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Mercury Steam punta il dito


Cosa succederebbe se a sviluppare un gioco su Dracula ci fosse a capo Dracula stesso?

Secondo un anonimo sviluppatore interno di Mercury Steam , il risultato sarebbe il non troppo convincente Castlevania: Lords of Shadows 2. Il malefico re delle tenebre in questo caso non succhierebbe il sangue alle proprie vittime bensì il talento, iniettando al suo posto un veleno di presunzione,arroganza e incapacità.

Stiamo parlando di Enric Alvarez,direttore dello studio spagnolo, accusato dai suoi stessi dipendenti di atti di bullismo, tirannia e sfruttamento.

Le rivelazioni,che spiegano in parte il drastico calo qualitativo dell’ultimo Castlevania, sono state fatte da un insider della software house sul forum di Meristation, sito iberico dedicato al gaming.

Il misterioso sviluppatore spiega che Alvarez, dopo l’ottimo riscontro della critica del primo Lord of Shadows, si è letteralmente montato la testa, tarpando le ali alle idee altrui, non mettendo a conoscenza gli impiegati dei cambiamenti da approntare nel gioco (se non all’ultimo momento) e addirittura chiudendo l’accesso al codice del motore grafico ai programmatori dello studio.

L’engine sembra infatti che sia stato sviluppato da sole due persone, tra cui il fondatore dello studio e amico personale di Alvarez, scelta infruttuosa che ha portato a ritardi, problemi e limitazioni.

Viene inoltre segnalato come la tanto sbandierata partecipazione di Kojima allo sviluppo di LoS sia stata poco più che ininfluente, limitandosi ad una visita del designer nipponico ai loro studi, e che il merito del buon lavoro svolto fosse interamente da attribuirsi alla squadra e al precedente capo progetto che è poi passato allo studio Tequila proprio a causa delle accese e frequenti discussioni con Alvarez.

Le opinioni che non fossero le sue venivano del tutto ignorate, il lavoro di squadra non era permesso e ogni impiegato avrebbe dovuto seguire le sue indicazioni, qualsiasi esse fossero, senza poter esprimere il proprio parere.

Enric viene descritto come un uomo dall’ego enorme ma con gravi lacune dal punto di vista gestionale/tecnico, un ingiustificato carattere despotico che ha portato più di un dipendente al licenziamento. Solo durante lo sviluppo di LoS2 sono stati allontanati dallo studio 35 impiegati mentre i rimasti erano costretti a turni massacranti con stipendi da fame.

L’anonimo assicura che l’ambiente non era totalmente negativo solo grazie al clima solidale venutosi a creare tra colleghi, tutti consapevoli che il progetto non stesse rendendo grazia alle loro capacità,  e che l’unico responsabile della mediocrità della loro ultima produzione sia solo ed esclusivamente Alvarez.

In questo momento Mercury Steam sta navigando in cattive acque, capitanata da un pavone che si crede un visionario, e le impietose recensioni che il loro lavoro sta raccogliendo potrebbero determinare un futuro difficile per la software house spagnola, distintasi in passato per ottimi prodotti, forse ora immeritevole di tali giudizi.

E’ sempre triste constatare come situazioni del genere diventino sempre più frequenti, anche in diverse sfere lavorative, e ci sentiamo in dovere di segnalare casi come questo anche per tutelare chi ancora crede nel proprio lavoro mettendoci la passione e l’impegno per creare nuove esperienze, anche se questi nobili intenti a volte possono scontrarsi con ostacoli che vanno oltre la propria volontà.




Di seguito riportiamo il post originale completo, come apparso sui forum di Meristation:

Well, I would like to shed some light over the development of this game… Working with Mercury Steam -and I would like to tell this anonymously- is about an everyday frustration. Here’s to every guy that has experienced hell during the development of this game, but especially to those who have led this to the mess that Lords of Shadows 2 is:

– Kojima had little to nothing to do with the development of 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.

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… 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 studio’s internal structure is archaic, still based on the old partners of the Scrapland days. I’ll give you an example so you can see the full picture: 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.

– Many of the studio founders are people with zero abilities for running a studio. Often here newbie developers know more than their own bosses. 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.

– The art direction for this project has been erratic and beheaded. After Enric dismissed every idea and core decission from our main art director for the previous projects, he decided to just leave. It was a battle of egos unleashed by Enric (something that he has carried over with since his times in Rebel Act). Our now former art director is still working in Madrid, now with the Tequila guys making RIME.

– Many others have just turned to other studios offers, sick of the situation here. Almost every month we see fellow devs packing up and getting out of here looking for a new job abroad -that’s sad-. It’s amazing how the biggest AAA game developer in Spain is not even willing to make its workers a counteroffer. This company does not think highly of its talented workers and their good work. There has never been any kind of salary bonus or anything that remotely resembles it. Not even a single “Good job team!” acknowledgement.

– The production management for this project has been terrible, way often the heads of each department dismissed every production deadline and imposed their own criteria. As a result, the development was delayed for six months, and that investment only came out of MercurySteam’s pockets.

Many can’t help comparing this situation to something similar that already happened in a company in which many of us worked: Pyro Studios (the team behind the Commandos saga). The QA department is treated like cattle, with shameful wages and almost everyday bullying.

– Expectations for our future are quite bad… with a publisher like Konami really upset after the mediocre game we’ve made.

– After completing Lords of Shadows 2 MercurySteam has fired 35 workers, and it’s embarrasing that no website or journalist is talking about that. More firings are expected to come in the following days.

– 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.

Thank you for reading me.

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Andrea DiGiovanni

Andrea DiGiovanni

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