In the past year or two, we’ve seen new studios founded by longtime Blizzard veterans.Though their teams and projects differ, companies like Dreamhaven, Frost Giant, and Warchief Gaming have things in common. In addition to Blizzard’s connection: love of the fantasy world, interest in games that bring players together, and the desire to work as a small team, former Blizzard and Epic engineer Matt Schembari is joining. Group with this new attempt: Lightforge games.
Schembari spent more than eight years at Blizzard, followed by five others at Epic Games, and his four Lightforge co-founders showcase the mix of culture the two open with former Epic programmer Dan Hertzka, Epic Nathan producer. Fairbanks, former Blizzard artist Glenn Rane and former Blizzard and Epic Marketing Director Marc Hutcheson, the studio opened about a year ago. But has started to work quietly ever since It now employs 11 people, many of whom are from the same or similar industry background.
What is Lightforge doing? Schembari has not just mentioned, but it is an RPG.What he will say is the overall experience of the team making social and creative games that their past companies have taken advantage of.
“When you watch anything from Minecraft to Dungeons & Dragons, these are games where people come together. They have a common connection. They’re building the world together. They’re building stories together in a way that happens.” Up together These games are the genre of games that we love and we have the experience and expertise to work on games like them. We all come together with a common vision where we can rethink RPGs through social and creation.
The big difference between Lightforge and the large studios their employees claim from its structure is that Lightforge is completely remote.Schembari tells me this is in line with one of the studio’s values, that is. “Embrace compassion,” he said, working remotely is one way that Lightforge can ensure its employees are healthier and happier.
“There is nothing more interrupting people’s lives than asking them to move jobs. We are now in a place where culture and technology are at a point where we don’t have to do that anymore, so we decided from the beginning. First Because most of us have moved to work many times, it is very disruptive, we don’t want anyone to go through that, let people be wherever they are best for their life situations, no matter where they are, and Let’s create everything From the ground to the whole distance “
So Lightforge was built with remote operation as a pillar, with rigorous documentation of everything recorded and video chats open all the time. (But only if people want to participate) and asynchronous communication between members who are in locations from Hawaii to The east coast of the United States to Scotland. Everyone works at the hours that best suit them.
“A silly example for myself is when the weather is nice outside, I go swimming,” Schembari said. Adjust the schedule according to the situation in life, whatever it is, I think it is very valuable to people. ”
I urge Schembari to delve into the mission. “Embrace and care” a little more. After all, it’s a good mission. But many studios with malicious policies have a very good mission to take care of their employees. He told me that another element of the Studio’s focus in this area is his interest in mental health and wellness.
“We want to make sure everything we create is healthy and people love what they’re doing,” Schembari said. They’re healthy when they’re mentally safe, when they can be constructive and independent, we want to make it. Of course, right from the start, we are building a culture that really focuses on that. ”
And he goes on and on it goes further than that. In addition to adhering to the “Golden Rule”, he added that the combination of empathy with Lightforge also influences the way the game develops as well as its design and accessibility.
“UX design, for example, is a form of empathy,” he says. “When you think through UX from the user’s perspective, what are the players thinking, what are the players’ motivations? Why are they doing this? This form of empathy … it’s really about having this. Focus on everything you do. [asking] Who are others who will be affected by this and why would they use it or why are they interested?
“I am a supporter of Accessibility. In many of the games I’ve worked on, I’ve worked directly on the Accessibility feature. Heroes of the Storm is an award-winning game from DAGER for Accessibility, and I Well, it was a UI engineer who was leading at the time. Of course, the community was also a big part, so what was the feel of the community? Why were they talking about a particular topic, things like that? “
Lightforge’s revelation accompanied the announcement of a $ 5 million funding round backed by studios such as Galaxy Interactive, NetEase, Maveron, 1UP Ventures and Mike Morhaime’s post-blizzard effort, Dreamhaven Schembari said while Lightforge is not part of the ongoing network of studios within Dreamhaven, he speaks to the Dreamhaven team every day.
In fact, he added that a growing group of prominent former Blizzard employees in recent years and new studio startups is effectively becoming their own startup community. And although they all have similar roots But he banishes the idea that they all compete with each other. But that relationship was fully funded.
“What surprised me and it’s not surprising is how positive this community is,” he said. “It can be really scary as a small studio, and what we’re getting now is instead. All alone in this dark scary place, we have these studios starting right now. And everyone is fully cooperating and providing excellent and extremely helpful support, and we are talking openly and in a very helpful way.
“I’ve heard this metaphor a couple of times that this is like a Seattle rock scene or something like that where you have all these groups that could be rivals. But we work together to create something that is better and bigger than us all. ”
Rebekah Valentine is in the news with IGN, you can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.