Sponsored By

Stig Asmussen is joined by several colleagues from Respawn Entertainment and multiple former Fortnite devs.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

March 12, 2024

4 Min Read
The logo for Giant Skull.

At a Glance

  • Star Wars Jedi game director Stig Asmussen is founding a new game studio.
  • The new studio, named Giant Skull, will embrace a hybrid work environment.
  • Asmussen told Game Developer it's important to respect "how people want to work and where they want to work."

Stig Asmussen, most recently known for directing the Star Wars Jedi games, is forming a new game studio with several Respawn Entertainment alumni and a number of former Fortnite developers. The company, named Giant Skull will be based in Los Angeles, California but will be hiring remote developers from "all over the world."

Giant Skull's leadership team is a murderer's row of seasoned developers, with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor technical director Jon Carr joining the team as its chief technology officer, former Fortnite art director Patrick Murphy stepping into the same role at this company, and former Rocksteady Studios director of operations Anthony Scott pulling double duty as chief operating officer and chief financial officer.

Lead producer Lauren LcLemore, design director Jeff Magers, and animation director Brian Campbell all round out the founding crew.

In an interview with Game Developer, Asmussen (who will be the CEO at the studio) explained that the studio is committed to developing single-player action-adventure games on Unreal Engine 5 even as larger publishers loudly announce they'll be pursuing greater live service revenue. "Players love them, devs love making them, and they're a much easier type of game to build," he said.

"You can manage a sustainable production on them—it's much easier to predict what the cycles are going to be to complete the game, as opposed to working on a live service product where it's an endless cycle."

Making games in a way that respects developers

If anyone can speak about making single-player action-adventure games in a sustainable matter, it's Asmussen. Under his leadership the team at Respawn Entertainment banged out Star Wars Jedi: Survivor in a relatively brisk three years. Many of its competitors from 2023 took a much longer time to get out the door.

A photograph of Stig Asmussen

Asmussen said the number-one process to achieve these efficient cycles is to "respect how people want to work"—hence the hybrid work environment. Unlike other remote-friendly operations he was filled with genuine zeal about the office they'd set up, and talked about how it was meant to be a creative space for any number of team members, not a building that needed to be filled to justify the rent costs.

That sounded like a lofty idea, but we've seen Los Angeles rent prices—isn't going in on such a space a financially risky endeavor for a new company? "Rates are still very low here," Asmussen said with something of a sheepish grin on his face. Office buildings in urban areas like LA are apparently still charging less for rent after the pandemic, eager to get studios like Giant Skull in the door.

Asmussen wanted to make sure he "had no regrets"

With so much turbulence in the game industry (layoffs everywhere, dipping revenues), we wanted to know why Asmussen would make such a jump out of what seemed like the relatively stable operations of Respawn Entertainment.

He paused, then gave something of an unexpected answer: "One of my main mottos is 'no regrets,'" he said. "I didn't want to be in a situation where I decided to stay put and a year or two years from now, I'd be looking over my shoulder and be like 'what about that other thing I could have done?'"

Asmussen said that having those regrets wouldn't even be a question of his own mental health, as a director it could have impacted the people he was working with too. "You've got to be at 100 percent. You've got to be at 110 percent. I think right now I'm probably at 150 percent," he said with excitement. "You never want to be in a situation where an opportunity you had [before] is always influencing current decisions you're making because you didn't take it."

As the industry bandies about questions of hiring, revenue models, labor, and publishing deals, Asmussen's line of thought is one worth grasping on to.

Regrets may follow any developer anywhere in their career, but being cognizant of how they or other negative emotions influence your colleagues is a pillar of leadership the industry needs in a trying year like 2024.

If you're curious what Giant Skull is up to, they do already have something for you to "play." The studio's website doubles as a teaser for its upcoming game.

Read more about:

Top Stories

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like