Here's some interesting bits from the Chris Avellone interview:
- GB: Based on the reception the game has received, is there anything you would have done differently if you could go back?
- Chris: If I could go back and start on the project from the outset? Sure, absolutely - and don't take anything I say as this would somehow magically be a better game, it would just be different, and most likely have other things people hated about it. Anyway, I'd make a spy version of Kill Bill (if it had to be a spy game at all and not just a real world RPG title, which would be great), change the main character to not be a set character, screw the realism and focus on the fantastic, add more mission reactivity between missions and between cities, change the mission structure to the honeycomb mission structure our Systems Designer proposed 2 years in (and what our Exec Producer originally wanted), remove cinematic conversations, screw trying to compete with other stealth or shooter games that have already mastered those areas and look for ways to make the player feel like spies in other ways - again, assuming a spy game is what you'd want to do with a real-world RPG at all.
- But that's all fantasy and wishful thinking, and again, it's easy to say that, and it would have most likely resulted in something else that people liked and disliked for different reasons. If I could go back to when I started mid-way through the project and was in the same situation? No, for logistical reasons. I'm sure the other leads felt the same way and so did our Project Director (who became Project Director at this time), and our Project Director who took on the role at this time saved this game from cancellation - or worse. We had a team that was low on morale, that felt like they didn't own the work they were doing (if you keep trading areas and design elements every other month, you can't focus on carrying something to completion), who were on the tides of iteration, and being able to go in there, give people ownership of interface, systems, an area, a Hub, make decisions, add more RPG elements, add more reactivity, restore focus and get rid of the blockages that were keeping people from moving ahead with work was satisfying. It took a while, and it was tough, and some of the decisions weren't ideal, but you can't always be in a perfect situation with development, so you do what you can. We had little to no time to redo anims, redo character models, redo locations from previous iterations, so we did what we could with what he had, and it made sense to us for the time frame (even when the time frame kept changing, we had no clue the release date would be what it became, and we didn't work toward that release date).
- I'm proud of what we did during that time to help get the project going, organize the design staff, kill a lot of problems, and try to use what assets, locations, and story elements we had to work with to make a game that worked and took RPG elements in a new direction.
And from the Feargus Urquhart interview:
- GB: So moving on to Alpha Protocol, what are your feelings on its reception? We really liked it at GameBanshee, thanks to its strong story, excellent dialogue system, reputation system, item upgrades and modifications, and the types of elements that we love about RPGs. Do you think that maybe the action-loving crowd sort of missed the point of the game, simply because they went into it thinking it was going to be "just another third-person shooter"?
- Feargus: Yeah, Alpha Protocol delivered on the character story, and all the RPG stuff. And, everyone I’ve talked to and all the reviews that I’ve read, unless someone was being completely dismissive for whatever reason they felt that way. If they were being dismissive, then we've got the sense that it was just fun to write their review that way and make fun of the game. But, I’m not going to name names, but... [laughter] ultimately, I think we hit it on the RPG stuff. The action elements were always a concern to a point, because it’s something we had not done as a studio before. And, It was really action-focused in most areas. I think in some ways we maybe got into a "no man’s land". It was trying to be too much an action game – or it was trying to be so much of an action game that we didn't hit all the features an action gamers' wants to see at the level they want to see them.
- I’ll use cover as an example. Let’s say we didn’t have cover. There probably would have been some reviews that remarked about us not having cover, but then we wouldn’t have had a cover system that frustrated some people. You see what I mean? Maybe action gamers would have liked it less because there’s no cover system, but then we wouldn’t necessarily have been showing a flaw in the game if the cover system wasn’t there.
- In some ways we’re pretty aware of what our game is good at, what it’s bad at, and things like that. I think what we also feel is that there’s more we could have done, but it just wasn’t in the cards.