It’s odd to think it now, but when Sega greenlit a couple of Alien shooters, Colonial Marines was the safe bet. An action-heavy FPS in the hands of developers who’d made their name with the same – Gearbox. Now, though, it’s the strange survival shooter from the studio that’s made almost nothing but Total War for 14 years that we’ve pinned our hopes on. How on Earth did that come about?
“It is natural for people to put us into boxes,” says Alien: Isolation creative lead Alistair Hope. “But the scope of Creative Assembly is wider than perhaps with other firms.”
Creative Assembly have never made a shooter, a horror game, or anything in first-person. Its previous forays into action resulted in 2005’s Spartan: Total Warrior, and 2008’s Viking: Battle of Asgard. Neither are particularly fondly remembered.
But Hope suggests this is a transition the studio have undergone before.
“I used to work for Creative Assembly when all we built were sports games, and when we made Total War I remember vividly people saying: ‘What do you know about strategy, you make sports games?’,” he told MCV.
“We found it difficult to get people to believe we could make RTS games.”
A malleable studio culture helped, then – but so did hiring some “experienced people”.
“The fact we were making an Alien game was the industry’s worst kept secret,” said Hope. “And that helped persuade people to contact us. And when we told them it was Alien plus survival horror, they’d respond nine times out of ten with: ‘Where do we sign’.
“We had people from Rockstar, Lionhead and Ubisoft, and we were able to help those UK studios that closed, so people from Bizarre and Real Time Worlds joined us.”