Was Mythic Closed Just As They Were Ramping Up Development on Ultima Forever…Or Its Sequel?

2013-05-22 11.28.02

Gamespot has picked up the news about Mythic’s closure, and the sharp-eyed reporters there noticed something else that indicated that the closure was very suddenly — and unexpectedly — thrust upon the studio:

It would appear the decision to shut Mythic down was made quite recently; a job listing for a software engineer position at the studio was posted online less than two weeks ago. It mentions seeking someone interested in “re-defining the RPG Mobile space working on exciting, genre defining IP.”

The exact posting date for that job opportunity was May 16th; here’s a screenshot of its text (since it’s likely to disappear from the EA job bank soon):


And actually, this isn’t the only job posting for Mythic that was listed in the EA job bank, nor is it the only posting for Mythic to make mention of “the RPG mobile space”. There’s this Senior Producer listing dating back to November of last year:


There’s this Systems Engineer posting from February:


And there’s this Senior Designer posting from the beginning of May:


(I also noticed a Business Analyst job posting which was posted in March, but it doesn’t specifically call out the mobile RPG space anywhere.)

So here we see that Mythic was looking to bring on board some pretty key development staff to “help disrupt and redefine the RPG genre in the mobile space”, using an “exciting, genre defining IP” as the vehicle for that. There are, I submit, few RPGs more genre defining than Ultima, and while there are certainly RPG IPs in the EA portfolio, Mythic already had one Ultima game under its belt, and would thus have had the assets and the team mindset already in place to make additional content for that game. Or, for that matter, to make its sequel; Paul Barnett had always envisioned Ultima Forever as the first game in a series. Granted, they had only hinted at Blackthorn’s involvement in the day-to-day affairs of Britannia in the part of Ultima Forever’s story that had actually been released at the time of the studio’s closure, but it’s not like they could have added that content to the game even as they began to undertake development of…Ultima Fiveever (or whatever).

I’d ask “who knows?” at this point, but in truth there are people that do know. Once the dust settles on all this, I might even make some inquiries.

(Hat tip: Infinitron Dragon)

7 Responses

  1. Cear Dragon says:

    (I also noticed a……

    a what?

  2. Micro Magic says:

    Not surprising, EA has been struggling to find what they do well in the last few years. And I guess what they don’t do well is transition beloved 1990’s franchises into F2P mobile masterpieces.

  3. Aspetra says:

    I almost feel like this has been coming for a very long time. Mythic may of or may of known that the writing was on the wall, but EA over the last couple years has been stripping Mythic from anything profitable. IE; Separation from Bioware, handing off of UO and DAoC to Broadsword. Then there is the list of just plain failures by the studio, the failure of U4E(Did not get it out to Android or PC Platforms, never achieved the level of popularity expected), the big flop that was Warhammer Online. Then there was the slow ramp down of Mythic team over the last couple years.

  4. Llamaherder says:

    I think there may have been a major shift in directions late last summer for Mythic that was kept very quiet.

    This morning, I was wondering what happened to Kate Flack, who was the Lead Designer for Ultima Forever. I was able to find her public resume on LinkedIn and it shows that starting in August 2013, she has been the Lead Designer for Mythic’s “Mobile Prototype Team.”

    Her job description for that role says:

    “Managed a 4 man team to create 7 major unity game prototypes over 10 months.

    “Developed a prototype team structure based on 2 week sprints and regular hockyapp/testflight build releases for internal gate review.

    “Worked closely with product managers, marketing and product strategy teams to identify strong licences and genres ripe for prototype exploration.

    “Created pre-greenlight prototype and pitch documentation for a free to play mobile reboot of a classic EA franchise.

    “Gave multiple presentations at internal training conferences, including a ‘Best in Track’ award winning presentation on Mobile Prototyping.”

    Carrie Gouskos was the Producer for Ultima Forever for a while, but she also had a job change in August 2013. She became Mythic’s Director of Studio Operations.

    August 19, 2013 was when the Dungeon Keeper Mobile page started being used on Facebook and the first teaser-type of post for it was made the next day. If I recall correctly, that was about when Jeff Skalski’s Twitter posts seemed to become almost exclusively about Dungeon Keeper.

    So was a decision made as long ago as last August to basically abandon Ultima Forever and focus instead on Dungeon Keeper and some other unnamed mobile games? I doubt that we will ever know for sure.

  5. Llamaherder says:

    Another thought here: It will be interesting to see what EA presents, if anything, in the way of upcoming mobile games at their preview event at the E3 on Monday. You’ll be able to watch it from http://www.ea.com/e3 or on TwitchTV.