Who Made Aliens? Here’s What We (Sorta) Know

If Aliens could cry, entire planets, ships, and conveniently placed ventilation systems would be dissolving under a torrential downpour of acid-laced tears right now. See, in spite of their lovable looks and multi-mouthed charm, no one wants to take credit for, well, pretty much anything about Aliens: Colonial Marines. First, Gearbox kinda did, but then TimeGate was accused of incubating Colonial Marines’ loathsome single-player campaign – which prompted Sega to descend from its mountain of unreleased Shenmue sequels and tilt the needle back in Gearbox’s direction. Seems like a lot of fuss to make if it was really all Gearbox at the helm, though, huh? And that’s where a winding Reddit post by an alleged Gearbox employee enters the picture. Further, RPS reached out to a former TimeGate employee (who wished to remain anonymous) to clarify the situation.

“TimeGate definitely played a much bigger role in the development of Aliens than either Gearbox or Sega is letting on,” said RPS’ source. “Aliens: Colonial Marines is essentially TimeGate’s game. From my understanding, almost all of TimeGate has been working on it for a few years, and they are not a small studio.”

Further, our source claimed that Gearbox head Randy Pitchford’s line about TimeGate handling “20 or 25 percent of the total time” is a fabrication. Not only that, our source says it fails to account for a smaller though not insubstantial amount of work put in by other studios. “Preproduction is a very insubstantial period in a game’s development. For him to say that the contribution was equal sans preproduction is basically saying it’s equal. You can see that Randy’s math isn’t really adding up. If Timegate did half, and Gearbox did half, where does that leave Demiurge, Nerve, and Darkside?”

Meanwhile, a Reddit post from an alleged Gearbox employee (which RPS cannot, as of writing, verify entirely – though it matches with previous reports and rumblings we’ve heard) fills in almost every blank on the Borderlands developer’s side of the equation.

It’s well worth a read, but the short version claimed in the post is that Gearbox kept delaying Aliens in favor of other projects (Borderlands, Duke, etc), and Sega finally cracked the whip. Gearbox, however, decided to outsource so it could keep focusing on breadwinners like Borderlands 2, which is where TimeGate, Demiurge, and Nerve entered the picture. Then things allegedly got very, very messy. The Reddit post explains:

“Somehow the schedules for [Aliens’ codename] Pecan and Borderlands 2 managed to line up, and GBX realized that there was no fucking way they could cert and ship two titles at the same time. Additionally, campaign (which was being developed by TimeGate) was extremely far behind, even as Pecan’s Beta deadline got closer and closer. In April or May (can’t remember which), Pecan was supposed to hit beta, but GBX instead came to an agreement with SEGA that they would push the release date back one more time, buying GBX around 9 [month] extension.”

“About 5 of those 9 months went to shipping BL2. In that time, TimeGate managed to scrap together 85 percent of the campaign, but once Borderlands 2 shipped and GBX turned its attention to Pecan, it became pretty apparent that what had been made was in a pretty horrid state. Campaign didn’t make much sense, the boss fights weren’t implemented, PS3 was way over memory, etcetcetc. GBX was pretty unhappy with TG’s work, and some of Campaign maps were just completely redesigned from scratch. There were some last minute feature requests, most notably female marines, and the general consensus among GBX devs was that there was no way this game was going to be good by ship. There just wasn’t enough time.”

Unfortunately, Sega was allegedly ready to unchain its fiercest legal hedgehogs on Gearbox, so, the unverified claims say, the developer had no choice but to rush what it had through certification – which brings us to where we are today.

Obviously, we plan to continue digging into this story, as there’s quite a lot more to it than a simple summary can convey. If you are/were close to the project and are in a position to share information, feel free to get in touch. Just click my byline, and my personal troop of Internet fairies will take care of the rest.

Update: Sega has declined to comment. Still waiting on a response from Gearbox.


  1. caddyB says:

    Poor Bella. The gaming’s least protected spoiler.

  2. pakoito says:

    Yummy yummy drama!

  3. SirKicksalot says:

    I don’t think anyone at TimeGate should attempt to take credit for this game. Just blame someone else too.
    This is the first time I heard about Darkside being involved in CM. Are they credited in the game? It’s not on their site.

  4. elfbarf says:

    Yet for some reason, SEGA decided that it’d be a better idea to deal with this shit than to release Obsidian’s finished Aliens RPG.

    • caddyB says:

      If Gearbox didn’t know about how bad it was months before release, I bet SEGA had no idea either. And at some point the publisher will release the game to get back some of the costs instead of spending more money and time.

      Sounds like Sword of the Stars II to me.

      • Baines says:

        Gearbox knew it was in trouble. They asked for a 9 month extension for a reason.

        It is just that Gearbox decided it was more important to finish Borderlands 2 first, before taking a closer look at Aliens.

        And Gearbox, weighing consumers against the legal repercussions of their own indifference and screw ups, chose to rush through and ship a broken mess rather than tell Sega that they just couldn’t honor the contract.

        • caddyB says:

          Well, Gearbox are also responsible for DNF, but at least that was a finished ( and bad ) game. I guess Borderlands making a lot of cash allows them to stay afloat.

          • Caiman says:

            But prior to this, Gearbox could say that DNF was an aberration inherited from another studio. Now it’s looking more like Borderlands was a fluke, and that project management is not their strong point. Damage to image is very costly.

          • caddyB says:

            Oh that’s for sure, I’m not buying anything from them unless I see the whole internet orgasming after its release.

            And I think Borderlands 2 is just more Borderlands.

      • Trithne says:

        Except that SotS2 was all Kerberos’ fault.

      • Lemming says:

        Sega are, weirdly, the victims here. Gearbox are the arseholes that outsourced and fudged the books to concentrate on Borderlands 2. Timegate etc shouldn’t have been involved in the first place.

        I think Sega have a real case for some legal smack-down here.

        • mouton says:

          The whole game looks like legal cover. “We were contracted a working game? Here is a working game. A pity no one likes it, win some lose some, eh?”

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          Nah you have it backwards. This sort of thing is always the publishers fault. If GB did not have a good product it should not have shipped yet. Publishers push these games that developers would have made better but didn’t have the time. Happens more often than it doesn’t happen! It’s always the publishers fault.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Eh.. it kind of goes both ways. If Gearbox deliberately stalled developing the game to focus on other games while they promised to develop ACM that’s entirely on them.

            If the story is correct it did take them 6(!) years with Sega giving them more time to develop it as they went along. No, to me it seems like Gearbox wasn’t interested in developing ACM and when they were pushed they gave it to another developer to work on. That doesn’t sound like.. well.. sound practice to me.

        • Pony Canyon says:

          Sega as the victim? Yea, they got the short end of the stick with a crappy product, but they are still the ones that ultimately pulled the trigger. When they received the first copies of the game, they were basically presented with a choice: cash in on those pre-orders and get bank now or save face and pull the plug/grant yet another extension.

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            To be fair to Sega, this turd had been in development hell for seven years, and sega isn’t exactly operating with infinite money. Is it that unreasonable to expect developers to HONOR THEIR AGREEMENTS? If Gearbox had done their jobs like they said they would, this wouldn’t have happened

    • Casimir Effect says:

      SEGA have a record for this. Alpha Protocol and Empire: TW were both kicked out the door far too early; the former to comply with those silly release-date schedules people are obsessed with, the latter because it had been in development for a while and I guess SEGA got impatient.

      I imagine there are more examples but to me those are the most egregious. Luckily both games turned out excellent either through patching or merit alone.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Time would not have saved Alpha Protocol. Alpha Protocol had consistently delayed development, three different heads at different times of development, and significant feature rework. There was not enough coherent creative vision, and the game suffered accordingly.

      • Archonsod says:

        AP was delayed for about a year prior to release. Given it’s one of the best RPGs of the last decade, it’s hard to see how spending longer in development would have done anything too.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Don’t forget that a “silly release schedule” means that the meter is running on keeping everyone paid.

        Even if the publisher did something like just give a fixed lump-sum of investment up-front, that investment depreciates the further into the future it gets pushed.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Josh Sawyer of Obsidian, Ropekid on the SA forums has stated that the Aliens RPG was a long way off being finished:

      link to forums.somethingawful.com

  5. DickSocrates says:

    And what’s to be made of this video comparison between the demo they showed off months ago and the final, far inferior, looking game? link to youtube.com

    (via Twitter, @Glinner (Graham Linehan) retweeted @Jam_sponge saying: “Dug up an outrageous bit of gaming controversy here”)

    • Shuck says:

      Assuming those earlier demos are, in fact, playable footage, I’m guessing it fell foul to the re-jiggering that occurred to make it actually run on consoles (something it wasn’t doing rather late in development due to memory issues).

    • iucounu says:

      Phill Cameron’s theory on Twitter was that the PS3 version was over ‘memory budget’ (referencing the Reddit post) and so maybe everything got scaled back accordingly?

    • DK says:

      It’s what happens when you have to make a game run on consoles that literally have less RAM than a computer from 10 years ago.

    • Sir-Lucius says:

      It’s not uncommon for demos to be entirely separate entities that are made of unique code and assets that are never actually seen in the game (or are greatly scaled back), especially if they’re for big conferences/events like E3 or PAX and the like.

      There’s a chance that the earlier footage was built specifically for marketing purposes and then had to be rebuilt for the game with console limitations in mind. Seeing how poorly it appears this game was managed that wouldn’t surprise me it all.

      • El Mariachi says:

        Then that’s not a “demo” by any tortured stretch of the definition. That’s an alpha, or perhaps “concept art.” A demo is a demonstration of a working part of the game that is to be released.

  6. bit_crusherrr says:

    They could of came out with this BEFORE WE ALL FUCKING PAID FOR THE GAME.

    • mouton says:

      The relevant tactic here is “don’t pre-order or buy on day one”.

    • Darkjediben says:

      No no, ma cherie. If you prepaid for the game, you did a stupid thing. Anybody who’s willing to give publishers money for something sight unseen, with no reviews out, on a product that DOES NOT EXIST YET deserves everything that’s coming to them. Pre-buying is a crock in the age of digital distribution, it’s literally just a free loan to the publisher for a product you don’t know anything about.

      If you bought it AFTER release, when all those reviews were around, then that’s on you. Do your research next time. If you can’t be bothered to be an informed consumer, you don’t also get to complain that you bought a bum game.

      • Earl Grey says:

        Though to an extent I can agree with the sentiment of not pre-ordering a game. But especially now a days with the proliferation of gameplay footage, previews and trailers before release, someone could make an informed decision that a game was worth their time.

        Sure if said person paid no attention to that, more fool them I guess. Though in the case of A:CM looking at the demo footage (sold as actual game play) in comparison to what was the final product. Can’t a consumer assign blame if they feel duped?

        Yes. Preview footage isn’t fully representative of the final product. But it shouldn’t get markedly worse either.

        • crizzyeyes says:

          “But especially now a days with the proliferation of gameplay footage, previews and trailers before release, someone could make an informed decision that a game was worth their time.”

          Except that you can’t, and this game is living proof of that. Whether through development complications or outright deception (as happened with The War Z), gameplay footage prior to release is not representative of the final product; they even tell you that during demos. If you pre-order video games, you’d better be damned confident in the studios in charge of development. In no other industry is pre-ordering so prevalent; comics are a possible exception, but comics come in series with an issue out every month, not gigantic projects that take years.

          • Hemoglobina says:

            Even though I agree with you about the demos not being representations of the final product, I think one thing is that the product ends up falling short because is boring, maybe repetitive, and what not…
            And another thing is preparing a demo, that in no way is going to be like the final product, in order to trick people, to get some preorders. If they knew the game was going to be like that, and the demo was prepared, thats some unethical bussiness practice… not a lot can be done about that, though.
            Maybe in this case, the problems came up after the demos were made, and maybe not.

          • Earl Grey says:

            Well yes. Hence why I won’t preorder either. But neither will I fault someone who got excited about an IP, fall for what amounted to shady advertising or in the case here see a reasonably respected dev in Gearbox (before this debacle) make it.

            I’m sure the person has enough regret about their purchase, without someone saying “Well you deserve it” and “You don’t get to complain.” That’s the belief of a breathing arse stain.

      • bit_crusherrr says:

        It was looking good and I’m a big Alien fan I just wanted the movie characters for multiplayer.

        While I’m enjoying the games co-op its nothing like what the trailers lead me to believe it would be.

        • Phantoon says:

          “I was disappointed when they lied to me! Again!”
          -An Eternal Optimist

          • Baresark says:

            LoL, it’s better to be an eternal optimist. A lot more life advantages that way.

          • One Pigeon says:

            *Rather unfortunately said before being hit by a bus after attempting to cross a motorway in the hope that there were no vehicles on the road that day*

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            Sure is capitalist defense squad in here. IT’S THE CONSUMERS FAULT FOR TRUSTING THE PRODUCER!

            No. No it is not. It is the producers fault for being a shit producer.

          • twilightusk says:

            @TsunamiWombat I think the point from the people saying “don’t pre-order games” is less “It’s entirely your fault! Developers do no wrong!” and more “Guys, Developers are assholes who do this over and over and over, would you stop falling for it already?”

            I mean seriously, who would be calling for people to stop pre-ordering games if they were trying to shill for developers/publishers? Those are the two groups who benefit the most from pre-orders.

        • f1x says:

          Can’t blame you for pre-ordering

          as a passionate gamer pre-ordering a game you are hyped for is normal and anticipation is a nice warm feeling
          then, the problem here is not only that Aliens:CM is bad, the problem is its also broken, glitchy and full of bugs

          • Baresark says:

            This is a point that I always make. There was no reason to expect it to be more than the mediocre shooter that AVP was. But, I still loved the shit out of AVP as the universe is incredible. But they put together a fake play video with basic features (character and alien animations that were decent, reasonable AI, etc.) and then told us that it was a product similar to what we could expect when we played the game. Only the game is nothing like that at all. But then we are greeted by jackasses who give such good advice like wait for reviews. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making excuses. No one held a gun to my head and made me buy that game, and I don’t need the sympathy of a bunch of self righteous pricks, but it’s just completely retarded when these morons talk shit to people who got taken advantage of.

          • Baines says:

            I think people push the whole “wait for reviews” idea because:

            1) This happens repeatedly. Maybe it isn’t the same person every time, but it happens repeatedly.

            2) Pre-orders are arguably hurting videogames, so people who keep pre-ordering games are making videogames worse for everyone.

            If people didn’t blindly pre-order, then Gearbox couldn’t have pulled this off with Aliens: Colonial Marines. If the offer of an exclusive gun didn’t win people over, maybe we wouldn’t have pre-order DLC, either. There are various gaming negatives that pre-orders contribute to.

          • AngoraFish says:

            Being a dick to people who preordered a lemon is very much a case of blaming the victim.

            Consumers have every right to expect that a product they purchase is of acceptable quality, fit for purpose, and matches the advertising.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Nonsense. Caveat Emptor
            If you got ripped off you’re not a victim, you’re a fool

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            This is a fallacy pushed by the people who want to utilize short term exploitation to make a profit. It’s like the concept of business ethics don’t exist for you people.

            It is not the consumers fault. Quit rushing to defend your developer because they screwed over their fans.

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            It’s odd. Pre-ordering or not I get the exact same level of anticipation about launch day. This because most likely I would buy a highly anticipated game on launch day.

            Are you sure that is a valid argument? Or is it me and I’m a weirdo?

          • bleeters says:

            I don’t see anyone ‘rushing to defend their developer’. I see people criticising pre-orders and people who make them on the basis that developers keep pulling this crap, and everyone should stop falling for it.

            If I were to say ‘pre-ordering games is foolish of you’, this isn’t by extension saying ‘developers have no responsibility in the matter to actually make good on their promises’. I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that it is.

      • valz says:

        100% agreed. Buying unknown things is stupid.

    • imperialus says:

      But then they wouldn’t have your money and the game would be a commercial failure in addition to a critical one.

    • Rindan says:

      We didn’t all pay for the game already. I love Aliens and was basically waiting for anything that sounded like vague census that the game doesn’t suck before happily throwing them my money. I put my ears the ‘tubes and heard nothing but a vast sucking noise, and quickly put my money back into my wallet.

      DON’T PREORDER GAMES*. Seriously. Stop it. You are a moron if you do. This has happened a dozen times, and it is going to happen again. I am telling you it is going to happen again. The game will still be there 3 hours after it is released. It isn’t going to run out. Preordering is like signing up for the random chance to pay a stupid tax.

      *I’ll make an exception for Kickstarter. You might kickstart something and take a risk to fund someone doing something interesting but that might which not get published otherwise. In this case, you are not paying a stupid tax, but gambling on helping something interesting come into existence.

      • GuybrushThreepwood says:

        By extension, shouldn’t this mean we should all also stop supporting anything on Kickstarter? That’s even worse than sight unseen, it’s usually all hopes and dreams and a bag of chips. (cf. Wildman)

        • Rindan says:

          Did you ignore the *?

          Kickstarter is different. Aliens: Pile of Shit was going to be made whether or not you pre-order. If anything, pre-orders might encourage them to release shit before people cancel the pre-orders on the rumor that the game is crap. Kickstarter is tossing your money at something that won’t get made without a bunch of money being tossed at it by a lot of people like you. Your contribution might help a game be made.

          That said, if you toss money at Kickstarter and freak out when the game doesn’t appear, you are dumb. Giving money to Kickstarter is one level less charity than donating a few bucks to a free and cool open source project. You are mostly donating your money, and it is a bonus if it turns out to be something good. You give to Kickstarter for a warm fuzzy feeling and perhaps to fund an interesting game. You donate your pre-order money to Sega because you are an idiot.

          • iridescence says:

            Kickstarter games generally cost $15 or $20 that’s a big difference from a $60 AAA release and Kickstarter is about encouraging a game that wouldn’t otherwise be made, not about paying full price for a product that will definitely exist before really knowing anything about that product.

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            Not to mention Kickstarter doesn’t actually take your money unless the project gets fully funded/made.

            Except for those Feminist Frequency video’s. HAHAH ahh.. awkward…

      • Milky1985 says:

        I would refine what you are saying to “Don’t Pre-Order games that are not already out in the world”

        Simple reason, i have fire Emblem : Awakening pre-ordered, but it doesn’t fall into the bad pre-order as much simple because the game is already out and reviewed in America.

        Sometimes it’s ok, its the sight unseen ones that people need to stop, at the very least get yourself down to a convention and play it. Although in this case it might not have helped :/

    • Vercinger says:

      Like others have said, those who pre-order deserve every disappointment they get.

      • bit_crusherrr says:

        yeah but on the other hand if I listened to reviews I wouldn’t of bought Anarchy Reigns which is fucking brilliant.

        • Vercinger says:

          Let’s look at Metacritic.

          Anarchy Reigns is scored 8.5 – 71 /// 8.2 – 72

          ACM is scored 4.1 – 42 /// 4.1 – 46 /// 4.5 – 50

          If you listened to reviews you would buy AR and avoid ACM. Not that you should treat reviews as more than a rough guide. But in any case, your comment makes no sense.

          • Phantoon says:

            Ha ha ha ha. Listen to Metacritic? No.

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            Why exactly? What’s wrong with metacritic? Is this yet another one of those “I’m going to say it because people who say it look cool”?

            I’d like to hear an objective criticism at metacritic, for once. I might be swayed.

          • bit_crusherrr says:

            A 7 on metacritic is the equivalent of “ID RATHER EAT MY OWN SHIT!”. The only time numbers below that are broken out is the few times shit like this happens.

          • Archonsod says:

            “Why exactly? What’s wrong with metacritic?”

            Like most things that rely on the general public, it has no mechanism to cope with the fact that most of them are morons.

          • Rindan says:

            Your scale is all messed up if you think a 7 on Metacritic is a ‘eat shit and die’. It means means “this will not be a religious experience, but it will have a decent and entertaining core idea if this flavor appeals to you, but it is going to have some flaws”, which is pretty much exactly what Anarchy Reins is. It is entertaining, but has some flaws and is not something that is going to shift my perceptions of reality or anything. 7 on Metacritic to me means that I will probably be entertained if I like the concept, but be annoyed if I don’t.

            90+ means OMGBUY.
            80 means OMGBUY if you like the idea, and ‘eh, you should probably buy if the idea appeals at least a little to you’. It has flaws, but they are outweighed by the awesome.
            70+ means a good solid acceptable experience if the idea of the game appeals, otherwise, skip. This game has flaws, but it has its virtues.
            60+ means if you adore the idea and are willing to suffer some fuckedupidness (that is a word, right?), you can buy, otherwise, skip unless Steam is offering it for >$5.
            50+ means that the game sucks.
            50- means that this game goes above and beyond the call of duty in sucktasticness. Even if you rub one off to the idea of this game, its epic suck isn’t worth your time. If someone offers to give this game to you for free, tell them to fuck off. You can not force someone to play this game without committing a human rights violation.

            The 42 that Aliens is currently rocking means “Americans use this game for torture in place of water boarding.”.

            Metacritic is a lazy way to review a game, but it is pretty quick and dirty way of getting a bead on a game if you ask me.

          • MrMud says:

            Metacritic is problematic because there is not a stable set of review outlets. Games of different profiles have vastly different outlets that generate the scores, this means that scores are not cross comparable.

            That said, I don’t think there is really any better resources out there.

          • LionsPhil says:

            >Giving a monkey’s about review scores
            God forbid you find a reviewer who tends to like your kind of things and read the words they had to say about a game.

          • Joshua says:

            Metacritic is a good way to see if some of your thrustworthy sources have reviewed the game already. One can generally get a decent idea from what a game is like from reading a couple of reviews, and metacritic is a good way to find those.

            And although the score on Metacritic is not really grounded to a standard, decent assumptions about a game’s quality can still be made.

          • harmlos says:

            I find metacritic to be useful if I don’t know anything about a game – I just read the “mixed” (i.e. yellow) reviews on the assumption that I’m going to get useless fawning from the positive reviews and equally useless bashing from the negative reviews, while the reviewers with mixed feelings usually try to explain just why their feelings are mixed, allowing me to make a more informed decision. I read the user reviews for personal entertainment only.

          • Buzko says:

            @Joshua – I just love the idea of a “thrustworthy” source!

    • Shooop says:

      Wait, wait. People who watched the trailers and previews actually still bought this game?

      • bit_crusherrr says:

        It’s Aliens so of course I bought the damn game. Just like I bought AvP which was a bit crap but better than this.

      • Baresark says:

        You see, the previews made the game look good to people who like the Alien franchise. The slow motion stuff aside, the play video we were all fed made the game look incredibly good. But that wasn’t real, it was false advertising.

        • Screamer says:

          I’m sorry, but which previews/vids made this game look good? EVERYTHING I saw about this game screamed it was going to be bad.

        • Iskariot says:

          I’d have to agree with Screamer. I am a huge Aliens fan and collector. To me this game did look like something I would want to avoid like the plague from the start.

      • Cleave says:

        I kinda knew it would be shit but I still pre-ordered it, just chasing that high from AvP 2000. But then, to my surprise after I saw the torrent of hate pouring out of the Internet, I actually enjoyed it :)

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      The issue isn’t really choosing to preorder, it’s that you can’t cancel it and get a refund.

  7. El_MUERkO says:

    So Gearbox are saying “It wasn’t us, honest guv!”

    I might respect their candour if it had come before release day when hundreds of thousands of people purchased the game or collected their pre-order.

    Why should I, or any other gamer, care about ‘who really made’ Colonial Marines?

    Randy and Co. can try pass the blame all they want but the lies, the bullshots, the faked demos and bought reviews (9 out of 10 EGM) of Colonial Marines deserves to waddle around after them like that alien-that-shit-its-cacks.gif everyone keeps posting.

    • Chris D says:

      While that 9/10 is looking very hard to defend if Gearbox actually did decide to blow their entire bribery budget on that guy and the Guardian games section then that would seem to be a cock up of even greater proportions than the game itself.

      • mouton says:

        Indeed, the game being terrible is no news, but the fake demo, the shady reviews… I sure hope it is all followed up.

        • Chris D says:

          One of the things that came out in the investigation into what happened with Homefront was the amount of time the developers spent on making code for demos that they couldn’t actually use in the game itself. Possibly this kind of thing is common practice in at least some sectors of the industry.

          Here’s the article on Homefront:
          link to polygon.com

          • HermitUK says:

            Mockup demos are a fairly common occurence. You essentially have to split off your codebase and polish something up to be playable in and of itself; firstly because too many issues, even in WIP code, doesn’t look good. Secondly, you don’t want to be sending out all your code to journalists to preview, for fear of dreaded leaks. Granted, most demos aren’t quite unlike the real thing as this one. Though Halo 2 springs to mind as another example of an E3 demo that the devs basically knew would never make the final release: link to eurogamer.net

            The problem in ACM’s case, though, seems more like an issue with Gearbox not properly keeping track of the outsourced development; if they’d been keeping an eye on Timegate et al’s work, they might have been able to step in earlier. Seems like they were more interested in finishing BL2 (which is fair enough), but just hoped ACM would magically be finished in the meantime (which was a bit silly).

          • Baresark says:

            The situation is not remotely the same. A lot of companies make a fun little scripted section that is a slice of the game but may contain either characters or events that do not occur in actual game. This is common practice in some demos. In the A:CM demo they showed, it was almost an entirely different games. The alien and character animations were literally far far better. The lighting, textures, even the power loader moved in such ways that were not remotely reproduced in the actual game. There were no Aliens popping in and out of existence or staring at the player just standing there. The final product is a drastically different product than was shown on the play floor in that preview video.

          • UnlovedAlien says:

            Latest bit of information Saw an interesting comment by a TimeGate employee on a friend’s Facebook link to a What the hell happened video : link to youtube.com. They claim that the E3 demo (which looked significantly slicker than the final game) was fully playable, and that they developed the campaign up to alpha before handing it back to Gearbox, who apparently jammed it into their own version of the engine…

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            “The final product is a drastically different product than was shown on the play floor in that preview video.”

            One word. Consoles.

          • Baines says:

            UnlovedAlien, that’s interesting, and would explain a lot of issues as well. The messy animations, bad collision detection, and graphics can all be explained by taking assets and hastily shoving them into a different (and weaker) engine.

            It doesn’t even necessarily contradict the stuff that had previously been said in favor of Gearbox. The demo might have been too much for the PS3, fitting the claims that it was way over memory limit. If the game TimeGate delivered couldn’t run on consoles, then it *was* a disaster for Gearbox. The claim that Gearbox had to completely overhaul levels, instead of meaning that Gearbox was fixing garbage, could instead mean that Gearbox was doing a rush job slashing down the levels to get them to run on consoles. And, like I said, if Gearbox just slammed the existing assets into a weaker engine (for the consoles), that could explain a lot of glitches and issues.

            And it would also explain why there weren’t more warning flags in Gearbox’ eyes. Maybe instead of seeing a train wreck, they just saw a good looking game that was going to need work getting it to run on consoles. And then, in the last few months when they finally tried to get it running on consoles, Gearbox didn’t have time, rushed it, and messed it up.

      • Vorphalack says:

        I doubt they had to buy out the Guardian games columnist. Newspaper reviewers wouldn’t know a gaming turd if they slipped on it, did a back flip, and faceplanted it while screaming ”I have no idea what I just slipped on, but it feels like a 9.5! AT LEAST!”

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Before moving on to Gearbox, let me just say this: A pre-order puts the sole responsibility of a fuckupped game on you. The mistake is pre-ordering before it is about a game that shouldn’t have been launched and the money returned to those who pre-ordered. The responsibility of the company comes only after launch day. You take the risk by pre-ordering, so learn to assume the risk.

      Now… Gearbox. Gearbox isn’t saying anywhere this isn’t their responsibility. For one those sources are still being checked. The article says this a couple of times. So for now we don’t have a confirmation this is Gearbox talking. Secondly they could very well be employees, but they will remain as non official sources. You can yell all you want at Gearbox when an official statement is made about it. Thirdly they clearly put the blame on Gearbox. It was their project. The fact they outsourced it is bad enough, but that their choice of development studio was so bad is just the icing on the cake on how badly Gearbox managed this project that was entrusted to them. If Gearbox wasn’t to be blamed here, SEGA wouldn’t be threatening with a lawsuit. So, you can feel better now. Your enemy is being blamed.

      • Cockles says:

        Although personally I agree that you shouldn’t pre-order games (in general), pre-ordering is not as definite as you make out – I don’t think it puts the sole responsibility on you.

        The fact that there are two parties involved means that there two parties with varying amounts of responsibility by default. I’m not just saying this to be semantic, it means that everyone involved has some responsibility; I am advertising a product that will be available soon, if you like it then why not get your copy delivered to you the moment I release it (by the way, I MIGHT be grossly exaggerating what it is I’m selling to you or I might not be selling anything AT ALL, I might just take your money and flee).

        The company does have responsibility pre-launch if they have any kind of commercial sense and I would suspect that they there would be legal responsibilities in some circumstances if tested in court (or if the company took your pre-order money and never had any intention of releasing the product). Basically, I think you mean to say that there is a risk with pre-ordering but it is not one parties responsibility as by it’s nature there are 2 parties involved with the agreement.

        I only say this because a lot of commentors are calling people stupid for pre-ordering (although you did not personally). I didn’t pre-order this but why rub it in anyone’s face that they pre-ordered something that showed a completely different demo section to what was in the game? The game looked shit to me before release but if Gearbox/Sega/whoever used different press materials that completely exaggerated the game and were not included then shame on them, hopefully people will take some action (i.e. not buy games from these people) any more and their reputation will diminish accordingly, hopefully hurting future profits.

        • twilightusk says:

          ” why rub it in anyone’s face that they pre-ordered something that showed a completely different demo section to what was in the game?”

          Because apparently all of the times this sort of thing has happened before isn’t enough to stop this kind of activity from happening. Apparently, there are still legions of people who haven’t learned the lesson yet, and evidently will continue not learning the lesson no matter how many times you spell it out for them that this is not an isolated case, that this has happened before, and that this will continue happening until the consumers stop blindly pre-ordering. The second part of your sentence is important because it highlights the more specific lesson of “Just because the promotional material looks good, that doesn’t mean the game will be good!” The attitude is one that innately assumes that the publishers/developers are more than eager to screw over customers, that hardly pins them as being blameless, but its in our power as consumers to stop this from happening by refusing to pre-order games.

    • Screamer says:

      I matters because they marketed the game as a Gearbox game, cashing in on the good will gamers have towards Borderlands, with gamers expecting the same kind of quality product. What they got was Randy “Real Gamers Like DNF “Pitcfork spewing bullshit and a bad game.

  8. Kambyero says:

    This almost makes this game’s existence worth it:

    • coffeetable says:

      You mean this

      link to abload.de

    • Taidan says:

      Thanks, just woke up my significant other with laughter. I will name the incoming black eye “Kambyero”, in your honour.

      • Kambyero says:

        Looking forward to being a godfather and a namesake! Your black eye’s birth will be a breaking story on our wonderful blog of games discourse. Click away!

    • Acorino says:

      aw, now I have to watch it again…for like the tenth time!

    • Skabooga says:

      Still makes me laugh. Six years and millions of dollars down the drain, but at least one good thing came of it.

  9. int says:

    What happened to TimeGate? Weren’t they the ones who made the Kohan games? They weren’t great but I kinda liked them.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I played all the Kohan games and thought they were great, if you just ignored the silly back story and world building. It was one of my favorite strategy series. But I guess that didn’t make anyone a fortune, so they decided to jump on the FPS bandwagon.

    • Archonsod says:

      They also made Section 8, which kinda demonstrated why they shouldn’t do shooters.

  10. Beernut says:

    Just watched Jim Sterlings latest jimquisition, where he points out all the stuff seen in the demo which didn’t make it into the final game:

    link to escapistmagazine.com

    Pretty serious stuff honestly. And I have to wonder, why they decided to cut so much of the good stuff out. Some things might be due to technical problems. I.e. the AI, which caused aliens to crawl through barricades. Maybe this mechanism worked fine in the corridors of the demo but introduced huge problems elsewhere, so I’m willing to give them that. But throwing out perfectly fine cutscenes and gameplay-sections, which already worked and were deemed enjoyable? Those were either very bad decisions, or their quality assurance team had a distinctly different idea of fun, than all the people who liked the demo and ended up hating the final product.

    • Shuck says:

      Running a demo on a high-end PC is quite a different thing from a finished game optimized for a much lower spec console. This wouldn’t be the first time that mid-way through development the makers realized, “Crap – we don’t have enough memory for this!” and had to throw out more complex set pieces. Especially when developing, for the first time, for a then-unreleased console.

      • ffordesoon says:

        The Wii U version was outsourced to Demiurge. Or rather, the SP game seems to have been outsourced to TimeGate and Nerve while the Wii U version was outsourced entirely to Demiurge, with Gearbox only developing the multiplayer for the 360, PS3, and PC versions. And now there’s talk of the Wii U version getting pushed back to turn it into a competent game, after it was already pushed back a couple of months from the multiplat release date.

        In other words, the possibility that this monumental cock-up has much at all to do with the Wii U port is an unlikely one at best. I’m not saying you’re wrong, necessarily; I’m just clarifying.

        • Baines says:

          It doesn’t have to be the Wii U port that the was the reason. And theoretically, the Wii U isn’t significantly weaker than the PS3 or 360. Graphically, it can arguably be superior.

          However, the PS3 could have been an issue. Memory issues have been cited for PS3 games before, and the work done on Colonial Marines might have been beyond what Gearbox’s engine could handle. Maybe TimeGate was making stuff to PC standards, and didn’t properly consider either the 360 or PS3. Maybe scaling back wasn’t an easy option, or Gearbox panicked, or whatever.

    • AdmiralFrosty says:

      It definitely appears that a good bit of the details in that trailer are different than the final product. It’s pretty clear that the game was underdeveloped an then rushed, so a lot of that stuff (Aliens moving though tight spaces and up walls) were cut. There’s a lot more to making a game than just adding more fun.

      I’m not trying to defend the game, I’m saying that Jim’s coming across a little more self-entitled and whiny than usual.

      • Tagiri says:

        The thing is, I think, that they didn’t call it a trailer. It was described as a “gameplay demo.” You’re not expecting gameplay in the final to look less good than what you see in a pre-release demo.

        I don’t think anyone ever actually played this demo (it was talked over by the devs in a video iirc), which probably should have raised some suspicions, but this isn’t people wah wah-ing because a game doesn’t look like its CGI trailer. Well, it sort of is, but not intentionally . . .

      • ffordesoon says:

        It is not “self-entitled” or “whiny” to say that that trailer – and that’s what it is, else they wouldn’t have released it for public consumption – looks markedly better than the game itself, nor is it in any way improper to accuse Gearbox of misrepresenting its game. Yes, there’s a disclaimer at the beginning that says it’s “not representative” of the final game, and yes, there are lots of gameplay demos that never show up beat for beat in the final product, many of which show features which are cut out of the final product.

        The difference here is that gameplay trailers are usually representative of the final product. Not in a legally binding way, obviously, but the essence of what they show is more or less present in the final product, and usually with a great deal more polish on it. Yes, Fallout: New Vegas’ Strip was shown as one long stretch of road at E3, then ended up being sliced into chunks that were easier for consoles to handle. Yes, Half-Life 2’s tentacle monster was never seen in the final game. But what was shown in the New Vegas and HL2 E3 demos wasn’t deceptive, because you got a pretty good general sense of both games in the demos.

        This demo – which was probably assembled at Gearbox using assets from multiplayer, if I had to guess – takes “not representative of the final product” to a whole new level, because it is misrepresentative. There is an implicit ethical contract between gamer and developer that is in effect when the gamer views a promotional demonstration of a forthcoming game. The developer is saying to the gamer, “This may not literally represent what is in the game, but it does represent the general experience of playing the game. Except the game will be better.”

        This demo does not honor that contract. It doesn’t just show the game in the best possible light, but misrepresents the basic experience of playing the game. The Marine in the demo has a gun, and he fires it. That is pretty much the extent to which the gameplay of the shipped product is represented.

        I’m not going to say I know the full story behind the making of the game, because I don’t, but anyone looking at the demo and the shipped game side-by-side would want to play the demo instead, because it looks like a much better game. Legally, Gearbox may have done nothing wrong. But it violated the implicit contract, and that might ultimately be even worse for it than taking one on the chin legally. It didn’t just get caught with its pants down here; it got caught boning a hooker onstage, in full view of a packed house at Carnegie Hall, while running for President on a “family values” platform.

        Saying, “Hey, wait a minute, aren’t you that candidate running on family values?” is not “self-entitled.” It is not “whiny.” It is calling obvious bullshit out as obvious bullshit. Which, frankly, more “games journalists” could stand to do. Whatever else you think of Jim Sterling, the guy was not being “self-entitled” or “whiny” by posting that video. He was doing his damn job.

    • Christo4 says:

      Hmm why do i have a feeling that timegate delivered but Gearbox fucked it up for consoles? At least release the uncut one for PC dammit.

  11. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    I really dislike how credulously gaming outlets are treating these “unverified claims” about Timegate ruining everything when it is tremendously in Gearbox’s interest to shift the blame to someone else. The claim Timegate scrapped the majority of Gearbox’s work (with the implication it would’ve been much better) is especially egregious and self serving.

    If you can find any actual proof of this then run it but until you do, at the very least treat “anonymous sources” who seem to be running a PR damage limitation campaign with a heck of a lot more cynicism.

    Heck, at the very very least please embed one of the developer diaries on youtube that has Gearbox taking all the credit for it and claiming the did all the research.

    Here, I’ll provide a link: link to youtube.com

    • Shuck says:

      What’s been said is that this was passed between several development teams, with each more or less tossing out much of what the other team had done, including Gearbox when the game was passed back to them for the final development work. Gearbox justified this by saying that what they’d been given wasn’t up to snuff, but of course Timegate could make the same claim. Regardless, Gearbox was doing some pretty basic development work quite late in the dev cycle, and they ultimately put out a rushed game. Seems like there’s plenty of blame to go around even if ultimately Gearbox were in charge of the project and thus responsible.

    • Correa says:

      So true and after reading what this guy did to prove how a nobody could make up stuff that the websites went off reporting it as facts. link to x-surface.tumblr.com

      I’ll wait for actual confirmation about it and someone that can put there name to what they say over , the man in the pub said this.

      • Acorino says:

        I presume that Nathan knows who this former TimeGate employee is he talked to, and that said person doesn’t want to be named in the article for understandable reasons. At least I hope it’s like that, which would be quite different from game “journalists” being fooled by an anonymous and unasked for e-mail.

        The reddit post…yeah, like Nathan clearly stated, is to be taken with a spoonful of salt. Though it fits pretty much perfectly with all the other details we already know.

    • ffordesoon says:

      I dunno, man, I’m not sure Gearbox is coming out of this looking rosy. Unless it’s the kind of rosy that presages the bubonic plague.

  12. Bhazor says:

    Its stories like this that make me long for more long form pieces like “Masters of Doom” or “Jacked” which go right into the deep dark recesses to find the story behind the story.

    At the least the book about it will be better than the game.

    • Sugoi says:

      Masters of Doom was such a great book. It helps, of course, that so many of the guys at id were all so uniquely interesting, and their interplay so essential to the company’s early success. I actually recommended it to my non-gaming father a few years back, and much to my surprise he found it every bit as compelling as I did.

      Thinking about it now makes me feel so horrible for Romero, though — it seems that he really hasn’t been able to catch a break post-id, despite his very obvious talents.

  13. mr.ioes says:

    Thanks for shedding a light on this issue. From now on, Randy Pitchfork should not be taken serious anymore.

  14. Flappybat says:

    *10 minutes of demo video that claims to be real gameplay and is a total fabrication*

    Gamers are to blame for preordering this!

  15. Eagle32 says:

    The story seems to be:

    Neglect contract in favor of internally developed games.
    Get some extensions on the contract.
    Eventually fob it off on a sub contractor.
    Panic when sub-contractor doesn’t deliver.
    Cobble together whatever shit you have.
    Shove it out the door.
    Blame everyone else.

    All of which could be avoided by actually doing the job they said they’d do at the start. Gearbox are 100% responsible and should stop blaming everyone else.

  16. bigjig says:

    You know, Burke, I don’t know which species is worse. You don’t see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.

  17. AlienMind says:

    Ancient chinese secret:
    Whip cracking makes bad game

  18. Wonderboy2402 says:

    I get the feeling we are going to be in for one of those things where its the other guys fault but no ones… Three possible sources to lay blame, but each blaming the other.

    And we the consumer left holding a paper baggy with a turd in the bottom.

  19. Caiman says:

    The most damning aspect of this whole saga is not Timegate, but Gearbox’s management of the project. If your subcontractors are doing a substandard job, you should be aware of this more than 5.5 years into a 6 year development cycle. Gearbox should be rightly embarrassed by this whole saga, it reflects extremely badly on them particularly after they thought DNF was in a state fit to be released as a full-price product.

  20. UnlovedAlien says:

    Industry scuttle butt I have heard states that GearBox were give $65 mill to make this game, timegate received $15m when subcontracted by gearbox and the other devs a few mill a piece. You do the maths but the rest was apparently spent on Boderlands 2, leaving this abortion to be shot out the door.

  21. orient says:

    Piss-poor by Gearbox. Looks like a total lack of respect and commitment to their contract with Sega.

    I understand that being an independent developer is tough and you’ve got to grab those dollars while you can (in the form of Borderlands), but if you’re going to shit out a game (or get others to do that for you) then don’t bother at all.

  22. crinkles esq. says:

    From the Gearbox Reddit poster:

    Issues that didn’t cause 100% blockers were generally ignored, with the exception of absolutely horrible problems. This isn’t because GBX didn’t care, mind you.

    Wrong. Gearbox stopped caring when they continually delayed A:CM and finally just outsourced it. “I’m sorry baby, I didn’t mean to hit you. You know I love you, Aliens.”

  23. BruceVC says:

    I won’t be playing this game, life is too short and there are far too many good games out there. But I have to say that some of the bugs listed with the AI and the way the marines are suppose to accurately update you made me laugh. The best one for me

    “This writing just gets better and better. “Raiders 6-5 will wait for you, but goddammit don’t make us wait for you.” Someone not only wrote that down, but an actor willingly said it out loud”

    Classic and hilarious

  24. TheIronSky says:

    Sounds similar to what happened with Sonic ’06.

    Dammit, SEGA – take a lesson from CDProject Red – finish games before you ship them!

    • roxahris says:

      Hey, man. Don’t group that game together with this rubbish. This failure could’ve been avoided if Gearbox hadn’t shirked from responsibility and spent their “money and time we got to make Aliens: Colonial Marines” budget on every single other game they released since it was announced. If they hadn’t pushed the limit and then outsourced it, or even just not fired all the really talented people from the studio they outsourced it to as they supposedly did, there would’ve been a chance.
      (Sonic 06, on the other hand, was doomed from the start, but that’s a story for another time.)

  25. Beelzebud says:

    And to think an Obsidian Aliens RPG was probably cancelled due to Sega thinking Gearbox would be able to pull this off. I’d rather have a deep RPG based on the franchise than 10 games from Gearbox.

  26. frightlever says:

    Why’d Shenmue never come out on PC? Hmm. I played that on my Dreamcast. Oh yeah… that’s why I hate QTEs now.

  27. defunkt says:

    Gearbox made Aliens, who they employed or how they contracted the work out is nobody’s concern but their own as are any profits and any blame.

  28. Neurotic says:

    Do we really need to dig further on this? I think the summary here is enough really. GBX dragged their feet, outsourced it, which didn’t work out well, came back to it too late, and the publisher said ‘Enough of your bullshit already, it’s been more than six years. We’re releasing.’

    If anyone looks bad, or should be feeling bad for this mess, it’s GBX. If they couldn’t handle the scheduling, they should’ve walked away from it.

    • RakeShark says:

      Honestly, yes, there should be more digging, and raking over the coals. This is a multi-million triple-A $60 game. And for all the attention and adoration they wanted not only on release but throughout the year, so shall they at least receive the attention.

    • wyrmsine says:

      If it were just a case of the game not living up to expectations, then I’d agree that the story’s done. This is not the case – the product is so shockingly bad, it appears to be either a sudden-yet-predictable trainwreck or outright hucksterism and lazy avarice.

  29. mrmalodor says:

    AHAHA, so glad I didn’t buy this game.

  30. Eddard_Stark says:

    “Aliens: Colonial Marines has been a dream project – a labor of love”, Randy Pitchford.

    • solidsquid says:

      See, this is what I don’t get. How awesome would it be to create a badass Alien game, and how much prestige could that bring to the company in the long run? (Gearbox have revived our dreams of a decent Alien game! etc etc) It seems like the kind of game which *would* be a labour of love, and could bring in future projects too if done well (AvP, sequals to A:CM, Prometheus at the very worst) but they just screwed the pooch on this one

  31. Crosmando says:

    I have heard that CM had a “real” budget which was tiny and a small amount of what SEGA was actually paying them to make it. CM has been in development for some 7 years, and Gearbox has been fraudulently channeling the money from SEGA into Borderlands development, while outsourcing most of the heavy lifting in CM to outside studios.

  32. Christo4 says:

    Who is to blame? Gearbox. Why? Because THEY were contracted to make Aliens:CM. Not Timegate or who knows what other developers. Gearbox. The fact that they outsourced it is they’r own fault. Sega paid them to make the game. They didn’t. End of story.

    EDIT: Just watched this link to escapistmagazine.com never played the demo, but if it really is like Jim says, then i think that TimeGate delivered but Gearbox dumbed it down for consoles.

    • solidsquid says:

      From what I understand they were contracted to release for consoles too, but the version they got just wouldn’t work on them without hacking large chunks out to reduce memory usage and Gearbox didn’t have time to do it right

    • Tagiri says:

      It was not a playable demo. It was described as a demo, but only videos of it going the way it goes in that video are ever shown. That’s why so many people think it’s a render.

  33. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Have been checking Randy’s twitter, he hasn’t mentioned CM much at all. He seems happy with Borderlands though :)

  34. Col Sanders says:

    Just out of curiosity could this in any way (in the UK atleast) be an issue for trading standards? I mean all the demo footage is stunning and look extremely atmospheric and yet when the game comes out it looks terrible?
    Could everyone not try and all get refunds at least on steam ala WarZ?

    • UnlovedAlien says:

      Maybe as it does look like a case of bait and switch however check this thread
      link to steamcommunity.com

    • aldo_14 says:

      I can’t help but wonder if someone along the line told them explicitly to increase the lighting and contrast – whether it was playtesters struggling to see enemies, or marketing guys declaring it’d make the graphics look better in screenshots, or the licensee wanting to give a better view of their license, etc.

  35. Spoon Of Doom says:

    So, no matter what is true, either Gearbox badly fucked up the part of actually developing the game, or they fucked up project management badly. Maybe a bit of both. No amount of blameshifting can leave them with a white vest here.

  36. timzania says:

    It’s interesting that Gearbox wasn’t too ashamed of this mess to cancel their fancy release party: link to dallasnews.com

    These photos are particularly surreal to me since I live in the Dallas area and go to shows at the Granada all the time.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Wow. I agree! That’s just too distrubing to look at considering the complete utter mess this game is. Heck, from a consumer point of view, one that looks at Gearbox and SEGA as lying to potential customers by advertising the game as a good game (lying, because they clearly know it’s not), I find those images offensive even.

    • drewski says:

      I dunno. I think “…let’s get drunk.” is probably a pretty reasonable response to realising you’re about to release this quality of game.

  37. Forceflow says:

    Look, if they had done it in a different way, it seems we might have had a crappy Borderlands 2.

  38. deadly.by.design says:

    Based on what my Timegate friend has been saying on Facebook, it’s apparent that they poured lots of effort into Colonial Marines. That’s sad, obviously, as it’s getting panned.

    I’m not sure if Gearbox was being supremely lazy, just throwing a fellow TX-based developer a bone, or a little bit of both. Regardless, GBX is ultimately responsible for what they put their name on. Nobody’s officially pointing fingers, because it just makes everyone look bad along with being unprofessional.

    Also from the Timegate friend on FB, someone posted:

    “We don’t need no stinkin’ reviews. We’re the baddest ass group of MoFos around.
    Our next two games are going to prove it.”