Why Pandemic's Batman Game Was Canned, And How It Killed Pandemic AU

Illustration for article titled Why Pandemics Batman Game Was Canned, And How It Killed Pandemic AU

We know Pandemic Brisbane is, for all intents and purposes, no more. We also know they were working on a Batman game that was canned late last year. Now, though, we know a lot more.

New Kotaku AU editor David Wildgoose brings us the story of how the Batman game Pandemic Brisbane were working on not only knocked a giant hole in EA's account books, but ultimately brought about the end of the studio.

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Speaking with a number of Pandemic employees, Wildgoose finds that the game - which ended up being a complete disaster - crashed in on itself due to a combination of the following:

- Pandemic worked out a deal with Warner/DC and EA to make a Batman game. So Pandemic spent six months on pre-production of a Batman game. Then EA came in and said it had to be a Dark Knight game, so most of that six months' work was thrown out.

- EA were forced to rush the project, as their ownership of the Batman rights would expire in December 2008. The game was actually coming along, albeit with major delays, but once December 2008 came and went, that was it.

- Pandemic thought an open-world game would suit the property best. But few, if any staff at Pandemic Brisbane had experience making open-world games.

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- The decision was made to use the same engine being used for Pandemic's upcoming WWII action title Saboteur. It's a pretty engine, but was never built for the kind of open-world game Batman was supposed to be, and this caused a ton of serious technical issues.

So as you can see, it was a combination of cock-ups, from both EA and Pandemic. As for what happens now, that's also explained. A few years back, Pandemic Brisbane was split into two teams; Alpha team got to work on a Wii game with the code name "The Next Big Thing", while Bravo team worked on Batman.

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Bravo team are no more, but at least some of Alpha team remain, and as we reported the other day, retain the rights (at least in some form) to "The Next Big Thing". Only time will tell whether another publisher takes a risk on it.

The full story - and it's really a gripping read for inside baseball fans - below.

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How Pandemic's Dark Knight Turned Into A Nightmare [Kotaku AU]

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DISCUSSION

Based on what Kotaku is reporting, both Pandemic and EA is to be blamed. Let's look at each point carefully...

Pandemic worked out a deal with Warner/DC and EA to make a Batman game. So Pandemic spent six months on pre-production of a Batman game. Then EA came in and said it had to be a Dark Knight game, so most of that six months' work was thrown out.

This is clearly EA's fault. The overwhelming success of the movie, Dark Knight, convinced EA to backtrack. What I can't understand is the following point that Kotaku posted...

EA were forced to rush the project, as their ownership of the Batman rights would expire in December 2008. The game was actually coming along, albeit with major delays, but once December 2008 came and went, that was it.

If the ownership of the right expired at DEC 2008, EA should have done a cost-benefit analysis to see if it was worth forcing Pandemic to work on a Dark Knight game. This is something they should have done FIRST before forcing Pandemic to throw out most of their pre-production plans of a Batman game. EA could have also negotiated with Warner/DC to extend the license if they believe that their sales forecast of a Dark Knight game will overshadow the extra cost of extending the license.

Pandemic thought an open-world game would suit the property best. But not a single person at Pandemic Brisbane had experience making open-world games.

This is just poor planning. Apparently, Pandemic doesn't know what kind of people they hired. How can you not know your own employees' ability? They should have focus on what they were capable of instead of trying to think outside of the box that can not be backed up (especially when EA is rushing you to finish a game with most of your pre-production plans are trashed).

The decision was made to use the same engine being used for Pandemic's upcoming WWII action title Saboteur. It's a pretty engine, but was never built for the kind of open-world game Batman was supposed to be, and this caused a ton of serious technical issues.

Why are you trying to use an incompatible engine for? It helps no one. Look at Last Remanant by Square-Enix. Notice how they tried to FORCE the Unreal 3 engine to the game? As a result, the game suffered. It looks like visuals is more important than depth of a gameplay. You would think studios would learn their lesson when crappy games set precedent on why visuals alone results to failure (*cough*Gungrave*cough*The Bouncer*cough*).

So there you have it. Both parties are to be blamed...Feel free to flame me if you think I'm wrong or add something to what I have written.