders millions of dollars, you know? We're asking the publishers to bear that risk. Under those circumstances I'd also play it safe, for the most part.

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April 29th, 2010, 20:42
I would be usually be willing to accept the reasoning for the huge marketing costs but c'mon Alien franchise is a massive thing. Even people who aren't gamers know what alien films or games are about. Its like star wars or lord of the rings. You'll get twice ammount of attention compared to most games. all you need to do is to relase a press relase and gaming media takes care of the rest.
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April 29th, 2010, 21:57
Have all the other movie-franchise spin-off games been successful?

And of those that have, how many have been games with simple action mechanics as opposed to more complicated RPGs?

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April 30th, 2010, 00:21
I think we might have also lost sight of the specific language: "felt like a finished game" is not the same as finished. Given that not a single screen was ever officially released, I suspect Feargus means "we were working on an E3 demo that looked pretty good".

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April 30th, 2010, 00:29
He said that it felt like a "finished game" which doesn't really mean that it was also a good enough game… maybe it's not as much an issue of how much money they could save but rather of whether the game's quality would 'hurt' the company by making people lose their trust - which would be disastrous for Obsidian at this time since they have two major and very hyped releases on the way.
QFT

Quality concerns. That's why the game was canceled. And that's why many other games with a lot more potential have been canceled.
Publishers do not risk (and do not afford) spending marketing money on titles that lack the overall quality to stand out in today's competitive market. Such titles do not sell well and damage the publisher's reputation.

And let's be honest, while Obsidian is one of the best RPG developers out there, the company has a reputation for developing buggy and unfinished games.
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April 30th, 2010, 01:40
As I understand it the Alien RPG was sliced for a Sega demo, ie they did a section and the game systems to close to release quality, for the purpose of showing the publisher a demo. That's probably why it "felt" like a finished game more than anything. Nothing else I've seen suggests it was close to release in any absolute sense.
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April 30th, 2010, 05:18
Sega had a choice to finance one or the other, AP was nearer release.

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