Sometimes a reunion tour is magic. Post-punk band Mission of Burma started playing shows 20 years after its dissolution in the early-‘80s last decade and turned out to be better songwriters than they used to be. Amazing. Then there’s the Smashing Pumpkins, a grisly, hollow imitation of the band fronted by a flailing Billy Corgan and staffed by college kids.
Interplay says it’s reuniting the legendary RPG studio Black Isle Studios. Which reunion will it be?
Interplay is the saddest zombie in the video game business. Nearly 30 years ago, founded by InXile Entertainment’s Brian Fargo, it was a standard bearer for creative video game production. It transformed electronic role-playing and action games alike with early BioWare works like MDK and Baldur’s Gate, it pushed comedy in unexpected genres with brawlers like Clayfighter and Earthworm Jim. A decade back though, Interplay started to disintegrate. It was delisted from the NASDAQ exchange.
Its only presence in the industry was as a corporate interest trying to hold onto lucrative IP. Its unofficial death came in 2003 with the closure of Black Isle Studios, its core development house behind Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, and Fallout. A version of Interplay exists today, but it’s a groaning automaton, belching back out digital re-releases and failing to fund new projects.
On Wednesday, Interplay suddenly opened a website as well as Facebook and Twitter pages for Black Isle Studios. “Our goal has always been to make the world’s best RPGs. Black Isle Studios is back,” reads the site.
Don’t start getting too pumped up, Planescape fans. This is no Mission of Burma reunion. Brian Fargo said via Twitter, “I just read that Interplay is bringing back Black Isle. Hmmm… Not enough info for me to comment.”
Fargo’s a busy man though, working hard on his own reunion show with Wasteland 2. It’s understandable if he’s not in the loop. What about Obsidian Entertainment though, the studio behind RPGs like Fallout: New Vegas staffed by Black Isle Studios icons like Chris Avellone?
“Doesn’t involve Obsidian at all,” Avellone told Eurogamer, “No idea what it’s about. I wasn’t aware anything beyond the name was left at Interplay.”
This new Black Isle Studios seems about as substantial as the supposed Fallout MMO Interplay was making last decade as it fought to keep the rights to the series out of Bethesda’s hands.