Harvey Smith and Blacksite

Another day, another controversy! One I feel the need to stick my size 10′s in just because I’ve got a big mouth.

Actually, that’s really what this one is about.

To recap – my good friend and creative director at Midway Austin, Harvey Smith (late of Ion Storm and driving force behind the Deus Ex series) did a post mortem at the MIGS (Montreal International Game Summit) conference where he talked about the poor showing of Blacksite, and game he was responsible for overseeing.

Basically Harvey was pretty brutally honest about what he thought the problems were singling himself out for some of the blame. He used some terminology that, unfortunately got singled out and quoted out of context and used for headlines on gaming websites because, well, because it was screaming out for it really.

This is a good example

So, where his comments, where he basically laid into some of the technology sharing decisions at Midway, and also some of the execs who pressured them to release an unfun and un pretty game right or wrong? Was he right to even say them?

I don’t know the in’s and outs of Midway and the Austin group, so I won’t presume to judge on the former, save to say if all was even 10% of what Harvey was talking about, then some of the wrong people are making decisions there. Obviously the game was sub par, so something is wrong somewhere.

The more interesting part for me was whether or not Harvey should be making these kinds of comments at all? Is it appropriate for someone high up to be bitching like this in public and calling some of the people he works for, basically, incompetent?

How does this help? Will it increase the sales of the game (unlikely). Will it foster better relations between Midway and the rest of the world (Very unlikely – who wants to go work somewhere that is ‘fucked up’?). Will it make Midway make better games in the future (probably not, although probably not something that should concern Harvey too much since I could see this being deemed a let-go-able offense).

So is there any justification? Doesn’t sound like it, does it?

But I think there is.

I think this kind of publically calling incompetence is absolutely whats needed. The game failed, and very publically too. The fault was somewhere. Lets get down to it so other developers can stay away from bad approaches

I don’t have a problem personally with anything Harvey had to say (Besides the “I didn’t care as much about this project” – Dude, you are paid to care. Admitting you don’t means you are phoning it in. While it’s great you are taking responsibility you aren’t doing yourself or your employers, or, indeed, anyone else, any good by saying that. You just make everyone look bad). I have issue with how it was said, and as is so much of life these days, most people are more interested in the how of whats presented, rather than the what.

Harvey used the words ‘fucked up’ and viola, instant notoriety. The whole thing suddenly becomes about “what he said” meaning “how he said it”, rather than the core things he was complaining about.

I think Harvey spoke from the heart, and these things need to be addressed at Midway and they need to be talked about. I just think he used the wrong words, a fact he himself has agreed with.

There is nothing wrong with calling things out. It’s all in how you do it.

Of course Harvey has just given himself incredible credibility within the game buying public. Just not with his employers.

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