Black Isle Studios
|Industry||Video game industry|
|Defunct||December 8, 2003|
|Headquarters||Orange County, California, United States|
|Feargus Urquhart, Chris Avellone, Josh Sawyer, Darren Monahan, Chris Parker|
|Website||Official site (archived)[a]|
Black Isle was based in Irvine, California. The division was formed in 1996, adopting the name "Black Isle Studios" in 1998. The idea for the division's name came from the Black Isle in Scotland - founder Feargus Urquhart's ancestral country. Black Isle Studios is most famous for working on the first two games in the popular and influential Fallout series as well as the critically acclaimed Planescape: Torment. They also achieved success with the Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate series of role-playing video games, though they only published the Baldur's Gate series. In 1999, IGN's RPG Vault gave it the award for a Developer Of The Year. The company was closed in late 2003, when Interplay went bankrupt.
Interplay revived the Black Isle name in August of 2012 with the intention of producing new role-playing games under that label. Black Isle ceased to exist once more, without having produced any new games, when Interplay sold off all of its video game assets and intellectual property in 2016.
Created in 1996 by Feargus Urquhart, the studio was named Black Isle after Urquhart's homeland. The studio, although credited for the creation of Fallout was, in fact, not responsible for the game. Rather a key portion of the original studio came from the team that made Fallout. When developing Fallout 2, the studio's first official game, several employees left Interplay to form Troika Games after they "were unable to come to an agreement with Interplay as to how [their] next team should be structured." The remaining team would go on to release such critically acclaimed games as Fallout 2, Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale and produce the critically acclaimed Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn in conjunction with BioWare.
In the years leading to the closure of Black Isle, Interplay's financial difficulties would worsen, leading for the team to cancel anticipated games as Black Isle's Torn and Stonekeep 2: Godmaker, releasing only Icewind Dale II, publishing Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader and developing Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II. On December 8, 2003, in the midst of serious financial difficulties, Interplay laid off the entire Black Isle Studios staff, which also resulted in the cancellation of Baldur's Gate III: The Black Hound, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance III and the original Fallout 3.
Revival and Second Closure
In 2012, Interplay had been trying for several years to get the troubled Project V13 off the ground. Originally conceived as an MMO set in the world of Fallout, the project suffered a significant setback when Interplay lost all rights to use the Fallout brand. As part of their efforts to restart the project anew, Interplay revived Black Isle Studios with two of its original team members and began a crowdfunding campaign to fund a prototype in 2012. The campaign did not raise sufficient funds to develop a playable prototype, and communications from Interplay and Black Isle about the project had ceased completely by early 2014. By the end of 2015, the Black Isle website had been taken offline. In 2016, Interplay sold off all of its video game properties, conclusively ending both Project V13 and the second incarnation of Black Isle Studios.
- Fallout 2 (1998)
- Planescape: Torment (1999)
- Icewind Dale (2000)
- Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter (2001)
- Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter - Trials of the Luremaster (2001)
- Icewind Dale II (2002)
- Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II (2004)
- Baldur's Gate (1998)
- Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast (1999)
- Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000)
- Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal (2001)
- Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader (2003)
Two compilations bearing their name were also released:
- Black Isle Compilation (2002)
- Black Isle Compilation Part Two (2004)
Canceled projects include:
- Stonekeep 2: Godmaker (2001)
- Torn (2001)
- Van Buren (2003)
- Baldur's Gate III: The Black Hound (2003)
- Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance III (2004)
- Project V13 (2012)
- "Black Isle Studios". IGN. Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2006.
- Cheong, Ian. "Game Info". Lionheart Chronicles. GameSpy. Archived from the original on May 7, 2006. Retrieved July 25, 2006.
- Keefer, John (January 2001). "Black Isle Studios: We are not BioWare". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 2004-12-11. Retrieved 2006-06-25.
- 1999 Vault Network Awards
- Thorsen, Tor (2003-12-08). "Interplay shuts down Black Isle Studios". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2006-06-13. Retrieved May 1, 2006.
- Sarkar, Samit (8 August 2012). "Black Isle Studios is back in name only". Polygon. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
- "Interplay Announces Sale of Significant IP Portfolio, Wedbush Securities as Strategic Advisor". GlobeNewswire. Wedbush Securities. 7 September 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
- Blancato, Joe. "The Rise and Fall of Troika". The Escapist. Archived from the original on August 8, 2007. Retrieved March 27, 2007.
- Rougeau, Mike (23 December 2012). "What The Hell Is Up With The New Black Isle?". Kotaku. Gizmodo Media Group. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
- monokoma (5 September 2017). "Project V13 (Strategy RPG Version)". Unseen64: Beta, Cancelled & Unseen Videogames. Retrieved 13 September 2018.