Aliens: Colonial Marines and Gearbox Software are being treated to a thorough roasting this morning, as less-than-appreciative reviews and scores go live. According to one source, who describes himself/herself as a former Gearbox employee, the bulk of Colonial Marines development was carried out not by the creators of Borderlands, but by less-sung Section 8 developer Timegate Studios.
"Hate to say it, but I wouldn't get your hopes up too high for Colonial Marines," the unnamed developer commented over at TexAgs last year, via Eurogamer. "I used to work at Gearbox, and the development of that game has been a total train wreck, going on what, 6 years now?"
"Gearbox isn't even making the game, except for the multiplayer," he/she went on. "Primary development was outsourced to TimeGate Studios, which has a less than stellar past. I hope it proves me wrong, as I still have a lot of friends still working at Gearbox, but I am expecting it to be average at best."
The game's Metascore currently sits at a dismal 49 on Xbox 360.
In Gearbox's defence, the studio has been reasonably upfront about the role played by external developers. "It's a big, ambitious game," bossman Randy Pitchford told IGN yesterday. "Some of the other studios involved, we decided that these guys are awesome. They did a lot of really valuable work.
"We're not contractually obligated to put anybody's credits there, but we value talent and respect talent. We wanted to make sure that those logos were there and that work was represented. In big efforts, that's not an uncommon thing. You don't usually see it up front."
TimeGate, Shoot Many Robots outfit Demiurge Studios and Nerve Software get namechecks on the Alien: Colonial Marines credits reel, presented at the start of the game. According to Pitchford, Demiurge "with us at the very beginning, helping us to explore networking and multiplayer" while TimeGate accounted for "probably about 20 or 25 percent of the total time" - on par with Gearbox's input less the preproduction work, although as Pitchford notes "it's not fair to take preproduction out of it, but that says a lot about how much horsepower those guys put into it."
"We wanted some more multiplayer stuff, more content and more features for the game that we shipped rather than parceling it all out for downloadable content," he added. "We wanted to put more in the game that shipped. Nerve had some time and those guys are badass. They're right down the street. That just made sense. They got some of their awesome guys to do some cool sh*t. Some of my favorite multiplayer maps came out of that group.
"They're good guys. They care," Pitchford went on. "We know the mission. It's about building the game. Let's say you imagine the house you want to build. You have the blueprints, and you want to get someone that's really awesome at making stairs to help make the stairs. You want to get someone that lays carpet like a mother**ker to come down and lay some carpet.
"These guys are hardcore. They have talent. If I was going to lay all that carpet myself and build the stairs myself and do all the countertops myself, that house would never get done."
Four studios. Six years. 49. Read our Aliens: Colonial Marines review for more.