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Dontnod Eleven isn't catering to Life is Strange fans, and that’s the point

No time-traveling teens in this studio’s first game

Last week, Dontnod Enertainment announced that it was bringing on a sister studio: Dontnod Eleven, a tiny indie team that’s set to complement the French developer. People who know the name "Dontnod" thanks to the cultural phenomenon Life is Strange may think this means even more narrative-heavy goodness, but CEO Oskar Guilbert tells us that’s not the case.

"[Dontnod Entertainment does] games with strong narrative parts," he clarified, "and what [Dontnod Eleven does] is more online in the first place, competitive, social games."

Dontnod Eleven is not another branch of the larger (but still independent) Dontnod Entertainment, Guilbert explained. It’s a distinct group of 11 people with a desire to make a completely different type of project than the story-driven ones Dontnod Entertainment works on. That’s evident from its first game, the upcoming Steam Early Access title Battlecrew Space Pirates. It’s an online multiplayer shooter with little story to speak of.

That may surprise people drawn to the Dontnod family because of Life is Strange, a major success that has been awared a PeabodyGame of the Year honors and a huge, diverse group of fans for the studio. Guilbert isn’t concerned about alienating these newcomers, though. Instead, he just thinks of Dontnod Eleven — which, as HESAW, shared an owner with Dontnod Entertainment back in the day before being renamed — as a good addition to its big sister.

"Dontnod Eleven we see as a small laboratory for smaller projects to develop different types of knowhow in games," Gilbert said. "It’s just two aspects. We cannot develop this kind [of games] at Dontnod, but we also like this kind of game."

Whether Life is Strange fans who are drawn to tough choices, memorable characters and strange uses of slang come along for the ride is up to them. That’s not the goal with Dontnod Eleven; it’s simply about sharing resources, knowledge and indulging in all kinds of creative passions.

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Max Caulfield stares out a bus window Dontnod Entertainment/Square Enix
From Life is Strange to Vampyr: Dontnod's dark turn

Fortunately for the rest of us, then, Life is Strange remains on Dontnod Entertainment’s mind, what with a live-action TV project in the works. There’s also Vampyr, which will take the studio back toward its action-RPG roots. That’s not to say Battlecrew Space Pirates doesn’t have its own promise, however; we watched a short demo of what seems like a fun, action-heavy, team-based multiplayer game, with diverse and intriguing character designs.

Plus, as Guilbert explained, just because someone is drawn to a unique story like Life is Strange doesn’t mean they can’t like a shoot-em-up game called Battlecrew Space Pirates, too.

"Even if Battlecrew Space Pirates is a very different kind of game, I really like it," he said. "It’s a different type of game experience and it’s something fun to do and I very much enjoy it."

We’ll get a chance to check it out on Steam in the future, maybe before 2016 is out.

Correction: CEO Oskar Guilbert's surname was misspelled in a previous version of this story. The text above has been corrected to reflect this.

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