It feels like every time I turn around, something major happened at Catalyst Game Labs a month previous.
Now, after all the dust has settled from their big Palladium-esque budgetary crisis, Catalyst has good news and bad news. The good news is that the company’s retaining control over their long-running game lines, BattleTech and Shadowrun, and even have a ton of new books listed as upcoming for both: 7 for Shadowrun, and 8 for BattleTech. (That’s really not that hard; after all, the company was in stasis-mode for quite a while as it was unable to pay its writers, thus stalling the production queues).
The bad news (for Catalyst) is that their two newest, shiniest lines have jumped ship. Since Catalyst couldn’t afford to pay WildFire, WildFire ended up with all the warehoused CthulhuTech books—hopefully the reason Damnation View and Mortal Remains are not available anywhere. (I’d like to buy those without having to sell a kidney, thank you very much.) With all their relationship woes, WildFire broke up with Catalyst, signing with newcomer Sandstorm Productions LLC. Days later, Sandstorm signed up Posthuman Studios, with Eclipse Phase leaving Catalyst’s domain. (Note the TORG-esque “The Storm Is Building.” tagline.) Much like the latter two CthulhuTech releases, I’m hoping that the oft-talked-about second run of Eclipse Phase is on the way.
So, interesting times ahead for the various game lines. Catalyst had some incredibly high production values on Eclipse Phase and CthulhuTech, as well as the rest of their work… then again, thier high production costs probably aren’t the best thing for a company with financial woes. Sandstorm is a relative newcomer, with no real products on the market so far… their other studios include Closert Nerd Games and Glowfly Games, two small-press board and card game companies. (Closet Nerd is probably the more well-known, with its Globalization board game.) Can Sandstorm hold up the same production values and quality that the game lines have had so far? After the gorgeous full-color, high-gloss books the two lines have so far, I can’t see a switch to, say, black and white on non-glossy paper going over well.
So far, though, it sounds like everyone’s coming out ahead—as soon as Catalyst pays off its debts, and Sandstorm gears up production for its two new lines.