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Rascal Games has raised $4.2 million to create a shared world adventure game dubbed Project Wayward.
Founded by the creators of Blitz.gg, Rascal Games has a team of just two people — Rick Ling and Jonathan Lin — and it was part of the first class of A16z’s new game accelerator Speedrun earlier this summer.
The money comes game venture capital firm Patron, as well as a number of other investors including Stephen Lim (co-creator of Valorant and Raidbase), Mitch Lasky (early investor at Riot Games, Thatgamecompany and Manticore Games), Stanislav Vishnevskiy (Discord), Anjney Midha (general partner at A16z), and a16z Speedrun.
In an interview with GamesBeat, Ling said the company is on an ambitious journey to develop Project Wayward, a cooperative action-adventure game designed for group play. It’s a player-versus-environment multiplayer game, inspired by titles like Sea of Thieves and Valheim.
“Our goal is to authentically capture the dream of adventuring with friends in fantastical worlds,” Ling said. “We are a studio dedicated to serving players who play games at home with their friends. We’re building games that are meant to be unapologetically multiplayer, and social is really our guiding light. We play in a group, and we’re willing to sacrifice a single-player experience. It’s more fun to play with your friends.”
Ling said he knew Brian Cho and Jason Yeh, the founders of the game venture fund Patron, for a long time. They had operated games and worked at places like Riot Games, and that was a key requirement for funding, Ling said. Patron was willing to back the fledgling company because it knew the founders well.
“At Patron, we envision the most engaging future online communities will resemble games rather than traditional text-based chat platforms. Rick and Jon possess extensive experience in scaling Discord and building products from 0 to 1 that gamers love,” said Patron’s Cho, in an email to GamesBeat. “They are uniquely positioned to merge generative AI potential with their expertise in social consumer experiences, forging a path toward something new and special. We couldn’t be more excited to be backing them.”
As for the A16z Speedrun accelerator, Ling said that if you’re starting a game studio and aren’t sure how to build startups, the program is a big help for sharpening your ideas.
Ling said the company seeks to capture the essence of embarking on fantastical adventures with friends, like The Fellowship of the Ring in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings.
Reflecting on his childhood in suburban Texas, Ling said he was bored but found excitement in fantasy books like Eragon. His love for fantasy worlds and how RPGs allowed him to step into magical realms in his mind.
However, it was the experiences of sharing these worlds with friends in multiplayer adventure games that left an indelible mark on him. Ling emphasizes the intrinsic magic of multiplayer adventure games, noting that they naturally weave player experiences into unforgettable stories, fostering deep bonds.
In this game, “You make your own character, you travel to fantastical worlds, and you go off on thrilling adventures with your friends every single night,” Ling said. “We’re basically trying to build a really authentic take on going on adventures with friends in magical worlds.”
They want the game to be challenging and to feel like a team sport, as overcoming adversity is what brings friends closer together, Ling said.
Recalling a memorable Minecraft escapade from high school, Ling said he and his friends spent days exploring a vast mine, amassing treasures of diamonds — only to meet a watery demise as they dug upward into a lake.
“The idea of a game that authentically captures that vibe and supports friendship building has been brewing in our heads for a long time,” Ling said.
Ling has admired successes like multiplayer online battle arenas like League of Legends and he said he has poured thousands of hours into first-person shooters. But he feels like these games don’t create long-lasting stories because the play pattern is so structured.
“The key is actually more about great adventure games, where we have high tension moments with opportunities for players to think and make plans and go off script, and especially take over as authors of the story,” he said.
He highlighted the importance of creating games that go beyond mere fights and objectives, instead focusing on cultivating shared stories that players can reminisce about for years to come.
Ling and Lin created Blitz.gg and eventually sold that to Discord, where Ling became head of product for communities, with Lin led engineering.
With Project Wayward, Rascal Games aims to build a stage for these shared stories, crafting adventures tailored for groups of friends. The game promises moments of high tension, opportunities for reflection, and the freedom to surprise each other by deviating from the expected path.
Rascal Games is actively seeking talented individuals to join their adventure. The studio believes in the strength of small teams characterized by trust, ownership, and empathy. Their goal is to assemble builders who are passionate about crafting exceptional gaming experiences. Positions are available in art, design, and engineering, and interested game developers are encouraged to explore the available roles on the Rascal Games website.
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