I woke up this morning to find the message from Mike O’Brien (soon-to-be former president of ArenaNet) saying farewell to ArenaNet and the Guild Wars (2) community. He did state that he had previously shifted to work on one of the now cancelled new projects at ArenaNet – but what interested me is that he mentioned he’s going “to take a step back” and that he is going to join friends in forming a new studio: “We’ll go back to the beginning and make small games again.”
Small company, small games, with people that have a lot of experience in this area? Oh yes, I’m definitely interested! I also saw that this message was discussed in the GW2 reddit as well. And as usual, it doesn’t take much digging, as others have found the connecting dots before already. Kotaku wrote a piece including some information they had gotten prior to the official posting from Mike O’Brien. For us Guild Wars fans, it’s probably disheartening to read that one of the cancelled projects apparently could have been some kind of Guild Wars 3 (in one form or another). The source Kotaku cites apparently also told them that eight people – including Mike O’Brien – would be leaving ArenaNet for start a new game studio.
Isaiah confirms that the studio consists of eight former employees. What we also know now is that the new studio is called ManaWorks. They also have a Subreddit already which doesn’t give much more information either, unfortunately. It does state: “We aim to create worlds to live in, skills to discover, and adventures to share with friends. We hope you’ll join us!” – So this could mean that they’re still going to focus on roleplaying games? I would certainly hope so, because that’s what I’d be most interested in.
We do not know for certain who is going to be in the new studio with him, but the about page of their official website apparently also listed Brett Vickers and Tirzah Bauer. A little further down in the Reddit thread, somebody else lists a more names that they found: Elvir Bahtijaragic, Sarah Sperry, Lisa Davis and Kirill Federspiel. Together with Mike O’Brien and Isaiah Cartwright, that’d be the full eight.
What this means to Guild Wars 2 is currently unknown, obviously. Not a lot of people that worked on Guild Wars early on are still left. None of the original developers, apparently. But Guild Wars 2 has been out for seven years. Even if somebody only joined for Guild Wars 2, they have lots of experience with the game and its development. So it’s not like some other company suddenly took over that has no idea how any of the code works etc. But having a new small game studio also means that there might be something new and fresh coming and since they’re all people with years of experience, I am pretty optimistic about it. The only question is: Will they make a game that I personally want to play? But either way, I wish them good luck and, of course, fun in creating new games! And quite obviously, I will be watching their website and Subreddit to see when we’ll get more information on what they’re planning to bring us!