Improbable appoints Lincoln Wallen as new CTO as Bill Roper returns to game development

Improbable has appointed ex-Dreamworks Animation & EA Mobile CTO Lincoln Wallen as its new as Chief Technology Officer. Wallen’s appointment will see current CTO and co-founder Rob Whitehead focus on developing SpatialOS and other Improbable technology products as Chief Product Officer.

Improbable’s former chief creative officer, Bill Roper, has announced that he will be leaving the company for a new role at indie gaming studio, Author Digital. In an interview with VentureBeat, Roper said he wanted to return to making video games.

“I have been working from more of a very hands-off perspective, playing a guiding role helping studios design technology,” Roper said. “It’s been incredible and rewarding, but it is two steps removed from making something. I’m always happiest when I am actually designing. The moments of greatest joy recently are when I am actively advising studios. The opportunity to actually make a great game is something I have been missing and craving. This opportunity came up as Jason and I were catching up over the holidays.”

Improbable’s new CTO, Wallen, is a computer scientist with "a proven history in the video game and digital media industry", said to be "driving market disruption in fields including game design, computer animation, cloud technology and software-as-a-service (SaaS)".

Improbable, which was founded in 2012, has grown to more than 300 people and raised more than $600m in funding since it was established.

"I’ve seen how distributed compute and the cloud can disrupt entire market sectors, and create new platforms and business models. Improbable has the potential to power this type of change in the games industry," Wallen said. "I’m excited by the chance to shape the incredibly talented engineering team at Improbable into a world-class technology organisation, and to help accelerate this transformation of both market and consumer experience."

"We’ve reached the point where a hire like Lincoln will give us the experience and the insight to structure our growing team for success," added Herman Narula, Improbable CEO and co-founder. "This appointment effectively fills two critical roles. Not only are we getting a hugely accomplished CTO, but my co-founder Rob Whitehead, whose knowledge of and passion for SpatialOS is unmatched, will be able to focus on our product in a new role as Chief Product Officer. With a product as highly technical as SpatialOS, this is a critical role, and Rob is uniquely qualified to lead the Product organisation while Lincoln takes our Engineering capability to the next level.”

Improbable’s announced last month that Unity had blocked its Spatial OSfor violating its terms of service. Unity came back, stating that "projects that are currently in production or live using SpatialOS are not affected by any actions we have taken with Improbable" and said "Improbable’s blog is incorrect… We have never communicated to any game developer that they should stop operating a game that runs using Improbable as a service".

The Unity-Improbable dispute has now been settled, with Unity co-founder Joachim Ante announcing in a blog post that "Improbable is no longer in breach by providing you a service, and that we are able to reinstate their licenses." Unity has now altered its terms of service to permit the use of Unity with any third-party service. "The TOS update highlights that developers can use any third party service that integrate into Unity," said Ante, adding that "some of these services will be supported, others will not".

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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