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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus SirKicksalot's Avatar
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    Heroes 6 dev goes bankrupt, blames Ubisoft

    First, the news (more at the link):

    An anonymous person operating under the rather flamboyant username of Derpson, who claims to be an employee of Black Hole Entertainment, has submitted his/her own very acrimonious account of Heroes VI's rocky development at HC, which - among many other things - states that Black Hole is no longer working with Ubisoft and is facing its end. The original post as of now has been deleted by its own creator without any explanation, but it is still fully preserved in adriancat's quote.

    I'll paste the original post here and highlight some interesting things:

    "Hi Guys. Several months have passed since the release of Heroes 6, and because there are so many questions from you regarding BH which UBI seemingly ignores, I feel it's time that I give you some information.

    I worked for Black Hole during the whole H6 development. For us, it was a dream project as we were real fans of the Heroes series, having played it since the original King's Bounty on Commodore 64. And I can tell you it was the UBI producers who didn't keep their deadlines, and that was what led to a total failure of the whole development. Back in 2008, during the contract negotiation process, UBI business decision makers didn't want to hear about making it into the contract that in case of any UBI delays there would be any penalty for UBI. This was a stupid decision of a business development boss (she said "UBI would never be late with any deliverables".... HAHAHA). And that led to an awkward situation where the whole development got snowed up... but the UBI producers kept telling Black Hole that "no worries, guys, there would be more time and budget, just do what we say". It was then that one faction, Academy had been removed from the content list, as well as many other things. And then, at half of the development, Romain suddenly quit, Erwan was removed from the project - he was "elevated" to the position of Might and Magic Brand Director, which meant his direct involvement in the development was over -, and BH was left there with the blame. Just an example, the final story script - which was UBI responsibility - was delivered to BH after 27 months... while originally there was 24 months for the whole development. No comment.

    As for BH commitment, BH used up all its 6 months reserves just to be able to finish the project... this was more than 1 million Euros!!! And they (we) did this knowing it would never be payed back, as royalty would only be paid after 2M Heroes sold at full price. We all knew 2M copies would never be sold (neither at full price nor at reduced price), still we wanted to finish the project. During the last 10 months, our full team worked 24/7, without any chance for compensation... and because of this, we didn't have any resources to find other projects and make sure BH would survive after the release of Heroes 6. In the meantime, our new UBI producers kept telling that "the BH team is not working during the nights and weekends, and is not committed to the project at all...". I can only say, just ask any of the BH team members of their commitment...

    As for the many bugs: Heroes 6 is a gigantic project, with 1.5-2 million lines in the source code. This is bigger than most RPGs. Such a project can only be finished with good quality if there are several years and a huge budget (i.e. Blizzard games), or if there is a strict design lock date after 7-9 months of the start of development... in case of Heroes, the UBI guys were adding new ideas and were changing existing features during the whole development, even at the last months, so it was simply impossible to make a stable game for release. Just see what they are now doing with patch 1.3 (BH is not involved in that at all btw.). They cannot release a simple patch with a few smaller fixes in time, they are already in a 2-3 weeks delay. This is because the code is extremely complex, and UBI does not have the team to overview it and make it work in time, even if the Limbic guys are really great (and no, they are not involved in the Heroes development from the project start, they joined like 20 months later).

    Some examples of what BH added to the game at their own cost, just to make the game better:
    - Town screen (we hate the current version, but it is still better then the "let's make a screen shot from the adventure map 3D town and use it as a town screen" that UBI wanted - we could have made a much better one, but didn't have money and time).
    - Additional ingame cutscenes (I know cutscenes are not great, but again, we received the story after 27 months... we only had a couple months to make the cutscenes from scratch, and a very limited budget - and I think that the overall visual quality of the game proves to anyone that we could have made really great cutscenes if we had had the time and budget).
    - 300 unique Combat Maps (there were 20 in the contract)
    - 3D animated Main Menu (UBI wanted a simple still image)
    - Additional NPCs
    - Campaign Overview Map (Campaign Window)
    - and many more........

    And what were the UBI decisions:
    - Less resources
    - No fullscreen town screens
    - Only five factions (as a consequence of the continuous delays of UBI deliverables)
    - Creature pool
    - and many more such "great" changes.........


    This project cost Black Hole its existence... while UBI is making profit on Heroes 6.

    And just some more thoughts: UBI EMEA were working with four 3rd party developers during the Heroes development:
    - Capibara - They made the really good (and financially successful) Clash of Heroes. The are not working with UBI anymore.
    - Eugene Systems - They made R.U.S.E. They are not working with UBI anymore.
    - Black Hole - They made Heroes 6. They are not working with UBI anymore.
    - Techland - They made a 47% game for UBI (Call of Juarez: The Cartel - http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/ca...rez-the-cartel) - They are still working with UBI EMEA on a big project.

    We heard the UBI guys blame those developers (and Nival) many times... I guess BH was blamed the same way to those developers.

    It is always the developer who is responsible...

    Just some food for thought.... Thanks guys for reading."


    ------------------------------

    The most interesting part to me is the one about Black Hole using its financial reserves to improve and finish the game. I understand they were fans, but it seems irresponsible. Perhaps they knew they were screwed anyway?

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirKicksalot View Post
    The most interesting part to me is the one about Black Hole using its financial reserves to improve and finish the game. I understand they were fans, but it seems irresponsible. Perhaps they knew they were screwed anyway?
    You run a videogame developer.
    Your last game received a poor critical reception and drew lots of ire from long term fans of the franchise.
    Think you're going to have any publishers falling over themselves to offer you a contract?

    It could just be that they were fans. But one can begin to imagine reasons.

  3. #3
    Activated Node LeiterJakab's Avatar
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    Andrew Vajna was backing them financially in the past. Maybe they aren't lost yet.

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus b0rsuk's Avatar
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    I would totally fund a Kickstarter project for (spiritual successor of) Heroes of Might and Magic. I have issues with Heroes 6 (to the point where I haven't bought it !), but without a publisher in the way they would be able to comunicate openly.
    Last edited by b0rsuk; 18-04-2012 at 08:41 AM.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Althea's Avatar
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    As CMaster said, Black Hole have never really had much of a success in the past. Nival seemed to come out of it okay (although they now have a division working on a Facebook game of a 1C property, so take that as you will).

    He seems to be thinking that one project for a company means they must keep working for them. Maybe Capybara wanted to focus on their own things? Same with Eugene - chances are we won't know. I'm not absolving Ubi of any responsibility, because if what's been said is true then they are partially (at least) responsible for the flop that was M&MH VI.

    But hey, Blue Byte and Related Designs seem to be doing okay (one's wholly owned whilst the other is partially owned by Ubi), so I don't think it's entirely the fault of Ubi here.


  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Vexing Vision's Avatar
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    Eugene went and published Wargame with FOCUS. They seem to be much happier.

    I wanted to like Heroes 6, but the U-Play shit made it absolutely unplayable for me. I am very sorry for the developers, but on the other hand I am glad to see the horrible, mangled version not doing well. It can only mean improvement for future titles.
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  7. #7
    Activated Node LeiterJakab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Althea View Post
    But hey, Blue Byte and Related Designs seem to be doing okay (one's wholly owned whilst the other is partially owned by Ubi), so I don't think it's entirely the fault of Ubi here.
    Well the ownership could explain why they are capable working together successfully. Ubi is surely more interested in Blue Byte functioning in a profitable way than BHE.

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirKicksalot View Post
    This was a stupid decision of a business development boss
    doveryai, no proveryai.
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  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Althea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeiterJakab View Post
    Well the ownership could explain why they are capable working together successfully. Ubi is surely more interested in Blue Byte functioning in a profitable way than BHE.
    Perhaps, but then there's The Settlers 7, which was DRM-crippled, technically a mess and a strange mix between traditional The Settlers games and The Settlers 6. Related Designs largely phoned it in with Anno 2070 (not that it's much of a bad thing), but like 1404 before it there's been a lot of kerfuffle over the DRM.


  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus b0rsuk's Avatar
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    How nice that Nalano is always around when BIG game publishers are mentioned :-). He's totally not a sock puppet !
    Last edited by b0rsuk; 18-04-2012 at 11:46 AM.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Malawi Frontier Guard's Avatar
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    I don't see the pattern. Nalano is always around everywhere.

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by b0rsuk View Post
    How nice that Nalano is always around when BIG game publishers are mentioned :-). He's totally not a sock puppet !
    This is me defending Ubisoft?

    Dude. No.

    This is me pointing out that Black Hole signed a stupid contract where they were obligated to fulfill an open-ended commitment that they could only complete so long as they could assume Ubisoft weren't going to be dicks. Ubisoft had (has) no particular reason not to be dicks, and indeed it looks like they stole the top employees and exploited the rest until there was no company left to pay royalties to.

    It's like putting your hand in an alligator's mouth with the expectation that it would be nice enough not to bite it off. Why? Why would you do that?
    Last edited by Nalano; 18-04-2012 at 07:24 PM.
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  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Vexing Vision's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post

    It's like putting your hand in an alligator's mouth with the expectation that it would be nice enough not to bite it off. Why? Why would you do that?
    Because in this case, the alligator is rich and wealthy and promises he has a lot of tricks he can show you with your OTHER hand, and here, have some money, it'll all be good.
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  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vexing Vision View Post
    Because in this case, the alligator is rich and wealthy and promises he has a lot of tricks he can show you with your OTHER hand, and here, have some money, it'll all be good.
    I'm not trained in business development and even I can see through that bullshit. I mean, that reads like, "they have plenty of money! Why would they screw me to get more?"

    The answer is obvious: "How do you think they got rich in the first place?"
    Last edited by Nalano; 18-04-2012 at 07:54 PM.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    It's like putting your hand in an alligator's mouth with the expectation that it would be nice enough not to bite it off. Why? Why would you do that?
    Why do you agree to EULAs with their bullshit clauses for all your games? Why do you sign up to one-sided contracts for say mobile phones etc? Because there's one side with all the power in this setup. Yes, they were probably foolish and perhaps could have negotiated something a bit better. But I'm not sure it's as straight forward as you suggest.

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CMaster View Post
    Why do you agree to EULAs with their bullshit clauses for all your games? Why do you sign up to one-sided contracts for say mobile phones etc? Because there's one side with all the power in this setup. Yes, they were probably foolish and perhaps could have negotiated something a bit better. But I'm not sure it's as straight forward as you suggest.
    While I concede that the power plays always favor the publishers (and I'm pretty sure I've argued exactly the same thing on other occasions), you've also conceded my point: They were probably foolish and perhaps could have negotiated something a bit better. The lynchpin in the whole screed is that contract, and everything else is just a laundry list of things that Ubisoft could do and did because of the contract.

    All that's left is debating how to make contracts fairer, and that sounds to me like a B2B oversight agency.
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  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Settlers 7 is the third best Settlers ever imo, after 1 and ultimately 2 (2 is best received in its 10th anniversary form and thus the ultimate form imo).

    Ubisoft finally get that its not about building lots of soldiers and sweeping them about and are giving bluebyte breathing room, and its not about reaching arbitrary tiers of technology either. Its about logistics, its nearer to the detail heavy 4X like X series or Distant Worlds than Warcraft 3.

    I feel sorry for the Heroes developers, i knew those games were getting worse,I didn't realise it was ubisofts fault.
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  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
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    Kids, don't get into videogames developing.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Althea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    I feel sorry for the Heroes developers, i knew those games were getting worse,I didn't realise it was ubisofts fault.
    I don't know how two games (well, two games and two expansions) can really lead to any idea of them "getting worse" under Ubisoft.


  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Althea View Post
    I don't know how two games (well, two games and two expansions) can really lead to any idea of them "getting worse" under Ubisoft.
    Its called heroes 6, I thought 4 was probably the best... I honestly have no idea who has been developing them at any given time.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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