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Project Offset Developer Talks Intel Past, Rebirth As Fractiv

Offset Software founder Sam McGrath discusses the company's ultimately frustrating journey with Project Offset and Intel -- and its new life as Fractiv, where it's begun making iOS and Android games.
The exciting Project Offset, a PC game intended to showcase Intel tech that never made it off the ground, came to an unfortunate end earlier this year when the company killed the project and fired its team despite quite a lot of anticipation from PC gaming fans. But now the developers are finding new opportunities on the App Store. Offset Software founder Sam McGrath is now speaking out about the studio's reincarnation as developer Fractiv -- and the painful, frustrating journey the team's taken to get there, from Intel's acquisition of the studio and its promising Offset Engine to the chipmaker's decision to jettison its game development project. When Offset Software was first bought by Intel, as McGrath tells website BigDownload, the company's Offset Engine and the game they were using it to build -- described as a "fantasy version of Call of Duty"-- were to be showpieces for Intel's "Larrabee" graphics hardware. But when that project fell way behind, McGrath and his team knew they wouldn't be needed at Intel much longer. "It was obviously very frustrating because we had so much effort invested and made so many sacrifices along the way, but it was all out of our hands," McGrath reflects. Project Offset first emerged in the mid-2000s. Still, he says ultimately selling his company to Intel was the best decision that had been available to the company at the time -- with the studio's previous funding having fallen through, selling to Intel presented at least the possibility of shipping their product to millions, McGrath said. However: "In addition to the problems with Larrabee, Intel simply wasn't the best place for a game developer. The management structure, not having full control over how resources are allocated, and the periodic requests from other groups that would distract us from our primary goal of making a game, all those fears were realized in some form or other along the way," he added. Nonetheless, McGrath said the team gained excellent experience while at Intel, and once leaving they were ready to form Fractiv almost immediately. Understandably, iPhone was a natural platform choice for Fractiv initially because it allows the team to ship small projects quickly. The company's first title is an arcade/action game called LaneSplitter, and its next one, Gunsmith, is in development for iOS Android -- and possibly even PC.

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