The disintegration of Flagship Studios is now nearly complete, and the team responsible for Mythos has formed a new gaming company, Runic Games, headed by Travis Baldree and Max Schaefer.  Max was one of the creators of the Diablo franchise, the lead designer on D2, and the Lead Producer on D2X, and after helping to found Flagship and start up production on HGL, he worked mostly with the Flagship North team on Mythos, so his involvement in the new company is no surprise. There’s nothing official on Runic’s first project yet, of course, but the press release on their site promises announcements “in the coming days.”

    Whatever they’re making, it’s starting from scratch, since the rights to Mythos were sold off as part of Flagship’s collapse. Since Mythos was well into beta testing it’s not unconceivable that the new owners will get a team together to continue its development, but clearly no one from the creating team will be working on it.

    The WarCry Network has posted an interview with Travis Baldree in which he talks about the formation of the new company, their design goals and ideas, and even gives his thoughts on Diablo 3.

    When was the decision made to form Runic Games?
    Immediately after the dissolution of Flagship Studios, we knew we wanted to get back to doing what we’d started with Mythos. We believe that there really isn’t much in the market like what we were attempting to do – an Action-RPG with a large shared MMO world, and fast-paced randomized dungeon adventuring. Our entire Seattle team is really like a family, and we knew we wanted to stick together, and this seemed like the right thing to do. Maybe sooner than we expected to be doing it – but sometimes you just have to treat life’s unexpected twists as an opportunity.

    Just for fun, what do you think about the discussion swirling around the “tone and color” of Diablo 3?
    Personally, I think what they’ve done with Diablo 3 is fantastic. It seems pretty obvious that the mandate was to make the game look like a concept painting brought to life, and I think they’ve succeeded pretty wildly. The contrast and use of color really works well for an Action-RPG, where there are hordes of monsters and spells, and separation of individual entities is required for satisfying play. I can’t wait to play it! Blizzard is really second-to-none, and I have nothing but admiration for their work. I know a lot of people are lamenting what they see as a move away from the grim vibe of Diablo, but I think a lot of that gothic feel is really sold by a combination of sound, content and story, and the visceral nature of the game – and Blizzard certainly isn’t skimping on the visceral if the videos are any indication. I also feel strongly that there’s some pretty grim content they haven’t bothered to show everyone just yet.

    It sounds like a project to keep an eye on, and our best wishes go out to Max in his new venture.

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