At last week's E3, Avalanche Studios CEO Christofer Sundberg added an interesting twist to one of video game's most befuddling creative timelines. According to him, Avalanche Studio 's Mad Max isn't the same Mad Max game Avalanche Studios was rumored to be making.
The first mention of a new Mad Max game came in 2008. Cory Barlog, the game director for God of War 2, left Sony Santa Monica to collaborate with George Miller, the creator of the Mad Max films, on a video game tie-in for a Mad Max animated film. In October 2008, Barlog wrote on his personal blog: "My last trip to Sydney in September marked the completion of that stuff. I gotta say, and I know I am totally biased here, but I gotta say that this story — as well as this game — is pretty freaking bad ass!" Barlog added that he had begun to look for a publisher.
In 2010, Barlog began work with Avalanche Studios in Sweden, and it was widely rumored he brought the Mad Max video game project with him. According to Barlog's LinkedIn, he was serving as a video game consultant during this time, while continuing work with Miller on the Mad Max tie-in game.
Meanwhile, the Mad Max film sequel, titled Mad Max: Fury Road, stumbled through years or development hell. In 2009, it was reimagined as a 3D live action film.
In January 2012, Barlog left Avalanche for a Creative Director role at Crystal Dynamics, and in July of the same year, Miller began filming the live action Mad Max: Fury Road film. A Mad Max video game wasn't mentioned until last week's E3 with the announcement of Mad Max by Avalanche Studios.
Except this Mad Max game isn't Cory Barlog's Mad Max game.
"I don't know what [Barlog] worked on before he started working with us," says Avalanche CEO Christofer Sundberg, "but when we worked together he wasn't on Mad Max."
"We've been in production [on Mad Max] for about 18 months," says Sundberg, "but it's been a process up until then. The game has gone through a series of iterations. We've been working for it for a couple years."
"A couple years" puts Barlog at Avalanche during the protracted pre-production, making the timeline all the stranger. However, Avalanche's Mad Max, Sunderberg says, isn't a tie-in with Mad Max: Fury Road. The game takes place in its own unique world, separate from the locales of the films.
This leaves us with one big question: what happened to Barlog's Mad Max game? With Barlog rumored to be working on a new Legacy of Kain game, we may never know.
Update: Shortly after this interview ran, Avalanche head of communications Thomas Wiborgh contacted us, and said Sundberg's statements regarding Barlog's lack of involvement on the studio's Mad Max game are "inaccurate."
"I can confirm that Cory did work on Mad Max while at Avalanche Studios, but I can't elaborate further," Wiborgh wrote. "That's also what Christofer meant to say during the interview."
Our request for more information on Barlog's involvement — specifically, if he was working on a direct adaptation with Mad Max director George Miller that was different from the Mad Max game currently in development — went unanswered. We've reached out to Avalanche again to attempt to discern some more context.