Only a few months after he left his job at EA as chief design officer, Patrick Söderlund is ready to launch his next project. The name Embark Studios was revealed tonight when calling for earnings MapleStory publisher Nexon in Tokyo. Embark is a collaboration of species, with Nexon serving as publisher and investor in a young studio. Söderlund's team is not yet ready to play the game, but the former EA manager has great plans for the future. "We have a massive market, a great deal of ambition with what we will do," he says.
To make this possible, Söderlund says the studio will use emerging technologies to build new kinds of interactive experiences online. The press release announcing Embark is full of buzzwords like "connected players, great data, speech recognition, cloud computing and advanced AI." In practice, Söderlund says it means finding ways to use these diverse game design technologies, which are very different from what is currently available.
"Everything is based on the belief that our industry and the future of interactive entertainment will look different than what we have today," he says. "Although there are a lot of great games every year on the market every year, I feel we're getting some of them a bit, I think we're at the peak of some changes. [technologies] in combination, will allow us to develop very different experiences over time that we have not seen. "
Without real games that would prove to be, it's hard to get a feel for what it really means. (Söderlund says the studio itself is less than a week at this time.) In the absence of specifics, he would give a more theoretical example of the kinds of games Embark could do:
Games today are usually built around a single layer. You run and shoot people or play football. What if you could have 10 simulation abstractions in the game where you could decide to become a farmer or go to politics or join the army or be a professional athlete within this world? These are some of the questions that are in my head. When I started thinking about them, together with some people I work with, I realized that he was ambitious and almost naive, but I think you have to go down this path to do something extraordinary.
Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney says it's "very rare" that the company started to engage in the business so early, but was sold in combination with Söderlund's broad vision and experience. Prior to joining EA, he was CEO Battlefield DICE developer. When EA acquired DICE in 2006, Söderlund remained and constantly ran through the ranks, becoming one of the top executives of the company and occasionally EA is the most public face, most recently through some troubled sections. "We want to build this future," says Mahoney about Embark's plans.
For Söderlund, who says that "after leaving EA, he has other options," the new studio also has the chance to return to more involvement in the game. "At EA I was always very close to the game, just as I could give the job I had," he says. "It's a way to get closer to returning to my own games and designing things and building things myself." Part of this involves embarking a relatively small embarkation. Currently, there are only a handful of employees – including Johan Andersson, who previously headed the Search for Extraordinary Experiences (EA), known as SEED – but expects to have 15-20 people aboard in the next few weeks. more than 200 employees.
And while the ultimate goal is ambitious, the way to get there starts slowly. "I think starting with a game or a platform that can do all the things we talk about will be very difficult and very risky and it will take a lot of time," explains Söderlund. "My approach will be different, we will begin by developing games that can share more traditional gaming experiences, but at the same time we try to prove a few key things that I need to prove in the future: I do not feel like coming up with the ultimate dream or the ultimate idea, and I have been hiding in the corner for ten years, and showing up with something that can work or not is right for us. "
What if Embark released its first game? "I think you will see things faster than you would expect."