Interplay re-forms Black Isle Studios

August 23, 2012 // 10:06 a.m.

Tags: #baldurs-gate #black-isle #black-isle-studios #fallout #feargus-urquhart #herve-caen #icewind-dale #interplay #rpg

Role-playing giant Black Isle Studios could be back from the dead - but those involved in the company's original incarnation claim to have no idea what's going on.

Responsible for some incredibly fondly remembered turn-based titles including the original Fallout games, Planescape: Torment, and the Icewind Dale series - plus for publishing, although not developing, the two Baldur's Gate games and their expansion packs - Black Isle Studios was formed in 1996 and named for Scotland's Black Isle, homeland of company founder Feargus Urquhart.

Parent company Interplay enjoyed the success of the company's titles, but as the market moved away from turn-based games to real-time titles its popularity dwindled. The company played with real-time console action-RPGs, developing the sequel to Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 after the original game's developers left to create the rival Champions of Norrath series, but its days were numbered.

When Interplay dissolved the company in 2003, it cancelled several promising projects including an isometric Fallout 3 codenamed Van Buren and a third Baldur's Gate game. Now, however, the company claims to be back and ready to pick up where it left off - but something seems a little off.

A new Black Isle Studios website makes the claim, stating that the company is back for good - and Interplay's boss has confirmed the news. 'It really feels like getting the band back together as we're seeing opportunities not available to us before,' claimed Interplay chief executive Herve Caen of the studio's reopening. 'Given our unique position, expanding online and mobile platforms, and renewed interest in our proven properties, I see an incredible success potential for Black Isle Studios.'

According to Caen, the studio will concentrate on publishing innovative role-playing titles - just like the old days. Unlike the old days, however, it seems that the company will be made up of entirely new staff - a rebirth, in other words, in name only.

Chris Avellone, who left the original Black Isle to join Obsidian Entertainment, has denied any link to the newly reformed company, stating via Twitter that 'I know nothing about the Black Isle Studio news announcement, [it] doesn't involve me or Obsidian[,] or well, anyone that I know' - meaning that Obsidian chief executive and Black Isle founder Urquhart, who has remained silent on the news, is clearly not involved either. Interplay co-founder Brian Fargo has also expressed surprise, stating that there is 'not enough info for me to comment.'

Interplay is currently cagey regarding details of the new Black Isle Studios, but if it leads to true sequels to Baldur's Gate and Fallout we'll be jumping for joy.
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