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Metro: Last Light
Metro: Last Light Devs 4A Games Endured Horrific Working Conditions, Says Ex-THQ President
Written Thursday, May 16, 2013 By Lee Bradley
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Former THQ president Jason Rubin has revealed the tough working conditions 4A Games endured while working on Metro: Last Light, in a statement published on GamesIndustry.biz.

Rubin took over control at THQ towards the end of the publisher’s life, at a time when the writing was already on the wall. Within a matter of months the company had collapsed.

One of the studios Rubin oversaw during that period was Ukrainian outfit 4A Games, which was working on Metro: Last Light, a game subsequently picked up by Deep Silver. 

Apparently, during development the studio endured power cuts, poor equipment, poor guidance from THQ and a small budget. They also had to smuggle dev kits and expensive tech into the country.

“It is unfortunate that Prof [Creative Director Andrew Prokhorov], Dean Sharpe, and the rest of the team at 4A won't receive appropriate credit for their achievement in releasing Metro: Last Light,” said Rubin.

“Let's be honest: 4A was never playing on a level field. The budget of Last Light is less than some of its competitors spend on cut scenes, a mere 10 percent of the budget of its biggest competitors. Yet it is lauded for its story and atmosphere.  

“It is built on a completely original and proprietary second-generation engine that competes with sequels that have stopped numbering themselves, with more engineers on their tech than 4A has on the entire project. Yet its tech chops are never in question.

“And all of this is compounded by the conditions this Ukrainian team works under in Kiev. The entire 4A studio would fit easily in the (underutilized) gym at EA Los Angeles' offices. Yet Last Light's Metacritic score blows away Medal of Honor: Warfighter.  

“As undeniably fantastic as competitor BioShock Infinite may be, the team was given whatever resources they needed to make the title. At the same time, 4A's staff sat on folding wedding chairs, literally elbow to elbow at card tables in what looks more like a packed grade school cafeteria than a development studio.

“When 4A needed another dev kit, or high-end PC, or whatever, someone from 4A had to fly to the States and sneak it back to the Ukraine in a backpack lest it be ‘seized’ at the border by thieving customs officials.”

According to Rubin, he even failed to buy some decent chairs for 4A, thanks to the unfortunate conditions in Ukraine. 

“Our only option was to pack a truck in Poland and try to find an ‘expediter’ to help bribe its way down to Kiev,” he said. 

“We gave up not because this tripled the cost, but because we realized that the wider Aeron chairs would require spreading out people and computers, which would lead to extra desks, and that ultimately would have required bigger offices. Yes, really. 

“I truly enjoyed Far Cry 3, which deserved its great reviews. But how many times did Ubisoft Montreal lose power for hours or days during development? Power outages are the norm for 4A. 

“Montreal is cold, but when it gets cold in Kiev it's different,” he continued. “That's because the government provides all of the heating through a central coal burning facility that pipes hot water to homes and offices. Unfortunately, it breaks down reliably a few times a year for a week at a time.

“Then 4A works in their parkas and struggles to keep their fingers warm in temperatures well below freezing. That is unless it snows and they get stuck home for a few days at a time because snow clearing isn't up to Western standards."

“The only thing for which 4A is getting more credit than I think they deserve is the creativity behind the ever frightening, dark, post apocalyptic environment of the game," said Rubin. "I've been in Kiev to visit the team, so I know they just stepped outside for reference. 

“That last paragraph is a humorous exaggeration, of course, but there's truth behind the lie. 

“One evening when Dean Sharpe arrived at his apartment after a long day at the office a dangerous looking Georgian man and his three-car armed entourage greeted him. Dean was told that, lease be damned, he had a day to clear out and find a new apartment.”

Rubin also pointed towards the “irrational requirements” of THQ, including instructing 4A to include a co-op and multiplayer mode in Last Light within the same small budget.

“If 4A had been given a more competitive budget, in a saner environment, hadn't wasted a year-plus chasing the irrational requirement of THQ's original producers to fit multiplayer and co-op into the same deadline and budget, hadn't had to deal with the transition to a new publisher in the crucial few months before final, what could 4A have created?

“I can only imagine, and I am looking forward to playing it.”

Rubin concluded by saying, “4A is to developers what the Jamaican Bobsledding team is to Olympic sport. The Jamaicans may not have won the gold in 1994, but they beat the Americans who had far more going for them... like winter coats and bobsledding tracks to train on.”

“It is a true testament to the raw skill and potential of the team. Ultimately, it is a desire for the recognition of 4A's talent that drove me to write this. You may know that I have a history of talking about developer recognition. These guys need recognition.”

You can read our Metro: Last Light review, in which we question the influence of THQ on the game, here.




 
 

User Comments

Forum Posts: 10
Comment #1 by onidemon
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 07:49:24 AM
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That is beyond ridiculous........shame on THQ


Forum Posts: 1
Comment #2 by SilentAaron94
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 07:54:54 AM
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Wow. I might pick this up just to support these guys.


Forum Posts: 410
Comment #3 by FPS GLIMMER
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 07:58:08 AM
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I think its a pretty decent game. Deserves higher than a 70 that this site gave it.


Forum Posts: 212
Comment #4 by O0mix0O
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 07:58:12 AM
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Wow. Makes their accomplishment even more impressive. I hope they get picked up by someone who can provide power reliably :P


Forum Posts: 146
Comment #5 by agentnnc
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 08:04:57 AM
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@3 a decent score is a 70. It got what it deserved.


Forum Posts: 88
Comment #6 by Blumpenstein
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 08:16:37 AM
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Damn dude...


Forum Posts: 363
Comment #7 by mr wong tong
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 08:18:26 AM
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Not sure what to make of this. On the one hand these guys worked really hard and put effort into a game they wanted people to love.

On the other this is basically telling us this game isn't at all what it could have been and wasn't really given the care needed at all and that makes me think back to aliens cm.

To buy or not to buy. That is the question.


Forum Posts: 813
Comment #8 by XxStuartxX 1990
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 08:20:29 AM
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I suppose it put then in character for making the game.


Forum Posts: 7105
Comment #9 by Opiate42
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 08:23:53 AM
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@ 4 - not sure how much bribery would be involved in getting offices in Kiev with reliable and consistent electrical, then being able to hold onto the space keeping it away from the mafia once it's setup, that may be beyond anyone.


Forum Posts: 97
Comment #10 by sticks117
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 08:24:15 AM
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Well THQ got what was coming to them; hard to think that situations like this still happen in the developed world. Either way this game is a testament to the skill and spirit of 4A's prowess and determination.


Forum Posts: 38
Comment #12 by WRENCHO
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 08:45:57 AM
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my god... thankyou for stickn through the bullshit 4A cuz this game is awesome


Forum Posts: 188
Comment #13 by tiger 1
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 08:47:57 AM
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I'm playing this game now. It's a good game even they give you a free DLC with ranger Mode However, the game is starting to do freeze ups for no apparent reason. I haven't seen any glitches so far and I am coming to the end of the game. with this said, you can expereince some of the 4A short cutting in the game overall it is still a good game I recommend either buy or rent your choice.


Forum Posts: 4
Comment #14 by mikefizzled
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 08:50:55 AM
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I'm a little pleased to see that THQ went south if they tried to force co-op AND multiplayer on what sounds to be much worse conditions than most indie studios.

Shame 4A came under fire for the whole ranger pack saga. I would happily donate money to them if it means Deep Silver see none of it.


Forum Posts: 46
Comment #15 by Hayabusa66
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 08:52:38 AM
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Having played just 3 Hours so far i am deeply impressed ... its awsome.
Really Guys you should buy this game not only to support 4A but to show that a big budget does not make a good game. I am so sick of the AAA Crap that defines " Games " nowadays.


Forum Posts: 80
Comment #16 by Calib4n
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 09:03:31 AM
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I will be buying this game to show support.


Forum Posts: 8
Comment #17 by HumanDestroyer
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 09:15:26 AM
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I will be buying this game, i enjoyed the first one but didn't really understand the whole next step in human evolution angle with the monsters and stuff to be honest.
But yeah i enjoyed it so i will be playing this.


Forum Posts: 287
Comment #18 by THC BLUNTED
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 09:44:52 AM
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Damn its a shame that 4A had to go through this shit. They are given a tiny budget to make a game that is competiting with games like Bioshock infinite that has bascially an unlimited budget. It really makes me wonder what 4A is capable of with a AAA budget.

Metro 2033 is a very good game that interjected a breath of fresh air with all of the generic FPS's out there. Now I am wondering what kind of budget did they have to make 2033?

After reading this I think I am gonna go out and get me a copy of Last Light, we need to support games like this, just like #15 said.


Forum Posts: 9
Comment #19 by flyboy080498
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 10:18:31 AM
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After playing the game before reading this, I was really ambivalent toward the game. It has its moments of shinning glory and its deeply problematic parts that should have been addressed. However, after reading this article (and linking back to a few other references through Google searches) this game is highly impressive on the budget and conditions that the developers faced with THQ nearing the end. I hope that 4A sees a better future with Deep Silver emerging as a bigger player in the market now.

This game should be supported. With some light shed (no pun intended) on why the problems are in the game, I would whole-heartedly recommend buying a new copy of this game.


Forum Posts: 755
Comment #20 by Hurricane Of 87
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 10:20:43 AM
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“Then 4A works in their parkas and struggles to keep their fingers warm in temperatures well below freezing. That is unless it snows and they get stuck home for a few days at a time because snow clearing isn't up to Western standards."

Neither is England's.


Forum Posts: 108
Comment #21 by Slayinfool
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 10:36:59 AM
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Hard mode enabled


Forum Posts: 174
Comment #22 by speed gun
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 10:40:26 AM
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havent played the game but might get it later on. first was good.
really impressive to be able to make games with such small budgets. if i was a publisher i'd get these guys as a studio. now i wonder if we will find out the actul amount of money spent on the game.


Forum Posts: 290
Comment #23 by FroZeNSouL
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 11:30:33 AM
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While moved by this, and now wanting to support,
I doubt the devs will see a penny.
Id rather lean over n give each one £5


Forum Posts: 1144
Comment #24 by Zombiedrd
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 12:29:56 PM
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The devs coming out of the Czech republic, Ukraine, Russia, and other Eastern European nations are really impressing me. They are releasing quality titles with half or less the budget that North American and Western European companies have. While the West is recycling the same trash over and over and Japanese games are just lol these days. Really looking to Eastern Europe now.


Forum Posts: 210
Comment #25 by High Lord Sigma
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 12:45:44 PM
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I should also point out that, as implied by the bit about Dean Sharpe being forced out of his apartment by mobsters, Ukraine is one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Its score on the 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index is 26/100, tying it for 144th place out of 176 countries. To give you an idea, its score is equal to Syria's and lower than Mexico, Iran, Lebanon, and most African countries.


Forum Posts: 499
Comment #26 by AirborneRichard
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 01:21:39 PM
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The score this site is given is kinda correct, they not based it on graphics or gameplay alone, there are issues with this game like forced to restart your xbox360 as it tends to freeze up sometimes, there are graphical glitches like texture pop-ups ect. And ofcourse bad IA programming. This seems nothing realy the PS3 gamers have even a worser game, they sometimes encounter IA enemies that just freeze and not do anything at all. So based on all this i think xbox360achievements.org gave it a correct score, and its not the only site given a random 7.0 score to be honest, IGN did the same based on just those issues, as they loved the game itself and the story. I think A4 isn,t to blame that much as working under these conditions isn,t fun at def takes of their focus, shame as it could be so much better in terms of those issues if they fixed it beforehand.


Forum Posts: 36
Comment #27 by harvy hardcore
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 01:40:25 PM
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Yeah I'm gonna buy this used to show my support to dev


Forum Posts: 6
Comment #28 by FELLOW HASLEY 18
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 02:00:03 PM
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YEAH BECAUSE OF PREORDER DLC WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALREADY IN THE GAME SELLING IT FOR 5$


Forum Posts: 6
Comment #29 by Austinfilm
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 02:49:39 PM
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"The entire 4A studio would fit easily in the (underutilized) gym at EA Los Angeles' offices."

"underutilized"...BURN!


Forum Posts: 118
Comment #30 by Cyano Khaar
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 03:56:57 PM
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And Last Light is one of the better games of this generation even with all of those awful conditions. It shows that you don't need millions of dollars and thousands of people to make a great game.


Forum Posts: 2395
Comment #31 by bigbear2face
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 04:16:11 PM
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@3 If you change your perspective and look at this site's grade as a 7/10 instead of a 70/100 you may change your mind.

Just because certain gaming publications like to inflate grades so that every "good" game has to be an 8.5/10 or higher doesn't mean that everyone else has to inflate their scores.

A 70/100 is a solid score from a truly objective reviewer. A 70/100 or a 7/10 score from an objective review means the game is still a "good" game.


Forum Posts: 86
Comment #32 by BurntToast
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 06:11:19 PM
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I think it is a front to redirect the flack they have been getting for taking "ranger mode" out of the game and charging $5 for it if you don't per-order.

"Let's play the sympathy for the developers card and see where that gets us."


Forum Posts: 28
Comment #33 by TotalBlank
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 07:22:26 PM
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I never ever considered buying this because I think the horror and frightening genre is laughable, now just because of this moving story and how much effort these guys put into making this, I'll probably pick it up so they can at least say they were able to have a meal at the end of the day from my small contribution.


Forum Posts: 96
Comment #34 by BruinsFTW
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 08:17:56 PM
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I had this pre-ordered..Wanted this since it got announced. Loved 2033. I'll be picking it up on 360 as well. Got in on PC cause graphically on PC this game is gorgeous. Almost done with 1st play through and I'm impressed, and loving it. Theres some small problems and glitches but the story and gameplay are great...

Sad to hear they had to deal with these conditions, they should be proud of their work tho, they made an amazing game with shit conditions and low budget. Props to them. Someone pick these guys up.


Forum Posts: 11
Comment #35 by SpectrumFlash
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 09:16:36 PM
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I'll get this to support them. Not only that, but because this game looks amazing. I was thinking between Dead Island: Riptide or Metro: Last Light, and after reading this, Metro shall win.


Forum Posts: 1685
Comment #36 by EMP
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 09:22:53 PM
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They made a decent game on a pretty shit budget. Amazing what they could actually do with a real budget.

Maybe a company in the future will give these guys a bigger budget and the proper working conditions so they can make a new badass Metro or new IP for the next console.


Forum Posts: 0
Comment #37 by mvz3rovm
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 09:38:48 PM
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I am not surprised about devs awful conditions.... I may take "Metro Last Night", "Metro 2033" was a really great surprise for me at the time!


Forum Posts: 28
Comment #38 by ArnaldoDK
Friday, May 17, 2013 @ 01:32:20 AM
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One of the best games i have play, one of the best of 2013 with tomb raider and bioshock infinite...


Forum Posts: 58
Comment #39 by SFAL
Friday, May 17, 2013 @ 03:38:13 PM
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Hey. April was last month.


Forum Posts: 59
Comment #40 by mavryk
Friday, May 17, 2013 @ 04:58:25 PM
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Proves that a good story will out,sick of overblown superhyped shooters that cost more than a hollywood film to make but suffer ultimately as the only way they can make the cash back is to almost completely remove the single player and rely on turgid multiplayer,online is dying folks,its just the same boring thing everytime.


Forum Posts: 44
Comment #41 by Solomon Fuere
Friday, May 17, 2013 @ 09:36:17 PM
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Such is life in The Zone.


Forum Posts: 4
Comment #42 by XoKLOWNxKILLAoX
Saturday, May 18, 2013 @ 12:58:11 PM
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Sega... take note!

If you ever have the inclination to attempt another Aliens game, consider using the talents of 4A instead of Gearbox... and you won't end up with another abomination and waste of money like Colonial Marines


Forum Posts: 6
Comment #43 by revolix
Sunday, May 19, 2013 @ 10:52:57 AM
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this game is fantastic and honestly so many people are complaining about the ranger mode being sold as dlc. first off its only 560 msps. but regardless its sold in all first edition copies. most people that buy it to begin with are fans and will get the game mode. and the other people who dont will buy it at a cheaper price or used and they can get the mode for a little more than 5 bucks. this game is incredible, the level of details ranging from watching npc's talk about their lives, and the emotional connection with even the most unimportant character that's waiting on line to get away from quarantine but because he has no papers and his entire family and friends were killed and no one could identify him they couldn't help him, it just immersed me into the game. the writing is fantastic, and just to hear that this dev made such a great game under those conditions with an in house engine that is on par with most triple A titles is mind boggling. I really hope some publisher or dev sees their potential and what they could accomplish with a real budget and better working conditions and takes them on. I am excited to see what 4A does in the next gen, and I really hope they can survive as a team to make another game, hopefully another metro.


Forum Posts: 6
Comment #44 by revolix
Sunday, May 19, 2013 @ 10:59:26 AM
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and i haven't had many bugs or glitches with the game either. I mean some randomly spawning enemies, or during the monologues between missions it would freeze, but only for a few seconds. I never had to restart my xbox or anything that would affect me in game (i did install the game to my HDD, but idk if that makes much of a difference with this game). I saw the ign review and they said something about enemies that randomly would crouch and sit there, and made it seem like that was a bug which it isn't. Some of the enemies will throw down their weapons, (some will beg for their lives while others just sit there), it plays into the morality system where you have a choice to only kill by necessity but if you chose to execute the unarmed men it is held against you. I just think this game has a lot of little details that make this not like every other shooter. I always saw metro 2033 and wanted to play it, and I knew last light was coming out so last week I decided to pick up metro 2033 and preorder last light and I am so happy that I did.


Forum Posts: 8
Comment #45 by bblue2344
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 05:03:28 AM
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Im gonna go out and buy 5 copies and give them away to my friends. I absolutely loved this game and appreciated the work of 4A even before reading about the immense challenge they took on to bring us this amazing experience. I guess this means our ranger achievements arent getting patched now :( lol but after hearing this im definitely willing to cut them more than a little slack. Does anyone know of a fan site or a way to compliment these crazy Ukranians?


Forum Posts: 8
Comment #46 by bblue2344
Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 05:12:24 AM
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@32 AND #28 Yo u ignoramuses need to do a little research before pointing the finger at 4A, as if they aren't experiencing enough abuse from dumb people. 4A wanted to include ranger mode in the game for free but Deep Silver forced them to release it as dlc and charge extra and 4A chose to charge $5 which is the minimum fee for dlc. Theyre not like gearbox charging $15 for a lame borderlands character.


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Game Info
Developer:
4A Games
Publisher:
Deep Silver
Genre:

Release:

US May 14, 2013
Europe May 17, 2013

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