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Postmortem: Realtime Worlds' Crackdown
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Postmortem: Realtime Worlds' Crackdown


September 7, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 6 of 6
 

5. Unrealistic Targets

Initially, Xbox Crackdown was slated for spring 2005, and this always looked tight. In early 2004, when it was first proposed that we aim to get the game on the next Xbox, we reasoned that our team size would be about 15 to 20 people short.

The concern from the Microsoft people with whom we were dealing was that the game did not yet demonstrate adequate progress to warrant an increase; in fact it risked being canned as a result.

Thus we soldiered on toward a revised spring 2006 deadline that was determined by virtue of the fact that "adding another platform would surely take roughly another year."

During 2004, the project audit took place, and then we ran headlong into the issues of destabilizing our core middleware.

It was certainly a bleak time, and if anything we were drifting away from the kind of demonstrable progress that would leverage the budget to staff up and minimize what was already a guaranteed slip.

In 2005, we at last transitioned to Xenon, and by March, when a new and more bullish Microsoft producer was brought in, we were already starting to make real progress. The new external producer was still a blessing though because he finally managed to kick open the door to new resources, albeit predominantly via contractors.

Under the circumstances, new recruits came on board pretty quickly, but it still takes time to find quality employees (and we refused to lower our standards to fill vacancies faster). As the hiring wore on, we compensated for the shortfall by attempting to find more people and ultimately suffered from having too many cooks in the kitchen and saw diminishing returns.

After the X05 event, the project was public and thus far less susceptible to being knocked down by a business decision. The game's profile was subsequently raised within Microsoft, and additional resources became far easier to appropriate. However, Realtime Worlds could not put itself in the position of having too many employees after the game was released and so refused to staff up any more than was planned at that time.

Microsoft has a policy of reviewing all its titles one year out (OYO). Crackdown's OYO was in October 2005. In our view, progress and control was sufficient to agree that we were indeed looking at a completion date approximately one year later. Microsoft, on the other hand, "preferred" that the title hit before financial year end: We were faced with the unenviable task of driving toward a fairly hopeless May 2006 deadline.

As May approached, the spotlight moved to August, and when that evaporated, the sights were set on a tight but realistic October deadline. Eventually we slipped past our original OYO estimate by two months.

This Little Piggy Went to Market

Even after so many fires, Crackdown enjoyed the critical and commercial success that we all hoped it would. We like to think that a recent Develop Industry Excellence award for Innovation cements the job as being well done.

The finished product is cast firmly in the sandbox mould. There's no denying it lacked a little in directed content, but where it excelled was in handing over the 'Keys to the City', or, to use Dave Jones' favorite analogy, "providing a giant chemistry set."

Game Data

Developer: Realtime Worlds

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

Platform: Xbox 360

Team Size: 71 at peak

Development Time: 4 years

Outsourcing:

Character LODs: Nikitova, Kiev; 60% of gang vehicles: Valkyrie, Seattle; 40% of props: Ketsujin, Kiev; Cut scenes: Realtime U.K., Blackpool; Motion capture: House of Moves, Los Angeles

Release Dates:

Feb. 20, 2007: box copy

May 11, 2007: downloadable content


Article Start Previous Page 6 of 6

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