These are rambling days in the video game industry. Around 4 years ago when the game industry began contracting, major publishers bought up independent studios in record numbers, with designers seeking the relative financial security of the larger corporate body. Today though, more and more of those same developers are striking out on their own, many leaving behind the studios that they helped found. Painkiller and Bulletstorm studio People Can Fly was acquired by Epic Games during that rush in 2007. On Sunday, three of People Can Fly’s key staff left the studio to pursue new opportunities.
Polygon reported that creative director and studio founder Andrian Chmielarz, lead artist Andrzej Poznanski, and principal artist Michal Kosieradzki have all left People Can Fly. Chmielarz said on Twitter that People Can Fly’s current project, spinoff Gears of War: Judgment won’t be hurt by their departure. “Gears fans, you’re going to love Judgment. It’s in great hands. And don’t worry, you’ll hear about my plans soon enough.
Epic president Mike Capps confirmed the staff changes and spoke fondly of all three. “Andrian Chmielarz, Andrzej Poznanski, and Michal Kosieradzki have parted ways with People Can Fly and Epic Games in order to pursue other opportunities, which they will announce of their own accord,” said Capps, “Over the past decade, they have been instrumental in building People Can Fly into the talented team that it is today. We wish them well in their future endeavors.”
Gears of War: Judgment is in development at both People Can Fly and Epic Games proper, unlike People’s last game Bulletstorm. Bulletstorm, published by EA, was well received by critics for its swift, cartoonish violence and satirical tone but the game was considered a commercial disappointment. It’s been hinted that this is why the studio is working on Epic’s most popular property rather than another new IP. Chmielarz and the others’ leaving the studio makes sense then; if they can’t pursue the creative goals the most want to at People Can Fly, it’s wise to seak out new opportunities.
These are only the latest major departures from Epic. Director of production Rod Fergusson, one of the stewards behind the entire Gears of War franchise, left the company last week to join BioShock Infinite studio Irrational Games.
Rambling days indeed. Many players from the world of Epic are hitting the road, even as the company is expanding.