Harvey Smith on Blacksite Area 51
"This project was so fucked up," said Smith, by way of explanation.
Smith spent the last few minutes of his speech on a postmortem of the game. In part, he blames himself for Blacksite's less-than-warm critical reception.
Before it was released, Blacksite garnered some fame for its political message. It wasn't going to just give a general statement on morality or politics: Blacksite was supposed to be a first person shooter with a satirical look at the war in Iraq, the treatment of veterans and the whole military industrial complex.
However, it was only in the last twelve months of work on the game that those political themes took shape.
At first, the game just didn't intrigue Smith. "I wasn't excited about this Area 51 game," he said. While making the game, Smith was overseeing two projects, and Area 51 was not his favorite. That didn't help, and he accepts some fault. "We got hammered so hard, and we deserved it."
"Everyone was forced to share tech. It took eight months to get one thing working." He wouldn't specify what that one thing was, but did note that technical problems set the team back, time and time again. Another of Smith's complaints was "the fact that we had four days to orange box something," meaning to fix and polish a level. Smith called this "completely reprehensible."
That lack of polish, of being able to sit with a final product and make sure it is up to the standards they wanted, was one of the biggest problems for Blacksite and for Smith. "With a year to go, the game was disastrously off rails."
There were long delays just getting Blacksite playable, and once it was he says, "it went straight from alpha to final."
GameTap is reporting Harvey Smith has left Midway Austin after making some very public waves in Montreal, calling Blacksite: Area 51's production "f*cked up." Although he took "personal accountability," he also pointed at Midway saying the project went from alpha to final in a "completely reprehensible" fashion.
GameTap says their source confirmed Smith's departure was "by mutual agreement between Harvey and the studio." Smith became creative director at Midway Austin after previously working at the now defunct Ion Storm on Deus Ex. Conspiracy theorists believe Smith made his statements to get fired by Midway so he could try and work on the recently announced Deus Ex 3 at Eidos Montreal.