FEB / 16 / 2021

As you may have seen during The Game Awards last month, we’ve finally revealed what we’ve been working on! The Callisto Protocolis a new story-driven, single-player survival horror game from the creators of Dead Space. We plan to release the game in 2022 on PC and consoles, but today we're here to talk about our team. Specifically, our CEO and Founder Glen Schofield.

This interview with Glen is also the kickoff to a series of developer interviews where we’ll be featuring the various members of Striking Distance Studio. We’ve grown considerably since we started over a year ago, with 150 plus people making up our team now. We want to give our team the spotlight, and we’ll be sharing insights from our team members across all our disciplines, ranging from QA, art, engineering, and much more as we dive into the nitty-gritty of what makes our studio tick.

Without further ado, here's the first of many developer profiles spotlights on the Striking Distance Studio blog!

You've headed up a few studios now, what made you want to do that again with Striking Distance Studios?

After working on large franchises for Activision and EA, like Call of Duty and Dead Space, I felt it was time to start something different. In my conversations with our partners at Krafton and PUBG Corp., they were immediately open to my ideas, including the ways I wanted to build up the studio and to make a game the way I envisioned it.

The partnership with PUBG Corp. also came with an enormous benefit: building a studio in San Ramon, California. Here in the East Bay, we’re the first and only big studio with our very own custom-built motion capture studio on-site, which was made possible with the help of Krafton, who’ve been incredible to work with.

I'd love to know what's been different with your philosophy this time building a studio with Striking Distance. How have you approached the project differently?

Going into the formation of Striking Distance Studios, it was important to me we provided everyone a chance to contribute to our game in significant ways. We’re a more open studio, both philosophically and by design. While we haven’t been able to go into the studio due to the pandemic, we set up an open office that will allow for a seamless exchange of ideas and concepts across various areas of focus, which of course we’ll use once the space is safe and available for us to move into. We hired incredible talent in the past year and providing everyone with an atmosphere such as this is vital in keeping those creative juices flowing from one department to another.

"I encourage open communication and suggestions from all corners of the studio to make the best game we can."
What is it about the flatter structure that makes it important in your eyes?

Allowing everyone on our team to share new ideas is an important part of our corporate culture at Striking Distance Studios. We’re making countless creative decisions in our game daily, which can be as simple as making the grass green or brown or deciding on big picture gameplay ideas. It’s especially important to me that people understand they’re not limited to their area of expertise, that they can contribute to various aspects of our game if they’re willing - in fact, I encourage open communication and suggestions from all corners of the studio to make the best game we can.

This way of thinking exemplifies the studio’s main pillars of “passion for our craft.” You can’t really have passion for what you’re doing when you’re told to only color in the lines with the assigned pencils, right? So how do you go about ensuring that everyone on the team shares this approach?

Striking Distance Studio was founded on passion and a desire to make something great. We’re constantly in communication with everyone to make sure they’re not only feeling good about what they’re contributing to the project, but also making sure that they’re heard and acknowledged for their efforts. I love listening to the team talk about the project, deciding what’s best for the game, watching them execute on ideas, and then following up with each individual to let them know they’re doing splendid work here. It’s satisfying to know that I’m not the only one with a vision. That’s something that’s shared between all of us.


Glen Schofield
This all reinforces our studio’s first core belief of people first too. What is it that you’re looking for when building out a team that can chase down these ideas?

The quality of work we’re producing at Striking Distance Studios is possible because of the people we’ve brought on board. They’re important to our identity as a studio, so they absolutely come first. I want them to feel empowered and have fun working on this project - we make games for a living, so it’s crucial that they have a comfortable quality of life in and outside of this office.

I want the people here to enjoy making games as much as I do, if not more. Ultimately, choosing to work here is a commitment in one way or another and that can include a commitment to commuting, to moving, and to giving your time and energy to this project, and I truly appreciate that. So, that comes with open and honest transparency from me and the rest of the executive team.

I build my style of management on a foundation of trust. We hired everyone here as an expert and rely on them to contribute to the game in meaningful ways with little management from the executive team. As an artist myself, I’ve worked on projects where I was told to “get the game done,” and that was it. However, I found that my favorite projects were the ones where management asked me to “make something great,” and I want our people to experience that level of creative freedom. As with any studio, we still have deadlines to consider, but we’re focused on producing quality results and that means allowing people to work on a project they’re passionate about rather than assigning tasks they’re unhappy with.

The next true innovation in games feels like it’s more about how we’re going to be able to merge all these separate elements like audio, visuals, design, and more together for an immersive experience like no other. How is SDS approaching things in this regard?

I believe the new consoles will allow us to produce a level of immersion unlike ever before, especially when you factor in how we can use SSDs to render worlds quickly, to produce realistic audio, and to use the new features on controllers. These new advances in technology are pushing us to think about every little thing we’re putting into the project, where we can -- and have to, focus on the details.

Every asset in our game has to serve a purpose, whether that’s for gameplay reasons or immersion. It has to feel natural to the world we’re creating, where the dissonance between believability and the suspension of it isn’t a factor. We’re thinking things through more than ever, and that includes small things like the placement of a room or the design of a hallway.

It’s all to service immersion and to keep you within the reality of our game. That includes how things are animated in the world, so we’re working on new technology that removes stutters in animations to ensure that every motion looks, feels and sounds natural.

"I want the people here to enjoy making games as much as I do."
What makes the East Bay so special to you? Typically, game studios are usually in the Bay Area proper such as around the Peninsula.

I knew where a lot of developers were thanks to my time at EA and Sledgehammer, and a lot of them live in the East Bay. Plus, I knew this area was a really nice place to live. The schools are great and there is more housing available. When you consider everything San Ramon offers, you find there’s a fantastic quality of life that you can’t get anywhere else.

I really love Bishop Ranch, too. I thought the location and the amenities they offered made it a simple decision for us to set up shop here. We also get first-pick on all the talent living in the East Bay. In San Ramon, tapping into a talent pool of game developers that are often overlooked elsewhere, which means we’re finding people who not only want to build their lives here, but who also genuinely want to make something great at Striking Distance Studios.

Now that SDS is a little over a year old, how are you feeling about where things are at?

I feel great. To think we’re at 150 people now, 65 of which were hired during the pandemic, is truly incredible. These are talented people that we’ve brought onboard, which is something that I credit to our hiring process and to our wider team. I’m really proud of the group we’ve built in the past year, the work we’ve accomplished, and every deadline we’ve hit up to this point has been fantastic. We’ve nailed just about everything we set out to do so far and I don’t see that momentum slowing down any time soon.

I’m incredibly happy with the work we’ve accomplished as a large studio working remotely. The people here are dedicated. I’ll admit, I was worried about remote work at first. I didn’t know what to expect, but the team has taken to it very well. What matters most to me is that our people can manage the work-life balance and produce skilled work. If they can do that, which they have, I think we’re in a good place.

A lot of us have had extra time to take up new projects or work on personal things they've always pushed off during these times. Has there been anything you’ve been working on in your spare time?

These are unprecedented times, so I hope everyone has kept their wellbeing intact. That’s really important right now. I’m a painter and I’ve got about five large paintings done in the time we’ve been home. I’m also known for making black and white portraits in my own style, so someone commissioned me to make two of those recently and I’m looking forward to finishing up that project in my spare time.

Have there been any major learning lessons from this experience of remote working?

The one thing I’ve learned is that people can absolutely work remotely. It wouldn’t surprise me if 20 percent of the workforce decided not to return to offices and instead continued to allow people to work from home. If you asked me a year ago about working remotely, I would’ve told you “no, that’s not going to happen.” But my perception of that has changed significantly.

I’ve also learned that I can really trust our teams to put in the work. I’ve always maintained a level of trust in our employees, but seeing the work they’ve done over the last six months has been incredible to see. They’ve done an outstanding job, so much that I feel more confident than ever that we can make a really great game.

As a fan of video games in general, what has you excited about the next-gen of hardware?

I’ve been around since the 2D era video games, now approaching my 30th year of development. I’ve seen it all, but I’m still amazed at all the ways we continue to improve our craft as an industry with each new generation as both a game maker and a consumer. On both counts, I’m looking forward to seeing what other developers accomplish with the new consoles. In this generation, we’re going to see games become more realistic and more immersive, all thanks to the insanely creative ways developers will use the new technology.

Lastly, I'd like to ask you about the reveal of The Callisto Protocol during The Game Awards last month. Do you think people responded the way you were expecting? What were you hoping people would take away from the announcement?

Striking Distance Studios is comprised of people that have a lot of experience with survival horror -- I like to think that we're experts in the genre. So with the reveal, I was hoping that people would immediately understand that we fully intend to put the horror back into survival horror here.

The entire studio was on a Zoom call watching the reveal announcement together and as soon as Geoff Keighly introduced our studio everyone on the team was cheering with joy and thrilled that we could finally reveal what we've been working on all this time. No matter how much you believe in something you never know how people will react once it's been put out into the world. So seeing the response from the fans was better than we could have ever hoped for.

The team was sharing all the excited Tweets, comments, and posts people were putting out and it was just great to see all this happen in real-time. It was clear that people recognized our passion, the pedigree of the team, and our intention to make the horror experience they've been longing for. Now it's up to us to live up to those expectations - and we're up for the challenge!

Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us today, Glen! Interested in joining the team? Then check out our career page to see our current openings.