The Lost Cataclysm


Ever since the remastered version of Homeworld came out, the question on many a fan’s mind was – whatever happened to Cataclysm, the famous oxymoron standalone expansion of the original game, published in 2000?

The story of Cataclysm is an interesting one, and one suffused with pride and corporate greed, as is the tradition in the gaming industry. When the original Homeworldcame out, Sierra, as the publisher and greedy-corporate-overlord waned to immediately start with expanding the series and riding the wave of the success of the original. As Relic, the original developers would have none of it, or only in the sense that the expansion should be separated from the main storyline, Sierra reached out to Barking Dog Studios to have them develop the game. Don’t know who Barking Dog are? How about Counter Strike?

When Cataclysm came out, it was dubbed a standalone expansion for these exact reasons. But what came out of the rift made after making the original was a gem, through and through. The lead designer of the game was Michael Gyori, a guy who is an editor and movie producer from Vancouver (who is, by the way, releasing his first feature zombie film this year [sic!]), and the rest of the team came from Barking Dog, or were subcontracted from Relic through Sierra. The final product was a game with advanced mechanics (and as far as I’m concerned, the best combat mechanics of all three games), and a story of a small mining kiith, fighting for survival in a mean expanding world, who find something that they weren’t supposed to. An instant sci-fi classic, as far as this gamer is concerned. I mean, just look at the opening sequence when the Beast appears, and tell me that does not strike you at least a little bit.

But I digress. Remember the greed I was talking about a bit earlier? Well, it turns out that when the rights to the game were extended to Barking Dog, no-one really cared about to whom the rights really go for Cataclysm. After Sierra went under, Relic went their separate ways and Barking Dog became Rockstar Vancouver, the rights to the Homeworld series went to THQ. After THQ went bust in 2013, as we now know, Gearbox went in to pick up the prize. Now, this is where things get interesting – technically, when Gearbox bought the Homeworld IP, they got the whole package, but, according to the developers, the source code was lost somewhere in all the transactions.

So, that’s that, the source code was lost and just forget it – go home, Cataclysm fans, nothing to see here. Not really – according to Martin Cirulis and Chris Stewart, who were designers in Barking Dog, there is a bit of a dilemma about why Gearbox came out and said what they said. As they say in an interview for Space Game Junkie, the majority of the work on remaking the engine itself has already been done, so they claim that the idea of not being able to remake the game is dubious. For them, the work on bringing Cataclysm to bear would be rather feasible, even with the source code missing. Especially due to the fact that the original audio is still archived in the Studio X Labs, in high definition.

 The word around the campfire for some is that Cataclysm has been put to the side due to either budgetary restrictions, or that the developers wanted to see how the originals sell, so they could see how much money Cataclysm would bring in. For us mortals, all we have is to hope that this fabulous space opera will have its’ due in the coming years, and that we will have the opportunity again to sit back and enjoy the ride with Kiith Somtaaw.

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I'm an ecommerce / digital marketer at Rhino Digital and spend the rest of my time exercising, rock climbing, reading, and writing, usually in the company of awesome people. My favorite game franchises are the Homeworld series and the Descent series. You can reach me at mike [@] fistsofheaven.com

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