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Spec Ops: The Line dev says its multiplayer 'like a cancerous growth'

It's no secret that publishers often foist multiplayer modes upon single-player-focused games to make them more attractive to would-be customers, but it's rare to hear a developer speak so openly and contemptuously of this practice as Spec Ops: The Line lead designer Cory Davis does about its bolted-on multiplayer. The box-ticking addition 2K Games wanted turned out to be a "low-quality Call of Duty clone in third-person," hes said, which "tossed out the creative pillars of the product."

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It's no secret that publishers often foist multiplayer modes upon single-player-focused games to make them more attractive to would-be customers, but it's rare to hear a developer speak so openly and contemptuously of this practice as Spec Ops: The Line lead designer Cory Davis does about its bolted-on multiplayer. The box-ticking addition to please 2K Games came out as a "low-quality Call of Duty clone in third-person," he said, which "tossed out the creative pillars of the product."

"The multiplayer mode of Spec Ops: The Line was never a focus of the development, but the publisher was determined to have it anyway," Davis told Polygon. "It was literally a check box that the financial predictions said we needed, and 2K was relentless in making sure that it happened--even at the detriment of the overall project and the perception of the game."

As our review noted, Spec Ops: The Line came with a heavy moral dimension, pushing players into difficult decisions then confronting them with the awful consequences. It was inspired by Conrad's classic novella Heart of Darkness, and carries that through better than you'd expect from a third-person army man shooter released in 2012. Not so the multiplayer modes, which were simply about shooting all of the men.

"It sheds a negative light on all of the meaningful things we did in the single-player experience," Davis said. "The multiplayer game's tone is entirely different, the game mechanics were raped to make it happen, and it was a waste of money. No one is playing it, and I don't even feel like it's part of the overall package--it's another game rammed onto the disk like a cancerous growth, threatening to destroy the best things about the experience that the team at Yager put their heart and souls into creating."

However, Davis does note that adding multiplayer made 2K feel more confident in the game, letting Yager get away with the single-player shenanigans. "They took a hell of a lot of risk with the project that other publishers would not have had the balls to take," he said. "I'm proud of what we were able to achieve, and it was not easy."

Spec Ops: The Line was released on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in June, netting sales figures which Yager said earlier this month don't "look too great."

From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 29, 2012 6:00 AM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, Spec Ops: The Line dev says its multiplayer 'like a cancerous growth'.

    It's no secret that publishers often foist multiplayer modes upon single-player-focused games to make them more attractive to would-be customers, but it's rare to hear a developer speak so openly and contemptuously of this practice as Spec Ops: The Line lead designer Cory Davis does about its bolted-on multiplayer. The box-ticking addition 2K Games wanted turned out to be a "low-quality Call of Duty clone in third-person," hes said, which "tossed out the creative pillars of the product."

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      August 29, 2012 6:16 AM

      It sounds more like he's making excuses for the fact that the multiplayer component of this game was crap.

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        August 29, 2012 6:22 AM

        Then you don't know publishers very well.

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          August 29, 2012 7:57 AM

          Remember back when Activision was deathly afraid of a modern military setting for Call of Duty, and wanted Infinity Ward to do another WWII Call of Duty? Yeah, similar thing; it's like a security blanket for the publisher and their shareholders. Only that security blanket has changed to modern military Call of Duty games, and 360 timed exclusive DLC.

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        August 29, 2012 7:04 AM

        Just because it's an excuse doesn't mean it's not valid.

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      August 29, 2012 6:29 AM

      Make sure to read all he has to say before making snap assumptions: shoddy products or features are not instantly the fault of the devs.

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      August 29, 2012 7:21 AM

      I played and beat the SP game and LOVED it. The multiplayer was not that great, but then again I hate ANY multiplayer on any game that is primarily SP. If I want a multiplayer experience I go Battlefield or Call of Duty maybe Homefront. From time to time I'll throw in some Gears. That's it.
      I agree with Yager 10000000000000000000000% keep all that multiplayer crap OUT of the SP games, waste of time and resources. Case in point Mass Effect 3. Why oh why are they releasing maps, guns and bullshit for the MP when what I want is DLC for my SP experience, not a Gears clone. Same for Max Payne 3. Loved the game, and I bought the pass. WORSE decision I ever made. All they've released is stupid maps and guns for a multiplayer I stopped playing 10 minutes after I tried it. Its lazy and dumb. I want SP experiences, not more mazes to shoot in.

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        August 29, 2012 8:03 AM

        I hate the "we had to shoehorn in multiplayer to get greenlit" thing, especially considering that Bioshock Infinite had multiplayer dropped because it wasn't fun. Then again, Irrational has more clout with Take Two than Yager, even if they did have to put Bioshock on the title because of brand recognition.

        I hate when the business of video games gets in the way of making truly great games. I hate how it has paralyzed entire genres, how it has turned once great upstart devs into journeymen, and how it has threatened to devolve gaming into a virtual Las Vegas casino, devoid of emotion and character, only seeking to fuel an addiction to greed for virtual goods and virtual accolades. The medium is capable of so much more, even if those intangibles don't translate into Zynga money (or now, Gree money).

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      August 29, 2012 7:30 AM

      That's a shame about the multiplayer. He's in good company, though - most multiplayer is tacked on nowadays.

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      August 29, 2012 7:53 AM

      Kudos to this guy.

      Hope his next project has eastern european funders ;)

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      August 29, 2012 4:03 PM

      Hell yeah, glad to hear a dev speak so openly.

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      August 29, 2012 8:04 PM

      Something like this is a good sign from the usual crap that developers say to back up their bad decisions.

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      August 30, 2012 7:09 AM

      Loved Loved Loved the single player game. Didn't even know it had MP.

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