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Ahasverus
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(02-27-2014, 07:26 PM)
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I thought this deserved its own thread. User Kingshango from the Castlevania dungeon has had constant comunication with a Mercurysteam employee since months ago; now with Lords of Shadow 2 released and under polarized critics and confused fans, a new chapter begins: The man blames Enric Alvarez, studio director for being up on his own asshole becoming a tyrant after the LoS1 release, details silent layoffs and resignations as that of the Art director of the first game and other important employees.

Thank you, Neper. Full testimony:

Well, I would like to shed some light over the development of this game... Working with Mercury Steam -and I would like to tell this anonymously- is about an everyday frustration. Here's to every guy that has experienced hell during the development of this game, but especially to those who have led this to the mess that Lords of Shadows 2 is:

- Kojima had little to nothing to do with the development of the first game, he came by, set a seal, visited the studio, signed some things and that was it. He had even less to do with Mirror of Fate and LoS2.

The vast majority of this team is aware that the game we've done is a real piece of shit that has nothing to do with the first one's quality and production values... Nobody is surprised by the low reviews we've got.

- If there's someone to blame here, that's Enric Álvarez. He is the person who has led a broken development based on his personal criteria, completely overlooking programmers, designers and artists. Despite his nice look to the press, often considered as some sort of creative "visionary" in the looks of David Cage and Molyneux, this guy has serious problems. He is a mean and naughty guy, and since the "success Lords of Shadows 1" his ego has grown to the point of not even daring to say 'hello' when you meet him in the hallway.

His distrust to his own workers is enormous. Most of the development team often found out features of the game through press news, rather than from the studio's head - unbelievable. And there is no corporate culture here at all... this is just a handful of people working blindly and at the disposal of an alleged visionary.

- The studio's internal structure is archaic, still based on the old partners of the Scrapland days. I'll give you an example so you can see the full picture: the studio's signature engine (one with many flaws) was solely coded by two guys, one of them being a founder of the company and Enric's confident. Access for the new programmers to the source code to update or refurbish the engine is denied, so things are still done in a 10-year-old fashion.

- Many of the studio founders are people with zero abilities for running a studio. Often here newbie developers know more than their own bosses. This structure only leads to a slow, messy and absurd development process, with the end result of Lords of Shadows 2 being a perfect example of what happens due to that.

- Absolutely every design idea has to be monitored, taken away and mutilated by Enric Álvarez. Several game designers have grown tired of this and have abandoned the studio.

- The art direction for this project has been erratic and beheaded. After Enric dismissed every idea and core decission from our main art director for the previous projects, he decided to just leave. It was a battle of egos unleashed by Enric (something that he has carried over with since his times in Rebel Act). Our now former art director is still working in Madrid, now with the Tequila guys making RIME.

- Many others have just turned to other studios offers, sick of the situation here. Almost every month we see fellow devs packing up and getting out of here looking for a new job abroad -that's sad-. It's amazing how the biggest AAA game developer in Spain is not even willing to make its workers a counteroffer. This company does not think highly of its talented workers and their good work. There has never been any kind of salary bonus or anything that remotely resembles it. Not even a single "Good job team!" acknowledgement.

- The production management for this project has been terrible, way often the heads of each department dismissed every production deadline and imposed their own criteria. As a result, the development was delayed for six months, and that investment only came out of MercurySteam's pockets.

Many can't help comparing this situation to something similar that already happened in a company in which many of us worked: Pyro Studios (the team behind the Commandos saga). The QA department is treated like cattle, with shameful wages and almost everyday bullying.

- Expectations for our future are quite bad... with a publisher like Konami really upset after the mediocre game we've made.

- After completing Lords of Shadows 2 MercurySteam has fired 35 workers, and it's embarrasing that no website or journalist is talking about that. More firings are expected to come in the following days.

- And finally, because not everything is bad in here, I wanted to say that the real team behind this company is an incredible bunch of people. If all those guys who are not allowed to be promoted due to our Jurassic studio leads had the chance to set the course of the company, our future would be so bright. There's just so much passion and talent here, more than I've ever seen anywhere else, but it's completely held back. I really hope that those who read this understand what we've lived here. Someone has to say this so it is not lost in time after the game's launch.

Thank you for reading me.

Source


28/02/ UPDATE - Spanish website "Vadejuegos" confirmed with their own sources if the info posted here was true. Their results next:

- Vadejuegos is in position of confirming the story and clarifying some aspects of it.
- Development of Casltevania was very problematic due to leadership and communication problems.
- "Development problems are basically what was posted online".
- "In the end, the lead end up being the person who has been here for the most time or laughs the most at Alvarez' jokes"
- "Being creative there is complicated. People's ideas don't get anywhere. José Luis Vaello, art director got tired of that and ended up in Tequila. They had him hand tied. He said "Well, here you remain with your brilliant ideas"".
- "Vaello did the first game's art which was awesome, and (thanks to his departure) this second one is a Frankenstein. There is a power struggle. Some parts are pretty, some aren't".
- "This Castlevania ended up being a little weird due to that. Each department goes with itself and there is no internal communication".
- "They mistreat their people. They.. distrust themselves. It's a very weird ambient, very little creative"
- Relating the stealth sections: "Some of us said, "But what is this? Are we really doing this? Why rats? Really?". Those things were bad and talked between us. This has been like this for 2 years, not before.
- "There weren't any meetings. We found out things llots of times by the press".
- Regarding the first post veracity: "It's not true (that I know of) that Konami is displeased with the game. That can't be known yet".
- "The delay didn't involve out pocket's money (that we know of) it was the normal thing caused by a production of this size.
- Alvarez has been contacted.

Source.
Last edited by Ahasverus; 02-28-2014 at 09:20 PM.
scitek
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(02-27-2014, 07:30 PM)
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Sounds like a bitter QA person that probably wouldn't actually know much of anything. Alvarez is an easy target, but it's never entirely one person's fault. Unless your last name's Dyack.
Blablurn
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(02-27-2014, 07:30 PM)
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And it's not even like the first game is one for the history books. Strange guy.
Jarmel
place a shoe on my head
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(02-27-2014, 07:30 PM)
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The stealth segments as a whole were a complete misfire. It has less about the devs using their head and more about it being full of bullshit.

That said, it shouldn't have taken Kotaku 4 hours to get through Agreus.
Ahasverus
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(02-27-2014, 07:35 PM)
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Originally Posted by scitek

Sounds like a bitter QA person that probably wouldn't actually know much of anything. Alvarez is an easy target, but it's never entirely one person's fault. Unless your last name's Dyack.

That's what i fear the most. A Dyack case. Alvarez is indeed the CEO, director, lead designer, lead writer and owner of MercurySteam.
Bedlam
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(02-27-2014, 07:36 PM)
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Wow, called it.

Originally Posted by Bedlam

....*stuff about the scaling issues* ... In general this is such a far cry from the first game's excellent art design. Something must have happened within MS. Have some lead designers left the studio maybe?

FrostuTheNinja
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(02-27-2014, 07:36 PM)
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Damn, sounds like a mess.
scitek
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(02-27-2014, 07:38 PM)
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Originally Posted by Ahasverus

That's what i fear the most. A Dyack case. Alvarez is indeed the CEO, director, lead designer, lead writer and owner of MercurySteam.

Brendan McNamara 2.0 then?

I still don't like hit-pieces written using an anonymous source. They seem tabloidy.
Uncle Rupee
Fear not, Nintendo. The masses shall stop getting new smartphones soon enough. Then these children led astray shall return to your glory.
(02-27-2014, 07:39 PM)
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Originally Posted by scitek

Sounds like a bitter QA person that probably wouldn't actually know much of anything. Alvarez is an easy target, but it's never entirely one person's fault. Unless your last name's Dyack.

Maybe it is the Konami Western development curse?
polyh3dron
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(02-27-2014, 07:41 PM)
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So the company is headed up by a guy who wants everything to run by him for approval and he has an ego and he's not very nice and is a poopyhead.
Shinta
Banned
(02-27-2014, 07:41 PM)
Worst case scenario is that the old designers made the castle section, and the new designers made the city section. Because the castle is fucking gorgeousssssssss.

MS definitely has talent, as far as I can tell, from playing LoS2. No doubt about it. But the game has some rough edges too.

Ironically, I think the vision that hurt the sequel the most is the fan feedback on the first game. Their focus on redesigning the engine to have movable camera and backtracking doesn't really help the game much. You end up seeing far less than the first game, which had non-stop new environments for 20 hours. Now you will return to the same environments over and over, which is I guess what people wanted. It's a step back in my opinion.

Combat is still great, boss fights are top notch, music is great, art design in the castle sections is literally among the best in the industry. Art design in the city section, not so much, but still serviceable.
Last edited by Shinta; 02-27-2014 at 07:43 PM.
PetriP-TNT
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(02-27-2014, 07:43 PM)
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Originally Posted by Bedlam

Wow, called it.

Hahaha, oh wow. Reminds me of that shot of Batman, but even worse.


Not surprising to say at the least.
Ahasverus
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(02-27-2014, 07:43 PM)
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Originally Posted by Shinta

Ironically, I think the vision that hurt the sequel the most is the fan feedback on the first game. Their focus on redesigning the engine to have movable camera and backtracking doesn't really help the game much. You end up seeing far less than the first game, which had non-stop new environments for 20 hours. Now you will return to the same environments over and over, which is I guess what people wanted. It's a step back in my opinion.

I expect Alvarez to fully blame the fans.
rvy
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(02-27-2014, 07:44 PM)
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Sounds legit, actually.
maesebit
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(02-27-2014, 07:44 PM)
I have no idea on wheteher this is true or not, but I well know that the so called "one man band syndrome" is quite common in spanish companies.

Some people are unable to delegate responsabilities on their employees, and think that if you want something done properly, you must do it yourself.

That people must understand that with that mentality they can only run small or below average businesses.

If this is the case, I hope he and the other executives learn how to run a company.
AgentOtaku
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(02-27-2014, 07:44 PM)
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Originally Posted by Shinta

Worst case scenario is that the old designers made the castle section, and the new designers made the city section. Because the castle is fucking gorgeousssssssss.

MS definitely has talent, as far as I can tell, from playing LoS2. No doubt about it. But the game has some rough edges too.

Ironically, I think the vision that hurt the sequel the most is the fan feedback on the first game. Their focus on redesigning the engine to have movable camera and backtracking doesn't really help the game much. You end up seeing far less than the first game, which had non-stop new environments for 20 hours. Now you will return to the same environments over and over, which is I guess what people wanted. It's a step back in my opinion.

Combat is still great, boss fights are top notch, music is great, art design in the castle sections is literally among the best in the industry. Art design in the city section, not so much, but still serviceable.

Agreed

LoS1 has wonderful variety
Chairman Yang
if he talks about books, you better damn well listen
(02-27-2014, 07:45 PM)
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Originally Posted by scitek

Sounds like a bitter QA person that probably wouldn't actually know much of anything. Alvarez is an easy target, but it's never entirely one person's fault. Unless your last name's Dyack.

I think it is very frequently one person's fault. One boss with enough power can throw a team into organizational chaos, make the culture toxic, drive away talent, and adversely change the creative direction or details of a project. You don't even need a bad leader; even a mediocre one can be disastrous for a game.
DrDogg
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(02-27-2014, 07:45 PM)
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Originally Posted by Jarmel

The stealth segments as a whole were a complete misfire. It has less about the devs using their head and more about it being full of bullshit.

That said, it shouldn't have taken Kotaku 4 hours to get through Agreus.

Uh... I wrote one of the online guides for the game last week and it took me all of 10 minutes to get through the Agreus part. Did it really take Kotaku 4 hours?
Shinta
Banned
(02-27-2014, 07:46 PM)

Originally Posted by Ahasverus

I expect Alvarez to fully blame the fans.

Well, I'm not going to blame them, because it's ultimately up to MS to decide if they listen to them or not. It's still their decision.

But I do think people automatically hate anything linear, or anything not open world these days, and it's really a damn shame. LoS1 is entirely linear, and has set, cinematic camera angles that don't move under player control. And I think it's easily the better game.

A lot of people think every game has to be GTA now, which is ridiculous. I actually read a reviewer slam LoS2 for not being "Dracula in a GTA city." Unbelievable. It's the same mentality that made Arkham City worse than Arkham Asylum.
Bedlam
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(02-27-2014, 07:46 PM)
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Originally Posted by Shinta

Ironically, I think the vision that hurt the sequel the most is the fan feedback on the first game. Their focus on redesigning the engine to have movable camera and backtracking doesn't really help the game much. You end up seeing far less than the first game, which had non-stop new environments for 20 hours. Now you will return to the same environments over and over, which is I guess what people wanted. It's a step back in my opinion.

Yep. That's my impression, too. I argued against that kind of criticism back then but obviously they gave in to that stuff and ended up pleasing no one, neither the old fans nor the former critics.

Originally Posted by Shinta

Well, I'm not going to blame them, because it's ultimately up to MS to decide if they listen to them or not. It's still their decision.

But I do think people automatically hate anything linear, or anything not open world these days, and it's really a damn shame. LoS1 is entirely linear, and has set, cinematic camera angles that don't move under player control. And I think it's easily the better game.

A lot of people think every game has to be GTA now, which is ridiculous. I actually read a reviewer slam LoS2 for not being "Dracula in a GTA city." Unbelievable. It's the same mentality that made Arkham City worse than Arkham Asylum.

Completely agree.
Last edited by Bedlam; 02-27-2014 at 07:52 PM.
Chairman Yang
if he talks about books, you better damn well listen
(02-27-2014, 07:47 PM)
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Originally Posted by scitek

Brendan McNamara 2.0 then?

I still don't like hit-pieces written using an anonymous source. They seem tabloidy.

Unfortunately, the alternative is usually never hearing about this stuff at all.
liquidekkah
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(02-27-2014, 07:47 PM)
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A lot of this just sounds like typical upper management vs lower management warfare. Especially if this guy is QA. The war between QA and management is like the Capulets vs the Montagues.

Not sure how to take the comment about "The vast majority of this team is aware that the game we've done is a real shit". I don't think it's a shit. Am I supposed to not like the game now?

The part that worries me, though, is the comment about the talent looking for work at other companies. If all the talent leaves, then that's not a good sign for MercurySteam's next project.

Hopefully it's not Cox's next project, i.e. Contra.
Ahasverus
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(02-27-2014, 07:48 PM)
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Originally Posted by scitek

Brendan McNamara 2.0 then?

I still don't like hit-pieces written using an anonymous source. They seem tabloidy.

I'm waiting for Bergaron's confirmation, but Kingshango's source has been spot on for years too.
Guymelef
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(02-27-2014, 07:49 PM)
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Originally Posted by Ahasverus



I thought this deserved its own thread. User Kingshango from the Castlevania dungeon has had constant comunication with a Mercurysteam employee since months ago.

This is strange because the letter he translated is a post made by an anonymous (and new) user in one of the biggest Spanish forums.
Kuro
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(02-27-2014, 07:49 PM)
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Originally Posted by Bedlam

Wow, called it.

LOL that looks horrible
rvy
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(02-27-2014, 07:50 PM)
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Originally Posted by liquidekkah

A lot of this just sounds like typical upper management vs lower management warfare. Especially if this guy is QA. The war between QA and management is like the Capulets vs the Montagues.

Not sure how to take the comment about "The vast majority of this team is aware that the game we've done is a real shit". I don't think it's a shit. Am I supposed to not like the game now?

The part that worries me, though, is the comment about the talent looking for work at other companies. If all the talent leaves, then that's not a good sign for MercurySteam's next project.

Hopefully it's not Cox's next project, i.e. Contra.

Not, it just means that you like a game which the dev team thinks is shit.

Let's not get carried away here, people can sometimes be their own biggest critics. The term shit is probably used loosely and means that the game should be much, much better than it ended up being as far as the team is concerned, but the dude up top didn't allow it.
L~A
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(02-27-2014, 07:50 PM)
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Originally Posted by Ahasverus

I expect Alvarez to fully blame the fans.

FOR OR AGAINST?!

Oops, wrong person.

I really hate that kind of story, because it's hard to get the actual truth...
Dreamgazer
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(02-27-2014, 07:51 PM)
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Several designers have grown tired of this. - The art direction in this project has been erratic and beheaded . First overturning ideas from the art director of the earlier projects , he decided to leave. It was a battle of egos by Enric Alvarez, who is coming from the times of Rebel Act Tequila is currently working on developing Ryme .-

I'm a little bit confused about this part.
I know that Tequila Works is composed of ex-Blizzard, sony and mercurysteam members. Is this saying that the LoS art director went to Tequila or Enric came from Tequila?
Ahasverus
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(02-27-2014, 07:51 PM)
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Originally Posted by Dreamgazer

I'm a little bit confused about this part.
I know that Tequila Works is composed of ex-Blizzard, sony and mercurysteam members. Is this saying that the LoS art director went to Tequila or Enric came from Tequila?

I think that the art director went to Tequila.
kmax
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(02-27-2014, 07:52 PM)
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It seems like MercurySteam as a whole was in another state of mind making LoS 2, and things have obviously changed for the worse. The poor execution of LoS 2 reflects just that. The poor spirit that this article is describing oozes that things weren't as optimal as they could of been, and that's a shame, since the game could of and should of been better.
Ahasverus
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(02-27-2014, 07:53 PM)
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Originally Posted by Guymelef

This is strange because the letter he translated is a post made by an anonymous (and new) user in one of the biggest Spanish forums.

Do you have the source?
ironcreed
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(02-27-2014, 07:55 PM)
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I'm still looking forward to playing LoS 2 when it arrives, although my expectations have been quite tempered. It's also quite a shame hear what a fractured mess things are internally at Mercury Steam. Sounds like a team that will not be around very long or will remain as only a shell of it's former self.
Guymelef
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(02-27-2014, 07:57 PM)
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Originally Posted by Ahasverus

Do you have the source?

Edit: Found.
Last message here:
http://zonaforo.meristation.com/anal...95488-120.html
Last edited by Guymelef; 02-27-2014 at 07:59 PM.
Ahasverus
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(02-27-2014, 08:00 PM)
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Originally Posted by Guymelef

I'm asking for the source because another two Spanish forums paste the message pointing to Meristation, but i can't find the post there.

If you find it please lead it to me.
Edit: Great. Will look more into it.
Jarmel
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(02-27-2014, 08:00 PM)
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Originally Posted by DrDogg

Uh... I wrote one of the online guides for the game last week and it took me all of 10 minutes to get through the Agreus part. Did it really take Kotaku 4 hours?

Midway through the game, you’re supposed to sneak past minor deity Agreus from one end of a garden to another. Sounds easy, no? The projectiles never locked on to the hanging lamps I was supposed to hit to distract him and Agreus’ omniscient AI always caught up with me no matter how far ahead of him I got. What should been 10-15 minutes of tension turned into 4-5 hours of silent screaming. I haven’t been as frustrated with an apparently broken chunk of gameplay since the infamous Star Destroyer sequence from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Yes, it’s that bad.

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/02/cas...kotaku-review/
d0c_zaius
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(02-27-2014, 08:00 PM)
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Originally Posted by scitek

Sounds like a bitter QA person that probably wouldn't actually know much of anything. Alvarez is an easy target, but it's never entirely one person's fault. Unless your last name's Dyack.

thats a huge assumption there guy.

so far I'm liking the game, but I can see it becoming a case of RE6 syndrome (too much focus on everything vs. keeping it simple and sticking with what works).
Ahasverus
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(02-27-2014, 08:03 PM)
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Wait, the lead art director of LoS1 is responsible for Ryme's art? Now all makes sense!

About this, the original post in spanish is far sadder.
AdrianWerner
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(02-27-2014, 08:04 PM)
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It's interesting that Rebel Act shattered because of internal conflicts and some people from it went on to create Mercury Steam.
Dascu
(02-27-2014, 08:06 PM)
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The leave of the art director and general mismanagement would explain why some areas of LoS2 look and play terribly. Interesting.
Bedlam
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(02-27-2014, 08:07 PM)
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Originally Posted by Ahasverus

Wait, the lead art director of LoS1 is responsible for Ryme's art? Now all makes sense!

About this, the original post in spanish is far sadder.

Yeah, it's like I'm having a small revelation here. Suddenly things make a lot more sense.
LTWood12
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(02-27-2014, 08:09 PM)
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Originally Posted by Ahasverus

Wait, the lead art director of LoS1 is responsible for Ryme's art? Now all makes sense!

About this, the original post in spanish is far sadder.

Isn't it 'Rime'?
Ahasverus
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(02-27-2014, 08:14 PM)
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Originally Posted by LTWood12

Isn't it 'Rime'?

Yeah.
ZSeba
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(02-27-2014, 08:15 PM)
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Ugh, that translation is horrible. Anyone knows where the original posts are?

EDIT: nm I found it :)
Last edited by ZSeba; 02-27-2014 at 08:21 PM. Reason: ........
kmax
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(02-27-2014, 08:17 PM)
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Originally Posted by ZSeba

Ugh, that translation is horrible. Anyone knows where the original posts are?

Here's a direct link to the post in Spanish. If anyone knows Spanish and would like to translate, that would be great. The google translate one is a bit muddy.
Lord-Audie
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(02-27-2014, 08:20 PM)
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Originally Posted by kmax

Here's a direct link to the post in Spanish. If anyone knows Spanish and would like to translate, that would be great. The google translate one is a bit muddy.

I can translate.

It could take like 10 mins.
Ahasverus
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(02-27-2014, 08:22 PM)
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Originally Posted by Lord-Audie

I can translate.

It could take like 10 mins.

Thank you. I did it but a 504 killed my translation.
Haunted
(02-27-2014, 08:23 PM)
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Originally Posted by Dascu

The leave of the art director and general mismanagement would explain why some areas of LoS2 look and play terribly. Interesting.

.

It's a hot mess, a real mixed bag, it feels unfocused and disjointed. You can still see excellent craftsmanship in parts, reminiscent of the first game, but it's really not a cohesive whole like that one was.
digoutyoursoul
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(02-27-2014, 08:25 PM)
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Where is David Cox in all of this ?

I read somewhere they were making another ip, wonder what the situation is with that. Honestly I'm surprised how poor the sequel is, Lords of Shadow had some annoying niggles but showed great promise
F0rneus
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(02-27-2014, 08:26 PM)
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Years ago, there was someone posting on CVDungeon who said they were playing Portrait of Ruin, months before release. They named every area in the game, and talked about boss strategies for creatures named Dagon, Astarte, etc. Even talked about the final boss.

Every single thing they said. Every. Single. Piece of info. Was 100% real. And that was months before release. Ever since then, I told myself I'll never doubt anything that comes from there.

So...Damn.
jett
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(02-27-2014, 08:29 PM)
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I wouldn't be surprised if this was true. Both LOS1 and LOS2 have such god awful game design decisions that they could only have been forced through by someone at the top.

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