Ex-Guitar Hero and Metroid Prime devs creating competitive online game with "never seen before" mechanics

Velan Studios, founded by former Vicarious Visions developers, is working on an unnamed online competitive game for EA Originals - one with "never seen before" mechanics, claims studio founder Karthik Bala. Speaking at the EA Play event at E3 2019, Bala discussed his new indie studio and its vision to find a new play mechanic "at a subatomic level." 

Bala is an industry veteran of 27 years; he founded Vicarious Visions with his brother Guha Bala and led the Guitar Hero and Skylanders teams under Activision. Velan Studios, which employs former developers from the Metroid Prime and Destiny teams among others, was also founded by Bala and his brother, who originally intended to take time out of the industry for family reasons. Bala says they quit on a Friday, rang each other on Sunday to talk about being bored, and started their new company the following Monday. The company’s business plan lives on an index card with four simple steps, number one being "build an awesome team" - a team which was initially based out of Bala’s basement.

Velan's upcoming EA Original game was in R&D for 18 months, which the team felt was pretty good… until they showed it to other developers, who were less enthusiastic. Bala joked that some colleagues said it was "crap." The studio was forced to iterate on its idea, brushing up against technical limits to bring its ideas to life, so the team is currently building a new game engine to make it possible. Bala says EA understood their vision, and was especially pleased that the company's executives played the game before agreeing to work together. 

“It’s an online competitive game with new mechanics, and they got it," he said. He added that "we’re building a community, and it’s a live game" before joking that he's "probably said more than I wanted to." 

Head here for more on the best indie games we've seen at E3 2019. 

Dan Dawkins

FGS Content Director. Former GamesRadar+ EIC, GTAVoclock host, and PSM3 editor; with - *counts on fingers and toes* - 20 years editorial experience. Loves: spreadsheets, Hideo Kojima and GTA.