Black Isle - All News
Saturday - September 02, 2017
Black Isle - The Last Days
US Gamer looks back at the glory and the last days of Black Isle Studios:
The Last Days of Black Isle Studios
The crucible that defined some of the best RPG designers ever.
Feargus Urquhart remembers the moment that he knew that it was time to leave Black Isle Studios—the team he had founded a little more than five years before it was under Interplay.
Interplay had been struggling with debt and other issues for years before Urquhart finally decided to leave the studio he named for a region of Scotland, his ancestral homeland. But he had nevertheless held on all the way through 2003, if only out of the vain hope that they could finally finish Fallout 3.
Interplay lost $20 million in 2003, but Urquhart knew that it was over well before that.
"For me, I was very aware of what was going on at Interplay in general, and I tried to share that as much as I could with everyone in Black Isle," Urquhart remembers. "The point where I felt that Black Isle was not going to get the support it needed from Interplay anymore was when Interplay lost the [Dungeons & Dragons] license. Interplay could have figured out how to keep it, but it was a lower priority. This meant a game that people had been working on for two years had to be scrapped. After that happened, it felt to me like the writing was on the wall and both Black Isle and Interplay itself were probably not going to be around much longer.
That summer, Urquhart wound up departing the division he had helped to create after a seven year stint. And then the clock started ticking.
Sunday - March 29, 2015
Black Isle - The Cancelled Planescape Game
Eurogamer has another article style interview this week with Colin McComb about the story behind Black Isle's cancelled PlayStation Planescape game.
The Souls effect will reach fever pitch this week with the release of Bloodborne, and very important gaming people at lunch around the world will wonder how they can copy it. Feels like a recent thing, given that Dark Souls appeared in 2011 to really kick it all off. But as I discovered, in something of a crypt in London recently, the Souls effect was felt a long, long time ago.
It's 1996 and Super Mario 64 has come out, Quake has come out, Tomb Raider has come out. The Spice Girls are only just coming out (I could have worded that differently). Meanwhile, over in America, Colin McComb writes Planescape campaigns for Dungeons & Dragons. But he wants to go to California because there's this girl there. Then he sees his chance.
"Come on out and be the lead designer of this PlayStation game that we're doing with the Planescape licence," a company offers him.
The company turns out to be Interplay, a games company in full bloom; the man offering him a job is Feargus Urquhart, head of subsidiary studio Black Isle (now in charge of Obsidian Entertainment). What Urquhart wanted Colin McComb to make was something a lot like 1994 PS1 game King's Field. You know, King's Field made by From Software. You know, the King's Field series that would inspire Demon's Souls.
"Have you played King's Field?" Urquhart asks McComb in his first briefing. "And I said, 'I have not,'" McComb tells me. "And he said, 'Your first task is to play King's Field.' So they dropped me into an office with a PlayStation and King's Field and then said, 'Get going.'"
Brief in hand, McComb got going. It was just him and a programmer in a small office for weeks, months even. He hadn't made a computer game before, only tabletop games, but gradually ideas began to form, and the project known as Planescape PSX was born.
Thursday - December 20, 2012
Black Isle - Crowdfunding Campaign Launched
The resurrected Black Isle Studios has launched their own crowdfunding campaign via blackisle.com to fund a protoype for Project V13. The campaign itself uses a humorous Mayan Apocalypse device and features Interplay vets Chris Taylor, (artist) Chip Bumgardner and (writer) Mark O'Green.
The actual project uses the same codename as the planned Fallout MMO but is now a strategy/RPG with base-building - possibly they'll use some of the assets from the original V13 in this revised concept?
Project V13 (PV13) is the first planned Black Isle Studios release in years, a post-apocalyptic strategy RPG. You will create a character to represent yourself within the game world. Your character will be a hardy adventurer from a variety of backgrounds; one of the last remaining humans, a new breed mutant, or a technologically advanced cyborg. The choice is yours.
Once you have determined your character's background, you will found your "colony". From a deserted city, a broken down military base, or even the ruins of an oil pumping station, the colony will be yours to rebuild and control. Attract non-player characters for guards, peons, scientists, and other activities. Or, if you are the type that so desires, shanghai the NPCs. Put them to work rebuilding your society and improving your colony.
Meanwhile, you will experience grand adventures to gather the resources and ancient technologies as well as fight back the enemy hordes. Your character will gain experience, advance skills, learn new talents and gain access to incredibly powerful equipment. Or die trying.
Explore the world, meet friends, and fight your neighbors for control of resources. PV13 will be your chance to rebuild a devastated world.
It's important to understand these funds are to build a prototype, not a complete game:
The prototype will be a "proof of concept". It won't have the entire world or a finished game. We've got some great ideas, but they haven't been tested in the crucible of actual play. We need time and money. [...]
We can then use this prototype to raise the additional funds necessary to complete the game.
You also don't get a copy of the finished game in any reward tier - the primary reward is access to a forum to discuss the game. For example:
$10+ contributions will receive:
•Access to a special Black Isle forum. You can read about the ongoing fight to save the world. (And PV13.)
•A copper BIMAR forum badge.
•A Certificate of Recognition at the end of 30 days.
$20+ contributions will receive:
•Access to the private forum as well as posting privileges.
•A silver BIMAR forum badge.
•A Certificate of Merit at the end of 30 days.
In essence, this is a donation to Interplay. From their FAQ:
For purposes of clarity and the avoidance of doubt, in consideration of Interplay's good faith efforts to develop, produce, and launch the forum with the funds raised, You agree that any deposit amounts applied against the Game Cost as described above shall be non-refundable regardless of whether or not Interplay is able to launch the forum, complete the prototype, or complete and deliver the Game. In the unlikely event that Interplay cannot deliver the forum or prototype, Interplay will post an audited cost accounting on its website to fully explain the use of the deposits for the Game Cost. In consideration of these and other promises by Interplay hereunder and herein, You agree to irrevocably waive any claim for refund of any deposit amount that has been used for the Game Cost in accordance with the above.
Finally, there is no goal or progress display.
Wednesday - August 22, 2012
Black Isle - Returns?
The return of Black Isle Studios has been announced but previous members don't seem to know much about it. For example, Chris Avellone on Twitter 'I know nothing about the Black Isle Studio news announcement, doesn't involve me or Obsidian... or well, anyone that I know. ;)' and Brian Fargo 'I just read that Interplay is bringing back Black Isle. Hmmm... Not enough info for me to comment'. The sparse website is here.
Monday - October 26, 2009
Black Isle - Re-Release of D&D Games
GameBanshee has noticed new listings for Black Isle's classic Infinity-engine D&D games. with Baldur's Gate, BG2, Icewind Dale / 2, Planescape Torment and some packs all due for release on Oct 30, according to the Amazon UK listings.
Thursday - October 08, 2009
Black Isle - Van Buren Presentation @ Framework
I've filed this under Black Isle but, whatever the heading, this is part of Chris Avellone's presentation from the Framework '09 developer conference. These two videos (one, two) at Youtube offer 20 minutes discussion of the design for the long-canceled Van Buren / Fallout 3.
Wednesday - May 02, 2007
Black Isle - Van Buren Tech Demo Released @ NMA
Well, they've outdone themselves. NMA has released the actual Van Buren (Black Isle's canceled Fallout 3) tech demo that was built to get the green light to proceed with full production. Remember that this is a tech demo - a very early demonstration framework from 2003 that is in no way complete (or stable, for that matter) and was never intended for public consumption.
Head here to read NMA's newsbit, including instructions, details and a download link.
Tuesday - May 01, 2007
Black Isle - Van Buren Screens & Video @ NMA
We've had some technical problems in the last 12 hours, which prevented me from updating - although not everyone was affected so you may not have noticed. On with the show...
NMA has managed to get their hands on more Van Buren (Black Isle's Fallout 3) material, with a video (hosted on YouTube or a higher quality 3D Downloads version [11Mb]) and they also have a batch of 10 screens.
Thanks Tannhauser and an anonymous reader.
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