2K’s Kelley Gilmore on Cloud Chamber, working on a new Bioshock title, and being the first female studio head in 2K history

2K has founded Cloud Chamber, a new wholly owned game development studio under the Company’s publishing label, which has begun work on a new Bioshock game. 

Cloud Chamber has been established in two locations: 2K’s San Francisco Bay Area headquarters in Novato, California, as well as in Montréal, Québec, marking the first-ever Canadian office for a 2K studio. Cloud Chamber’s decision to open a new office in Montréal was supported by the Gouvernement du Québec and Montréal International.

Joining the trend of 2K firsts, the studio will be headed by industry veteran Kelley Gilmore, who is the first woman to lead a development studio in 2K history. Gilmore has a 22-year career in the industry to date, with experience in executive production, marketing direction and public relations management, including working on another of 2K’s wholly owned studios, Firaxis Games, on franchises such as Sid Meier’s Civilization® and XCOM.

The next iteration of the Bioshock franchise has just started, and will be in development for the next several years. 

“As we continue growing our product portfolio, we remain inspired by opportunities to invest further in our valuable IP, great people and their collective, long-term potential,” said, 2K president David Ismailer. “BioShock is one of the most beloved, critically praised and highest-rated franchises of the last console generation. We can’t wait to see where its powerful narrative and iconic, first-person shooter gameplay head in the future with our new studio team at Cloud Chamber leading the charge.”

For more information about Cloud Chamber, and to celebrate her new role, MCV/DEVELOP spoke to Gilmore:

Why is the new studio named Cloud Chamber?

That’s a great question. This is a bit sciency, but a literal cloud chamber is a scientific tool that allows us to visualize particles in the atmosphere (that are otherwise invisible) by creating a space for them to mix with other elements and take shape. That contraption inspired us to think about the ideas in our creative minds as invisible elements … and the collaboration we engage in every day as the vehicle for bringing those ideas to life on the screen for the world to see. Hence, our studio is a human Cloud Chamber!

Why is the team split across two locations, is that to ensure you can grow quickly and utilise two talent pools? 

Yes! Establishing Cloud Chamber studio locations in both Novato (in the San Francisco Bay Area) and Montreal gives us the opportunity to recruit talent in two of the top cities in the world for game development. 

You’ll be alongside Visual Concepts in Novato, will the teams be working together at all?

Cloud Chamber is focused on making the next BioShock game. Our peers at Visual Concepts are not involved with the project, but we love being in close proximity to form relationships and share ideas.

How many staff are you looking to take on initially, and how large will the team grow when you’re in full production? Will there be a significant external development input too?

We can’t comment on any specific headcount numbers, but we are definitely hiring for many roles and across all levels. Our new website will have more info on our open positions.

Can you name any of the Bioshock veterans that have joined the new team?

Several team members played key roles in other BioShock titles and are now leading development at Cloud Chamber, including Hoagy de la Plante (Creative Director), Scott Sinclair (Art Director) and Jonathan Pelling (Design Director). Our team also consists of game development veterans from franchises like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Star Wars, Battlefield and Walking Dead. I’m confident that the depth and variety of game development experience at Cloud Chamber will lead to another unforgettable Bioshock experience. 

What range of roles are you looking to fill immediately?

We’re looking to hire people for a variety of different roles. Our website and the 2K Careers website will be posting opportunities as they become available, but we are actively hiring now and look forward to growing our team.

Can you tell us any more about the directions you want to explore with the franchise? How will your huge experience from Firaxis feed into your new role?

Firaxis has been recognized for many years as one of the best video game developers in the world, and it’s also a really great place to work. In my 18 years there, I gained a good understanding of what made it great – and that’s putting people first. Steve Martin and Sid Meier have created a place where people genuinely enjoy coming to work every day, so they continue to raise the bar on making amazing games that we all want to play. That experience is instrumental in helping us grow Cloud Chamber into another great 2K studio.

Do you feel any extra pressure, working on the first Bioshock title since the departure of creator Ken Levine? 

When the opportunity came up, I was equally excited and cautious. Making the next BioShock is a tremendous responsibility that does not fall lightly on any of us at Cloud Chamber. However, the chance to start a new studio under one of the most successful publishing labels in the interactive entertainment industry – all while working on an iconic franchise with incredibly talented and kind people – was a once in a lifetime opportunity. In the brief time we’ve been working on this project, I’ve developed a very high level of confidence in this team. 

You say that Cloud Chamber will create “yet-to-be-discovered worlds” – So are there plans for new original IP alongside developing Bioshock?

Cloud Chamber was formed to work solely on the next BioShock game, which will be in development over the next several years. 

How does it feel to be the first woman in 2K history to lead a development studio? Or more broadly to (still) be one of very few women to have lead a triple-A team?

I’m really honoured to have the opportunity to build this new team and deliver the next offering in one of the greatest game franchises ever created. My evolution to this post came through the many opportunities I had at Firaxis to grow and learn, along with the support and encouragement of the tremendous people I’ve worked with over the years. I’m excited to be the first woman at 2K to lead a studio and thrilled to be joining many other talented women leaders throughout the 2K organization. 

Diversity and inclusion will only make our industry better and stronger, so hopefully, leaders will continue to emerge who embody the global audience we serve. 

 

About Chris Wallace

Chris is MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer, joining the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can regrettably be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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