Blackhole is probably going bankrupt

The new Heroes games produced by Ubisoft. Please specify which game you are referring to in your post.

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ywhtptgtfo
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Blackhole is probably going bankrupt

Postby ywhtptgtfo » Apr 12 2012, 1:48

A post from an alleged former Blackhole employee quoted in the Age of Heroes
(http://heroescommunity.com/viewthread.p ... genumber=8):

Hi Guys. Several months have passed since the release of Heroes 6, and because there are so many questions from you regarding BH which UBI seemingly ignores, I feel it's time that I give you some information.

I worked for Black Hole during the whole H6 development. For us, it was a dream project as we were real fans of the Heroes series, having played it since the original King's Bounty on Commodore 64. And I can tell you it was the UBI producers who didn't keep their deadlines, and that was what led to a total failure of the whole development. Back in 2008, during the contract negotiation process, UBI business decision makers didn't want to hear about making it into the contract that in case of any UBI delays there would be any penalty for UBI. This was a stupid decision of a business development boss (she said "UBI would never be late with any deliverables".... HAHAHA). And that led to an awkward situation where the whole development got snowed up... but the UBI producers kept telling Black Hole that "no worries, guys, there would be more time and budget, just do what we say". It was then that one faction, Academy had been removed from the content list, as well as many other things. And then, at half of the development, Romain suddenly quit, Erwan was removed from the project - he was "elevated" to the position of Might and Magic Brand Director, which meant his direct involvement in the development was over -, and BH was left there with the blame. Just an example, the final story script - which was UBI responsibility - was delivered to BH after 27 months... while originally there was 24 months for the whole development. No comment.

As for BH commitment, BH used up all its 6 months reserves just to be able to finish the project... this was more than 1 million Euros!!! And they (we) did this knowing it would never be payed back, as royalty would only be paid after 2M Heroes sold at full price. We all knew 2M copies would never be sold (neither at full price nor at reduced price), still we wanted to finish the project. During the last 10 months, our full team worked 24/7, without any chance for compensation... and because of this, we didn't have any resources to find other projects and make sure BH would survive after the release of Heroes 6. In the meantime, our new UBI producers kept telling that "the BH team is not working during the nights and weekends, and is not committed to the project at all...". I can only say, just ask any of the BH team members of their commitment...

As for the many bugs: Heroes 6 is a gigantic project, with 1.5-2 million lines in the source code. This is bigger than most RPGs. Such a project can only be finished with good quality if there are several years and a huge budget (i.e. Blizzard games), or if there is a strict design lock date after 7-9 months of the start of development... in case of Heroes, the UBI guys were adding new ideas and were changing existing features during the whole development, even at the last months, so it was simply impossible to make a stable game for release. Just see what they are now doing with patch 1.3 (BH is not involved in that at all btw.). They cannot release a simple patch with a few smaller fixes in time, they are already in a 2-3 weeks delay. This is because the code is extremely complex, and UBI does not have the team to overview it and make it work in time, even if the Limbic guys are really great (and no, they are not involved in the Heroes development from the project start, they joined like 20 months later).

Some examples of what BH added to the game at their own cost, just to make the game better:
- Town screen (we hate the current version, but it is still better then the "let's make a screen shot from the adventure map 3D town and use it as a town screen" that UBI wanted - we could have made a much better one, but didn't have money and time).
- Additional ingame cutscenes (I know cutscenes are not great, but again, we received the story after 27 months... we only had a couple months to make the cutscenes from scratch, and a very limited budget - and I think that the overall visual quality of the game proves to anyone that we could have made really great cutscenes if we had had the time and budget).
- 300 unique Combat Maps (there were 20 in the contract)
- 3D animated Main Menu (UBI wanted a simple still image)
- Additional NPCs
- Campaign Overview Map (Campaign Window)
- and many more........

And what were the UBI decisions:
- Less resources
- No fullscreen town screens
- Only five factions (as a consequence of the continuous delays of UBI deliverables)
- Creature pool
- and many more such "great" changes.........

This project cost Black Hole its existence... while UBI is making profit on Heroes 6.

And just some more thoughts: UBI EMEA were working with four 3rd party developers during the Heroes development:
- Capibara - They made the really good (and financially successful) Clash of Heroes. The are not working with UBI anymore.
- Eugene Systems - They made R.U.S.E. They are not working with UBI anymore.
- Black Hole - They made Heroes 6. They are not working with UBI anymore.
- Techland - They made a 47% game for UBI (Call of Juarez: The Cartel - http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/call- ... the-cartel) - They are still working with UBI EMEA on a big project.
We heard the UBI guys blame those developers (and Nival) many times... I guess BH was blamed the same way to those developers.

It is always the developer who is responsible...

Just some food for thought.... Thanks guys for reading.

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Postby ChimTheGrim » Apr 12 2012, 3:38

Unfortunate read. Sounds like Heroes 6 could've been so much greater. That said, I love the art style anyway.

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Postby ywhtptgtfo » Apr 12 2012, 5:55

One thing I wonder about, though, is whether or not Ubisoft's M&M team did take 27 months to deliver those crappy story scripts. 27 months for the garbage plot the game comes with. Either a lack of dedication or a serious lack of talent.

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Postby parcaleste » Apr 12 2012, 6:40

This was really painful to read...

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Postby Dalai » Apr 12 2012, 9:39

Ubi is so messed up...
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Postby Toejam » Apr 13 2012, 0:09

"- Less resources
- No fullscreen town screens
- Only five factions (as a consequence of the continuous delays of UBI deliverables)
- Creature pool
- and many more such "great" changes......... "

This sums up exactley everything whats wrong with the game = great work...
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Postby Banedon » Apr 14 2012, 17:41

My first thought was "he's probably breaking his contract posting that" @_@
I'm a hypocrite because I suggested that all life is sacred and should not be wasted without good reason.

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Postby Kalah » Apr 14 2012, 17:50

Of course.
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Postby ThunderTitan » Apr 14 2012, 22:26

Yeah, that sounds about right...
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Postby jeff » Apr 14 2012, 23:03

What is most disappointing is if true; then the entire MM franchise's future is in doubt as long as UBI owns it. When I initially stated my concerns of their ownership several years ago when UBI first acquired MM; I in no way thought things would be as bad as that. :(
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Postby Kelben » Apr 15 2012, 2:04

Sometimes I feel ashamed to be French :devious:

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Postby ThunderTitan » Apr 15 2012, 9:02

Don't worry, it's not because they're french, it's because they're a publisher... the universe abhors a non-evil publisher...
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Postby Kalah » Apr 15 2012, 11:20

Yes, they are all evil-aligned, aren't they ... using necromancy on old games etc. ;)
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Postby Mozared » Apr 15 2012, 15:59

So where's UBI's side of the story?

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Postby vhilhu » Apr 15 2012, 17:40

Mozared wrote:So where's UBI's side of the story?


Because Ubisoft is a much larger and more notable institution than Black Hole, it's probably in Ubisoft's PR interests that they won't comment - because commenting would give much more light to this story regardless of the content of their comment

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Postby ThunderTitan » Apr 18 2012, 7:12

Kalah wrote:Yes, they are all evil-aligned, aren't they ... using necromancy on old games etc. ;)


It's more like they're using it to reanimate an unrelated zombie and slap on the name of an old game...

Which reminds me, have you seen Max Payne 3? The flashback stuff in NY is Max Payne, while the "bald guy in south america" parts look like another game with bullet time... so weird.
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Postby ShadowLiberal » Apr 20 2012, 16:44

Perhaps a more cynical view, but perhaps we should be asking ourselves not what went wrong, but why would Ubisoft, a game development company, need to outsource practically every part of making one of their games?

Shouldn't Ubi have tons of full time software developers that they could have assigned to make Heroes 6? If Ubi had too many other games they were focusing their man power on then why not hire more people, or put off development of Heroes 6 to another time when other games you're working on are finished.

Why outsource practically every part of making a game? At that point you're giving up a lot of control over it, and risk having that company harm/destroy your own reputation if they give you a bad product to sell. Does Ubi really think it's own developers weren't competent enough to make Heroes 6? If so that's a low opinion to have of your own employees.

The only reason I can think of to outsource that much of your game development... is if the business people at the top were expecting the game to 'fail', as in never return a profit, and therefore hoped to shift the loss onto a contractor through a contract that heavily favored Ubi, which is basically what that BH developer said they did.

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Postby ThunderTitan » Apr 22 2012, 17:07

Same reason your PC is made in China, because it's cheaper...
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Postby Kalah » Apr 22 2012, 18:35

Outsourcing isn't a bad thing per se, just look at Capybara. The problem here was that Ubi wanted to outsource the development but still remain in control.
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Postby maltz » May 1 2012, 16:24

It is hard to make big-budget game just for the PC. It is a small market and many people use pirate versions. ;|

If they release on consoles like XBox360 and PS3, maybe there will be more budget and sales.


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