Gaming

Undead Labs founder Jeff Strain opens Possibility Space, a ‘distributed’ game studio


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Jeff Strain, the founder of Undead Labs and the co-founder of ArenaNet, today announced he’s opening a new studio called Possibility Space.

The new studio brings together several notable names in the industry, including Jane Ng (formerly of Campo Santo and Valve), Austin Walker (of Waypoint Media), Liz England (Ubisoft, Insomniac), among others. The new studio is currently working on their first, unannounced game. Strain spoke with GamesBeat about the new studio and why it was founded. (He demurred on the subject of the studio’s first game.)

The main concept of Possibility Space is that it’s a “distributed” studio. Strain made a point to differentiate between “distributed” and “remote,” saying that “remote” implies that the company still has a central location. While Possibility Space has an office in New Orleans, it has no restriction on where new employees live. Employees can live anywhere in the world and collaborate online while working on their new game.

This was, in part, inspired by the uncertainty and fear Strain felt during the COVID-19 pandemic. “That fear and isolation was the catalyst for Possibility Space, a modern kind of game studio, where we are creating a joyful game that’s been my dream for many years.”

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Strain says that Possibility Space’s distributed structure is different from any other studio he’s worked in or founded: “I’ve done this enough times now, that there are some things I just think ‘Here’s how we do this.’ And it turns out those have to be challenged.”  As an example, he has worked to ensure Possibility Space has parity in meetings. As Strain put it, he didn’t want those not at a central location to feel they weren’t part of the team.

He also added that, when he approached new talent about joining the studio, many were thrilled. “For almost all of them, this is what they were looking for. They were looking for an opportunity to live where they wanted. They wanted to know that what they were making was positive.”

Brandon Dillon, a veteran of Oculus and Double Fine, was one of the new Possibility Space distributed workers. Dillon says, “I personally made the decision to join Possibility Space to help build an organization that truly wants every employee to have a whole, healthy life away from work, and which supports and emphasizes community service and outreach no matter where we are based.”

Possibility Space has taken an early-stage investment from Transcend Fund, which raised $50 million last year. The company has also received funding from Louisiana’s Economic Development Fund. Strain said of the industry, “There are big titanic forces reshaping our industry right now.”

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