Mythic’s Final Months: Seven Game Prototypes and Another Classic Franchise
Llamaherder dropped a comment on the last article about Mythic, noting that former Ultima Forever lead designer Kate Flack had made a number of additions to her LinkedIn profile.
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.
There’s a lot, potentially, to unpack in those statements.
First off, it should be noted that all of the above transpired between August of 2013 and the closure of Mythic, which…yeah, was about a ten month span. And in that time, Kate and her (small!) team put together seven game prototypes, all evidently using the Unity engine. It’s not clear whether these were seven separate attempts at prototyping a free-to-play reboot of yet another classic EA franchise, although that seems to have been the aim. (Some of it may have been tied to the exploration of strong licenses to explore and prototype, however.)
Dungeon Keeper, the mobile game, was revealed in August of 2013, but I know first-hand that Mythic had been working on the game since at least February of 2013; I saw some design concepts for it while I was there. Indeed, I made a Skype call home to my family from the room, just off of the break room and the Ultima Forever team area, that had been reserved for its development meetings. The game soft-launched in October of 2013, and went into wide release just prior to Christmas.
And I just re-installed Dungeon Keeper to confirm that Kate Flack is not listed anywhere in its credits. She isn’t.
So…what to make of all this? I am beginning to suspect — especially given the shutdown of Warhammer Online and the transfer of Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot to Broadsword Online Games — that the writing may have been on the wall for Mythic for quite some time, or rather that the studio was under significant pressure to deliver a hit after Ultima Forever. And while all indicators seemed to suggest that Dungeon Keeper was doing well, Mythic seems to have needed to come up with something more. And when they couldn’t — or didn’t, within a certain time frame — the studio was closed.
Llamaherder also notes that Kate Flack wasn’t the only one to change jobs last August:
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.
I think, if there’s any point in time at which we can say that Ultima Forever stopped development, August of 2013 was it.