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crimsonheadGCN
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:18 PM)
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Hi Guys. Several months have passed since the release of Heroes 6, and because there are so many questions from you regarding BH which UBI seemingly ignores, I feel it's time that I give you some information.

I worked for Black Hole during the whole H6 development. For us, it was a dream project as we were real fans of the Heroes series, having played it since the original King's Bounty on Commodore 64. And I can tell you it was the UBI producers who didn't keep their deadlines, and that was what led to a total failure of the whole development. Back in 2008, during the contract negotiation process, UBI business decision makers didn't want to hear about making it into the contract that in case of any UBI delays there would be any penalty for UBI. This was a stupid decision of a business development boss (she said "UBI would never be late with any deliverables".... HAHAHA). And that led to an awkward situation where the whole development got snowed up... but the UBI producers kept telling Black Hole that "no worries, guys, there would be more time and budget, just do what we say". It was then that one faction, Academy had been removed from the content list, as well as many other things. And then, at half of the development, Romain suddenly quit, Erwan was removed from the project - he was "elevated" to the position of Might and Magic Brand Director, which meant his direct involvement in the development was over -, and BH was left there with the blame. Just an example, the final story script - which was UBI responsibility - was delivered to BH after 27 months... while originally there was 24 months for the whole development. No comment.

As for BH commitment, BH used up all its 6 months reserves just to be able to finish the project... this was more than 1 million Euros!!! And they (we) did this knowing it would never be payed back, as royalty would only be paid after 2M Heroes sold at full price. We all knew 2M copies would never be sold (neither at full price nor at reduced price), still we wanted to finish the project. During the last 10 months, our full team worked 24/7, without any chance for compensation... and because of this, we didn't have any resources to find other projects and make sure BH would survive after the release of Heroes 6. In the meantime, our new UBI producers kept telling that "the BH team is not working during the nights and weekends, and is not committed to the project at all...". I can only say, just ask any of the BH team members of their commitment...

As for the many bugs: Heroes 6 is a gigantic project, with 1.5-2 million lines in the source code. This is bigger than most RPGs. Such a project can only be finished with good quality if there are several years and a huge budget (i.e. Blizzard games), or if there is a strict design lock date after 7-9 months of the start of development... in case of Heroes, the UBI guys were adding new ideas and were changing existing features during the whole development, even at the last months, so it was simply impossible to make a stable game for release. Just see what they are now doing with patch 1.3 (BH is not involved in that at all btw.). They cannot release a simple patch with a few smaller fixes in time, they are already in a 2-3 weeks delay. This is because the code is extremely complex, and UBI does not have the team to overview it and make it work in time, even if the Limbic guys are really great (and no, they are not involved in the Heroes development from the project start, they joined like 20 months later).

Some examples of what BH added to the game at their own cost, just to make the game better:
- Town screen (we hate the current version, but it is still better then the "let's make a screen shot from the adventure map 3D town and use it as a town screen" that UBI wanted - we could have made a much better one, but didn't have money and time).
- Additional ingame cutscenes (I know cutscenes are not great, but again, we received the story after 27 months... we only had a couple months to make the cutscenes from scratch, and a very limited budget - and I think that the overall visual quality of the game proves to anyone that we could have made really great cutscenes if we had had the time and budget).
- 300 unique Combat Maps (there were 20 in the contract)
- 3D animated Main Menu (UBI wanted a simple still image)
- Additional NPCs
- Campaign Overview Map (Campaign Window)
- and many more........

And what were the UBI decisions:
- Less resources
- No fullscreen town screens
- Only five factions (as a consequence of the continuous delays of UBI deliverables)
- Creature pool
- and many more such "great" changes.........

This project cost Black Hole its existence... while UBI is making profit on Heroes 6.

And just some more thoughts: UBI EMEA were working with four 3rd party developers during the Heroes development:
- Capibara - They made the really good (and financially successful) Clash of Heroes. The are not working with UBI anymore.
- Eugene Systems - They made R.U.S.E. They are not working with UBI anymore.
- Black Hole - They made Heroes 6. They are not working with UBI anymore.
- Techland - They made a 47% game for UBI (Call of Juarez: The Cartel - http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/ca...rez-the-cartel) - They are still working with UBI EMEA on a big project.
We heard the UBI guys blame those developers (and Nival) many times... I guess BH was blamed the same way to those developers.

It is always the developer who is responsible...

Just some food for thought.... Thanks guys for reading.

http://heroescommunity.com/viewthrea...9&pagenumber=8
casabolg
Banned
(04-17-2012, 10:21 PM)
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It's things like this which make me lose hope in the gaming masses. Not because this happens, but because it happens and often and the mainstream usually doesn't say crap.
Durante
A Deadly Premonition hit his Dark Soul like a bolt of Lightning: "I can make their games better."
(04-17-2012, 10:23 PM)
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Sounds entirely believable.

Reading stuff like this: "the BH team is not working during the nights and weekends, and is not committed to the project at all..." is just awful. That working ridiculous hours is seen as a basic requirement shows how rotten the huge publisher part of this industry is.
Venfayth
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:24 PM)
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That was depressing. Passionate people being chained down.
The_Darkest_Red
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:26 PM)
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This kind of suffocating publisher-developer relationship really helps me understand the appeal of Kickstarter for a lot of devs.
Criminal Upper
Banned
(04-17-2012, 10:27 PM)
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I never understood why Ubi is still clinging onto this license when they clearly don't care about it all that much.
Lothars
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:27 PM)
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I have tons of respect for them, They did everything they could to improve the game, I hope they all land on thier feet.
Yobalt
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:27 PM)
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This is such a shame since Heroes 6 was pretty damn good and I was hoping Black Hole could continue working on it.
Heavy
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:28 PM)
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Wow, what a read. Ubi really seems like development hell unless you're on like the AC3 team or something. I feel bad for giving BH shit for not having town screens at launch now. Ubi is scum.
km3k
Junior Member
(04-17-2012, 10:28 PM)
Totally believable. This is why I don't buy Ubi Soft games, with the exception of those involving Michel Ancel.
subversus
I've done nothing with my life except eat and fap
(04-17-2012, 10:29 PM)
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sounds like usual business
Criminal Upper
Banned
(04-17-2012, 10:30 PM)
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Originally Posted by km3k

Totally believable. This is why I don't buy Ubi Soft games, with the exception of those involving Michel Ancel.

Yeah, King Kong is awesome.
Glass Rebel
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:30 PM)
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Way to make me feel bad about buying some Ubi games this generation.

I haven't played the game (and I'm not sure if I want to anymore) but I hope the guys land on their feet and continue to make games.
Sinatar
Official GAF Bottom Feeder
(04-17-2012, 10:30 PM)
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Suprising that Heroes 6 turned out as well as it did given the development.

An unfortunate state of affairs, but unfortunately that's the current parasitic relationship between devs and publishers. It can't sustain itself, something has to give soon.
subversus
I've done nothing with my life except eat and fap
(04-17-2012, 10:31 PM)
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Originally Posted by Sinatar

Suprising that Heroes 6 turned out as well as it did given the development.

An unfortunate state of affairs, but unfortunately that's the current parasitic relationship between devs and publishers. It can't sustain itself, something has to give soon.

given the current trends most big pubs will go belly up in five years or so.
UberTag
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:33 PM)
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The big publishing houses can all go die in a fire.

Developers need to employ Kickstarter and other venture capital avenues to go into business for themselves.

Eventually, they too will become bloated publishers that rake developers over the coals (or, more likely, they'll sell out to EA-Ubisoft-Take 2) but until that happens it will be bliss.
Pachterballs
Banned
(04-17-2012, 10:35 PM)
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Originally Posted by subversus

sounds like usual business

And I guess that makes it.... Okay?

Fuck ubisoft.
Alextended
Banned
(04-17-2012, 10:36 PM)
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So, why were they bending over knowing full fell things would end badly for them?

Maybe they should have quit the project and looked to other projects/funding and used some of that million euros in lawyers?
casabolg
Banned
(04-17-2012, 10:36 PM)
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What could we do to this sort of system?
We have Kickstarter, we have The Indie Fund. We need more.
Htown
STOP SHITTING ON MY MOTHER'S HEADSTONE
(04-17-2012, 10:37 PM)
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Originally Posted by Alextended

So, why were they bending over knowing full fell things would end badly for them?

When they got into it, they didn't know things would end badly for them.

By the time they were deep enough for that to be apparent, it was too late to pull out.
jman2050
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:37 PM)
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Originally Posted by Alextended

So, why were they bending over knowing full fell things would end badly for them?

You gotta eat
HoosTrax
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:38 PM)
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Originally Posted by Alextended

So, why were they bending over knowing full fell things would end badly for them?

Maybe they should have quit the project and looked to other projects/funding and used some of that million euros in lawyers?

Why do employees in any industry bend over to the people signing their paychecks.
fizzelopeguss
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:42 PM)
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HoMM staples, Town screens, Extra polish? hah! you'll work on tying our perfunctory UBI DRM bullshit into your game.
Kuga
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:42 PM)
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Originally Posted by casabolg

It's things like this which make me lose hope in the gaming masses. Not because this happens, but because it happens and often and the mainstream usually doesn't say crap.

What is there to say? "Oh hey, don't sign the contract. We don't need that capital!" That studio agreed to terms with Ubisoft; it's their own fault if things didn't go as planned or the fine print wasn't examined thoroughly. Losing control often a trade-off for investment. Yeah, it sucks that innocent employees will be harmed by incompetent management, but is that anything new?

And on the flip side, going forward, publishers are becoming increasingly marginalized by digital distribution and alternative funding sources. But they'll go kicking and screaming, just like every other content middle-man. Unfortunately, video games are big business; the Hollywood-esque production woes and subsequent consumer exploitation will get worse before they get better. One of these days, though...
AHA-Lambda
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:48 PM)
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Some quite shocking stuff there, and it all does seem believable :(

Originally Posted by subversus

given the current trends most big pubs will go belly up in five years or so.

you really think it'll be that soon?
Saty
Member
(04-17-2012, 10:50 PM)
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And i guess mostly none of the revenues the game did make dripped down to BH.
subversus
I've done nothing with my life except eat and fap
(04-17-2012, 10:57 PM)
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Originally Posted by Alextended

So, why were they bending over knowing full fell things would end badly for them?

Maybe they should have quit the project and looked to other projects/funding and used some of that million euros in lawyers?

may be some people are fans of the series and didn't want to work on anything else?
JudgeN
Member
(04-17-2012, 11:02 PM)
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Originally Posted by Saty

And i guess mostly none of the revenues the game did make dripped down to BH.

I don't understand how developers keep signing these contracts, 2M FULL PRICE units till you get royalties? What the shit? Why work on this project.
Shito
Member
(04-17-2012, 11:06 PM)
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Originally Posted by JudgeN

I don't understand how developers keep signing these contracts, 2M FULL PRICE units till you get royalties? What the shit? Why work on this project.

Because you also get money from being paid to do the game in the first place. Usually with UBI, royalties are just a nice bonus for when your game performs really well.
It's hard to turn down months and months of keeping your studio afloat, that and the nice title on the resume.
Boerseun
Banned
(04-17-2012, 11:08 PM)

Originally Posted by ElTopo

Because there's no alternative.

Nonsense. There are ALWAYS alternatives.
SapientWolf
Member
(04-17-2012, 11:08 PM)
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- 300 unique Combat Maps (there were 20 in the contract)
- 3D animated Main Menu (UBI wanted a simple still image)
- Additional NPCs
- Campaign Overview Map (Campaign Window)
- and many more........

It sounds like they overdelivered but a more conservative launch might have been better in the long term. They may have been able to remain solvent and deliver more post release support. When Ubi stops by with their wishlist there has to be some pushback from the devs or feature creep is inevitable.

Or maybe they saw their closure as inevitable and decided to make the best of it.
Perkel
Banned
(04-17-2012, 11:09 PM)
Damn those publishers.

Indy scene is way to go with more DD part of gaming sales and kickstarters.

If publishers will be dicks like that they will dug grave themselfs.
Of All Trades
Member
(04-17-2012, 11:12 PM)
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Originally Posted by SapientWolf

It sounds like they overdelivered but a more conservative launch might have been better in the long term. They may have been able to remain solvent and deliver more post release support. When Ubi stops by with their wishlist there has to be some pushback from the devs or feature creep is inevitable.

Or maybe they saw their closure coming and decided to make the best of it.

That plus

As for BH commitment, BH used up all its 6 months reserves just to be able to finish the project... this was more than 1 million Euros!!! And they (we) did this knowing it would never be payed back, as royalty would only be paid after 2M Heroes sold at full price. We all knew 2M copies would never be sold (neither at full price nor at reduced price), still we wanted to finish the project. During the last 10 months, our full team worked 24/7, without any chance for compensation... and because of this, we didn't have any resources to find other projects and make sure BH would survive after the release of Heroes 6.

does point to mismanagement on the dev side as well. If you're knowingly throwing money away then there's a problem that needs to be addressed then, not later.
graywolf323
Member
(04-17-2012, 11:13 PM)
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Originally Posted by Criminal Upper

I never understood why Ubi is still clinging onto this license when they clearly don't care about it all that much.

I still don't understand why they changed the name for the sixth game too
Dreams-Visions
I'm mad as hell but this sandwich is delicious
(04-17-2012, 11:13 PM)
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Originally Posted by Durante

Sounds entirely believable.

Reading stuff like this: "the BH team is not working during the nights and weekends, and is not committed to the project at all..." is just awful. That working ridiculous hours is seen as a basic requirement shows how rotten the huge publisher part of this industry is.

Originally Posted by Perkel

Damn those publishers.

Indy scene is way to go with more DD part of gaming sales and kickstarters.

If publishers will be dicks like that they will dug grave themselfs.


And people wonder why projects like Republique want to be done independently of a Publisher?
panty
Member
(04-17-2012, 11:14 PM)
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And that's that. It seems Rayman for the Vita was the last Ubi game I bought. Fuck this crap, we're hearing news like these every week it seems. Keep your shit Ubi, I don't have to support a publisher like you.
Corto
Member
(04-17-2012, 11:25 PM)
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I almost feel dirty from buying it now that I know that the developer didn't get a dime of my money and that it ended this way...
Ledsen
Member
(04-17-2012, 11:34 PM)
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Thread title correction: Ubi makes sure Homm6 is as bad as possible, Black Hole mismanages themselves to death. These are two separate things.
SapientWolf
Member
(04-17-2012, 11:41 PM)
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Originally Posted by Dreams-Visions

And people wonder why projects like Republique want to be done independently of a Publisher?

Well, how might supporters react if the Republique devs raised $500k matched by investors, ran out of money, and had to do another Kickstarter for another $500k more? Because I'm thinking it's negatively. People aren't as forgiving when it's their money on the line.

Devs have to be development smart and business smart to stay afloat these days.
I'm an expert
Formerly worldrevolution. The only reason I am nice to anyone else is to avoid being banned.
(04-17-2012, 11:58 PM)
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Originally Posted by PantyPhantom

And that's that. It seems Rayman for the Vita was the last Ubi game I bought. Fuck this crap, we're hearing news like these every week it seems. Keep your shit Ubi, I don't have to support a publisher like you.

I'm with you there..but uh..I think a whole lot of people will conveniently forget how horrible Ubi is when a certain 3 game comes out.
dionysus
Yaldog
(04-18-2012, 12:04 AM)
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Originally Posted by SapientWolf

Well, how might supporters react if the Republique devs raised $500k matched by investors, ran out of money, and had to do another Kickstarter for another $500k more? Because I'm thinking it's negatively. People aren't as forgiving when it's their money on the line.

Devs have to be development smart and business smart to stay afloat these days.

I have to agree. As shitty as Ubisoft sounds from this guy's viewpoint, every business encounters bad counter-parties sometimes. Sinking your business to make up for your counter-parties mistakes is the wrong approach. If they had walked sure it might still have meant shuttering the business, but at least they would still have those cash reserves to give out as severance or equity for the owner.

And, devs must have shit leverage in contract negotiations but I have to wonder why they don't just walk away. Closing up shop before you work 70 hour weeks for 2 years and pile on massive debt seems like the best option in some of these contracts.
massoluk
Member
(04-18-2012, 12:09 AM)
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So basically, you're telling me from now on I shouldn't buy any Ubisoft game until at least 2 months after it is released.
saunderez
Member
(04-18-2012, 12:10 AM)
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Originally Posted by Corto

I almost feel dirty from buying it now that I know that the developer didn't get a dime of my money and that it ended this way...

Let's not pretend the developer didn't blow through all the money Ubisoft gave them to actually develop the game. This is some pretty severe financial mismanagement where the studio knowingly blew out their budget. Sure it was to make the game "better", but theres a reason you budget in the first place and its so your business can remain solvent.
subversus
I've done nothing with my life except eat and fap
(04-18-2012, 12:11 AM)
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Originally Posted by dionysus

I have to agree. As shitty as Ubisoft sounds from this guy's viewpoint, every business encounters bad counter-parties sometimes. Sinking your business to make up for your counter-parties mistakes is the wrong approach. If they had walked sure it might still have meant shuttering the business, but at least they would still have those cash reserves to give out as severance or equity for the owner.

And, devs must have shit leverage in contract negotiations but I have to wonder why they don't just walk away. Closing up shop before you work 70 hour weeks for 2 years and pile on massive debt seems like the best option in some of these contracts.

Most devs don't hire lawyers to look through these contracts. And then they get fucked.
Kalnos
Member
(04-18-2012, 12:12 AM)
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The game was shit. I bought it simply because I loved Heroes 2/3/4.
dethforce
Banned
(04-18-2012, 12:14 AM)

As for BH commitment, BH used up all its 6 months reserves just to be able to finish the project... this was more than 1 million Euros!!! And they (we) did this knowing it would never be payed back, as royalty would only be paid after 2M Heroes sold at full price. We all knew 2M copies would never be sold (neither at full price nor at reduced price), still we wanted to finish the project. During the last 10 months, our full team worked 24/7, without any chance for compensation... and because of this, we didn't have any resources to find other projects and make sure BH would survive after the release of Heroes 6.

ähem - why did they work on it, when they knew they would not get any moneay from? i mean - look at bethesda: ship a unplayable game - nobody cares - and yeah LOL@videogame journalism....

thats whole thing is sad, but the highlighted stuff is kinda stupid...

Originally Posted by subversus

Most devs don't hire lawyers to look through these contracts. And then they get fucked.

thats even more stupid...
yurinka
Member
(04-18-2012, 12:16 AM)
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I think developers should remain indie and to publish their own stuff. In consoles this would be a problem for first parties, because of how they work with publishers / developers.

They need to learn from mobile phones and social networks : there are tons of uneeded paperwork, strict, archaic and stupid decisions from 1st parties and specially publishers that usually causes delay, loss of money and to make dumb decisions.

Some kind of control and quality approval is needed, but with capable people with common sense.
Durante
A Deadly Premonition hit his Dark Soul like a bolt of Lightning: "I can make their games better."
(04-18-2012, 12:16 AM)
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Originally Posted by dethforce

ähem - why did they work on it, when they knew they would not get any moneay from?

Well:

For us, it was a dream project as we were real fans of the Heroes series, having played it since the original King's Bounty on Commodore 64.

dionysus
Yaldog
(04-18-2012, 12:18 AM)
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Originally Posted by subversus

Most devs don't hire lawyers to look through these contracts. And then they get fucked.

Are you speaking from insider knowledge? Devs really don't hire lawyers to review the contracts?

On top of that, a lot of what lawyers do is just common sense. Like, if a contract has a 100 milestones imposed on the developer with harsh penalties and no milestones imposed on the publisher (,whose inputs might be necessary to meet the developer milestones), that should be a huge red flag whether or not you know the history of contract case law.
Somnid
Corporate Ballwasher
Ignore everything I say
(04-18-2012, 12:19 AM)
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When complaining about the client going over-budget don't brag about your scope creep.

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