Batman game behind Pandemic closure

Written by Joe Martin

January 16, 2009 | 10:26

Tags: #batman #brisbane #comic #dark-knight #pandemic

Companies: #ea #electronic-arts #game

Pandemic's Brisbane studio has confirmed that it has been 'set free' by owner Electronic Arts and that it will continue to operate separately from the mega-publisher. What's more though, the developers have detailed exactly why they were shut down.

Shut down may be a bit of a strong term of course, apparently EA has allowed the team to keep all the resources they currently have - machines, premises, software - but has told them that they will need to find a new publisher in the future.

Apparently the root of the whole problem was the new Batman game that was accidentally revealed by Gary Oldman after the launch of The Dark Knight movie. According to Kotaku, the development and design of the game was plagued with problems from the start.

To break it down into manageable chunks, the issues started when Pandemic made a deal with Warner Bros. to make a new Batman game, which they duly did. It was apparently six months into pre-production however before Electronic Arts got wind of this and said that a Batman game should be a Dark Knight game specifically. Pandemic had apparently gone down a totally different route and six months worth of work was thrown out.

Examining the new direction for the game, Pandemic wanted the game to be an open-world style of game, which they promptly set about creating. Development was plagued by the fact that nobody at Pandemic Brisbane had ever worked or designed an open-world game before - all that talent was at Pandemic LA and was focused elsewhere.

At the same time, EA was also putting pressure on Pandemic to get the game out as quickly as possible. The deal that had apparently been brokered with Warner Bros. expired at the end of 2008 and EA did not want to pay to extend that - so the whole game had to be finished by December 2008.

In order to help save time, Pandemic decided that the best idea was to use an existing engine that they already owned - so, they chose the engine for Pandemic LA's upcoming WWII shooter, Saboteur. Unfortunately, that engine was designed very much for linear games with small, complex levels and didn't mesh well with the free-roaming design Pandemic had ham-handedly developed.

Ultimately, with Pandemic unable to hit the deadline, the entire project was abandoned. Ea didn't look to favourably on the waste of capital that had been involved and the decision was made to 'set the studio free'.

Still, at least there's still the upcoming Batman: Arkham Asylum to look forward too.

Did Pandemic Brisbane get off too lightly, or should EA have ponied up a bit more cash and patience? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.
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