EA Blueprint was my favorite division of the publishing giant that I was never fully sure existed, and, according to a new expose on Variety’s games blog Cut Scene, never officially did and now surely will not. What I did know, or had gathered piecemeal from various sources was that it involved producers Neil Young (whose work had quite rightly given me the outright creeps in college when I’d beta tested his Majestic, many moons before we’d all properly learn the acronym ARG) and Alan Yu.
I did know that it had had within its scope the creation of cross-platform games (beyond console ports: most excitingly, a dip into social games, as it did by extending last year’s Wii trivia game Smarty Pants to Facebook), and the ability to bring Stephen Spielberg into the building and walk out with the Wii’s Boom Blox, an almost entirely unlikely game to come from such a major Hollywood producer.
Blox, which Variety posits will now be getting a sequel, had an energy and a fundamental delight in core mechanics — you do, after all, do little more than explore play possibilities inside a very simple block-and-ball physics engine, just for the pleasure of watching things topple and explode — that could easily have come from a passionate indie.
I knew there was a worrying pall in the air nearly a year ago when I’d heard whispers that both Young and Yu were planning an exit from the company, but it wasn’t until only very recently that we’d find out why, when they founded the iFund-backed iPhone startup ngmoco, which, even just two games so far in, shows more promise at understanding what makes gaming on the platform unique than most others.
Knowing what we know now from the Variety article at the start of this year, I might have been worried for EA having “shuttered” what felt like its most exciting prospect, but with newly announced projects like Kyle Gray’s DS puzzle/platformer Henry Hatsworth and the ‘wonder-triplet-powers, unite!’ EA Partners deal that will bring together No More Heroes and Killer 7 developer Grasshopper Manufacture, Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, and, peripherally, Rez, Lumines and Meteos developer Q Entertainment, my worries have been almost fully abated.
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