Interview with Spec Ops developer Yager reveals: No chance for a sequel

#1
Interview is in German, so here are some choice cuts:

No Chance for Spec Ops: The Line 2

Yager had to learn a tough lesson with their anti-war game Spec Ops: The line: Gamers demand smart games yet they buy Call of Duty. Our interview with the team reveals what that means for their future.
- Yager used the phrase "optimistic war" in a recent presentation of their new space shooter Dreadnought. No blood, no bodies, no dead women and children. Dreadnought should be about fun, clearly distancing itself from Spec Ops

- It is implied that Yager has to distance itself from Spec Ops as it was a financial flop. Otherwise negotiations with publishers over new titles would have become too difficult

- Spec Ops was in development hell for over 5 years

- Managing Director Timo Ullman states that Yager will probably not work on any military style shooter again. By his own admission: "If you can't compete with the big ones, the risk is too big. The market for "smart" or "intellectual" games is too niche. Elitist almost."

- Art Director Mathias Wiese admits he is happy to work on other settings now. Working on Spec Ops was mentally exhausting. "You can imagine what kind of reference material you have to review [for a game like Spec Ops]. That's not fun. You're happy when you can do something else after that "

- Nevertheless, Yager is proud of Spec Ops as it helped raise their profile in the industry


Source:
http://www.gamestar.de/spiele/spec-...ein_geld_fuer_kluge_spiele,45733,3058059.html
 
#2
I don't think Spec Ops flopped because of being too smart, it probably had more to do with it's mediocre gameplay. the game didn't do anything new nor outstanding in any way in that department.
 
#3
People who count themselves as enthusiasts or journalists or designers want smart games.

The 30m people buying CoD every year - the vast majority - just want to shoot shit.

Gamers are hypocritical about many things, but I don't think this is one of them. Shame there won't be a sequel. Best of luck to them with Dead Island 2. I hope they can infuse some of that thoughtfulness gamers like myself really look for.
 
#4
The gameplay was bland and all the commentary about how shooting sand will affect gameplay didn't really amount to much, I never felt like I was manipulating an environment of my own accord. The only thing it really had going for it was one of the plot elements. Probably a good thing they're not making a second, they made their point in the first game, beyond that, the actual game had no redeeming qualities of a good shooter.
 
#5
I beat this game about a week ago thanks to Humble Bundle and it's still on my mind. Thought it was a really fantastic game and I regret not buying it sooner :(.

Hearing it flopped makes me sad, but it's good to hear that they're happy to be working on something else now. I can imagine how mentally exhausting it must've been to work on Spec Ops for so many years. That game has some grim shit.

Best of luck to them with their new project(s)!
 
#6
what self aggrandizing bullshit. I've never bought a call of duty, I simply dont think unreliable narrator + mental illness = evil to be fractionally as deep and clever as they would like to claim it is.
 
#7
I don't think Spec Ops flopped because of being too smart, it probably had more to do with it's mediocre gameplay. The game didn't do anything new nor outstanding in that department.
This is spot on. Spec Ops is a by the books cover shooter. And not even a particularly good one at that. It just gets the job done.

As far as the comment about gamers asking for something smart while buying CoD. Well...yeah. You have to do research to see how many gamers are actually asking for that to see whether or not you're about to spend five years developing a game for a vocal minority.
 
#8
what self aggrandizing bullshit. I've never bought a call of duty, I simply dont think unreliable narrator + mental illness = evil to be fractionally as deep and clever as they would like to claim it is.
I think you missed the point of the game. The game wanted to be meta-commentary on its genre, it wanted to express "this genre and the taken-for-grantedness with which we accept murder, dehumanize and switch allegiance to pursue our goals in them are questionable, even sick" by closely emulating that genre. It wanted an aha moment from players who've done all this countless times in other games, never losing much sleep over it, having easily identified themselves with the pretended heroes.

It didn't work for me, either.
 
#9
Game that was in development hell for 5 years was a financial flop? YOU DONT SAY!

Its always funny seeing a dev blame the gamers for their failings. I thought the game was 'ok', but the gameplay really sucked, i can get why people would have been put off by that. Also you spend 5 years faffing around, 5 years of development that still cost you and yeah, its going to be harder to make back the money you spent over those 5 years.

But whatever, just blame the gamers. Yeah, it was "too smart".
 

firehawk12

Subete no aware
#10
what self aggrandizing bullshit. I've never bought a call of duty, I simply dont think unreliable narrator + mental illness = evil to be fractionally as deep and clever as they would like to claim it is.
It actually is. It's much more effective than the goobledegook that Bioshock turned into after Infinite at taking a look at what games are and what is involved in the military shooter.

That said, there is a bit of a martyr complex coming from those statements. But it's not like Spec Ops needs a sequel anyway. I mean, is anyone demanding a sequel to Apocalypse Now?
 
#11
Game that was in development hell for 5 years was a financial flop? YOU DONT SAY!
It's not just about the development hell, but the game not selling enough to make it financially sustainable even with better development cycle. They are implying that the sequel not sell enough even if they were able to produce it with a reasonable budget. I definitely liked the game, but the underlying point was way too hidden and at the cost of every gameplay session. There's a good article on the narrative of the game, but it was clear that the game would not strike home with enough people.
 
#12
For me this game was just bad PR, beforehand, a lot of stuff was about it beeing a shooter, and the setting and stuff.

If they focused more on the story or just did a different marketing campain, I probably would have picked it up day 1.
But now I just waited until it was in the bargain bin.

It does seems the guy just feels defeated, and that sucks, cause the game really was a highlight for me.
I do wish games like this had more time in the spotlight, and could easily coexist along CoD and BF.
 
#13
Mediocre gameplay, totally unrealistic narrative that felt really forced and awkward, 5 years of development for a linear only single player 3rd person shooter, mmmhh I wonder why it flopped.
 
#15
I think you missed the point of the game. The game wanted to be meta-commentary on its genre, it wanted to express "this genre and the taken-for-grantedness with which we accept murder, dehumanize and switch allegiance to pursue our goals in them are questionable, even sick" by closely emulating that genre. It wanted an aha moment from players who've done all this countless times in other games, never losing much sleep over it, having easily identified themselves with the pretended heroes.

It didn't work for me, either.
the whole "aha" falls completely flat when they use an unreliable narrator plot device. I understand what they were trying to do, I simply think it wasnt well done
 
#16
I sort of regret only picking this up when it went way down in price. It was admittedly clever, it's just a shame that the actual game was so generic while the plot and setting and story was rather unique. Could they improve it if they were to do it again...? Eh, whatever. Maybe they'll make Dead Island 2 better~
 
#17
It actually is. It's much more effective than the goobledegook that Bioshock turned into after Infinite at taking a look at what games are and what is involved in the military shooter.

This. If Bioshock Infinite had an interesting and deep plot, as seems to be the consensus, Spec Ops was bloody Hemingway. I agree it was a clunky shooter, but honestly I found the shooty bang bang in Infinite enormously tedious.
 
#18
He has a point. The market for such games is too small unless you are a making a sequel or a new entry in a well known franchise. People love what is familiar and easy to understand. This is why CoD sells millions: It is simple and fun.

He is not blaming the gamers; he is just stating it as it is. "Smart" and "innovation" don't matter.
 
#19
Game that was in development hell for 5 years was a financial flop? YOU DONT SAY!

Its always funny seeing a dev blame the gamers for their failings. I thought the game was 'ok', but the gameplay really sucked, i can get why people would have been put off by that. Also you spend 5 years faffing around, 5 years of development that still cost you and yeah, its going to be harder to make back the money you spent over those 5 years.

But whatever, just blame the gamers. Yeah, it was "too smart".
How the fuck are they blaming gamers? They acknowledged that the game went into development hell, and that the current AAA market largely doesn't support unproven titles from B-tier devs with unconventional/deconstructive storytelling. Those things are largely observable and well known to everyone. It's blaming gamers only in that in the current market, a niche game made on a large budget probably isn't going to sell well.

There seems to be quite a bit of "Well I didn't find this game very good, so of course it didn't well well" going on, which is a shame. Spec Ops may not have had the most innovative shooting mechanics, but it was no worse than your average Naughty Dog game in that regards, and managed to still include many of the same level of small details that fans praise ND games for (trigger finger changing, slowly deforming character model, voice acting deteriorating as the game progresses). It was doomed only in that there isn't much of a market for anti-war war shooters, and that's more a statement on the current AAA industry than anything.
 
#21
This is a massive shame, and I hope that this will not discourage other developers from experimenting with metacommentarial exploration of video games through relatively big budget titles.
 
#22
the whole "aha" falls completely flat when they use an unreliable narrator plot device. I understand what they were trying to do, I simply think it wasnt well done
Nno it doesn't. The unreliable narrator device serves to strengthen the thematic point of the story: War is dehumanising. The main character himself has been so irredeemably fucked up by the conflict he's seen, it has left him psychologically broken. The fact that events change during the story, and his perceptions of reality start crumbling, doesn't take away from that point, it hammers it home. If you go into conflict and war with the same Ooh-Ra! mindset Walker had (and that games like COD perpetuate), you're going to end up a broken human being. If there was one point Spec Ops brought home beautifully, it was that one.
 
#23
I can understand the hesitancy when trying to release a shooter in an already crowded genre, but to simply use it as reasoning for your own games failure (when it had many problems) is somewhat insulting.
 
#26
This is a massive shame, and I hope that this will not discourage other developers from experimenting with metacommentarial exploration of video games through relatively big budget titles.


What was done and the waves MGS2 generated will never happen again. Something extraordinary technically and visually, that manipulates and plays with the players themselves. Lightning in a bottle.
 
#27
Let's see.

1. Boring gameplay
2. Frustrating
3. Tries way too hard
4. Forces people to do things then tells them to feel bad
5. Easily finished in 4-5 hours
6. Doesn't do anything special

Yea. Totally because it was too smart for people....
 
#30


What was done and the waves MGS2 generated will never happen again. Something extraordinary technically and visually, that manipulates and plays with the players themselves. Lightning in a bottle.
To be fair, with the advent of newer input methods, it could totally happen. More horse power is pretty much a given, but even MGS2 was crafted for the weakest console of the generation.
 
#31
It's a shame the game didn't do better, but it's not like I'd really be excited for Spec Ops: The Line 2. Making a sequel would really cheapen the message of the first game, and I'd be wary of everything I saw because of prior knowledge. It's kind of the same problem brought up by the Frog Fractions 2 Kickstarter -- once you know to expect something more, it won't be anywhere near as interesting or effective.

Edit: Also, I'm not really sure where people are getting "It was too smart for gamers" out of what was said. He said that if you can't compete with the big games (an admission of mediocrity in the gameplay sector), just being "smart" isn't enough to be successful. I guess you could argue whether or not you think it's "smart", but regardless of whether or not it lands for you that's obviously the demographic they're reaching for.
 
#32
Let's see.

1. Boring gameplay
2. Frustrating
3. Tries way too hard
4. Forces people to do things then tells them to feel bad
5. Easily finished in 4-5 hours
6. Doesn't do anything special

Yea. Totally because it was too smart for people....
The actual designer being interviewed never said that.

Swing and a miss.
 
#33
"We" buy Call of Duty, Wolfenstein, Killzone, Titanfall, Battlefield, Metal Gear demo, Sniper Elite III...yea it's going to be hard to crack into sales charts without a lot of support. Probably need a good dose of luck as well. Shame it wasn't developed with the XB1 and PS4 in mind; 5 years is one hell of a risk in any case.
 
#34
I thought the game was fine until spoilers
the white phosphorus bit, you only see white blobs in the view finder and it is clear that they are civilians but you aren't given the option to not fire, just to serve its preachy story
 

Vilam

Maxis Redwood
#35
That's unfortunate and shortsighted by publishers. The Spec Ops franchise didn't exactly have a great reputation going into The Line. Is it really that surprising gamers didn't rush out to buy it until all the positive word of mouth about it started spreading? They proved themselves to me though - I absolutely loved The Line. While I picked it up well after launch, if there'd been a sequel I would have purchased it day one. Same damn situation with Sleeping Dogs. You have to give a game like that a chance to flourish with a sequel... Sigh, what a shame.

On a side note, it gets really old hearing people trash the gameplay in The Line. It's a great shooter... solid mechanics and fun situations. I can't think of another game that catches more shit from people for not bringing something new to its gameplay. Not every game needs to do that. They did plenty to differentiate their game from others and offered up fun - if familiar - shooting on top of that.
 
#36
Great experience to play through, thoroughly ruined the next few shooters I attempted to start playing because of its message. Though I think it's a good game, and an important one, it doesn't need a sequel. Nor do I think anyone would want one. Spec Ops said what it wanted to say, there isn't really much further to go in the military shooter meta-commentary. The genre Spec Ops was commenting on hasn't noticeably improved it's use of tropes and game design style since Spec Ops' release, so there would be nothing to update.

I thought the game was fine until spoilers
the white phosphorus bit, you only see white blobs in the view finder and it is clear that they are civilians but you aren't given the option to not fire, just to serve its preachy story
Your lack of control as a player is part of what the game comments on. Read into what the characters are saying and you'll find that they're speaking to you, the player, telling you that your only real means of control is the choice to continue or stop playing. By continuing to play you are complicit in what the game makes you do.

One could say the same for CoD's "No Russian" stage, in which you can choose to not shoot civilians, but they will get shot all the same. This is a common trope in military shooters. Protected an NPC for a few minutes? They get shot in a cutscene. You have no control as you walk down the game's corridor. Only the illusion of it.
 
#37
To be honest it doesn't really need a sequel anyway. The story and its delivery were extremely clever, but what else is there to say about its topic? The game made the impact it wanted to make on the player and I don't see how a sequel would do anything but ruin its intentions, let alone how it would surprise the way its predecessor did.

They should be happy it became a bit of a cult classic, it could have bombed even worse if not for positive word of mouth.
 
#39
How the fuck are they blaming gamers? They acknowledged that the game went into development hell, and that the current AAA market largely doesn't support unproven titles from B-tier devs with unconventional/deconstructive storytelling. Those things are largely observable and well known to everyone. It's blaming gamers only in that in the current market, a niche game made on a large budget probably isn't going to sell well.

There seems to be quite a bit of "Well I didn't find this game very good, so of course it didn't well well" going on, which is a shame. Spec Ops may not have had the most innovative shooting mechanics, but it was no worse than your average Naughty Dog game in that regards, and managed to still include many of the same level of small details that fans praise ND games for (trigger finger changing, slowly deforming character model, voice acting deteriorating as the game progresses). It was doomed only in that there isn't much of a market for anti-war war shooters, and that's more a statement on the current AAA industry than anything.
I was thinking about that too, it's if great mechanics/gameplay and innovation drive sales when all the above hardly matter especially in the homogenized and heavily group focused AAA titles. Games like TLoU, GTAV, Tomb Raider, Assassin's Creed, CoD all have mediocre, by the book gameplay mechanics that don't do anything new nor outstanding...did that stop them from being million sellers? of course not so please leave the weak mechanics/lack of innovation criticism out of the topic. Top notch production values/presentation and of course good marketing sell AAA games these days.

That being said I also found Spec Ops mediocre gameplay wise with it's biggest problem IMO the lack of replay value but seeing so many in here blaming it's gameplay for it's lackluster sales is funny.
 
#40
I don't think Spec Ops flopped because of being too smart, it probably had more to do with it's mediocre gameplay. the game didn't do anything new nor outstanding in any way in that department.
Yeah, I still remember when sand was a supposed to be a very important feature of gameplay.

They almost completely ditched that in the final game and left the game with a decent story but incredibly dull and mediocre gameplay.
 
#42
Yeah, I still remember when sand was a supposed to be a very important feature of gameplay.

They almost completely ditched that in the final game and left the game with a decent story but incredibly dull and mediocre gameplay.
Yeah. I still remember that E3 (2010?) where everyone in the press was incredibly excited for the game because of the sand element and "sandboxy" levels that allowed multiple approaches to fight opponents. As a matter of fact everytime the press gets excited for something it backfires because it never delivers like Bioshock: Infinite (in)famous E3 demo with elements that never appeared in the final game.

In the end we got a corridor shooter with some "shoot here to bury an enemy in sand" button prompts.
 
#43
Damn didn't know people on Neogaf were so critical about this game. People are so much more critical and harsh with games that try to distance themselfs from the expected.
 
#44
I don't think Spec Ops flopped because of being too smart, it probably had more to do with it's mediocre gameplay. the game didn't do anything new nor outstanding in any way in that department.
Yeah I'm with you. I really like third-person shooters and I tried the demo for this and the shooting was terrible. So there is no way I'm gonna play it no matter how smart it's trying to be.
 
#45
I don't think Spec Ops flopped because of being too smart, it probably had more to do with it's mediocre gameplay. the game didn't do anything new nor outstanding in any way in that department.
The gameplay was bland and all the commentary about how shooting sand will affect gameplay didn't really amount to much, I never felt like I was manipulating an environment of my own accord. .
This is spot on. Spec Ops is a by the books cover shooter. And not even a particularly good one at that. It just gets the job done.
That's the entire point of the game.

*activates Antitrop signal*
 
#46
Damn didn't know people on Neogaf were so critical about this game. People are so much more critical and harsh with games that try to distance themselfs from the expected.
I actually picked this up because of all the praise it got here in various threads. Guess GAF is very divided over this game.
 
#49
Damn didn't know people on Neogaf were so critical about this game. People are so much more critical and harsh with games that try to distance themselfs from the expected.
People are criticizing mainly because of the gameplay. What did Spec Ops do to distance itself from the expected in that regard?