BlackSite: Area 51 Was 'So Fucked Up' Says Director

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Speaking on the development of Midway Austin's recently-released FPS BlackSite: Area 51 (PC, PS3, X360), creative director and industry veteran Harvey Smith described the entire project as "so fucked up."

Smith elaborated on the difficulties he and his team faced during a presentation at the 2007 Montreal International Game Summit, reports Game|Life. Before joining Midway, he served as lead designer on Ion Storm's Deus Ex and project director on the sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War.

"With a year to go, the game was disastrously off rails," Smith noted. An emphasis on shared technology with another title was one obstacle, which he said resulted in "eight months to get one thing working."

Much like several other Midway-developed titles, BlackSite: Area 51 is powered by Epic's Unreal Engine 3. The company has publicly admitted that it had issues getting Unreal Engine 3 to function properly on PlayStation 3, resulting in PS3-only delays of Stranglehold and BlackSite.

Another issue came from Smith's lacking interest in the title as he was first brought onto the project, as well as the rush to get the BlackSite done on time, which the director viewed as "completely reprehensible."

"It went straight from alpha to final," revealed Smith.

Though the director publicly admitted that the game was rushed and that its poor reception was partially his fault--"I believe in personal accountability," he noted--Smith still lamented the game's poor critical reception. As of this writing, BlackSite: Area 51 has an average score of 66% on GameRankings.

"I would give it an 80 [out of 100]," he claimed, explaining that many reviews glossed over the game's political themes and commentary. "How can you look at all these elements and not think this is super fucking subversive?"

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 28, 2007 12:40 PM

    Isn't he the guy who killed deus ex 2

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      November 28, 2007 1:08 PM

      He was also the lead on the first game

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        November 28, 2007 1:21 PM

        Yeah, but Warren Spector was pulling his strings on that one.

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          November 28, 2007 3:11 PM

          You know that how ? You were there ?

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            November 28, 2007 3:17 PM

            Well, considering Warren Spector himself said that he purposefully let Harvey make all the decisions with Deus Ex 2 leads me to think that Warren had a big role in part one.

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              November 28, 2007 3:55 PM

              Sounds more like Spector was trying to avoid the blame for Deus Ex 2.

              Spector was in a lot of interviews hyping Invisible War up. Hell, I even think the Unified ammo was his idea.

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                November 28, 2007 4:29 PM

                This is wrong. Unified amo was a Smith idea, which Spector did not like because he thought having ammo matching each gun was a mechanism through which you could get "free immersion", basically, since it is similar to how we are used to things like guns working in the real world.

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            November 29, 2007 7:43 AM

            I was there. And while Warren definitely had a heavier hand in the first game, Harvey was also heavily involved once he was hired. The first team simply had a critical mix of dreamers and tech savvy realists that gave it just enough to get done. I think the lack of that kind of combination speaks to the problems of the second game.

            And honestly most of them team liked "universal ammo". The idea was players could play how they wanted, rather then be forced to play the way the designers allowed via ammo placement.

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              November 29, 2007 3:05 PM

              Who's idea was it to scrap the original UI for DX2

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              November 29, 2007 5:38 PM

              A lot of problems were caused just by being a console game.

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              November 29, 2007 7:11 PM

              is it just me, or do most software engineers try to isolate themselves from reality as much as possible, resulting in design decisions like these being commonplace?

              If someone told me that their game was going to have one ammo type, I'd tell them that it was a very very bad idea, and I'd demonstrate it for them. They could've whipped up a testing level with a "boss fight" (or equivalent) and all the weapons, and the playtesters would be throwing the keyboard / controller across the room once they find out that once one weapon depletes ammo, no other weapon can be fired. Most gamers would be able to think of this in seconds if unified ammo is mentioned.

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      November 28, 2007 1:21 PM

      At least he admits it was garbage. Theres a few interviews where Spector tried to defend IW. Then months later he admitted it was shit and claimed he was forced to say that. Pfft. Seems like he didn't have the balls to admit failure. Bad timing, but this guy at least knows when to throw in the towel.

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        November 28, 2007 4:28 PM

        Can you find this ? I have never seen this anywhere.