By mtmckinley 1 Comments
Year 9 2008 (continued)
At the time, SAW was being published by Brash Entertainment. They were a mediocre publisher that snapped up movie licenses and pushed out mediocre games based on them. We were determined to not be one of those games. However, unsurprising, it turns out that Brash is in financial trouble and they go out of business.
We suddenly found ourselves without a publisher. The powers that be start scrambling to find a new one for SAW. The game is about half complete and has to be picked up soon or else we'll miss our release window (when the next movie comes out). If we were to release a SAW game without a movie, only the SAW die-hards would even look at it. We wanted that movie to be our marketing so that people would have the SAW movie in their heads and would find our game and find an interest.
I'm not really sure if that's how it really works, but that's the common thought with this kind of stuff.
We are able to get rid of some stupid stuff that Brash was expecting from us, such as multi-player (it would have been bad, trust me), and focus on the single player experience. They were also pushing some very bad design choices that we were able to nix as well, so that was a relief.
However, as it turns out.... Zombie had to get rid of people if they wanted to stay in business without a publisher for our game. They promised that, if another publisher was found soon, we'd be offered our jobs back.
And I found myself without a job again, Christmas of 2008. :(
Year 10 2009
Konami to the rescue! They saw some sort of value in what we were working on, got the rights to publish, and funded the rest of development! After a month or so of unemployment, I was back at Zombie and cranking on SAW once again.
But still, SAW isn't really turning out too great. I'm disappointed as I really did feel that it could have been a really intense experience. I try to take pleasure in the fact that my work is getting showcased as much as it is, but at the same time, the perfectionist in me is really wanting to at least voice all of my concerns so that I can at least come away saying, "I told 'em!" as opposed to staying silent.
Over the rest of the project, I meticulously write bug reports for everything that I feel should be addressed. I mark them as "suggestions" or "low priority" where appropriate (as gameplay suggestions really aren't as high a priority as, say, bugs and crashes). While a few ideas are done, the vast majority are turned back as "Won't Fix."
Most of these problems stem from repetitiveness. We had several mini-games in SAW, but they were all used far too often. The mini-games themselves weren't all that original either. You had your "rotate tiles of tubes to get power to flow through the maze" minigame, you had your "match colors around a wheel" minigame, your "match pictures from memory" minigame... nothing that hadn't been seen before a dozen times.
But anyway, that was just how it was and I had no power to do anything about it. I do feel that, aside from the gameplay, we did get a good grasp of the feeling of dirty, rusty, dread that the SAW films do so well. The environments, lighting, and music all had that going for it. It was really a shame that the game itself wasn't all that great.
In October 2009, SAW will be released. Before it is, we all decide it'd be fun to have a betting pool. Everyone who plays along chooses a review score between 1-100 and if your score is the closest to the AVERAGE review score on sites like metacritic.com, you win the money that everyone contributes ($5 each). I throw my $5 in and choose the rather controversial score of 60. It's the lowest score that anyone on the team chooses and I get a bit of flack for it. Everyone has invested so much of their time into this game in the last 18 months that most people felt it was a 75-85 game at least. Some even scored it into the 90s.
I won the bet. The average score (at that time) was 62, I believe, and I was the closest. People are upset, but can't fault what people are saying... repetitive... bad combat... uninspired puzzles... and of course, it's a movie tie-in so "it must suck" mentality that is hard to fight.