New Studio: Possibility Space (Austin's New Project!)

Today, a new studio was announced founded by Jeff Strain (Blizzard/Undead Labs) called Possibility Space. And guess what? Austin Walker is the IP Director! Other names on the team include Jane Ng (Campo Santo/Valve), Liz England (Ubisoft), Richard Foge (Atari/Undead Labs), Leah Rivera (ArenaNet/Undead Labs) and many more!

That simple statement is at the heart of what we do here at Possibility Space. Founded in 2021 by Jeff Strain and a diverse and experienced team of game and media industry veterans, we are built from the ground up as a distributed studio, allowing developers to live and work where they are happiest. We strive to create an environment where we can do our best work regardless of what we look like, who we love, or how we identify. With support operations in New Orleans, Louisiana, the studio also works to identify, mentor, train, and hire individuals from underserved and overlooked communities and backgrounds.

https://www.possibility.co/

“I’m so excited to join up with Jeff and the incredible team at Possibility Space,” adds Austin Walker, formerly Editor-in-Chief for Waypoint at VICE Media, host of Friends at the Table podcast, and IP Director for Possibility Space. “To be frank, I never thought I’d take the leap from media to development, but as I got to know the folks here, I realized just how badly I wanted to work with them. So many of our ideas and priorities line up, from our thoughts on what makes a compelling game to our commitment to an equitable and healthy studio culture. I’m very lucky to be working alongside so many talented people, and I’m thrilled to bring my experience as a storyteller and worldbuilder to the innovative projects we’ll be working on in the coming years.”

Austin also added on Twitter to clarify what his position actually entails:

A few people have asked me what the extremely corporate “IP Director” title means. Basically: If a thing we make has a world, or characters, or… you know, other elements of setting and story, I’ll be directing that work (and in many cases, doing it myself).

I think I speak for many of us when I say we can’t wait to see what Possibility Space has in store for us, and the worlds Austin will help create!

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Austin gonna go full CW Longbottom because of this, huh.

But seriously, super excited to see what they produce!

I’ve seen Austin and Liz England exchange Twitter messages since before Watch Dogs: Legion came out (Liz was one of the principal architects of their “play as anyone” system and is an absolute master of procgen stuff) so the fact that we get Austin’s authorial talents paired with Liz’s procgen wizardry has me downright giddy.

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Not that this is necessarily the case, but this news made me think ‘Guess that Jeff Strain is the real deal huh’.

Austin is tremendous creative and I’m stoked to see what he and a new, diverse team can do with a budget, regardless of the fact it’s underneath one of the few development studios that don’t seem to actively anti-labor.

One of the things that really strikes me about this studio is that they didn’t hire Austin on as a consultant; they made him a director. They didn’t hire Jane Ng as a consultant; they made her a director. It’s all too easy for big studios to hire a lot of very diverse consultants and sensitivity readers to help refine work being done by very straight white dude studios. To actually get an extremely cool, extremely diverse team of people in the room and put them in charge from the jump is rare to the point of being audacious. I’m so excited. I want to give them money right now.

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This news is very exciting, with Austin on board in such a large and exciting role the possibility space is vast!
(couldn’t help myself)
It’s gonna take some time before we hear anything but wow having both Natalie and Austin out in gamedev spaces makes me very happy, for them and for us ^^

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Ever since Austin talked about his departure from Waypoint I’ve been curious over what could have been exciting enough to get the reaction it did from him and folks like Patrick encouraging him to take up the opportunity. Individually, everything said about the new studio sounds pretty positive, but I guess I was still thinking in terms of “what game project could have been so unmissable?” He’d already ruled out something as straightforward as getting a chance to work on a big name IP which left me a little stumped.

I think it’s the slow realisation that a lot of folks involved have previously delivered on the kind of procedural, player-led storytelling he clearly really loves that explains the attraction. It’ll be very interesting to see what kind of game they eventually come up with - especially, as others have already said in this thread, they’ve got a number of diverse voices at director-level positions.

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Austin be creating worlds now?

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Austin has always been creating worlds. This time we get to explore them in front of a screen.

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This is wonderful news. I had seen the headlines elsewhere, but skimmed past, as they all were like “Blizzard guy starts new studio” or “New studio by State of Decay Director.”

I wonder if this is a name Austin himself suggested. Possibility Space is an Ian Borgost term from Games Studies, meaning “the myriad configurations the player might construct to see the ways the processes inscribed in the system work”. (It’s pretty high-level stuff, a bit beyond me, I’ll be honest.) I think it’s largely about how a game’s rhetoric is built into its gameplay and “verbs”.

Anyway, that’s pretty cool.

Liz England doing narrative design in a world built by Austin Walker is basically my dream game. I know it will be years before we see this game but I’m very excited.

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Give me that “play as any mech” game!

And you know they’re all going to have great names

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The poor staff writer (God, I’d love to be that staff writer) who’s task is to generate 10 “Austin Walker names;” him slaving away at what nouns sound unexpectedly badass when they’re someone’s name.