The Witcher 3 game director forms new studio Rebel Wolves

Rebel Wolves boss Konrad Tomaszkiewicz left CD Projekt Red in controversial circumstances and claims the past year has been a period of self-reflection.

The Witcher 3 game director Konrad Tomaszkiewicz has established a new studio called Rebel Wolves.

Tomaszkiewicz, who also served as head of production and secondary game director on Cyberpunk 2077, has formed Rebel Wolves less than a year after departing CD Projekt Red following an internal investigation into allegations of workplace bullying.

Although the investigation cleared Tomaszkiewicz of any wrongdoing, he acknowledged that people felt "fear, stress, or discomfort" working alongside him, but claims to have reflected and changed since leaving CD Projekt in May last year.

Speaking to Game Developer about how he intends to chart a path forward, Tomaszkiewicz said he wants Rebel Wolves to be a "transparent company," adding that he spent the past year working on himself to understand how to become a more compassionate leader and co-worker.

"I did a 'personal postmortem' and spent a lot of time working on myself. Learning how to deal with tough, stressful situations in a more empathetic way, for example, or how to be a better co-worker and teammate," Tomaszkiewicz said, adding there were "moments" at CD Projekt when he succumbed to the pressures of the job.

"I have also since come to the understanding that, as a game director, it isn’t my role to personally ensure the highest quality of every little element of the game -- but to create and nurture a team who set their own top standards, with minimal guidance. Because if you truly care about the game you're making, and have the talent to match your vision, that's what you'll want to do. You don't need to be pushed, you need a nudge."

Tomaszkiewicz wants Rebel Wolves to prioritize "fairness, teamwork, and openness," and intends to pull on his experience leading development on The Witcher 3 to create an environment where every single employee can influence key decisions.

"Back when I was working as game director on The Witcher 3, I’d welcome feedback from everyone. The dev team knew I was in the review room and they could pop in and bring up something they felt was particularly important or exciting," he continues.

"This is the culture I want to foster at Rebel Wolves. Sure, everyone is hired to do a particular job, we have different tasks and responsibilities, but at the end of the day, we’re a team and we’re all making the same game. We know that it’ll be challenging to maintain this approach as the team grows - and that’s why we decided to cap our size at about 80 people."

In more practical terms, Rebel Wolves will look to make good on those promises by implementing a zero crunch policy. It's an ambitious goal -- one that other studios, including CD Projekt, have tried and failed to implement -- but Tomaszkiewicz is adamant Rebel Wolves will be able to create something special without grinding down its workforce.

"No crunch is allowed at Rebel Wolves, under no circumstances," he says. "I understand that it may sound like a very romantic dream, utopian even, but that’s the rule we established, that’s what we, the founders of the company, are committed to. We don’t want to crunch, we don’t want our colleagues to crunch, we don’t want any of that in our lives."

To that end, Tomaszkiewicz says employees will be encouraged to avoid checking emails (or anything work related) once they've clocked off, and said the studio will adjust timelines to ensure staff aren't hurtling towards unrealistic deadlines.

Rebel Wolves is currently working on its debut project, billed as a "dark fantasy RPG" built in Unreal Engine 5, and some of Tomaszkiewicz's former CD Projekt colleagues have already joined the nascent studio to work on the mystery title.

"Most of the developers who already joined Rebel Wolves -- the head writer, the art director, the lead animator, and so on -- are the people I’ve worked with closely on The Witcher 3, who’ve known me for years and who share my passion for video games," finished Tomaszkiewicz. "I’m very grateful for their vote of confidence in me and our new project."

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