The EA Motive Studio developers behind the Dead Space remake quickly learned that taking on experimental projects is not for the faint of heart.
for the Dead Space RemakeEA Motive was working on a lesser-known ambitious project called Gaia. Unfortunately, the project was scrapped after six years of development. The team “didn’t want to bite any more than we could chew,” said Patrick Klaus, general manager of EA Motive. Eurogamer (opens in new tab).
The risk of such an ambitious project proved too great for the relatively young studio. “When you consider that you have families… you want to ensure sustainability and you want to set the teams up for success,” Klaus said. “I take that responsibility of taking calculated risks very seriously.”
Instead of Gaia, EA Motive embarked on the highly anticipated remake of Dead Space, along with prospects of working on a future Iron Man game. So it wasn’t necessarily a step back for the studio.
Back to the drawing board
EA Motive isn’t the first developer to return to the drawing board when developing a game, and it probably won’t be the last. Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 is a good example of this. The iconic survival horror game had undergone a massive rework before it was released in 2005.
Resident Evil 4 had three separate prototypes during development. These were ‘Fog’, ‘Hallucinations’ and ‘Hook man’, with the last prototype showcased at E3 in 2003. Unfortunately, each of these ideas was inevitably scrapped by Capcom.
But the story didn’t end there. After returning to the drawing board, Capcom has repurposed much of the ‘Fog’ prototype. Initially intended to be a radical departure from the Resident Evil franchise, the prototype became the first Devil May Cry game.
Both Capcom and EA Motive prove that starting over doesn’t have to be a failure. “Cancellations in video game development shouldn’t be taboo,” Klaus said. “It’s part of the creative process.”
Often it allows developers to improve existing ideas and get better over time. “Dead Space was the first thing we wanted to do to get up and have more ambition,” Klaus said, “and then with Iron Man we have the chance to take things to a whole new level”.
There will be a lot of pressure on a studio from the development of a game, especially budget and time available. But when a team realizes it’s on a path with a project that doesn’t end in something it can stand behind, having the freedom and space to start over can lead to great games.