Sword Coast Legends Developers n-Space Close Shop

Sad news – development team n-Space has closed after 21 years. Most recently known for Sword Coast Legends, but previously better know as Nintendo developers behind the likes of Heroes Of Ruin and Geist, a few waves of lay-offs were not enough to keep the moneywolves from their doors, and now they are no more.

One of the studio’s artists, Ben Leary, tweeted to confirm the closure of the studio, including a brief statement that maintained the team had tried their best to prevent this. The inference being that perhaps outside forces didn’t fight so hard.

“I won’t comment on the details of the situation besides the fact that the in-house staff has worked long and hard to keep this from happening.”

He goes on to explain that rounds of lay-offs over the last few months hadn’t dampened the team’s drive to keep going, and specifically mentions n-Space co-founder Dan O’Leary for his “efforts and transparency”.

Sword Coast Legends was a bold and brave move for a team that had previously been so focused on console, and especially handheld games. It was, on announcement, to be the D&D framework so many had been waiting for, something that would allow pen-and-paper fans to roll virtual dice across virtual space, rather than having to find time and means to all gather in the same front room. On release it proved something rather different, focused on a bland single-player game, with very limited DMing options and nowhere near the freedom hoped for to create your own games. What we got was a dungeon crawler with very limited scope. It’s hard to imagine the time and money that went into it would have been recouped after bad reviews and a flat gamer response.

We’ve not yet heard how this might affect the game, and have got in touch with publishers Digital Extremes to find out more.

In the meantime, there’s a whole team of developers in Florida looking for work. We wish them well.

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13 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Alfy says:

    I hadn’t realized the studio was having financial difficulties, but yeah, that horrible, horrible Sword Coast mess would be just the thing to sink ship that’s already taking water.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      The sad reality is that a lot of smaller studios are one failed game away from bankruptcy. They tend to reinvest most of the income from previous games into the next one.

      • suibhne says:

        That’s not really accurate, at least generally. The much more common sitch is that the studio invests its income into payroll and basically has no equity for future development. In other words, they essentially exist contract to contract, not unlike lower-income people who live paycheck to paycheck. This means two things: projects that dramatically underperform at market can’t sustain the team’s fixed costs before it lands the next contract, and poorly-reviewed projects mean that the team has a much harder time landing that next contract, anyway.

        • suibhne says:

          Which is to say, your first sentence is correct, but your second sentence is less so. ;)

  2. Darth Gangrel says:

    I played Sword Coast Legends while it had a free weekend on Steam and quite liked it. It was enjoyable and well-done, but nothing amazing. I might buy it in a few years, when the price and my backlog is reduced.

    • trashmyego says:

      There might not be a game to purchase in the future. Or at least, a full one. It’s not clear what will go away with the servers. Here’s hoping they do a final patch that’ll give it some life for the people who enjoy/want to play it in the future.

      Such a train wreck though, a sad one at that.

  3. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    I wonder if SCL would have done better if they hadn’t pushed it as a virtual tabletop and invested more energy into making it a high-quality single player RPG (or co-op).

    But unfortunately for them, this game was being developed while Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro canned Codename Morningstar, which was planned to be THE VTT for 5th edition D&D. Suddenly their flagship RPG had no digital tools, and none on the horizon. It’s just speculation, but knowing WoTC’s MO, it’s easy to picture them pushing n-Space to fill that void in some way.

  4. aircool says:

    I did that pre-order thing where you got to play some beta weekends. Upon finding out that the finished version had changed very little, I haven’t even bothered installing it.

    The DM tools were woeful and the gameplay was incredibly shallow. There was a single player adventure, but with the gameplay so boring, I couldn’t even bring myself to play it.

  5. Ragnar says:

    While I didn’t enjoy any of their games, it’s still sad to hear that people have lost their jobs.

    I wish them luck and hope they’ll be able to get back to making games soon.

  6. Hobbes says:

    Bad game sinks company. It’s sad, but I’ve little sympathy, the feedback during the beta was very much that they -had- to change course long before retail release, but they were insistent on making DM tools that could be used without any understanding of scripting. In effect, presets and simple snap-together tools.

    The reason why Neverwinter Nights lasted so many years was due to the sophistication of the tools it had, and the fact it allowed for such rich, creative worlds. DMs were limited only by their skills and their imagination, much like real world DMs, and that should have been what Sword Coast Legends should have been aiming for. Instead we got a pretty bad 4 player maximum mini DM setup with no real persistence and a stodgy single player campaign that set the tone.

    Listen to your feedback, especially when it’s all singing the same song. Players may not always be right but sometimes for the love of DIETIES they might be the thing that helps stop your game going down the tubes. Otherwise stop bothering to involve dedicated and passionate people in your betas, because you’re wasting their time and effort. I didn’t sink much into it because I could see the writing on the wall but I did witness many posts where people really put the time in, I feel sorry for them. This deserved better.

    • epeternally says:

      Players may not always be right but they’re the people paying for your game and if they don’t like it, you’ve got a problem. I know there’s cases where relying too heavily on player feedback can stifle innovation but for projects like this that have a clear style and target audience they’re aiming for, if that audience doesn’t like what you’re doing then you need to change it. I was originally interested in this as a more modern NWN but when it came up on free weekend I didn’t even make it an hour in, the game is so dreadful. Someone needs to do a proper NWN Enhanced Edition, I’ve found the original to be pretty busted on modern systems.

  7. suibhne says:

    SCL is the only game for which I’ve gotten a Steam refund. I’d never wish this outcome on any specific human being, and it’s impossible (based on publicly-available info right now, anyway) to apportion blame among N-space developers, N-space managers, WotC, and so on…but the game was deservedly a failure, and probably set the cause of D&D-based multiplayer back by at least several years.

  8. Sleepery says:

    I bought it for the single player campaign recently and I’m quite enjoying it. The writing and voice acting’s not bad at all, and it’s particularly good at poking fun at RPG tropes.

    I think it suffered overmuch from trying and failing to be Neverwinter Nights.