The industry is abuzz with rumours that Eidos Montreal has had a pretty rough time of it during development of the new Thief.
Polygon cites multiple anonymous sources for a report on the studio’s troubled recent history. According to the whisperers’ vague account, the development team was divided into cliques, and struggled with favouritism issues.
High turnover saw the lead and senior design roles changing rapidly, sometimes in less than two years. This allegedly meant the design changed substantially with each new appointment, and various factions within the studio battled for creative control. For example, the sources said the team was experiencing friction as recently as last year, when preparing the demo shown at GDC and for the Game Informer reveal; a series of sex scenes in the brothel section are said to have made animators quite uncomfortable, and were later cut.
The current version of the game is said to be very different from the original concept developed five years ago, which is not that unusual, but the sources also said the demo build isn’t representative of the actual game, in that it is missing features like AI. The demo has still not been shown to the public in either live or video form, allegedly because Eidos Montreal is unhappy with its quality.
The creative confusion and divided team, in combination with Square Enix’s apparent hands-off approach, are said to have blown out the game’s budget considerably and resulted in many staff leaving in disgust. Eidos Montreal has apparently been seeking additional funds from an international investment firm, although this is said to be common and unremarkable.
It’s all a bit vague and light on detail, probably due to the need for anonymity, so it’s difficult to judge how much concern the report should raise. Many big-budget games go through wild iteration in the long trudge to release, and a difficult property like Thief, with its mass-market unfriendly core tenets, seems a perfect candidate for a little bit of development hell.
Thief is expected on PC and next-generation consoles in 2014, and is expected to go on show at E3 2013.