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Raphael Colantonio, the former head of Arkane Studios, joined Kotaku's Splitscreen podcast last week to talk about Prey's somewhat turbulent development and its fairly polarizing final stretch. The link above has the full podcast, but here's an excerpt from the text transcript:
Jason: I absolutely loved Prey. Well, I should correct that—I absolutely loved Prey for three-quarters of the game, then the final act came and the security bots started attacking me and I was like, ‘this isn’t the game I signed up for.’ I’m curious to hear your perspective... What made you guys decide to approach it that way?
Colantonio: It comes back to the thing we were talking about a little bit earlier: crunch versus triple-A or reacting to changes toward the end of the production. Budget, shipping on time, etc. I think we did our best as far as planning — we thought on paper it’d be a nice change of pace toward the end, so it feels more intense and more like an acceleration as opposed to ‘Here is more story.’ So on paper it seemed right. The problem is when you implement those things, even the designers can only see so much of it, because they don’t see the rest of the game, they only see their part. And it’s only, believe it or not, it’s only around alpha, like three months before the game ships basically that you can see the entirety of the game in a state where you can fully comprehend it. It doesn’t crash too often, there’s not too many showstoppers.
Jason: All the assets are in instead of grey boxes.
Colantonio: Exactly, everything is in, and it’s in a good state enough that you can truly appreciate the level of what you’re trying to achieve. In this case, yeah there was definitely too much at the end, it was too intense, not only the security bots but there was some other stuff. In general, I think it was too intense, we were trying to ask the players to backtrack, and do some stuff. It was just too much. We should have cut it short. But we could not know. Sometimes you hope, you shoot in a direction and hope you hit the target, then in the last months you try to adjust, correct, etc. We probably were running out of time, and people did work, they did their jobs, and... We could have done with another few months of polishing for sure.