Deathwing, a term that both fans and players of the Warhammer: 40,000 tabletop game will be familiar with. Warhammer: 40,000 is a tabletop game created by British company Games Workshop, a setting with decades of background and development. In recent times, the amount of Warhammer: 40,000 video games being released and developed has increased, from Warhammer: 40,000 Regicide, a modified chess game, to the up-coming Warhammer: 40,000: Eternal Crusade, an MMO. Alongside the Games Workshops Warhammer Fantasy Battles video games, the future looks bright for fans of this popular tabletop game.
In comes Streum On Studio, with their upcoming game Space Hulk: Deathwing. But is everything OK at Streum On Studios? First we need some context.
Streum On Studio is a French development studio that many might not have heard of, but their history goes back to 1999. In 1999 they released Syndicate Black Ops, an FPS using Half-Life 1’s engine, this was received with a “lukewarm” reception by players, but the team continued to fiddle with it until its final release in 2001 which was much improved. Their next development was The Blade of Destiny, an RTS-FPS hybrid, this was developed by a team of 21 people, but, after 6 months of development, the project was ended due to team members leaving “for professional reasons”, however they claimed to have gained experience, skills and techniques. 2007 was their big break, as they started work on E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy, as well as making their first official contact with Valve, the Source Engine developer, bringing moral and technical support to the project. In 2010, Jean-Luc Brossard joined as Associated Producer and this allowed them to publish E.Y.E.:Divine Cybermancy. Streum On Studio claimed that the game was entirely self-funded, with no income coming from anywhere bar themselves.
The game was released in 2011 and while receiving mediocre reviews, it became a cult classic for being a game with good gunplay, interesting skill system and a crazy setting. However both players and critics complained that the game was not only confusing in regards to it’s setting and story, but on how to actually play the game, from what skills do to what you have to do when you start. However, those who kept going found an interesting game which reminded players of both Dues Ex and Warhammer: 40,000, as well as dozens of other settings and games combined together.
Roll on 2013, when Streum On Studio announced the development of Space Hulk: Deathwing, to much discussion, including the suggestion that E.Y.E had been a homage to Warhammer: 40,000, with an official game beyond their ability to pay for. However, with E.Y.E bringing in some money, it became possible for another game to be funded, or in the case of Space Hulk: Deathwing, for a publisher to take interest and support them. This seemed to have occurred, when Focus Home Interactive announced they would publish Space Hulk: Deathwing, and with that, on 2013, they released the first announcement trailer. From then on, there was very little information about the game, especially on English gaming websites, however it was possible to find information about the game from French gaming media. While nothing else was mentioned, interest faded, until February 2015 when Focus Home Interactive released another trailer, which brought the embers of interest back to life, with the unorthodox music used in the trailer (which I enjoyed and understood why it was used) being a big talking point.
Once again, news of the game went dark, until June 16th 2015, when an off-screen video showed actual gameplay of Space Hulk: Deathwing, instead of the “game engine” trailers used before. The video shown was from the E3 booth and while it showed gameplay, it was very hard to see any details in the game or get an idea of how the game is when playing it. The only clear way of seeing how the game looked like from the position of the player was from screenshots, but the fear of them being “bullshotted” (a term to describe a screenshot fabricated by a company to misrepresent the graphics of a game) means the lack of a high-quality, player perspective gameplay video caused distress in people wanting to get a better view. Obviously videos could be “bullshotted”, such as Dark Souls 2, or change due to development problems, such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but it would have at least been a better representation of the final game than the low quality video that was released
This is where the problem comes in. From E3 onwards, the information about Space Hulk: Deathwing has ended. Streum On Studio’s official website for the game has only updated to show screenshots of the game, but no new videos, gameplay or not. So what has happened? Why hasn’t there been any information about the game for over 6 months? Well, one could argue that the developers are working on the game and are too busy to update their website with new videos and screenshots, while Focus Home Interactive does not want to force them off development to make screenshots and trailers to give out to the press. However, this train of thought could be questioned; why you ask? Simple. There is no information whatsoever. Not only is there no announcement that the game is still in development, but there is no release date, not even an estimate, from official sources.
This becomes even more curious when the last news update on the official Space Hulk: Deathwing website, also on the 16th of June 2015 (same day as E3 video), was announcing that Streum On Studio was recruiting. Could it be possible team members have left, just like they did during development of The Blade of Destiny, putting the project of Space Hulk: Deathwing at risk? Could it be that they don’t have the manpower to complete the project and they’re seeking more people to help? Could it be they’re looking for specific positions in order to complete the game? Well, the Jobs page advertising the jobs gives us some insight, they’re looking for (and seem to be still looking for if this page is up-to-date); Senior AI/Gameplay Programmer, Producer, Senior Animator, Senior Environment Artist and VFX Artist. Does the advertising of these jobs suggest that they’re missing these, arguably key, positions which is causing Space Hulk: Deathwing to halt in development? Or does it show they’re trying to expand their workforce in other to tackle the development of a game which is a more challenging project than E.Y.E was? Well, unfortunately, it seems to get worse. According to people interested in the game, there hasn’t been any updates, not even on the official forum, the same forum where announcements are made. There is no reply when topics are made asking for clarification on it’s position and progress.
This, of course, is the current status, with the last Forum Announcement being June 2015. This information does not confirm that the game is dead or put on hold. However, it is worrying there has been no contact from the developers on their forum for 6 months, a forum which is pretty much devoid of activity these days. I attempted to contact Focus Home Interactive on the matter but I did not receive a reply. So, is this it folks? Is this the Death of Deathwing? Or will we receive some welcome news in the coming months? We can but hope.
But, as they say in Warhammer: 40,000; “Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment”. Let’s hope we’re not disappointed.