One of the more mystifying absences from last week’s E3 was Eidos Montreal’s Thief 4, a game which has been in development for four years — an amount of time that encompasses the entirety of the development cycle for the studio’s first game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. If a perusal of various online resumes is anything to go by, the project appears to be rather beleaguered.
After two-plus years of work on the project, Thief 4 audio director and composer Paul Weir left the Eidos Montreal in March. The month prior, lead level designer Adam Alim went to WB Games Montreal. He apparently is not the only lead level designer to hop off the team — Pierre-Olivier Clement, the previous lead level designer, apparently moved to another project at Eidos Montreal last year. Among other departures: two senior concept artists exited Eidos to a freelance career after nearly two and three years, respectively; a senior technical level designer left last month; a senior animator went back to Ubisoft last September; and a senior level designer moved to something else at Eidos in August.
Adding to the mystery is the fact that Square Enix has been sitting on a seemingly completed trailer for the game for quite some time. Vancouver-based video game trailer house Goldtooth Creative — the folks behind DX:HR‘s CG work and trailers — worked on a Thief 4 spot around early 2011. According to a Goldtooth editor’s resume, the trailer was supposed to be “Released in December 2011” — perhaps during last year’s VGAs? Some footage from that trailer — which matches the storyboard art dug up by eagle-eyed fans at the TTLG forums — appears in the first 30 seconds of this demo reel.
Despite the apparent turnover among senior staff, the game seems somewhat structurally sound. An Eidos Montreal level designer mentions having “Designed the last level of the game.” Maybe Thief 4 isn’t as far off as the other turbulence may suggest?
Also of note: a technical animation director who left Eidos Montreal this past month mentions “Animation pipeline development for current and next generation video games,” a detail that lends credence to a recent recruiting firm post alluding to a new Deus Ex title for future generation consoles.
Details of enigmatic indie developer Playdead’s follow-up to Limbo have emerged via a listing of interactive grant recipients from the Danish government. Carrying the working title of “Project 2,” the game is 2.5D platformer “in color” that “tells the story of a boy’s struggle against evil forces trying to take over the world through questionable experiments on human bodies.” In addition, the site lists intended platforms as PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Mac.
The above piece of concept art also accompanied the project description. It is rather dark, and appears to depict a silhouette of a boy — slightly lankier and less cartoonish than Limbo‘s boy silhouette — dragging what is either be some sort headless alien carcass or one of those aforementioned “questionable experiments.” While the art seems to continue the stylistic and tonal threads from Limbo, Playdead CEO Dino Patti cautioned last October that “the art is not fully there yet,” so there might still be opportunity for an aesthetic departure.
However, Patti also noted, “[‘Project 2’ is] similar in many ways, but so different” and “more weird in many ways.” That might explain why Danish newspaper Politiken called Playdead’s next game “a bleak spiritual successor to the award-winning Limbo.”
Playdead began work on their second game around fall 2010 shortly after Limbo‘s release, and the studio expects production on the game to last “at least three and a half years.” Adding the two together roughly suggests an early 2014 launch date.
The future for Seattle’s Fuelcell Games, developer of last year’s colourful 2D shooter Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, might be uncertain. In March — a month before the self-published Steam release of ITSP — a senior engineer left because of a “lack of work for the studio.”
A game designer who departed in February says the team was working on two prototypes for new projects as of earlier this year: “Conquer” and “Ship Studio.” Of the two prototypes, the former — “Conquer” — seems to be the furthest along, with this internal trailer from January.
Described as “a mix of Castle Crashers and League of Legends,” “Conquer” appears to be a cartoonish RTS with tower defence elements putting the players in the shoes of some sort of the tribe trying to fend off an invading army. The other prototype, “Ship Studio,” is a multiplatform racing game where players use a smartphone app to make a vehicle that they can play on the PC.
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.