Developers who’ve worked on Journey, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Skyrim, What Remains of Edith Finch and more have teamed up to form remote-first studio, Gardens.
The remote-based studio was founded by co-founders Chris Bell (Journey, What Remains of Edith Finch, Sky: Children of the Light, Way), Lexie Dostal (Dustforce), and Stephen Bell (Blaseball, What Remains of Edith Finch).
Also along for the Journey is a talented group of developers who have worked on familiar titles including Marvel’s Spider-Man, Ratchet & Clank, Skyrim, the Fallout series, Ashen, and The Hobbit. The goal of Gardens is to create a growing studio that’s transparent, sustainable, inclusive, and empowering.
“With Gardens, we wanted to create a studio that cares as much about the health, happiness, and wellbeing of its team members as we do the craftsmanship of the games we create together. Our top priority is making sure our teammates enjoy their lives and are given the tools and resources to grow while creating compelling, well-crafted, thoughtful games that cultivate novel shared experiences between players online”, Gardens co-founder, Chris Bell said in a press release.
Gardens was built as a fully remote studio but is based around Portland and Los Angeles. The choice to launch as a remote-based studio is smart as current and future employees don’t have to uproot their lives to live near their workplace. That’s especially important with not knowing when things will get back to normal or if this is the new normal after almost two years of the pandemic.
The type of game the team is looking forward to creating is vibrant online games that foster meaningful multiplayer moments and relationships between players around the world. The beautiful artwork Gardens has released gives a small glimpse of the artfully crafted living environment that the team wants to design around while fostering rich multiplayer interactions, cultivating lasting friendships and encouraging players to be considerate of each other and the world they inhabit together.
It honestly sounds reminiscent of what Journey managed to accomplish on the PS3 when the game initially launched very close to a decade ago. This is not surprising knowing thatgamecompany online experience from Bell’s time on Journey and Sky: Children of the Light. The feels of those other similar experiences (Ashen, Blaseball and Way) are showcased in Gardens’concept art from the art direction from Leighton Milne (The Hobbit) with the art team being led by Ryan Benno (Spider-Man, Ratchet & Clank). The artwork shows off a mysterious DnD inspired world. Gardens’ first unnamed game has the potential of being a very special game.
“I decided to join Gardens after my first meeting with the founders. They’re such genuine and thoughtful leaders who understood all the reasons I left the games industry and explained why and how they were going to do things differently at Gardens. I’m thankful every day that I get to help build a studio that is focused as much on creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and respected as it is on creating amazing innovative games,” executive producer, Sarah Sands said in a press release.
Before the official announcement of the studio, Gardens raised $4.5 million in an oversubscribed July 2021 Seed round led by Transcend Fund, with participation from 1Up Ventures, FunPlus, and David Baron of Rothschild & Co.
“Gardens is gathering brilliant, creative minds to grow and tend vibrant game communities built around lasting friendships. Partnering with passionate, talented teams like this on ambitious projects like this is very much what we created Transcend Fund for,” Transcend Fund Founding Partner, Shanti Bergel said in a press release.
Currently, Gardens isn’t at full capacity as they are hiring for multiple positions including 3D Artist, Animator, and Engineer roles. If that speaks to you, check out their website’s career section to apply. The studio is offering competitive pay, equitable salaries across departments based on years of experience, mentorship, stock options, unlimited PTO, 35-hour work weeks, and robust benefits (including full medical and vision, dental, 401k contributions & more).