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Update - Doug Lombardi of Valve confirmed that Semple and Gates have been hired, but offered a clarification: "This is probably better categorized as Valve hiring two new employees instead of an acquisition of a company or opening of a Valve SF office."
Original Story - An indie start-up composed of former PopCap developers has been acquired by Valve. The developer Star Filled Studios was just composed of two men: Jeff Gates and Tod Semple, both of whom formerly worked at PopCap. Semple says they're opening a new office in San Francisco.
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell confirmed the acquisition, telling Edge: "The guys who did PvZ, down in the Bay Area, we're helping them set up a Valve subsidiary there."
The studio site also references work on high-profile titles at Maxis, LucasArts, and Blizzard. The two were working at PopCap's San Carlos office until they were made redundant in August by the company layoffs. They went on to form SFS in September.
Valve's last acquisition was in 2008, when it took on Turtle Rock Studios. That led to the company getting behind Left 4 Dead and then closing the studio before it reopened as independent in 2009. Valve didn't give word on what Star Filled Studios will be working on.
The Frostbite 2 engine gained a strong reputation for realism after it was used in Battlefield 3, and started branching into other genres, such as EA's racing titles. But we might see what it does with a completely different art style too, under the care of PopCap.
A job listing dug up by Superannuation asks for a software engineer with Frostbite 2 experience to work at PopCap. The project is called a "AAA console title" and specifically mentions experience working on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Signs point to this being related to the unconfirmed Plants vs Zombies shooter that we heard about in August. It makes sense for EA to use its proprietary engine and show off its flexibility to boot, but Frostbite 2 wouldn't have been our first guess for the backbone of a cartoon art style.
Hey, remember when PopCap announced it was working on a sequel to Plants vs. Zombies? Well, it looks like it may be called Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.
Fusible has discovered a bunch of new domain registrations attributed to PopCap including gardenwarfare.net, pvzgardenwarfare.com, and pvzgw.com. All of the domains were registered on October 16th.
The Garden Warfare moniker has a nice ring to it, as it seems to poke fun at the successful Modern Warfare series of games. The name does make us wonder: could that odd rumor about a multiplayer PvZ shooter actually be true?
You may not want to contribute to kids' tooth decay this Halloween, but chances are you don't want to be "that guy." You know, the one who handed out little toothbrushes or apple slices to trick-or-treaters. Luckily, PopCap has teamed up with the American Dental Association to let you give away something much cooler than toothbrushes or (dare we say) candy: Plants vs Zombies.
The "Stop Zombie Mouth" campaign lets you give trick-or-treaters a free game coupon for the PC or Mac version of Plants vs Zombies. You can pick up sets of limited-edition PvZ trading cards with download codes from an ADA member dentist, or you can visit the official site to print coupons. The announcement estimates it will give away millions of games in all, along with more than a million of the trading card packs.
"We at PopCap have been interested in the potential for video games to provide benefits beyond entertainment for many years," said co-founder John Vechey, in the announcement. "We're passionate about the very important cause behind the 'Stop Zombie Mouth' campaign and proud to be highlighting yet another positive effect that games can have on society."
There was a surprising casualty in yesterday's PopCap layoffs. George Fan is best known as the creator of one of PopCap's most endearing games: Plants vs Zombies. And although the company is moving ahead with a sequel to the game, according to a report by 1UP, Fan was part of yesterday's layoffs. (His LinkedIn page has not been updated, however.)
If Fan is no longer involved with Plants vs Zombies, it may explain the curious rumor that surfaced earlier--that the next iteration of the franchise would turn into a multiplayer shooter. While the original game was heralded for its simplicity, a look at Fan's GDC talk reveals how much design work and iteration was necessary to make the game as accessible as it is.
Daft and unlikely rumours about PopCap making a multiplayer shooter spin-off of Plants vs. Zombies were circulating earlier this month, causing the sensible to groan sceptically. Well, a sequel is officially coming, PopCap announced today, though there was no mention of shooty-shoots--or much else for that matter.
All PopCap would commit to was saying that it'll bring "new features, settings, and situations," including new plant and zombie types. It should launch in the first half of 2013, by late spring.
Platforms are unconfirmed, though expect it to hit just about everything. The original is on PC, Mac, XBLA, PlayStation 3, Vita, Nintendo DS, DSiWare, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 7.
crullest curlie ungood time, and plantz grow dull roots," an actual proper real zombie said in the announcement. "So, we are meating you for brainz at yore house. No worry to skedule schedlue plan... we're freee anytime. We'll find you."
Let's all cross our fingers and hope those shooter rumours were as silly as they seemed, while we sing, "There's a zombie on your lawn..."
[This story's image and trailer from the original PvZ.]
The next Plants vs Zombies game may not be a tower defense fans would expect. Instead, the latest rumor suggests it will be a game unlike anything PopCap has ever done. Various signs and one unnamed source have indicated it could take the series in a multiplayer-action direction, possibly even as a first-person shooter.
It started with a handful of job openings. Supperannuation reported that the new PopCap team at EA Canada Burnaby's campus showed openings for a 3D animator and a multiplayer designer. The candidates are expected to have console experience, and the multiplayer designer is asked to have experience as a level designer on a shooter or action title. Finally, a world modeler asked for experience with "cartoon style and tone."
Then later, an unnamed source in the Canadian industry told Kotaku that the team is working on a multiplayer, first-person console shooter based in the Plants vs Zombies franchise. It may sound crazy, but it fits all the pieces we know. It does raise certain questions, though, like "what?" and "why?" and "how do you make an FPS with one team literally rooted to the ground?"
According to the report, the project will be submitted to PopCap for final approval later this month, at which point it could simply be taken off the company slate. So even if this rumor is true, the game might never see the light of day if PopCap or EA decides to nix it in these early stages. Shacknews has contacted EA and will update as more information becomes available.