Ender’s Game Game Ended

If I made a game in the 80s it would be called 'FLOAT! Space-boy!'

Did you know indie devs Chair Entertainment were working on an official Ender’s Game game? They were! And now you’ll never be able to play it, ever, because in the words of Chair Entertainment co-founder Donald Mustard, “Epic’s primary objectives is to create original and unique franchises. I don’t know that Ender’s Game fits into that strategic objective anymore.” Mustard also says that the team had an “amazing” design for the game, which is mean of him. Oh, Mean Mr. Mustard. You know who doesn’t fit into my strategic objective anymore, Mr. Mustard? YOU! That is all. Thanks to Joystiq for the news.


  1. Jim Rossignol says:

    “Donald Mustard” is a good name.

    • Gap Gen says:

      As long as you keep him away from candlesticks and dining rooms.

    • Miked says:

      I hope he meets a Professor Plum carrying a lead pipe sometime.

    • Rich says:

      You need only worry once he’s attained the rank of colonel.
      Mr Mustard never did anything more dangerous than be mean to people. Although his meanness was sufficiently noteworthy to be recorded by a number of Liverpudlian bards.

  2. d32 says:

    We’ll have to build our own Battle Room then.

  3. Gap Gen says:

    I guess the problem is that there are effectively 3 games you could make for this:
    1) Arena FPS in zero-g
    2) Space strategy game
    3) Harry Potter for psychopaths in space

    • Tunips says:

      It could also have been a sports game. That might have done it actually. A more distant perspective and indirect control would avoid the wild disorientation met in Shattered Horizon.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      The zero-g rooms in Battle School would be rooms not actual space hence you’d always have frames of reference with the entry/exit doors, the “stars” (randomly placed obstacles which can be used for cover etc) & the walls.

      it would need to be a sports style game as the lasers only incapacitate & it was run in a sports style setup with league tables for the “armies” & stats tracked for each “army” & individual.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yes, a league system could have worked nicely. The non-lethal aspect might have worked for kids, too.

    • Tei says:

      Also, a Turret Defense game made in south korea… that for some reason you have to play online.

  4. passingstranger says:

    Hmm, well this is too bad. I have warm-and-fuzzy feelings about Ender’s Game as a book and the Battle Room scenes were always incredibly cool in my mind’s eye.

    That said, I can’t imagine it would be really easy to implement zero-G combat. In terms of schools of thought, there’s the basically-not-at-all zero-G jumping to surfaces of Dead Space and the “good god, is this a flight simulator” full freedom of Shattered Horizon and not much in between. I’d love to know what their plan was.

    • Helios_Five says:

      Shattered Horizon a flight simulator? Isn’t that a bit overdramatic. Controls are pretty easy to get into and pretty intuitive. Difficult for the casual crowd I guess but it’s more disorientation that’s a problem than controls.

    • TheBlackBandit says:

      I was hoping for the ‘Inception’ school of Zero-G fighting.

    • passingstranger says:

      @Helios_Five, Yes, it’s a bit over dramatic. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that added level of complexity is enough to sabotage a game’s chance at widespread success. It’s sad, but I think that first minute intimidation turns off a whole lot of people.

    • Thants says:

      It’s surprisingly badly optimized as well, which doesn’t help.

  5. Handsome Dead says:

    What a shame

  6. Atic Atac says:

    If my name was Donald Mustard I would dedicate my life to become a Colonel.

  7. Harlander says:

    “Original and unique franchises”?

    Well, it’s based on an existing work so the extent to which it could ever be original is obviously limited, but in terms of games it remains unique as far as I know.

    Or maybe that was just marketing speak that means nothing.

  8. Guildenstern says:

    Good, good.

  9. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    Epic says it doesn’t fit even if it’s an amazing design? but doesn’t this Chair Entertainment decidedly-not-indie developers? I mean, I’m ok with “indie” just referring to a specific “mindset” of a developer, but i thought it meant actual independence.

    • JuJuCam says:

      This is how the indie scene collapses. When big corporations treat it as a funding schematic or development method rather than a way of life. An aesthetic rather than a philosophy. To them “indie” means small teams and tight budgets, leading to a focussed product that is critically acclaimed and garners relatively large profit margins. Tell that to a board of directors and see if they don’t ask for ten more by the end of the financial year.

  10. Malibu Stacey says:

    I utterly adored the Ender series when I was growing up but how much could you really franchise it though? The rest of the series don’t have the same sort of scope for translation into games as the first book does because they’re primarily about peoples stories. Enders Game was written as an introduction/prequel to Speaker For The Dead hence it’s different style from the next 3 books.

    The last 3rd of Enders Game is pretty much AI War (at least that’s how I play it).

    • Jhoosier says:

      I could imagine an interesting adventure game using the tree/piggie ecosystem. Not playing as Ender, though. Perhaps a xenobiologist or something. Been awhile since I read them, so I’m a bit hazy. You could also do a mashup of Uplink and Mirror’s Edge, where the AI tries to stay hidden bouncing from server to server one step ahead of the Man.

  11. Jonathan says:

    Of course, what Chair ought to be doing is either porting Shadow Complex to the PC or making a sequel. It was possibly my favourite game from last year.

  12. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    I can’t say I’m too upset a homophobe wont be getting any royalties.

    • Lucifalle says:

      My thoughts exactly.

    • Hallgrim says:

      Seriously. Bigots ftl.

    • arccos says:

      He’s actually spoken on the topic of people boycotting/protesting him for his beliefs, but I couldn’t find the link. It was pretty eye opening.

      You’re taking an entire human being, distilling him down to one, single opinion he holds that you disagree with, and throwing him in the trash because of it?

      Do you know where or if he volunteers? What causes he gives money to? Have you thought about whether this is a person that is doing good or evil in this world?

    • Alphabet says:

      Well, he’s a homphobe, I’d rather he wasn’t active in public life at all; and I’d certainly rather he didn’t get any money from our hobby. He’s a terrible writer, and even if he wasn’t homophobic his work is military fantasy at its worst.

    • Choca says:

      I never understood this argument. I’m not too fond of bigots (being black and spending your childhood in the countryside amongst backward people will do that to you) but if some racist homophobe pedophile guy made a kick ass book/movie/game/whatever, I’d still read/watch/play/whatever it.

      I haven’t read Ender’s Game so I can’t comment on that particular piece of art but if David Bowied turned out to be an asshole, I’d still be listening to Hunky Dory all day.

      Cause it’s a fucking great album.

    • bonjovi says:

      oh yes artist’s world view is more important to me than anything!!! never mind his awesome storytelling, he hates gays and that’s what’s most important here!!!

      Also I hate cold, does it disqualifies me as a writer as well? Please do tell, so I will hide my coldphobia before i publish my book.

    • Al Ewing says:

      Really, bonjovi? Really?


    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      I have read that essay. I will say that he makes a good justification, but his argument basically boils down to, “Just because I think some people are less equal than others does not make me a bad person.”

      I disagree, natch.

    • Al Ewing says:

      Also, this isn’t just a privately held belief. Card’s on the board of directors for NOM, an organisation that pumps large amounts of money into lobbying against gay marriage – so he not only believes some people should be less equal than others, he’s actively committed to making that legally so in the US.

      I think it’s perfectly understandable that some people have a little trouble separating the artist from the art, and I think not being able to make that separation is as valid a reason as any not to buy a book.

    • DrGonzo says:

      David Bowie is an arsehole I’m afraid. But he’s not a bigot as far as I’m aware.

      I don’t get that guys argument though, he thinks some people are worse humans for their sexual preferences. I think he is a terrible human for his views. And as was said, he actively tries to enforce his life view on others who disagree with him, and aren’t hurting anyone. He is total scum if you ask me.

      But at the same time, I don’t think that means his work is bad because of it. But I can totally understand someone not wanting to contribute money to his anti-gay campaigns.

    • JuJuCam says:

      I’m all on board the artist =/= art train, but this is one of those cases where knowing what you know can’t help but colour your perception of the art. I’ll never be able to read his books (which I generally enjoy but no longer love, there are much better writers) without noticing the lack of certain types of characters, or without wondering if some characters behave badly because in OSC’s view they are sexual deviants.

    • Jack says:

      “but if some racist homophobe pedophile guy made a kick ass book/movie/game/whatever, I’d still read/watch/play/whatever it.”

      Mm. Alice in Wonderland’s still quite popular.

    • bill says:

      The thing I don’t get about this is that the character of Ender always came across to me as being totally non-homophobic. the whole Speaker for the Dead thing seemed to be about accepting others as they are, not being bound to old-style religious doctrine, etc.. Plus had some weird couples and lots of a-sexual relationships. I could have sworn there was a lesbian couple in there too, but I haven’t read it for years.

      Basically, I imagine that Ender would tell Card he’s wrong, and make him look dumb in the process

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      I agree that Card gives money and approval to organisations that actively seek to deny equal rights to homosexuals, so if you disagree with that stance than refusing to give him money through royalties is acceptable. His pesonal beliefs may have no bearing on the quality of his work (until he starts parroting them in the text, as he does in both the HOMECOMING series and the quite staggeringly awful EMPIRE novels) but when he takes the money he makes from that work and does something objectionable with it, a personal boycott is fine.

      However, I think Card’s stance is more complex than him simply being a homophobe. He hasn’t adopted the outspoken loathing of homosexuals that fellow American SF writer John C. Wright has adopted, and has somewhat positive portrayals of gay characters in his books (in his older books much moreso; in some of his later ones lazier caricatures have appeared). In interviews he has indicated that his position that gay civil partnerships are okay (yeah, generous of him), but it’s not okay to call them ‘marriages’ (which he terms a religious-only phrase). He also cites that old religious adage, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Still pithy and a bit stupid, but I definitely get the impression that Card isn’t a raging hatemonger, more of a conflicted person trying to square his life experiences (being active in American SFF circles, Card has plenty of gay contacts and colleagues) against a dogmatic religious stance (Card is a Mormon) versus his right-wing viewpoint (which has definitely gone a bit loopy since 9/11) and not quite managing it.

      However, whilst his stance on homosexuality appears to be conflicted, he is now an out-and-out liberal-hating, quasi-Neo-Con strawman-erector (seriously, just try reading EMPIRE, the book based on that crappy computer game he wrote the plot for a year or two ago) and hasn’t written a really good book for almost 30 years, so it’s actually pretty easy to avoid his work.

  13. brulleks says:

    Having tried to play Advent Rising a few years ago and found it to be an insufferable mess of poor AI and awful level design, I have to say you’re probably not missing out on much.

    • brulleks says:

      Oh yes, forgot to mention the dismal controls and pathetic combat mechanics.

    • radomaj says:

      You also forgot to mention that Advent Rising was made by completely different people (GlyphX Inc., who are not, in fact, Chair Entertainment) and was probably in a different genre. The only common thing between this and that would be that the story would be written/co-written/inspired_by_the_works_of Orson Scott Card. An element which you haven’t complained about.

    • bill says:

      Really, I finished playing Advent Rising for the first time last week, and it wasn’t half as bad as you make out. The AI in particular seemed to get reasonably good, reacting to your attacks, avoiding your grenades, taking cover, etc…

      Also, the story wasn’t bad, and definitely had an epicness and sense of character that many video games lack. Plus cool plot twists.

      What let it down was consolization (and i’m not normally an anti-console angry internet man btw). The targeting system and lightweight feel. If it had been made for PC it would have rocked.

      For a while there, it really reminded me of jedi knight (which is one of my fave games). Being able to level up the weapons, your combat skills, finishing moves, powers, etc.. and the mix of ranged/close acrobatic combat with open levels and pushing people off buildings. Plus driveable vehicles. But with stupid controls and targetting. Oh, and horrible boss battles.

      But other than that, I thought it was pretty good.

  14. Tom says:

    Donald mustard hahaha thats the best name I’ve heard since I saw Dicky Beer in the starship troopers credits.

  15. sonofsanta says:

    Shame, I just listened to the Ender’s Game novels as audiobooks and spent the majority of the first book wondering how you could convert it to a game. It would have been interesting to see how they approached it as the most likely idea I came up with was zero-G Rainbow Six.

    I like the sports-sim idea better, though. I guess my mindset was stuck in first person because of the focus of the novel. You’d have to implement something similar to F1 2010 though, with all the “off-track” stuff – you know, cold blooded murders in the shower and all that.

  16. perfectheat says:

    When was the last time Epic create a original and unique franchise? I really like them for UT and the UDK, but come on, their games have become an insult to humanity. It’s a shame since they have good people, just not any good creative direction.

    • Jonathan says:

      The Gears of War games are Not That Bad™, and I though probably not the first of their kind they did really nail the third-person cover-based shooting better than anyone else.

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      I REALLY liked Rainbow Six: Vegas’ cover mechanic, and I’m super-excited that I’ll be seeing it in Deus Ex 3. GoW’s “press one button to do everything” mechanic was not as good!

  17. fearian says:

    Giant’s drink minigames! Brutally murder the tutorial NPC’s to continue!

  18. ChainsawHands says:

    The enemy’s game is down.

  19. NecktieGrins says:

    Yo, you guys wanna join my jeesh?

    Wait, what? The game’s been cancelled? Jeeshus Christ!

  20. President Weasel says:

    Surely, surely, the headline should be “Ender’s Game game ended“.

  21. Dreamhacker says:

    Can’t imagine there was a very big market for child-soldier-sims out there.

  22. Bassism says:

    Wait, what? How is Ender’s Game not a unique and original franchise for gaming. There’s never been a game based on the franchise, and it’s nothing if not unique. Well, unless they were making a generic space rts, in which case they can fuck off.

    Seriously, I’ve thought that the battlerooms would make an incredible game for many years now. First person, with some kind of squad control for your team, and some really cool ability to jump around and get all disoriented. Make sure you’ve got localized hits implemented so you can get hit and still limp around until you get hit again. Voila, a game that we’ve never seen the likes of before, and that would be incredible.

    I wish you’d never told me about this :(

    • Urthman says:

      They probably mean they want games that will create new IP that they can own completely themselves, rather than a licensed game that would have limits on what they can do with it or how they can exploit it.

  23. Josh Brandt says:

    I heard that they couldn’t really figure out a good interface for kicking someone in the balls until they die…

    • Mr_Hands says:

      And that’s truly one of the shortfalls of today’s technology.

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      Guys, it’s only been 200 years since the Industrial Revolution; I think technology deserves a little more gratitude. On a daily basis, I thank my lucky stars that I am at least able tear harpies in twain.

  24. JoeX111 says:

    God that art is atrocious. Neckless hydrocephalic children in spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!

  25. Jahkaivah says:

    Wouldn’t it be based on a game in Ender’s Game?

    Making it Ender’s Game Game Game.

  26. Jezebeau says:

    Is there such a thing as an amazing design for Shattered Horizon + Homeworld? It sounds like two games, and developers making two games on one game’s budget rarely make a product worth playing.

  27. icdragon says:

    Quality AND Dignity? I dun believe you.

  28. The Dark One says:

    If Chair Entertainment stills wants to adapt an imaginative and controversial SF novel, they could always go for Use of Weapons.

  29. qrter says:

    You say “something unexpected surprise”, but you’ve stopped surprising something quite a while ago.