Portal writer and Riot Games senior designer launch a new studio focused on co-op games

Portal and Left 4 Dead writer Chet Faliszek and Riot Games senior technical designer Kimberly Voll have launched a new studio called Stray Bombay Company that will focus on the development of AI-driven "collaborative gaming experiences." 

"As Kim and I talked over the years about the kind of games we want to make, we realized we want to create games that give players a place to breathe and live in the moment," Faliszek wrote at straybombay.com. "Games that tell stories knowing you are going to come back again and again, that change each time you play them without feeling completely random, and that help you feel like a real team that supports each other... not a bunch of folks in each other’s way. And where AI drives not just the enemies but helps drive the entire experience." 

Faliszek is likely the better known of the two among gamers, but Voll has an impressive list of credits too. She's worked on numerous indie games over the years including the 2016 VR release Fantastic Contraption, a must-have for HTC Vive owners, and last year she gave a GDC presentation about how Riot was able to revamp League of Legend's honor system. 

"We think now is the time to change the culture of game development. Make everyone equals, not just in their impact on the project but in how we divide the loot of our success. Relax strict PTO policies because we trust each other to take the time you need. We want to build games that reflect our culture," Voll said. 

"We are supported by like-minded, patient investors with Kevin at Upfront Ventures as our lead, who has known us for years, working with Chet on a gaming startup board, as well as Riot Games. They love and understand games but more importantly, have time and again backed founder-led and employee-owned tech startups from the beginning towards long-term, independent success." 

With the studio announced, the plan now is to "go dark for a little bit as we start laying the foundation of our new world." It sounds like there's already been some decent amount of progress in that direction, though, as Faliszek told PC Games Insider that he had a prototype running in Unity and Unreal before partnering with Voll to launch the studio.   

"We know the direction we're going. As people join the team, that'll help find the game more clearly. We're very iterative, everyone is a designer, everyone participates in the process," he said. "Everyone joining [the studio] will have a big impact on the project. Obviously, we have a plan, there's a framework that we can hang it all off, but everyone will be able to express themselves and have an impact." 

Faliszek also confirmed that he is no longer with Bossa Studios, the Worlds Adrift developer he joined up with in 2017. In fact, it sounds as though that might be a big part of what led to the launch of Stray Bombay. 

"I just don't think it was quite the right match. Bossa is great; I love them. It was the most cordial breakup of making sure that everybody was okay and helping each other the best we could ... I take a lot of notes, I track progress and see where things are so I can have a good perspective on it and I brought some stuff up and we talked it through and it just wasn't good for either side. We decided to break-up."   

Faliszek said that it was up to Bossa to comment on the state of that project following his departure, so I've reached out to ask and will update if I receive a reply. To keep up with happenings on the new project, you can add your name to the mailing list at straybombay.com