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News video games 26 January 2024, 04:30

author: Michal Harat

Blizzard's Binned Survival Game Was Stuck in Dev Hell; In the Making for Six Years

Blizzard's survival game, which the studio had been working on for six years, has been canceled. Blame for this is attributed on problems with the engine. Numerous layoffs and restructuring at the company are in the background.

Source: Blizzard

If you were wondering what Blizzard's survival game could look like, we have bad news -- Odyssey has been canceled (we already mentioned previously). Unfortunately, we won't see how this mysterious title would fare against competition like Palworld or Valheim. This is partly the result of layoffs in the gaming branch of Microsoft.

Project Odyssey and Team Survival

When Blizzard announced in 2022 that it was working on a survival game, it had already been in production for over four years. ProjectOdyssey was supposed to be a classic, although very ambitious representative of the genre, which would allow up to 100 players on one map at the same time.

The creators were inspired by Minecraft and Rust, and the graphics would be slightly cartoonish. The was reportedly already playable, and the employees responsible for the project -- dubbed Team Survival -- spoke about their game in superlatives. The reaction of one of the team members to the news of the game's cancellation perfectly illustrates how attached the developers were to this production:

According to a report published by Bloomberg, Odyssey was canceled due to years of "development hell" related to unfortunate selection of game engine. Initially, the developers worked on Unreal Engine, but under pressure from higher ranks, they had to migrate to Blizzard's proprietary engine -- Synapse. Thing is, this engine was supposed to be more suitable for mobile games than for large and mechanically complex network productions. Ultimately, it is believed that this is what doomed the project and led to its cancellation. The report also mentioned that the release window set for 2026 was still rather unrealistic.

Therefore, among the 1,900 employees dismissed by Microsoft in recent days, there was also a large group of people from the Survival Team. The game director -- Craig Amai, who also lost his job -- is now helping the remaining team members, who have not been delegated to work on other projects, find a new position. Firing an employee before the game they're working on is released can seriously hinder their career progression.

Many of the current job advertisements in the industry require having a released production in the CV. Even among the positions currently offered by Blizzard, the requirements include at least one game published so far. The developers from the Survival Team were not only laid off before they had a chance to release anything (for many, it was one of the first projects, one they had dedicated 6 years of their lives to), but they also can't say much about the project itself since details are NDA'd.