Random Wednesdays

Rhode Island has officially taken ownership of all assets formerly held by 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, and are looking to sell those off to recover as much money for the state’s taxpayers as they can. Will another developer or publisher swoop in to snap up the Amalur IP?

This is, at any rate, the final curtain to fall for Curt Schilling’s gaming empire. Perhaps coincidentally, the surprise he had previously been keeping under his hat (so to speak) also leaked this week: Project Copernicus was supposed to be a free-to-play title, and also a AAA MMORPG:

“We were going to be the first triple-A, hundred-million-dollar-plus, free-to-play, micro-transaction-based MMO. That was one of our big secrets,” Schilling told me. “I think when we eventually showed off the game for the first time, the atom bomb was going to be free-to-play. When we announced that at the end, that was gonna be the thing that, I think, shocked the world.”

…”NO ONE was expecting it, and it was another thing that changed the tenor of conversations with investors late in the game.” When I asked how exactly the tenor changed, he replied, “Most investors wanted NOTHING to do with subscription-based products, they were all on the social media, and free-to-play games as a means to revenue.”

Some good came out of the mess, however; the portion of Big Huge Games that was acquired by Epic Games a few months ago has officially been re-branded Impossible Studios, and set to work on the next Infinity Blade title. Am I the only one intrigued by the prospect of an Infinity Blade title with Reckoning-grade combat?

From the team at Almost Human come news of additions to the Legend of Grimrock team and the opening of a CafePress store. The dungeon editor is also “progressing well“.

There was a major staff shakeup at Irrational Games recently, which cast doubts on the future of BioShock Infinite. The game’s multiplayer mode was cancelled, and Ken Levine went on the record to say that he had no intent of preventing people from leaving Irrational, if they chose to do so.

However, not all is doom and gloom; Rod Fergusson of Epic Games signed on with Irrational last week, specifically to fill the production gap left by the departure of Tim Gerritsen.

Also: BioShock’s environments look amazing when rendered in CryEngine 3. And, for that matter, the first level of System Shock 2 looks pretty good when rendered in the Source engine, dated though it is.

Travis Baldree has posted another “Not a Blog” on the Runic Games forums, giving more details (as usual) about progress that has been made on Torchlight 2. And Dan Vavra of Warhorse sat down with games.on.net to discuss why making a real-world “historical RPG” is actually very difficult.

And last but not least, Warren Spector decided to call out (among others) John Carmack and Tim Sweeney over the issue of violence and realism in games today:

Deus Ex and Epic Mickey maker Warren Spector has thrown down the gauntlet. He wants superstar programmers John Carmack and Tim Sweeney to stop fascinating on rendering believable objects and to start fascinating on creating believable minds, AI, and to start simulating life.

“I’ve been actively trying to shame some of my fellow developers, specifically John Carmack and Tim Sweeney,” Spector declared. “Can you imagine what games would look like if those two guys spent as much time working on non-combat AI as they do on rendering? Can you imagine what games we would have if John Carmack decided he wanted to create a believable character as opposed to a believable gun?

“I mean, oh my god! Those guys are way smarter than I am. I don’t know how to solve the problem, but they could figure it out.

“Stop rendering!” he ordered. “Start creating humans or mice. I don’t care which.”

I think I speak for everyone here when I say: “good luck with that!”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a laudable goal. But is it really something that the creators and producers of Gears of War and Rage are really going to be much concerned with any time in the future? Odds…are not good.

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