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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 dev steps forward to confirm troubled development reports

Saturday, 1st March 2014 14:19 GMT By Staff

A Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 developer has come forward to confirm parts of yesterday’s report that development of the Mercury Steam tile was a troubled endeavor.

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Speaking with Spanish website Vadejuegos, the developer – who asked not to be named – confirmed most of the original story’s contents, citing leadership and communication problems issues between the game’s leads and core team.

“The problems we’ve been through are basically those in the original post,” said the developer. “There’s plenty of talented devs [in MercurySteam], though they’re not among the [studio] heads. There’s almost no actual lead in here. The only ones who really have something to say are those who have been here since the early days or those who struggle to please Enric [Álvarez, Mercury Steam CEO].”

In light of yesterday’s report, Álvarez took to Twitter to state that it was “sad [to] see people giving credit to the lies and insults from an enraged ex-worker. What a world we live in.”

The source went on to say that all ideas or decisions were monitored by CEO Álvarez, who also had to sign off on all decisions.

“It isn’t easy to be a creative guy in there, because people’s ideas are never really free to exist,” the source continued. “In fact, they expect you to not give any ideas, they do not like people who do so, causing many big names to leave without a second thought.

“Our art director [José Luis Vaello] went to Tequila and now he is making RIME. He left due to the creative situation here. He was being completely held back and couldn’t force any changes, so he was just like: ‘okay, see ya, good luck with your amazing ideas’, and left the team…”

Conflicts between key members of the studio, per the source’s opinion, were the cause of issues inherent in LoS2, with the developer citing the artwork, stealth mechanic and Dracula’s ability to turn into a rat as just a few examples of internal conflict.

“[Vaello] is the guy who made all the main art for the first Lords of Shadow, but LoS2 is a Frankenstein monster due to the lack of a consistent art lead,” the source stated. “After Vaello left we have had several art directors and there was like some sort of power struggle within the studio heads. That’s why some sections of the game are gorgeous and the newer are not.

“This Castlevania is a weird experience because everybody has been doing their own stuff without a proper lead. Each department has been minding their own businesses without any kind of communication between teams. They deal with people like… they don’t trust you. It’s a very uncomfortable atmosphere, it’s utterly uncreative. They don’t trust anybody.”

The source went on to say that a toxic atmosphere has permeated the studio for over two years, but the developer also insisted that wasn’t always the case: instead, dissidence has been growing slowly inside the studio.

Finally, the developer stated that they were unaware whether or not Konami was unhappy with the final product or not. The original source from yesterday stated that the publisher was displeased with the release of such a “mediocre” title and stated that “expectations” for the studio’s future were “quite bad.”

Vadejuegos’ source said there was no way to know whether or not this was the case, as lack of communication at the studio lead to “there not being any meetings” and to the staff learning about many things “through the news”.

“We can’t know that. Not yet. We don’t know if [our studio's relationship with Konami] good or bad at this moment,” they said.

In closing the source stated the six month delay of Lords of Shadow 2 forced the studios to self-fund the extra development time, but Vadejuegos’ other development sources have said the delay wasn’t an unusual occurrence in triple-A development – especially for a game of this size.

Update
A second unnamed source credited as a MercuryStream employee has added their voice to the report, responding to demands that the original source be named and describing MercuryStream’s response to the alleged leaks as a “witch hunt”.

“If you knew just a little about how the games industry works (particularly in Spain), you would remain anonymous as well. At least, if you ever want to work in the industry again. So I completely understand that as mere employees (should I remind everyone what’s the situation in Spain?) they don’t want to reveal their identity. I can also confirm you that most of what’s been said is exactly how everything works in MS,” the second source said.

“I would like to add that the end product looks spectacular to me, you can feel all the passion and effort that everyone has put into it, however on the management side this development has been a complete mess.

“But you’re not going to find someone who’s willing to tell this publicly or even in a private conversation because, as I said, this is a veeery small industry, and life’s just not that easy. There’s a large witch-hunt at this moment in search for the moles that revealed the situation, and that will only turn in even more firings and being blacklisted not to work in the industry here, well, forever. There has been a large reduction in our workforce lately.

“So please show a little respect for those who are risking their asses for what some of you think is just resentment to our boss.”

You can read the entire report through the link above.

Thanks, Miguel.

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8 Comments

  1. Tormenter

    …And all any of this shit does, is support the idea that the game isn’t worth playing.. when that’s BLATENTLY not the case.

    They should have shut up, all this mud slinging has become the focus rather than game and community.. They don’t like it? Find another job…

    I won’t be buying anything else from Mercurysteam, should they survive, they’ve effectively called into question their customers judgement when buying/playing games and I don’t appreciate playing £40 for a satisfying product, all the while being effectively marginalised for buying crap.

    Good Riddance Mercurysteam.. as for Konami… you bunch of dicks should have stepped in LONG before now, because of YOUR inaction you’ve flushed this franchise down the toilet.

    #1 10 months ago
  2. Templar0929

    @Tormenter To be honest, Konami destroyed the franchise with Castlevania: Judgement and while I enjoyed Harmony of Despair, it was really a money grab with recycled enemies, levels, bosses and characters from the previous games. Mercury Steam saved Castlevania, made it more famous (I know people who have now got into the Castlevania games from Lords of Shadow) and produced the best 3D iteration of the series. Lords of Shadow was the best selling game in the franchise.

    I’m skeptical on this news though. The sources seem to be conflicting on different topics and contradicting each other. One says Konami was disappointed, the other says they haven’t heard anything. Not to mention that Mercury Steam *aren’t* owned by Konami so they don’t get to decide whether the studios closes or not.

    But the part about the internal conflict could explain why we have a gorgeous castle section (which was probably what they started developing on first) but a terrible generic-looking modern city (which was probably developed later if we go by all the early screens, the modern city pops up very late in screens released).

    I can’t help but feel that fan pressure contributed to some of these dire changes. I was happy with the straight-forward adventure of Lords of Shadow 1. Some of the more dedicated Castlevania fans weren’t though and it seems Mercury Steam went on their opinion and created a game based on back-tracking and metroidvania style exploration leading to less variety in environments and more emphasis on returning to prior areas like in the old Castlevania games. But I guess that’s also Mercury Steam’s fault, their specialty was not with open world games. Dark Souls did metroidvania exploration amazingly, not all developers can live up to that. Mercury Steam should have stuck with what they did best with LoS1 and we would have had a great sequel on our hands. Instead we get a sequel which is enjoyable but with massive flaws which had led to this mixed reaction.

    But that stealth section is certainly inexcusable and the first in a CV game. Nonsensical is being kind to describe it.

    Still it could be worst. We could have another Castlevania: Judgement or Castlevania Nintendo 64 and Legacy of Darkness, one of which had skeletons on motorbikes. Don’t get me started on the god-damn awful Castlevania the Adventure for GBA…

    #2 10 months ago
  3. Game Hunter

    Personally I love Lords Of Shadow series more than the previous Castlevanias.In the original series there was a Dracula who was resurrected every century and a Belmont guy had to kill him;that’s all the story the original series got.but Los was a great reboot;epic combat,great bosses and puzzles,pretty much 100% better than the original series.Los 2 is also great,but it lacks something very very important:PUZZLES!
    it seems like all of those shitty stealth parts are replacements for the great puzzles Los had.although I like Dracula and the bosses more than the previous one.

    #3 10 months ago
  4. FlyBoogy

    Why did I like the game more than the first Lords of Shadow? Yes the bosses werent as good and the environment looks meh compared to the fisrt game but why is everyone crying about the stealth and rat sections? They are about 1 hour of the whole game

    #4 10 months ago
  5. Selderane

    @Templar

    One employee saying Konami wasn’t happy and other saying they hadn’t heard anything isn’t a contraction. It means one employee may have heard something another hadn’t.

    Had another employee said, no, they heard Konami was happy, then you’d have your contradiction.

    #5 10 months ago
  6. bobnice

    @Game Hunter

    i agree with you on everything except the puzzles. The damn puzzles in the first Los drove me nuts and broke the immersion for me, especially the Music Box. I am very much liking LOS 2, despite the mediocre reviews discouraging me to even pick the game up…however I’m glad I did.

    #6 10 months ago
  7. ctankep

    Sadly this is not an uncommon situation in th’ games industry. In fact it’s almost a stereotype: th’ CEO who believes they’re a game designer & higher ups in “production” [ what a misnomer ] who feel they need to leave their mark effectively choking all th’ bottom -up creativity from designers an’ artists in th’ process. Too bad they’re th’ ones going home at 4pm instead o’ helping to crunch an’ get a game out th’ door to th’ best o’ their abilities.

    My advice would be to leave if you can –
    There is no reason nor th’ job stability these days o’ being in a company under a large publisher doing milestone work. As Bethesda have shown numerous times there is no guarantee that a studio will even be paid. Being dependent on these kinds o’ publisher relationships inevitably leads to doom as no publisher will pay to keep a studio alive with th’ kinds o’ burn rates we see nowadays [ roughly $5M -$20M wages per year ]. That’s why we had hundreds o’ studios shutter _d in th’ last 5 -years.

    – Chuan

    #7 10 months ago
  8. Obernox

    It really saddens me to see so much negativity towards this game, i’m about halfway through and aside from the crappy stealth sections, it really is a good game with a great combat and memorable boss fights.

    #8 10 months ago

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