No, Microsoft haven't taken the Empire franchise in an unforeseen direction after disbanding Ensemble. To celebrate the end of the Winter Olympics (aka Everyone I know spending far too much time lusting after the women's curling teams), The Black Bandit suggested posting this highly accurate historical sim of curling would be worth posting. Never before has the art of lobbing stuff across ice and staring been so accurately re-created (Probably). You can get the demo or buy the full game on Blackish's site, or watch some footage below.
And how to curl!