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Shiny Entertainment Purchased, Absorbed 37

LifesBlood writes to mention the news that Foundation 9, one of the largest independent game development firms, has acquired the non-game assets of Shiny Entertainment. You may recall Shiny as the makers of titles like Earthworm Jim, Enter the Matrix, and (though I'm the only one who ever played it) the unusual strategy title Sacrifice. From the article: "Shiny was originally purchased by Atari in 2002 for an estimated $47 million, but financial terms of the sale to F9E were not disclosed. F9E did reveal that the acquisition was funded by Foundation 9's recent investment from Francisco Partners, which gave F9E a capital infusion of $150 million over the next few years. Under the terms of the transaction, F9E will acquire all the non-game assets from Shiny, while Atari will retain its current project planning formerly developed by Shiny, including Earthworm Jim."
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Shiny Entertainment Purchased, Absorbed

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  • by Murrdox ( 601048 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @09:51AM (#16290949)
    You're not the only one who played Sacrifice.

    I popped it back in my drive just a few months ago and beat it again. It's in there with my top 5 favorite games of all time.

    I love Shiny with all my heart. I fell in love with them and all the work they've done since I first played Earthworm Jim. I'm not a fan of their Matrix games, but Shiny's strength has always been in their insane degree of creativity.

    Earthworm Jim
    Wild 9

    All these games are incredibly original and a pleasure to play. We need more game companies like Shiny
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by malsdavis ( 542216 ) *
      I'd have to agree 100%

      Sacrifice was an amazing game due largely to its originality. It had obviously been developed along a "this would be a really cool feature, lets put it in" and "no-ones done that before, so lets try it", rather than the usual corporate, EA Games style "we wan't a game for genre X, if the feature isn't symbolic of genre X, chuck it out!" and "this won't port well to the X-Box /Playstation so chuck it out!".

      All their games had a strong element of creativity and originality in them. Surpr
    • by vonPoonBurGer ( 680105 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @10:18AM (#16291269)
      "We need more game companies like Shiny"
      The problem is game companies like Shiny don't survive. They had some very creative ideas, I'll give you that, but as often as not, their creativity fell flat in actual execution. Messiah was bug-riddled at release and subsequently flopped, commercially speaking, I've never even heard of Wild 9, they squandered their Earthworm Jim capital by releasing an absolutely horrendous 3D version, and they never really had a smash-hit million-copy seller to my knowledge. If all you produce are quirky niche titles, then all you get are the dollars available from a quirky niche audience. I knew their goose was cooked as soon as Atari acquired them; heck, look at the poorly-selling Matrix-related schlock they've produced since that time.

      What we really need are game companies that are half Shiny, half Valve... Sure, make that predictable, money-in-the-bank sequel, but then put some of that revenue into making a quirky niche title. Then go back to the well for another sequel to pay the bills. Or, alternately, we need indie-style game developers who can actually stick to indie-style game budgets and keep themselves from getting swallowed and digested by publishers. However, that would require indie-style game consumers who are willing to put up with lower production values for more creative titles, and right now that market either doesn't exist, or just isn't being effectively tapped into.
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by RingDev ( 879105 )
        Success and failure has a lot more to do with business sense than it does with the inginuity of the game play.

      • by Murrdox ( 601048 )
        Shiny is not the perfect developer, no. Earthworm Jim was their biggest and best hit. They proved that really creative ideas can really take off and become popular. They have had some stumbling blocks, and they might not have the best business sense sometimes, but the talent and the creativity are there. I was actually disappointed when I found out they were doing the Matrix games, because I honestly don't think that making movie-tie in games is their strength. But you're right, unfortunately developer
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by shawb ( 16347 )
        There's a couple reasons indie-style game developers find it difficult to stick to the same budget. The first and foremost is that your programmers/artists/etc won't be willing to work for free once the first game is released. If you don't give them a salary once you start selling games (and a salary that recognizes that they had worked a long time on little or no money) then they go to another develoer who is able and willing to pay their employees. And once your first game is released, the related cost
        • I thought Bruce Campbell was responsible for "Groovy"? Didn't know Sam Raimi was the director/producer.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by shawb ( 16347 )
            Yep... Raimi [imdb.com] pretty much cut his teeth on Evil Dead... Raimi and Campbell were good friends growing up and pretty much started their careers with that movie. They had done other movies together earlier, but Evil Dead and the sequels are pretty much what gave those guys hollywood level names. I actually doubt that Raimi owns the rights to the word "groovy" said in that manner, but was just trying to give an example that was relatively on topic to illustrate the idea that making ONE hit game can be done on
    • by Jartan ( 219704 )
      MDK is a bioware game. Not sure where you got that it was a Shiny game. Perhaps they published it?
    • Sacrifice was a fun game, though a little strange. But I only have one thing to say: Bovine Intervention > all.
    • Sacrifice's engine was pretty good too. Continious LOD for Terrain. Too bad the editor was wouldn't always start.
  • Vague article (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @09:57AM (#16291001) Homepage Journal
    The article is somewhat confusing. After reading it and Shiny's website, it seems that the purchase did not include rights to previously published video games, or to a game currently in development for Atari. However it would have to include "game assets", because that's basically all Shiny has - particularly the patented technology they developed for producing games. The article makes it sound like nothing F9E acquired was related to game production at all, and that can't be the case. So apparently, by "game assets" they mean "rights to existing games".

    Dan East
    • by NekoXP ( 67564 )
      I would expect Game Assets means they get the ability to produce Earthworm Jim 6 or something, based around the characters and storylines.

      But not rights to existing games themselves, so whoever is going to pick these up for Wii/PS3 Virtual Console doesn't talk to F9E but to.. I dunno.. who works at Shiny these days?
  • Sacrifice (Score:4, Interesting)

    by malachid69 ( 306291 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @10:19AM (#16291287) Homepage
    Some of us don't play it because after buying it, trying to install it, getting a message that I am not allowed to install it (x64), and emailing tech support - they never once responded. Basically, they wrote their installer to PREVENT x64, and didn't label it on the box... so I have it, but it is completely useless and tech support might as well not exist.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ichigo 2.0 ( 900288 )
      Sacrifice was released in 2000, so I don't think preventing installation on a x64 system was high on their list of priorities, seeing as there was no such thing. The blame lies in WinXP64, it has caused nothing but trouble for me which is the reason I reinstalled the 32-bit version as soon as I could. Wait until Vista (or switch to Linux) if you want a real 64-bit OS.
      • by Svartalf ( 2997 )
        If you think that the problems will go away with Vista on 64 bits for Windows, you'd be mistaken.

        Vista is XP with several major subsystems chucked out the window and completely re-written.

        Vista's a nightmare for most waiting to happen- if XP64 has issues, you can bet your bottom dollar
        that Vista will also have many of them. As for preventing installation...

        Not sure what the installer does- it probably sees a 64 bit environment and thinks it can't even
        really run on it. Sounds like a sloppy installer becaus
      • Well, the problem is that they try to be smart by auto-detecting and deciding that I don't have a new enough system. The Nokia tools used to do the same thing. If they took out the auto-check, it would install fine. Most other apps (including games) have no problems -- I am running many x32 apps on it.

        As far as an alternate OS... yeah, I have FreeBSD 7 on the other one.
    • You missed out on an excellent game then. Sacrifice is a shogi-like variant to normal RTSs; essentially once your troops die they can be converted to your side by desecrating the corpse at your altar. The system kept every 'piece' in play, making it crucial to protect your troops, or at least their bodies. Also, your choice of deity (from 5) throughout the game influences the spells your avatar possessed. Never played the multiplayer version (not even sure if it had a multiplayer). Even though the storyline
      • It did have multiplayer, and in fact the experience you gained online affected your offline play, but not the other way around. Very very creative game. I just wish I could run it on cedega...
  • .. whether 'non-game' means anything but the games, or anything unconnected in any way to the games. If it's the first, they'll have ended up with the merchandising rights to any Earthworm Jim toys/cartoons etc.
  • Eaten! No but serious Microsoft's strategy seems to be applied by allot of companies lately, is it a trend or is this the future where start ups get absorbed by larger companies.
    • by EEBaum ( 520514 )
      You're about five years late with the doom and gloom. There are very few startups and independent houses left.
  • MDK was also a Shiny game, and it was the first pseudo-realistic sniper-shooter that I can recall. What a blast.
  • Atari retains the Earthworm Jim license. "Non-game assets" means the employees - the studio itself. About 40 people strong, the Shiny people are to be moved into the same office as The Collective, but will still function as an independent studio.

    (I read the press release on the Foundation 9 site [f9e.com]).
    • by Krokus ( 88121 )
      By the way, there's also an article on Gamespot [gamespot.com] about this. It includes an interview with Jon Goldman, the CEO of Foundation 9.
  • I thought I was the only one still playing with that title :) I reloaded it recently with limited success on a winxp pro X64 system, but I still have it on a old laptop I cart around for entertainment and DVD's

There is one way to find out if a man is honest -- ask him. If he says "Yes" you know he is crooked. -- Groucho Marx