Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2 Dev Blames Director For Mediocre Review Scores
Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2, here forth known as LoS 2 because that title is too darn long, has been panned critically. The general reception to the game has been mediocre and prompted a developer to come forward and speak out about why the game turned out this way. The anonymous dev blamed a troubled development cycle as well as Mercury Steam studio director Enric Alvarez, a man he claims is both “mean,” and bearing, “serious problems.”
He explained that he experienced a degree of “hell” during Lords of Shadow 2 development, and stressed that Hideo Kojima actually had little to do with the first game. “He came by, set a seal, visited the studio, signed some things and that was it. He had even less to do with Mirror of Fate and LoS2,” they claimed.
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“The vast majority of this team is aware that the game we’ve done is a real piece of shit that has nothing to do with the first one’s quality and production values,” he went on. “Nobody is surprised by the low reviews we’ve got.
“If there’s someone to blame here, that’s Enric Álvarez. He is the person who has led a broken development based on his personal criteria, completely overlooking programmers, designers and artists. Despite his nice look to the press, often considered as some sort of creative ‘visionary’ in the looks of David Cage and Molyneux, this guy has serious problems. He is a mean and naughty guy, and since the ‘success Lords of Shadows 1′ his ego has grown to the point of not even daring to say ‘hello’ when you meet him in the hallway.
“His distrust to his own workers is enormous. Most of the development team often found out features of the game through press news, rather than from the studio’s head – unbelievable. And there is no corporate culture here at all… this is just a handful of people working blindly and at the disposal of an alleged visionary.”
The employee added that mercury Steam’s internal structure is “archaic,” and that its founders have, “zero abilities for running a studio.” He also called the game’s art direction, “erratic and beheaded.” Quite damningly, he claimed that Mercury Steam’s “QA department is treated like cattle, with shameful wages and almost everyday bullying.”
He explained, “The studio’s signature engine (one with many flaws) was solely coded by two guys, one of them being a founder of the company and Enric’s confident. Access for the new programmers to the source code to update or refurbish the engine is denied, so things are still done in a 10-year-old fashion.”
“Often here newbie developers know more than their own bosses,” he stressed. “This structure only leads to a slow, messy and absurd development process, with the end result of Lords of Shadows 2 being a perfect example of what happens due to that.
“Absolutely every design idea has to be monitored, taken away and mutilated by Enric Álvarez. Several game designers have grown tired of this and have abandoned the studio.”
It was also revealed that 35 employees have been laid off since LoS 2 went gold with the studio’s future looking murky as Konami ponders the less than favourable review scores.
In closing the developer said, “And finally, because not everything is bad in here, I wanted to say that the real team behind this company is an incredible bunch of people. If all those guys who are not allowed to be promoted due to our Jurassic studio leads had the chance to set the course of the company, our future would be so bright.
“There’s just so much passion and talent here, more than I’ve ever seen anywhere else, but it’s completely held back. I really hope that those who read this understand what we’ve lived here. Someone has to say this so it is not lost in time after the game’s launch.”
You have to wonder why this person is still there when they harbour so much hate towards aspects of the game’s development. If anything he says is true then Mercury Steam sounds like a toxic place to be right now.
Another developer then stepped forward to confirm the allegations.
Speaking with Spanish website Vadejuegos, the developer – who asked not to be named – confirmed most of the original story’s contents, citing leadership and communication problems issues between the game’s leads and core team.
“The problems we’ve been through are basically those in the original post,” said the developer. “There’s plenty of talented devs [in MercurySteam], though they’re not among the [studio] heads. There’s almost no actual lead in here. The only ones who really have something to say are those who have been here since the early days or those who struggle to please Enric [Álvarez, Mercury Steam CEO].”
The man you’ve kept hearing about, Enric Álvarez, took to Twitter to state that it was “sad [to] see people giving credit to the lies and insults from an enraged ex-worker. What a world we live in.”
“It isn’t easy to be a creative guy in there, because people’s ideas are never really free to exist,” the source continued. “In fact, they expect you to not give any ideas, they do not like people who do so, causing many big names to leave without a second thought.
“Our art director [José Luis Vaello] went to Tequila and now he is making RIME. He left due to the creative situation here. He was being completely held back and couldn’t force any changes, so he was just like: ‘okay, see ya, good luck with your amazing ideas’, and left the team…”
The source went on to state the game’s artwork and Dracula’s abilities as some of the points for internal conflict.
“[Vaello] is the guy who made all the main art for the first Lords of Shadow, but LoS2 is a Frankenstein monster due to the lack of a consistent art lead,” the source stated. “After Vaello left we have had several art directors and there was like some sort of power struggle within the studio heads. That’s why some sections of the game are gorgeous and the newer are not.
“This Castlevania is a weird experience because everybody has been doing their own stuff without a proper lead. Each department has been minding their own businesses without any kind of communication between teams. They deal with people like… they don’t trust you. It’s a very uncomfortable atmosphere, it’s utterly uncreative. They don’t trust anybody.”
A third developer has spoken out too. Labelling Mercury Steam’s response as a witch hunt.
“If you knew just a little about how the games industry works (particularly in Spain), you would remain anonymous as well. At least, if you ever want to work in the industry again. So I completely understand that as mere employees (should I remind everyone what’s the situation in Spain?) they don’t want to reveal their identity. I can also confirm you that most of what’s been said is exactly how everything works in MS,” the second source said.
“I would like to add that the end product looks spectacular to me, you can feel all the passion and effort that everyone has put into it, however on the management side this development has been a complete mess.
“But you’re not going to find someone who’s willing to tell this publicly or even in a private conversation because, as I said, this is a veeery small industry, and life’s just not that easy. There’s a large witch-hunt at this moment in search for the moles that revealed the situation, and that will only turn in even more firings and being blacklisted not to work in the industry here, well, forever. There has been a large reduction in our workforce lately.
“So please show a little respect for those who are risking their asses for what some of you think is just resentment to our boss.”
All these developers berating the game’s development process casts a dark shadow on Mercury Steam and LoS 2. This is no way for a studio to operate and it’s no surprise then that most reviews have not been favourable towards the game. Look out for our review soon.