By mtmckinley 1 Comments
About Fever PitchI thought I'd take a minute to talk about Fever Pitch Studios. This studio was an offshoot from Digital Anvil (an offshoot from Origin) in Austin, Texas. They had been making an RTS called Conquest: Frontier Wars for the PC but near completion, it got cancelled. A couple of the developers broke off from Origin and got the rights to complete Conquest on their own, creating Fever Pitch Studios. It was released, published by Ubisoft, in 2001.
They then set about finding new work. They got the contract to a new RTS and hired a few people with the Conquest money. That title got cancelled however so, their engine (a real-time strategy game engine) and converted it to be a dungeon crawler RPG engine. They used Lord of the Rings characters and showed it off to Universal and got the green light on an ambitious Lord of the Rings RPG! With this new project, they staffed up to the team I eventually joined. Including myself, there were about 15 of us!
Year 5 - 2004 - Changes at the office!If my time line is right in my head, this is the year that Fever Pitch Studios merged with another studio. It was quite a change for us, as you can imagine! The merger was bringing in a studio called Outlaw. They had about a dozen people and were working on a title called Johnny Whatever and were in danger of folding. Warthog purchased them and brought them into the fold. We had no room at all in our little office, so a new office was needed!
We moved into an old renovated movie theater over the Christmas break. I had traveled back home to visit family, so when I came back, I had to drive about 20 minutes to the new digs. I missed being able to walk to work, but the new office was pretty sweet! It even had a big marquee out front that we could put whatever we wanted on.
At first, I shared an office with one of my co-workers, Grayson, an animator. We continued to truck along on Shadow of the Ring and I was really enjoying it. We hired a few more people even! I remember it was around mid-year, and I was creating the buildings for a stilt city that were all made of old ship parts when we had a big meeting called.
This was one of my first experiences with "The Meeting". For those who can't tell where this is going, "The Meeting" is that ominous, out-of-nowhere, company-wide meeting that can go either really really well... or incredibly awful. Just that week, we had a new hire show up for our team and it was literally only days later that The Meeting happened.
Shadow of the Ring had been canceled.
My heart leaped up into my chest. My contract had just been renewed! My boss told us somberly that he held on as long as he could, but the decision was out of his control. Universal had made the decision to cancel not just SoR, but ALL of their Lord of the Rings properties, stating that the EA competition was just too much without the film rights.
So it wasn't that they didn't like our game... they were just going to take a bath on the whole Lord of the Rings thing altogether. My boss told us that we should prepare for layoffs to be announced within the day and that he would do his best to get us a new project soon. I felt like there was very little chance of my being kept on to stay. I felt REALLY sorry for the new guy who had just moved to Texas from his home state of Virginia...
Talk about a lousy day at the office...