Former ArenaNet boss Jeff Strain’s new gaming company is called Possibility Space

    
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There’s a new games studio in town: Possibility Space, led by veteran game executive Jeff Strain. Strain, of course, is best known to MMORPG audience as one of the founders of ArenaNet and pioneers of Classic Guild Wars, but he also founded Undead Labs and rolled out the State of Decay franchise and was a senior dev on multiple classic Blizzard titles, including Diablo and World of Warcraft. (Unsurprisingly given the ongoing Blizzard scandals, the press release doesn’t mention Blizzard at all; we’ve previously covered how Strain departed Blizzard in 1998 over disagreements that most definitely make Strain look even better – and Blizzard look even worse – in hindsight.)

In any case, his other companies have long since been sold off (to NCsoft and Microsoft, respectively), freeing up Strain for new projects. The new company includes luminaries from a wide range of studios, including Valve, Ubisoft, BioWare, and EA – many of whom get a quote in the press release, which is somewhat unusual.

The downside is we don’t really know what they’re working on. “Possibility Space is built around an innovative model where game developers can create shared human experiences in an ambitious, physically distributed studio,” the announcement reads. “Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, Possibility Space is drawing talent from around the world by allowing passionate developers to live and work wherever they want. It’s the natural next step in Strain’s decades-long commitment to creating world-class games within safe and ethical work environments.” The statement also says that the company “works to identify, mentor, train, and hire individuals from underserved and overlooked communities and backgrounds.”

The jobs page doesn’t offer many clues either: “services that enable players to connect and interact with each other in novel ways,” “scalable game experience,” “experience developing for a live, service-based game,” and experience with Unity, Unreal, PlayFab, Docker, Kubernetesor, Azure – again, not too revealing.

“We felt this was the right time to create something new–a studio built from the ground up to embrace evolving needs and perspectives for both players and developers,” Strain says. “Like many others, the past year and a half has been a fraught time for me. While I am grateful that my family is safe, the anxiety, fear, and isolation of the last 18 months has been almost unbearable at times. That fear and isolation was the catalyst for Possibility Space, a modern kind of game studio, where we are creating a joyful game that’s been my dream for many years. I’m delighted and grateful for the team that has chosen to share in this vision and bring it life.”

The website has probably the best analogy for a video game studio I’ve ever seen.

“We are a gumbo. With core support offices in New Orleans, we know a thing or two about a good gumbo. And just like the layered, complex tastes of a good gumbo, our strength is in the combination and collaboration between quality people and their talents. We are diligent in looking for talent in unexpected places, and rigorous in nurturing emerging industry talent. Just like a gumbo, our collective, differentiated experiences, perspectives, and talents combine to form our strength.”

Obviously, it must be a gumbo-cooking simulation MMO with Firewatch’s art style. And you know… from Strain, we’d play that.

Source: Press release, official site
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Bojan Mihaljević

Can we get real GW2 now?

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Ken from Chicago

Your mission is to gather the ingredients needed for a gumbo, be it …
— farming (planting ahead of time and harvesting),
— mining (the right kinds of salts and minerals),
— harvesting (gathering fruits and vegetables either homegrown or in the wild),
— hunting (some ingredients are on the move so you gotta chase em down),
— trading (turns out some folk already got the ingredients you need left over from their gumbo, maybe a deal can be worked out) and
— hauling (sometimes you don’t need to find the goods but deliver them over dangerous terrain).

As you level up, you’re assigned to get more and more exotic ingredients, in more exotic locales, perhaps needing to get help along the way until you get and make your own recipes!

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

‘Should you choose to accept it…’

Totally read that with a Bond song, and a Mission Impossible theme going in my head at the same time…

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Ken from Chicago

Duty calls, agent Double-Oh Vee. 👍🤣

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Dug From The Earth

I dont hold much hope for game studios founded by long term vets. It seems like some of the best games and times in gaming have come from game studios put together by new rookie people.

If you look at the studios with big names behind them, we really havent gotten much thats even comparable to the great titles we got at the start of their careers. Its kinda backwards in a sense, but I think ego and an “I know best” mentality sorta creates the problem that these veteran designers fall into with their studios and newer projects that results in something that is soooo far off base from what the players are actually looking for.

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Ken from Chicago

If veterans in the MMO games space are less than reliable in coming up with new MMOs then that may well and truly sound the deathknell for future crowdfunded MMOs. After all, some stranger asking for money is unlikely to get good results.

Unless their presentations are truly amazing and even then that might not be persuasive.

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Dug From The Earth

the problem with many vets is the same thing that happens with many artists in the entertainment industry. Rather than recognizing that people like their work, they are determined to try to mix things up and make something else that is just as liked.

Its like when a band releases an album that many love, and then their next album is completely different genre of music. It could still be good, but for those looking for more of the same genre, they will be disappointed.

Ill use Asherons Call as an example in the mmorpg industry.

A decent number (for the time it was out) liked this game. The company decided to make a sequel. Players largely wanted to see the game they were playing, improved, advanced, and expanded as a sequel. Instead, what they got was a totally different game, set in the same world. The game was only “asherons call” in name and lore… nothing else. All because the “veteran” designers of the first game felt the need to change.

With a “rookie” developer, players dont have that expectation, and can often be wowed by something they show off for the first time ever.

I also believe that there is an inherent difference to trying to make a good first impression, vs trying to make a good second impression (which is what veteran devs are doing).

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Ken from Chicago

Good examples. I remember HUEY LEWIS & THE NEWS were huge in the 80s for Power Of Love, If This Is It, The Heart Of Rock And Roll and their songs for Back to the Future.

Then they released their jazz album and it went over with their fans like a lead brick. Sure, some liked it but for large percentage, nope.

Much like when Adam Sandler, star of BILLY MADISON, THE WATERBOY, did PUNCH DRUNK LOVE which baffled his fans. What the frell? So he went back to his usual frat boy comedy.

It reminds me of Norah Roberts, who is a hugely popular and prolific romance writer in the 1980s switched in the 1990s to doing futuristic murder mysteries set about 2050s. She did so under the penname J. D. Robb. Yes, she didn’t get the benefit of her large romance fandom but also didn’t have the baggage of their expectations. Once she established herself in the futuristic mystery genre, she revealed her alter ego but still kept the penname J. D. Robb as a way to tell readers to distinguish between her new mystery vs new romance novels.

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Greaterdivinity

Damn, I wonder if this means the Undead Labs zombie MMO is well and truly dead for all time.

I dig the start to the new studio so far, yay for actually trying for some diversity even if I’m not the biggest fan of all the names. But a good direction to start with.

And yes, that analogy is perfect. Both for their location, and because gumbo is freakin delicious as all hell. Damn I miss the little southern food spot near my old office, they had some great red beans and rice and gumbo, and there’s nothing remotely similar anywhere near where I live ;__;