In a new Gamasutra feature, numerous ex-staffers from the ill-fated Homefront developer Kaos Studios give their accounts of what exactly went wrong, and how it led to the studio's closure.
Homefront was supposed to be the title that proved THQ was on the rebound, and could compete with FPS behemoth franchise Call of Duty. As such, THQ EVP Danny Bilson became passionately invested in a number of creative decisions.
"He got very involved during the middle of our production," a source reports. Fortunately, many of the employees felt that Bilson's creative input ultimately made the game better, with one noting, "I really can't slam the guy... He gave us a great opportunity and all the resources to accomplish it. We didn't exactly deliver."
However, there was one decision he made that really put pressure on the team -- making North Korea the occupying force of Homefront, despite how unlikely a significant U.S. invasion by such a small nation would be.
The rest of the Kaos team had originally envisioned the invaders as Chinese, but THQ feared that such a portrayal would hurt its prospects for business in China. Hence, the North Korea idea stuck, leading to a "demoralizing" atmosphere amongst the employees.
Soon, Bilson's brief but reverberating check-ins on the game's development began to be known as "getting Bils0wned." Employees were aware that he was really good at helping with the game's story and creating hype for the title, but he wasn't so great with game mechanics, leading to frustrating design feedback.
The full feature, which explores the many issues that Kaos faced from mismanagement and emotional tension, to the departure of co-founder Frank DeLise, is live now on Gamasutra.