Hyenas | Cancelled game was reportedly Sega’s “biggest budget” title ever

Hyenas - sega's biggest budget game ever?

Stories are beginning to emerge about Hyenas’ troubled development, including the size of its budget and the involvement of director Neill Blomkamp.

First came the shock news that Sega had abruptly cancelled Hyenas, the multiplayer arena shooter in development at The Creative Assembly. Now come the first inside stories about the game’s troubled making, as an anonymous developer provides some potentially fascinating insight to the YouTube channel, Volound.

The developer, calling themselves Impala, describes a “total lack of direction” at the studio, with the project changing engines during production and the tone and angle of the game also shifting dramatically.

“In the early days the game was drawing on looter shooters like [Escape From] Tarkov,” Impala writes in an email excerpted in Volound’s YouTube video, “the idea of punishing consequences to the metagame had proven itself to be incredibly compelling there. Of course, that got watered down repeatedly because that seemed too hardcore for a wide audience.”

The project received a creative boost, Impala writes, when film director Neill Blomkamp (known for District 9 and this year’s Gran Turismo) turned up at The Creative Assembly’s offices. A fan of Alien: Isolation, he provided some ideas for Hyenas, including the idea that players were competing to steal vintage physical media like vinyl records and VHS tapes. “It was a real shot in the arm to have some DIRECTION,” the developer wrote, “(the project so often felt utterly rudderless).”

Blomkamp later departed the project, and Hyenas’ woes continued. According to Impala, the budget swelled to unprecedented levels as development went on: “I forgot to mention that Hyenas was Sega’s biggest budget game ever”. VGC’s sources claim that the budget may have exceeded that of Sega’s previous record breaker, Shenmue, which means it was north of $70 million.

With such a huge sum involved, Sega of Japan began to grow nervous, according to Impala, and that there were “people from Sega Japan more or less permanently in the office.”

After a brief pivot to a free-to-play model, Sega eventually decided to cut its losses, and Hyenas was cancelled – mere weeks before it was due to release. It’s a sad state of affairs, particularly given that a number of Creative Assembly staff lost their jobs in the wake of it.

If Impala’s claims of Hyenas’ “cursed” development are accurate, it’s likely that more behind-the-scenes stories will emerge in the days and weeks to come.

Read more: Hyenas preview | Could have been one of the best arena shooters of recent years

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