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Layoffs hit Whore of the Orient development studio

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The development studio quietly working on the 1930s detective game Whore of the Orient has been hit by layoffs, according to sources at MCV and Kotaku.

Polygon has since verified the story through its own source.

The game development studio at Kennedy Miller Mitchell, a group made up in part by former Team Bondi developers who worked on L.A. Noire, was hit by layoffs because the game doesn't currently have a publisher, according to Kotaku.

KMM's Doug Mitchell declined to comment on the layoff rumors to MCV, but did make it clear that the game hasn't been killed.

"Whore of the Orient is a unique and extraordinary story and game, and we are still actively pursuing the right investor to partner with," Mitchell told MCV.

In an interview with the Financial Review in 2011, Mitchell talked about the decision to acquire the rights to Brendan McNamara's Whore of the Orient, saying that potential in the video game market was massive.

Last August, KMM announced that the game was in development for PC and next-generation consoles. The news came via a since-removed update to the Team Bondi website.

According to that update, Whore of the Orient is set in 1936 in Shanghai, the "Paris of the East." It takes place in a China that had begun modernizing due to Western influence, until the Kuomintang political party started to roll back imperialist changes and viciously suppress Communism under Chiang Kai-shek. A group of Western cops, the International Police Force, is "hopelessly trying to keep the lid on and keep the peace." There's no indication yet of what kind of game Whore of the Orient will be, but it appears to have a similarly gritty style as the developers' previous effort.

We've reached out to KMM officials for comment and will update this story when they respond.