Patrik Methe has a story to tell. Now he has to build a video game studio from scratch to do it.
Methe, who spent the last 17 years at Ubisoft Montreal, has been tasked with heading up the new Montreal studio for South Korean video game developer Krafton.
Krafton Montreal’s first game will be drawn from the South Korean fantasy novel series “The Bird That Drinks Tears” by Yeong-do Lee.
The series offers a huge canvas that tells the story of four races: humans, Leckorn, Dokkaebis and Nagas.
“I like to call it some kind of a medieval fantastic universe — without elves, without goblins,” said Methe. “Each race has their own lore, their own beliefs. And the story of the novel is about an unlikely group of different races put together to accomplish a task.
“No matter how different they are they will need to find a way to work together to achieve their goal.”
He says the material from the novels is so rich that it can furnish several titles, saying “there’s a lot of meat around the bone.” And while the books have yet to be translated into English, he says their world will strike a chord.
While it is too early to predict an exact release date for the game, the goal is a four-year production cycle. The first title will a single-player adventure, although there could be other elements.
Methe knows his stuff when it comes to fantasy. Prior to developing video games, he owned a game store and was immersed in tabletop role-playing games, from “Dungeons and Dragons” to “Warhammer.”
“All these games, I’ve played them for thousands of hours,” he said. “So now having this canvas, an unknown universe that we have the honour to bring to the players, it’s a dream come true.”
Montreal will be the lead studio on the game, although there are already some 30 to 40 people in South Korea working on an art book drawn from the novel to ensure that whatever comes out of the series has the same vision.
Krafton, whose portfolio includes the smash battle royale title “PUBG: Battlegrounds,” has studios around the world.
The new Montreal studio, which was officially announced Wednesday, is Krafton’s first in Canada and third in North America, joining Striking Distance Studios in San Ramon, Calif., and Unknown Worlds in San Francisco.
Methe, who became Krafton Montreal’s first employee in October, says the new studio will gradually ramp up to 150 people over three years for the first game. He already has a staff of 12 including fellow former Ubisoft employees in producer Benoit Frappier, game director Frederic Duroc and technology director Martin Paradis.
Methe is currently looking for office space, having visited a dozen places already looking for a permanent home.
No stranger to the city, Methe spent more than 17 years at Ubisoft Montreal, working on the “Splinter Cell,” “Far Cry” and “Rainbow Six” franchises.
He says in making the move to head up the new studio he spent eight months discussing the project with Krafton.
“The further we went into the discussions, the more excited I was about the adventure,” he said. “But I had spent a bunch of years at Ubisoft so it was a tough decision.”
He was sold after a trip to Seoul to meet Krafton’s top management, including CEO Chang-han Kim, whose background is in game development.
The Krafton studio is just the latest to pop up in the Montreal gaming hotbed which is already home to Behaviour Interactive, Bethesda, Ubisoft, Eidos, Electronic Arts, Epic, Gameloft, Rovio, Square Enix, WB Games and 2K’s Cloud Chamber among others.
Montreal International, the city’s economic development agency, says the city ranks in the top five video game development hubs in the world with 200-plus studios and 19,000 workers in the industry.
Ubisoft led the way, setting up shop in 1997.
“I think that 20 years ago there were a few successes and then slowly but surely people came knowing that the pool of talent available here is quite high,” said Methe. “And now what’s very exciting for the developers here is that you have a huge array — you have the big huge studios, you have the very small indie studios and everything in-between. So there’s something for everyone.
“That’s what makes the market very alive in Montreal.”