Helmut Kobler and Ron Little founded Cyclone Studios in December 1993. With the help from an angel investor's capital and monies out of their own pocket, Cyclone Studios produced a prototype of what would become Captain Quazar. That prototype helped them secure a contract with 3DO to make Quazar for 3DO’s home console system. Quazar was a top down isometric 3D cartoon-ish style shooter. The contract allowed Cyclone to move from Ron Little’s apartment in Oakland to their first small office in Redwood City, California in June 1994.
A second title was started called BattleSport that was also for the 3DO system. BattleSport was a first person 3D tank/soccer type game similar to Ball Blazer. Soon after in the spring of 1995, Cyclone moved into a still larger office in Menlo Park, California. Quazar shipped in early 1996 and BattleSport in late 1995. Both were met with moderate to solid critical acclaim but sold poorly.
Poor sales of their first two titles put Cyclone in a dire financial situation at the end of 1995. Little and Kobler were forced to sell the studio to the 3DO Company in the December 1995. Cyclone Studios remained as a separate development house but was entirely funded by 3DO. Kobler was given leadership of the new division and Little was given the roll of tech lead.
In the summer of 1996, Cyclone moved to its final location in San Mateo, California. Two original PC titles were born during this period. Those two games were Requiem: Avenging Angel and Uprising. Requiem was a story driven first person shooter. Uprising was a hybrid first person action/strategy game. Uprising shipped in October 1997 and Requiem in the April 1999. Again, both were met with modest to solid critical acclaim but sold below expectations. Two sequels were made that were inspired by Uprising’s critical success. Uprising 2: Lead and Destroy for the PC and Uprising X for the Sony Playstation were the last games to be completed by Cyclone in their San Mateo office.
The company’s culture could be best described by a quote from Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street, “Give me guys that are poor, smart and hungry.” This seemed to be the hiring mantra for Cyclone. For most of Cyclone’s history, nearly all the artists and programmers had little or no professional game development experience when hired. Many of the employees were straight out of college. Virtually all hires had one common trait. All were avid lifetime gamers. This mixture paid off in passionate and sometimes volatile results. Despite the teams’ inexperience (or due to it) all the games made at Cyclone were built from the ground up. Every game had it’s own unique code and art database. Everything that went into the game was tailored to the game’s requirements. This allowed for ideas to be more freely considered and added to the design by anyone involved with the game. This also contributed to the enthusiasm and volatility at the company.
In the end, some employees would say it was the best job they ever had and others would say the worst. However, all would agree it was never boring. In December 1998, Cyclone Studios and its employees were absorbed into 3DO and closed its doors for good.
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