Postmortem: Capcom/GRIN's Bionic Commando Rearmed
January 26, 2009 Page 3 of 4
5. Making It Into The 360 "Summer Of Arcade" Program... Barely
When I say, "barely", I don't mean "by a matter of days"; it was more like a matter of hours. The number of meals I skipped and sleep I missed worrying whether we would be able to pass or not has probably shaved a good three years off my life.
But, much to Microsoft's credit, they really gave us a lot of leeway to slide into home plate during the final stretch. I had dreaded the submission process because of all of the bad rumors I had heard, but in the end it was probably one of the best parts of the production.
You got a sense that Microsoft knew a good game when they saw it and they were determined to make this campaign work.
Also, 2008 was the year that digital titles really started to shine, and come into their own as a truly viable game category alongside packaged products. Microsoft definitely struck when the iron was hot and I think it paid off for everyone in the program.
Marketing is a huge part of the puzzle of selling a popular game, and since you can't really utilize TV to sell a smaller digital title, getting that online space is key. This program made that happen and it's one of the major things I attribute to the success of Rearmed.
What Went Wrong
1. The Announcement Trailer
As with everything in this industry, you have to take the negatives with the positives. So, while the announcement trailer was definitely one of our brightest moments, it also created a major problem.
I'm a big proponent of presenting something fully translated. Maybe it's due to my localization roots, but at any rate, for the trailer we decided to create versions for every language the game was going to be released in. That's six. Unfortunately, that means submitting six different versions.
Add to that the fact that you need an ESRB rating on the North American version, shouldn't have it on the European version, and that there is a different logo for the Japanese version and you end up having to encode lots of trailers. Submitting the various metadata was also no easy task.
Although I'm proud of the end result, when I think about the amount of work we put into it, I don't think the end-result necessarily justified all the extra work for all involved. From now on, I'll stick with English and Japanese only.
2. Release Price
The dilemma with this one had to do with the process we took when deciding the release price. Let's just say that I should have crossed my Ts and dotted my Is before opening up the "price poll" for BCR. After the fact, I was told that several internal and external people thought that $10 was too cheap.
While I stand by the decision in price, I should have definitely done some more internal groundwork before moving forward with the decision.
Being a producer is a political game, and you need to have people that support you internally. In the end, I think this choice may have burned some bridges for me that may not be easily fixed.
3. The Database
In the end, text is a slippery slope. The amount of localization, planning, and programming is no easy task. I know the programmers on the title thought this was a bad idea from the start, and certainly it's not the type of feature that will sell a lot of additional units, but we went forward with it anyways.
It created a lot of page break mistakes and of course the Japanese localization was a colossal headache. It's funny, but even though I worked in localization for several years, I never did it the other way around (English into Japanese). All of the games I worked on were Japanese into English.
With Japanese you basically have to code in where each line breaks by hand. English and other Western languages allow for automatic line breaks quite easily, but Japanese is incredibly time consuming.
Capcom is a Japanese publisher, so we needed to have a Japanese version, but what a huge amount of work to put into a single language when compared to the other languages!
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