The development of Blood II explained

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The development of Blood II explained

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Dec 28, 2015 12:55 am

An excerpt from an interview in July 2000 which I felt was worth posting:
Jason Hall wrote:Ok. With Blood 2, I normally avoid this line of questioning, but since enough time has passed I will offer up a little more information on this topic in general. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A HUGE OVERSIMPLIFICATION OF A COMPLEX SITUATION:

The first thing that I am going to point out is that Blood 2 is not Monolith's product, it is GT Interactive's product. Monolith developed Blood 2 for GT Interactive, yes - but GT Interactive owns EVERYTHING related to the Blood franchise. It is their franchise to sell, market and SUPPORT as they please. It is their business asset.

It bothers us that Blood 2 happened the way it did, but the bottom line is that GT Interactive controlled whether additional work and support got done on Blood 2 or not. This concept is something that eludes most gamers. They think that Monolith could have just gone on and “fixed” Blood 2 if we really wanted to. Not true. I’ll explain why…

GT Interactive completely owns the Blood franchise, not us. We were paid by GT to produce Blood 2. We were given 11 months to do it in. GT was our customer. As our customer, they had every right to take the work that we were doing for them, and ship it whenever they felt was the right time. Certainly, there were many factors involved with regard to why Blood 2 got shipped when it did, but all of those factors were based on GT 's needs and direction, not Monolith's. Monolith did not control the ship date (I wish we did!). Monolith did not hold Blood 2 in the air and say to GT, “We are done! There is nothing more for us to do!” No, all Monolith said to GT was, “Based on the amount of time we were allocated, and the various events that have occurred during development, here is where we are. If you want us to continue, here is what it will cost. We would encourage you to allow us to continue.”

Then, GT shipped Blood 2.

For the most part, this was ok. Blood 2 worked, and most people could play through the entire game and have a good time. PCGamer gave Blood 2 an 80%, which isn't too bad. Blood 2 had some bugs, but it was definitely playable by most people, it's just that over time some exaggeration by a minority of hardcore gamers on various websites have exacerbated the perception of Blood 2's problems - which understandably has lost Monolith some gamer confidence. PLEASE NOTE - I'm not trying to say that Blood 2 didn't have some issues though, it certainly did.

Now, I’m not going to put the blame for those issues solely on GT, or websites, or anything like that. Monolith had its share of bad decisions that contributed to the problem as well:

Over ambitious game design, unchecked team communication with end-users (i.e. a lot of promises got made by Blood 2 team members that shouldn't have been made), severe feature creep (GT wanted us to add stuff), etc.

All these things contributed to the fact that Monolith could not get Blood 2 done and polished in the 11 months allocated. These underestimations are common pitfalls that developers make and wind up needing more time and money to finish their product. Monolith fell right into this trap, and GT was not interested in spending more money for a prolonged development of a product that would have limited success at best (due to the violence and subject matter)

So anyway, there we were at the end of the production cycle, with a Blood 2 product (that GT decided to ship) that really could benefit from some patchwork. Ok, that is fine. Blood 2 is owned by GT, and they can ship and sell whatever they want, whenever they want. Monolith has no say in that. BUT - we all felt that we needed to do something, thusly the Nightmare levels add-on pack was born.

Basically Monolith and GT had the idea to build a simple add-on pack (something that GT was willing to pay for - since it would be an additional product for the channel and perhaps keep Blood 2 evergreen) and during that time, use some of the money they gave us to work on a Blood 2 patch. This sorta worked, as we were able to fix some things, but the bottom line was that Blood 2 was going to need a lot more money if we were going to get it to a truly polished state. That proved to be impossible to accomplish with the small advance we got to do the add-on (which invariably suffered as well).

So after all this was done, GT (having other internal financial issues) pretty much decided that they were done with the Blood franchise. They were not interested in spending any more money on that property at all. End of story.

This left Monolith with 2 options:
1) Monolith could continue to work on patching Blood 2 by using its own money to fix everything, or
2) Monolith could focus on other things that had the potential of making the company money and keeping its employees confident in their job security.

This was my decision to make. I own this. If you want to blame anyone for what was decided, blame me. I'm the CEO.

I decided to have Monolith focus on other things that had the potential of making the company money. Game making may be fun, but it is a business nonetheless. Sometimes, tough business decisions have to be made to survive.

I knew that if we attempted to fix Blood 2, Monolith would run out of money and go out of business. We simply did not have the money to do it. It would have cost Monolith close to $105,000 a month to fix Blood 2 properly, and we were looking at 3 months minimum. NO WAY. Why would I elect to go down that path? If GT (the people who own Blood 2 and the whole franchise) weren't willing to spend that money to support their own product, why would I spend that money (and risk people's job security) to support THEIR product? It doesn't make sense.

You see, what gamers don't understand is that Monolith never received a single dollar from any Blood 2 sale. NEVER. Monolith did not take any gamer's money for Blood 2. Monolith did not put Blood 2 on the shelf and collect the fee. That was GT. If Blood 2 sold through the roof, GT would have made all the money, not Monolith. Our royalty was never going to see the light of day (this is the bad side of the business coming through). Maybe we would have made some money off of Blood 2 after it sold its 600,000th copy, but I knew that there was no way that was going to happen.

So Blood 2 didn't get "fixed" by Monolith on Monolith's dime. Now, if we OWNED the Blood franchise this entire story would be different I assure you. Business models start making more sense when you are the owner. (For example - we own the Sanity and NOLF franchises).

And guess what? Based on that solid business decision (and many others to follow), Monolith is still here today making games. Monolith has never missed a payroll, and everyone who has ever worked productively at Monolith and stayed for a reasonable amount of time has had his or her salary only go up! Monolith has been around now for more than half a decade, and I've seen MANY development companies come and go, not because they made bad games, but because they lacked a good business sense, and were unable to successfully navigate the tough decisions.

I agree that it is certainly nobler for a company to fix a product despite the fact that they are losing money hand over fist because of it. I agree that companies that do that should be appreciated by the gamer and cheered on. I agree that it is a noble idea and it should be something to aspire to in our hearts - BUT I will tell you that a philosophy like that can end your business fast if you are not careful and smart about it. KNOW THIS - Monolith has many new employees working for it that have come from a bunch of these "noble" business that have gone out of business or had severe staff layoffs.

The world can be harsh sometimes. As CEO, part of my job is to be able to look the people I work with in the eye and tell them that their paychecks won't ever bounce, and that they can be confident in the company's financial stability so, "go ahead and buy that house..." The people of Monolith (LithTech included) are my friends and my family and I will do everything I can to ensure their future and give them the opportunity to make great games and technology.

Fixing Blood 2 on Monolith's dime would have killed Monolith. This is a fact. - And for what? To make GT Interactive slightly more money? The answer was "No."

I feel really bad for the gamers that bought Blood 2 and were unable to have fun with it due to bugs. I wish it didn't happen this way, but there was nothing I could do. GT wasn't interested in paying for more development, and I was not going to send 65 families to the unemployment line just so that a minor few could have smooth internet multiplayer, or AI that didn't get stuck in corner, etc.

Basically, Blood 2 just needed more time. Time costs money, and Monolith didn't have a business model with the Blood 2 project that could justify additional work - GT needed to step up, and really they should have because it is their game that they sold.

To be honest though, I don't blame them for dropping it. The overall interest wasn't there for the Blood franchise (except for the Blood community, which r0x0rs).

So there it is (in over simplified fashion). Monolith has certainly taken its lumps for the whole situation, and GT has, well, gone out of business basically (for many reasons), so there you go.
https://web.archive.org/web/20010221193918/http://junkextreme.com/interviews/july2000/lith2.php
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby VGames » Mon Dec 28, 2015 01:39 am

And still those retards from GT won't sell their portion of the Blood franchise. Or am I wrong about that?
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Dec 28, 2015 03:33 am

VGames wrote:And still those retards from GT won't sell their portion of the Blood franchise. Or am I wrong about that?

Oh, they will sell it to you, but for a kings ransom apparently, at least according to Devolver Digital:
https://twitter.com/devolverdigital/sta ... 0443836416

Rather the same problem Monolith had, actually.

The really sad part of this story though is that even their faith in the NOLF rights was misplaced:
http://kotaku.com/the-sad-story-behind- ... 1688358811

Publishers suck.
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby N0t_mINe » Mon Dec 28, 2015 09:50 am

I do believe this was one of the very first blood articles I'd ever linked to. :D

Interestingly, isn't the very first b2 video dated to E3 97'? I know the start date is when the actual contracts get signed, and of course you have to have something to showcase if your meeting with the publishers is going to end with everybody signing stuff.

I understand the reason for the tone of the interview though, surely the rest of you picked up on it. There were some seriously hard feelings after b2's launch. The folks that hung around grew up and got over it. Back in the 90's every computer entertainment frachise was getting stuck with bad contracts, the dot com bubble had busted or was starting to, so the salad days of Myst and doom were gone.

Jace wanted to clear the air for Lithtech's/NOLF's sake,and that was the right move.
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby VGames » Mon Dec 28, 2015 02:06 pm

Yeah I guess the "king's ransom" stems from having nothing left to move forward with. What a bunch of jerks. Give it up already. Its over. U bombed on Blood 2 so give back to the fan base, gain some respect back, and then take your leave from the industry.
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby N0t_mINe » Thu Dec 31, 2015 06:48 am

N0t_mINe wrote:Interestingly, isn't the very first b2 video dated to E3 97'?



Need to walk back that suggestion just a tad. I found the YTs of the blood2 beta and the lithtech demo. There's nothing in them that points to 97, so they're probably from around e3 98, back when lithtech still used 8bit textures.
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby dosgamer000 » Fri Jan 01, 2016 07:07 am

It's a nasty situation solely because the gaming industry lives and breathes money just like any other industry. Blood is great and yes even I liked Blood II but I suppose the right decision was made due to GT giving Monolith a raw deal over the series. In a perfect world the rights would've already been in the hands of some developer and we would've had some sort of spiritual title but eh. Some part of me is resentful towards Monolith because of them going on that FEAR binge but Blood was kind of out of their hands. Just another messed up money tale that resulted in the death of a liked series.
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby VGames » Fri Jan 01, 2016 07:46 pm

It'll be revived one day. I've seen too many forgotten games get reboots for it not to happen. And I've seen too many franchises with p*** poor sequels that lost more money then the cost of the Blood rights that still got more sequels. It's gonna happen.
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby Manhs » Wed Jun 08, 2016 03:41 pm

I hope too..

This story is sad...I don't blame Monolith, i will never !!
They are genius and very creative people who made my favorite fps.

Again, i don't like BLOOD 2 for the style but it's just I have my own preferences and thoughts for videogames, they are really cool and want talk with their fans, and they still make good games and engine.
Hope the best for them! : 3
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby VGames » Thu Jun 09, 2016 03:56 am

Hopefully my mod did some justice.
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby N0t_mINe » Thu Jun 09, 2016 07:40 am

dosgamer000 wrote:It's a nasty situation solely because the gaming industry lives and breathes money just like any other industry. Blood is great and yes even I liked Blood II but I suppose the right decision was made due to GT giving Monolith a raw deal over the series. In a perfect world the rights would've already been in the hands of some developer and we would've had some sort of spiritual title but eh. Some part of me is resentful towards Monolith because of them going on that FEAR binge but Blood was kind of out of their hands. Just another messed up money tale that resulted in the death of a liked series.


I think Vgames is correct on this one dosgamer.
It's only a matter of time before someone with deep pockets goes for the Blood franchise. The money grubbing ways that you've disparaged are ultimately the same forces that insure some big named attempt at a blood game. Just look at all the buzz raised by Jace's last attempt, when "releasing the blood source code" became a meme ever so briefly. Buzz is something an insanely conservative gaming industry loves, there's almost no other way to stand out from a rather title glutted business model.
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby Manhs » Thu Jun 09, 2016 08:11 am

There is no way to get the sourcecode with crowdfunding ? If i understand what Jace Hall said, it seems the copyrights are stuck in some people who are not in monolith, right ? (Atari, Warner?...)

Even if i get nothing, i could pay a lot to help the community to get the sourecode/licence via Monolith people like Jace Hall !....there is no way to do that ? Like getting some informations to prepare something? :/

like a kickstarter to help some guys of the team (like Kevin Kilstrom or some others) to get the licence...i have seen Andrew Hulshult who wanted help for a future OST....it could be awesome...
He made the IDKFA remix album of DOOM (melody+orchestral style). :)
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby tekedon » Sun Jun 12, 2016 11:20 am

Jace is talking like the only problem with Blood 2 was the bugs, yes there were many bugs BUT... The biggest letdown for me was that the atmostphere and feeling from the first game was gone. The jokes were unfunny, the oneliners were s*** and sounded pushed. Weapons felt weak and wrong. Cultists running around in suits, not my cup of tea. Modernising Blood was a huge mistake in my opinion. This is just what I think.. my point is.. the bugs was not the big problem here.
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby Gila » Sun Jun 12, 2016 01:59 pm

This is just what I think.. my point is.. the bugs was not the big problem here.

sure, many people will agree.

however, regardless of what look and atmosphere the game has, it was just almost borderline unplayable due to some bugs. off the top of my head, what i remember:

- if leech or spider sits on your head, you're done, because no matter how i hammered space bar key, they would just not detach. also i would constantly bug through the pipe in one of the first levels and fall through the world, i think it was either museum outside or tenement, it had that pipe filled with leeches that you could barely see.

- the gib system or physics, even most basic ones, were not existant, and even first game had it's own movement feel and physics where you could kick around zombie heads for example, in blood II it's all just paper in the air. gibs stuck in the air, walls, etc... you shoot a guy with a pistol, he gets gibbed. stupid. or other time you would hit a zealot (floating wizard) with a sniper rifle, and he will go flying through the map, and then explode. hillarious.

- fkng fanatics repeating same phrase over and over and over and over again, very apparent first in cabalco research labs, where you hear "you will die a slow slow death" and "come out, we won't hurt you" so many times, you want to shove nails into your ears. all the meanwhile digging through resources shows that monsters had way more phrases to talk while roaming or in pain or in death, why weren't they used? darkact and fx enhancer mods somewhat remedied this.

- alot of other minor quibbles i just dont remember, i just remember that at around time of release it was very very frustrating to try and play blood II. the patches didn't help much, unfortunately.

the game's biggest problem is that it was just undercooked, yes.
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Re: The development of Blood II explained

Postby Tchernobog » Mon Jun 27, 2016 07:44 pm

Sorry for not posting for awhile, been sick as a dog. :cry:

Anyway, this has just shown up on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ib_yTEyXENM

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