Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Dragon Age creative director Mark Laidlaw has founded Yellow Brick games with Ubisoft and EA veterans Thomas Giroux, Jeff Skalski, and Frédéric St-Laurent B. Together, they hope to “take potentially millions of players on wondrous journeys.”
According to Giroux, CEO of Yellow Brick Games, the new studio takes a back to basics approach to game development, “centered on the pleasure of crafting new game experiences, in a flexible and more personable environment that an independent studio can provide,”
Each of the founders brings over fifteen years of industry experience, with St. Laurent-B, formerly of Ubisoft Quebec, taking on directing duties for their first, unannounced project.
“We have learned a lot from working on world-class, multi-year projects with thousands of colleagues and we want to take a different approach,” Skalski said. “Leveraging a smaller talented team where people come first, we will create amazing worlds and experiences for all others to enjoy. The market is moving fast, and we have no desire to play catchup and chase it when we can influence where it goes.”
It’s definitely a bold statement for a new studio to make. Despite their unquestioned experience in the industry, leaving such established studios means that while they certainly have the connections to make it big in the industry, they don’t necessarily have access to the same funds. They may bring the best intentions, but influencing the way the games industry continues to develop is a tall order.
The main intent of the new developer seems to be very egalitarian, with a small team working closely together to craft games that are more personal, with Laidlaw stating “we want every member of our team to have a direct impact on the new worlds we’re creating.”
Like many veterans leaving established studios to strike out on their own, it looks like the team are seeking greater creative freedom, but given how well the Dragon Age franchise has been received within a larger studio, it’ll be interesting to see what they manage without those constraints.