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August 6th, 2011, 16:07
Crate Entertainment (Grim Dawn) designer 'Medierra' has made some fascinating comments about the publisher interference in the design of Titan Quest in a thread about the recent Rock, Paper, Shotgun interview. Here's an excerpt:
One example of this would be the mandate that enemies not use language or build anything that would make them seem like they had more than animal intelligence. It was felt by one of the higher-ups that people might feel wrong killing enemies that displayed any obvious intelligence. I guess somehow it is wrong to fight intelligent enemies but okay to slaughter dumb animals? We also weren't originally allowed to have humans die, ever, in the game and no human corpses.

One area where this handicapped us was in the creation of environmental assets that visually demonstrated the enemy's war against humanity. We originally wanted to create enemy siege-works outside Athens but were told that would make the enemies seem too intelligent. It was a struggle just to monster camp assets. All of the ruins were also removed from Greece at one point because someone was afraid that players might not understand why, if the game took place in ancient times, that there would still be ruins… I had to fight for both of these things. Without them, Greece would have just been a featureless expanse of wilderness with occasional human towns that never really appeared to be in any serious danger.

At the same time, we were told that enemies should seem like noble adversaries, not evil or demonic creatures. It was highly controversial when the designs for the Limos and Arachnids were first presented. I had to personally fight to get those approved because they were considered too grotesque and scary looking even though they were based on actually mythology. Undead and the Spirit Mastery were also a struggle to get in the game. I was told that Spirit Mastery was too "Necromancery and evil". We managed to push a few more things like that through over the course of development but it was always frowned upon.

Basically, my belief is that Titan Quest never had as much style and character as it could have because we were afraid to do anything even remotely controversial. When I first designed the skill masteries, they were all based on Olympian gods, with skills modeled after the powers or attributes associated with different gods in mythology. This was rejected because it was potentially too religious and people might not want to feel like they were worshiping mythological gods to receive their powers.

We ended up with a game set in Greek mythology that barely contained any actual mythology other than the inspiration for some of the monsters and dialog on peripheral story-teller NPCs stuck off to the side in the towns. The first quest I put in the game, when we were prototyping it for THQ was modeled after one of the 12 labors of Heracles. The Erymanthian Board was terrorizing a town and the hunters they sent after it hadn't returned. You had to ascend mount Erymanthos, discover the wreckage of the hunter's camp, and then continue on to the snow-capped summit to battle the monstrous board. Of course, I was told we couldn't have snow on the summit because people might not realize it snowed in Greece and then later the whole quest vanished and was replaced by generic crap like retrieving a dowry ring so some chick can get married while monsters are overrunning the world.
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August 6th, 2011, 16:07
The whole article tells me one thing: Grim Dawn will kick Diablo 3's ass in terms of quality and athmosphere.
Big publishers can only ruin a game. No snow in Greece, no talking beasts, no siege weapons… Ridiculus.
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August 6th, 2011, 17:12
Sad to see what was left out, kinda like Mexican beer watered down. Hope Grim Dawn does it right.
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August 6th, 2011, 17:23
This was hilarious. No snow! It might confuse the players!
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August 6th, 2011, 17:29
That was very interesting and it also pissed me off. It's scary that there are people out there who have no real concept of gameplay and yet have a critical say/so in a games development.
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August 6th, 2011, 17:52
Nothing surprising or new on a general level, but the concrete examples made this indeed a fascinating read.
Potentially a rather legendary post .
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August 6th, 2011, 17:57
Interesting. My respect for THQ further declined.

It is now -30, instead of -20 before that.

Besides, this reminds me of the … what's the term ? those people from music publishers who are telling (and too often insisting) on what's right and what's wrong and what SHOULD be on an album to attract the masses …

This is just might and power gone loose.

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August 6th, 2011, 18:21
That was a very interesting read. I would have much preferred to play his vision of the game. I picked it up cheap at one point as I was trying see if I still disliked Action-RPG games and didn't get very far before discarding it as a bland and boring grind that didn't seem to have anything to do with greek mythology. This definitely explains it and perhaps I will try Grim Dawn sometime if they can build it the way they want.
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August 6th, 2011, 18:40
Originally Posted by figment View Post
That was a very interesting read. I would have much preferred to play his vision of the game. I picked it up cheap at one point as I was trying see if I still disliked Action-RPG games and didn't get very far before discarding it as a bland and boring grind that didn't seem to have anything to do with greek mythology. This definitely explains it and perhaps I will try Grim Dawn sometime if they can build it the way they want.
I found the game pretty mindless too, but not for the content, for the gameplay. I would never have noticed the themes because of the stupidity of the game in general.

I have to ask though, does anyone think this game would have sold better if there was an M on the cover? I think its clear that's what "management's" main concern was (sans the snow thingie).

Details like the snow thingie is also the sort of the thing that makes this a good read. We rarely see anything about what its like on a production (Upton Sinclair's The Jungle; The Beatles Let it Be movie) and its usually not pretty. Its what happens when you work with a group.

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August 6th, 2011, 21:12
This is why the digital distribution future is a good thing… publishers become less relevant.
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August 6th, 2011, 21:15
Oh you left out the most revealing quote for me:

I was literally told by one of the higher-ups that the game should be designed so that his grandmother would want to play it (even though his grandmother had never played a game before in her life).
This is EXACTLY what is wrong with publishers. They underestimate the intelligence of their audience and they try to make a game for everyone rather than its audience.
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August 6th, 2011, 22:02
this surly can't be real… can publishers be that dump?
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August 6th, 2011, 22:21
What I find very surprising is that sentient-seeming monsters were considered problematic - considering how many shooters and RPGs have many or even mostly human (or sentient humanoid) opponents that does not sound like something that would bother management much.
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August 6th, 2011, 23:38
Originally Posted by lostforever View Post
this surly can't be real… can publishers be that dump?
Yes, they can. I've heard similar horrendous stories about publishers trying to influence the music of music bands or songwriters for their "next" music album.

Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
What I find very surprising is that sentient-seeming monsters were considered problematic - considering how many shooters and RPGs have many or even mostly human (or sentient humanoid) opponents that does not sound like something that would bother management much.
Put it into the context of Blizzard - or of any other action-RPG at all.
There are only few of them which have human enemies.
This is almost as if this was one of the "definition pieces" of what defines an action-RPG …

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August 6th, 2011, 23:47
I probably would have played the original concept if it would have been realized so they lost at least one customer because of that.
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August 7th, 2011, 01:14
None of that stuff publishers said they couldn't do was 'controversial'. What were they shooting for, the [E]veryone rating? It's almost like they deliberately wanted to sabotage the game.

Right, we like everything about it, except take out the violence. And you can't show ruins.

Baffling.

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August 7th, 2011, 03:36
I'm curious to the acuracy of his statements. THQ published more then Titan quest in 2006 and some of the games had much more "demonic" instances. It doesn't make sense that the studio was fine with other games, but played hardball with them, perhaps there were other things going on behind closed doors?

I mean in 2006/2007 - Stalker, company of heroes(mentioned due to extreme human killing), conan, destroy all humans, saints row, warhammer 40k as a few examples which all have very controversal things in them. Yes not all of them are pc/or pc only but regardless they show a trend that THQ was ok with controversy. Something obviosly went wrong with titan quest, but to put it all at the plublishers feet like his statement has seems like an easy out. I am willing to bet the answer is somewhere in the middle.

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August 7th, 2011, 03:48
@ Rune
I think the concerns in the report were specifically to do with Titan Quest and its development rather than principles generally applied to all of their games.

It was both darkly amusing and slightly concerning to read.

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August 7th, 2011, 05:53
I'd say there was probably some massive exaggeration in the post, but it was on his forum and not under oath I'm sure there's at least a grain of truth in the article though and it was pretty interesting. This article would have impressed me more had it been written before Grim Dawn was being marketed.

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August 7th, 2011, 07:09
Political correctness ruins many things..

Whats the politically correct term for hating politically correct ideals?
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