You knew it wasn't going to go over well. How could it?
When Human Head Studios was severed from its Prey 2 development duties by parent company Bethesda, according to a report that surfaced this weekend, it punctuated a 5-year run of development that included frequent cancellation rumors and limbo reports, but also substantial intrigue around a shooter that emphatically impressed audiences at E3 2011.
Even worse, in shifting rights to the project over to developer Arkane Studios, Bethesda has purportedly scrapped the entire volume of what Human Head created, deciding to build the game from scratch as System Shock homage (i.e., in the vein of Arkane's Dishonored -- which, admittedly, was quite good).
Obviously, the... angst incurred by such a shake up is immeasurable, but Jason L. Blair, a narrative designer and writer on Prey 2 for the last six months (now working at Volition), took to Twitter and did his best -- specifically defending Human Head's Prey 2 as "a full game. And a crazy fun one." and branding Bethesda's actions as "political," "petty," and "potentially litigible."
Without further ado:
“This Prey 2/Arkane rumor is giving new life to a lot of old lies. I’m been quiet about this whole business but can’t stay so anymore.
“I’ve worked at/with Human Head Games for years, including different stages of Prey 2 development. I was narrative designer/writer on Prey 2 for the last six months of its development at Human Head. It was a lot more than a demo. Prey 2 was a full game. And a crazy fun one. The team was small but you wouldn’t have known it.
“What happened to Prey 2, from where I sat, was political. And petty. And potentially litigable. Human Head had a great game. I was heartbroken when Prey 2 went into limbo. Human Head deserved to have that game released. Frankly, they needed it.
“As for Arkane, I’ve enjoyed what I played of Dishonored. They have the chops. If the rumor is true, they’ll likely do well with Prey 2. But I mourn that Prey 2 won’t belong to Human Head. I mourn that my friends won’t get recognition for what they accomplished.”
We can't speak for how deeply involved Blair was or wasn't with the production of Prey 2 -- he himself admits to have worked on the title intermittently -- but he does lend an insightful candor to the matter that many current Human Head employees would, naturally, be precluded from.
And that's where Blair dispels the prevalent concern many have had about Prey 2 for the past two years -- that it wasn't, in fact, more than a flashy demo pulled together to grab headlines at E3 2011. We saw an ambitious, richly crafted world built around the proposed, Blade Runner-esque adventures of US Marshal Sam Killian. And if Blair's depiction of the game is accurate it's all the more unfortunate -- second, of course, to the of maltreatment of its creators -- that Bethesda pried it off Human Head's shoulders.
Ranters, how would you evaluate the circumstances surrounding Bethesda's transfer -- and subsequent transformation -- of Prey 2 from Human Head to Arkane Studios?
Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.