Rumours are flying around the internet about the reasons behind Aliens: Colonial Marines‘ rather underwhelming quality. Chief amongst these is that Gearbox outsourced a significant portion of the gameplay to other studios. Some more information regarding this could potentially have come to light, due to a post on Reddit by a user by the name of throwawayacm.

throwawayacm’s involvement with the Colonial Marines project has not been verified at this point, so take all they are saying with a grain of salt, but their claims correlate with a number of other reports enough to suggest that they know what they’re talking about. But again – none of this is confirmed as of yet, so reader beware.

throwawayacm – a user who joined Reddit yesterday – has posted a very interesting entry on the subreddit r/LV426, discussing the production of Aliens: Colonial Marines, entitled A lot of you are (rightfully) upset at the final product that is A:CM. Maybe I can shed some light as to how it got the way it is. Claiming to have been working on the Colonial Marines project for “around a year and a half”, they recount some of the things they’ve heard from “more senior guys.” Of course, all information is under NDA, so they’re relying on readers taking their claims on face value.

Apparently, development on the title – internally titled “Pecan” – was patchy, with a start-stop cycle that lead to frequent “content overhaul[s].” Eventually, Gearbox decided to outsource “a good portion” of the game’s development to other companies. The alleged distribution involved TimeGate handling “the majority of campaign”, Demiurge and Nerve handling DLC and “various other focused tasks”, while Gearbox themselves would handle the multiplayer. According to throwawayacm, this was so Gearbox could concentrate the majority of their resources on Borderlands 2.

The alignment of Borderlands 2 and Colonial Marines’ release dates, along with TimeGate’s progress on the campaign being “extremely far behind”, lead to another, 9 month, extension in the release date. Again, Borderlands 2 apparently received priority for Gearbox, taking “[a]bout 5 of those 9 months” to ship Borderlands 2. During this time, TimeGate allegedly was able to “scrap together about 85% of the campaign”, however it was still in “a pretty horrid state”. throwawayacm draws specific attention to various points here: “Campaign didn’t make much sense, the boss fights weren’t implemented, PS3 was way over memory, etcetcetc.”

When Gearbox returned their full attention to Colonial Marines, they apparently were rather unhappy with TimeGate’s progress, and “completely redisgned from scratch” some of the maps, and dealt with some “last minute feature requests, most notably female marines”.

The rush to certification and the suggested threat of SEGA taking legal action allegedly lead to the final state of the game. Singled out by throwawayacm here are the state of challenges, a feature that was allegedly “oversimplified”. Problems were supposedly ignored, except for “[i]ssues that didn’t cause 100% blockers… with the exception of absolutely horrible problems”. Another issue was the script, which was apparently approved by 20th Century FOX, but suffered in the rush to “throw a playable product together”.

throwawayacm is careful to stipulate that it wasn’t because Gearbox “didn’t care”, but because “they couldn’t risk changing ANYTHING that might cause them to fail certification or break some other system”.

As a response, a user named throwawayresponder appears to stick up for TimeGate. The nature of the comment suggests that they worked on the project for TimeGate in some capacity. There is no mention of their exact relationship to the project, and again, this information has not been verified. “[e]verything Timegate [sic] did was under clear and explicit direction from Gearbox”. throwawayresponder mentions that it was Gearbox’s sub-par oversight that lead to Gearbox firing “some of the most talented people” at TimeGate. Their final comment on the matter? “TG had absolutely no control of what was produced, they did exactly what they were asked to. You should be furious with Gearbox for assigning such shit quality creative directors to the project.”

So, if throwawayacm’s post is to be believed, Colonial Marines is a victim of crunch time, outsourcing, and split focus by Gearbox. And if throwawayresponder’s response is taken into account, Gearbox mismanaged the outsourcing to TimeGate.

We’ll be reaching out to the appropriate people to see if any information can be verified, but in the meantime this is the story being told by anonymous, faceless people on the internet. Keep that in mind, and we’ll bring you any information as it surfaces.

Read the full thread here.

Lachlan Williams
Former Editor in Chief of OnlySP. A guy who writes things about stuff, apparently. Recovering linguist, blue pencil surgeon, and professional bishie sparkler. In between finding the latest news, reviewing PC games, and generally being a grumpy bossyboots, he likes to watch way too much Judge Judy. He perhaps has too much spare time on his hands. Based in Sydney, Australia. Follow him on twitter @lawksland.

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  1. what i wanna know is what happened to that beautiful E3 demo i saw :(

    1. It was probably comprised of footage from the game that they prettied up and polished just to show at the expo. Shame the overall final product didn’t see any of that same care and attention.

      1. i don’t care i just want to play that demo :*(

        1. Same. :***********(

          While we’re at it, I also want to play that 2001 trailer build of Duke Nukem Forever! That thing looked so epic; if only the game we eventually got were half as good.

  2. yea yea whatever. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what goes wrong in making a game. Here’s a HINT: FOCUS on making a great game, take the TIME to make a great game.. and guess what, you just MIGHT have a good to great game! Don’t take the time to RESPECT the ART AND SCIENCE of making a GREAT / CREATIVE / BUG FREE game.. and you will end up with a piece of $hit. Wow, these companies need to hire me… seems I know something VERY complex they obviously don’t…… (wait, that’s not even sarcasm… because seriously so many companies keep pumping out $hit they obviously didn’t put the time + CARE + RESOURCES + didn’t treat their developers with respect / good pay / good hours without overworking them…………. and then they wonder why their game gets shitty reviews….stupidity at its finest).

  3. Ritchford is a liar.In many interviews he claims he was passionate about his studio doing a great job of a Aliens game. Clearly as CEO of Gearbox, he & other senior members of company didn’t think Aliens was important enough to invest sufficient resources & money to make a ‘decent’ aliens games. Instead millions of Aliens fans were misled to have high hopes & ultimately stuck with a SHIT final product. Screw Gearbox Studios for treating Aliens: CM game like crap & letting final product fall apart!

    1. He isn’t a liar he is just putting the studio in the best possible light. Obviously the situation was changing quite often and any claims he made were snapshot at best.

    2. I’m not going to hold Randy accountable nearly as badly as his studio(s). Let me put it this way. If you invested 6 years worth of labor and development into a project only too see it towards the end as a steaming pile of garbage, are you going to come out to the public and say “Yeah sorry guy we dropped the ball on this one. Don’t waste your money.”? No, you’re going to push it hard and hope you break even. It’s not the most moral of paths, but doing so net him enough sales to keep him open for business.

  4. i just need to know one thing…where they are.

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