bit-gamer.net

Pitchford promises Aliens: Colonial Marines investigation

Pitchford promises Aliens: Colonial Marines investigation

Aliens: Colonial Marines, developed by TimeGate Studios for Gearbox for Sega, is a far cry from the quality promised by 2012's demo - and Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford has claimed to be looking into why.

Gearbox head Randy Pitchford has stated that his company is investigating the reason why the supposed gameplay demo for Aliens: Colonial Marines, released last year, is of significantly superior quality to the final game.

To say Aliens: Colonial Marines has had something of a chequered past is putting it mildly: five years ago we reported on Sega's plans to release the game on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in late 2008, explaining that the game was being developed by the little-known Gearbox Software - a company whose biggest release thus far had been the Half-Life: Opposing Force expansion pack.

Sega promised much all those years ago: a story written by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle would see the player take a first-person perspective in a shooter teeming with squad-based tactics as a member of an elite team of Colonial Marines - the state of the bad-ass art troopers found in the Aliens film. Sadly, 2008 would come and go without an Aliens: Colonial Marines release, with Gearbox boss Pitchford breaking his silence in June 2009 with the admission that the game would be pushed back to at least 2010.

In a recurring pattern, that date would be pushed back time and time again with Gearbox apparently choosing to focus its efforts on first-party action role-playing game shooter Borderlands and its sequel instead. In fact, Gearbox would even have time to finish Duke Nukem Forever, a thankless task it inherited when it picked up the rights to the game after well over a decade in development hell.

Duke Nukem Forever, of course, would receive terrible reviews from critics, while Gearbox's Borderlands series would go on to win awards - something that appears to be repeating itself with the poor critical reception of Aliens: Colonial Marines.

That Aliens: Colonial Marines is a bad game, but nevertheless one with moments of joy to be found, is at this point unquestionable - but videos have surfaced demonstrating an apparent bait-and-switch on the part of developer Gearbox and publisher Sega. One excellent example, published by VideoGamerTV, puts footage from the supposed gameplay demo released last year next to footage of the actual game - showing significant differences in quality between the two, to the point where the final release feels almost like a fan remake of the much better game that was originally promised.

With that video, and others, demonstrating that the final release appears to have little to do with what was claimed to be a recording of gameplay footage from a work-in-progress version of the engine, gamers have been up in arms about what appears to be an attempt to mislead them into purchasing a game substantially different from Sega's promises - an accusation seemingly backed up by the company's decision to place an embargo on reviews until after the game had hit shop shelves and eager fans had picked up their day-one purchases and pre-orders.

Now, Pitchford has promised fans that Gearbox is looking into the problem. Responding to a customer question on social networking service Twitter, Pitchford posted: '[Wanting an explanation as to the differences between the demo and the final game] is understood and fair and we are looking at that. Lots of info to parse, lots of stake holders to respect.'

The admission that there is, perhaps, a case to answer came as Pitchford responded to a veritable torrent of complaints and abuse by blocking those he claimed were not offering constructive criticism and re-posting messages he received in support.

With claims that Gearbox took milestone payments intended for Aliens: Colonial Marines and used them to fund the development of Borderlands and that the bulk of the work was outsourced to tiny TimeGate Studios while Gearbox got its own game ready for launch, the result of Pitchford's investigation should be interesting indeed.

35 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Corky42 20th February 2013, 12:26 Quote
My guess is the demo footage is from before the game was dumbed down to work on Console's
Its a sad state of gaming today that a lot of cross platform releases don't take advantage of what good PC's have to offer, instead they opt for what works on all.
loftie 20th February 2013, 12:38 Quote
I kept reading his name as Pitchfork.... is it a sign
Ayrto 20th February 2013, 12:59 Quote
It seems pretty obvious that it was watered down to get it running on consoles: dynamic lighting ,high object / poly count and hi res textures, none of it comes performance cheap. Sadly for them, in a franchise such as Aliens, atmosphere is everything and removal pretty much ruined the experience, and the story/ gameplay wasn't good enough to overlook these things.

Even with that said though, it doesn't explain the PC version. Although, usually studios come up with some guff about ...'having to ensure the same experience across all platforms' (why?) . Which usually means, we didn't want to spend anything optimizing for PC .
towelie 20th February 2013, 13:22 Quote
There is already a mod out for A:CM with DX10 and 11 support, took the work of a few fans less than a month to do.
http://www.moddb.com/mods/aliensdx10-better-grafik-and-light
Skiddywinks 20th February 2013, 13:52 Quote
In all fairness, reviews only going up once launched etc is all par for the course nowadays, so A:CM can hardly be singled out here.

That said, I wasn't even impressed by the gameplay demo mentioned in the article, although it certainly looked to be of much higher quality than the released game.
Griffter 20th February 2013, 14:21 Quote
i think (and i know i'm right :P) is that this was what the game looked like all along! the low textures, zero lighting IMO, etc all smells of last gen graphics... since this game was suppose to come out on ps2 and others and dont care they saying its was for xbox360 and ps3 when clearly it looks like a last gen game.

the made it for last gen and just took that piece of the game and really worked on it (gearbox prob did only this part as much) for the 2012 demo to get hype.

garebox knew what was going on.
sotu1 20th February 2013, 14:25 Quote
Ouch! I just watched the video link and it's preceeded by an ad for A:CM!

Ouch ouch OUCH!
Silver51 20th February 2013, 14:37 Quote
Does there really need to be an 'investigation'? The game is bad and Gearbox should feel bad.

To anyone reading this who plans to make an Alien game in the future:
1) Watch the first two films.
2) Program an AI that reacts to the player and actively tries to attack from a direction which no-one is looking in.
3) ??? Co-op.
4) Profit All motion sensor, all the time.
Shirty 20th February 2013, 14:52 Quote
From what I've heard, graphics are the least of this game's worries.
Griffter 20th February 2013, 14:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver51
Does there really need to be an 'investigation'? The game is bad and Gearbox should feel bad.

To anyone reading this who plans to make an Alien game in the future:
1) Watch the first two films.
2) Program an AI that reacts to the player and actively tries to attack from a direction which no-one is looking in.
3) ??? Co-op.
4) Profit All motion sensor, all the time.

i would say in co-op, give each a role. one has just a pistal and the motion sensor, another the big tracking gun, etc.. get my point? true co-op, with fear that just one team mate going down is like a limb coming off. up the intensity.

and why not have a multiplayer match where all have been impregnated and have limited time to get into status or something with i dont know injections along the way if u can risk going off the path to give u more time. and u have to be on ur guard for enemies and each other for when they "might" burst out of ur once partner then u need to kill them before they burst. but killing a team mate is like i said, cutting off a limb. now that will be super exciting! IMHO
towelie 20th February 2013, 15:20 Quote
Griffter get your ass to a game development company now.........sound idea's
DwarfKiller 20th February 2013, 18:17 Quote
How can you be so disconnected from the product that you don't know where it went wrong and need to investigate?
He must at least have some idea already.
Speed 20th February 2013, 18:49 Quote
I don't agree that it was "dumbed down" for consoles, it isn't logical and it also doesn't explain the huge amount of game play issues on all platforms.

I'm of the opinion Gearbox made the decision to hand the SP over to a cheap (read: crap) studio knowing full well the next generation of consoles were on their way, and they wanted to focus both in money and manpower on next gen titles.

This game failing is one thing, a next generation title flopping could nearly kill off a studio. Risk management pure and simple.
DrTiCool 20th February 2013, 19:18 Quote
I had hopes that this game will push co-op far than Left 4 Dead did and I still asume that L4D has most innovative co-op mode in history of FPS.
Aliens, next time.

I'm eager to know on what game are Turtle Rock Studios working now...
Harlequin 20th February 2013, 19:23 Quote
Speed - the graphics ARE dumbed down for consoles - they just have the resoruces for the lighting etc of the demo ; since thats at the very least DX10!
NetSphere 20th February 2013, 19:47 Quote
Did I read that wrong? He's checking why the demo was of superior quality? As if it wasn't supposed to be that good?

I thought it would be the other way around. Check why the release was so bad, because it was supposed to be much better?

But then, when you look at the DX:HR cinematics, that video had a lot of stuff that never turned up in the actual game. No gameplay elements, but the visual elements didn't transfer.
Speed 20th February 2013, 19:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harlequin
Speed - the graphics ARE dumbed down for consoles - they just have the resoruces for the lighting etc of the demo ; since thats at the very least DX10!

That might be the case but my point was that you can't blame everything on "dumbing it down" for consoles, there are countless successful games that work well on all platforms. Ultimately as shirty mentioned, the graphics are the least of the games problems. Dumbing the graphics down for consoles does not explain the issues it has on ALL platforms in fundamental areas; the story, gameplay, AI, bugs etc etc. Those issues almost all come from using a lesser cheaper studio so that Gearbox can put their full resources into next gen titles. The issues not attributed to the studio they fobbed the game off onto come from its long development cycle. There were warning signs nearly a year ago that this game would never live up to the hype.
LordPyrinc 20th February 2013, 20:11 Quote
Skyrim is a great of example of what can go right with a console and PC release. The game looks good on the console, but looks amazing on a decent PC. Even before they released the Hi-Rez Texture Packs, it still looked like a modern PC game. Claims of having to dumb down graphics because a game is also a console release is ridiculous.

I doubt better graphics could ever redeem Aliens: Colonial Marines based on gameplay reviews, but it is very curious looking at the demo graphics versus final release. There is a stunning difference between the two. I remember watching the original ACM demo, and thankfully I waited till the reviews came out. It's a damn shame they failed to deliver on the teases they provided in the demo.
Harlequin 20th February 2013, 20:11 Quote
aye i do agree the gfx are the least of the issues - being able to complete entire levels without shooting anything or even avoiding stuff
Joey Propane 20th February 2013, 20:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordPyrinc
Skyrim is a great of example of what can go right with a console and PC release. The game looks good on the console, but looks amazing on a decent PC. Even before they released the Hi-Rez Texture Packs, it still looked like a modern PC game.

It sure as hell didn't to my eyes... And even when they did release the high res pack it's still let down by crap animation.
Skiddywinks 20th February 2013, 22:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey Propane
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordPyrinc
Skyrim is a great of example of what can go right with a console and PC release. The game looks good on the console, but looks amazing on a decent PC. Even before they released the Hi-Rez Texture Packs, it still looked like a modern PC game.

It sure as hell didn't to my eyes... And even when they did release the high res pack it's still let down by crap animation.

Yeh, got to agree here. Only mods really make Skyrim shine.
LordPyrinc 21st February 2013, 01:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by
I agree that the mods make it look better, but I still stand by my original statement. Perhaps its because I have not played other similar games that looked better.

Any suggestions of games I should try that look better?
CowBlazed 21st February 2013, 03:34 Quote
Just about any game, Skyrim never looked very good even maxed out. Still looks just like a suped up Oblivion. Even though it's apparently an entirely new engine, they clearly kept a lot of code from Oblivion.
LordPyrinc 21st February 2013, 04:04 Quote
How about naming a specific game so that I can make a comparison? I'm not saying you are wrong, I just want a game to compare it to. I'm running Skyrim with everything maxed (Ultra settings), dust floating in the air, view distance maxed, etc.
toolio20 21st February 2013, 04:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordPyrinc
Any suggestions of games I should try that look better?
Quote:
Originally Posted by CowBlazed
Just about any game
GREAT answer. Really. You should be paid to share your keen insight with the world at large.

But seriously, answer his question. We're curious.
Kiytan 21st February 2013, 07:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordPyrinc
I agree that the mods make it look better, but I still stand by my original statement. Perhaps its because I have not played other similar games that looked better.

Any suggestions of games I should try that look better?[/QUOTE]

off the top of my head:

Witcher 2
planetside 2
BF3
RAGE
Shattered horizon (well, it's utterly gorgeous lighting system is better)
quite a lot of recent UE3 games as well (although that one is arguable)

I didn't mean this in a hostile way, just that there are a fair few games that look nicer :P
Blackshark 21st February 2013, 11:15 Quote
This is a classic case of deceit plain and simple. 40GBP for this pile of tripe. If it had just been the graphics, then fair enough. Lets be clear, the first video is not game play. It is rendered. There is no reason to alter the AI in the way they have. PCs have become 10 times more powerful over the years this game has been in development. If the demo was a true demo when it was first shown, then any modern PC would be able to run it today. Fact.

This is a case where the marketing people should be put up against a wall and those of us who were lied to allowed to shot them with non lethal but OMG painful weapons, for as long as we like.

If this had been a real product, then the office of fair trading would have stepped in. But as its a game, who cares if the consumer is ripped off and lied to.
LordPyrinc 22nd February 2013, 04:17 Quote
Thanks Kiytan... That's exactly the type of response I was looking for! I've seen RAGE graphics, but only on a PS3. I will likely try out Witcher 2 considering its only $20 US on Steam. I have the original Witcher, but when I first bought it seemed to be plagued with crashes so I never did give it more than a few days try.
Speed 22nd February 2013, 04:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordPyrinc
Thanks Kiytan... That's exactly the type of response I was looking for! I've seen RAGE graphics, but only on a PS3. I will likely try out Witcher 2 considering its only $20 US on Steam. I have the original Witcher, but when I first bought it seemed to be plagued with crashes so I never did give it more than a few days try.

It still is unfortunately, I've tried many times to get into the first game but never did due to the crashes. Will no doubt end up skipping it and playing the second.
Pooeypants 22nd February 2013, 08:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speed
It still is unfortunately, I've tried many times to get into the first game but never did due to the crashes. Will no doubt end up skipping it and playing the second.
This is off topic but Witcher 1 has been entirely fixed and the enhanced edition is pretty much as good as it gets.
Similarly with Witcher 2, EE is stable and smooth. Unlike some studios, their developers actually continue to improve the game, add content and give it away for free to reward those who purchase.
SNIPERMikeUK 23rd February 2013, 10:45 Quote
Have you been mis-sold Aliens: Colonial Marines???

Have you taken out a Loan to buy A:CM, with payment-protection insurance???

To reclaim your mis-sold or mis-lead Payment, or season pass, if your answer is 'Yes' to any of the above please call Gearbox and demand a Refund

Hurry time is running out to make your claim....
runadumb 25th February 2013, 10:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiytan


Witcher 2
planetside 2
BF3
RAGE
Shattered horizon (well, it's utterly gorgeous lighting system is better)
quite a lot of recent UE3 games as well (although that one is arguable)

I didn't mean this in a hostile way, just that there are a fair few games that look nicer :P

But RAGE looks like total ass! You have some Hi-res textures mixed in with the most god awful low res muddy mucky muck textures all in the same scene. An early example is where John Goodman hangs out. Look at him (he looks great) then the till directly to his left. Looks like something from 10 years ago.

That's just 1 obvious example, in the same room there's dozens more. Not only that but none of the items have physics built into them. Try shooting the hanging skulls, the traffic cones, any of the desk clutter and nothing happens.

The disparity between textures is so bad I thought something must be wrong so I started reading up on it, but nope, that's how it is. We are taking about a fully patched version too, I only bought it recently.

Rage really is like a pre-Half life 2 era game in every way except some of the models look great. Which only adds to the jarring nature of actually playing it.
DarthVulva 2nd June 2014, 14:41 Quote
So what happened then? I've not heard anything from them since he said all this...
Shirty 2nd June 2014, 15:20 Quote
I have no idea, but I am enjoying your username.

I might change mine to Obi-Wank Klitnobi.

;)
Speed 2nd June 2014, 17:42 Quote
They brushed it under the rug as expected. I've noticed that some disgruntled gamers mention it every week/month on Randy Pitchfords twitter, asking what has happened to his promise. Not suprising he pretty much ignores/blocks anyone on twitter who mentions it. It was all hot air, a PR smokescreen put up until people forgot about it.

The link mentioned in the article is the most likely reason: http://segabits.com/blog/2013/02/16/another-gearbox-worker-takes-to-reddit-says-segas-money-funded-the-borderlands-franchise/
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums