Tim Schafer: Brutal Legend Victim Of ‘Poor Messaging’

Poor Tim Schafer. The man is obviously a brilliant game developer, and he should be among the ranks of Dan Houser or Peter Molyneux, yet he just cannot seem to connect with the general public in a meaningful enough way to ensure unlimited ability to make whatever he feels like. His last attempt at a real AAA game – Brutal Legend – crashed and burned, selling almost certainly under a million copies. That failure is what pushed Schafer to his work with Double Fine, but he’s still thinking about Brutal Legend, and in a revealing interview with Eurogamer, he offered his thoughts on what happened.

“The part that I felt was most special about the game got unfairly vilified because of poor messaging,” He said. He’s referring here to BL’s RTS elements. Those elements weren’t widely advertised in advance of the game’s release and ended up rubbing a lot of critics and players the wrong way. “I think it’s the neatest thing about the game turning into a big negative for people, whereas if we’d brought them in the process early they would have enjoyed those parts about the game a lot more.”

The problem appears to have been publisher Vivendi who, Schafer says, were completely anti those RTS elements. “Vivendi was like ‘No. Absolutely not. We’ll never say RTS, ever. Even if someone asks us if it’s an RTS we’ll say no.’,” he told Eurogamer. That’s a serious problem and suggests that the company never had faith in the game. Again, why can’t Schafer get the respect he deserves?

Fortunately, that behavior has at least positively influenced him on his current project. “I’ve had this epiphany about how it doesn’t hurt to be open,” he said. “Let people see how it progress over time, so they feel the way we feel about the game. So they’re really attached to them. You think people are going to reject you or your ideas about the game because they’ll see something they don’t like, but what actually happens is they embrace them more because they feel more included and more like a part of it.”

Good for him. Here’s hoping his next game isn’t criminally ignored like Psychonauts was.

Via Gamesindustry

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2 Comments on Tim Schafer: Brutal Legend Victim Of ‘Poor Messaging’


On September 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm

A publisher getting in the way of a developer? I’m shocked!

I know the publishers are the ones fronting the money and they want to get a return on that investment, but there are reasons why you hire someone to do something for you, rather than do it yourself. Namely, that other person knows what they are doing and you want them to do that for you. You don’t decide to give money to a guy like Tim Shafer because you think he is a hack. That would be stupid. You give him, and people like him, money because you think there is talent there and that talent can benefit both parties.

The Defenestrator

On September 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm

With all due respect to Tim, a hybrid action/RTS would have been a tough sell no matter what. As an old school metalhead, I loved Brutal Legend for everything EXCEPT the RTS parts. I understood why they were there and it offered some different gameplay but it was easily the least fun part of the game. I’m not RTS-phobic (I’m buying X-COM day one) it was just too much of a shift in play styles. On the upside, though, the cutscene with Ozzy’s “Mr. Crowley” playing over it STILL gives me goosebumps.

There’s a chance that knowing that they were buying a hybrid RTS before they opened the box would have helped but there’s an equal chance that, like Vivendi expected, the words “RTS” would have kept people away. Honesty and openness are still the best policies but both sides need to admit that they were taking a pretty big risk.