Skulls of the Shogun dev details unpleasant experience working with Microsoft Studios

Thursday, 20 June 2013 16:00 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Borut Pfeifer of Plush Apocalypse Productions, an indie studio which collaborated on Skulls of the Shogun, has likened the firm’s exclusivity deal for Xbox 360 and Windows 8 phones and tablets as “making a deal with the devil.”

Speaking with RPS, Pfeifer said his studio had it worse than others, stating it “ran into problems that nobody else had got or talked about it.”

“We were launching on three new pieces of the Microsoft ecosystem – their new Async and sort of social multiplayer services, we were launching on Windows 8 and we were launching on the ARM tablets [Surface], ‘ he explained. “Those were new, and we didn’t get them until very late. So all the certification and process issues, we didn’t just have them, or even maybe three times the amount, it was an exponential kind of thing.

“You would have issues on one platform which would actually contradict processes or requirements on another platform. We tried to get the different groups on the same page, to tell them that ‘this needs to be the same’, just to make things better for the next people who had to face it, but yeah, we ran into exponential difficulties on the process side.”

Along with the multiple platform issues, the firm also had to take out a loan to cover payroll due to Microsoft making late payments to the studio.

“We thought ‘well, it’s Microsoft, they have bankroll, they can afford this stuff,'” Pfeifer said, “but because of their processes seeming so fucked up, they couldn’t actually do that. Even though they were partially funding the game to completion, we had to take a loan to cover the fact that they hadn’t yet paid us what they were supposed to.”

Pfeifer wasn’t too pleases with the work relationship between itself and Microsoft Studios, calling the later “institutionally incompetent.”

“When people call Microsoft ‘evil’,” he says, “while I don’t want to defend them, it’s kind of an undeserved compliment. To be evil, you have to have vision, you have to have communication, execution… None of those are traits are things that I would ascribe to Microsoft Studios.

“They came across as though they were institutionally incompetent. I think they’re not really set up to be a decent publisher. I do feel slightly bad saying that, because there were people there who worked hard on our behalf, but at the same time there are systemic problems with the way that division is setup and run.”

Pfeifer said he thinks the culprit for all the problems the firm faced was the main problem was due to “over-stretching.”

“I think maybe Microsoft as a whole were taking on a lot more than they can chew with the Windows 8 launch,” he surmised, “and there were so many different pieces of the puzzle – Xbox Live, different operating system, interfaces, the tablet, all those different technologies.

“Any one of those gets late, it pushes the other ones.”

You can read the full thing through the link.

Thanks, GI International.

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