Regardless of personal opinion or review scores, it is always a shame to see a development team lose their jobs due to circumstances beyond their control. After pulling together to finish development on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning despite issues that have since come to light, every employee of developer Big Huge Games was handed their walking papers.
Now Epic Games‘ President Mike Capps has announced that the chance to make the situation right has presented itself, and the North Carolina studio won’t sit idly by. The makers of the Gears of War series are forming a new studio in Baltimore, MD with plans to incorporate much of the talent from Big Huge.
Those who have kept up to date on the drama surrounding 38 Studios knows that Curt Schilling’s dealings with the Rhode Island government resemble something out of a bad daytime soap opera. Schilling has given his side of the story, and whether or not it is the whole truth, it’s clear that most of the issues had little to do with the work being done by Big Huge on Amalur.
On Epic’s official site, Capps revealed that they had been approached by former employees of the shuttered studio. It seems that both sides believe joining forces is an opportunity too good to pass up:
“On Wednesday, the ex-BHG leadership team contacted us. They wanted to start a new company and keep together some of the key talent displaced by the layoff, and hoped that they could use an Epic IP as a starting point for a new game. We loved that they all wanted to keep working together, but it was pretty clear they’d have trouble building a demo and securing funding before their personal savings ran out.
“In one of life’s coincidences, Epic’s directors had spent the morning discussing how we’d love to build even more successful projects with our growing team, but that we’d need a dramatic infusion of top talent to do so. Which, we all knew, was impossible.
“So now we’re planning to start an impossible studio in Baltimore.”
There is no question that the developer talent that brought Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning to release is among some of the best in the RPG space. If you have any doubts, read our review. Epic’s decision to put some of those team members back to work is one that should be applauded by everyone, along with other studios in the area extending job offers.
It’s difficult to think of any “Epic IP” that could resemble the fantasy worlds created by Big Huge, and was expected to expand upon with a sequel. As intrigued as we are by the thought of a Gears of War RPG, Infinity Blade seems to fit. Taking that property away from Chair would be a strange move, but a full-blown console version entrusted with ‘Epic Baltimore’ could allow both groups to work to their strengths.
Either way, this is good news for everyone involved. Epic is bringing some employees to work in their headquarters on a contract basis, so expect to see the benefits of their handiwork before long.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.