Former CD Projekt executive Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, whose credits include roles as the director of both Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3, has launched Rebel Wolves, a new video game development studio whose first project will reportedly by a dark fantasy RPG.
GamesIndustry.biz reports that along with Tomaszkiewicz, the Rebel Wolves team will also include a number of talent who worked on not only the two aforementioned titles, but Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales and Shadow Warrior 2 as well.
According to the 17-year-CD-Projekt-Red-veteran-turned-Rebel-Wolves-CEO, the studio has given themselves the lofty goal of making their first title “the holy grail of computer RPGs.”
“We’re proud of our past achievements, but we’re hungry for more,” Tomaszkiewicz explained to Gamesindustry.biz. “We want to experiment, push the envelope, discover new ways for telling stories in the video game medium.”
He continued, “We felt that starting a new company, where we call all the shots, will give us the freedom to take the necessary risks to fulfil [sic] these ambitions.”
While Tomaszkiewicz and his team have been thinking about going it alone for a while, they felt they needed a solid vision first, asking themselves at the start, “What will our game try to achieve, what will set it apart? How will Rebel Wolves be different from other studios, what will make it a place people will want to work at?”
Eventually, Rebel Wolves decided they would focus on the philosophy of putting the team first, doing what they can to remain small, agile, and in a place where “experienced game developers can reignite their passion.”
“In order to create great games, you need to collect talented, motivated people, and give them the room to grow, experiment and think creatively,” Tomaszkiewicz said.
He then explained the team’s decision to breakaway from CD Projekt all together, asserting that while “We’re proud of the games we helped to create there and we’re deeply grateful for all the opportunities it has given us,” the popular studio “works with established IPs, and we wanted to create our own universe, tailor it to our needs and preferences.”
“Also, we want to work on smaller games, in a smaller team, where it’s easier to maintain a coherent vision,” he added.
Rebel Wolves won’t be straying too far from their expertise, as the team is aiming to continue developing narrative-focused tites.
“We want to recreate the feeling of a pen and paper RPG session where your options seem limitless, where the world reacts to your choices, where every decision matters,” Tomaszkiewicz stated.
Their first title, a triple-a dark fantasy RPG, has already been teased. In a piece of concept art provided to Bounding Into Comics by Rebel Wolves, a male figure bearing fangs and claws can be seen sliding down a mountain towards a group of apparent soldiers, spear in hand.
Based on the protagonist’s face and abundance of bats and bat iconography, it seems likely this may be a story based on vampires.
The demon or monster in the foreground may suggest other monsters will appear in this world, and we could speculate that some humans are happy to work with them as they wear the same uniform. The fact this bat-emblem clad army is having the winged vermin used on them may also suggest themes of rebellion.
The Polish studio will also be adding more members to their team, though Tomaskiewics has found that the competitive nature of the industry is a minor issue.
“Experienced developers are sought after by all the major studios, it’s a very competitive landscape,” Tomaszkiewicz described to GamesIndustry.biz. “So we’re extremely happy and proud that we’ve already managed to sign on some of the best artists, coders and designers in the industry.”
“We can’t compete with the top dogs when it comes to size or recognition, but we can provide something just as alluring: an environment where developers can think big, follow their dreams and feel ownership over their work,” He further noted. “Of course, there’s still plenty of challenges ahead of us, but we’re confident that with the team of talented veterans we have already gathered, nothing will stop us.”
Even so, Tomaszkiewicz claims hiring veterans can create challenges in regards to assembling a diverse team..
“The core of the team are people we knew and worked with before, and while this team has many strengths, it needs to be more diverse,” Tomaszkiewicz bemoaned. “For now, our team is just over a dozen people, but we plan to grow to above 80 over the next few years. As we hire more developers, we want to make sure that we create a diverse company, with many different voices and perspectives.”
Amid these new plans, Tomaszkiewicz made it clear that one element certainly won’t be among them – metaverses and NFTs.
“It’s very simple,” the founder stated. “We won’t have them in our games. Ever.”
The Hollywood Reporter notes that Rebel Wolves aren’t wasting any time, as their Unreal Engine 5 game will be the first in a planned saga for PC and next-gen consoles.
“We want to evolve the cRPG genre by creating unforgeable [sic] stories and stirring deep emotions,” Tomaszkiewicz told THR, “all while working as a tightly knit team united by a shared goal and ambition.”
Cyberpunk 2077 lead writer and The Witcher 3 senior writer Jakub Szamalek will serve as the game’s narrative director and pen its story.
“In order to create truly great games, we won’t chase trends or numbers,” said Szamalek. “Our goal is clearly defined: to create memorable games, tell moving stories, and evoke visceral emotions. It’s ambitious, true – and I’m glad it is.”
“Art needs ambition,” he further opined. “I don’t want to create another game. I want to work on titles people will remember.”
Other notable Rebel Wolves members include The Witcher 3 and Shadow Warrior 2 animation director Tamara Zawada, original The Witcher trilogy art director Bartłomiej Gaweł, and Growing Up project lead Daniel Sadowski.
In addition to more creative freedom, Rebel Wolves’ splintering from CD Projekt also affords them a chance to distance themselves from the numerous issues plaguing the latter studio that have been reported in light of t he disastrous launch of Cyberpunk 2077.
These included crunch time, six day work weeks towards the completion, “poor planning and technical shortcomings,” only speaking Polish in staff meetings despite some staff only speaking English, and “faking” the game’s 2018 E3 demo.
In a conference call with investors, CD Projekt Red SVP of business development Michał Nowakowski reportedly responded to these reports by asserting, “We’re not really making any comments to what somebody else has stated about what’s going on in the studio outside.”
A 2021 “Strategy Update” from CD Projekt Group later assured investors that they were also working to minimize stress and burnout by taking such measures as hosting well-being workshops, allowing staff-elected representatives to speak for their teams, and bolstering inclusivity and diversity efforts.
Do Rebel Wolves have the right idea for their pup of an indie studio? Let us know on social media and in the comments below.