Epic and Blizzard, former developers aim high with an indie studio

Epic and Blizzard, former developers aim high with an indie studio

Epic and Blizzard

Some former developers of Epic Games and Blizzard have founded a new independent studio. Called Lightforge Games, the insiders seem to have clear what to do: completely revolutionize the RPG market. A decidedly ambitious idea, which rests its foundations on some now-everyday aspects of our lives.

At work in this new studio we find some former Epic Games and Blizzard. Their resumes include successful and significant projects, including World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republich, Overwatch, Fortnite and The Elder Scrolls Online. The names of the founders? Matt Schembari, Dan Hertzka, Natahn Fairbanks and March Hutchens. Their goal now is to combine games with creative mechanics and high social features with highly narrative ones.

The idea of ​​this large group of former Epic Games and Blizzard developers is one: to merge game elements such as Minecraft or Roblox, which make social elements an important column, together with those of tabletop role-playing games (or paper, as we are used to calling them here in Italy). The goal is to create a new generation of role-playing games, although obviously it is not yet clear in what form they will be available and above all in what aspect, whether as purely online games or with a single player component.

Unfortunately, despite the nice words, the developers did not want to release more details. What can we expect from this new study? Considering that everyone has worked in Epic Games or Blizzard, the technical know-how is certainly there, especially on the social side. In fact, in their curriculum there is no room for "purely" single player games and it must be admitted that there is a certain curiosity about it. Surely having reached $ 5 million in investment will help the new studio a lot. And who knows that maybe in the next few months we will see something of their new project.

Waiting for the new Lightforge RPGs, rediscovering the old ones is always nice: on Amazon you will find Divinity: Original Sin II on offer for PS4 .

Former Blizzard and Epic veterans raise $5M for Lightforge Games

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When game companies become successful, they tend to breed offspring. That’s the case with veterans of Blizzard Entertainment and Epic Games, who have raised $5 million to open a new studio called Lightforge Games.

The new studio is based near Epic Games in Raleigh, North Carolina. It wants to redefine how developers make role-playing games. The team is working on a cross-platform social video game where players have the power to create worlds and tell stories with freedom.

CEO Matt Schembari said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company is hiring people for remote jobs.

“Our blended DNA from both Blizzard and Epic extends to the entire studio at this point,” Schembari said. “About a year ago, a bunch of us got together and have been operating quietly, building up the company and our early game prototypes. We’re testing and validating crazy game ideas that we have been coming up with.”

While he isn’t talking about the game yet, Schembari said the it will be highly social and creative, and it will run across multiple platforms.

“We love experiences where players can come together and build worlds together, create stories together, tell stories together, where they’re able to have this kind of emergent gameplay. Telling stories together is really the part that we’re most focused on,” he said. “We really believe that there’s no barrier between creation and play. It’s not user-generated content in the classic sense of you create something and then you publish it and people can download it. It’s a different kind of model than just UGC.”

The funding came from Galaxy Interactive, NetEase Games, Dreamhaven, Maveron, 1UP Ventures, and angel investors from the gaming and tech industries.

One of the surprises is that Dreamhaven is another game startup itself, started by former Blizzard president Mike and Amy Morhaime. In a statement, Mike Morhaime said that Lightforge is creating a game in a space with a lot of potential and he is excited about the team’s vision.

Above: Lightforge’s team

Image Credit: Lightforge

Schembari has 20 years of experience and he shipped games played by millions as former lead engineer at Blizzard and director of user interface at Epic Games, where he led the Fortnite platform team.

Other founders include Dan Hertzka, Nathan Fairbanks, Glenn Rane, and Marc Hutcheson. Hertzka is engineering director and he led a team at Fortnite that added the client social layer to the battle royale game. Fairbanks has been games for 13 years and has worked on titles such as Fortnite, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and The Elder Scrolls Online. He is serving as studio director. Rane is art director and he has worked on World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Diablo Immortal. Hutcheson is product director and he has 18 years of experience in marketing and publishing games such as World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Overwatch, Diablo III, Fortnite, and Hearthstone.

Lightforge has a total of 11 people and is on the verge of hiring three more. The team brings decades of experience from Epic, Blizzard, Riot, Bioware, and Zenimax Online and have shipped top games such as Fortnite, World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hearthstone, the StarCraft 2 trilogy, Overwatch, Elder Scrolls Online, and more.

Lightforge is an all-remote studio where employees can work and live nearly anywhere. Schembari said that his startup received multiple offers and went with Galaxy Interactive as the lead investor because of its understanding about games and online communities.

“We are all remote and have been since the very beginning and this is something that was really important to us,” Schembari said. “One of our values is to really think about embracing empathy with everything we do. And, in particular, in the case of being all remote. We’ve all lived the experience that one of the most disruptive things you can do to someone’s life is to ask them to relocate for a job. And that was something that we really just strongly didn’t want to do. We are now at a point both technologically and culturally where you can totally work remotely.”

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