Chet Faliszek, the former Valve fella best known for his work on Left 4 Dead and writing other good words for games, has joined forces with former Riot Games principal technical designer and AI bod Kimberly Voll to found a new studio. Stray Bombay Company is its name (as in Bombay cat), and drawing people closer through play is its game. They haven't announced any specific game yet but do mutter about wanting to make games we can play over and over, where we get on as teams, and where AI shapes the whole thing. They basically described Left 4 Dead, though I wouldn't assume that's exactly what they're making.
Faliszek relates a story in today's announcement about hearing from a soldier who kept connected and close to his wife by playing Left 4 Dead while deployed in Iraq. Which, turns out, he quite liked - and "changed forever how I think about making games." Last we heard from Faliszek, he was working on a co-op game with Bossa Studios but now he's got this new gig.
"As Kim and I talked over the years about the kind of games we want to make, we realised we want to create games that give players a place to breathe and live in the moment," he continued. "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."
Their job listings point towards, yep, a cooperative multiplayer game built on Unreal Engine 4.
Speaking of games that sound like Left 4 Dead, the cooperative zombie-busting FPS's original creators, Turtle Rock Studios, last week announced Back 4 Blood. Now Turtle Rock, I do feel confident saying, are very much trying to basically make a new L4D.
Stray Bombay also wish to make games in a different way, with profit-sharing across the team and a better work/life balance. Cooperatives and unions are growing within the industry, and it's about damn time.
"We think now is the time to change the culture of game development," Voll said. "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."
Stray Bombay note that one of their minor investors is Riot Games, who do strike me as a curious partner when hoping to "change the culture of game development" - given that League Of Legends lot's apparent cesspool of a company culture. But hey, take their money and do better than them.
RPS roving reporter Alice Bee has chatted with Stray Bombay and will be telling us more about all this soon. When she can find time during her week at the Game Developers Conference. And recovers from the jetlag of flying from London to San Francisco. And, I'd imagine, the tummyache of eating burritos the size of your head.