Syndicate Was a "Lost Battle From the Get-Go"

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Syndicate Was a "Lost Battle From the Get-Go"

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Rebooting Syndicate was a lost cause, according to Starbreeze CEO, Mikael Nermark.

Starbreeze's FPS reboot of Bullfrog's classic RTT, Syndicate, was met with lukewarm reviews, shrugs from the general public and outright hostility from fans of the series. According to CEO, Mikael Nermark, the negative press was guaranteed the second the game took up the Syndicate name.

"We knew from the get-go that there was going to be a small but very vocal [group] of gamers and journalists that was going to hate us whatever route we took," he told Edge. "If we didn't do an exact copy of the game, they'd hate us. If we did do an exact copy, they'd say we didn't innovate. They were never ours to win; it was a lost battle from the get-go."

Nermark believes Starbreeze did a great job with the title, despite its underwhelming sales - apparently it barely broke 150,000 worldwide sales.

"I'm proud of what the team did and what we made, and I'm especially proud of the co-op; I think that really shows what we wanted to do with the game, and Starbreeze's DNA."

EA's Frank Gibeau recently described the title as "Something we took a risk on. It didn't work."

"I don't have any response to what Frank said," said Nermark. "I think both EA and Starbreeze can look back at it and say that we could have done stuff differently. [But] if you ask anyone about any game in production they probably would say the same thing."

Judging by the critical and popular response, Syndicate wasn't a terrible game. It was just a title hamstrung by an odd marketing decision to tie it into a series it barely resembled. Hopefully a similar fate doesn't befall 2K's oft-delayed XCom reboot.

Source: Edge

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Eh, Deus Ex:Human Revolution had a harder job and did much better.

Syndicate the original was already pretty much a tactical shooter, and clearly had mechanics that needed updating. The isometric perspective didn't do much and the 'click to shoot' thing was rubbish. It was an old game easily improved on and surprisingly suited for a shooter conversion, it was basically just an isometric version. They just had to make something more Rainbow New Vegas, than corridors: the game.

oh...you just figured that out now?

well done....well done

A 'Risk'? A RISK? You took a RISK on a paint by the numbers cookie cutter shooter? That's why we hated it, idiot, not because it was different - because it was generic.

"If we didn't do an exact copy of the game, they'd hate us. If we did do an exact copy, they'd say we didn't innovate."

Bullshit! That reasoning is so open it's meaningless. How about not doing an exact copy and actually try innovating?

BrotherRool:
Eh, Deus Ex:Human Revolution had a harder job and did much better.

Quoted for truth. You cannot at the same time alienate fans and deliver a supbar product that won't gather the new "CoD market" EA so desperately longs for. You treat source material with respect and carry the spirit of the series over. DE did great job, even if it had its problems.

I literally hate this bullshit about "small but vocal" groups, BioWare used the same excuse when people trashed the supbar ending and it took them ages to even acknowledge problem existed. Any dev who uses such a lame excuses deserves no sympathy, and will get none in the end. I will shed not a tear when the axe falls.

Yeah, I'm not buying that... are they claiming innovation? As far as I'm aware, the stale reviews come from the abundantly "safe" appeal of the game while not breaking new ground.

Oh yeah, you had an interesting Co-op premise... but you sold it on the virtues of its single player. Which was just another gimmicky shooter.

Sorry starbreeze, you can't blame the "hardcore" fans on this one. Be proud by all means, just don't shift the burden of whos to blame for its reception as that's just ignoring the issue. If they were never your market then who was it meant to appeal and why did it not appeal to them?

TsunamiWombat:
A 'Risk'? A RISK? You took a RISK on a paint by the numbers cookie cutter shooter? That's why we hated it, idiot, not because it was different - because it was generic.

I remember when games were different, fun and unique!

Or you could actually have tried making a SYNDICATE game.

Ragsnstitches:
Yeah, I'm not buying that... are they claiming innovation? As far as I'm aware, the stale reviews come from the abundantly "safe" appeal of the game while not breaking new ground.

Oh yeah, you had an interesting Co-op premise... but you sold it on the virtues of its single player. Which was just another gimmicky shooter.

Sorry starbreeze, you can't blame the "hardcore" fans on this one. Be proud by all means, just don't shift the burden of whos to blame for its reception as that's just ignoring the issue. If they were never your market then who was it meant to appeal and why did it not appeal to them?

They didn't even take the Gimmick far enough. They could have done interesting things with the hacking thing, but in reality you just got 3 "Spells" and a few "Hold E to Remove Shields" things. And the story was generic and bland, there was a kind of sub plot thing about a sentient AI, but that got barely mention and then never played out in the end. The Weaponary was fairly forgettable but not terrible and so is the Co-op.

They didn't to TERRIBLE, but they did no where NEAR enough to qualify above a "Meh".

I'm kind of glad it failed so badly. They didn't take a "risk" on this, they probably thought it was the absolute safest bet they could possibly make. They made a generic shooter and slapped on an established name for extra free sales, and for once they got what they deserved for it. Hopefully, this result will put other developers off from doing the same thing quite so much (I really doubt it though).

They didn't have to do an exact copy, but making a generic sci-fi shooter and whacking Syndicate on it is just lazy.

I mean, even just look at the stuff from E3 on Watch Dogs, that looks closer to Syndicate than the crap these guys dribbled out.

And here's another game that wasn't exactly like it's predecessors: Fallout 3.

While it was a sequel, and not a "remake", it was definitely a "reimagining" of the franchise, one that had gamers everywhere anticipating it with feelings equal parts scorn and careful hope.

They innovated while staying true to the original, and it paid off.

Deus Ex:HR didn't innovate so much as they refined the series existing concepts as much as they could. That, too, paid off.

The Syndicate remake was not innovative, switched genre completely, had bland gameplay and a short campaign.
Also bloom. Lots and lots of bloom.
May the fate of the franchise forever be held up as an example of EA shittyness, because since they have control of the IP we'll likely never see it used to make a game people would actually want.

runedeadthA:

Ragsnstitches:
Yeah, I'm not buying that... are they claiming innovation? As far as I'm aware, the stale reviews come from the abundantly "safe" appeal of the game while not breaking new ground.

Oh yeah, you had an interesting Co-op premise... but you sold it on the virtues of its single player. Which was just another gimmicky shooter.

Sorry starbreeze, you can't blame the "hardcore" fans on this one. Be proud by all means, just don't shift the burden of whos to blame for its reception as that's just ignoring the issue. If they were never your market then who was it meant to appeal and why did it not appeal to them?

They didn't even take the Gimmick far enough. They could have done interesting things with the hacking thing, but in reality you just got 3 "Spells" and a few "Hold E to Remove Shields" things. And the story was generic and bland, there was a kind of sub plot thing about a sentient AI, but that got barely mention and then never played out in the end. The Weaponary was fairly forgettable but not terrible and so is the Co-op.

They didn't to TERRIBLE, but they did no where NEAR enough to qualify above a "Meh".

I agree, if the gimmick was more pronounced and promoted more experimentation (rather then *USE THIS POWER NOW*) like Bioshocks plasmids or Deus Exs Augmentations, the game would have transcended "meh" to "might get that next time I see a sale". As it is though, there is no insentive to even get this second hand... there are just other games that do a better job at being fun.

I have dubbed the phenomena of bizarre but uninspired weapons as "Resistance dissonance". In Resistance for the PS3, absolutely every weapon had an interesting concept, but absolutely every weapon just felt so utterly underwhelming.

Pistol that fires explosive rounds? Sweet. Oh but you make the ammo ludicrously limited and practically useless against waves of enemies... the primary type of enemy formation.

A weapon that shoots through walls? Nice. But everything about it lacks any kind of punch... it kills baddies alright, but it literally feels like I'm shooting through paper... not concrete (i know its "phasing" technology but thats utterly boring in practice).

The rest I forgot... yeah...

Oh and I do remember thinking "Who the hell would think this would serve any practical use in combat" with at least one weapon I can't remember.

This just proves Jim Sterling's point, honestly. EA are so focused on milking the CoD crowd for every bit of moolah they can that they'll sanction the safest, blandest project in existence from a studio they acquired only to let rot in a corner most of the time; and then add insult to injury by going "Duh-hey, kiddies! Remember that Syndicate game you used to play? We remember it too! Aren't we the bee's knees, huh?"

I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft poked Bungie a couple times, told it to somehow relaunch Myth or Marathon as an FPS, and then reacted with utter shock and the naive certainty that it could've done well, when the result will inevitably bomb.

Just about the only thing in the Syndicate reboot that caught my attention was the soundtrack. Even then, I pretty much went "Oh. Wow. Mainstream devs jumped on the Brostep bandwagon. I give it two years before Skrillex's career crashes and burns."

I haven't played either the original or re-make, so can't really comment on the quality. But if they felt that using the Syndicate name going to be a problem from the start, then why use the Syndicate name?

IamLEAM1983:

I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft poked Bungie a couple times, told it to somehow relaunch Myth or Marathon as an FPS, and then reacted with utter shock and the naive certainty that it could've done well, when the result will inevitably bomb.

Errr... Marathon *was* an FPS. Though I definitely see your point about Myth with someone asking Bungie to remake it as an Elder Scrolls clone.

Agiel7:

IamLEAM1983:

I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft poked Bungie a couple times, told it to somehow relaunch Myth or Marathon as an FPS, and then reacted with utter shock and the naive certainty that it could've done well, when the result will inevitably bomb.

Errr... Marathon *was* an FPS. Though I definitely see your point about Myth with someone asking Bungie to remake it as an Elder Scrolls clone.

Whoops. This nerd's getting old, it seems. I remember seeing other kids sneaking copies of Marathon into computer class and seeing others play it, but I never played it myself. My bad!

IamLEAM1983:
I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft poked Bungie a couple times, told it to somehow relaunch Myth or Marathon as an FPS

I've just got this brilliant image now of EA looking at all of it's franchises and saying 'how can we make this more like COD?

Guy 1 - Maybe we could relaunch the Black and White franchise!

Guy 2 - But controlling a hand? That shit is lame.

1 - True dat. How about controlling from the perspective of the creature instead? Like, a first person perspective?

2 - Yeah, that could be cool. But we'd have to make the creature the size of regular people. Otherwise it'd be too OP. Just stompin' around on little folk.

1 - But how is he going to fight them at their size?

2 - I dunno. Swords and shields and shit?

1 - Don't be stupid, cows can't hold weapons!

2 - Then we should make him human. Then he can hold a weapon!

1 - Genius. But first person melee combat sucks. How about we give him guns?

2 - Yeah! But we'd have to move it to modern times, and give all the enemies guns aswell.

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1 - Mission Accomplished.

Its fucking SIMPLE.

You make a it an RTS.

It shows a global screen like XCOM.

You command your troops like FROZEN SYNAPSE.

You control your domain like CIVILIZATION

How hard is that to do? I made this up in 30 SECONDS.

Generic Shooter fails in a market saturated with Generic Shooters: Developers blame small group of people for bad press.

Good grief; this is as pathetic as when Eli Roth tried to blame internet pirates for sabotaging Hostel 2.

"We knew from the get-go that there was going to be a small but very vocal [group] of gamers and journalists that was going to hate us whatever route we took," he told Edge. "If we didn't do an exact copy of the game, they'd hate us. If we did do an exact copy, they'd say we didn't innovate. They were never ours to win; it was a lost battle from the get-go."

Oh don't try that "Damned if we did, damned if we didn't" bullshit. You made a generic game for mass-audience appeal, giving it little to no depth, and they spat it out.
Economics sorted you out; not nerd-rage. You're just pissed because at least half of those nerds WERE TOTALLY RIGHT.

Furthermore, this argument doesn't hold up because MOST GAMERS DO NOT LISTEN TO THE VOCAL MINORITY AT ALL.

If they did, Diablo 3 would have been a colossal flop, the Wii would have died after Smash Bros Brawl, and Call of Duty 4.x would have had two games and no more.
Yet, despite the epic amount of bitching, none of those things happened.

So don't you dare try to blame them; live up to your mistake or keep quiet.

BrotherRool:
Eh, Deus Ex:Human Revolution had a harder job and did much better.

Well said.

This is the kind of lame doublethink reasoning PR people wine and dine on. If the game does well, it's because we did a great job. If the game does poorly, it's because fans are unreasonable.

I kinda liked the demo and would pay $15 for the multiplayer on its own. Payday: The Heist... ON THE FUTURE

(If it was up to me, I'd make it a game in which you still played as the dude on the blimp, like in the original Syndicate, but you had the choice to 'assume direct control' of any of your four dudes/dudettes. So you could play it like the original or as a tactical Rainbow Six style shooter, and you'd still be able to explode. But what do I know?)

Ultratwinkie:
Its fucking SIMPLE.

You make a it an RTS.

It shows a global screen like XCOM.

You command your troops like FROZEN SYNAPSE.

You control your domain like CIVILIZATION

How hard is that to do? I made this up in 30 SECONDS.

How hard is it to program? To get the mechanics working together? To get an overarching storyline? To balance resources? To scale difficulty? To program decent Civ level AI on the map and on the field?

Tell you what, here's an example. Creative Assembly have been trying this for years and it only really started working in TW: Napoleon. Even then the battle AI is still crap, money is still either ridiculously hard to come by or comes by so much that you never feel challenged and the on map AI is stupid.

^^^^^

See that, that is every game programmers reaction. This includes me and more than likely every person i've ever studied with. What really happened is that the studio that made this is more than likely accustomed to making shooters so they decided they'd stick with what they are good at.

You don't say. In other news, water is wet.

It didn't look too bad. If it had splitscreen I might have checked it out.
But it seems that EA thinks we all sit alone in our basements.

dogstile:

Ultratwinkie:
Its fucking SIMPLE.

You make a it an RTS.

It shows a global screen like XCOM.

You command your troops like FROZEN SYNAPSE.

You control your domain like CIVILIZATION

How hard is that to do? I made this up in 30 SECONDS.

How hard is it to program? To get the mechanics working together? To get an overarching storyline? To balance resources? To scale difficulty? To program decent Civ level AI on the map and on the field?

Tell you what, here's an example. Creative Assembly have been trying this for years and it only really started working in TW: Napoleon. Even then the battle AI is still crap, money is still either ridiculously hard to come by or comes by so much that you never feel challenged and the on map AI is stupid.

^^^^^

See that, that is every game programmers reaction. This includes me and more than likely every person i've ever studied with. What really happened is that the studio that made this is more than likely accustomed to making shooters so they decided they'd stick with what they are good at.

The thing is I am referencing things that already exist. I am not saying we need a procedural game with every changing dynamic dialogue. I am referencing things games have been doing for over 20 years.

Now are you telling me that this company couldn't realize they had other options? And decides to make another lazy shooter?

That isn't an excuse. Its laziness to not meet the challenge. They were lazy in how they made a game, and now they paid the price for it.

TsunamiWombat:
A 'Risk'? A RISK? You took a RISK on a paint by the numbers cookie cutter shooter? That's why we hated it, idiot, not because it was different - because it was generic.

The way he is defending the failure of this game is like saying they were in a "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation from the start and I think that's a crappy copout.

I remember on escapist podcast the question of whether or a not you prefer a developer being innovative or just playing it safe. Syndicate wasn't a terrible game, but it was a terrible letdown because they thought they were being innovative turning Syndicate into a shooter. The problem is you can turn something into anything but that isn't going to make your IP innovative, it's what you do after deciding what to turn your IP into that decides whether your being innovative or not.

I don't think you can say Syndicate wasn't an innovative game because it was turned into a shooter, you can say it wasn't innovative because as a shooter it didn't do anything new or crazy. In some aspects of the game they actually did less than generic.

Grey Carter:

According to CEO, Mikael Nermark, the negative press was guaranteed the second the game took up the Syndicate name.

"We knew from the get-go that there was going to be a small but very vocal [group] of gamers and journalists that was going to hate us whatever route we took," he told Edge. "If we didn't do an exact copy of the game, they'd hate us. If we did do an exact copy, they'd say we didn't innovate. They were never ours to win; it was a lost battle from the get-go."

I... I just don't get it. If the response was guaranteed to get a negative response based on the name... WHY did they choose to name it that!? I'm pretty sure the corporate run future setting isn't tied to the Syndicate name with barbed wire or money, there was no need or incentive to tie their shooter with that name. Quite the opposite in fact.

You decided you wanted to give fans the finger and try to tap a bigger market. It didn't work. How about admitting you fucked up?

"If we didn't do an exact copy of the game, they'd hate us. If we did do an exact copy, they'd say we didn't innovate."

False dichotomy. Look at Human Revolution, the new X-COM, Fallout. It can be done you just didn't want to try.

TsunamiWombat:
A 'Risk'? A RISK? You took a RISK on a paint by the numbers cookie cutter shooter? That's why we hated it, idiot, not because it was different - because it was generic.

lol'd at this too. just....ugh, don't wanna say "fucking idiots", but it would fit all too well. Making a generic cookie cutter shooter doesn't mean you took any "risks", the only risk you took was following the leader of cookie cutters and gamers are finally getting tired of it.

To be fair, we *are* talking about Starbreeze. A dev known for its passable visuals and passable gameplay.

EXCEPT FOR ESCAPE FROM BUTCHER BAY, BUT BUTCHER BAY HAD VIN FUCKING DIESEL IN IT. I DON'T GIVE A F*crow caw*CK.

Yeah, I honestly wasn't surprised to see it tank. EA chose the wrong dev for the wrong project, handled with the wrong director with the wrong ideas.

There is a middle ground between remaking the exact same thing over and over and just slapping a recognizable name onto something completely different. People like what they like and a little consistency is not too much to ask for.

"We knew from the get-go that there was going to be a small but very vocal [group] of gamers and journalists that was going to hate us whatever route we took," he told Edge. "If we didn't do an exact copy of the game, they'd hate us.

Eh, it wasn't just 'a small but very vocal group of people' who noticed that all the psi techniques were just badly disguised guns.

Guess what - I wasn't one of those old Syndicate fans, and I still thought you completely blew a great premise on a competent but generic FPS.

As other people have said here, Deus Ex: HR completely nullifies any such excuses you might have. There were not enough people who played the old Syndicate to sabotage your game. Self inflicted.

As a person who knew nothing about the original Syndicate and had 0 expectations going in I was obscenely disappointed. The game just wasn't fun. The co-op was clunky and was basically hold down the hack button to keep your teammates perpetually healed and win. Seriously we're in 2012 and you still have enemies that essentially spawn out of no where and damn near infinitely.

Syndicate had clunky, gimmicky gampeplay and a terrible story. If they had fixed that, then the game would have sold well regardless of the brand.

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