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Rise of Nations dev returns from the dead with new strategy game DomiNations

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With two years lost to a studio closure, Rise of Nations creator Big Huge Games is ready to return to the world of strategy.

Helmed by original founders Tim Train and Brian Reynolds — who also created Civilization developer Firaxis Games — the company will release its first mobile strategy game, DomiNations, for Android and iOS tablets and mobile devices next year via Nexon. It's not just a reclaiming of the Big Huge name, which will replace the current moniker of SecretNewCo, but a revival of the studio. It's a return to a company that holds special meaning to Reynolds and his colleagues, the developer told Polygon.

"[Big Huge Games] represented something we were really fond of," Reynolds said. "We had a lot of success and good times ... that's something that reminds us of happy times, and I think might remind some of our former fans."

"It's a tribute to what we had done before."

Big Huge Games closed its doors in 2012. It was a demise that seemed both premature for the studio, which had just released critically acclaimed commercial failure Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and a little like fate catching up. After being acquired by the doomed THQ in 2008, Big Huge Games narrowly avoided closure with the 2009 acquisition by Curt Schilling's 38 Studios. Three years later, however, that studio would flounder, dragging Big Huge Games under with it.

When the name went up for auction by the state of Rhode Island, Reynolds snatched it with a winning bid.

"It's a tribute to what we had done before," Reynolds said. "An attempt to remember where we came from and make new cool games."

DomiNations is a return to form in many ways. Players will cultivate civilizations from the Stone Age and on, form alliances and conquer opposing nations. Unlike past strategy games from the company, however, DomiNations will be a free-to-play mobile title. The hope is to bring a big, history-filled strategy experience to mobile players. Reynolds, who moved to Zynga in 2009, credits his time there for opening his eyes to the possibilities for a wider audience.

"Suddenly my aunt was playing games ... people that weren't what I would have thought of back in 1992," Reynolds said. "I liked the fact that Zynga was able to, in many ways, take games [to a] mass market in a way that they hadn't been before."

Reynolds said there are no immediate plans for Big Huge Games to work on PC or console games, but that the developer will go where the opportunities are. As for the company's future, Reynolds is hopeful.

"We had a great run that we felt was very successful," Reynolds says of his time at the company from 2000-2008.

"When I look back, Big Huge Games was a very successful title for me. Some things happened to it after I had moved on ... I had hoped for better for it."