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Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes

Epic games announces they've established a new development house in Hunt Valley, Maryland called Impossible Studios, which includes former employees of Big Huge Games, following word that Epic was looking into a way to assist the studio that was left in a lurch following the sudden demise of parent 38 Studios. Here's the deal:

Epic Games, Inc. announces the opening of Impossible Studios, a company comprised of highly skilled, senior-level game development talent. Based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, Impossible is the latest addition to Epic’s network, which includes corporate headquarters in Cary, North Carolina; ChAIR Entertainment in Salt Lake City, Utah; People Can Fly in Warsaw, Poland; Epic Games Korea in Seoul, Korea; and Epic Games Japan in Yokohama, Japan.

Founded in June, Impossible brings world-class game development expertise and creativity to Epic’s growing team. With heralded roots in real-time strategy and role-playing entertainment software, Impossible brings its own distinct design and technical sensibilities to Epic’s portfolio of games and game technology across major platforms.

Led by studio director Sean Dunn, Impossible’s first project is the touch-based action role-playing game “Infinity Blade: Dungeons” for iOS. “Infinity Blade: Dungeons,” which was conceived at Epic’s Cary studio, is being developed in collaboration with Epic and ChAIR under Impossible’s roof in Maryland.

Impossible consists of former employees of Big Huge Games, creators of the renowned “Rise of Nations” strategy games, “Catan” for Xbox LIVE Arcade, “Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties” for PC, and “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Big Huge Games earned the Baltimore Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work 2011” award and was also honored as one of Game Developer magazine’s top 30 developers in the world earlier this year.

“Epic Games has truly embraced this stellar collection of developers who were displaced by the closing of Big Huge Games,” said studio director Sean Dunn. “They have looked after us with complete care, giving us all the tools and resources we need to make a lot of gamers happy.”

“We were so glad we could help keep this great team together, and we’re lucky to have them,” said Epic Games President Dr. Michael Capps. “At the time, I said that finding a full team of superstars was ‘impossible’ and apparently the name stuck! Pairing the imagination and experience of Impossible with Epic’s technology, IP and resources makes for a business greater than the sum of its parts.”

Capps will lead an “Infinity Blade: Dungeons” panel with the game’s lead designer, Ian Frazier, and author, Brandon Sanderson, at Dragon*Con in Atlanta on August 31. “Infinity Blade: Dungeons” is set for release on the App Store later this year.

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17. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 10, 2012, 12:35 Parallax Abstraction
 
wtf_man wrote on Aug 10, 2012, 09:18:
Parallax Abstraction wrote on Aug 9, 2012, 20:51:
Given that the vast majority of iOS games fail miserably (Mark Rein himself said the average title without publisher backing grosses $700), you are not at all guaranteed to be profitable.

There's a few reasons for that.
1. There's a bazillion shitty games to sift through to find the good ones.
2. Most of them have shitty controls, so it's tough to judge whether a game is actually good or not.
3. Review sites (that have gameplay videos) mostly don't show a game being played in hand... they show the full screen. They need to show both. I find myself going to youtube looking to see how it plays / controls in hand. Out of hundreds of games reviewed on just one review site alone, I found 10 potentials... that I still have to do further research on before I'd consider buying.

I can see all of those reasons being big factors but no one seems to be rushing to address them, least of all the platform holders like Apple and Google. It's a huge problem and one of the main reasons I believe mobile's in a bubble right now but no one seems to care to fix it.
 
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16. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 10, 2012, 09:18 wtf_man
 
Parallax Abstraction wrote on Aug 9, 2012, 20:51:
Given that the vast majority of iOS games fail miserably (Mark Rein himself said the average title without publisher backing grosses $700), you are not at all guaranteed to be profitable.

There's a few reasons for that.
1. There's a bazillion shitty games to sift through to find the good ones.
2. Most of them have shitty controls, so it's tough to judge whether a game is actually good or not.
3. Review sites (that have gameplay videos) mostly don't show a game being played in hand... they show the full screen. They need to show both. I find myself going to youtube looking to see how it plays / controls in hand. Out of hundreds of games reviewed on just one review site alone, I found 10 potentials... that I still have to do further research on before I'd consider buying.
 
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15. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 10, 2012, 07:40 Dades
 
If these folks can produce a compelling title for mobile platforms that includes serious gamers, it'll sell bucketloads and they'll be heroes.

I don't actually believe this is possible, the mobile market has incredible visibility problems. You would need to spend at least your dev budget on marketing to pull it off. Go look at the shelves in a Wal-mart for the Wii, multiply what you see by one thousand and you'll see what they're up against. Many people are not interested in playing serious games on a phone, they just want something silly to pass the time while they're on the train or sitting at the doctors office. Even if you get them interested, good luck getting them to pay real game prices when they're used to paying $1 or nothing for every game.
 
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14. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 10, 2012, 01:57 Creston
 
You know, for all that I think the customer facing guys at Epic are giant fucking toolbags (cliffyb, Rein, Capps), this is a really cool move on their part, and I applaud it.

The way those guys were left basically without a LIVE after Curt's fiasco blew up was sickening, and I'm very glad Epic bailed them out.

Many, many kudos, Epic. You're the hero of the day.

Creston
 
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13. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 9, 2012, 23:00 Alamar
 
Prez wrote on Aug 9, 2012, 19:23:
A developer making iOS games may as well be dead as far as I'm concerned, but the key thing in this case is that Epic did a good thing here. These guys woukd be out of work were it not for Epic. Who knows - having all that PC gaming talent close at hand may convince them to fund these guys so they can do a PC game down the road.

Also good to consider cross platform, which I realize a lot of people here already dislike, but mobile games have begun being ported to PC, and while maybe not idea for epic, it's a good system/path for indies..

Two games regarding this are Galaxy On Fire 2 and Babel Rising...

-Alamar
 
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12. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 9, 2012, 22:19 sauron
 
Prez wrote on Aug 9, 2012, 19:23:
A developer making iOS games may as well be dead as far as I'm concerned, but the key thing in this case is that Epic did a good thing here. These guys woukd be out of work were it not for Epic. Who knows - having all that PC gaming talent close at hand may convince them to fund these guys so they can do a PC game down the road.

Prez, no offense but this is not true - growth in iOS/Android games is huge and the audience is enormous, but most of the titles currently available are super-casual. Believe me, I've tried most of them.

If these folks can produce a compelling title for mobile platforms that includes serious gamers, it'll sell bucketloads and they'll be heroes.

For example, if there was a really great, gritty hardcore RPG for iOS/Android, fans would be all over it, but that space is currently a blank canvas.

Killer RPG app for mobile platforms? Go go go!!
 
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11. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 9, 2012, 20:51 Parallax Abstraction
 
NKD wrote on Aug 9, 2012, 19:03:
Mobile development is where it's at. You're not going to make triple A blockbusters, but you're going to be profitable and you're gonna have a job.

Given that the vast majority of iOS games fail miserably (Mark Rein himself said the average title without publisher backing grosses $700), you are not at all guaranteed to be profitable. The major advantage of course is the cost of getting in is much lower which mitigates risk (though not for long at the rate Apple and companies like Epic are trying to drive tech that needs massive budgets on iOS) but it's not the gold rush cash cow everyone seems to think it is. If you don't get co-promotion through Apple (i.e. what Infinity Blade did) or end up in their top 25 lists (which are dominated by the same, largely publisher-backed titles), few are going to notice you and fewer are going to buy in. Granted, this is not the case with Epic because they somehow managed to sell a lot of their $8 pretty looking, ultra-repetitive, skinner box driven tech demo. I have played a number of iOS games I really like but the Infinity Blade titles are awful and demonstrate the worst micro-transaction driving aspects of iOS gaming.

The thing I find odd is that these guys are apparently calling Infinity Blade: Dungeons their first release. Wasn't this announced well before 38 Studios even collapsed? It actually looks neat (it seems to be a totally different game than the previous two, maybe one with actual game play this time) but I thought someone else was doing it. It is still awesome that Epic picked them up though and I hope they can make a good go of it.
 
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10. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 9, 2012, 19:43 killer_roach
 
Then again, considering the development hell they endured with their association with 38 Studios, having something with a quick turnaround might be a good thing for them to get back on their feet.  
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9. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 9, 2012, 19:31 Cutter
 
I love how they don't mention any numbers but say only....
highly skilled, senior-level game development talent
. So really, what? A handful of people got jobs? And what's their first job? A cell phone game? Heh, oh yeah, they must be immensely talented that they turned away the multitude of other offers to work on this instead. And Epic is just so big-hearted to utilize their skills like this and I'm sure they didn't at all shaft them on salaries, benefits, etc. Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

 
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8. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 9, 2012, 19:23 Prez
 
A developer making iOS games may as well be dead as far as I'm concerned, but the key thing in this case is that Epic did a good thing here. These guys woukd be out of work were it not for Epic. Who knows - having all that PC gaming talent close at hand may convince them to fund these guys so they can do a PC game down the road.  
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7. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 9, 2012, 19:03 NKD
 
Mobile development is where it's at. You're not going to make triple A blockbusters, but you're going to be profitable and you're gonna have a job.  
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If you don't like where gaming is heading, stop giving your money to the people who are taking it in that direction.
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6. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 9, 2012, 18:59 DarkCntry
 
A LOT of developers are pushing out iOS/Android apps for one simple reason, low-cost overhead.

The potential for decent (take note of that word) apps to create a large margin of profit is very high for them and honestly, it only makes sense for them to capitalize on it.
 
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5. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 9, 2012, 18:32 Trevellian
 
Why hate on the iOS? They have JOBS in a shitty economy. They're still working on a game, and they're working on an Epic IP which is what they wanted to do. And the UT3 engine runs great on the 4S and iPad3.
I love both Infinity Blade games, have been a great source of entertainment to kill downtime at work.
 
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4. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 9, 2012, 18:26 Beamer
 
Actually, I'll point two things out:
1) It seems like most people starting new studios today are going iOS. How many people that have been in the industry forever have announced their new iOS studios? Dozens. Alex Seropian's new game, etc.

2) Remember, these guys approached Epic saying they wanted to start a studio and use some of Epic's IP. They started a studio, and they're using Epic's IP. I'm thinking this is probably exactly what they wanted from Epic (and more, since Epic financed them and they didn't expect that.)
 
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3. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 9, 2012, 17:38 Stimpack
 
Was just going to say the same thing. iOS? What the hell. Seriously, what the hell? I almost got excited about this news.  
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2. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 9, 2012, 17:37 bhcompy
 
iOS games.. poor fucking bastards  
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1. Re: Epic Forms Impossible Studios from Big Huge Ashes Aug 9, 2012, 17:37 jacobvandy
 
Yes, they're so awesome you've put them straight to work on an iOS game... I'm sure they're grateful to still have jobs, but making a game for iPad in 3 months has to be such a drag after getting to do a huge project like KoA: Reckoning.  
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