What was happening in the world of video-game news this week one year ago? Well, Bethesda "moved on" from Skyrim, LA Noire's creator's next game crashed and burned (or did it?), and EVE developer CCP had some grand news about World of Darkness. Haha... awwww.
Then: Just like that, Bethesda washed its hands of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Or rather, it wasn't so much like "that" as it was like "thaaaaaaaaaaat." The wide-open fantasy role-player didn't always get the best DLC, but it flew off into the sunset a massive, magical thing nonetheless. A year-and-a-half after Skyrim came out, Bethesda "moved on" and halted production of new DLC altogether. It hasn't looked back since.
Now: If the Internet got its way, Bethesda would've announced Fallout 4 on about 12 different occasions by now. Each time, the entire world would've fallen to its knees in shock - economies crashing, civilizations rioting - more than the last. Or, you know, not at all, because obviously.
On top of that, we recently got ahold of leaked casting documents that revealed the next Fallout's existence, a possible setting (the Commonwealth, aka Massachusetts), characters, and tons more. Bethesda, however, still isn't talking.
I managed to pull Bethesda's Todd Howard aside a couple months ago and ask about it directly, but he was—as per usual—ultra-cagey. He refused to use Fallout's name and only offered that we likely won't hear anything concrete out of his disheveled, irradiated camp for "a while." So take that as you will, because that could mean pretty much anything.
On the upside, Skyrim continues to waddle along like the fattest and happiest of dragons. Countless mods and a thriving community have allowed it to far outlive its "expiration" date in ways Bethesda could've never imagined. Kirk bid Tamriel a fond farewell when the news of Skyrim's DLC drought first broke, but projects like Skywind and this horrifying Thomas The Tank Engine thing ensure the game will live on in our dreams and nightmares.
Also I guess The Elder Scrolls Online came out. It's OK.
Then: After the tumultuous end of L.A. Noire developer Team Bondi, a number of its former employees—including controversial head Brendan McNamara—moved over to Kennedy Miller Mitchell's games division to create the somewhat troublingly titled Whore of the Orient. The project was set to be distributed by Warner, which made sense given film director George Miller's involvement.
Here's what it was set to be about:
Shanghai, 1936. Whore of the Orient. Paris of the East. The most corrupt and decadent city on the planet, where anything can be had or done for the right price. Plaything of Western powers who greedily exploit the Chinese masses. Boiling pot of Chinese nationalism, with the Kuomintang ruthlessly trying to suppress Communism and the labour movement. Home to the International Police Force, a group of Western cops hopelessly trying to keep the lid on and keep the peace.
Last year, however, reports surfaced that the entire studio shut down, leaving the game's future dangling over a churning pit of hungry piranhas.
Now: Long story short? We still don't know for sure. The studio definitely suffered massive layoffs, with a handful of ex-staffers going on to establish a Sydney, Australia-based indie studio called Intuitive Games. They've yet to release anything so far.
And then the story gets strange. KMM Games has made nary a peep since the layoffs, but the studio—or what's left of it—did receive a $200,000 grant from New South Wales' Interactive Media Fund. That's not even close to enough to produce a game of this one's scope, but it is a sizable chunk of change by most standards.
So is Whore of the Orient still alive? Officially, yes it is. KMM, however, refuses to return emails or calls. If anyone wants to talk about what's really going on here, we're all ears.
Then: EVE Online developer CCP managed quite the tightrope walk, always keeping buzz surrounding vampire sandbox MMO World of Darkness eerily silent, yet maintaining a tense atmosphere, as though they could leap out from around a corner and announce something of significance at any given moment. At last year's EVE Fanfest, CCP showed off genuinely impressive work-in-progress footage and revealed development plans including PvE, social systems, vampire powers, and clothing (aka the most important of all vampire powers). Finally, something concrete to sink our fangs int—
Now: Nope. Yesterday CCP announced that it has decided to cancel World of Darkness and lay off its dev team. Gigantic bummer.
It kinda came out of nowhere, too (though not entirely, given some winter layoffs that preceded it). I spoke with CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson just a couple months ago, and he told me that the team had decided to take inspiration from open-world survival sandboxes like DayZ and Rust. And the layoffs that came just before? Apparently that particular axe dropped in the name of "focus."
I suppose the obvious lesson here is that you shouldn't get attached to a game that's been in development for eight years with next-to-nothing to show for it. The less obvious lesson, meanwhile, is that there's definitely hunger for another game with EVE's amazing potential for player-driven, well, everything—albeit with less utterly impenetrable mechanics, systems, and social ladders—and I do believe someone will eventually make it. It just probably won't be CCP.
Link(s) To The Past is a weekly feature in which we look back at least year's big news and analyze how far we have (or haven't) come.
TMI is a branch of Kotaku dedicated to telling you everything about my adventures in the gaming industry. And I do mean everything, thus the name. It's an experiment in disclosure, storytelling, interviewing, and more. The gaming industry is weird. People are weird. I am weird. You are weird. Why hide that? Let's explore it.