BonusXP, a company founded by senior Age of Empires developers, announced this morning that they will publish an upcoming PC strategy title with Stardock Entertainment, best known for the Galactic Civilizations series.
They did not announce the content or release date of the new game. It will use what Stardock is calling Project Tachyon, its new matchmaking and cloud-gaming service. They are designing Tachyon to work with existing systems like Steam, adding matchmaking, league play, cloud-hosted multiplayer contests, and progress tracking on the web.
Former Blizzard Entertainment Battle.net engineer Adrian Luff leads that project. Battle.net is the system Blizzard uses to connect players of all its current games, including Diablo III and World of Warcraft.
The developers working on the new game have also assembled stellar resumes.
Dave Pottinger, co-founder and chief executive of BonusXP, was the lead engine programmer for Age of Empires developer Ensemble Studios and the lead designer on Halo Wars. Pottinger ended up as the director of technology and design director for Bonfire Studios, later acquired by Zynga, and led the CastleVille team.
He and John Evanson, co-founder and director of technology for BonusXP, developed the 3D RTS system used for Age of Mythology, Age of Empires III, and a chunk of Halo Wars. The pair developed the formation-based movement for Age of Empires II, helped rewrite the AI, and revamped the pathfinding system.
Jason Sallenbach, co-founder and art director for BonusXP, worked with the other two on art for Age of Empires III and Halo Wars. After Microsoft shut down Ensemble, he ended up at id Software, where he was a senior character artist on Rage.
Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Famer Bruce Shelley will be working on the game as well; he joined BonusXP recently. He has design and writing credits for Civilization, Age of Empires, Railroad Tycoon, and Covert Action.
“Stardock is putting its money in the hands of veteran creators, to help them bring the future of gaming that they hold in their minds into reality,” Stardock president and CEO Brad Wardell said in a statement. The company’s headquarters is in Plymouth, Mich.; Luff’s team works on Project Tachyon at Stardock’s new Austin, Texas branch.
“Stardock shares our vision of great games made by passionate people,” Pottinger said in the statement. BonusXP is based in Allen, Texas. “We’re thrilled to work with a publishing partner that rejects the tired mentality of churning through developers in the name of mindless sequels.
“While we could have self-published our next title, this partnership allows us to leverage the talent of both companies to create the game we have been dying to make. It’s not often that two veteran studios get a chance to work together on something like this. We cannot wait to share it with everyone.”