Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gaming News

Potpourri today.

First off, and this is big, Travis Baldree is leaving Runic Games. Co-founder Erich Schaefer is leaving with him, and here's an excerpt from the forum post where Travis made the announcement:
I’m announcing my departure from Runic Games, a company which I co-founded nearly six years ago, and have led as its President and lead engineer ever since. I should say from the outset that this is an amicable departure, that I consider the amazing team at Runic my friends and family, and that it is a privilege that they’ve let me get away with running the place for this long.

Erich Schaefer, my friend and fellow Runic co-founder, will be departing Runic as well as my equal partner. I’m so gratified to be able to continue working with him. I’m personally excited – oh, hell, I’m SUPER-STOKED – to be getting back to smaller-scale development, where I can wear many, many hats performing many, many different kinds of tasks. Working within the boundaries of limited means and resources is the best fun I’ve ever had, and that sort of work satisfies me in a fundamental way – I can’t wait to be working that way again.

This is nothing but good news, as far as I'm concerned. Travis is an incredibly talented and creative developer, and I think he was boxed in at Runic. When you have a highly successful series-Torchlight-it creates tremendous pressure to put out another sequel. Lots of people depend on you. How do you possibly risk the financial health of the studio to satisfy your own creative impulses?

Well, you don't. You start a new, much smaller studio where you can take those risks. And I guarantee you the first game from these guys is going to be brilliant, and it's not going to be a Torchlight-type game.

Next, Mode 7's new game, the follow-up to the brilliant Frozen Synapse, is now in Steam early access. I'm entirely embarrassed to admit that I haven't played it yet (GS development is eating up almost all of my gaming time), but it looks absolutely fantastic. There's a 10-minute early access trailer here, and almost everything I ever wanted in a sports game is included as a feature.

Here's the game's website: Frozen Endzone. Like I said, it's in Steam early access, so if you want to play it now, you can.

One more bit of news, and that concerns Oculus Rift. I mentioned the Facebook acquisition in an earlier post, but I saw a tweet that perfectly captured my concern, and it's from Nate Mitchell (Oculus Rift VP of Product):
We had two roadmaps: plausible and impossible. This partnership means the impossible roadmap just became ‘very likely’.

I think that's entirely true, but what this doesn't mean is that the road can be successfully traversed, because I guarantee you that the "impossible" roadmap is substantially more complex and far more difficult. All that money did was let them take a different, much more difficult road. It doesn't make them any more likely to succeed on that road. If anything, I think it makes success less likely.

This reminds me of a movie that has a projected $5M budget, then somehow the project gets two or three superstars and the budget is suddenly $50M. That almost always ends badly.

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