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‘Half-Life,’ ‘Portal’ Writer and Riot Dev Form Seattle Game Studio

Game developers Chet Faliszek and Kimberly Voll formed a co-operative games studio called Stray Bombay, they revealed to Variety.

The new studio, which is based in Seattle, was formed to create games to better reflect players’ desires for social experiences.

“Players are smart, they are social,” Faliszek wrote in a blog post revealing the new studio. “But games often don’t reflect that and we think that can change.”

Faliszek is coming to this new venture after 12 years at Valve, where he worked on various franchises, including “Left 4 Dead,” “Half-Life,” and “Portal.”

Voll is leaving her position as principal technical game designer at Riot Games to start Stray Bombay. Faliszek wrote that Voll was an easy choice for co-founder, as she is an expert in AI and in human-centric design.

Faliszek, who was the co-project lead for the “Left 4 Dead” series, shared an anecdote of a married couple using the survival horror game to stay connected while the husband was stationed in Iraq, which the husband then shared in an email to Faliszek.

“The [couple] could spend time in each other’s company as if they were sitting next to each other on the couch at home,” Falizzek explained. “That is powerful and something only the shared experience of games can bring.”
With this in mind, Faliszek and Voll want to make games that reflect that co-operative experience that help players feel that they are working as a real team.
“As Kim and I talked over the years about the kind of games we want to make, we realized we want to create games that give players a place to breathe and live in the moment,” Faliszek wrote. “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.”
While the two aren’t quite ready to announce any games in development, they are interested in meeting potential candidates who’d like to join Stray Bombay, which is why they chose to announce the week of the Game Developer Conference.
“If you are in town, drop us an email at chet@straybombay.com or kim@straybombay.com to set up a meeting,” Voll wrote. “If not, don’t worry, just send an email to careers@straybombay.com with your resume and we will get back to you.”
As for players, Voll asked them to stay tuned.
“And if you are a player, we aren’t ready for you yet,” Voll wrote. “You can join our newsletter to keep up to date, but we are going to go dark for a little bit as we start laying the foundation of our new world. Then we will share it with you, get your feedback and grow and create that experience with you.”

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