Finished Rise Of Nations Game Found Among Big Huge Files

Brian Reynolds now works at Zynga :(((

Update: Reader Chris Ross writes to let us know that Rise of Nations: Tactics is most likely an iOS game, not a Mac game, as confirmed via a tweet by one of the game’s designers. That makes more sense, but I dared to hope.

Original story:

Rise of Nations never got its due. It was a real-time strategy game that tried to fit the major landmarks of human civilization into a single hour of frantic war. Your units would level up through the ages as you marched across the battlefield, blending Civilization with Total War with Command & Conquer. It was designed by Brian Reynolds, of Alpha Centauri, and built by Big Huge Games.

A less satisfying fantasy sequel, Rise of Legends, was released in 2006, but now it seems that another game might exist. As part of the auction of all Big Huge Games and 38 Studios assets, following their collapse last year, a finished, Mac-only game called Rise of Nations: Tactics has been discovered.

In a press release reported by Polygon, Heritage Global Partners, who are handling the auction of all assets related to the studios, reveal the discovery.

According to Nick Jimenez, Executive Vice President of Heritage Global Partners, “through the examination of the data contained on the 38 Studios servers, we have discovered a completed, but unreleased game for Mac users titled ‘Rise of Nations: Tactics.’ We only became aware of this game this past week through our own due diligence efforts.”

There’s no more information about the game than that, though the name evokes the idea of a simplified spin-off.

Horsey smile.

The auction of these assets has been delayed due to high levels of interest, pushing the date back to December 11th. From who that interest comes, we don’t know, but a number of publishers are rumoured to be interested, including EA. They were the publishers of Kingdoms of Amaulur: The Reckoning, the last game Big Huge worked on. It was released to meager sales and mild Wot I Thinks, though it did later beguile John.

In any case, there’s reason to hope that someone will pick up this new Rise of Nations game and give it a proper release.

Big Huge Games final years were tumultuous, as the studio was bought first by THQ in 2008, and then sold 15 months later to 38 Studios. That company was founded by former baseball star Curt Schilling, and declared bankruptcy in May 2012. After that, Epic Games swooped in to found Epic Baltimore, compromising a significant portion of Big Huge’s former employees. That company was then renamed Impossible Studios, before itself being shut down in February of this year.

In the meantime, Rise of Nations remains unavailable on any digital distribution platform I can find, but you can read about the making of it in this article Kieron wrote somewhere near the dawn of time and if you like, buy it and its first expansion from Amazon for less than £5.


  1. RedViv says:

    He preaches heresy! Rise of Legends is the best RTS of all time in the history of the world ever! PURGE!

    • Anthile says:

      This is the truth. So let it be written, so let it be done.

    • Lord_Mordja says:

      I enjoyed it too. What’s more it was one of the few fantasy games that wasn’t just Medieval Times With Dragons or a slew of nonsense Elf words.

      • psuedonymous says:

        slew of nonsense Elf words

        That sounds like a typing of the Dead spinoff, bowing down Orcs by attempting to input ever more obtuse unicode characters.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I discovered RoN after MS stopped selling it. So i have a pirated copy. Burn me.

      • gi_ty says:

        I think once the studio no longer exists piracy is no longer piracy but public archiving lol. Anyway does it work with win 7 I’ve been really wanting to play this game again but I have lost my CD key and it didn’t seem to like win7 when i still had it.

        • Don Reba says:

          Copyright acts even after the death of the author. In fact, nothing copyrighted after the invention of Mickey Mouse will ever enter public domain.

          • SuicideKing says:

            But don’t all copyrights expire after 20 years in the US at least? Or is that only for patents? Or something?

          • Tssha says:

            Yep, you’re thinking of patents. Copyright is life of the author plus 50 years, I presume to allow inheritors and successors to collect royalties, and for corporations to milk the franchise (possibly unintended side effect).

            …US copyright law is weird. That we’ve all fallen into lock-step with it is doubly weird, but not surprising given US trade power and cultural hegemony.

          • LionsPhil says:

            He’s referring to the tendancy for copyright to get extended in the US every time it’s about to run out, largely due to Disney. (Unsurprisingly, given how much he’s tied to their corporate identity, the little blighter’s also trademarked, and it’s rather more reasonable for that to last as long as the organization does.)

        • SuicideKing says:

          Yeah, i don’t think i’ve ever had a problem with it on Windows 7, x86 or x64.

    • Leb says:

      Rise of Legends wasn’t necessarily bad.. what was bad about it however was the fact it was the follow up to Rise of Nations.

      Why they turned their lovely “CIV in RTS form” into a fantasy RTS is beyond me. I’d love to see an actual Rise of Nations 2

    • int says:

      The Doge abides.

    • InsuranceSalesman says:

      Indeed. The world was something truly unique, even if it felt a bit disjointed, and the variety led to the three factions on offer being different in ways that the original civs never were. Plus the music kicked butt, as was usual for the series (Across the Bog is still one of my favorite pieces of all time, and the version in RoL was awesome).

      A sequel that fixed some of the disjointedness of the world and tightened up the gameplay could have been awe-inspiring. At least we have the original to enjoy, right?

  2. rockman29 says:

    Damn you publishers!! Publish this game!!

  3. aldo_14 says:

    Rise of Nations still stands as my favouritest RTS ever. Especially with nukes and the instant unit production technology on.

    • Gap Gen says:

      The interface is so much better than AoE’s. AoE III was basically unplayable for me because the unit AI was so dumb compared to RoN’s. I loved being able to plonk down a city, send a few villagers over, and come back five minutes later to find a productive settlement. So obvious that if a villager has nothing to do and there’s a mine next door, the villager should go and mine.

      • aldo_14 says:

        Even better, if you research everything, you can transform all your academics into partisans and launch pointless (or with, nuke backup, pointfull) human wave attacks against smaller enemy cities. The only thing I didn’t like was the small unit cap (think it was around 205, even with the Bantu and – IIRC – Teracotta Army bonuses).

  4. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Rise of EDIT: NATIONS remains unsurpassed as an RTS. It’s basically real-time Civ, or a more elaborate Age of Empires. You can adjust settings to make it playable in an hour or less or stretched out to Civ or Sins of a Solar Empire levels. There are multiple (pretty good) Risk-style campaigns that change up the rules in dramatic ways. The soundtrack is really good.

    That it’s never come to GOG and Steam is an injustice.

  5. Shadow says:

    Rise of Nations was a mostly very good Empire Earth-style RTS, but I really couldn’t get past the non-smooth unit animations. Seriously, while the rest of the game worked fine, units animated at like 15fps.

  6. Gap Gen says:

    Reynolds actually left Zynga in February; he’s now working at his own company making a civ clone for mobiles. So there’s hope for humanity yet.

    Also, Brian Reynolds of Alpha Centauri is an incredible name. “Hello, I am Kaiser Brian von Alpha Centauri.”

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      An industry legend making a mobile game sounds like the very opposite of hope for humanity.

      • Gap Gen says:

        If he can make a mobile game that isn’t F2P scammy shit, it’ll be a revolution.

  7. Putts says:

    Even with hundreds of uncompleted Steam titles, I still go back and pull out Rise of Nations regularly. It was an RTS that was fun above all else. A perfect marriage of traditional RTS games like Age of Empires 2, and epic empire-building TBS games like Civilization. And it works admirably on modern machines with no tweaks necessary. Seriously, if you haven’t played the original, pick it up on Amazon now.

  8. CannedLizard says:

    The mouse-over text on the main picture made me sad, but then I checked out Brian Reynold’s Wikipedia page, and it turns out he’s left Zynga and started a new game company in Baltimore! Special cyborg enhancements for all!

  9. The Pink Ninja says:

    Eh, I always felt like it was simply a case of who could build the most and fastest resource production system to swamp the enemy. I got bored of it pretty quickly.

    I did love how it handled troop transport over water though.

  10. SkittleDiddler says:

    Mac-only? Would that even qualify it as a game?

  11. acheron says:

    Reynolds has indeed started his own company again now, but their press releases so far have been all “mobile” and “free to play” and “social” and whatnot. :(

    • Frank says:

      Yeah, I think it’s time to give up on Reynolds’ coming back, sort of like Jon van Caneghem (who has made approximately zero games in the last decade, despite staying in the industry).

  12. SuicideKing says:

    Lol i posted this months ago in the comments section somewhere. Here’s the SteamDB link:
    link to

    Though that’s Rise of Nations Gold, not the Tactics thing here.

    Also FreeSpace 2: link to

  13. Premium User Badge

    Gassalasca says:

    Graham, I just want to say, you’re such a welcome addition to RPS.

  14. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    Rise of Nations was probably the most fun RTS for LANs with my group of friends back then. Even better than AoE2 and SC thanks to the diplomacy options. Temporary alliances, meta-deals and lots and lots of (nuclear) backstabbing.
    It’s best played by an odd number of players with no locked teams.

  15. Leb says:

    Back in highschool we had a pirated copy of this on a USB, we would hand it out to people to install and every Friday would be Rise of Nations night.

    We would have full 8 person free for alls, and would settle our real life rivalries on the plains of RON. The rest of the week would be shit talking, talks of revenge, talks of the treachery…

    It was great because how dynamic it was, and that locking the top tech level to a specific age was a perfectly viable option to give the end game a different feel.

    I remember a 4 hour 3-v-3 that stopped in the medieval age, a huge 2 hour 2v2v2 in the renaissance, and many many more memorable moments. I went back to it recently and with very little messing around with files it even runs in 1080p.

    Just reading this article makes me wanna get this up and running again..

    • LordGravewish says:

      Hah. It was very similar here too. I ended up making a mod for it that allows the game to be played without being installed first (a “portable” patch) so that it was even easier to play among friends. Old times, old times.

  16. GenBanks says:

    Definitely one my favourite RTS games as well!

    The big battles that actually looked like real battles (at least with the 19th century units), supply wagons, generals…

    Tagging all of your cruise missiles to the number keys and launching ‘shock and awe’ waves against your friends…

    I don’t understand why it isn’t on GoG or Steam.

  17. orcane says:

    I really wish Microsoft would get off its ass and release digital versions of its slightly older games portfolio (things like Rise of Nations/Legends or Freelancer, eg.). And this is the company some people still believe was going to bring them the “digital revolution” in console gaming. Yeah…

  18. bmarinari says:

    Just to set expectations appropriately, RON:Tactics is actually an iOS game. It’s got RON flavor, but it’s very different, and is asynchronous turn-based, for one. You might describe it as being similar to Advance Wars or UniWar. It’s fun though and I hope someone brings it to market.

  19. LordMidas says:

    I still have the original boxed copy of both of the RON and ROL. Curse you Graham, now I’ve just gone and installed RON just for nostalgias sake (I’ve already got too many games waiting to be played).

  20. guygodbois00 says:

    What I will always remember about the Rise of Nations is its music. To put it simply it was marvelous.

    • Tssha says:

      Good to see another sonophile around here. Sometimes I think I love half my games because of the soundtrack.

      There’s nothing quite like a good musical accompaniment to a great game. Turn off the music? What utter heresy.

  21. Jackablade says:

    As a rule, I don’t particularly like RTS games. I’m not even sure how I came to have or why I installed Rise of Nations that first time, but it stands as the only game in the genre, save for the bizarrely brilliant Netstorm, that I’ve really gotten into and enjoyed.

  22. LionsPhil says:

    I feel I missed out, playing Empire Earth during this time instead.

  23. Railway Rifle says:

    I want this. Damn, even Triple Town with Rise Of Nations graphics would be kind of cool. But I’d really like Rise Of Nations on iPad.

    Also, I should start playing it again my PC.