One Developer's Reaction To A Graphic Aliens Vs Predator Image

Yesterday Kotaku ran a graphic screenshot from the upcoming Aliens Vs Predator game. Past the old arguments about whether gaming violence is imitated emerged conversation about aesthetics, taste and limits. All sides made strong points. One developer emailed me.

This developer is not working on Aliens Vs Predator but asked to stay anonymous as it is not part of their job description to comment to Kotaku about upcoming games. I run this comment not because I agree with some or all of it but because I hope it furthers a conversation about violence in games in terms of aesthetics, an aspect of the gaming violence topic that is almost never explored. I''ve also contacted Sega and asked if developers at AvP studio Rebellion would be interested in offering their take on the game's violence.

The following is the note the developer sent me, within a couple of hours of the post of the decapitation screenshot:

As a video game developer, I can see how this gruesome piece of animation/modelling made it into the game. What baffles me is why there is a such a lack of integrity from the people who over saw this piece. It's very easy for something to get prototyped in a video game and ultimately left hidden within the bowels of data and code that is the final product. But this was a piece of animation that clearly had multiple passes and was signed off by more than one person. How did some of the developers let a group of people's blood lust put what looked like a great product into the realm of intolerable ultra violence?

I understand how the game developers wanted to provide an authentic experience by including all iconic actions that were dictated by director and camera. But the green lighting of this given piece takes all story telling, world development, characterisation and cinematography of the original source material and gives it a big middle finger. Alien was an amazing horror flick that used great atmosphere and visuals to invoke viewers own interpretation of violence. Save for a few key scenes, copious amounts of blood was not this movie's prerogative. Aliens followed suit and so did Predator. Granted this might be due to the movies rating board at the time, but the directors got their point across in more tactful ways and together they all created a great mythos.

When I look at this screen shot, all I can think about is the lack of respect for great story telling that didn't include ultra violent visuals. Stepping over that border takes away from what could be great game play mechanics and ultimately a fun game. The focus will no longer be on the game as a whole, but if the developers can justify their visuals. I guess this is just another sign that video game developers need some more time to mature if this is the type of stuff that makes it into video games these days.


    A very well thought out and insightful comment.

    When first commenting on the image, I myself had really only thought about what sort of age group should be exposed to such gruesome images.

    Now with this note, I find myself wondering what reasoning they were following when they decided to put so much effort into such a level of violence.

    I myself was upset that L4D2 was butchered so badly for Australian release, but from what I understood the uncensored version never featured gore in such detail.

    I just fear that this games now unedited release, with such levels of graphic violence, will only fuel the fire the burns in the hearts of so many people against the R18+ rating.


    I'll still be buying it though.

      See, the argument for 18+ can be flipped the other way too.
      If we had an 18+ rating, junior wouldn't be exposed to this kind of violence, it would only be sold to adults... which I think we can both agree is really the correct audience for this kind of game.

    It's just a game, I think your over analysing it.

    They put it in because it's not something you can do in any other game on the market right now. And let's face it - blood is (usually) fun!

    I don't think the MA rating is correct either, but at least now I can buy it without parents ^-^ (good thing? bad thing?)

      The developer's comments seem awfully narrow-minded to me. 'Intolerable ultra violence?' 'Lack of respect for storytelling'? Perhaps save generalised assumptions until you've actually played the game rather than taking broad swipes at the game based on one screenshot.

        I agree, its a lot assumptions about the game and development team based entirely on one screenshot... besides, has he even seen Predator 2??

        Sounds like somebody needs to call the Wambulance T_T

    I'll also admit that the screen shot in question is extremely horrific.. but this high brow response seems to ignore any knowledge of the Predator films, which are extraordinarily violent (eg: ). Not to mention, any opportunities for tact are subdued by the game being 1st person.. In the Alien films, alternative angles, shadows, fast editing and suggestive actions were used in death scenes - is this an option from a first person perspective? Violence in the game isn't necessarily going to overshadow the "great story" which is really only relevant from the Marine's side, their personalities, their history, the way they interact with each other - there's still a lot of opportunity for this. It would also be rather foolish to negate violence and the drama that accompanies it in source material that features alien parasites bursting out of human chests. It isn't just needless bestiality, violence within this context actually brings out the raw emotion of the characters - a situation where you have to kill a squad mate who's been impregnated would no doubt be violent, but the emotional impact or implications on the story could overshadow any gore.

    What is it with people taking one screenshot or idea or clip or word or phrase etc and using it to label an entire game/movie/book/country/ ethnicity?

    How can people kick up a massive stink about michael atkinsons ability to be misinformed or use 1 shot from a game to blacklist it then do the same themselves. Michael actually said MW2 should be banned because you can be a terrorist and kill people. Way to miss the point moron!

    If you look at any scary movie nowadays There is always one horrific scene that makes you go wow that might have been a bit over the top, this doesn't make the whole movie shit or the director crap. Everything has to be taken in the context it was meant by viewing the material as a whole. In this case playing the whole game from start to finish.

    Aliens did have some very gruesome scenes for its time as well but were brilliant. Now if this game comes out and every part of it is all blood and gore then fair enough. But maybe this shot is a one off? maybe it was released to get just this sort of reaction and publicity. There is such a thing as taking it to far (Hostel movies) and if then game is all like this then fair enough.

    But to take a standpoint to say a game company is being lazy to have one violent scene after only seeing one screen-shot is just stupid. Its very easy to sit on the sidelines and say I have nothing to do with the game and I don't want anyone to know who i am but I'm another game developer and I think X because I saw one screenshot.

    Congratulations for spreading the michael atkinson lunacy!

    It looked perferctly normal to me as you see that type of violence time after time in the first predator movie. Like when the predator has the corpse of Billy lying on the tree and rips the spine and skull out in one go, kicking the body down to the ground. Or when the marine has his arm sliced off with it still firing the weapons as it falls, then being impaled on the predators wrist blades. You might not see violence like that in Alien, but you certainly see it in Predator.

    I have one major gripe about this comment, and I think Modern Warfare 2 is a good parallel to use here. He's talking about the game's depth of character building, environments and story-telling when clearly he (or she) has never played the game!

    If you are going to comment on the screenshot, just comment on the screenshot! Making wild accusations about a game's shortcommings without any evidence whatsoever isn't helpful, even if you do work in the industry.

    What gets me the most is where you accuse the game developers of a lack of integrity over a single screenshot. I could probably pick a single screenshot from every MA15+ game released in Australia (which are meant to be appropriate for 'children') and be able to get the same response. There are always going to be elements of gory games that might make you uncomfortable, but that is part of their impact.

    As for me, I'm going to save making an opinion of this game and it's development team when when I can actually play it.

    Sounds to me like this is a rival dev who is just trying to tarnish the Rebellion team a bit.

    I think to analyze a single screenshot completely out of context is rather disingenuous.

    Pretty sure the AVP movies of late gave the original movies a big middle finger, game follows suit.

      yeah, the AVP movies were an abomination to both franchises. They're pretty much a teaching tool on how not to make a movie crossover so badly. Those movies should be discarded from all peoples memories and get a good writer and director to "reboot" them from scratch.

        the developer sounds like he never watched a predator movie. so whatever

    Taking all that from a single screenshot is completely hypocritical. Who's to say that screenshot doesn't parallel the film's 'few key scenes', and that this level of gore/violence is commonplace within the game?

    I thought it was a bit much when i saw it...but then again i saw one of the AvP movies recently and that kinda violence seemed cool?

    I can't help but feel this comment to be a little rough implying AvP3 won't be a "great product" just because it has "intolerable ultra violence" without having played the full game. (though for all I know he/she may have, being in the industry)

    For me what made the movies and previous games have such great atmospheres was primarily the sound effects (in particular the motion detector for the marine). But it wasn't just the sound alone but the knowledge of the extreme violence which may be, but not always, associated with the sound.

    "Alien was an amazing horror flick that used great atmosphere and visuals to invoke viewers own interpretation of violence. Save for a few key scenes, copious amounts of blood was not this movie’s prerogative."

    "Save for a few key scenes" implies that high levels of violence still had important parts in the movies. which just makes me think of one of the points they used to get the 15+ rating was that the extreme levels of violence don't happen continuously. Perhaps only in Key Scenes?

    I'm not saying this will defiantly be a great game as I haven't played it either. I just think it's a bit rash to assume that the degree of violence they included will necessarily take more from the game then it will add.

    Gee, this dev seems to hate video game violence! What did he work on, Wii Fit or something? Who else would be surprised that a video game based off an incredibly violent franchise would end up being incredibly violent? I'm sure Rebellion's first AvP game would have been just as violent if they had the tech. In fact, I recall it having dismemberment. I even remember severing an Alien's legs and watching it cruel to me with equal fervour.

    Alien is my favourite movie of all time. I am waiting for someone to make a suspenseful rpg/ish alien universe. This will do though! Does anyone know if the imported xbox game will work here in Aus?

    That is quite a good point there. Oh! remember the suspense, the clicking of the movement sensor. As it sped up clicking faster and faster so did my heart rate. Now that could be classed as a truely 'horrifying' experience without the blood and gore.

    I agree with the whole "let us adults play this game" arguement but I do understand where this developer is coming from. In all honesty though, you do not see a Predator rip out someones skull so up close and personal in the movies, nor aliens killing with such gratuity so I do think there's been a little bit of "here's a line fellas.... lets step way over it!"

    Though I like my violence in games, when the developer Rebellion says it's only them sticking closely to the subject matter of the films, I think there's a little bit of them trying to be pretty outrageous with their kill animations on purpose. Besides, Predators only take the skulls of worthy adversaries, not every bloke you creep up from behind so that's kinda silly in itself. They're using that as an excuse to fill the screens with gore because after all.... shock factor sells games pure and simple. I'm still importing this though, being a massive fan of both franchises, I just think Rebellion probably went a little too far but I'm not saying that we don't need an R18+ for games in this country. We certainly do.

    I also believe that Infinity Ward were unbelievably irresponsible for the creation of the "No Russian" level. That level should never have been made, slaying innocent civilians in mass proportions is not in the field of good taste. Sure I loved mowing down civilians in GTA 1234 but those games have a certain cartooniness to them. "No Russian" was a little too close to realistic and just seemed morbid beyond belief.

    Developers need to take more responsibility. We don't need to mow down legions of innocent people to have fun.

      you are right about the predator only claiming skulls from worthy adversaries. that's my only problem with this. in the demo video the player just goes around ripping heads of everyone and the animation only takes a couple of seconds, it is extremely quick and trivialises the idea.

      i have to dissagree with you about 'No Russian'. IW didn't make it for you to have fun and you never have to kill a civilian in that whole level.

    If that dev thinks that screenshot is tastelessly gory, he'd have a fit at the trophy kill preview footage on YouTube:

    Oh my god, what has happened to game developers? It's like the entire industry has suffered some severe shrinkage of the cojones in the last five years. David Jaffe, we need you back.

    Violence and gore in games and movies is (when its for entertainment purposes) fun, loads of fun, designed to make you cringe, laugh cheer and do all those things that you should when you see people get torn to pieces or slaughtered in films like Evil Dead. It's entertainment!

    Real violence is horrible. I was a bouncer many years ago at uni and saw people get glassed in the face, noses broken, lips cheeks torn and and it was never fun, or entertaining it was always horrible and I didn't last long in the job as a result of witnessing some pretty awful violence.

    But it never impacted my extreme enjoyment of all forms of entertainment violence. I can determine between the two and I've never met any who can't. I'm now feeling a little insulted for being psyched about AvP based on the above screenshot and my apparently evil 'bloodlust'.

    Sounds like that person was a Developer of Doom 3.

    Not forgetting that this screenshot is watched for dozens of minutes by a lot of people, which results in every Tom, Dick and Harry giving their two cents worth. The GAME's decapitations might last 5 seconds and only people who buy the game, People who are interested in either FPS or the movies (Both audiences having already been exposed to violence) will accept/like the gory details. There is worse out there, this just seems to be one that's focused on.

    This will obviously be a pretty violent game. After seeing that screenshot, I still dont agree with the Australian Classification Board's decision, and the lack of an R18+ rating, but I understand why this game was RC.

    predator was a very very gruesome movie. this is Aliens Vs Predator. Not Aliens

    Nice! It's good to see that you can claim someone emailed you and then make a whole article about it.

    Journalism 101!

    I don't think it's an adequate comparison, comparing this new game to the old movies.

    Think about all the old school horror movies, like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm St. For their time they were particularly scary and gruesome. But compared to movies today, the horror is laughable.

    And these days, 'invoke viewers own interpretation of violence' comes across as just being lazy. If I wanted to use my imagination I'd read a book.

    When you think of both Aliens and Predators, within the context of the lore, the violence is well justified. It's not as if Rebellion have come up with the decapitation with spinal column attached or the kill trophies or the skull puncturing alien tongue on their own, these were all well established in the franchise.

    I could talk about this all day, but I'll leave it at that. This game is definitely on my 'To Buy' list.

    oh wow how over-analytical. TALL POPPY SYNDROME! Basically took a shot at Rebellion and their product over one single lousy screen. I am interested to know A) what games this 'developer' produces and B) more importantly WHO EVEN ASKED YOU?!

    Its wrong to defend or condone both the comments of mystery developer or the game without actually playing the game in full and understanding as to what context the screenshot is in and what place it has within the final product. Its like randomly reading a sentence in a book and deciding that the book itself is disingenuous. just ridiculous.

    But im sure the 'developer' is working on some groundbreaking high-horse 'mature' product like Peggle or Bejeweled.

    Its just as well the developer stayed anon; looks like they have taken a right smashing here from the people.

    P.s. It does sound like the mystery 'developer' has never even watched a predator movie in their life. I know alien was pretty gory but spineripping, human skinning, trophy kills, impaling etc has always been pretty commonplace in Predator movies....

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