The death of Ensemble, however, has spawned two local gaming companies. The first, Robot Entertainment, was announced earlier last week. Its CEO is Ensemble founder Tony Goodman, who says the Plano-based design studio "is ideally positioned to play a transformative role in the [video-gaming] industry's futures."

A few days later, on February 20, came the formal announcement of the second Ensemble spin-off: Bonfire Studios, which will be run by Stephen Rippy's brother David. According to Rippy's announcement, his will be a 35-person shop consisting of Halo Wars vets (including Stephen). And, already, there's a game being developed out of its Dallas offices. Says its just-launched Web site, Bonfire "already has a great in-depth story, combat and game play!" The small number of employees is intentional: "We're trying to get some of that original culture back," Stephen says. "It's hard to do it with 30 people."

So far, though, Rippy's been managing just fine. But the funny thing is, he's never thought of doing soundtracks for film or TV—never been asked, never thought to ask. He'd like to give it a try, sure. Maybe some day.

For the time being, however, there's a Bonfire to start, and Rippy is already in the home studio, writing.

Either that, or he's putting the touch on his other musical effort: his would-be career as a singer-songwriter. Rippy's got that record to finish.

And, oh yeah, it's his ninth. Those, he gives to friends.

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