Welcome to Beyond Co-Op, the weekly column that takes a look at what's going on in the industry outside of the co-op side of things that are near and dear to our hearts. This week, we get excited about the International, sympathize with the layoffs at Funcom, and speculate about the resurrection of the much loved Black Isle studio.
Here's the outline:
- Dota 2 Tournament "the International" Kicks off this Week
- Funcom Suffering from Heavy Staff Cut-backs
- Black Isle Studios is on its Way Back
Dota 2 Tournament "the International" Kicks off this Week
Lots of the people here on staff like to tease me a little bit about Dota 2, the sequel to the Warcraft III mod entitled Defense of the Ancients (a.k.a. DotA). Little do they know I'm an even bigger nerd about it than they suspect, as I'm a huge fan of the eSports scene for it. The International is an annual LAN tounament for Dota 2 which started last year with a first place prize of one million dollars. Yes, one MILLION dollars.
16 teams from around the world will be in attendance at Seattle to see who can claim not only the prize, but the prestigious title of International champion. The group stage starts this Sunday, with the teams being divided into two different groups. Their performance in the group stage will determine who is placed in the Upper and Lower Brackets for the main event which will start on August 31st. You can bet I'm excited!
Source: the International website
Funcom Suffering from Heavy Staff Cut-backs
After an MMO goes live, it's natural for many employees to be gradually phased out. At Funcom, however, employee cuts this week have sounded to be a little more dramatic. In a news post made by Funcom, it was stated that they are in the middle of a layoff process of employees at their Montreal, Durham, Oslo, and Beijing studios. They do mention that some of these layoffs are part of the normal process after an MMO's launch, but that makes it painfully clear that some of them are not. In sum, they mention that around half of the company's personal is being affected by this layoff process. Ouch. Half of Funcom certainly sounds like they may be in a bit of trouble.
Source: Funcom website
Black Isle Studios is on its Way Back
Black Isle Studios was a developer much loved by the PC gaming population. Hailed for their critical successes (which included Fallout 2, Planescape: Torment, and Icewind Dale), the community mourned when they were shut down in 2003. Many of its former staff moved on to form Obsidian Entertainment, known for KOTOR II, Neverwinter Nights 2, Dungeon Siege III, and Fallout: New Vegas. This week it was announced that Black Isle would be resurrected, with two simple sentences on the Black Isle website: "Our goal has always been to make the world's best RPGs. Black Isle Studios is back." It doesn't appear that many, if any, core members will be returning to the studio. Chris Avellone, a lead developer of Planescape and the Icewind Dale games (now working at Obsidian) posted the following on his twitter:
I know nothing about the Black Isle Studio news announcement, doesn't involve me or Obsidian... or well, anyone that I know. ;)
So what do you guys think? Are you excited about the prospect of a new Black Isle for the sake of PC RPGs? Or are you disappointed that it won't have the same designers as before?