Given Alice is not interested in any ghost stories which aren’t terrifying movies she can freak herself out with while alone in the house, it falls to me to tell you about Ken Levine and other senior Irrational folk’s new studio, Ghost Story Games [official site].
I’m not sure whether to call it a new studio or a rebrand, actually, as the site seems to position it as a new thing with familiar faces but their announcement tweet is: “The studio formerly known as Irrational Games is now called “Ghost Story”.” Maybe it’s more of an evolution or transition.There’s not a lot known at this point because they are still sitting on their first game announcement, like game developer hens incubating an egg but there are some general statements which offer a bit of speculation fodder and the staff listings which reveal that a lot of core Irrational staff are part of this new venture.
“Ghost Story was founded by twelve former Irrational Games developers and our mission is simple: to create immersive, story-driven games for people who love games that ask something of them. While we believe our new games will have strong appeal to fans of BioShock, our new focus allows us to craft experiences where the gameplay is as challenging as the stories.”
As for those twelve, these include the aforementioned Kenny L who’s listed as president and creative director, plus Shawn Robertson (art director), Don Roy (executive director), Erik Irland (lead programmer), Emma Clarkson (associate producer), Seth Kendall (senior animator), Jeremy Carson (technical lead) and others.
For a few more snippets here are the team members talking about the studio and their work. A lot of it is vague and it’s the sort of optimistic language you’d expect when people are setting out on new things and feeling reinvigorated so I found myself ignoring most of the statements because on the unannounced game front they could be everything or nothing at this stage. Tehy do state that “we are not working on a BioShock Game” though.
It is nice that a lot of people on there seem to be saying they feel like they have an impact on what’s being produced and that work-life balance is important. I hope that’s something they can maintain if crunch looms. They’re also noting that Ghost Story has been participating in game-adjacent work to affect some change within the industry like sponsoring the Boston MIT waitlist of girls hoping to attend a Girls Make Games summer camp.
Picking through the statements it sounds like high production value story-driven games are very much the focus:
“Ghost Story for me is defined by a small but experienced team working together to push the boundaries of what interactive narrative means”
“Emphasis on making games with inspiring and intriguing story and characters, with a high quality bar for execution”
“The world and IP we are creating is richly specific and original, and conveys both wonder and nostalgia.”
Ghost Story Games also has “a fully stocked kitchen”. I know this because I read the benefits package.
Ken Levine is actually the keynote speaker at Rezzed (thus neatly allowing me to bring this article back round to my favourite subject – going to Rezzed!) RPS is only involved with the RPS bits of Rezzed so I’m as in the dark as any of you about whether he would be chatting about what Ghost Story Games are actually up to right now, but I’m hoping that he might. Or that he might have a version of the unannounced game running on his laptop when he asks me to look after it while he goes to the loo. That would work too.