“It’s the idea that’s important, rather than who hatches the idea.” – Aardvark Swift Studio Spotlight: 10 Chambers Collective

Springboarding from their successes on Payday 1& 2, a small team of career-long collaborators formed 10 Chambers six years ago. With the monmentum from their debut title, GTFO, the studio has ambitious plans of expansion and new title development. This article was created in collaboration with Aardvark Swift.

Simon Viklund, Co-founder and narrative director 10 Chambers Collective

From Terminator Salvation to Street Fighter III, from sound designer to creative director, seasoned industry-veteran Simon Viklund went “in conversation with” Aardvark Swift. Co-founder and narrative director at 10 Chambers, Simon discussed their studio culture, future plans as well as how they’re tapping into niche markets.

Composed of a close-knit group of developers, 10 Chambers “started off with around eight people” six years ago, following Simon and co-founder Ulf Andersson’s departure from Starbreeze in 2015.  Back then, they were “really small, super flat, with no hierarchies really.” Ulf Andersson, creative director and CEO “has the visions, but there’s no room in such a small company to have any superior-junior team structure. In fact, you have too few people for everyone to have just one role” says Simon.

Currently, Simon is solely responsible for the sound design on their debut title GTFO, however 10 Chambers plan on changing that in the near future. “We have a plan to create and expand a sound design team, we do have a five-year plan, and to be clear, that’s just for the sound team, we are already growing in pretty much every other area right now”.

And that’s not all; 10 Chambers are already making exciting preparations to account for this expansion. “We’re building two floating studios in our offices in Stockholm for sound designers, standing on rubber feet, so that the sound doesn’t propagate through the floor; we are getting those built this summer.”

Even with studio growth, the company culture has been maintained throughout their evolution. While Ulf guides projects, maintaining tone and consistency, the studio has “always been a small team; everyone talks to everyone, it’s very much a case of the best idea wins, bringing a lot of freedom under responsibility,” Simon mentions.   

This ethos translates directly to studio projects; GTFO focuses heavily on its co-op dynamics, where “you really have to communicate and coordinate. We wanted to make something that was a love letter to those that enjoy that sort of game, but are looking for a real challenge,” says Simon.

It’s this desire to create a dynamic of collaboration and co-operation for both the players and their own team that brings the developers at 10 Chambers together. “We want to be a company where the different departments are really communicating with one another and sharing ideas – where good ideas can come from anywhere. It’s the idea that’s important, rather than who hatches the idea – I guess in that sense it goes well with the idea of our company making co-op games!” Simon elaborates.

10 Chambers are aware that intense, survival-horror co-op games may not appeal to everyone, but they see this as critical in delivering a game with its own identity – and are taking this forward in GTFO and beyond: “We aren’t making a broad market game. Certain things we might want to put in our game would clash with what our game really is – we need to be really true to the core idea. We want to work on stuff that we love, we want to have fun doing games people enjoy playing, and we want to work with people we are proud to work with and collaborate with people we admire. It’s such a rare opportunity here, being in a position where we are a fully funded scale up,” says Simon.

You’ll be able to listen to Aardvark Swift’s full conversation with 10 Chambers’ Simon Viklund in an upcoming episode of the Aardvark Swift Podcast, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, third-party apps, and the aswift.com website.

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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