Ex-Bethesda Frontman’s New Studio Something Wicked Makes Its Gamescom Debut


What do you get when you bring together the game designers who worked on ‘Fallout: New Vegas’, ‘Fallout 3’, ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’ and ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’? Apparently you get Something Wicked.

On Tuesday, former senior Bethesda staffer Jeff Gardiner announced the creation of his new studio, Something Wicked Games, at the Gamescom 2022 video game trade show in Cologne, Germany. Gardiner was senior producer on “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim”, lead producer on “Fallout 4”, and project lead on “Fallout 76”.

In August 2021, the industry veteran announced his departure from Bethesda.

“I’ve decided to take a break from the industry,” Gardiner told The Washington Post. “But the whole time I was doing this, this game idea was to build, build, build.”

This game idea is “Wyrdsong”, an occult historical fantasy role-playing game. The ‘Wyrdsong’ trailer features an armored figure wearing a tabard with the Knights Templar’s red cross insignia while an ominous voice hints at two worlds, “one before the shadow and one behind the eye “. Something Wicked said the game is set in Portugal during the Middle Ages and will focus on the Knights Templar, a medieval Catholic military order that has become fodder for pop culture reimaginings, especially in video games. The Assassin’s Creed franchise, for example, is about the protagonists waging a clandestine global war against the Templars, their ancient enemies.

Gardiner said he wanted “Wyrdsong” to make people question the nature of reality, referencing the two worlds mentioned in the trailer. Another concept that will be explored in “Wyrdsong” is choice; Gardiner explained that the name of the game nods to this (wyrd is Old English for fate or destiny).

“We’re really going to delve into choice and consequence in a very deep and meaningful way that hopefully no other RPG has ever done before,” Gardiner said.

Gardiner is the CEO and one of the co-founders of Something Wicked. He’s joined by co-founder Charles Staples, former lead designer of “Fallout: New Vegas” and design director of “The Outer Worlds” at Obsidian Entertainment.

Alongside a seasoned team of celebrity designers, Something Wicked also secured $13.2 million in seed funding from NetEase. The studio is completely isolated – a point of pride for Gardiner. There are 13 Something Wicked employees currently working in Maryland, Montreal, Washington, Minnesota, and Florida.

“We’re very, very open to employment,” Gardiner said, referring to the studio’s search for remote talent. “Anywhere we can find the best people.”

A video game studio has moved to a four-day work week. It “saved us,” employees say.

“Wyrdsong” is still a long way off, and Gardiner is a firm believer in slow and steady growth. The studio’s plan is to have 30 employees by year two and cap at 70 employees to ship the game. Gardiner called this lineup a “magical amount of people” for a team that can work on big projects like a triple-A developer but still has some of the flexibility of an indie studio.

“Remember that most early Bethesda games were made with very few people,” Gardiner said. “‘Skyrim’ was made with a hundred people.”

A brand new, fully remote triple-A developer with millions in seed money and some of the hottest names in the RPG space, Something Wicked, like “Wyrdsong”, lives in two worlds, trying to combine the best development practices. of indie games with big name values ​​and production goals. Time will tell if fate favors them.


An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that game developers Leonard Boyarsky and Tim Cain were members of the Something Wicked Games team. They are not and are not involved in the development of “Wyrdsong”.

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