Predator: Concrete Jungle – Vivendi – 2005
To test, or not to test…
Predator has the distinction of being both the second and fourth projects on which I worked. We were initially assembled to test the game in summer 2004 toward a December launch, but an unwieldy scope and hefty design changes caused it to be pushed out to 2005. This would be my first lesson in missing a projected ship date.
The game’s original vision was exciting, and I felt tremendously grateful to work on a licensed game of this caliber. Having observed the wild success of open world action games such as Grand Theft Auto III, the company decided that they would take the Predator license and create a similarly action-packed sandbox in which players would not fight the Predator, but be the Predator, hunting prey in the concrete jungles of America. There would be roaming citizens, enemies, cool gadgets, side missions, the works. It sounded fun, cool, and just the kind of project to kick off my career.
So it was a real bummer when the production team decided to cancel testing while they redesigned the game to follow a more linear level-based progression. Each of the original elements would still be incorporated, only now they would be scattered throughout the levels.
In hindsight, it made perfect sense. Their open world map lacked most of its structures, let alone any detailed polish. Performance was poor. The state of the game in August just wasn’t where it should be, so cutting on test costs while they rebuilt from the ground up was the only way to go. It was at this point that I was reassigned to another violent but somehow less exciting project, Fight Club.
Though shaky, the Predator project rolled on and eventually reached stable ground. Many of the original test team that had moved to Fight Club were reassigned to Predator to help test the game into 2005. We were given the closure of helping to see it through to the end. I would not realize until later that the hanging axe of cancellation was not that unusual for the game industry.