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.
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.