Startups

Is Baltimore County’s video game industry back on track?

Two new strategy games from a pair of familiar names suggests it might be, the Sun reports.

"DomiNations" is in development for iOS and Android.

(Image courtesy of Big Huge Games)

Big Huge Games closed up once, nearly closed once before that, and came back with a new name and owner once after that, but like Rocky Balboa, it’s back for more.
The once-defunct Timonium developer’s name, among assets auctioned off after owner 38 Studios went bankrupt and shuttered, is on the newly-announced “DomiNations.” 
The iOS and Android game, along with a new “Civilization” title from Hunt Valley’s Firaxis, could be a sign that Baltimore County’s game development industry is back on track following a bumpy few years, The Baltimore Sun reports.

Both announcements are signs of an alive-and-kicking game industry here, though several years of upheaval and turnover have subtracted a few players. The studios of game makers including Zynga, Impossible Studios and even Big Huge Games have closed since 2012. But as in the past, those in the region’s experienced workforce who remained didn’t sit idle for long.
“People they left behind were free for the hiring,” said Brian Reynolds, who left the Timonium studio that was dubbed Zynga East shortly before it closed in February 2013.

Reynolds, cofounder of the former Big Huge Games, got his start at Firaxis and MicroProse. He got together with fellow Big Huge Games cofounder Tim Train to gather the castoffs, buy the brand and get to work, according to the report.
This isn’t the first time a company has tried to piece Big Huge Games back together. Impossible Studios was launched by Epic Games in the aftermath of 38 Studios’ bankruptcy, with much of the developer’s former staff, then shuttered by Epic just six months later, as Joystiq reported. Employees were given the option to use the studio’s name and logo, but instead they’re digging a little deeper to bring back the 14-year-old Big Huge Games name.
Before it was shut down in 2012, Big Huge built games like “Rise of Nations,” “Catan” and “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.” The latter featured the work of author R.A. Salvatore, “Spawn” creator Todd McFarlane and the music of Grant Kirkhope, best known for his work at Rare on soundtracks for games like “Banjo-Kazooie” and “Perfect Dark.”

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