Speaking at this year’s Montreal Game Summit, BlackSite: Area 51 designer Harvey Smith gave some brutally honest opinions about the lukewarm reception the game was given, saying, “We got hammered so hard, and we deserved it.”
While working on BlackSite, Smith was also overseeing another project, and Smith said, “I wasn’t excited about this Area 51 game.” Technical issues were also a source of trouble. “Everyone was forced to share tech,” he said, adding, “It took eight months to get one thing working.”
The game also wasn’t given adequate time for testing. Smith said that during his time on the renowned Deus Ex, the development team spent six months playing the game after it was completed to ensure everything functioned properly. In contrast, he said that the BlackSite team had “four days to orange box something,” referring to the process of fixing and polishing a level, a time constraint he called “completely reprehensible.”
“With a year to go, the game was disastrously off rails,” Smith said, adding that once the team had the game playable, “It went straight from alpha to final.” The game was released in North American on November 13 for PC and Xbox 360, with a European launch scheduled for December. The game currently has a Metacritic score of 68 for the PC, and 65 for the Xbox 360; a PlayStation 3 version is also expected shortly.
Although he believes the game deserved better scores than it has received, Smith claims the low scores came as no surprise to him, saying, “This project was so fucked up.”