Gearbox wins Homeworld Auction


Photo by Johnny Wallker under a CC-NC-ND 2.0 license

I’m cleaning up some open tabs and a story of interest to me is related to the 1999 game Homeworld from Relic Entertainment.

Relic Entertainment was bought by THQ in 2004 and THQ went bankrupt this year, auctioning off a lot of old assets, Homeworld included.  Six months ago TeamPixel, a small studio, started a Kickstarter campaign to gather support to try and win the rights to Homeworld from the bankruptcy court.  TeamPixel had a goal to bring Homeworld to iOS and Android as well as creating Homeworld 3 for Mac, Windows and Linux.

Homeworld was extremely innovative for its time.  Featuring large space battles in three dimensions (and ships you lost didn’t go with you to the next mission), a great storyline and an active mod community, there was nothing else like it.

The auction and Kickstarter had some buzz – after I tweeted that I supported the Kickstarter, I was surprised how many replies I received with other people showing interest in it as well.

TeamPixel did not win the auction for the rights in bankruptcy court.  It was later revealed that Gearbox, a studio known more for first person shooters including Borderlands, Brothers in Arms, finishing Duke Nukem Forever and Counter-Strike did.

Back in August, Gearbox shared their plans for Homeworld in their developer blog, Inside the Box.  They plan to re-release Homeworld and Homeworld 2 for digital release (I’m guessing Steam) updating it to use the latest PC hardware.

The blog post is great – Brian Burleson shares his excitement in winning the auction and some of the challenges ahead in bringing Homeworld to modern technology:

When all the paperwork cleared and the source code was delivered we finally were able to unwrap what had eluded us for so long only to find that… the bike had one pedal, needed a new chain and overall was just missing parts. Granted, we knew this bike was 10-15 years old and hadn’t been touched by the original owner in quite some time, but still!

That’s when the real work started, and boy howdy, did all of those people who reached out to us at the beginning come in handy!

Over the course of a couple of months we were able to find the missing pieces and started to get the bike, erm, game, working again. (I’ll drop the bike metaphor now.)

As Martel mentioned during our panel at PAX Australia, it’s been a struggle to get all of the original tools working again. Just for comparison, the source drop we got from the purchase of the Homeworld property was 16.8 gigs. The sum of all the additional missing source we got from friends who had worked on the games originally was about 39 gigs. The two have almost zero overlap!

For example, Homeworld 2 was largely developed in a heavily customized version Maya 3. (Something we still haven’t located.) This means that if we wanted to update Homeworld 2 content for an HD version, we needed to turn to different tools.

Give the whole thing a read.  Here’s to hoping Gearbox is successful and can bring this back cross-platform as well – I’d love to play Homeworld again on my Mac!

links for 2009-04-05

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div class=”delicious-link”a href=””xmllint/a/div
div class=”delicious-extended”Use xmllint to check if an XML file is valid XML/div
div class=”delicious-tags”(tags: a href=””docs/a)/div

links for 2009-04-03

ul class=”delicious”li
div class=”delicious-link”a href=””Fourth Street Fantasy Convention/a/div
div class=”delicious-extended”A fantasy convention held in Minneapolis/div
div class=”delicious-tags”(tags: a href=””conventions/a)/div

UT3 Delays

Phoronix has another story up on the continued delay of the UT3 Linux client, ported by Ryan Gordon, aka icculus.

One sentenced in the story rubbed me the wrong way:

Ryan Gordon, the one responsible for the Unreal Tournament Linux ports, has yet to provide the Linux gaming community with any status update or respond to our inquiries.

I don’t understand how it is Ryan’s responsibility to provide an update. It has already been covered multiple times that the Linux client is hung up due to a legal issue with some offending code in the game. We should be grateful Ryan clued us in originally to what the delay was. However, Ryan works for Epic as a contractor – he’s not an official employee, and he shouldn’t be the one responsible for updating the community. As it’s a legal issue, of course he’s not going to comment. The constant speculation and conspiracy theories have grown old quickly.

If someone wants an official quote, they should be talking to someone at Epic’s office, maybe Mark Rein. I subscribe to the UT3 mailing list, and the number of questions, comments and rampant speculation on this issue, as well as the the constant badgering of Ryan are counter-productive. If he could say something, he would.

I absolutely agree that it’s disappointing we don’t have an official statement from Epic one way or another if a Linux client will ever be released. As someone who’s an avid gamer on Linux, I’m disappointed I can’t play one of my favorite franchises. But leave Ryan out of it, he’s done everything he can.

Lawyers, Guns & Money

Unreal Tournament 3 was released Monday. But the Linux client demo never appeared, and the Linux retail server and client haven’t appeared yet either.

The UT3 mailing list has also been quiet recently, but last night Icculus sent a tweet out and the news hit the mailing list soon after: UT3’s Linux bits are hung up in legal. Somewhere along the way Epic licensed some middleware that can’t be included in the Linux version. Hopefully we’ll get some more news soon.

In related news, no Gears of War for Linux, only Mac. Something about the publisher who is based in Redmond squashing that idea. Damn them.