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Two former developers at Dishonored and Prey dev Arkane Studios, founder Raphael Colantonio and executive producer Julien Roby, have formed a new team, WolfEye Studios, and set out to try new ideas and approaches away from the world of triple-A development.
The duo previously worked alongside one another at Arkane for over a decade. Roby, now CEO and executive producer at WolfEye, played key parts in the development of Dishonored, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, and Arx Fatalis at Arkane before departing the company.
In the years between his time at Arkane and starting WolfEye, Roby worked with 2K Games on titles like Mafia III and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel as well.
Colantonio, now president and creative director at WolfEye, meanwhile departed Arkane Studios in 2017 after 18 years at the studio he founded back in 1999. Between then and now, he handled some consulting work but largely stayed away from tackling his own projects.
WolfEye marks the second studio he’s helped found, though he tells Gamasutra over email that the experience is quite different from when Arkane got its start.
“It’s a different context - the world has changed since 1999 when I started Arkane Studios, so while it is way easier to be taken seriously by investors and publishers after our run at Arkane, there are new challenges that keep it interesting," says Colantonio. “The market has changed, our tastes and desires too. I’m not the same person that I was back then, but there is one thing that hasn’t changed: I want to create a game that is very dear to me and my friends at WolfEye.”
In addition to setting up shop as an indie developer, Colantonio and Roby’s new studio is launching as a globally distributed office, favoring remote work over that of a team confined to one geographic area. This approach, the co-founding members tell Gamasutra, builds on their previous fondness for what remote work can offer and reduces some of the friction in the hiring process by taking relocation out of the conversation altogether.
“We’ve always been fans of remote collaboration, so it’s not really new to us,” explains Colantonio. He notes that advancements in remote server services have helped to reduce the cost and complexity of operating an entirely remote studio. On the day-to-day, the team can log into a video conferencing platform at will to emulate "the team presence you would have in a physical office."
“To add to that, with the team being fully distributed it means we have access to the best talents, without constraint related to their geographical location,” notes Roby. “It also gives access to very different work conditions and lifestyle, where people are treated as responsible adults who manage their own time.”
The team’s first game is set to be announced at The Game Awards next month, but at the very onset Colantonio and Roby say the new studio aims to create deep games and interesting worlds that open players up to unique, decision-led playthroughs. The ability to do something more experimental as well is part of the reason WolfEye has set up shop as an indie developer, with Colantonio noting that the high stakes of triple-A development can make that side of the industry “risk-adverse”.
“Going independent allows us more ways to do what truly matters to us: deliver a deliberate human adventure," he says, "And smaller budgets mean we can take more risks, innovate and make uncompromised games that are true to our passion."