Surprise, Surprise

Gamasutra has put up the Brütal Legend postmortem originally published in the December issue of GameInformer. In it, executive producer Caroline Esmurdoc reveals why the demo and marketing for the game played down the clunky RTS aspect of Brütal Legend to the point of obfuscation:

“We learned early on in our relationship with Vivendi that RTS was a naughty word in the console space, so we stopped calling it by that name and, by extension, so did Electronic Arts — positioning the game largely as an action title in the marketplace.”

Yeah? How’d that work out for you?

“Unfortunately, things start to unravel when you get into the meat of the game, the RTS sections. We don’t care what Tim Schaefer says, they ARE RTS sections.”

“Brütal Legend’s gameplay is hard to describe. The back of the box doesn’t even try. All it says, in a bullet point to that effect, is “Vanquish foes with axe and electrified guitar.”

“This is exactly what you do — in the game’s first seven minutes. After that, you’re thrown into your trusty hot rod, the Druid Plow, in which you’ll run over some evil druids and then fight a giant nasty boss monster by driving in circles around it and running over its tongue.

“After this opening segment, you’d think you were in for a goofy God of War–style action game — and you would be completely wrong. A few hours later, what you’re playing is almost entirely a real-time strategy game.”

“As for the story missions, while some of them are basic “kill the enemy” or escort missions, it’s only a few hours into the game that Brütal Legend reveals its hand and makes a surprise turn as a real-time strategy game.

“You read that right: a huge part of Brütal Legend — including most of the missions that will let you advance in the story, and those that serve as boss battles — is a real-time strategy element that mixes the basic concepts of standard RTS games with squad-based console control mechanics from titles like Rainbow Six. It’s unfortunate that this is such a significant portion of Brütal Legend’s core gameplay, because quite frankly, it’s the most tedious, least fun, and most broken part of the game.”

The scary part about this postmortem, a postmoretem being a list of things that went right and went wrong in development, is that Caroline doesn’t mention in her list of things that went wrong “we marketed the the game as belonging to an entirely different genre than it actually belongs to, and as a result some people were surprised and disappointed with it”.


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