New senior members 'bludgeoned projects with naivety', staff lost 'obsessive attention to detail'.
Ex-Rare artist Lee Musgrave has claimed that the Rare gamers remember has "gone", blaming the changes at the studio on senior staff who "bludgeoned [projects] with naivety, over-bearing methodology and 'process'".
"Back in the day, Rare was an incredible place to work," Musgrave told NotEnoughShaders. "I owe it an awful lot for the education it gave me and I learned an immense amount from some truly world-class people.
"I'd been there for 17 years by the time I left and by the end, the Rare I joined had gone. I don't really attribute that to anything that Microsoft did, but the simple migration to becoming part of a mammoth organisation inevitably changes the atmosphere of a hitherto insular place like Rare."
Musgrave claims that some employees within the company "embraced the corporate culture whilst others, like me, felt that there was not enough emphasis being placed on real attention to detail or iteration of ideas/features in order to make them great, rather than just being ‘done' and able to be ticked from a list.
"In all the projects I work on, it's the obsessive attention to detail that makes the difference between just doing stuff, and doing good stuff. They are a rare breed (no pun intended), but if I can find and work with people that share the viewpoint that if we try hard enough, we can do things better. It's motivating."
'There was not enough emphasis being placed on real attention to detail or iteration of ideas/features in order to make them great, rather than just being ‘done’ and able to be ticked from a list'
Musgrave joined Rare in the mid-90s, working as a 3D Artist on classic Rare titles Diddy Kong Racing, Jet Set Gemini and Perfect Dark, before being promoted to the studio's head of art in 2005.
He left the company in 2011 to co-found Crash Labs, an indie developer developing iOS titles.
Throughout his 17 years at the company, Musgrave says that the most challenging game to work on was also his last - Kinect Sports 2 - due to the "over-bearing methodology" of newly-employed senior staff.
"The most challenging game to work on was undoubtedly Kinect Sports 2. I worked as Rare's Head of Art and the Art Director on that game simultaneously, just before I left, and it was tough going. There were people that shuffled into senior roles on the KS2 team that were pretty new to Rare, and they did not well understand the delicacy of how we typically built things.
"I think they bludgeoned it with naivety, over-bearing methodology and ‘process', and missed some of the fine qualities that made the company's name. It was soul destroying to see it heading off down the wrong path and made it a challenge to stay motivated during development."
Rare was acquired by Microsoft in 2002. The studio is currently expected to be developing a new IP targeted at a next-generation Xbox.