Editor's Note: The mysterious person known as Superannuation shows up every two weeks like a new paycheck, if you had a job that paid you in gaming rumors and secrets, all sourced to publicly available information.
What was hiding in plain sight this time? Plenty, though in this edition, Superannuation is seeing if the available evidence adds up to, of all things, a next-gen Dragon Age and a multiplayer Star Wars game. You be the judge. The evidence follows:
An EA Shanghai level designer who worked on a vertical slice of Dragon Age III earlier in the year states on his LinkedIn page that the "Scope of the DAIII has been chaged [sic], which will target next gen platform [sic] and will be postpone [sic] to 2014." The claim of the delay is probably a misinterpretation of the rumors of the RPG sequel's delays from fiscal 2013 (before March 31, 2013) to fiscal 2014 (after that date), which was pegged to EA wanting to avoid the rushed development criticisms that dogged Dragon Age II. However, those "development cycle" posits are seemingly not entirely accurate, as the designer says that EA wanted to refocus Dragon Age III from a current-generation title to a marquee next-generation RPG.
Dragon Age III coming to next-generation platforms should not be a surprise to anyone, as EA tellingly excluded any specifics on platforms in the game's September announcement—a way of saying that the intended platforms have not yet been announced.
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Last week, Splash Damage, developer of multiplayer-oriented shooters Brink and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, threw up a teaser on its website for what seems to be a project announcement on Thursday, November 29th at 11:29 (GMT?).
Earlier this year, the London-based studio said it was completely moving to free-to-play multiplayer games development and establishing two sister companies—Warchest and Fireteam—to allow the firm to publish and provide online infrastructure for its own games, respectively. The first title from the newly vertically-integrated Splash Damage is a turn-based iOS strategy game Rad Soldiers, which was supposed to be out in June but still is in open beta.
In addition to RAD Soldiers, Splash Damage is developing two other projects—a PC exclusive due out by year end and a console game slated to be released sometime next year, both of which are free-to-play. CEO Paul Wedgwood said Splash Damage's staff is divided with half working on self-funded, self-published endeavors and the other half focused on "a blockbuster [free-to-play] game for a external publisher."
In July, Splash Damage posted a job listing in relation to a "new soon to be disclosed first person shooter" that is "an exciting new IP." Chronologically speaking, this appears to suggest that the PC title apparently due out by year's end is a new IP FPS. Wedgwood spoke rather fondly about the idea of being able to experience different facets of an IP on various platforms, so perhaps this is an FPS complement to the RAD Soldiers universe? Various platforms, so perhaps this is an FPS complement to the RAD Soldiers universe? (Also, the announcement is likely either this game or a release date for RAD Soldiers.)
Additionally, a sound designer who left Splash Damage last month mentions in his CV work on "Unannounced AAA Franchise Console title" alongside RAD Soldiers and an "Unannounced AAA PC Title," indicating the aforementioned contract title is their free-to-play console game. The bit about a franchise title is perhaps a bit curious considering that a report circulated late last year suggesting the studio just signed a contract with Disney to develop a multiplayer Avengers game utilizing the tech they built for Brink; however, Wedgwood quickly put a kibbosh on such speculation, denying that the company was working with Disney or "building a pop culture IP."
This franchise could very well be a gaming IP, but free-to-play titles for the Western market are often the sort of thing that publishers prefer to handle internally. If you don't take the Wedgwood "pop culture IP" denial at face value, arbitrarily guessing things, the very multiplayer shooty-sounding mysterious XBLA (and presumably PSN as well) title Star Wars First Assault appears to be a good fit for Splash Damage, given the studio's track record of multiplayer shooters. Also, LucasArts already tried to create the multiplayer-oriented Star Wars once before with Slant Six's Star Wars Battlefront Online, which was put on hold because the publisher couldn't find a place for the game in its slate. And should this theory prove to be true, it would mean that Splash Damage would, ironically enough, now be working with (what is now a subsidiary of a subsidiary of) Disney.
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Back in May, Phosphor Games Studio posted a job opening for an Unreal Engine 4 programmer that went surprisingly unnoticed. According to the listing, Phosphor is working with Epic's programmers "to develop new features for UE4," and also previously assisted with engineering new features in UE3.
The Chicago-based studio, which has developed Unreal-powered mobile titles like the horror shooter Dark Meadow and Zynga-published adventure Horn as well as some for-hire work, is the second external company to disclose its involvement in helping Epic create Unreal Engine 4. Newcastle's Pitbull Studio, a for-hire firm founded by folks from the now-defunct Midway Newcastle, revealed earlier this year that it was working on UE4 as well as a UE4-based game.
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Finally, Jim Charne—a Los Angeles-based games industry attorney whose clients include the likes of Bungie, Ready At Dawn, NaturalMotion, and an assortment of independent developers—filed a trademark registration last month for "CSR Heist." One of those aforementioned clients, NaturalMotion, released the freemium iOS racer CSR Racing this past summer, and this registration likely hints that the developer is prepping some sort of cops-and-robbers-themed followup.
superannuation is a self-described "internet extraordinaire" residing somewhere in the Pacific Time Zone. He tweets, and can be reached at heyheymayday AT gmail DOT com.
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