Dean Hall partners with Improbable “to make the video games that nobody would dare make”

bossa studios improbable games dean hall adrift

DayZ’s creator, Dean Hall, left Bohemia last year to start up his own studio in New Zealand. Until now he’s kept quiet on what that game might be. Today, however, he’s announced he’s partnered with technology firm Improbable “to make the video games that nobody would dare make.”

The more I read about Improbable’s tech, the more excited I am to see what Hall has up his sleeve.

Hall revealed his partnership on Twitter, saying that making his new game’s “the most exhilarating thing I have ever done.” And linking off to a post which explains why he left Bohemia.

“DayZ is an unreconciled emotion for me,” Hall writes. “It was enormously commercially successful. It helped ArmA2 sell millions of units, and the standalone itself has done over three million units at full price barely a year after it went into early access. For three years it consumed me. The desire to make something worthy of it’s promise versus the reality that it needed to be done now, with old technology, using the old ways of making games. The drama of that game, and its development, is so complicated for me that I can’t resolve how I feel about it.”

Hall thinks, too, that he had become a burden on DayZ’s development: “My ideas are radical. I have no interest in half measures. I do not want to make safe games. I do not want to make games the way we have been making them. I want to fail as often as I need to in order to deliver the kinds of games that I actually want to play.”

While climbing Everest he concluded that he “wanted to make video games, not money.” Admitting that he’s happy not to make back the money he spends on making ambitious games, he syas that he realised he “wanted to make the video games that nobody would dare make.”

Hall returns to his point about developing DayZ with old, ill-fitting technology when he describes meeting Herman Narula, CEO of a London-based tech firm, Improbable. “The technology I had always wanted and tried to make was finally here,” Hall says. “DayZ was born out of my aborted attempts to make a database architecture to support my wild mass multiplayer ideas. But now, I didn’t need a ten year plan to make my grand visions of multiplayer come true. I could do it now.”

Which brings us to what exactly Improbable make. According to Improbable’s site, their tech allows for “distributed, real-time, persistent simulations.”

The studio’s made up of people from Google, Crytek, Ubisoft, Lionhead, even some of Goldman Sachs’ server engineers. They’re developing the technology to support massive simulation-based games.

Wired went to visit Improbable’s studio and see the tech in action. They describe a game called Jackal Story, in which there’s a huge battle which leaves the area littered with dead soldiers. The local jackal population will grow larger the more bodies there are to eat. Players can respond to the threat by trying to kill off jackals, lowering their numbers, or by building defences to protect themselves from the growing pack, they can even attract other creatures into the area that will prey on the jackals. The impressive part of the demo is that it’s all unscripted.

If the technology is as powerful Wired make out then you can see why it’s got Hall’s attention. DayZ was a mass of interlinking systems and simulations. If Improbable games can persist across a server for all players, and evolve without a player being present then I’m definitely intrigued to see what Hall’s working on.