What’s the Right Studio Size? Arkane Austin’s Studio Director Ponders

Harvey Smith, who worked at Arkane for more than a decade and a half, said a rather poignant goodbye to his colleagues after Microsoft pulled the rug out from under them (as they did with Tango Gameworks).


Smith has been in the game industry for three decades. He worked on Deus Ex at Ion Storm. He was lead designer on the first installment, then director on the sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War, and then designer on Thief: Deadly Shadows. After a brief stint at Midway, he joined Arkane as Creative Director, Designer and Writer on the first Dishonored. Living briefly in Lyon, France, he was creative director on Dishonored 2 and Dishonored: Death of the Outsider at Arkane Lyon. He then moved to Arkane Austin, where he was the director and lead developer on Redfall. His farewell on Twitter was remarkably long:

“I just want to say that I love all the people at Arkane Austin so much. Great times, hard times, we have been through so much together. Of course today’s news is terrible, for all of us. Your talent will lift you up, and I will do whatever I can to help. Some notes about Arkane: What a place. It was 16 years for me. Some games I will always cherish. Very proud of the team and the culture. No place is perfect, but we cared a lot and tried. There have been so many great people at Arkane Studios over the years. Yesterday, as we were packing up and saying goodbye to each other, I spent time with people who helped make Redfall, Dishonored 1, and Prey, yes, but before that, Deus Ex, Ultima, and countless other games that have shaped me. The people around me have been so great, at Arkane Austin and Lyon, Id, Bethesda, Tango, Machine Games, ZOS, and all the others. Developers, marketing and PR, outside production, QA (heroes), just a long list of amazing people. Years of relationships.

I joined Arkane at a time when we were struggling. Independence is hard. I was person 4 in the tiny Austin office. The two studios were very integrated, but at the time it was run out of Austin because Raf was there. Of course, Lyon had some of the founders and key creative and technical people. We connected with Bethesda, did Dishonored, Knife of Dunwall, Brigmore Witches. The number of hardships along the way could fill a book. But the number of glorious, hilarious moments could fill ten. We separated the two teams, I moved to Lyon for 4 years where we made Dishonored 2 and Death of the Outsider. While Raf, Ricardo and many others, including key Redfall leads, stayed in Austin and made Prey and Mooncrash. I moved back, we started working on Redfall, the pandemic happened, it just goes on and on until yesterday. For a small company founded in 1999 by “6 French guys in a room”, what a story. I am so proud to have been a part of it for 16 years. To have helped lead it.

To be in the building with Ricardo and so many others (I’ll stop with the lists)…people who led parts of the effort on Dishonored, Prey and Redfall, people I have worked with for decades, since Deus Ex and even before in the case of Steve Powers…it was overwhelming. I made a lot of calls yesterday. Made connections. Made plans. My throat is still raw. Our people are really great. Many of them – like so many colleagues – are struggling. I hope things will change soon. But part of me also wonders about team size, the role of certain types of creative groups, the role of larger companies, etc. Maybe there is a “sweet spot” for the kind of games I want to make in terms of team size,” Smith wrote.



He’d rather work in a smaller team from now on. He’s not the only one: Raphaël Colantonio (one of Arkane’s founders and president for 18 years) left in 2017 to found WolfEye Studios, which has since released Weird West. Maybe Smith can come over here, as WolfEye is working on an ambitious new IP…

Source: WCCFTech

Spread the love
Avatar photo
theGeek is here since 2019.

No comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.