I've been travelling for 25 hours, and now I'm in Utah. There's snow, and buildings made from wood. Why do I tell you this? Because I'm knackered and want to have a little moan. Pity me. Weep for me. Tell me you love me.
Cheery news, however: 1) there's a big pot of coffee right next to me. 2) Gothic creators Piranha Bytes might be getting their original franchise/universe back, having had to hand over the rights to erstwhile publisher JoWood some time ago.
This story's waters are far from muddied, however. It began with one of Piranha Bytes' founders, Mike Hoge (if only he was called Mike Huge), telling fansite Gothicz.net that "We get the rights to Gothic back when we have finished Risen 2. Why? Because we did only sell them to our ex-publisher for a certain amount of time."
Woah! In case you didn't follow the background, Piranha Bytes created the semi-great Risen since their (legally-resolved) rift with JoWood, and have a bold, piratey sequel in the works. Meantime, JoWood used their wrangled rights to publish the monotonously stupid Arcania: Gothic IV, the expansion pack for which was recently laid low by unspecified legal problems.
...Which may or may not be related to JoWood's ongoing insolvency crisis. Things aren't looking too rosy for those dudes, so I guess the question of what happens to their various IPs in the event the worst does happen is a pertinent one.
However, over on a German forum, another PB blokey, Michael Rüve, attempts to pour cold water on the happy fansplonsion.
Observing that Mike 'Not Mike Huge' Hoge is "in no way a lawyer", Ruve says to take his comments "with a grain of salt", claiming that "For me there is no need to comment on our contractual position with JoWooD. The fact that we are not currently working on Gothic well known. Jowood currently has other worries. Speculation about the future Risen 2 is just that - speculation."
Boo to you sir, boo to you.
On the other hand, a name is a name. It's good that PB can make a Risen sequel: that we're getting more ambitious, obtuse, semi-free-form RPGs from them is the most important thing. Though admittedly I say that as someone who hasn't spent much time with the Gothic games (I was a johnny come lately, starting at Risen), so I suppose I don't have the same attachment to the lore. The guy holding the interview which sparked this story certainly do, however...