Turning Point Dev Talks Budgets, Publishers

Turning Point Dev Talks Budgets, Publishers

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Spark Unlimited producer John Garcia-Shelton has vented how financial and time restrictions set by publishers can affect game development.

In speaking to Official Xbox Magazine, Garcia-Shelton, who is now working on Legendary, discussed the lessons he learned by watching development with a not-so-compatible publisher on the critically-panned shooter Turning Point: Fall of Liberty.

His first issue with Turning Point's publisher is the rushed development Codemasters forced upon the studio.

"Great games come out of constant iteration and because of the complexity with next generation game development titles we have to require much more time for post production - at least six months in order for proper lighting, play balancing and to react to consumer testing," he explained. "If Turning Point had the time to go through such post-production time, no question it would have resulted in a much better game."

The developer could've also adapted to the lower budget by focusing game improvements on refining the core, rather than expanding the product.

Garcia-Shelton stated, "Turning Point unfortunately had an epic concept without an epic budget and having a smaller game with a more refined experience would have better served all involved as well as our audience."

The combined pressures of time and money were felt by team members before the final product was finished.

"Before we heard the responses it was a disappointment to the Turning Point Team. The Turning Point team worked so hard to make that game as good as it could be with the priorities they had. I watched that team work there asses off to keep on their milestones goals which were about the game being ready for its ship date," he commented. "We all hoped it could do well because the game has some creatively strong ideas and powerful sequences but we always worried that the game was not going to be competitive with titles built on two, three or four times the budget - everyone was surprised by Codemasters' front line retail pricing strategy - but even then no one thought it would be critically slammed quite so hard."

Spark Unlimited seems to be pleased with its publishing deals with Gamecock and Atari for Legendary.

He noted, "Turning Point was basically a run and ship experience on an evolving engine and with a partner that had very focused financial goals....Gamecock and Atari were also incredibly supportive of this finishing process because they really want as their primary goal a great game - which makes perhaps the biggest difference of all."

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A ringing endorsement for Atari, if nothing else. It must be so hard for smaller developers to make a big game these days, I guess that why so many developers have taken to making XBLA, PSN and WiiWare games as side projects.
It makes me fear for the future of games, imagine what it's going to cost to make the best games for the next generation of consoles, I doubt even a small fortune will cover it.

I seem to remember Atari having similarly "focused financial goals" in their dealings with Obsidian. I wonder how hard it must have been for Obsidian developers to ship the Knights of the Old Republic II game without an ending. Don't get me started on Neverwinter Nights 2. I think history has a strange way of repeating itself. But hey, if John Garcia-Shelton isn't worried about Atari, then that's all that matters.

Atari has had a number of executive changes since then, so management is probably really different, hopefully in favor of the developers.

 

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