A team of CD Projekt veterans including Witcher 3 co-director Mateusz Kanik, producer Jędrzej Mróz, and Cyberpunk 2077 senior producer Marcin Jefimow, have launched a new studio called Blank that is currently working on "a character-driven game set in an apocalypse, with a twist or two."
(The studio name is technically Blank., with a period, but we won't be using that.)
Kanik is serving as game director on Blank's first project, while Mróz and Jefimow are onboard as executive producers. They'll be joined at the new studio by Mikołaj Marchewka, formerly of Rookiez of Warsaw, in the managing director role, Witcher 3 game designer Michał Dobrowolski as design director, Witcher lead story designer Artur Ganszyniec as narrative director, and Gwent VFX artist Grzegorz Przybyś as art director.
The announcement of the new studio included what could be taken as a swipe at CD Projekt, which has grown to become one of the biggest game studios in Europe, and the nature of the game development industry as a whole.
"After working for years in an increasingly conservative industry, we’re ready to make bold, impactful projects that share our unique creativity and values," Kanik said. "Where the industry champions a dictatorship of the creative individual, we want to give ownership to the team. Where the industry leans on crunch culture, we prefer work-life balance. Where the industry says bigger is better, we’re setting our sights on highly polished games with a focus on emotion, story, and craftsmanship."
None of that actually means a whole lot, although a commitment to avoid crunch—as far as it goes—is always welcome. Mróz, the executive producer, was a little more on point, saying that "over our many years of making games, we've seen the importance of marrying inspiring ideas with well-defined scope, that's supported by a strong team and realistic budget."
The announcement of Blank included one piece of 'concept art' from the studio's first project. Make of it what you will.
Even though there's not actually a whole lot to be seen here—such is the way with new studio announcements—the founders's histories makes the studio worth keeping an eye on: Kanik, Mróz, and Ganszyniec were all with CD Projekt going all the way back to the original Witcher, while Dobrowolski has been around since The Witcher 2, and Jefimow and Przybyś have extensive resumes of their own at studios including 11 Bit, Bandai Namco, and Techland. Blank currently stands at 10 employees but the studio founders hope to grow Blank to "almost 60" to support its first project.