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Van Caneghem, Buttler Create Trion World

Former EA exec Lars Buttler has teamed with Might & Magic creator Jon Van Caneghem to form Trion World, a new VC-funded online publisher/developer with a mysteriously broad mandate, and we quizzed them to find out about this new venture.
Game designer Jon Van Caneghem (Might & Magic) and former Electronic Arts executive Dr. Lars Buttler have faith in the power of broadband. They believe in it so resolutely that they’ve built a new game development and publishing company, Trion World Network, devotedly solely to delivering content with it. New World Computing founder Van Caneghem and former EA VP Buttler insist that, because the future lies in broadband, media companies need to rethink their strategies for providing entertainment, as well as the substance of the entertainment. How video games are developed and distributed today, says Van Caneghem, “is a byproduct of old architecture.” The currently 20-person Trion, he adds, is taking multimedia and going straight back to the drawing board, building new architecture that will allow for various hybrid types of entertainment, delivery methods, and connectivity. “All devices can tie into some game world, and that can only happen if you build the architecture right,” says Van Caneghem.” The actual product, of course, is somewhat shielded in mystery right now, but appears to include some kind of virtual world element. Trion is not restricting itself to games, either . With a multitude of partnerships — from game development studios to corporate media giants — the company plans to do business in not one type of content, but three: games, online, and traditional media (television and film). Funded by tier 1 Silicon Valley venture capital firms DCM and Trinity Ventures — rather than a major game publisher — the company already has two major offices. These are in Redwood City, Calif., within sight of EA’s headquarter campus, and Austin, the epicenter of talented online game developers. Says Buttler, “It has not been a challenge for us to raise a lot of money.” Nor has recruiting talent been a challenge: Trion has already signed on a number of expats from EA, NCsoft, and Sony Online, hoping to get the most out of hiring knowledgeable veterans who understand connectivity, online delivery, and good game design. The company is still many months away from giving consumers anything tangible. According to Buttler, the underlying technology itself won’t even be ready until sometime in 2007. Nonetheless, it'll be interesting to see what these noted industry figures are cooking up with such significant backing.

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