Former Electronic Arts chief design officer Patrick Söderlund has revealed a little bit about what he's been up to since leaving the publisher last year and founding a new outfit called Embark Studios. More than 50 employees have been hired since then, an office has been established in Stockholm, and—this is the interesting part—work has begun on a new game.
"In a shorter time than I would have expected, the early team here settled around an idea for our first proper game — an idea that we were immediately excited about, that resonates with our mission, and that we have now begun prototyping," Söderlund wrote in an update on Medium.
"Lots about this first game of ours will change and evolve as we progress. With that caveat out of the way, I can tell you that it’s a cooperative free-to-play action game set in a distant future, about overcoming seemingly impossible odds by working together."
The game is being developed in the Unreal Engine, which the team showcased in a "terrain test" created by three people in three weeks, "using real-world scanned data, procedurally placed objects, and some great tools." It's obviously not even close to a reveal of any sort, and that's still some way off, but it's very pretty and it sounds like we'll be learning more about what Embark is aiming for in the relatively near future.
"For a small studio like ours, the right way to tackle this won’t be to hide away for years, trying to develop something big and complex that may or may not succeed," Söderlund wrote. "Instead, we’re focused on getting something out there quite fast that we can build upon — a really fun game that, if popular, can expand with design and functionality that take us closer to our long-term vision."
"In the coming months, we’re going share more with you about our journey, the challenges we face, the problems we (hopefully) solve, and the things we learn along the way. And in time, if all goes well, you’ll get a proper game reveal too."
This apparently isn't the only thing that Embark is working on: Its website says the studio is working on "several game projects and our technical platform," which Söderlund also alluded to in his post.
"Beyond getting started with our first game, we have one large overarching ambition; in essence, we think it’s too hard for people that aren’t professional game developers to create games, and we want to blur the line between playing and making, with games and tools that empower anyone to create," he wrote.
"Just like anyone today can produce their own videos, write their own blogs, or make their own music, we imagine a world where everyone is able to create and share meaningful interactive experiences. Our belief is that the more people that are empowered to create, the better, more interesting and more diverse games will become."