4A made the news last year due to working conditions that included a lack of proper chairs or power. That was sort of funny. The Ukrainian protests haven't been quite as much of a laugh, which is probably why no one's talked much about how the studio got on while a small war raged on the streets.
Over at VentureBeat Koch Media's global brand manager Huw Beynon's been talking about what it was like for the studio trying to make the PS4/Xbox One Metro Redux while riots took place in Kiev - the capital of Ukraine and location of 4A's offices. Here's a condensed version:
Based in Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, 4A’s office is only six metro stops away from the center of the city, which transformed into a battleground last year amid violent clashes between protesters and the Ukrainian police. According to Huw Beynon, a longtime representative for the company, the developers would go out and join the protests every day after work. It wasn’t until “the bullets started flying” when Beynon “begged them to keep their heads down.”
While Beynon doesn’t visit 4A Games that often — when he’s not talking to media about the Metro series, he’s a global brand manager at Deep Silver — he did travel to Kiev last year with other employees of the publisher to smuggle PlayStation 4 development kits into the country.
“This was before any of the stuff had really kicked off,” he said. “It’s quite a scary moment. I don’t know if you’ve seen a PS4 dev kit rather than the test kit: The test kits just look like normal retail things. The dev kits are beastful [sic] pieces. They look like this kind of retro, futuristic 1980s sci-fi — they’re astonishing. But they don’t look like anything else on the planet. And so you have to take them in your hand baggage, and you get some funny looks from customs on the London side when they’re going through the scanner. They’re not entirely sure what that is.
“And then you’re really sweating when you get to the other side, because if you get stopped and they say ‘Let’s have a look in there,’ and they don’t know what it is, you’re not entirely sure what’s going to happen. But we got those ones in safely. And then everything kicked off. Our producer, who’s there, and the CEO — Dean Sharpe, who’s been working with the team pretty much since the S.T.A.L.K.E.R days back when they were [GSC Game World], he came back to Deep Silver’s offices in Munich and left with two bags full of Xbox One kits.”
Apparently while Redux has been in production for a year, the studio only had console debug kits for the last few months.
For the time being everyone involved is “safe and sound” according to Beynon. 4A is also opening a second office in Malta which will become its new headquarters.
(Picture credit: Global Flare.)