For those that've been following Obsidian's latest work, the spy RPG Alpha Protocol, you'll know it's had a bumpy development, having been delayed twice. On one occasion, publisher Sega admitted the quality needed to be brought up, so while very hopeful, we were prepared to be let down.
An anonymous comment from "a tired dev" made on Joystiq's largely negative review late last week gives a lot of insight into the final product, and how it's apparently not turned out how it could've. As a warning, this is an anonymous comment, so we must take it all with a grain of salt (could be a disgruntled ex-employee, for example), but he (we'll assume) seems to know his stuff.
Normally we wouldn't publish a news story like this, but Sega UK's PR has responded to CVG with a "no comment." We've contacted Sega America's PR with our own query.
"I worked on this game (a fact of which I am not proud). I'm not here to defend it; I agree with all these reviews.
There was a ton of work put into this game. The problem is that is was a ton of undirected work, or work on things that were just stupid. The Executive Producer for the game, Chris Parker (also an owner of the company), seemed to think he was the world's greatest designer ever, and created all these absolutely shitty systems and wouldn't listen to any of the real designers or devs about things that just didn't work. And you can't exactly argue with one of the owners of the company when he doesn't want to listen. He basically took over the game and dictated exactly how everything would work (or not work, as the case may be). The other producers realized this early on and just gave up, leaving Parker to micromanage all the designers and programmers directly.
Sega also was a factor, because they kept changing the design requirements (yes they had heavy influence there), which never gave the producers and designers time to actually decide on one set of features to make and polish."
Dictatorship is definitely no way to run a game's development in our opinion, which is why it's such a relief to see publishers like Activision and Electronic Arts giving complete control to "trusted" developers like Bungie and Respawn Entertainment lately. Granted, Obsidian has seen nothing but trouble since its beginning (Knights of the Old Republic II being the most infamous example), but taking an iron fist to the process certainly isn't going to help matters.
Now, the really strange part is we're in the middle of our review, and the game's actually quite good at this stage. While there are a couple semi-major bugs, they're not even close to showstoppers. Some of the press seems to disagree, however it should be noted at least one review copy (Joystiq's) is not based on final code (ours is).
In any case, the Obsidian staffer says at the end, the game's state is their fault.
"The blame is still mostly [ours] because the execution was absolutely terrible, and it was obvious two years ago that this game should have been scrapped. Instead, though, they focused on adding still more features and never fixed the ones they already had. That is a recipe for tons of bugs and no polish... as is obvious.
This game was just an absolute failure of production, and it's no wonder that so many of the developers left the company, even after the 40% staff layoffs."
If true, those figures certainly don't bode well for post-release patches, that's for sure.
The developer then states Sega should've canceled Alpha Protocol instead of the Aliens RPG (we can assume it was shaping up nicely).
Whatever the truth may be, he notes Obsidian's other project Fallout: New Vegas is "going pretty well", and the other big, unannounced work is "looking great and is already much better than Alpha Protocol ever was, and that may end up being the game that everyone was looking for with Alpha Protocol." Again, we must iterate that at this stage, the game has lived up to our expectations -- perhaps even exceeded them.
Our review should be up this evening or tomorrow -- keep a lookout.