'83 was announced in 2019 as a persistent FPS for up to 80 players set in an alt-history world where the Cold War turned hot. Development was being handled by Antimatter Games, the team behind the excellent Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, but work was put on hold in May 2022 so the team could focus on its IGI Origins reboot, and then it all ran aground a year later when parent company Enad Global 7 elected to close the studio. The fates of '83 and IGI Origins were unclear in the wake of the studio shutdown, but it sure didn't look good for either of them.
Now, though, it seems that at least one of them is back from the presumed-dead. A studio called Blue Dot Games announced on Discord earlier this week that it's looking for playtesters for a pre-alpha build of '83 as it prepares to move forward with development.
Blue Dot Games was founded earlier this year by Tony Gillham, who also founded Antimatter Games in 2013. He left the studio at the end of 2014, ahead of the release of Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, but told me in a chat that he's kept up with the company's activities since then.
"When I heard that Antimatter Games was due to be shuttered, I started reaching out to former colleagues and others within AMG about the possibility of doing a deal with their owners Enad Global 7," he told me. "It was one of their staff, Chris Rickard (now my co-director) who mentioned the possibility of doing a deal with their owners Enad Global 7."
At this point, Blue Dot has a letter of intent to acquire the rights to make the game, and is now finalizing the terms of that deal, which grants the studio access to "a significant amount of assets" and the use of everything that was previously developed for the game. Blue Dot is also bringing on more developers to work on the project: It already has "senior people in all the key areas, code, level design, art, [and] animations," and is also "pretty far along in negotiations with several of the key senior people involved in '83."
"Obviously the terrible string of layoffs this year have led to us being spoiled for choice in terms of recruitment but there is a strong feeling that we need a good representation of OG 83'ers throughout the company ," Gillham said.
While '83 is kicking again, it'll be a long while yet before any kind of public release happens. Blue Dot is recruiting people to test older version of the game and "refine the gameplay to a point where it is clear to publishers that we have 'found the fun.'"
"This will take a little while, as the game development had essentially stalled for more than a year," Gillham said. "We believe we have found the sweet spot between twitch, 360 no-scope shooters and tac bro, milsim, large map titles. We offer intense, realistic tactical engagements on maps that are large but not so large as to become walking simulators."
He also credited "the strength of the '83 community" for helping bring the project back to life. "Since the days of Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 the community around these games has been a great asset to the developers and, with '83, that is still very much the case," he said. "I have been bowled over by the positive reactions and support from the '83 community."
Unfortunately for gamers eager for more IGI, Gillham confirmed that a resurrection of IGI Origins is not currently on the table. "This deal was to get permission to use the '83 IP," Gillham said. We were only interested in this particular IP (rather than IGI) as the people involved have been making this kind of game since we were modders of Red Orchestra: Ostfront back in about 2007.
"I think trying to execute two games at the same time has proven, historically, to be a stumbling block. So let's see how we get on with '83 first."
While the situation is still very preliminary, the response from the community does seem to be very positive, as Gillham said: The playtest signup page currently says Blue Dot Games has temporarily paused taking applications "while we process those received so far." Gillham hopes the studio will be able to resume accepting applications sometime next week.
Check out a handful of screens from a recent Unreal Engine 4 build of '83 down below. (And don't ask why the dot is actually red: I do not know.)