BioWare's former lead writer, David Gaider, will be founding a new studio called Summerfall Studios in Australia with the help of GX Australia co-director and fellow Beamdog alumni Liam Esler. Gaider brings over 20 years of experience in video game writing to the table, and Esler has a significant track record of marketing and management in the industry.
Gaider is responsible for some of the most fondly-remembered stories and characters in BioWare's long history of games. He served as the lead writer on Dragon Age: Origins and authored the Dragon Age prequel books and comics. He is also credited with the creation of the beloved assassin droid HK-47 in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series, among many other characters. After 17 years of contributing to BioWare franchises, from the sequels to Baldur's Gate to Neverwinter Nights and beyond, Gaider left the company in early 2016. He hasn't been the only one, either - BioWare has been hemorrhaging talent for a while now, with two more high-profile departures happening just a month ago. Anthem's lead producer jumped ship right after the release of the game's Cataclysm expansion, and Dragon Age 4 also lost its lead producer within the same week.
Gaider is taking his experience at BioWare and going in a new direction. Revealed in an article from Kotaku Australia, Gaider and Esler's new Australian studio will be called Summerfall Studios and is currently developing its first game, described only as an "illustrated character-driven adventure." Not much else could be said about the game, but Esler stated that the studio's mission is to "craft compelling experiences that you just can’t forget about, and make sure we can create those experiences in a sustainable, caring way." It seems that the game will also be funded through Kickstarter, and the campaign will kick off after the game is officially unveiled at Melbourne International Games Week during PAX Australia in October. Gaider will also be the one giving the keynote speech at PAX Australia this year.
Gaider said he had been thinking about starting an independent studio for a while, but knew that he couldn't do it on his own. When Gaider and Esler got in touch and realized they had very similar ideas, they started planning out their new studio in practical terms, including where it would be located. Gaider said they chose Melbourne, Australia because he had "come to love how tightly-knit and supportive that community was over several visits." Despite the advantages to starting a studio in Canada (where Gaider had worked at both BioWare and Beamdog), he said that knowing the people and the depth of the talent pool in Melbourne was more important.
Australia has seen a marked increase in game development lately, and the pair's decision to found Summerfall Studios in Melbourne is likely a good move. Australian state governments have been increasingly supportive of the video game industry, responding to the positive effect it has on the country's economy. In fact, Call of Duty developer Sledgehammer Games just opened up a branch in Australia. Independent Australian developers have also been responsible for some of the best indie titles of recent times, including the outstanding Hollow Knight and Void Bastards. If the trend continues, then Australia could soon become a much bigger player in the international industry.
Source: Kotaku Australia