As is usual for a developer starting a major IP, the project started out as a "dream project", with some of the crew having "played it since the original King's Bounty on Commodore 64."
Things started to allegedly go south in 2008, when "during the contract negotiation process, UBI business decision makers didn't want to hear about making it into the contract that in case of any UBI delays there would be any penalty for UBI. This was a stupid decision of a business development boss (she said "UBI would never be late with any deliverables".... HAHAHA)."
The developer received what they considered false reassurances from UbiSoft ("no worries, guys, there would be more time and budget, just do what we say") when cuts were made as UbiSoft delayed development.
"It was then that one faction, Academy had been removed from the content list, as well as many other things. And then, at half of the development, (Ubisoft senior producer Romain de Waubert) suddenly quit, (producer Erwan LeBreton) was removed from the project - he was "elevated" to the position of Might and Magic Brand Director, which meant his direct involvement in the development was over -, and BH was left there with the blame. Just an example, the final story script - which was UBI responsibility - was delivered to BH after 27 months... while originally there was 24 months for the whole development. No comment."
The developer then accused, "BH used up all its 6 months reserves just to be able to finish the project... this was more than 1 million Euros!!! And they (we) did this knowing it would never be payed back, as royalty would only be paid after 2M Heroes sold at full price. We all knew 2M copies would never be sold (neither at full price nor at reduced price), still we wanted to finish the project."
The team then, according to the developer, worked without compensation because they wanted the studio to survive Heroes VI. Even then, the game, which included 1.5-2 million lines in the source code, was buggy, ad part of it was, according to the developer, UbiSoft constantly adding new features, leading to the inevitable feature creep.
The developer listed the following examples of what the studio added at their own cost to make the game better:
* Town screen (we hate the current version, but it is still better then the "let's make a screen shot from the adventure map 3D town and use it as a town screen" that UBI wanted - we could have made a much better one, but didn't have money and time). * Additional ingame cutscenes (I know cutscenes are not great, but again, we received the story after 27 months... we only had a couple months to make the cutscenes from scratch, and a very limited budget - and I think that the overall visual quality of the game proves to anyone that we could have made really great cutscenes if we had had the time and budget). * 300 unique Combat Maps (there were 20 in the contract) * 3D animated Main Menu (UBI wanted a simple still image) * Additional NPCs * Campaign Overview Map (Campaign Window)
* Additional ingame cutscenes (I know cutscenes are not great, but again, we received the story after 27 months... we only had a couple months to make the cutscenes from scratch, and a very limited budget - and I think that the overall visual quality of the game proves to anyone that we could have made really great cutscenes if we had had the time and budget).
* 300 unique Combat Maps (there were 20 in the contract)
* 3D animated Main Menu (UBI wanted a simple still image)
* Additional NPCs
* Campaign Overview Map (Campaign Window)
He then accused UbiSoft of giving them less resources, no fullscreen town screens, only five factions - which he blamed as a consequence of the continuous delays of UBI deliverables - and a creature pool.
The developer went on to note other developers who worked under UbiSoft who refused to work with the publisher anymore, including Capibara (Clash of Heroes), Eugene Systems (R.U.S.E), and Techland, whom he notes only completed 47% of Call of Juarez: The Cartez, which was thoroughly savaged in reviews for being an incomplete mess.
To top it off, "We heard the UBI guys blame those developers (and Nival) many times... I guess BH was blamed the same way to those developers."
UbiSoft has yet to respond to the rumors.
Black Hole developer blasts UbiSoft's actions during Heroes VI development
17 April 2012 | By JonahFalcon
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- Might & Magic Heroes VI