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Xeno-Gate continues to devolve and unfold into one of the most screwed up video game productions ever. More information has surfaced – of course, all individuals who have come forward wished to remain anonymous – and the finger-pointing this time seems to absolve some of the blame from Gearbox in this complicated and messy situation.
Kotaku, of all places, actually managed to get in contact with several individuals who were attached to the doomed project, and a lot of what's said kind of expands on what Jim Sterling of Destructoid has been uncovering by getting in contact with various sources, as well -- the latest of which stated that it might be difficult for Sega to sue Gearbox due to contractual complications.
One thing that I thought was fascinating was that one of the sources revealed Sega's motivations behind the project and the headbutting that went on between Gearbox and TimeGate Studios, with Kotaku paraphrasing an off-the-record remark...
“...there was interference-with three companies involved in decision-making on Pecan, bureaucracy was inevitable. According to one source, Sega's producers wanted Colonial Marines to feel like Call of Duty—in other words, more shooting marines, less shooting aliens. Upper staff at both Gearbox and TimeGate disagreed with this mentality, the source said, and there was a tug-of-war between developer and publisher on how the game should be designed.”
This was coupled with the game's story that was not set in place for more than four years after the game's announcement. This left TimeGate guessing like mofos on what Aliens: Colonial Marines was supposed to be and what Gearbox and Sega intended for the game. According to one source...
“For a couple months, we were just kind of guessing," ... "It's really weird to work on a game when you don't have a basic idea of how things will work."
So how about that infamous demo of Aliens: Colonial Marines that became the staple of the game's promotion? Well, according to one of the sources, majority of that demo was real-time and was designed mostly by TimeGate with some help from Gearbox. The whole thing was running on a really high-end rig and they were told that they had no “performance budget” and just to make the game look and play as awesome as possible, with the source saying...
“We were told many times through demo production, 'Don't worry about performance, just make it awesome,'" ... "There was a reason [the demos] were never playable."
The demo far exceeded the capabilities of the Xbox 360 and PS3, and the source confirmed to Kotaku abuot previous mentions from other sources that the demo from E3 was just way beyond the memory constraints of the PS3 and a lot of the game had to be cut down and gutted in order to run on the age-old home consoles, a different source mentioned to Kotaku that...
“We were constantly cutting back more and more in terms of texture, shader and particle fidelity, in order to fit into the jacked memory restraints,"..."[Gearbox made] big changes to lighting, texture and shader complexity," ... "Design elements were altered or redone entirely. It looks like a lot of [TimeGate's] assets remained intact, with the exception of lower-res textures and faster-performing shaders."
There have been circulating rumors that there's a patch that could bring the game up to parity of the E3 demo. Obviously, this patch wouldn't be available for home consoles but the PC version could get an overhaul. The patch is rumored to be about 8GB but Gearbox, Nerve, Demiurge, TimeGate and Sega have been mum on all things Aliens...save for all these anonymous devs trying to save face for their companies, of course.
Kotaku notes that the reason there's a lot of tension is because many feel that lawsuits will be passed around soon and many studios are trying desperately to shift blame and get out of the cross-hairs, as this situation could indefinitely cripple a company depending on the outcome.