Heather Cerlan leads ex-Bethesda team to make multiplayer co-op RPG simulation

Heather Cerlan, a senior artist who has worked on a dozen triple-A games, is leading a team of nine ex-Bethesda Game Studios developers working on a new game.

The team making a multiplayer/co-op RPG simulation game under a mysterious new studio whose name isn’t disclosed yet. The Maryland-focused team (operating remotely) is pitching to raise money now, said Cerlan, in an interview during the recent Dice Summit.

It’s not an easy path right now but Cerlan said she is determined to push ahead and build the new game. She said there isn’t another game like it on the market, and that’s part of the appeal of the original intellectual property. Such games are the domain of indie game makers these days, fueled by game venture capitalists.

heather cerlan 2
Heather Cerlan worked on previous titles like the Uncharted and The Last of Us games.

“We’re borrowing from a lot of different genres. I’ll hold off on giving specific prompts until we are ready to announce,” Cerlan said.

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The core team of five is from Bethesda Game Studios. Cerlan, a senior environment artist, previously worked on Starfield at Bethesda. She also worked on a dozen triple-A games including the Marvel title at Skydance New Media, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, The Last of Us, The Last of Us: Part II, Dragon Age 2, and an H.R. Giger environment.

“You can expect sandbox highly systemic gameplay,” she said.

This logo was the best I could get out of Heather Cerlan.

This game will set the foundation for something more ambitious down the road. That plan might be better than doing something too ambitious given the difficult time the industry is having now. Discussions on fundraising are still happening.

“We can kind of build it in smaller steps with the community,” Cerlan said. “From talking to hundreds of developers in triple-A, there’s this feeling they’re tired of being on bigger teams. I think this is a pivotal moment we’re experiencing in the industry. We will create these smaller teams that create smaller projects that give that tight-knit dynamic that people want.”

She wants a team that can be passionate and focused and not too bulky.

“There are going to be a lot of different emotional experiences that you’ll come across within the game,” Cerlan said. “Most of our narrative will come through environmental storytelling. Just your kind of moment to moment interactions with NPCs. And that’s how you that’s how you learn more about the world. So that kind of sets the tone for the game.”

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