Q&A with Former CD Projekt RED Developers: Exploring the Post-Apocalyptic, Character-Driven Game of Blank Studio

Earlier this month, the Polish gaming industry witnessed the birth of Blank, an independent game developer formed by a group of industry veterans. These veterans hail from renowned companies like CD Projekt RED, 11 Bit Studios, Rookiez from Warsaw S.A., Division 48 Studio, and Artificer. Headquartered in Warsaw, Blank is already working on its first project, a character-driven game set in a post-apocalyptic world.

The team at Blank includes notable individuals such as Mateusz Kanik, the Game Director and Co-Founder who has previously worked on projects like The Witcher, GWENT, and Cyberpunk 2077. Jędrzej Mróz, the Executive Producer and Co-Founder, also brings experience from CD Projekt RED. Marcin Jefimow, another Co-Founder and Executive Producer, has worked on acclaimed titles like This War of Mine, The Witcher 3 expansions, GWENT, Soul Calibur VI, and Cyberpunk 2077. With the addition of other talented individuals in key positions, Blank is poised to make a significant impact in the gaming industry.

I had the opportunity to speak with Mateusz Kanik and Marcin Jefimow about their decision to venture into independent game development, their aspirations for Blank’s culture, and their vision for their debut game. Many developers nowadays choose to break away from triple-A studios in order to start their own ventures. What were their personal reasons for taking this path?

For Mateusz Kanik, there were two main factors. Firstly, he felt that his previous company had grown too large, leading to a loss of personal connection with colleagues. He desired a working environment where he could know everyone by name. Secondly, he had a strong desire to create games that were more film-like, polished, and refined in every aspect. This level of quality is often challenging to achieve in huge open-world RPGs due to the need for generic systems that work in all scenarios. These reasons, coupled with the motivation to establish a studio focused on producing smart and polished games, laid the foundation for Blank.

Marcin Jefimow also shared his reasons, citing the need for something different after spending seven years at CD Projekt RED. He sought new challenges and opportunities for growth. Founding a new studio proved to be a highly rewarding and educational experience.

One aspect mentioned in Blank’s press release was the aim to avoid issues like crunch. How do they plan to address this?

Mateusz Kanik acknowledged that crunch is a complex topic and emphasized the need for smart management of overworking. In a creative environment like a game studio, where artists strive for the highest quality in their work, forcing them to leave when they desire to refine and perfect their creations may not always be the best approach. However, Blank is firmly against the prolonged and mandatory crunch that can harm employees’ personal lives and prevent them from experiencing important moments with their families. Their goal is to create a healthy work environment where crunch is not a policy enforced by the company.

Moving on to the studio itself, Blank currently has ten members and plans to expand its team by approximately six times. What are their plans for remote work?

Although Blank has a physical office in Warsaw, they embrace a hybrid work model. Some team members work exclusively from the office, while others have the flexibility to work remotely. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the effectiveness of remote work and opened doors to recruiting talent from around the world. Blank aims to take advantage of this opportunity by welcoming remote employees. Previously, game studios were limited to hiring locally, often requiring individuals to relocate. Now, Blank can tap into a global talent pool while offering both remote and office-based work options.

As for hiring, does Blank primarily seek experienced professionals, or are they open to fresh talent?

Blank is currently focused on hiring senior developers to establish a strong foundation for the company. They believe in the importance of experience and stability in the early stages. However, they also express openness to hiring junior positions as the studio evolves. The team at Blank finds joy in game development and wishes to share their knowledge and passion with newcomers to the industry.

In terms of game development tools, has Blank chosen a specific engine for their debut project?

Blank has selected Unreal Engine 5 for their first project. Unreal Engine 5 offers a powerful and versatile platform that aligns with Blank’s goals and vision.

Recently, generative AI has gained attention in game development. Has Blank considered utilizing this technology?

Mateusz Kanik mentioned that Blank is actively involved with AI in their project. They are currently using AI support even in the early stages of concept development. As AI technology continues to evolve and become more useful in various areas, they see great potential in leveraging it for game development. However, they also acknowledge the need for regulations to prevent any adverse consequences that may arise from its implementation.

Marcin Jefimow added that while they are currently testing the use of AI, they are vigilant in assessing its benefits and determining where it fits best within their project. They closely monitor the industry’s advancements in order to make informed decisions.

Overall, Blank aims to establish itself as a prominent independent game developer by fostering a creative and inclusive work environment, avoiding excessive crunch, and leveraging cutting-edge technologies to create unique and high-quality gaming experiences.



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