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.
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.
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.
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.