Ex-Ensemble programmers working on new iPhone title with reputable artist Ashley Wood

Fourth splinter group rises from Ensembleâ??s ashes

Two ex-ensemble programmers have together started their own independent development group, Newtoy.

The news marks the fourth independent studio that has formed from the infamous Ensemble closure at the hands of owning company Microsoft.

The platform holder’s decision to close down Ensemble – a revered development veteran responsible for the Age of Empire games and, most recently, Halo Wars – has resulted in the formation of three other splinter groups; Robot Entertainment, Bonfire Studios, and Windstorm Studios.

Based in McKinney, Texas, Newtoy has now shown itself to be the fourth. The developer was in fact formed back in 2008, with its two founding brothers Paul and David Bettner having quietly released a casual iPhone title – Chess With Friends – under the group’s name.

Yet in announcing their newest project, the brothers have put themselves into the spotlight as ex-ensemble developers.

“We share a dream for a new kind of game development,” said Paul Bettner, creative director at Newtoy. “World class game makers from around the globe – artists and illustrators, designers, musicians, coders – joining forces to craft the highest quality entertainment experiences on the most cutting edge game platforms. We are moving away from the monolithic studio model of development. We want to redefine the way video games are made.”

The Bettner brothers are collaborating with reputable artist Ashley Wood, who himself had worked on one of the world’s first digital comics for the PSP Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel.

Of the partnership, Wood says, “I’m excited to team up with game creators who I have admired and, more importantly, whose games I have enjoyed playing over the years.”

Together the team are basing a game on a previously-published paperback, World War Robot, which had been created by Mr Wood. For now, details of the game are scarce.

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