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The Initiative is partnering with Crystal Dynamics for Perfect Dark development

In a surprising announcement, The Initiative announced they are partnering with Crystal Dynamics, best known for the rebooted Tomb Raider series, on the upcoming Perfect Dark game.

Little is known about the game other than that it will be first person and incorporate “spy fighting”. The announcement tweet notes that the game is still in the early stages of development.

Austin "Proven" Nelson

Writer and Contributor for XboxEra. Halo 3 is a perfect game.

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  1. Back in 2019, The Initiative said they were going to stay small and agile. This was before and after hiring a lot of well-established, accomplished senior-level creatives from top studios in the industry. Microsoft has hired many devs since 2019. Playground’s 2nd team has grown tremendously and has a ton of job openings. While most of Microsoft’s studios grew, The Initiative slowed down their hiring rather quickly.

    Early on Gallagher said they were going to be innovative and do something different. Back then I speculated they might be the Western equivalent of Mistwalker who made two AAA 360 games within a short time frame despite having a relatively small studio. This only lends credence to my initial theory. The Initiative will do the game design, writing, art…basically all the creative elements. When it’s time for full production, it will be sent out.

    For CD, this may make sense if they’re in the pre-production phase for the next Tomb Raider. If they don’t have two full AAA projects in development at the same time, then they have a lot of resources idle. Square likely gets a lot of money from Microsoft for a team that just came off a financial disappointment. That said, it’s hard to imagine Tomb Raider going into full prod with a huge chunk of their staff working on Perfect Dark. Makes me think PD might go into full prod soon so they can finish before they’re needed on Tomb Raider.

    Contract work and outsourcing is common in AAA development. Even more prevalent in Cali. Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica, and Obsidian are all using or recently used a high number of contractors. In this case, Microsoft seems to have bagged one of the most established studios to do support work.

    AAA games are hard for established studios regardless of talent. A new studio with a new IP getting support from a familiar studio with a good technical track record actually bodes well for the project.

  2. Of course you should be concerned. You’re reading Twitter. It’s bad for mental health. Not that I can judge. I indulge too.

  3. For me stuff aligns now even more with the Initiative and PD and iam looking forward to it.

    With the announcement trailer and interview, i immediately thought about the concept Rare did for a sequal to PD, Perfect Dark core.

    The first mission was to supposed to be played in… cairo

    The artwork shows physical combat

    From Rare’s PD prototype:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhzVE9TVSyM

    Words from TI, at the game awards interview:

    We reallly wanted to play up the physicality and being in the world. Getting some of that camera movement that we see watching body cameras, GroPros and trying to get that excitment of moving in places and in ways that you and i don’t

    sounds to me like Mirrors Edge/Dying Light like movement. Also here the Prototype from Rare

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_el1c3tnEbM

    the world also looks pretty … parcour friendly?!

    Exchange with other studios like… the coalition

    what engine are the coalition master at…

    and didnt the coaltion back as “black tusk Studios” had a trailer in 2013 with… some kind of future spy agent prototype, that got scrapped with Xbox aquiring gears?! surely some cool ideas somewhere in the office there for this genre…

    So i feel like i got a general idea what PD may be… but i was always curious how they want to accomplish a ambitious project as a < 100 studio.

    With the Crystal Dynamics announcment they maybe solve things with lots of positive side effects. Darrell and Dan had over 10 years worked there, knows the team, the workflow and culture. They also for sure have kept a lot of that while forming TI. It’s much easier and efficent to merge with a well known studio/team as co developer, as of bringing a new one on board. And i don’t believe the whole CD team joins, it’s just a portion so i don’t think it will be a loss to Square, even less with Xbox payment is a save bet for them.

    Not to mention that expierience is worth so much in development and CD has experience with something possibly important for PD:

    Sauce for the Rare PD stuff #1 #2

  4. On this…I actually grouped together a lot of research. Due to bad headaches that lasted a few days, I couldn’t get it out Monday. Might be a little late but I’ll try to have something out within a week. Deeper dive on The Initiative. If you line up interviews from Darryl Gallgher from 2018, 19 and 20…there’s been a consistent message. This is an ambitious project…yet his studio will stay small and agile. Nothing about bringing CD in when going from pre-prod to full-prod contradicts what Darryl has been saying since 2018.

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