Fractiv, Offsetting

Anybody still fondly recall Project Offset, the FPS/RPG Intel bought for internal development? Unfortunately, this grand and ambitious project got canned by Intel quite some time back. The good news, though? Surprisingly, old members of the Offset Studio have already set up new shop in Santa Clara, California under the moniker Fractiv and have even released their first game, Lane Splitter, for the iPhone and iPad (with Android to follow shortly). As cheesy as its premise is, the game actually looks pretty funny!The bad news, then? Intel does own everything the team produced before and during their stint for the behemoth. Project Offset, their magnum opus, will never see the light of day sans a slew of really cool videos and demo reels. Sniff. Talking to Bigdownload, though, studio leader Sam McGrath didn’t seem all that heartbroken, even if the long development process ultimately resulted in the cancellation of the project.

In the interview, McGrath recounts the early days of the project, telling that before they went to work at Intel, the team

…developed a graphically impressive, fully playable prototype, as well as developing core engine tech at the same time. Due to circumstances out of our control, the publisher we were working with decided to shift their company strategy in a direction that did not involve PC games, and our project was cancelled. Luckily, we had a very good contract with them that allowed us to retain the rights to our IP.1

Wow, talk about a close shave there.

According to the interview, the team was originally approached by Intel to work with new graphics hardware codenamed Larrabee, and Project Offset was to be a showcase of the platform. McGrath speculates that had the Larrabee project come to fruition, Project Offset could have been as big for Intel as Bungie’s Halo was for Microsoft. But when Larrabee begun to saw increasing delays, the team started suspecting a looming cancellation in the horizon well before the inevitable news.

In hindsight though, McGrath calls the Intel contract “the best possible decision that we could have made, given the fact that our previous funding had fallen through, and that we had the opportunity to continue development of our game, and potentially ship it out to millions of customers.” Despite this, McGrath does chastise Intel as a games publisher, stating that “Intel simply wasn’t the best place for a game developer” and goes on to outline how the management structure wasn’t quite the ideal breeding ground for game development.

In addition to Lane Splitter, Fractiv also have a larger project in the works, called The Gunsmith, an action RPG/adventure game “with a Western vibe”. McGrath says that the game also contains “mysterious fantasy elements”. The team is currently targeting mobile devices (iPhone, iPad and Android) with the game, but are also considering both a PC and a console version. Here’s hoping the team does indeed choose to commit to the PC platform - in the meantime, you can follow the team’s progress at the Fractiv website!

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