With Aliens: Colonial Marines gaining poor-to-average reviews, controversy surrounding the game and its 6-year-long development process has arisen: and frankly, it looks to be that the whole thing was a total bloody shambles — so much so that nobody’s even particularly certain as to who made the game any more.
Amid allegations of involvement of development between staff of certain game developers towards other game developers, it seems that TimeGate, Nerve Software and Demiurge as well as the game’s ‘actual’ developer Gearbox have all have some form of involvement in the development of the game, with it either being outsourced to companies or certain parts of the game split between each company to develop. You know a game’s gone through a hellish development process when you have Gearbox and TimeGate employees rowing with each other over Reddit and legal threats made.
Last year, a supposed former Gearbox employee (later seemingly confirmed to have been so by several sources) exposed that Aliens: Colonial Marines had been outsourced to TimeGate, switching their attention to multiplayer after the six-year-long effort to develop the game and warning that the game was likely to turn out as an awkward, average mess of a game. (I’m paraphrasing of course, but he did say it would come out as an average game.)
A SEGA rep later denied claims of outsourcing, but at this point it all became so convoluted that SEGA themselves were probably unaware of what was happening and who was making what. Randy Pitchford (Gearbox CEO) later said in an interview that they had collaborated with TimeGate and that roughly 25% of the total development time was there.
He also revealed that Demiurge had helped Gearbox with multiplayer options and networking, with Nerve Studios designing the multiplayer maps — claiming at the time that this was the company wanting to give gamers their money’s worth instead of charging for DLC, the CEO must have later changed his mind as the game has a DLC season pass that’ll set you back $30.
Controversy had not yet begun though; no, that all started when an ex-Gearbox developer claimed the following: That Gearbox had repeatedly shelved the game and overhauling everything each time; ignoring the game in favour of other projects (such as Borderlands and Duke Nukem: Forever). With SEGA getting a little riled up each time about the lengthy development process — after all, it must’ve taken them some time and money to strike up a game deal with FOX — Gearbox eventually outsourced small aspects of the game to TimeGate so that they could continue working on Borderlands 2.
With another extension given after Gearbox realised they’d not be able to complete both games, the company was given a ‘last chance’ to finish the game in 9 months by SEGA — with 5 of those 9 months used to ship Borderlands 2, Gearbox realised the the campaign mode that TimeGate had developed was a nonsensical mess. Gearbox attempted to fix some of the maps but there was no way the game could be completed in time. With SEGA close to taking legal action, they fixed any game-destroying issues, adjusted it to pass certification and let it loose as a broken pile of crap, knowing that the game wasn’t all that good.
An anonymous TimeGate employee later retaliated, accusing GearBox responsible of the poor campaign mode as the company neglected to supervise or assist them efficiently.
With rumours circulating of the Wii U version (ported by Demiurge) being indefinitely postponed and the game bearing almost zero resemblance to the countless demos, trailers and promises made by Gearbox, it seems that Gearbox has some apologizing to do before it totally spoils its name, pushes away its fan and pisses off publishers enough to not bother working with them in the future.
All of the beans have yet to be spilled though, so the whole of the story and which bits of it are absolutely true has yet to be revealed. But what we are sure of is that the development was absolutely a shamble and that the game pretty much sucks anyway.