Sega has swatted away reports that Aliens: Colonial Marines developer Gearbox Software outsourced the majority of work to other studios.

But evidence continues to surface that Section 8 developer TimeGate was responsible for much more of the game than is being officially acknowledged.

"Absolutely not," disagreed senior Sega America producer Matthew J. Powers, talking to Playnews (via DSOG). "The game has been developed by Gearbox Software."

But he then added: "Other studios [like Timegate] helped Gearbox on the production of single and multiplayer."

But what is the definition of "helped"?

Incidentally, it's been known for a while that Aliens: Colonial Marines was being developed by Gearbox, TimeGate, Demiurge Studios and Nerve Software.

The latest official line from Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford is that TimeGate contributed 20-25 per cent of the game's overall development time. Pitchford said Gearbox had done 80 per cent of the work in-house before that.

But posts from a moderator on the official TimeGate forum suggested otherwise.

"I thought TimeGate worked on the MP component, but I was wrong," poster Rossinna-Sama wrote. "[I] messaged a few people in TG and found out that TG basically had a hand in everything.

"They are responsible for the weapons, the characters, some of the story, a fair amount of the aliens, and I don't mean conceptualisation, they did the actual work of making said weapons and so on.

"Technically they did work on the MP component, just not in the way I initially thought."

TimeGate developers are now having to play the game to determine how much of their work is in it.

"The game underwent a lot of changes so TG doesn't actually know how much of their content is left," Rossinna-Sama added. "Some had the estimate that 50 per cent of what you see in the campaign is their work, others wanted to see for themselves and would get back to me after playing the game themselves."

It could be that Gearbox has simply replaced or iterated on TimeGate's work, and in doing so can claim the work as its own. But this still suggests Gearbox contributed less to the game than it is letting on.

It may also be that Randy Pitchford chose very clever wording. He said TimeGate contributed 20-25 per cent of the game's overall development time. But what if Pitchford was counting periods of time at Gearbox when Aliens: Colonial Marines wasn't in vigorous full development? What if that 20-25 per cent of time was when the bulk of development on the game was done?

A snippet from a TimeGate employee's resume (dug up by NeoGAF) suggested much of the work in the finished game's first level remains TimeGate-made.

Comments from an ex-Gearbox employee came to light yesterday that claimed TimeGate handled "primary development" of the game.

"Hate to say it, but I wouldn't get your hopes up too high for Colonial Marines," the ex-dev wrote. "I used to work at Gearbox, and the development of that game has been a total train wreck, going on what, six years now?

"Gearbox isn't even making the game, except for the multiplayer. Primary development was outsourced to TimeGate Studios, which has a less than stellar past."

Sega has refused to comment on the subject to Eurogamer.

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Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips

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