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Tycho / on Mon, Jul 27 2015 at 12:01 am

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Grace, Part Four

Grace, Part 4 can be found here.

I don’t KNOW know Adrian Chmielarz, partly because he lives super far away in Poland.  I’ve just played his games - mainly Painkiller, Bulletstorm, and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter - and liked all three of them.  The last one there - the Vanishing one - just came out on PS4.  But you already beat it when came out on PC months ago, like a cool person.  Right?  Here we go.

Adrian, before we continue, I have always wanted to know how to pronounce Chmielarz.  I’m going to write out how I think it would sound, just so you can laugh at me:  Cha-mee-larz.  I assume that’s incorrect.

Yes, that’s incorrect ;) Do this:

1. Go to https://translate.google.pl/#en/pl/Chmielarz
2. (Right side translation should be set to Polish)
3.  Click on the speaker icon to listen to the voice.
4.  (Should be something like Hmye-lash)
5.  (Yes it’s weird, but in Polish “Ch” and “H” are the same)

I don’t know if it’s still traumatic to talk about, but can we talk about Bulletstorm?  I’ll go, and then you.  Bulletstorm is one of my favorite games of all time, and one of the reasons I still have a 360 plugged in is just in case I want to play Bulletstorm.  I feel like I’m the only one who understands this game.  I want to call out the Anarchy multiplayer in particular, as there’s simply nothing else like it.  Years later, I still think about it.  I try to get people to plug their own 360s back in.  I offer to buy them a copy.  It’s like that.

One of my favorite things in creative work is the “Satire That Also Functions As A Solid Example Of The Form.”  It’s my opinion that Bulletstorm does this: it subverts action games pretty hard, while simultaneously acting as an innovative exemplar.  There’s a moment near the end of the campaign where the sustained, sort of goofy mask drops completely off - and it was all the more stark because of it.  Basically what I’m saying is that I still really like Bulletstorm.  Whatever else it might have meant, do you still like Bulletstorm?

Bulletstorm is to me like an ex you’re still in love with. So many great memories, so much pain.

The game was nearly four years of hard work. Every developer works hard, but I and some other people worked on it hard even by game development standards. It’s not just the hours, it’s the mental investment. You live and breathe the project for almost four years.

It all seemed worth it. We had financial analysts arguing if it sells 4M or “only” 3M, and we got amazing reviews. The game was ready. It’s PCF, it’s Epic, it’s EA, it’s Rick Remender, it’s a damn fun game to experience. It couldn’t fail.

But then, of course, it did. First day (or was it a week?) sales data came in, and pfffffffffffprt. Lukewarm is the word. Not a disaster, but far away from ever seeing the sequel.

For months I obsessed over what happened. I think I know. But it doesn’t matter, the game just didn’t sell enough and that’s it.

I also kept second guessing myself after the release. I loved our dialogue. I fought for our dialogue. But then you read some people claim it’s a “bro game” and you start doubting yourself. Is it that they didn’t get it, or did you just make a bro game?

I like to think it was not all in vain, though. The experience, the know-how, the contacts, the press. Lots of lessons learned. And ultimately people got the game. Suddenly almost everybody loves it. I mention Bulletstorm and I get flooded with messages on how it’s the greatest shooter of the last generation or how it’s a shame not enough people bought it. If we did a better job and got to all these people earlier, we’d be discussing Bulletstorm 3 today.

Do I like Bulletstorm? Yes. It frustrates me the game is out of my hands, even if I never really owned it. I’d remove the GFWL and re-release it as $20 HD remake for the current gen. I don’t think it deserves to stay abandoned like it is now.

Adrian


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