Armageddon’s features were changed or scrapped to keep up with new ideas being introduced part way through its development.
Despite having a strong fan following over the years, publisher THQ unfortunately shut down the Red Faction franchise for good last July after the latest entry in the series, Red Faction: Armageddon, sold well below expectations.
What exactly happened with Armageddon that caused THQ to pull the plug? Several former Volition staffers came forth and spoke with Play Magazine about their experiences in developing the Red Faction games for a recent feature on the series’ history. Judging from some of the comments made by Wayne Adams, the environment artist for Armageddon’s predecessor Red Faction: Guerilla, it sounds like Armageddon was the victim of an age-old nemesis of the game industry, often known as “Feature Creep.”
“The last game had one flaw and that was interference,” explained Adams to Play Magazine. “What people play, when they play Red Faction: Armageddon, is not what it started out to be. A lot was changed on the story side of things. Elements were introduced and things had to either be scrapped or re-purposed to keep up with the game.”
Usually in the early phases of a game’s development, the design team works with producers and team leads to write out and plan the entirety of a project from A to Z. Schedules are made, milestones are set, tasks are assigned and everyone gets to work. If planned right, the project’s tasks are prioritized in such a manner so that all of the core features are completed first before anything extra. In the event something has to be cut or pushed back, it’s something the game can more than likely live without. It’s a harsh reality of the industry that everything that’s planned in a game’s design document doesn’t always make it to the final product, and sometimes it’s for the best, as with some of the material cut from Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Feature creep, however, is a hazardous phenomenon that can sneak in at any time during a game’s production cycle. All it takes is someone on the team to start thinking “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” instead of “Is this best for the project?”, and suddenly time and resources are being diverted away from getting what’s important done in favor of introducing new features or making drastic changes to completed components of the game. It’s a tough mindset to combat, especially for someone who’s really passionate about their project.
If you want an excellent (albeit extreme) example of how feature creep can downright destroy a project, one needs to look no further than Duke Nukem Forever and how the constant graphics engine switches and the unchecked desire to add more features and content ended up sinking 3D Realms and all but killing the game itself.
For now though, fans of the games will have to wait and see if THQ will raise Red Faction from the grave sometime in the far future, or if the sci-fi action series is gone forever.
Source: Play Magazine