5 Hilarious Stories From The Early Days Of Video Games
Making video games is a lot like joining the military, in that it's best suited to those who don't care about seeing their families (or if they work for EA, anything other than abject misery). So it's nice when we find proof that the teams that made our favorite games had a little fun behind the scenes. It certainly makes us feel better about throwing discs across the room in fits of frustrated rage. Take how ...
GoldenEye Nearly Ended With 007 Visiting The Bad Guys In The Hospital
GoldenEye is regarded as one of the greatest FPS games of all-time -- provided that no one picks Oddjob -- but it could have easily been a mediocre mess. For starters, the development team was comprised of newbies who'd never worked on a major release, and Nintendo was anxious about the amount of "horrible" violence and death in the game (as if their most famous franchise wasn't about wanton turtle murder).
This raises the question: What sort of game was Nintendo expecting? The answer: a very polite one. The team received a fax from Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, asking them to implement a post-credits scene wherein James Bond visits a hospital ward containing the mangled, bandaged near-corpses of the many bad guys he shot during the course of the game. Then Bond was to shake hands with each one of them, as if this whole thing was a cricket match that got out of hand, as opposed to a world-ruining terrorist plot.
They didn't implement this idea, we guess because the ending would've been 16 hours long. They did, however, add in a credits sequence in which they listed the actors and actresses for each of the game's roles, just to underline that this was the video game equivalent of pro wrestling.
George Lucas Kept Sabotaging Star Wars Games With His "Brilliant" Suggestions
Before being sequestered to some closet in a Disney warehouse, Lucasfilms' digital entertainment arm, LucasArts, produced some fine video games, like Zombies Ate My Neighbors, the Monkey Island series, or the one that lectured pirates about copyright infringement. And while working under the watchful eye of George Lucas had its advantages, they also had a major disadvantage in that they were also under the watchful eye of George Lucas' terrible, terrible judgement.
During the production of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, the development team wanted to give their protagonist, an apprentice of Darth Vader, a "Darth" moniker of their very own. They asked Lucas if that was cool, and by total surprise, he said "yes" and gave them three possible options: "Darth Icky," "Darth Insanius," or "Darth Suck It There's No Third Option."
The developers probably reacted with laughter ... later tinged with existential despair when it turned out that they were seriously the only options he was giving them. With a Force-powered hard pass, the team scrapped the storyline until the sequel, by which time Lucas had forgotten all about it.
And then Lucas did the exact same thing during the development of the sadly never-released Star Wars: 1313. The original vision of the game, which the developers had spent years and millions of dollars building, starred a brand-new bounty hunter character. Right before they were about to unveil the game for the first time, however, Lucas decided that 1313 had to star Boba Fett, i.e. the most useless "badass" in the galaxy.
Everything had to be completely redesigned midway through the development cycle in order to accommodate this insane request. All in the midst of a hiring freeze. By the time Disney acquired Star Wars, shuttered LucasArts, and cancelled 1313, it was less like a murder and more of a mercy kill.
Carmageddon's Developers Ran Someone Over For Realism ... Repeatedly
In the days before Grand Theft Auto, there was only one name in the then-niche genre of vehicular homicide-em-ups: Carmageddon. The premise was pretty simple. Players raced around a track against other cars, with extra points being awarded for destroying your competitors' vehicles and, crucially, running down pedestrians. It was so awesome that everyone over the age of 30 instnatly hated it.
There was a good reason the pretend violence looked so visceral, however: It was real violence. In order to make sure that the pedestrians reacted like normal people to the sight of a car barreling down on them, the development team hired a local nutcase, "Tony," and repeatedly ran him over with a station wagon.
Tony would act out a variety of reactions and then take a dive across the car, taking care not to break his ... everything. What about safety equipment, you ask? If they'd heard of the concept, it wasn't on display, with their impromptu stuntman -- who was presumably paid in pints of bitter and lottery tickets -- settling for padding his clothes with cardboard. It eventually came to a head when Tony asked them to run him down at 35 mph in the hopes that he'd clear the roof.
Eventually, the developers received a visit from the police after worried locals called in reports of a man being tortured in a dingy parking lot. After listening to their story and confirming that this was all consensual, the police took off and the developers were left to wonder if this was a sign from the Universe about how the world would react to their vision.
A Witcher 3 Developer Accidentally Broke Every Door In The Game
As much as modern video games like to talk about how players can go anywhere and explore anything, they can't really. It's just not possible to create an entire world without a budget in the billions, a battalion of developers, and a storage medium larger than anything ever conceived. Or you could simply accidentally break your game, as one developer working on The Witcher 3 did.
During the development of one quest, the makers wanted players to follow a linear path, without distractions, and so coded all the doors in that area to lock. Once the quest was over, the game would then unlock said doors and allow gamers to carry on killing and fucking their way across the world. The only problem was that the game had no idea what doors were locked before the quest ... so it unlocked every door, from doors that you could go through to doors that needed a key to open to (crucially) doors that weren't supposed to open because there was no building attached to them, only the game's hellish void of nothingness.
In order to stop players from consigning themselves to the sunken place, one member of the development had to recode the mechanics of every door in the game. Individually. All so that they'd keep their original state after that one troublesome quest. It's kinda poetic, in a way. The developers thought they were designing a quest, and thanks to that one piece of code, they did just that for one poor bastard, who presumably didn't see sunlight or their family for a week.
Superman 64 Was Sabotaged By Spiteful Warner Bros. Execs
It's weird that for all the video games out there, we've never gotten a well-made one about Superman. Batman has the Arkham series, and Green Arrow has Horizon Zero Dawn (it was a weird move to recast him as a young ginger girl, but whatever). What's the deal? What does Warner Bros. hate more -- video games, money, or their brands?
If the fiasco surrounding Superman 64 is anything to go by, it's a hearty combination of all three. With the possible exception of that other game starring a superpowered alien, Superman 64 is regarded as the worst video game ever made. It's a buggy mess of fog, un-fun mechanics, bad dialogue, more fog, and offensively blocky graphics, even for 1999.
The worst thing is that it wasn't supposed to be this way. According to the developers in an interview with Playboy, the troubles began pretty much as soon as they signed a contract with Warner Bros. to make the game. The only reason they got the job in the first place was apathy. No one else was even remotely interested in making a video game based on a Superman animated series that wasn't even out yet.
Unfortunately, days after signing the deal, the Warner team that negotiated with the developers was fired and replaced with a team straight from Hell. Apparently, their mission was to sabotage the project in order to be able to fire the developers and sell the rights to some other, bigger studio. Of the many, many spiteful things they did -- including refusing to answer questions or talk to the team -- they suggested switching from an action game to a Sims-style game starring Superman as the mayor of Metropolis, as seen in issue #never, that's an awful idea. Meanwhile, they'd object to any little thing on the basis that "Superman would never do that," forcing the devs to look up pages from the comics to prove that, for instance, Superman has gone underwater.
After the developers spent significant resources making a destructible environment for Superman to smash with his fists, Warner announced that he couldn't destroy things or cause property damage, because they didn't want people thinking that Superman was a "bad person." They must have had a fit when they saw the trailers for Batman v. Superman.
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