How Bully Went From A Near Disaster To ></p>
<p>With the recent announcement of Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar's non-GTA exploits have been on our minds lately: <strong>primarily Bully, their underrated 2006 open world game about life in a New England boarding school.</strong> To say it was a departure for Rockstar would be a major understatement - it the first Rockstar game in a while to not prominently feature murderous rampages or have an adult protagonist. Heck, the (mostly) not-horribly-violent combat was kinda refreshing after racking up scores of dead strangers in GTA and Red Dead Revolver -<strong> and it was the kind of game anyone who'd ever been a loser in high school had always dreamed of.</strong></p>
<p>You could pull pranks, beat up bullies, snub your nose at authority figures, play hooky, and fall in love - all in a (relatively) believable videogame high school environment. It was a blast.</p>
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But it almost wasn't that way - the earliest versions of Bully were very different from the finished product. The original prototype for the game had you playing AS an antagonist - an actual bully, who was violent and cruel to innocent classmates. In the finished game, you do beat people up (and pull a few pranks), but the vast majority of the targets did something to deserve it, and you're ultimately working for the greater good as a rebel who's standing up for the little guys.

But who do we have to thank for changing the game so wildly? A lot of people, includings tons of developers and producers and directors, but it sounds like none of it could have been possible without associate producer Lee Cummings, who dropped in on a reddit post about the promotional Bully dodgeballs to tell this anecdote:

Hey there, I was the associate producer on Bully.

I had just shipped GTA:SA, was some downtime, think I was helping out on a midnight club game. Sam dropped me an email telling me that the Bully project was in trouble. It was in trouble because nobody from the head office was keeping an eye on it. He asked me how I would make it better, I told him that "kids these days need a world more grounded than one with fucking quidditch" (or something very close to that). 10 mins later the head of production walked over to my desk and hugged me. He told me I was being sent to Vancouver to check up on Bully. I went to the Best Buy downstairs, bought my first ipod, filled it with music and the next day I flew to Vancouver "for the weekend". I ended up staying there for 11 months to oversee the whole redesign of the game. I was 25, one of the craziest years of my life.

They had started closing the studio, but nobody knew outside the studio head. Because of the law in Canada you have to go through a big government process before you shut a studio down. I had to rally a studio who didn't particularly give a fuck (their 2nd project had just been canned) around a project reboot being overseen by an "outsider from head office", without being able to tell them that there were serious consequences if we didn't get a demo of something awesome built in a few weeks.

A few weeks later, the Friday before E3. I flew back to NY with a demo build to show off. Everyone freaks the fuck out. The studio closure stops, and I have Saturday and Sunday to put together a 30 min media demo and get to LA for E3. During that time the marketing department gets a coach, wraps it in Bully art and drives it onto the floor of E3. During the week I sat in that coach and did 28 demos to press.

Longest week ever.


Thank goodness for Jim (who runs a mobile game studio now, in case you were interested). And thank goodness for Bully - here's hoping that we see Bully 2 sometime in the near future.