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Posts tagged ‘Bruce Shelley’

10
Sep

Are you a Vintage AgeCommer?

Have you been a member on Age Community before February 2009 when Robot Entertainment took over the reigns? Well if you were you can now get your very own “Vintage” badge on the Robot Entertainment forums. It looks pretty snazzy as below:

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2
Jul

Bruce Shelley to speak at the Europe GDC “Five Rules for Draft One of Your Game Design”

Gamasutra reports that legendary game designer of Ensemble Studios, Bruce Shelley will be taking part in a 50 minute lecture at the Game Developers Conference in Europe (the GDC). The lecture is targeted at developers with any expierence and the summary as per the GDC website is as follows:

Session Description
Both veteran designers and students of game design sometimes struggle with the challenge of, ‘I have a great idea but I haven’t figured it all out and I don’t really know how to express it on paper.’ In this Game Design session, Bruce Shelley shares five guidelines for the challenge of producing a complete first draft game design proposal, a road map to help designers focus their thoughts and get momentum on the process of ‘getting it down.’ He covers both the game design decisions you need to have made before you’re ready to pitch an idea, and how to make that perilous journey from intuitive idea to the written word.

It is great to see Bruce actively taking part in the games industry. Bruce recently served as design advisor on Ubisoft’s Settlers 7. If you haven’t checked out Settlers 7 it might be worth having a dabble at the game demo. With Bruce Shelley involved you can be sure the first 15 minutes of the game will be very fun and engaging, one of Bruce’s design values is to have the first 15 minutes as fun as possible

The GDC takes place August 16-18th and I expect we shall hear details about what Bruce has to say on or soon after the event.

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15
Apr

Final part of Dusty Monk’s IncGamers interview – Talks about Windstorm projects and the future

Dusty’s final interview part is now online at IncGamers. Having previously touched on MMO’s and the past at Ensemble Studios attention now turns to the future with Windstorm Studios. First up, how and why did Dusty choose to start up Windstorm? We know that Dusty was very passionate about the Halo MMO at Ensemble and must of been very saddened by the projects closure. It turns out that Dusty mooted the idea about setting up his own studio back in 2007 after Ensemble’s MMO project (codenamed “Titan”) was cancelled:

Titan, for me, was really the dream job. When they killed Titan, I started looking at what Ensemble was probably going to be working on next. I’d already been saving up some money on my own, thinking about starting up a studio, and I decided then that now was the time. It’s never easy to jump ship and go off and do things on your own – you never know how it’s going to do. It’s especially hard if you’re married and you have children and you’re looking at the difference between a secure job, with benefits and with a paycheck, versus a completely and totally unsecure job creating a company that’s building the most expensive kind of game you can build, in an industry hit by the hardest recession that it’s ever experienced! So, yeah, it wasn’t a great time from an economic standpoint, but from a personal standpoint it was the right time for me. I’d just decided that with the severance money from Microsoft combined with my own savings, I had enough money to be able to float myself for a couple of years. I knew the games that I wanted to build, so I decided now was the time to go forward with that.

Once the studio was set up Dusty and his studio immediately began work on some MMO prototypes before creating some excellent concept art and presentations to show for prospective game publishers. Unfortunately as discussed before there was some difficulty getting publisher commitment despite getting unanimous positive feedback about the game and the ideas. The problem is with the MMO genre is that the game development is very costly both at the beginning and in the games maintenance – servers, payments etc. Even though Dusty has come from working at a prestigious studio, Ensemble, publishers had difficulty in gauging what kind of company Windstorm was:

For the first eight months of the company’s lifetime, we were working on our prototype. We finished that around September and the prototype has been largely received with great enthusiasm. From about September through January I shopped the prototype to a number of different publishers, both international and within the States, and all of them have without exception, said “We love the idea, love the project, but we’re just not ready to go forward yet – and part of the problem is that we’re just not sure there’s enough of a real company here.” And I get that; I can sort of relate to that.

Its a tricky situation – approaching publishers with a brand new idea with a brand new unheard of company is always going to be a tough sell coupled with the high development costs and risk associated with the MMO genre things weren’t looking so good. However, not to worry as the MMO idea isn’t blown out of the water yet – Dusty is not one to give up so easily and has a plan for the studio going forward.

So the plan of attack right now is to go forward with a smaller single-player game, and get that out there for people to start playing. This will serve as a sort of introduction to the world that we want to build. So from that standpoint, we’re still doing really well. We haven’t got our project funded by an MMO developer yet, we’re not going forward with the MMO, but we are going forward with the smaller project. I have every anticipation of having enough funds to finish the small project. We’ll get it out there, and then we’ll see how it goes from there. If the project is really well received, and people like the world and they like the game, then that will hopefully provide enough credence for the company that a publisher will come and go “Hey, this company has some legs, we feel like it’s a real legitimate endeavour. We love this idea and people are really responding well to this idea, so let’s go forward with that.” And if it doesn’t? Well, then we gave it a hell of a go.

The single player game will be an RPG based on the same environment of the MMO project – a very exciting and unique world, futuristic, colourful with lots of flying cars. Its also great to hear Dusty is maintaining some of Ensemble’s fantastic development values as first introduced by Bruce Shelley:

There are two design tenets that came out of my time at Ensemble, and these are actually originally Bruce Shelley’s design tenets, back when he was working on Railroad Tycoon. The first is: build a world in which people want to play. This means bright colours and bright palettes, and a very appealing place. This will be absolutely true for any game that Windstorm Studios produces. If you look at the very first copies of Age of Empires 1, you’ll see that it uses a lot of bright colours and a lot of bright palettes.

The other is: make the first 15 minutes fun. If there are any design principles that are guiding the direction of Windstorm Studios games, it’s those two. Hopefully the first 15 minutes will be a good time, and it’ll be a place that you’ll want to play in.

With values and traditions like these being carried forward I am certain people will be very interested to hear about this very unique game. As Dusty’s studio is hard at work on bringing us this exciting game be sure to keep an eye out on the studios website and follow the studio on Twitter. As development continues I am sure that later this year we will begin to see more concept art and then screenshots and maybe a video trailer.

The estimate right now is to try and have something out there around November. That’s the plan of attack right now. Before that point we’ll make an initial announcement about the game itself, and then we’ll start trying to build some press, and some excitement, and some word of mouth, and talk about what the actual game is and the world that’s in the game and the characters, and stuff like that. I can tell you it’s not going to be a casual game – it’s very much going to be a character-oriented world-type game.

Exciting stuff. Good luck Dusty and the team at Windstorm Studios!

You can read the full part 2 of Dusty’s interview here at IncGamers:

http://www.incgamers.com/Interviews/265/windstorms-dusty-monk-interview—part-two/1

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31
Jan

GamersGlobal.de interview Bruce Shelley “Closing Ensemble was a mistake”

 

Bruce Shelley has been interviewed by a German online magazine GamersGlobal.de. Most of the interview talks about Settlers 7 and Bruce’s role in the games development. It looks like he’ll be bringing accross Ensemble game design philosophies such as playtesting and making the game easier to play for gamers. However if you listen to the first few minutes of the interview Bruce talks about the closure of Ensemble Studios where he believes it was a mistake and says that the studio was closed due to Microsoft thinking it wasnt a strategic studio anymore. He goes onto say that Ensemble were making different games outside of the genre but those games kept being cancelled by Microsoft. Clearly Microsoft did not give the studio a chance to explore titles outside of the RTS genre,  a big shame on Microsoft.

Check out the video below:

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31
Jan

Bruce Shelley working with Ubisoft on “Settlers 7″

Its been just over a year when Ensemble Studios closed its doors (29th Jan 2009) and we have seen lots of news where the developers have set up new companies such as Robot, Bonfire, NewToy, Fuzzycube and Windstorm and we have seen some of the developers join posts in other prestigious companies such as Paul Jaquays now working at CCP North America. However news has been scarce about iconic Ensemble developer and co-founder Bruce Shelley, until now.

Today it was widely revealed that Bruce Shelley has joined Ubisoft’s Blue Byte studio where he will be working as consultant on the RTS game “Settlers 7″. It looks like nothing can keep Bruce away from RTS video game development! You can find out more about the game and see Bruce in action as he describes the economy structure of Settlers 7 in the YouTube video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXIs5Z1Kk5c

Also check out the high res download of the video over at BigDownload.com

Settlers 7 open beta now open

More good news is that the Settlers 7 game that Bruce is working on is now accepting beta signups so that you can get a first look at the game. More details about that available here: http://www.fileplanet.com/promotions/settlers-7. Note also that an ubi.com account is needed for registration so be sure to get that setup first.

Remember-EnsembleStudios.com will be following developments of this game closely and will update with any more Bruce Shelley blogs or vidlogs. Keep an eye out!

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4
Apr

So where are they now? Dallas Observer discusses Robot, Bonfire and Windstorm

6_demolition

No, thats not a picture of Ensemble Studios’ old offices. Instead it is a picture of a near by building which was demolished before the closure of Ensemble Studios as discussed in Bruce’s Blog.

You may be wondering where Robot and Bonfire are based now that they have disbanded from Ensemble. Well the Dallas Observer revealed today that Bonfire Studios has taken up the helm in Ensemble Studios old offices in Dallas. Robot Entertainment on the other hand are based in Plano.

It may be assumed that Robot have taken up offices in Plano and that these offices are the same offices that Ensemble Studios was planning to move into before its closure. One might also remember that Bruce Shelley hinted in his blog that with Microsoft shutting down the studio means that they no longer have to pay for these new offices.

With Robot moving out of the old Dallas offices and moving into Plano this may explain why its taken a little longer for them to get thier website up and running. No doubt the move involved lots of work re-creating an IT Infrastructructure for the company.

More information on this can be found here in the Dallas observer: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/040409dnmetvideogames.3b84ec9.html

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24
Mar

Gamespot interviews David Rippy. Talks about Ensemble’s closure and whats happening with Bonfire!

davidrippy

Quick update here – Gamespot have managed to hold a Q&A session with Bonfire head and ex producer at Ensemble, David Rippy. David talks about some of the things surrounding Ensemble’s closure though he much re-iterates what Bruce Shelley has said in the past that Ensemble has lost sync with the vision of its parent (Microsoft). He goes on to talk about what it is like to start an independent studio in the economic climate and how it differs from being an independent developer from an acquired developer.

A good read here:  http://uk.gamespot.com/news/6206580.html

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17
Mar

Robots at work; Halo Wars.com gets re-branded and DLC coming

robotent1

Halo Wars fans who often visit the official Halo Wars community website may have noticed that as of yesterday the site had been re-branded from Ensemble Studios to Robot Entertainment. Whilst I am pleased that Robot get to make their mark its somewhat sad that the Ensemble name has been removed.

Robot Entertainment folk are working on Halo Wars DLC which I imagine will be announced in the next few weeks. It is unknown whether the DLC will completely or partially re-brand the game to Robot Entertainment. Tony Goodman’s crew are staying zipped about what the DLC is going to include. Good news is however in traditional Ensemble fashion they are actively listening to fans and players on the forums. You can catch people like Dave Pottinger and Jerome Jones who were both leads on Halo Wars browsing  the forums. Just look for the Robot logo under their names.

Of course another thing we can expect soon is the launch of the Robot Entertainment website which has been displaying a splash screen for quite a while; keep checking back here by adding us to your RSS feed and we’ll let you know when it goes live.

A few other updates…

I know I’ve promised updates to the Bruce Shelley and Ben Donges blogs, I’ll try to get them up soon. 

Oh, and, I’m sorry to report that ES_Paragon and ES_Solus are no longer with the Ensemble crew at Robot or Bonfire, but are pursuing other opportunities. We wish them good luck with that. :)

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22
Feb

Tony Goodman hands Bruce the AIAS Hall of Fame award

bruceaias

You can now watch Ensemble founder Tony Goodman hand the legendary Bruce Shelley the AIAS hall of fame award. Bruce joins 11 other members in the hall of fame.

IGN has the video coverage of Tony Goodman presenting the award here:   You many need to skip to 39:25.

http://video.ign.com/streaming/dice-2009/index.html

You can also spot Tony Goodman wearing a Robot branded shirt as opposed to the sadly defunct Ensemble Studios. This may be the last we hear of Bruce Shelley for a while as he prepares to take a break and travel. Perhaps one day Bruce will return to work with his Ensemble colleagues in Bonfire and Robot but for now we wish him good luck and congratulations on his achievements and well deserved award.

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21
Feb

G4tv interviews Bruce Shelley

bruce

Available in high definition G4tv have interviewed luminous Bruce Shelley after his AIAS awards ceremony where Mr Shelley was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his services to the gaming industry.

You can find the video interview here:

 http://g4tv.com/thepile/hdvideos/36850/DICE-2009-Bruce-Shelley-Interview-.html 

It gives some insight on Bruce’s thoughts for his future and that of Bonfire and Robot including the difficulties they may face getting a publisher on board with new ideas in this economic climate.

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