This year has been full of disappointment for Big Huge Games. When the studio previously faced troubles in 2009, they were acquired by 38 Studios to produce the first game of the Amalur franchise - Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning. The game was completed and released early this year. Despite relatively strong sales for a new franchise, 38 Studios went bankrupt and was shut down. That story is a very long and depressing one, involving a series of poor decisions by 38 Studios management and the government of Rhode Island. I won't delve into those details, as this blog post is a very positive one about the events that have happened since last May. Epic Games, developers of the popular Gears of War and Unreal franchises, have swooped in to help out the many talented Big Huge employees that were briefly unemployed. Their new Baltimore based studio is dubbed "Impossible Studios".
The team is already hard at work on a new game. They're creating Infinity Blade Dungeons - a prequel to the record-breaking Infinity Blade iOS games. Impossible will be collaborating closely with Epic's ChAIR Entertainment Group in order to deliver a product that matches the quality of previous Infinity Blade titles, and provides a consistent experience for gamers.
I'll admit that it's a bit deflating to see a studio with so much experience and an excellent pedigree of published titles relegated to making iPhone games, but the current situation is certainly better than these developers not being able to feed their families, or wasting their talents in another line of work. Although this is the project that is currently being publicized, I suspect that plans are already brewing for a larger scale title - whether it's a spiritual successor to the excellent Kingdoms of Amalur, or a return to Big Huge Games' RTS background.
I will always remember the work of Big Huge Games. Their 2007 Xbox Live version of The Settlers of Catan is still one of my most played XBLA games. If it weren't for that game, I would not have taken board gaming as seriously, and would've missed out on countless table gaming experiences - both digital and physical. I also had a lot of fun playing Kingdoms of Amalur this year, and I'm crushed that I might never get to learn more about the well thought out lore and backstory. I hope that Big Huge Games can continue to expose players to new concepts and worlds as part of Epic Games at Impossible Studios.