The EA Motive Studio developers behind the Dead Space remake quickly discovered that taking on experimental projects is not for the faint of heart.
before the Dead Space Remake, EA Motive worked on a lesser-known ambitious project called Gaia. Unfortunately, after six years of development, the project was scrapped. The team “didn’t want to bite off more than we could chew,” said EA Motive General Manager Patrick Klaus. eurogamer (opens in new tab).
It turned out that the risk associated with such an ambitious project was too much for the relatively young studio. “Considering you have families… you want to make sure you have sustainability and set the teams up for success,” Klaus said. “I take this responsibility to take calculated risks very seriously.”
Instead of Gaia, EA Motive has begun work on the long-awaited remake of Dead Space, along with prospects of working on a future Iron Man game. So it wasn’t necessarily a setback for the studio.
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EA Motive isn’t the first developer to return to the drawing board when developing a game, and it likely won’t be the last. Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 is a great example of this. The iconic survival horror game underwent a major overhaul before its release in 2005.
Resident Evil 4 had three separate prototypes over the course of development. These were ‘Fog’, ‘Hallucinations’ and ‘Hook man’, with the last prototype shown at E3 in 2003. Unfortunately, each of these ideas was inevitably scrapped by Capcom.
But that’s not where the story ended. After returning to the drawing board, Capcom 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.”
It often allows developers to improve on existing ideas and improve over time. “Dead Space was the first thing so we could move forward and have more ambition,” Klaus said, “and then with Iron Man, we have the opportunity to take things to a whole new level.”
There will be a lot of pressures on a studio when developing a game – budget and available time, in particular. But when a team realizes they’re going down a path with a project that won’t end in something they can support, have the freedom and space to start over, it can lead to wonderful games.