Former Mythic/Ultima Online Developers Form Citadel Studios, Announce a Game Called “Shards”
So this news at Massively more or less caused my mouth to fall open for a moment or two. The full press release obtained by Massively reads as follows:
AAA Online Game Veterans Form New Indie Studio
Citadel Studios Brings 40+ Years of Development Experience to New Sandbox RPG Codenamed “Shards”
WASHINGTON, March 11, 2014 – A veteran team of online gaming experts today announced the formation of Citadel Studios, a new independent video game development company focusing on multiplayer role-playing games for PC. For the past six months, Citadel has been heads down working on their first project, codenamed “Shards,” and is ready to give the world a sneak peek. With Shards, Citadel is taking inspiration from their previous work on the grandaddy of RPGs, Ultima Online – they’re creating a truly next-generation online game that will enable players to customize their experience, and change the face of player collaboration forever.
Citadel was founded by game industry veterans Derek Brinkmann, Chris Ondrus and Tim Cotten, whose collective credits range from RPG classics like the Elder Scrolls series, Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer Online, to AAA titles in the NASCAR and Madden franchises. Derek, Chris and Tim have seen online games evolve from their earliest days through the introduction of free-to-play, mobile, MOBAs and other modern multiplayer genres. With a full understanding of the genre’s history and modern development, Citadel’s goal is to create something like nothing else on the market.
“We left our soul-crushing, corporate jobs to make the games we’d actually play,” said Derek Brinkmann, founder and CEO of Citadel Studios. “As we started our first project and experimented with concepts, we discovered ways we could share our passion for creating living worlds with gamers themselves. Ultimately the community will dictate what Shards becomes, because we’re not just providing a game but also a platform for players to express their creativity.”
Based on their own personal passion for the genre, Citadel is ignoring the modern online gaming imperative to squeeze every last cent from every player. Set in a richly-imagined universe with deep lore and environments ranging from the familiar to the surprising, Shardswill give players more power than ever before, without constantly asking them to take out their wallets.
Citadel believes in fostering rich, passionate communities that can make meaningful contributions to worlds that live and breathe. Get in on that:
About Citadel Studios, Inc.
Citadel Studios is an independent online game developer located in Washington D.C. Founded in July 2013, the studio is made up of some of the top RPG developers in the industry, collectively drawing from 40+ years of experience on titles such as Ultima Online, Warhammer Online, The Elder Scrolls and Dark Age of Camelot. Inspired by classic online games and armed with modern AAA prowess, the team is working on an online sandbox RPG, codenamed Shards. By empowering communities to customize their experiences, Citadel aims to take the multiplayer genre out of the “sandbox” and into the playground. To learn more, visit http://citadelstudios.net.
The game’s official website doesn’t offer much in the way of information, apart from a brief description of the game concept and a teaser trailer:
Shards is a sandbox RPG in development for PC by Citadel Studios. In the multiplayer online game, players can fully customize their experience. Collaboration will determine how the world evolves.
Explore an ever-expanding universe with deep lore and dynamic environments.
Employ Shards’ unprecedented modding capabilities. Connect servers, create and run your own MMO, set your own rules, and play how you want to play.
Shards will change the face of multiplayer role-playing games and give players more power than ever before.
Speaking of which, check out some of the names on the team:
Derek “Supreem” Brinkmann – Founder / CEO
Derek is a 10 year veteran of the game industry and a diehard fan of sandbox games. Derek joined the Ultima Online team in 2006 and became the lead engineer two years later. For the next four years he lead the game development team to success with both the Stygian Abyss and High Seas expansion packs.
Tim “Draconi” Cotten – Founder / Creative Director
Tim is a long-time veteran of the game development industry, getting his first start on the Ultima Online team in 2005. As a long time sandbox advocate and voice for creating dynamic content he was thrilled to lead a series of live events through his tenure and ultimately deliver the Stygian Abyss expansion pack.
Chris “Lord Fairfax” Ondrus – Founder / Art Director
Chris has been working on computer games for over 16 years and his passion is evident in his work. From Morrowind to Dark Age of Camelot to Warhammer Online, Chris has certainly left his mark in the world of game development.
Mike “Vex/Phoenix” Moore – Programmer / Systems Designer
Mike started at Origin shortly after Ultima Online launched. He left the Ultima Online team for three years to work as a lead game system designer on Tabula Rasa with Richard Garriott. After Tabula Rasa’s launch, Mike returned to his home on the Ultima Online for three more years. Mike is passionate about game economies and dynamic game content.
Bruce “Logrus” Bonnick – Systems Designer
Bruce is a rabid fan of Ultima Online and hardcore pvper. He joined the UO team for a few years to help with the Stygian Abyss expansion pack and PVP combat balance. His addiction to numbers and spreadsheets is both frightening and insanely valuable.
Alex Yaeger – User Interface Designer
Alex is an incredibly talented illustrator and graphic designer with a wide range of experience. His work speaks for itself.
Chip Burden – Sound Designer
Chip has taught Audio classes at both American University and The Art Institutes for many years. Not only is he a hardcore gamer but the only person we know that can make us feel bad when we hear a bear die.
And finally, the Shards page at the Citadel Studios site proper reveals a few more details about the upcoming game:
Our first project is an online, 3D top-down isometric send-up of all the love we have for sandbox games of yesteryear, especially Ultima Online.
You can expect fun, simple combat with group or faction play, as well as a skill-based system to really test out non-XP based character development in the modern age of gaming.
Plus, we’ll be using some of the latest technology and beautiful artwork to make it run seamlessly on your usual hardware while still looking great. No incredible upgrades needed to get in and have fun!
So, let’s re-cap: a bunch of developers, mostly from Mythic and many with significant Ultima Online experience in their histories, have come together to form a new studio, with the goal of making a top-down, isometric multiplayer fantasy sandbox game with simple combat, faction play, skill-based and experience-free character development, which will enable and encourage players to run their own servers and contribute content to the game.
Some of you may also remember Chris Ondrus from a couple of years ago; he was the producer at Mythic that coordinated the PC-based Ultima Forever alpha test held for the Ultima Dragons.