Haden Blackman, the creative director on Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and lead producer on Star Wars: Galaxies, is leading a new studio at Borderlands and BioShock publisher 2K Games, the company announced today. Named Hangar 13 Games, the new Blackman-led team is working on an unannounced title and developing proprietary technology to support its ambitions.
In an interview with Polygon, Blackman said he wanted to get back to AAA game development on console and PC. Prior to joining 2K two years ago, Blackman was running his own independent game studio that was bought by social game maker Kabam.
"I wanted to build the kind of games that I enjoy playing," Blackman said. The decision to join 2K and build a new studio from the ground up, he said, came about because of the publisher's commitment to quality. "From my perspective, [2K] always puts the game first," he said.
"I really want to focus on games that live up to the mantra of 'every player's story is unique,'" Blackman said. "When I say that I don't just mean the narrative. When I first got into gaming, the thing that was most exciting was when I could sit down with my brother and talk about playing a game and comparing the way we approached different problems in the game, different powers that we used."
The gameplay and narrative choices of action games and role-playing games "led me to love the idea that I'm a co-author of this experience."
"The moment-to-moment gameplay, the meta structure, the way that you impact the world, the characters, those are all things we're trying to hit on," he said.
Blackman wouldn't say what his team is developing, nor whether Hangar 13 was working on an original property or an existing 2K Games franchise, like a new BioShock or XCOM. 2K also wouldn't comment on whether Hangar 13 was related to the unnamed studio that Gears of War and BioShock Infinite producer Rod Fergusson was once attached to.
"We don't have a clear timeline for when we're announcing [the game]," Blackman said. "We're actively working on tech development and building content for the game. The tech is being developed for this title we're working on now, and built to service that vision in the smartest way possible."
That tech is "not meant to be a Swiss army knife" for other 2K studios to develop on, but specifically for the game Hangar 13 is working on.
Right now, Blackman said, the focus is on hiring and building out its team, which he says has shipped hundreds of games collectively. But he wouldn't specify Hangar 13's current size or how big it plans to get.
"I will say that the team is large enough that we're getting all the work done that we want to get done," he said. "It's small enough that we're still really nimble and communication flows well through the groups. But I can still identify everyone here by name and face."
In addition to game development, Blackman is also known for his work writing comics, including Star Wars at Dark Horse, Batwoman at DC and Elektra at Marvel. His work on Batwoman helped the creative team win GLAAD's Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book.
"I love writing comics, it's been a passion of mine for a long time," Blackman said, "but this is my focus and my priority. So to the degree that I can I will continue because it's nice to flex those muscles ... and it actually helps me solve some creative problems on the game side to get a little distance and work on something else during my free time but this is my priority."