Though it launched only a couple months ago, the new studio from former EA Head, Patrick Söderlund, is getting ready to share what they’re working on.
Going by the name of Embark, Söderlund has brought on over 50 people to start, and have built their very own house to work within. Housed in Stockholm’s Old Town, Söderlund published a lengthy blog post speaking on what they’re going for:
“So I thought now’s as good a time as any to share an update on why we started this venture. I want to let you in on some decisions we’ve made, and give you a glimpse into our progress so far.
In the first few weeks, the six of us who founded the studio huddled together in a tiny room we had managed to borrow, and worked on the stuff that any new company has to deal with: hiring people, finding an office, setting up a basic website, and getting our paperwork in order.”
Söderlund goes, on, saying that “in a shorter time” than he could have predicted, the members have already decided on their first game idea. It’s one that they have been excited about since the beginning, one that “resonates with” their mission, and one that they are already prototyping.
Of course, anything can happen during game development. That said, the current state of the title is a free-to-play co-op title in the action genre. Embark’s latest takes place in “a distant future” and requires players to come together to beat “seemingly impossible odds.”
After trying out different engines, Embark has settled on Epic’s Unreal Engine – the very same one that runs Fortnite. They’re making significant progress and “having fun” learning the software.
Within the Post, Söderlund shares a video showcasing “how far” they can “push visual fidelity on a large scale with completely dynamic weather and lighting.” While that doesn’t sound overly unique, the fact that they’re doing so with a small team is nothing short of remarkable.
“Everything in this clip was created by three people over three weeks,” he says, “using real-world scanned data, procedurally placed objects, and some great tools.”
That said, this isn’t an entirely green team either. Some members have experience working at big studios, especially Söderlund himself. Of course, the process will be different than what Söderlund knew at DICE and EA. Regardless, the former EA head is confident in Embark’s direction:
“Many of us here have experience from working at larger studios, with lots of support and resources. The reality of running a smaller studio means we need to work differently; we have to keep learning and come up with efficient workflows, and we always need to challenge our assumptions.”
Changing The Game
Finally, Söderlund shares his vision – an admirable one at that:
“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.
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.”
It seems that the title will be a service-based game. Söderlund claims that they’re working to get something public “quite fast” and that they’ll build it in the long-term. This seems to be the way to go, as long-term games with consistent updates tend to bring in more revenue than games requiring just one purchase. Only time will tell if Embark can deliver on Söderlund’s promises.