Valve writer Chet Faliszek co-founds Stray Bombay with Riot’s Kimberly Voll

Valve alumni Chet Faliszek has partnered with former Riot Games’ Kimberly Voll to launch new studio, Stray Bombay.

In an emotional blog update about how the new venture came to be, Faliszek – who’s best known for his work on Valve titles like Half-Life 2, Left 4 Dead, and the Portal series – talked about the social aspects of gaming, referring specifically to correspondence from a soldier stationed in Iraq who insisted Left 4 Dead had saved his marriage thanks to the ability to co-op the game with his wife.

"Players are smart, they are social. But games often don’t reflect that and we think that can change," Faliszek said via a statement (thanks, Eurogamer). "So we’re forming a new studio in Seattle that is itself co-operative.

"As Kim and I talked over the years about the kind of games we want to make, we realised we want to create games that give players a place to breathe and live in the moment," he added. "Games that tell stories knowing you are going to come back again and again, that change each time you play them without feeling completely random, and that help you feel like a real team that supports each other… not a bunch of folks in each other’s way. And where AI drives not just the enemies but helps drive the entire experience."

"We think now is the time to change the culture of game development," said Voll. "Make everyone equals, not just in their impact on the project but in how we divide the loot of our success. Relax strict PTO policies because we trust each other to take the time you need. We want to build games that reflect our culture."

Voll adds Stray Bombay has been supported by "like-minded, patient investors" such as Upfront Ventures, as well as her former employer, Riot Games.

“When Kim told us that she’d be launching Stray Bombay, our sadness for her leaving was quickly replaced with excitement for what they’ll create," added Riot’s Dylan Jadeja. "As players, we’re pumped to explore their games, and as a company, we’re proud to be investing in them—we’ll be cheering for you, Kim!"

Stray Bombay is actively recruiting new staff, including designers, artists, and animators. For more, head on over to Stray Bombay’s website.

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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