Epic Games has reached out to the bulk of former Big Huge Games staffers in an attempt to rescue as much of the team as posible.
Epic president Mike Capps announced the company's decision to employ as many of the developers as it can, saying the team's continued co-operation in the face of mass lay-offs inspired Epic to reach out.
"On Wednesday, the ex-BHG leadership team contacted us. They wanted to start a new company and keep together some of the key talent displaced by the layoff, and hoped that they could use an Epic IP as a starting point for a new game. We loved that they all wanted to keep working together, but it was pretty clear they’d have trouble building a demo and securing funding before their personal savings ran out," he said.
"In one of life’s coincidences, Epic’s directors had spent the morning discussing how we’d love to build even more successful projects with our growing team, but that we’d need a dramatic infusion of top talent to do so. Which, we all knew, was impossible. So now we’re planning to start an impossible studio in Baltimore."
Capps said it will be some time before the new team kicks off work on its first project, since Epic must secure office space and equipment in Baltimore, Big Huge Games' home territory. But as "some of these folks have been going too long without a paycheck", in the meantime Epic will bring as many of the Big Huge games team as possible into its Cary headquarters to work as contractors.
"There’s a million things to work out. How many of the team can we hire? What will it be called? What will they be working on? We don’t know all the answers yet. Please give us some time to figure it out; we hope to have more to share soon," Capps added.
Epic was typically modest about its contribution, pointing to other companies which have offered shelter to the "refugees" of 38 Studios' closure, including Zynga and Zenimax.
"Epic’s in a situation where we can do this, and it very clearly fits with our company values, so we’re going to give it a whirl," Capps said.
Big Huge Games was founded by Jason Coleman, David Inscore, Brian Reynolds and Tim Train in 2000. It was purchased by THQ in 2008, but offered for sale in 2009. Curt Schilling's 38 Studios snapped up the developer along with its in-progress game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, planned as a partner and portal to Copernicus, an MMORPG set in the same universe. The entire staff was laid off as part of 38 Studios' financial meltdown.
Although its work with Ken Rolston, Todd McFarlane and R.A. Salvatore on Kingdoms of Amalur is the developer's best known product, Big Huge Games also produced Rise of Nations and the Xbox Live Arcade version of Catan.