User review spotlight: Carmageddon (DOS). Released in 1997.

Discreet Monsters

Overview

Munich-based developer Discreet Monsters made an astonishing ascent in the late 1990s and was for a short time hailed as Germany’s most promising software company, only to drop into a hole when the new economy bubble burst.

Founded in 1996 with only five employees, the company’s managing director Siggi Kögl cleverly exploited the beginning new media euphoria to collect 4.5 million Marks (roughly $2.5 million) of venture capital, an amount unheard of in Germany’s software business to that date. The money would be used to create a 3D adventure game based on the prestigious Neverending Story license, a popular German novel by Michael Ende.

Hopes were high when the development on The Real Neverending Story started in 1998, and Discreet Monsters did all to keep its investors happy with their own money. The company took residence in Munich’s expensive downtown district Schwabing and quickly began to expand. While constant technology updates and design changes delayed The Real Neverending Story month after month, Discreet Monsters invested into cartoon and internet TV development; attracted with handsome salaries, former Sony and Bertelsmann Media Group (BMG) managers joined a team that had grown to over 100 employees. At the peak of its popularity in 1999, Discreet Monsters had built a reputation for entrepreneurial courage, and for carting busloads of international business partners to the Oktoberfest each year.

The only thing they didn’t do was making money. Just when Germany’s software whiz kid burnt its brightest, the venture capital that fuelled the fire finally ran out. In 2000, the new economy excitement gave way to serious disappointment, and no longer was anyone interested in investing into a company that had so far produced nothing worth mentioning. The Real Neverending Story, in development for three years, was still far from finished. Anticipation of the game had long waned.

In May 2001, Discreet Monster (along with its parent company 3-DD) declared bankruptcy. Two months later, the company’s founder Siggi Kögl bought back the Discreet Monsters label and all assets to bind them into a new company, Attaction. Residing in a plain Munich apartment house flat, a team of five employees cannibalized The Real Neverending Story’s technology and license to turn it into a jump-and-run game. The current end to formerly high-flown plans: Auryn Quest is sold at mid-price level and targets “the casual gamer”.



Trivia

Discreet Monsters is a label of the parent company Attaction.

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