Castaway vets plant Big Tree Games

Former Blizzard developers resurface with strategy-action game Demonborn, on lookout for a publisher.


A little over a year ago, Castaway Entertainment joined a long list of independent studios in dire straits. The studio suspended operations and put out a call for help, searching for a publisher to acquire it.

Demonborn draws on Diablo and Defense of the Ancients for its inspiration.
Demonborn draws on Diablo and Defense of the Ancients for its inspiration.

While the studio hasn't been heard from since, ex-Castaway Entertainment vice president Stefan Scandizzo told GameSpot this week that it did in fact find such a publisher in the Austin-based Challenge Online Games and has since reformed as Big Tree Games and started work on a PC action-strategy game called Demonborn.

However, the studio has hit another obstacle: Scandizzo said Challenge has since dropped it from the payroll. As a result, the San Mateo, California-based Big Tree Games now has an "80-85 percent complete" version of Demonborn in need of a publisher, Scandizzo said.

Challenge's take on the subject differs a little, as CEO Andrew Busey told GameSpot that it still owns Big Tree Games and the Demonborn game. "We are, however, exploring publishing and partnership opportunities for the game (which could potentially include a spin-off of the studio)," Busey said.

Envisioned as a cross between Diablo and the popular Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients, Demonborn drops up to 10 competing players on a variety of battlefields, asking them to complete an array of cooperative and competitive objectives with customizable characters. The game is designed to grow beyond the original release, with new skills, equipment, levels, and characters either packed in to full expansions or added by way of microtransactions. An early clip of Demonborn can be seen below.

Founded in 2003, Castaway was the primary developer on only one released game--the Xbox Live advergame Yaris--due to a series of unrelated project cancellations and shifting market demands. As a result, the studio is still most closely associated with the Diablo series of games. At one time, the company boasted a cumulative 75 man-years of experience on that franchise alone.

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