Perfect Dark

This is the debut project from The Initiative, the Santa Monica studio that MS started a couple years ago. It’s a Rare IP, but this time made in California.

You build a new “AAAA” studio with all the top talent you can find, why do you chain them to a dead IP with no modern value like Perfect Dark? This is the second time they’ve done this, after creating Black Tusk to be their standard bearers of new IP, only to saddle them with the sagging weight of Gears. It’s this kind of thing that makes me doubt the executive leadership at Xbox.


Say it ain’t so, Brad!

Just announced: Crystal Dynamics is co-developing the reboot.

Well … I liked the Tomb Raider reboot games so I guess it’s good news?

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of what was supposed to be Microsoft’s new super-studio.

That’s definitely one way of looking at it.

Here’s an article that goes into the MS/Crystal Dynamics partnership a bit more. Getting their help is faster and easier than hiring up several hundred developers (apparently the Initiative is about 75 employees), and the head of the Initiative came from Crystal Dynamics so they probably seemed like a natural fit. But who knows, maybe MS doesn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground and are outsourcing all the work.

Hiring a company that hasn’t made a first-person shooter since 2005 on PlayStation 2 just because you know the people that work there sure is a thing.

It feels like The Initiative has been working on this game for years now, and it keeps sounding like it’s not getting closer.

I have a good friend over there, but I’m not getting any weird smoke signals.

It just seems that this game is going to really need to perform well to justify all the expectation and dev time.

The Halo Infinite debacle must be driving some of this approach, right?

Who knows? We’ve probably got several years to speculate about it though.

I mean, the name carries a hell of a lot of weight with anyone who played the original, but the 360 game never set the world on fire (far from it), so it’s really hard to gauge how much people really care about Perfect Dark in the 2020s. That said, any first person shooter will always be under a microscope.

Even the original perfect dark had massive problems in terms of playability. The N64 didn’t have the juice to push a consistent frame rate, which made the game feel really bad compared to Goldeneye in multiplayer. Perfect dark, even in low resolution mode, dropped to 6 fps in multiplayer. Yes, that is not a typo. That is six frames per second.

It had some really cool ideas though.

Latest rumor is that since Crystal Dynamics is now helping on Perfect Dark, it’s a project that’s further behind than the new Tomb Raider reboot.

So maybe TR in late 2024 and Perfect Dark in late 2025?

It’s absolutely insane how long PD is taking. They revealed it over two years ago and absolutely nothing since. That reveal wasn’t even gameplay, it was just basically concept art and designers talking about it. And the studio was founded in 2018, so we’re looking at two years of work at that point.

It was one of the best games to emulate for that reason, and the X360 remake has got to be one of the all-time great updates, even if it clocks in as a classic itself these days. I can go back and play Perfect Dark today in a way that I can’t with Goldeneye.

Are franchise reboots not a thing in gaming the way they are in movies?

IGN is reporting that the reboot is still at least three years out, XBOX is very hands-off, and that Certain Affinity, the team who led development on an earlier version of Bioshock 4, used to be involved as a co-developer but are no longer part of the project.

Why? The answer isn’t glamorous, but rather wrapped up in the realities of game development. The project has seen roadblock after roadblock, with problems such as a fraught co-development partnership, a pandemic, technological challenges, an ongoing exodus of significant talent, and unclear direction from management keeping the game in development limbo. And while a new partnership with Crystal Dynamics appears to finally be bearing fruit, multiple sources who have worked on the game recently say that Perfect Dark is still “in the earliest stages” of development, estimating that it is still roughly two to three years away from being ready for release.

Good article. Thanks!

“It was not that we didn’t know what we wanted, it was that we kept making things that weren’t what we wanted,” said one The Initiative developer. “We’d do it over and over again. The…levels we had when I left weren’t the same ones we’d had three months prior, or three months prior [to that]. I don’t know why people just kept hitting the reset button. That was definitely contributing to that feeling that we weren’t making any progress. People kept starting over.”

Hm, the article mentions MS being fairly “hands off” on this project, I wonder if that will change after all that Redfall fallout. Redfallout?