• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • The Politics forum has been nuked. Please do not bring political discussion to the rest of the site, or you will be removed. Thanks.

Bloodlines 2 lead writer Brian Mitsoda fired.

In Your Vase

Member
Jul 19, 2020
214
223
305
While this was bizarre and out of the blue, it's not completely surprising - Mitsoda's been fired before (Alpha Protocol), apparently, and at Obsidian and Troika, he was reportedly very stubborn about resisting changes until he was "changed" by showing him the exit door. He also apparently overwrote almost everything and was allergic to editorial requests to trim down the word count - and apparently even outright ignored requests for changes from his leads and the publisher (which I wouldn't blame him for in this case, they sound like idiots).

If he and his buddy Cluney were presenting a hardline against changes, I can see that not meshing with executive "just get this shit done with no more expense". The PDX producer getting the axe, though, suggests that maybe they had the PDX guy snowed.

That said, this is shitty news. I mean, removing the ONLY person on the team who worked on the original known for its writing is pretty stupid even by Paradox (and I guess Hardsuit) standards. And even overwritten and rarely allowing for meaningful player-interactivity, Mitsoda's characters were definitely good, interesting, and the voice acting direction was also good - but that shit is expensive. Also, if Brian and Cluney supported the original VO directing team from Bloodlines 1 (Womb Music), that feels like a triad of hardliners that could end up being very expensive and Womb Music isn't cheap, far from it (but you get what you pay for, apparently).

Still, Mitsoda was the only reason I was interested in this train wreck. Before, I had heard it was just the Creative Director and the PDX Producer (Schlutter?) but the Lead Writer, too? Wow. AMAZING.

No word I've seen if Cara is still on the project, but if they kept her and got rid of Brian, that's even more bizarre. Based on LinkedIn and Twitter, there's some other writers (juniors) there, too, but who knows who's left. What a shitshow.

Oh, and Hardsuit's website page is hilarious as someone pointed out: "It's all about our people." Sure, Hardsuit, sure.


 
Last edited:

In Your Vase

Member
Jul 19, 2020
214
223
305
Edit: Some additional news from dev forums: Apparently, Brian had similar stubborn behavior at Black Isle way back when, and was one of the ones let go from the Fantasy Fallout (?) game they were doing when it was canceled.

Even more, apparently his behavior was so difficult that when Troika collapsed there were developers at Black Isle (Sawyer chief among them) who actively resisted Mitsoda being hired back in Black Isle when he applied to return, despite the writing reception from Bloodlines. Crazy. What a waste of talent.
 
  • Like
Reactions: borborygmus

Kadayi

Banned
Oct 10, 2012
11,978
15,137
1,225
Discord : Kadayi#0650
Edit: Some additional news from dev forums: Apparently, Brian had similar stubborn behavior at Black Isle way back when, and was one of the ones let go from the Fantasy Fallout (?) game they were doing when it was canceled.

Even more, apparently his behavior was so difficult that when Troika collapsed there were developers at Black Isle (Sawyer chief among them) who actively resisted Mitsoda being hired back in Black Isle when he applied to return, despite the writing reception from Bloodlines. Crazy. What a waste of talent.

So he's basically the Ed Norton of game writers. Talented, but a pain in the arse to work with.
 

element

Member
Jun 6, 2004
11,681
103
1,825
So he's basically the Ed Norton of game writers. Talented, but a pain in the arse to work with.
I think understanding the larger audience is important. Brian is a great writer and can build great characters, but if the game is broken or the gameplay loop isn't fun, the story is only going to take it so far.

VTM2 is a BIG game and the hardcore PC RPG market can't be their only customer.

While I have no insight on what is going on at Hardsuit, it wouldn't shock me if there was some 'you just don't get it' type of fights happening. You have one group pushing heavily on the narrative aspects of the game and you also have a group who wants to make sure the game is fun from combat to quests. Given the stuff that Kadayi Kadayi and In Your Vase In Your Vase have mentioned above, I can see things clashing.

The last thing PDX wants is a 'flawed gem' on their hands.
 

DeliciousDoc

Member
Sep 6, 2010
1,230
360
970
Canada
Maybe they got the farcry guy because hes good at not making a statement like with farcry 5. Image says "drumpf" but actual game is more "both sides". They might be trying to moderate the progressiveness and Brian doesn't want to compromise.
 
Last edited:

EDMIX

Member
Apr 5, 2018
6,228
5,810
645
33
South Florida aka Outer Haven


And here are the words from the man himself.



Well, it was nice hoping for the revival of the classic, but with Avellone and Mitsoda gone this game is dead in the water.

Not really.

The game is just too far done to really suggest a writer being fired makes the game dead in the water.

Its still a day 1 for me.
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: Ivory Blood

In Your Vase

Member
Jul 19, 2020
214
223
305
[/QUOTE]
Do we know why yet?

I think there was some mention on the Discord about "creative differences." I have no idea what that means specifically (and I could use a source check to make sure I have it right). Although I really doubt PDX is going to explain exactly why someone was terminated, though, that just encourages legal action and other troubles.

I will say based on history, if they asked Brian to change something, he probably wouldn't do it or would resist it pretty strongly, and as much as I love his writing, that's likely a termination invitation. The fact the Creative Director and PDX producer also got the axe, though, doesn't exactly support that theory unless they simply agreed with everything Brian did story-wise, in which case they'd likely get the axe, too.

/Shrug
 

In Your Vase

Member
Jul 19, 2020
214
223
305
Not really.

The game is just too far done to really suggest a writer being fired makes the game dead in the water.

Its still a day 1 for me.

Is it done, though? I haven't seen any evidence of that, just the opposite, in fact. I guess we'll see for sure with the next trailer if it doesn't leave every viewer wanting to claw their eyes out.
 
  • Like
Reactions: EDMIX

element

Member
Jun 6, 2004
11,681
103
1,825
Is it done, though? I haven't seen any evidence of that, just the opposite, in fact. I guess we'll see for sure with the next trailer if it doesn't leave every viewer wanting to claw their eyes out.
Majority of Brian's work got to be in the polish and implementation phase, since they are doing TONS of voice work in the game. So it is highly unlikely that Brian is making significant changes to the story because that means rebooking actors, setting up recording time, doing voice direction, finding the best takes, ingesting them into the engine/tool, replacing old items with new ones, reacting to bugs that those changes might make, and so on.

There is a point where the writer's daily contributions have to take a back seat to the rest of the development team to hook it all up. Continued changes or additions have the potential to cause havoc on a development team.

So honestly I think the narrative framework is largely complete or now in the hands of people who can take the reigns.

If the narrative framework isn't largely complete, this is a larger issue and perhaps could be one of the reasons for the change.
 

CitizenX

Banned
Jul 15, 2020
751
744
305
To anyone cancelled by snowflakes, come to my office you will be hired. Someone has to make great, free work might as well be us.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Newly Vacant

ksdixon

Member
Jul 31, 2010
3,695
1,937
1,140
You mean like this? Cara "Critique My Dick Pic" Ellison is the only writer left.


Why is it almost every time there's some kind of issue in gaming, it's these kinds of people involved in some way?

Just watch if the game performs poorly, it will be misogyny's and patriarchy's fault.
 
  • Like
Reactions: borborygmus

Darkmakaimura

Member
Dec 12, 2008
15,763
7,239
1,625
I was just "getting back" into World of Darkness and after seeing this thread, and that stupid "Cultural Appropriation" Umbral spirit, I'm almost wondering if I should again?
 

In Your Vase

Member
Jul 19, 2020
214
223
305
Majority of Brian's work got to be in the polish and implementation phase, since they are doing TONS of voice work in the game. So it is highly unlikely that Brian is making significant changes to the story because that means rebooking actors, setting up recording time, doing voice direction, finding the best takes, ingesting them into the engine/tool, replacing old items with new ones, reacting to bugs that those changes might make, and so on.

There is a point where the writer's daily contributions have to take a back seat to the rest of the development team to hook it all up. Continued changes or additions have the potential to cause havoc on a development team.

So honestly I think the narrative framework is largely complete or now in the hands of people who can take the reigns.

If the narrative framework isn't largely complete, this is a larger issue and perhaps could be one of the reasons for the change.

I agree with the evaluation, but I don't know if Brian's work is done to the extent of it being at the polish phase - was there any confirmation of this? Not to doubt you, but with this project, I have very little faith that anything is "done". I also don't know if any story dev would necessarily care (unless pressured) about additional voice acting, getting pick ups, etc. if they feel the story requires it - not all of them are budget conscious, especially if it's a passion product (which has its own problems and advantages).

I do agree voice acting (especially with COVID) is definitely a challenge for all the reasons you list. Also, it does worry me because Brian would normally be at those sessions, and there's a marked difference between someone who knows the script and intent vs. someone who inherited it.

And if level design changes happen, even bug fixes, that usually affects the narrative, too ("hey, we cut 3 quests and changed the start location for crit path quest 2, so now that means the story has to...")

Anyway, I agree with your breakdowns and what you say makes sense if the writer is being resource and budget conscious, but I don't have much faith much about the game is in a polish state, it just feels like a mess from the outside perspective. I think we'll know more when we see some more gameplay footage and not the slew of useless dev updates that say nothing (the production one most recently was "fine" but like I give a shit about a generic producer role vs. wanting to know more about, I don't know, the game). Also, the fact three prominent devs on the project got the axe and there was a changing of the guard does not feel like "polish" to me, it feels like, "oh shit, we're in trouble and need to operate".
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: ratburger

Teslerum

Member
Nov 29, 2018
2,070
3,359
455
Even more, apparently his behavior was so difficult that when Troika collapsed there were developers at Black Isle (Sawyer chief among them) who actively resisted Mitsoda being hired back in Black Isle when he applied to return, despite the writing reception from Bloodlines. Crazy. What a waste of talent.

That makes no sense. Absolutly none. Sawyer left Black Isle in 2003 and even if you meant Obsidian here,
Sawyer joined it AFTER Mitsoda.

You're going with rumors and heresay here. Mitsoda might not be the easiest to work with, but its nowhere near what you are describing here. Otherwise he wouldn't have found work so fast at Obsidian or wouldn't have been invited onto Numenera.
 
Last edited:

In Your Vase

Member
Jul 19, 2020
214
223
305
That makes no sense. Absolutly none. Sawyer left Black Isle in 2003 and even if you meant Obsidian here,
Sawyer joined it AFTER Mitsoda.

You're going completly with rumors and heresay here. Mitsoda might not be the easiest to work with, but its nowhere near what you are describing here. Otherwise he wouldn't have found work so fast at Obsidian or wouldn't have been invited onto Numenera.

I know it seems like rumors, but they seemed pretty certain about it.

Sawyer did not leave Black Isle with the other Obsidian folks at first, he stayed and kept working on Van Buren until it was canceled, BUT regardless, I asked some more:

So Mitsoda was one of the few let go when the Fallout Fantasy project was ended (in 2001, I think?). I don't know much about this project.

When Fallout 3/Van Buren was hiring writers and designers (once Fallout 3 was becoming a reality after BG3: Black Hound was axed in 2002, I think, and Black Isle suddenly was without a project so they everyone was moved on to Fallout 3/Van Buren), word is Mitsoda was one of the ones who applied either on his own (before he went to Troika) or from Troika, apparently (although I suppose it's possible he re-applied after the layoffs from the Fallout Fantasy project and if rejected, went on to Troika and if so, good for him), but he did apply at that time and made it to the final round of applicants.

But that said, they were pretty clear Sawyer's firm no on Mitsoda caused him to get rejected from the Van Buren/Black Isle applicants. I don't know who was hired in Mitsoda's place, but it didn't matter much I suppose considering it sounded like the Van Buren game was on the chopping block because it was PC-only even before the team knew (if it had been something that could have gone to consoles, then it likely would have been kept and continued to try and be funded).

At Obsidian, you're right that Sawyer came after Mitsoda, and I don't think that was the situation at Obsidian for the reasons you state. It also doesn't sound like they worked on the same project when they were at Obsidian (or at least not primarily). Chances are that without Sawyer there is what allowed Mitsoda to be hired since Sawyer was out of the picture. BUT asking more:

Sawyer was the one who prevented Mitsoda from remaining at Obsidian once Mitsoda was being removed from Alpha Protocol - the approach internally was since Mitsoda wasn't working out on Alpha Protocol with the "organizational changes" and restructuring on that doomed title (Mitsoda "not working out" apparently was a judgment by the executive producer, whoever that was, but it was said that it was because Mitsoda wouldn't do any narrative changes and resisted changes to the old script despite the overhaul of the game), it was still felt Mitsoda might be able to move to Obsidian's other project (I think this was Aliens?), but it turned out the team (headed by Sawyer) had already intervened with the executive producer and said they would not want him on their project, so he had to leave Obsidian completely. It sounded pretty rough.
 

In Your Vase

Member
Jul 19, 2020
214
223
305
(Cont.) Also, I wouldn't take being invited on to Numenera as a badge of honor - it felt like they were hiring just about everyone, and chances are, it was more that the Producer on Numenera had worked with Brian at Obsidian that resulted in that KS goal and getting Brian on board. Even more fun, it sounds like they didn't even keep Brian in the loop for the writing, so they forgot all about him until nearly the last minute.

Man, Numenera... yikes. Talk about a game completely missing the point and missing what it's trying to emulate (the only example I can think of that's worse is Underworld Ascendant). I'm still amazed that the lead designer and lead writer even worked on the original Torment, because it didn't feel like they had or even knew what the original game was.
 

Teslerum

Member
Nov 29, 2018
2,070
3,359
455
That still sounds like heresay and honestly makes no sense. There's some true stuff mixed in, but now suddenly you move that application from 2005 to 2002? What?

There's no indication Brian and Josh had a bigger problem (In fact Josh had a good relationship with Annie and continued to do so long after) and at that point he could have joined other pitches/projects as well.

I still don't believe it. I believe the stuff about his problems with AP's development because I know that's what happened and it was the stated reason he founded his own studio, but the whole Sawyer rivalry? Nah.
Especially since that chapter of history magically gets opened in a forum thread about a games cancellation.
 

michaelius

Banned
Jan 5, 2012
16,327
2,191
935
I don't see how it changes anything in this game. Tone and direction it goes was visible from first trailers and there was plenty of warning signs.
 
  • Like
Reactions: In Your Vase

In Your Vase

Member
Jul 19, 2020
214
223
305
That still sounds like heresay and honestly makes no sense. There's some true stuff mixed in, but now suddenly you move that application from 2005 to 2002? What?

There's no indication Brian and Josh had a bigger problem (In fact Josh had a good relationship with Annie and continued to do so long after) and at that point he could have joined other pitches/projects as well.

I still don't believe it. I believe the stuff about his problems with AP's development because I know that's what happened and it was the stated reason he founded his own studio, but the whole Sawyer rivalry? Nah.
Especially since that chapter of history magically gets opened in a forum thread about a games cancellation.

No, you're right, it sounds like 2002.

I honestly don't know if Brian knows that Sawyer was the one who was responsible for his application being rejected, nor was aware of not being allowed to move to Sawyer's project. If he didn't, then there can't have been any rivalry because he wouldn't know in the first place, but the devs seemed pretty certain - and when Sawyer wasn't at Obsidian, you're right, Mitsoda was hired while Sawyer wasn't there, but he didn't stay. Just like with Paradox and Hardsuit, Mitsoda may have had no idea something was wrong until it was too late.

Anyway, I wasn't there, and you're right, it's best explained by someone else, but the relevant bit is that there seemed to be a pattern with Mitsoda and work that isn't completely "he's in the right". He was let go from Fallout Fantasy, he was (granted, apparently) rejected when he re-applied to Black Isle in 2002 (you're right, it was likely not 2005, that doesn't make sense), was removed from Alpha Protocol (which you know), and then blocked from remaining from Obsidian (but that's not personally known to me). There is also comments from Troika (writers and designers) that Mitsoda frequently overwrote characters and was difficult to get changes from, which was also brought up on Alpha Protocol.

I don't necessarily care beyond providing perspective, as I think Mitsoda has written some amazing characters, and I don't think Paradox or Hardsuit has treated him well, I think it's pretty crappy. But to play devil's advocate, it is possible there was something else going on - but if there was, that feels like it should have been a discussion, not a surprise termination, and certainly not a surprise termination for 3 employees.

I probably wouldn't bring "well, he's friends with Annie so therefore" into it, I don't think Annie and Brian always had the same circle of friends or the same types of interactions with people on social media or in person (she seems more sociable). If Brian wasn't aware of Sawyer's feelings, there really isn't a rivalry, it's more like a quiet rejection.

Anyway, not trying to piss anyone off, just providing more perspective.

Edit: On Alpha Protocol, there was one additional comment someone said - while a lot of restruturing happened and people were let go when Alpha Protocol was rebooted halfway through, Mitsoda was one of the people they kept for a time to try and make the original story work, so that's a positive thing. The fact he was removed later, however, didn't sound like it was good times.

Also, you say he could have joined other pitches and projects, but I don't think Obsidian had more than 2 projects at the time of Alpha Protocol - it was AP and the Aliens game, I believe, so there wasn't any room to move if both projects wouldn't have him.
 
Last edited:

element

Member
Jun 6, 2004
11,681
103
1,825
Not to doubt you, but with this project, I have very little faith that anything is "done".
Most devs won't even say something is done even after they go gold. When I say done, I mean how a movie script is done and given to the actors on the set. There is a framework there. Something that has a clear structure that if you were to take what was built and hand it to someone to read, they would have a clear understanding on what the story is in the game, start, middle and end.

Now much like a movie script, I can see edit here and there, which tends to happen. But honestly, most of these re-writes are just for flow. Keep things moving. These edits honestly could be handled by anyone on the narrative team as the Lead should be focused on bigger picture stuff.

Given that Brian was handling the larger picture stuff, I would hope that it was in that complete framework stage with majority if not all of the VO work recorded and the rest of the staff can work on implementation.
 
  • Like
Reactions: In Your Vase
Apr 25, 2012
1,158
2,167
960
Berlin, Germany
If the details are never made public, which they likely won't be, then I think the only right thing to do here is to NOT purchase the game. I basically don't want to support the writer if he did something massively unethical or illegal; nor do I want to support the publisher or developer if they did this to just appease the Twitter mob, even if there was no evidence of wrongdoing.
Bad people make good things as well; "boycotting" hundreds of people because one of them is a shitty human would be a wrong decision.
 

In Your Vase

Member
Jul 19, 2020
214
223
305
Some details about Hardsuit Labs and the troubled development this game is (was?) going through. Shamelessly stolen from Codex who themselves took it from Bloodlines 2 refugees discord.

Would SO love to read this Discord based on the turnover on LinkedIn (not counting the recent departures).
 

In Your Vase

Member
Jul 19, 2020
214
223
305
The Lead Writer (Brian Mitsoda, who wrote on BL1) was fired from Bloodlines 2 and no reason was given (which isn't unusual) by Hardsuit (dev) and Paradox (publisher), but the Lead Writer sounded surprised because there was no feedback (?) that there were problems with narrative.

At around the same time, the Creative Director and the Paradox liasion producer were also fired, so... things don't look good for a story-prominent game.

I don't know how much of the "no feedback" on the narrative is true (maybe Brian ignored the warning signs), but I'm more against Hardsuit and Paradox on this one - and even if Brian is in the wrong somehow, it's Hardsuit and Paradox's fault for hyping his name so much and then going, "oh well, we don't need him now." Especially for a cult game that has a following based on the writing and characters.

Anyway, more may come out. Hope that gets people up to speed, I'm still following this because I was looking forward to BL2 and now I'm just kinda... watching the fire from afar.
 
  • Like
Reactions: borborygmus

tsumake

Member
Dec 3, 2019
999
925
430
(Cont.) Also, I wouldn't take being invited on to Numenera as a badge of honor - it felt like they were hiring just about everyone, and chances are, it was more that the Producer on Numenera had worked with Brian at Obsidian that resulted in that KS goal and getting Brian on board. Even more fun, it sounds like they didn't even keep Brian in the loop for the writing, so they forgot all about him until nearly the last minute.

Man, Numenera... yikes. Talk about a game completely missing the point and missing what it's trying to emulate (the only example I can think of that's worse is Underworld Ascendant). I'm still amazed that the lead designer and lead writer even worked on the original Torment, because it didn't feel like they had or even knew what the original game was.

How far did Numenara stray from Torment? I started the game a few times, like the quality of writing and the gameplay mechanics but It felt like it would go somewhere, say, “contemporary.”
 

EDMIX

Member
Apr 5, 2018
6,228
5,810
645
33
South Florida aka Outer Haven
Is it done, though? I haven't seen any evidence of that, just the opposite, in fact. I guess we'll see for sure with the next trailer if it doesn't leave every viewer wanting to claw their eyes out.

Well my point is its waaaaay to far in development to care about a writer or director fired. Its writing has likely been done for some time and the concept is intact. So unless they state they are re-writing the whole game and its turning into a cart racer, I'm not too worried.
 
  • Like
Reactions: In Your Vase

Blond

Banned
Dec 10, 2019
2,907
4,896
600
Sactown
Was so excited for this game. Have it pre-ordered. Welp. Most of my excitement was for Avellone and Mitsoda.

Yeah if they're gone that tells me they're about to retool the entire game
You mean like this? Cara "Critique My Dick Pic" Ellison is the only writer left.


I hate that I needed context for this

 
  • Triggered
Reactions: borborygmus

In Your Vase

Member
Jul 19, 2020
214
223
305
How far did Numenara stray from Torment? I started the game a few times, like the quality of writing and the gameplay mechanics but It felt like it would go somewhere, say, “contemporary.”

Missed this - It mostly hyped the word count over substance. Word of warning: When a game company brags about word count, it's not a good sign that they know what making a good game entails, because they're missing the point, and so did Numenera.

The two leads, Adam Heine and Colin McComb worked on the original apparently, but both I don't think actually remembered what kind of game they were making. Colin McComb, especially, is a defensive idiot in interviews, and nothing he's done in pen and paper games has been much beyond mediocre - and sometimes worse than that (Complete Guide to Elves or somesuch, which was actually gamebreaking). He seems like someone in deep need of a punch in the face.

Don't know much about Adam beyond he's very, very religious, which seems like it would have been a poor fit for a more open-minded game, so you might have gotten contemporary vibes from that. He hasn't done anything since, which is probably a good thing for the industry.

At least Numenara wasn't as bad as the Underworld Ascendant debacle - now those devs definitely had no idea what spiritual successor they were making.