The phrase ‘development hell’ is one that is likely to send shivers down the spines of gamers everywhere. When games face severe delays during the development process, with no finite end date in sight, it is often a death knell, resulting in the cancellation of some very ambitious projects. The roster of titles that have never ascended from development hell includes highly anticipated titles such as Star Wars: 1313 and Prey 2.
Thankfully, some games are still able to make it to store shelves, even when a release date seems a long way away. What’s more, video game fans have recently had a pair of titles confirmed for release that were long thought to be lost in the world of development hell. During E3 2015, Sony revealed that Team ICO’s Shadow of the Colossus follow-up The Last Guardian would finally see the light of day, whilst the publisher also announced that Shenmue 3 would see a release – albeit with the help of crowdfunding.
Although there are plenty more projects still in limbo, with the likes of Beyond Good & Evil 2 looking less and less likely to make it to gamers’ libraries, the video gaming community can still find some solace in those games that have eventually seen release. Here are our picks of the best five games to be resurrected from development hell.
Team Fortress 2
For many, Team Fortress 2 is the go-to game for high-octane multiplayer FPS action. The shooter has amassed a huge army of fans, with high praise coming for its cartoonish graphics and intensely fun gameplay. However, Team Fortress 2’s development process was not always smooth sailing, facing delays severe even by Valve’s standings.
The follow-up to the hugely popular Quake mod had a development cycle of over nine years, with an announcement all the way back in 1998. The title seemed to disappear off the face of the earth for several years, as behind-the-scenes work shifted the title to Valve’s Source engine. Valve had even built three or four prototypes of the game before settling on the final product.
Over that time, much would change about Team Fortress 2 – beyond just the change of engine. In particular, the game’s visual style changed massively over the course of development, going from a realistic, militaristic feel to the caricatures that now make Team Fortress 2 iconic. Now, Valve, where’s that Half Life 3 announcement?
Team Bondi and Rockstar’s collaboration may not have hit the heights of Red Dead Redemption or the Grand Theft Auto series, but the title was nonetheless an interesting and unique open world title. Set in the noir-esque landscape of 1940’s Los Angeles, the title drew influence from real life events such as the Black Dahlia murder to provide a gripping mystery for the player to solve.
Perhaps the title’s biggest achievement was the use of motion capture to create some of the most realistic character models in gaming history, as players were charged with working out which suspects and interviewees were being truthful. All of that pioneering MotionScan technology came at a price, however, and LA Noire spent an achingly long time in development. Finally, after seven years, the game saw release.
Unfortunately, LA Noire did not have a happy ending for Team Bondi. The developer was forced into administration after it failed to secure another project amid allegations of poor working conditions. Behind the scenes, stories broke of the development team being worked to the bone by managers to get the game ready, leaving an unfortunate tarnishing mark on both Team Bondi and LA Noire.
The Diablo series is seen by many as the pinnacle of the hack’n’slash RPG genre. Known for its brooding, dark aesthetic and vicious, demonic enemies, the franchise finally received its third chapter in the form of Diablo 3, which was released in 2012 for PC and 2013 for home consoles. The title’s route to release was anything but easy, however, and was just as hellish as some of the game’s own quests.
Work on Diablo 3 actually started in 2001, but the game was not even announced to the public until 2008. During that time, the title had apparently gone through three revisions before Blizzard was finally happy with a product that could be shown to the series’ fans. Even then, gamers were forced to wait another four years to see the finished game.
Given the game’s commercial and critical successes, however, perhaps the wait was worth it. The title received a hugely positive response from those who played it, gaining millions of fans. Diablo 3 was so successful that it even earned a remastered edition for Xbox One and PS4, which was released in 2014.