We have repeatedly informed you about the situation around Rune II on the Vortex. It all started last November, when the game was supposed to come out, but the day before November 12, the developers from the Human Head studio announced their unexpected end. It seemed to be the result of hitherto unknown problems, apparently caused by publishers from Ragnarok Games, so the subsequent information about the continuation of Human Head under the wings of Bethesda and the new name Roundhouse Studios was all taken positively. However, it soon became clear that the situation was most likely the opposite, and the damaged ones were the publishers, who had no idea about the developers’ plans, were not delivered a complete game and, moreover, former people from Human Head Studios did not want to release source code and graphics. At that moment, the story of Rune II split into two lines – a lawsuit that continues to this day, and a hectic search for developers who would be able to fix the game and minimize the impact of other problems, ideally without affecting the players themselves.
Ragnarok’s internal team, simply Studio 369, has become a lifeguard, and according to a recent interview with SixthAxis magazine, its employees have a nourishing story to tell. They had to start work on November 13, and as indicated above, they could buy the game with a bit of exaggeration at the moment, and download it from the Epic Games Store. “After November 13, we repeatedly requested the final source code and were repeatedly denied requests to return our property,” explains executive producer Matt Candler. He then describes that in the first weeks they were looking for someone who is familiar with working at Unreal Engine and would like to take over the development of the game after removing the most pressing problems. “Every studio we approached, but we wanted details about the quality of the source code and graphics,” Candler lists two essential things that the original game developers didn’t want to release for a long time.
The reason for the cooperation with Symmetric Games, however, was not the publisher’s effort to involve this team, but the personal relationship of some employees, who began to help each other and improve parts of the game.
“It was basically impossible to reach an agreement with anyone because we didn’t have the code or the original assets to estimate the scope of work and set a schedule,” explains the producer, heading to the point where he and his staff realized it would they must be the ones who will keep the game alive. But they were not completely alone when they were joined by a small team of developers from Symmetric Games, the authors of the Outpost Zero shooter, which is currently running on the Unreal Engine. The reason for this collaboration, however, was not the publisher’s effort to involve this team, but the personal relationship of some employees who began to help each other and improve parts of the game, such as combat, loot or spawning enemies.
In March 2020, Studio 369 was fully integrated into the Ragnarok Games structure, and a small 18-member Munich team is now leading the development of a special Rune II called Decapitation Edition. It is a version that could be released on Steam after the expiration of the annual exclusivity for the Epic Games Store and which will become the basic version in all stores. Nevertheless, the current developers of Rune II do not want to completely erase the past, and Candler confirms that the past year has been very important for the future of the game. He states that the responses of players who played Rune II through the Epic Games Store have shaped the current form and allow us to start carefully considering other plans. “We will focus on some of the big issues we are working on with the community (interface changes, the ability to carry two weapons). And then we have the design of a new game and a concept that we will present to investors or publishers. We want to start development in January 2021, “concludes Candler. And while this attitude may seem overly ambitious – especially since Rune II: Decapitation Edition has on Steam mixed rating, the worst is already the game and especially its fans probably behind it.