Ori and the Blind Forest Dev Comments On Phantom Dust Reboot, Microsoft’s Support For Devs And More

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Ori and the Blind Forest is an indie platformer from Moon Studios, which has received critical acclaim so far. It is one of the highest rated game on metacritic for the PC and Xbox One. The developers were able to break even on the game within a week after its launch, which shows that the game was popular and sold quite well online.

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Moon Studios’ CEO Thomas Mahler spoke about the recently cancelled Phantom Dust Reboot on NeoGAF. He also talked about their experience with Microsoft and clarified some of the misinformation about how Microsoft treats other developers, especially after the cancelled Phantom Dust Reboot developers talked about their terrible experience with Microsoft.

On Ori, WE changed the scope of the project and while it wasn’t easy to convince Microsoft that it’s worth it, they then fully understood that a change in scope has to come with a change in budget, I mean, that’s just common sense. If the project takes longer, you still need to pay your people for a longer time = More budget required.

He then argued that making an AAA game with this tiny budget would be hard, and if there were additional demands, it could have been easily denied if there was no chance of getting the budget increased for the project.

Making a AAA-looking game like that for 5m with full online multiplayer and all that jazz already sounds low to me, but if I’d then hear from our producer that we also have to now all of a sudden add a 6h long single player campaign without any budget increase and within the same schedule is just absolutely out of the world crazy and I personally have never known the people at Microsoft to make claims like that.

I mean, we obviously only dealt with a small set of people at MS, but it just sounds somewhat unbelievable to me and completely unreasonable from a business and development perspective, especially since those milestones are set in the actual contracts and both parties have to adhere to them.

He then talked about their experience with Microsoft when they were developing Ori and the Blind Forest for the Xbox One. He stated that while they also had some demands from Microsoft, they refused to implement them due to lack of time, and Microsoft gave them complete freedom.

I would’ve said no. Obviously the people at MS sometimes have ideas and might ask you to do X or Y – But they never asked anything unreasonable from us and pretty much let us make the game we wanted to make.

We actually did get feedback about maybe adding a small multiplayer thing like being able to control Sein as the second player and we said that there’s just no time / budget for it anymore. They’ve never forced us to do anything if it was beyond our scope.

He also revealed that they required a budget extension during the end of development for Ori and the Blind Forest, and Microsoft gave them the extension even though it was not necessary.

Well, MS has actually given us a budget extension on Ori, which they wouldn’t have had to… But they understood that we had something good going and that it’d be worth it, I assume at least : )

It is rather unfortunate to hear what happened with Darkside Game Studios regarding the development of Phantom Dust Reboot for the Xbox One, but it is also interesting to hear the other side of story from another developer who has worked with Microsoft i the past.

What do you think about these comments shared by Moon Studios’ CEO Thomas Mahler? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Crapgamer

    I can almost bet than Moon Studios knows the Kotaku piece was complete rubbish because I’d assume Ori cost more than 5 million. The way the media and some circles will bash anything Microsoft, and believe anything negative is beyond reason and belief.

    • Revolver Ocelot

      Classic GreaseGamer damage control.

  • Brian

    great article…..always 2 sides to a story

  • Aaron T. Starks

    The Darkside story is obviously being spun and used to make MS look like the “bad guy” and it’s working in some circles.

  • ineedgames

    Seems like the opposite of what Darkside said but that was just one guy talking(unless i’m wrong).
    $5-8 million seems like nothing compared to what other AAA companies spend on their games $30million and over, Now that I think about it if MS did ask them to add in a Campaign then of course they would of been happy enough to add a bigger budget over the one they got for their Online only version.
    Microsoft said they spent $1billion in gaming this gen so all of their cost wouldn’t add up to all of they games they’ve started developing.

    I want to hear Microsofts side of the story now, Someone F***ed up and we need answers.