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The History of ORC: Vengeance

Developer Big Cave Games was founded by two people in Dallas, Texas in the USA in 2011. Andrew Welch was a programmer who had been working in the game industry for 15 years, working at such companies as 7th Level, Ion Storm, and eventually id Software. Ryan Rutherford was a designer who had started his career working at Treyarch on the smash hit Call of Duty series before moving over to id Software. The two worked together on id Software’s RAGE, the 2011 post-apocalyptic first-person shooter.

After finishing work on that game, the two decided to strike out together and form an independent studio. Big Cave Games was born, with the core mission statement being to make games that people wanted to play. The easiest source of such ideas was in what they themselves wanted to play. That happened to be an original action-RPG built specifically for mobile devices. They felt an isometric viewpoint would work well for the mobile platform, and once they stumbled on the idea of having an orc as the main character, everything fell into place.

The team built the game in the Unity Engine, allowing them to use some relatively high-end 3D visuals that helped the game stand out in what was quickly becoming a crowded marketplace. The original plan for the development schedule was to have the game ready to go in four or five months, but development ended up stretching on for eleven months. Welch handled the programming, Rutherford built the levels, and both of them worked together on the game design and story. Contractors were brought in to help with some graphical assets, the intro cinematic, the sound design, music, and other various roles. 

In consideration of the platform, Orc: Vengeance was designed to be playable in either five-minute or fifty-minute chunks. Mobile gamers on the go could play through sections of the stages thanks to the game’s frequent checkpoints, while those with a bit more time to spend could work their way through entire stages or acts. The team also designed the game to use gesture-based controls that automated certain actions.

Eventually, Big Cave Games ended up connecting with publisher Chillingo, who was a huge force in the App Store at that time. Chillingo offered support and handled a lot of the business end of things, leaving the people at Big Cave Games to focus on finishing up the game’s development. It was finally ready for release in July of 2012. The game received excellent reviews from most critics, and players were equally pleased with what the game had to offer.

There were some criticisms leveled at the game, however. Some players had issues with the gesture-based controls and expressed a desire for virtual buttons. Others felt the game was a little too short and easy. Big Cave Games took these criticisms to heart and got to work on a major update for the game. That update would arrive in December of 2012, adding new secret areas with ultra-tough enemies and rare loot, two higher difficulty settings, a new virtual control option, and made some improvements to the game’s flow. This update was almost as well-received as the original game itself. 

The year hadn’t stopped giving yet, however. The game was honored by many outlets in their best of 2012 lists, including a nod by TouchArcade. As the cherry on top of it all, when Apple did its usual awards for the best and brightest of the App Store, Orc: Vengeance was selected by the company as one of the Showpiece Games of 2012. Finishing the year on that high note, the team moved on to its next project.

Unfortunately, the game ran into compatibility issues a couple of years later and was pulled from the App Store by its publisher. With Big Cave Games having long since moved on to other projects and Chillingo greatly reducing its presence on the App Store, it seemed as though Orc: Vengeance was gone for good. In 2019, Orc: Vengeance was updated and added to the GameClub library, bringing this superb action-RPG back to mobile gamers once more.


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