Clockwork Labs raises $4.3M for community sandbox MMO
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Clockwork Labs has raised $ 4.3 million as a new independent game studio creating a massively multiplayer online community sandbox role-playing game.
The company is yet to describe the game or its genre, but co-founder Tyler Cloutier said in an interview with GamesBeat that the studio is a strong supporter of cross-platform games. It will blend social interaction and cooperation, and will feature constructive and non-combat roles.
Cloutier and Alessandro Asoni started the studio in 2019 after working in places like Machine Zone, maker of games like Game of War: Fire Age and Mobile Strike. Machine Zone was acquired in May 2020 by AppLovin for $ 500 million.
The backers are awesome. They include Supercell and Skycatcher, as well as support from angel investors such as Hilmar Pétursson, CEO of CCP Games, the creators of Eve Online and Unity co-founder David Helgason.
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“We looked for investors who we felt had a good understanding of the space and had done something really great there. If you look at Supercell, for example, they’re preeminent in social mobile gaming and making sure gamers are having a good time at a game, ”he said. “We also have angel investors like Hilmar Petursson, CEO of CCP Games, which is perhaps the closest thing to a sandbox MMORPG that exists. And they were very excited about what we could do with something new in a different space.
The headquarters are nominally in San Francisco, but Cloutier said the studio is operating as a fully remote studio with employees all over the world. The team has talents from companies such as Ubisoft and Kakao Games. The team consists of 14 people, spread across North America, Europe and even South America.
“We have an organization based on trust,” said Cloutier. “We have meetings with everyone every day, we quickly go over what we’re going to do for the day. And then beyond that, we say very close contact on Discord. It is therefore very easy to enter a meeting.
The company is dedicated to creating MMO “board games” that are less focused on pure combat and instead encourage social interaction and cooperation between players.
“We had this idea for a game that was going on, and we ended up going. That’s how it all started, ”said Cloutier.
He said a lot of the games already offer great combat experiences. But he said the team believes an underserved community of people like certain peripheral elements of MMORPGs. And that’s what they focus on.
That doesn’t mean he won’t have a fight.
More details on the game and its genre will be revealed at a later date. The team is recruiting.
Cloutier was previously a senior data science engineer at Machine Zone, which focused on building strategy games with a focus on social interaction and well monetized.
Cloutier led a team of engineers to recreate a real-time streaming reinforcement learning system to control in-game actions. There he worked on Game of War and Mobile Strike. Earlier in his career, Tyler also worked as a software engineer at Apple.
Asoni was a senior software engineer at Bloomberg, where he designed high-speed bond pricing systems.
“We want to encourage players to be able to create their own worlds, rather than having developers handcraft everything and put enormous effort into creating content, etc.,” said Cloutier. “We place great importance on player-created worlds and player mechanics. And we think it’s both incredibly powerful for creating in-game content, but also essential for giving players a new way to play with each other. And we want to go back to the old mission of MMOs, which is to get a group of people to become real friends in the game together.
Cloutier said he learned a lot at Machine Zone about performance marketing, making sure players stay in the game and what keeps them in the game.
“It’s basically the social interactions and making real friends that are basically what keeps you in a game,” he said.
Cloutier believes Machine Zone was good at creating chat rooms where players could talk to each other.
“We are focused on creating a gaming experience that is broadly appealing to a wider audience,” said Cloutier. “The emphasis is on building, sure, and building and getting together with your friends to build something, and then meeting new people as well. While there is tremendous value to contend with, we want to give our full attention to things like crafting and role-playing and allowing players to trade and do all kinds of peripheral things that normally don’t get all the attention in the games.
While the company prioritizes user-generated content, it doesn’t go as far in that direction as Roblox and Minecraft do.
“We want to make sure that everything is balanced and that everything is on the right track. That said, we also want players to have as much freedom as possible to rule the world as they see fit. ”
The company has been testing prototypes since late 2019. The name Clockwork refers to how the company wants their software to work well and be both experimental.
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