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Irrational, Harmonix vets come together to make games that big studios wouldn't touch
Irrational, Harmonix vets come together to make games that big studios wouldn't touch
May 14, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

May 14, 2012 | By Eric Caoili
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Veterans from Irrational Games and Harmonix have formed Eerie Canal Entertainment, a new independent developer that wants to focus specifically on working with eccentric game ideas.

Made up of developers who've worked on popular franchises like BioShock and Rock Band, Eerie Canal emphasizes that it wants to make "creative and inspired games that are too risky [for] large studios."

"I've been working on AAA titles in the games industry for over 10 years now, and I love being able to work on a piece of fiction that no big studio would touch because it's so out there," says Bryn Bennett, former lead programmer at Irrational Games, Iron Lore, and Harmonix.

Bennett is joined by former Irrational and Harmonix lead artist Steven Kimura, Harmonix audio lead Arthur Inasi, and Harmonix artists Aaron DeMuth and Mallika Sundaramurthy.

Their first game is Dreadline, an action RPG/real-time strategy hybrid in which players control a team of monsters that kill humans who are already doomed to die, such as victims of the Titanic. The team describes it as a mash-up of Diablo and Freedom Force.

Eerie Canal has worked on Dreadline for six months now, building it on a new in-house game engine codenamed "shoe_gazer." The studio expects to release the title in the first quarter of 2013 for PC. A trailer for the game is available to watch here.


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Comments


Bryn Bennett
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Thanks for the mention Gamasutra!

E McNeill
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Power to 'em! I'd love to see more eccentric stories in games.

Also, I hope that the gameplay proves to be equally creative, and that the fiction serves a higher purpose than weirdness.

Ian Bogost
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On the one hand, it's always good to see big studio veterans striking out on their own, and I wish you the best of luck and good fortune.

On the other hand, is an RPG/RTS with monster/human violence that can be Hollywood Pitched as "X meets Y" really "eccentric?" Is that something "so far out there" that "no big studio would touch it?"

I'm not just being snarky, or at least I don't want to be. Are big studios really so conservative that "But the monsters are killing the *humans*!" is off the table? Or is the eccentricity and risk hidden in the narrative frame? Or what?

Bryn Bennett
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It's actually going to be quite a bit different than a straight RPG/RTS mix. Originally I had "Diablo / Freedom Force / Mario Kart mashup" in the press release... but my friend who writes these things for a living said that I should take that part out. He thought it would just confuse everyone, and I'm sure he's right.

But, to answer your questions, I do personally feel that a humorous take on monsters killing humans during calamities would probably turn off most big publishers. To be fair, though, we never approached any of them.

Steve Ouimette
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Great game idea, this is definitely something I could get into.

Ian Bogost
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Thanks for your response Bryn. And good luck!


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