Obsidian Entertainment design director Josh Sawyer has opened up about the development of the Aliens game that was cancelled by Sega. He also shared some images from the scrapped project.

Why Sega cancelled Obsidian's RPG Aliens: Crucible — explained by Josh Sawyer

An image from an early version of Aliens: Crucible

Over the weekend, narrative designer Vera Burd wrote a tweet, asking fellow game developers about their “one that got away.”

Josh Sawyer replied with a threat detailing his work on the cancelled Aliens RPG for Sega. He worked on the project codenamed Aliens: Crucible from 2006 to 2009, and one of the biggest issues was that Obsidian didn’t have directors at the time.

According to Sawyer, “it resulted in a lot of dysfunction when the leads didn’t agree on how to do something.”

“At the time, the owners believed it would be bad if one person had authority on all decisions,” he noted. But what worked with older Black Isle games didn’t fit into the larger production scale.

Aliens: Crucible did not get a game director until late in development, with Sawyer only serving in this role for three months.

As a result of this dysfunction, progress on the game was very slow. Obsidian couldn’t agree on many core elements and build playable levels. Sawyer noted that while the studio had many great ideas, “you don’t ship ideas.”

“The biggest lesson I learned from the experience is that if you don’t have playable levels, you don’t have much of a game (there are some exceptions, of course),” the game designer said.

Sawyer also shared some images of team members that were supposed to be in Crucible, adding that 2021’s Aliens: Fireteam Elite was similar to the cancelled project in terms of the overall setup. However, Obsidian’s game should have become a full-fledged RPG in the style of the studio’s other titles.

Sega first announced Aliens: Crucible in 2006. Set on the planet Caldera, the game was supposed to tell the story of workers surviving inside a large colony. Each character would have their own weaknesses and strengths.

Sega eventually shelved Crucible in favor of the spy action RPG Alpha Protocol, another game that was in development by Obsidian at the time.

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