The house known as Black Isle Studios is not the house formerly known as Black Isle Studios. The iconic Interplay studio responsible for Fallout, Icewind Dale and Planscape: Torment disbanded in 2003 but suddenly re-emerged at the end of August promising to “make the world’s best RPGs.” The new Black Isle broke its silence on Thursday, updating its homepage asking for funding from the audience for a codenamed game, Project V13, but the update raises more questions about the studio than it answers.
“Project V13 is the first planned Black Isle Studios release in years, a post-apocalyptic strategy RPG,” reads the update, “Your character will be a hardy adventurer from a variety of backgrounds; one of the last remaining humans, a new breed mutant, or a technologically advanced cyborg.” The post goes on to describe how you’re found a colony in the ruins of the world and fill it with goods and citizens found while questing about the world.
If that sounds similar to a handful of other post-apocalyptic role-playing games, that’s because it is. Project V13 is, based on that description, not too dissimilar from the original Black Isle Studios’ Fallout series or Black Isle-founder Brian Fargo’s Wasteland. With Fargo’s InXile Entertainment making Wasteland 2 and ZeniMax Bethesda holding the Fallout license, it’s no wonder Black Isle is using a different name while also returning to its roots.
The question remains, though: Just who is it returning to their roots here? In August, Brian Fargo said there wasn’t enough information about the new Black Isle for him to comment. Obsidian Entertainment, headed by Chris Avellone and staffed by many of the former creators at the old Black Isle Studios is hard at work on its own games like Project Eternity. “[The new Black Isle] doesn’t involve Obsidian at all,” said Avellone in August, “No idea what it’s about. I wasn’t aware of anything beyond the name was left at Interplay.”
“We’re an experienced team of game developers,” reads Black Isle’s vague message, “We need to raise money to put together a prototype. We need more developers and staff. This is a big world we’re developing.”
The site is asking users to pledge $10 or $20 to the game, but neither amount gives access to the non-existent game. All that money gives access to is different sections of a Black Isle forum that won’t open until sometime in January.
We’ve emailed Interplay for clarification on who, if anyone, is actually staffing this new studio.