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Former Fable devs reveal a new co-op RPG, then announce its development is on hold amid layoffs

Flaming Fowl will shift to a smaller game they can fund themselves

The player ponders their next move from a set of cards during combat in turn-based co-op RPG Ironmarked
Image credit: Flaming Fowl Studios

The developers behind Fable card game spin-off Fable Fortune and the digital adaptation of dungeon-crawling board game Gloomhaven have revealed a new upcoming co-op RPG… only to announce at the same time that the upcoming game’s development has been put on pause amid layoffs at the studio and difficulty finding funding.

Flaming Fowl were founded back in 2016 by a bunch of former Fable devs out of original studio Lionhead, picking up the Fable-verse digital card game in the wake of the veteran British studio’s closure. The Hearthstone-ish card game eventually made it out of early access in 2018, lasting three years in total before having its servers switched off in 2020.

After that, Flaming Fowl stuck with the melding of tabletop and digital, bringing chunky fantasy adventure Gloomhaven - which is a bit like Dungeons & Dragons as a board game, but with crunchy card-driven combat - to PC via early access in 2019. Lik the tabletop original, it was pretty cracking.

Between working on DLC for Gloomhaven, it seems that Flaming Fowl found time to work on something brand new for the studio, revealing it this week. Ironmarked is a co-op RPG for one to three players with turn-based combat - keeping that lineage from Gloomhaven alive - set in a fantasy world inspired by Renaissance-era Italy that you can go and try for yourself on Steam right now thanks to a fresh demo.

Fire blazes through a kitchen during combat in turn-based co-op RPG Ironmarked
Image credit: Flaming Fowl Studios

Unfortunately, that demo might be all we get of Ironmarked for a while, as alongside revealing the game and launching its demo, Flaming Fowl announced that they would be putting the game’s production on hold and had laid off multiple staff in an effort to “downsize”.

The studio attributed the unfortunate combination of events to “the current lack of funding in the games industry”, with the release of Ironmarked’s demo both an effort to secure future funding for the game and, somewhat soberingly, provide a portfolio for those now needing to find employment elsewhere in the industry. (With the number of developers I see on social media often expressing frustration at so much of their work being locked behind NDAs for cancelled projects, this is at least a welcome change.)

With Ironmarked on pause until funding is raised, Flaming Fowl said they would shift to developing something smaller that they’re able to fund themselves.

It’s a fairly tragic situation for the studio, albeit one that’s sadly far from rare these days. Good luck to those former Flaming Fowl folks looking for their next job, and to those still at the studio working on whatever comes next.

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