From Ensemble's Ashes, a New Bonfire

Aw, dang. Had hoped to break this in the paper version of Unfair Park next week, where we profile former Ensemble Studios music-maker Stephen Rippy; but, oh, well, no such luck. Regardless, the September shuttering of Ensemble Studios -- the former Dallas-based indie-studio-turned-Microsoft property responsible for such mega-selling video games as Age of Empires, Age of Mythology and the forthcoming Halo Wars for Xbox 360 -- has spawned two local gaming companies. The first, Robot Entertainment, was announced earlier this 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 future." So there.

And now comes the formal announcement of the second Ensemble spin-off: Bonfire Studios, which will be run by Stephen Rippy's brother David. Says 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 Bonfire's Q&A page, "It already has a great in-depth story, combat and game play!" So there.

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