World War 2 title The Saboteur 2 was in development at one point according to ex-Pandemic Studios creative director Morgan Jaffit.
In an interview with the GameHugs podcast, Jaffit discussed his experience of being hired by Pandemic LA to work on The Saboteur DLC and then a sequel to the game:
“Was there a particular reason that you stayed in Australia after the closure of Pandemic, as I half-expected you to go back to the States?
Well Pandemic in Los Angeles did offer me a job, which I took [in early 2009]. So I went over there and worked there for a week, but I got the smell of death. So after that week I turned the job down. I was supposed to take over as the creative director on The Saboteur DLC and then on The Saboteur 2. That was what they wanted me to head up.
I have this criteria where the best work is done when the people who make decisions about details are the people closest to details. So you can set a vision from the top, but the details should be done by the person who is working on it. This comes from my experiences working in studios with people who aren’t connected to the details making stupid decisions that waste people’s time. So you set an intention, and then you work with the people who are responsible to establish what the appropriate actions are.
While I was at Pandemic LA I realised that they had been completely gutted by the EA process and nobody could make a decision. There were multiple conversations that ended in “well, I have to take that to a creative director”. But then the creative director has to take that to Andrew [Goldman – CEO] and Greg [Borrud – director of production] and so on. Then the process would turn into them regularly being overruled by forces inside EA that had nothing to do with development. Like marketing people or Frank Gibeau [president of EA Studios] and any other number of useless and dangerous idiots.
So after a week of watching that process happen, or it might have been two weeks, it convinced me that I could not make games that way. My job as a lead [designer] has always been to empower other people and be the “shit umbrella” – that is the term you use for that role in big companies. People who are very far from the details will try and shit on your project from above and your job is to collect all of that shit and make sure it runs off the side and doesn’t get on the team. And I am pretty good at that. But ultimately I need to be able to tell people, “you are in control of this,” for that to be true.” Because that is the only way I know how to get results.”
Reading the answer Jaffit gives, it makes me simultaneously dread and morbidly-curious of what could have been if Pandemic hadn’t shut down. Based on what is said, I think it would have been the type of by-the-numbers check-box safe game that makes people increasingly worried and bored of AAA.
Especially as the process sounds like it discourages putting yourself in a position where you have to ask a higher-up for permission for something. Although there is also the chance it could have been something special, which is always a shame when a game gets cancelled and/or a studio closes.
The Australian branch of Pandemic closed in February 2009. It was later the same year during November the other half of Pandemic was shut down as EA cut 1,500 jobs in various studios. Meanwhile, Morgan Jaffit would go on to be creative director at Defiant who are known for the card-based RPG series, Hand of Fate.