Last January, Hasbro closed two MicroProse development studios - one in Chapel Hill, N.C. working on X-Com Genesis, the other in Alameda, Calif. working on Master of Magic 2 and supporting Falcon 4. Word surfaced this week that the Chapel Hill team has come together to start a new company called Vicious Cycle.
GameSpot has ten screenshots from the engine of an action game Vicious Cycle is developing for the PC, the PlayStation 2, and Microsoft's Xbox. We also spoke today with Vicious Cycle's president Eric Peterson to get some perspective on the company's origins and plans for the future.
Eric Peterson, Mark Racine (director of production), and Wayne Harvey (director of engineering) took the initial steps to start a new studio as soon as word of Hasbro's decision hit, and officially founded Vicious Cycle in April. Of the new studio's 11 members, some had been working at the Chapel Hill studio on the underlying programming for MicroProse games from the days of Civilization II, CivNet, and Colonization up to X-COM: Interceptor. The team's experience also includes PlayStation games such as Diehard Trilogy II, Duke Nukem: Planet of the Babes, Railroad Tycoon II, and the unreleased Atari Combat game being developed at Chapel Hill before it closed.
Though often asked whether it will continue to produce squad-based games, Vicious Cycle plans to take its design experience in new directions. Dave Ellis, senior game designer, is creating a console-friendly, action-oriented game that will be story-driven and incorporate RPG elements. A modular graphics engine and toolset have been built for the game over the last several months. Starting in July, the team is expected to start growing and split across two game projects. Both games will be based on the same engine, though its graphical flexibility means the second may likely be of a different genre.
The trick for any new developer is to match the company's efforts up with a publisher. Though it definitely will continue cross-developing for the PC, the current industry atmosphere has led the company to head in a more console-oriented direction, spurring plans to become a third-party developer for both Sony's PlayStation 2 and Microsoft's Xbox. Peterson says Vicious Cycle has been speaking with several large publishers and feels confident it will announce a deal this summer. The company's first game is planned for Christmas 2001.
Look for more news on Vicious Cycle in the coming months. You can find the company's new web site at www.viciouscycleinc.com.