"[Malice] was in development hell for three years. It was huge, it had Gwen Stefani doing music and voicing a character. But it had I think literally 100 levels. And a dozen weapons and weird magic components, it was just too big for its own good. It crumbled under its own weight, eventually some version of it got released but they scrapped most of it. I remember seeing a copy of it in stores and thinking it was kind of sad. You know what the game could have been, because you play the game as it was intended before financial reality catches up with it."
Mud Duck Productions/Evolved GamesNo one hollas at this girl.
In the worst cases, games are finished and then simply locked in a vault for eternity because the final product doesn't look profitable. Remember that Sims chat program Corey worked on? Yeah, there's a reason you never heard anything about it. That may not seem like any big loss, but wouldn't you have liked to play, say, Star Fox 2? In every case, these dead projects represent hundreds or thousands of hours of work that went right down the shitter.
Testers Get Screwed (And Soon You'll Be Getting Their Job)
A lot of kids get into testing straight out of high school or college with the dream that, in a few years, they'll be leading the development of the next Grand Theft Auto. In reality, they're more likely to be worked relentlessly until they burn out and get replaced like light bulbs.
"I've been in what we call testing pens where you wind up with four to five people squashed into a cubicle," says Alex. "It's illegal to make overtime mandatory. So, crunch time is technically voluntary. However, when you interview, one of the first questions will be if you are comfortable working long hours, weekends, and holidays. I have worked as many as 90 hours in a week approaching a game's release."
Microsoft StudiosEven with a good game, 90 hours is 90 freaking hours.
And so you can read story after story about how QA is a dead end, or a trap that naive gamers get enticed into. One company forced their testers to have a separate Christmas party in another building, another fired almost everyone after a big project ended. That's not to say it's all terrible -- our sources all like their jobs. But it's not the foot in the door so many hopeful young people are hoping for ... especially given the latest trend of releasing "early access" games on Steam, where developers sell you a game in its early stages and then maybe finish it later, if they feel like it. It's a model that worries Adrian.
"It is ultimately a concern of mine seeing a lot of games go the early access route as a way to allow buggy content to be released, or to abandon development without being held responsible. People are beginning to accept that you pay full price value for a buggy game in the hopes that it gets better as time goes on, which is a shame."
Hello GamesPictured: Shame.
It's like car manufacturers discovering that people will happily buy a car with two tires as long as there's a promise that two more will come later. But only about 25 percent of early access games are fixed and finished. Many, many others are like Towns, which sold 200,000 copies, received almost universally negative feedback, and was promptly abandoned. That model is becoming normal, because why underpay an overworked team of testers to make games functional when we'll apparently give them money for the privilege of doing it for free?
Adrian encourages you to check out Fractured Space. Mark is on Twitter and has a book.
2016 is almost over. Yes the endless, rotten shit hurricane of a year which took away Bowie, Prince and Florence Henderson and gave us Trump, Harambe and the Zika virus is finally drawing to a close. So, to give this bitch a proper viking funeral, Jack O'Brien and the crew, which includes Dan O'Brien, Alex Schmidt, and comedian Caitlin Gill, are going to send out 2016 with Cracked's year in review in review. They'll rectify where every other year-in-review goes wrong by giving some much needed airtime to the positive stories from the 2016 and shedding light on the year's most important stories that got overlooked. Get your tickets here.
For more insider perspectives, check out 5 Things I Learned Making The Worst Game Of All Time and 5 Things We Learned Making The Biggest Flop In Game History.
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