|Jason Rubin champions 'underdog' 4A Games, worked without 'power and heat'|
|Posted: 16.05.2013 10:17 by Simon Priest||Comments: 1|
Metro: Last Light's 4A Games is that developer from... erm, er - where are they from? That's precisely the problem, says Jason Rubin - the former Naughty Dog man thrown the hot potato that was THQ.
Rubin is doing what he can to tell the story behind the game of Metro, and it's far, far from an ideal situation for any developer - or any company for that matter. Electricity would've been nice.
Last Light enjoys a very impressive 80+ Metacritic, and that's even more astounding when you learn the conditions in which 4A pour their soul into their work.
"The budget of Last Light is less than some of its competitors spend on cut scenes, a mere 10 percent of the budget of its biggest competitors. Yet it is lauded for its story and atmosphere," began former THQ president Jason Rubin. Big whoop. Small budget? There's been plenty of underfunded 'underdogs' out there making greatness, so why is 4A special?
Rubin continues: "...4A's staff sat on folding wedding chairs, literally elbow to elbow at card tables in what looks more like a packed grade school cafeteria than a development studio." Okay so it was a little cramped, and they were starved for cash - still not that unheard of...
"When 4A needed another dev kit, or high-end PC, or whatever, someone from 4A had to fly to the States and sneak it back to the Ukraine in a backpack lest it be "seized" at the border by thieving customs officials." ...erm, okay that's sounding a bit worse now...
"After visiting the team I wanted to buy them Aeron office chairs, considered a fundamental human right in the west. There were no outlets in the Ukraine, and our only option was to pack a truck in Poland and try to find an "expediter" to help bribe its way down to Kiev," recounted Rubin.
"We gave up not because this tripled the cost, but because we realized that the wider Aeron chairs would require spreading out people and computers, which would lead to extra desks, and that ultimately would have required bigger offices."
Alright, alright - we'll concede that perhaps 4A Games really are sardines in a tin - still not crying yet though.
"Power outages are the norm for 4A. All developers have deadlines, but I know of few that had to bring in construction generators to be able to work the weekend before final submission because an extra day meant missing shelf dates by weeks." Okay I got a little misty eyed but nothing serious - keep going Rubin.
"Montreal is cold, but when it gets cold in Kiev it's different. That's because the government provides all of the heating through a central coal burning facility that pipes hot water to homes and offices. Unfortunately, it breaks down reliably a few times a year for a week at a time," he continued.
"Then 4A works in their parkas and struggles to keep their fingers warm in temperatures well below freezing. That is unless it snows and they get stuck home for a few days at a time because snow clearing isn't up to Western standards." Just hearing about it makes you shiver, and the next part of the story is most telling.
"The only thing for which 4A is getting more credit than I think they deserve is the creativity behind the ever frightening, dark, post apocalyptic environment of the game. I've been in Kiev to visit the team, so I know they just stepped outside for reference." Ouch. Ouch, Mr Rubin.
"That last paragraph is a humorous exaggeration, of course, but there's truth behind the lie."
Alright Jason Rubin, you've depressed us - we concede that, if there ever was a studio deserving of 'underdog' it's 4A Games. These were just a few snippets of Rubin's revelation of the story behind Metro's development - which you can at GamesIndustry.biz.
"Though any gamer can enjoy Last Light without the backstory, I think the backstory makes it that much sweeter," he added. "The struggle and the journey becomes part of the story. Like sport, you cheer when the underdog comes from behind, and triumphs in the face of incredible odds."
"Ultimately, it is a desire for the recognition of 4A's talent that drove me to write this. You may know that I have a history of talking about developer recognition. These guys need recognition," he said.
"If 4A had been given a more competitive budget, in a saner environment, hadn't wasted a year-plus chasing the irrational requirement of THQ's original producers to fit multiplayer and co-op into the same deadline and budget(!), hadn't had to deal with the transition to a new publisher in the crucial few months before final, what could 4A have created?"
Just recently 4A promised to patch the PC version with a config to let us . For any who'd complain about them not spending the resources and manpower of addressing it 'now, now, now!!' - perhaps you'll take a step back?