In the Olympics, the Jamaican bobsledding team is famed for beating out countries who had a number of advantages over the Jamaican team—like winter coats and bobsledding tracks for training. Sure, the Jamaican team didn't come in first, but the fact they were competitive in the first place was amazing.
4A Games, the developers behind Metro: Last Light, are kind of like that Jamaican bobsledding team. In a recent article at Games Industry, former THQ executive Jason Rubin described the supposed ridiculous working conditions under which 4A Games developed Metro: Last Light.
It's difficult not to look at the game with awe when you consider that it had "10 percent of the budget of its biggest competitors," that 4A Games had to sneak dev kits through Ukrainian customs, that they had to deal with armed thugs, or that they had to bribe people to try to get decent office chairs. To top all that off, they also had to deal with constant power outages, according to Rubin.
"Power outages are the norm for 4A," Rubin explained. "All developers have deadlines, but I know of few that had to bring in construction generators to be able to work the weekend before final submission because an extra day meant missing shelf dates by weeks. Montreal is cold, but when it gets cold in Kiev it's different. 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."
Nevermind the difficulties in continuing to work on the game, this type of setback also meant having to deal with keeping warm.
Despite all of this, Metro: Last Light is a game worth playing—making 4A Games, in a way, much like the Jamaican Bobsledding team. Lots of disadvantages, and sure, Metro: Last Light isn't the absolute best shooter out there. But it's good, and if this stuff is all true, it's kind of crazy that it was able to get made in the first place.
UPDATE: video depicting at least part of the offices at 4A Games shows that while they're working in a small space, it still doesn't seem as bad as Rubin made it sound.
Jason Rubin: Metro: Last Light is the "triumph of an underdog" [Games Industry]