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SimCity Leads Depart EA To Go Indie, Grade Jelly

I was going to begin this post with a lament of “Oh, SimCity,” but then I discovered that Adam had already done that in our most recent piece on the fallen city-building empire. Describes the dismal set of circumstances surrounding the game rather perfectly, though, doesn’t it? Nearly everyone’s agreed that EA’s overly simplified, always-on catastrophe – which is said to be the subject of Syfy’s next disaster flick, SimCitynadovolcanoavodcado – botched its landing, and now it seems that a trio of its own developers agree. Fortunately, instead of leaving games altogether and becoming doctors/lawyers/mathletes like their mothers wanted, former creative director Ocean Quigley, lead architect Andrew Willmott, and lead gameplay engineer Dan Moskowitz have formed an indie studio called Jellygrade. Their first project is – what else? – a simulation.

Quigley broke the news on Twitter, explaining:

“We were lead developers on SimCity, SimCity 4, Spore, and The Sims 2. We love making simulations. We’re making a simulation about the dawn of life on earth; about lava, water, rock and the emergence of the first primordial creatures.”

The new game – which already has some early concept art and renders – is set to lead on iPad, but will hopefully slither onto the dry, highly evolved land of PC “in time“.

Meanwhile, speaking with Polygon, Quigley explained that he left EA in part due to “the blundered launch of something that I had poured so much love and attention into,” but also because he’d been working at big studios for nearly 18 years. He wanted a change of pace, and his next big idea – what with its highly specific focus – didn’t really fit with EA’s M.O.

“This is a little too weird and science nerdy for EA… The geo-physics and biology of the early Earth struck me as a rich and interesting subject for a game. I do like science. I do like knowing what is actually happening in the world and it seems like a rich subject matter.”

“A lot of the ideas that we have about the early emergence of life on Earth were in the early development of Spore but were lost as it became a much more cute game and less a game about physical processes. Those are things that I have been wanting to get back to, to deal with that subject matter.”

Science! Also, come on: the man’s name is Ocean. From it he was born, and forever shall he be destined to simulate its most minute of hyper-complex particle physics. So it was written in The Prophecy.

Hopefully we’ll hear more (especially on the PC front) soon. For now, though, it sounds like the right move for Quigley and co, so best of luck to them.

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Nathan Grayson

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