Aliens: Colonial Marines – The Whole Train Wreck, Explained
Meanwhile, in an interview with IGN at DICE last week, Pitchford put TimeGate’s contribution at around 20 to 25 percent of total development time on the game, or “about equal” to Gearbox’s development effort, when not including “preproduction.”
TimeGate, which is credited with Gearbox Software on the development of Aliens: Colonial Marines along with the other developers, features the game heavily on its official website. At one point, a day after the game’s release the front page boasted a slide advertising hiring opportunities and referring to TimeGate Studios as the “team of ultimate badasses working on Aliens: Colonial Marines”. The slide and related description have since been removed, but Game Front took a screenshot before that happened. See it below:
In addition to the company’s official website, the studio boasts promotional videos of the game on its YouTube channel.
Muddling the matter, Sega senior producer Matthew J. Powers reportedly denied that TimeGate was as heavily involved in the game’s development as rumors suggest. When asked if TimeGate had done the principle developing on Colonial Marines at the game’s Italy launch event, Powers reportedly told Playnews (via DSOGaming): “Absolutely not, the game has been developed by Gearbox Software. Other studios [like Timegate] helped Gearbox on the production of single and multiplayer.”
A community moderator on TimeGate’s official forums wrote a post in contradiction to the above statement by the Sega spokesperson, however. The moderator — who is a member of the TimeGate forum community who has been granted moderating privileges, and not an employee of the studio — claimed to have spoken to developers at TimeGate and said the studio “basically had a hand in everything” of the game’s development.
“They are responsible for the weapons, the characters, some of the story, a fair amount of the aliens, and I don’t mean conceptualization, they did the actual work of making said weapons and so on,” wrote the moderator, who goes by the handle Rosinna-Sama. “Technically they did work on the MP component, just not in the way I initially thought.”
The moderator continued: “This said, the game underwent a lot of changes so TG doesn’t actually know how much of their content is left. Some had the estimate that 50% of what you see in the campaign is their work, others wanted to see for themselves and would get back to me after playing the game themselves,” and added that it’s difficult to place any part of the blame on the overall quality of the game on TimeGate, as the game is “still mostly a Gearbox production, and it was they who made the final call on all content.”
Through extensive research on business social network LinkedIn, Game Front has been able to verify at least some of Rosinna-Sama statements, according to developers’ own profiles. Several user profiles by TimeGate developers claim to have had extensive involvement with single player, including the development of whole levels, from conception to completion.
Elsewhere, GameSpot managed to glean some nuggets of information from an industry source reportedly close to Sega, who said the publisher was concerned about Gearbox’s development of the game — specifically, that Sega worried the studio wasn’t investing enough effort into its development due to Borderlands and Borderlands 2. The source claims Sega drew the short straw in Gearbox’s priorities by focusing too heavily on its development of Borderlands and parceling out what they should’ve done to other studios like TimeGate.
Game Front reached out to the publisher for an official comment, but was told, “Sega will not be commenting on this.”
As of this writing, Game Front also has contacted Gearbox and TimeGate through a number of avenues, but calls and emails have not been returned by either developer. Meanwhile, Gearbox released an extensive patch for Colonial Marines on Feb. 13, a day after the game’s release, but developers close to the project — notably, studio president Randy Pitchford and studio “Creative Champion” Mikey Neumann — have been silent about the game and its reception.
Going forward, questions remain about the development of Colonial Marines. Just how much was fielded by TimeGate remains to be seen, and may not ever be reliably revealed. There’s also the question of whether Gearbox ignored Colonial Marines in favor of Borderlands 2. Finally, the question of whether Sega may seek legal resource remains open.
One must also wonder if the abysmal reception and the weak release state of the game will affect Gearbox and Sega’s plans for the title, such as DLC, through the rest of the year.
Game Front will continue to post updates about this story as it develops.
Phil Hornshaw collaborated on this report. You can read more of Ian Miles Cheong’s work here and follow him on Twitter at @stillgray. Hornshaw’s work is found here; follow him on Twitter at @philhornshaw, and follow Game Front on Twitter at @gamefrontcom.