Andrew Wilson, the game director for Bodycount, has hit back at claims that the first-person shooter has suffered from high-profile departures, rumours that suggest a troubled development, and launch delays.
Eurogamer heard from a source close to development that staff were not being offered overtime compensation during the crunch period, that the game had not passed its milestones and required more work – but time and money had run out.
Wilson denied the rumours.
"We didn't have a specific release date for quite a while, and the reason was that for new IP, it's very difficult to map something out and know exactly when it will be done," he told Eurogamer in a new Bodycount interview published today.
"It's much easier with a straight sequel, which is a known quantity. So actually, the release date has shifted. Not by huge amounts. We locked it a few months ago, just after Christmas. We are in a crunchy period at the moment: we've just come through alpha and we're getting into the bug-fixing stage. I've never worked on a project where that's not the case. I've worked on worse projects than this in terms of crunch, too."
He continued: "The money's not run out, either. Let me put it like this, if we were told to, we could take what we've built, fix the bugs, and put it in a box very quickly. And we're not doing that."
Eurogamer brought you the news that creative director Stuart Black, who helped make Black while at Criterion, and executive producer Tom Gillo walked out on the project in October last year.
Their departure was followed by the exit of general manager of Codemasters Guildford, Adrian Bolton, in November.
In December Black turned up at Sniper: Ghost Warrior studio City Interactive at the helm of development on a WWII shooter.
He slammed previous employer Codemasters, saying, "an agreement was broken".
"No one really wanted to fix it. I decided to move on. The rest seems to be self-generating noise.
"My decision to leave Codemasters and Bodycount was the hardest choice of my career. However, it was clear that Codemasters were unable, or unwilling, to provide the support needed to realise the vision I had for Bodycount. Some of the marketing initiatives and trailers were not, in my opinion, doing justice for the game."
Eurogamer had heard Black exited the British publisher over "post-E3 fallout".
Bodycount was described as a "problem project" to Eurogamer last year by a source close to the situation, and that changes at Codemasters Guildford were designed to guarantee release this summer.
But according to Wilson, Bodycount remains unaffected by Black, Gillo and Bolton's exits. "The problem is that a lot of developers will get through development without having a figurehead like that, because it can become a personality-driven thing," Wilson said of Black.
"When you get someone like Stuart, who's obviously very outgoing, very passionate, and very capable when it comes to articulating the game, of course you put them up as the figurehead. He was obviously leading it from a design point of view, anyway.
"It sort of gives a false impression of how important people are, because it's a dev team. By the time Bodycount's done, well over 100 people will have worked on it. You could take a variety of people across the team and say that if they left it would actually be more damaging than some of the senior people who have gone. Particularly on the code side, like the lead gameplay programmer. If he turned around and left tomorrow, I'd be a lot more upset, because he's fundamental in terms of actually getting the game built.
"So when you put a figurehead up like that, you can give a false impression of the importance of individual people. Really, it's a team sport. It's seriously a team sport."
Still, Wilson admitted the departures "unsettle" staff. "Of course it does. There will be some people on the team who don't have massive day-to-day contact with the people leading the team because it's such a big group, so it can be unsettling.
"But then you get through the next couple of weeks and you see that nothing really has changed and everybody else is just carrying on. Then you go and do another public demo and that goes well. It's not easy having people leave like that, but it happens. It happens a lot."
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