Ensemble alums assemble Robot Entertainment

Tony Goodman and other veterans of Age of Empires studio launch placeholder Web site for new development house.

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Last year saw its fair share of shock studio closures plague the gaming industry, arguably the highest profile of which was Ensemble Studios. A Microsoft-owned studio since 2001, Ensemble was best known for its widely acclaimed Age of Empires franchise for PCs. Despite the studio's strong sales record, Microsoft revealed in September that Ensemble would be shuttered after it completed work on the Xbox 360-exclusive Halo Wars, which ships to retailers March 3.

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Shortly after the announced move, Age of Empires creator Bruce Shelley took to his blog to explain Microsoft's financially motivated rationale for closing Ensemble. As part of his post, he revealed that a portion of Ensemble's leadership team had plans to set up a new development outfit, headed up by current studio chief and founder Tony Goodman.

Today, the first details of that new studio have emerged, as Tony Goodman and other Ensemble alumni have launched Robot Entertainment's official Web site. "The founders of Ensemble Studios, creators of the award-winning series Age of Empires and Halo Wars, proudly present a new endeavor," the placeholder site reads. "Stay tuned, we have some big ideas…"

No other details on the studio were revealed, and the Web site clearly notes that Robot is not currently hiring. At the time of his original post, Shelley said that he did not plan to join Goodman on the new venture, although he did say he believed "the spirit and mission of [Ensemble] will be carried forward in this new company if enough of the key leaders agree to take part, which I expect to happen."

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