As we reported on way back in February of last year (Remember last year? Me neither…), Patrick Söderlund, formerly the chief design officer of EA and CEO of DICE, revealed that after leaving those companies he had founded a new studio called Embark. Their first project is an incredibly ambitious co-op, free-to-play, sci-fi survival game using the Unreal Engine. Back then we only got the tiniest glimpse of the project, but it still looked impressive nonetheless. Just yesterday Söderlund chimed in again to give an update on what his studio has been working on, and the team at Embark has been very busy this past year.
First, the company has grown from around 50 employees in February of last year to now almost 200. This huge influx of talent has allowed them to spread out into multiple projects. Eagle eyed fans noticed awhile back that the studio had posted job listings looking for developers with first person shooter experience. This is because, surprise, the company is also working on a PvP shooter title. Patrick goes on to say that the game “leans heavily into team-based gameplay and puts dynamism, physicality, and destruction front and center.” Nothing else was revealed about the game though, other than some cool looking character designs. The game is still very early in development, as Embark is still looking for developers to work on the project.
As for that sci-fi survival game, work on it has gone past the prototype phase and into actual active development. Embark has also been working on what it is calling a “UXR-build,” which is a very early, unfinished version of the game to show to others for feedback. Embark is clearly taking its time with the project, and in a world full of developer crunch, that is a very refreshing thing to see.
Making games easier to make
The last big update from Embark was on how it is developing games in the future. Patrick goes on to say that the team is trying to cut down on the aspects that take up so much time during development. That being producing and polishing game assets. Embark is taking full advantage of the advancements in proceduralism and reinforcement learning to cut down on development time. Besides helping making games easier and quicker, more importantly this will help development staff and try to curb that notorious crunch.
Embark also has a project in the pipeline that will help anyone make games much easier, inspired by other game creation platforms like Dreams and sandbox games like Minecraft. There was the least to say about this project at this point in time, so it is safe to assume it will be awhile longer until we hear more about it. Regardless, the prospect of having high end game development tools in the hands of more people is still very exciting. You can check out the entirety of Söderlund’s post here.