Forza Horizon Devs Recruit Former BioWare and Ninja Theory Staff For Unannounced RPG

The team's newly-opened second studio will be focused on a new open-world action RPG.


Playground Games has firmly established itself as one of the prominent racing genre developers with the very strong Forza Horizon series, but the studio wants to broaden its...horizons. In an effort to flesh out the talent, the UK-based studio has recruited staff from EA Motive, BioWare, Rocksteady, Guerilla Games, and Ninja Theory for the recently-opened second studio. All of these new hires will be working on an unannounced open-world action RPG.

“I'm really pleased with the quality of the team we're building here at Playground," studio director Gavin Raeburn told "We continue to attract world-class talent from around the world thanks to our exciting projects and the passion of our team. It's been a fantastic start for our second studio and I look forward to seeing it continue to grow over the coming months.”

The full list of new staff goes as follows: Noel Lukasewich from BioWare, Rob den Dekker from Ninja Theory, Scotty Brown from EA Motive, Chris Goodall from Ninja Theory, Joe McKernan who's formerly of Playground, and Martin Lancaster from Rocksteady Studios.

Playground Games and Ninja Theory are a couple of the studios that Microsoft revealed it had acquired during E3 2018, so staff shift between the two makes perfect sense. The other staff additions show that Playground Games is aiming for the stars with this unrevealed RPG and, hopefully, it will reach the levels of quality shown in the Forza Horizon series. Stay tuned to Shacknews for additional updates. 

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    July 31, 2018 9:25 AM

    Charles Singletary posted a new article, Forza Horizon Devs Recruit Former BioWare and Ninja Theory Staff For Unannounced RPG

    • reply
      July 31, 2018 9:50 AM


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      July 31, 2018 10:40 AM

      I hope it's a Mad Max-style open world RPG but using Forza Horizon cars and physics where you can get out of your vehicles and fuck shit up. I haven't played Max Max yet, but Rage and GTA never nailed the car physics for me. In Crackdown and Saints Row I just avoided vehicles altogether because they felt floaty, difficult to control, or just sub par compared to running or jumping.

      A Forza Horizon world where driving around was a fucking blast and you can complete quests both in and out of your vehicle would be the greatest thing ever to me. It would also bring a lot of people into the Horizon games that aren't typically into racing games and have no idea how fun they actually are.

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        July 31, 2018 10:50 AM

        I thought that persistent open world racing game, The Crew, was an interesting idea, but that didn’t do so well, but maybe that was because of the online only factor.

        I guess devs are still trying to figure out what could be the GTA killer. I like your idea, which sounds very plausible, but it’d be funny to see an RPG from these guys that went in a offbeat direction with the vehicles, like a big open city but in the far distant future with anti-grav vehicles. Hoverboards!

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          July 31, 2018 1:49 PM

          Future Forza a la Wipeout or Extreme-G with RPG elements/quests and combat would make me invest in one of these:

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            July 31, 2018 1:56 PM

            Cyberpunk 2077 is going to have a range of drivable vehicles, but I’m not going to be expecting exceptional handling and controls. Everything will probably feel like the Witcher 3 horse.

            I’m only going to invest in one of these for that one:

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              July 31, 2018 2:12 PM

              Yeah, while I'll buy Cyberpunk at launch and play the shit out of it, I'm not super hopeful about their vehicle physics. I'd like to see what a driving game team can do stretching over into an RPG, rather than the inverse, which we've seen quite a bit of.

              I'd also love to see a really well done twin-stick shooter RPG, or even an ARPG. Hero Siege is the closest thing to what I'm looking for, and while I've played over 100 hours of it, the game is unpolished and crazy janky. It's also more like Binding of Isaac than Diablo or a deeper and more substantial RPG. I think my dream game is a cross between Zelda and Diablo but with frenetic gameplay and voxel explosions/3D graphics like Nex Machina.

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                July 31, 2018 2:14 PM

                Or maybe a 3D Stardew Valley with a ton of complexity and depth, but instead of shitty combat in the mines, the game switches over to something like Smash TV or Geometry Wars but with an ARPG skill progression system. I'm going to stop rambling now.

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                July 31, 2018 3:48 PM

                You might like Ruiner, with that description. You have skills and weapons to select and level up, and the combat is fast and furious, with a lot of options of how to play each fight. Plus a cool setting and art direction.

                Definitely play on PC, because the controls are too complex for ease of use with a gamepad. It’s basically a hyperactive Crusader-esque twin stick ARPG.

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        July 31, 2018 11:04 AM

        this is exactly what im hoping for, or a story-based horizon game kinda like payback or the run

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        July 31, 2018 4:30 PM

        Oh boy. Mad Max is the kind of 2/5 licensed game that you'd think died out in the 90s. It misses the mark by so, so much. All it has going for is some shared production design with Fury Road. The actual game is the worst parts of Assassin's Creed, Batman and Twisted Metal mixed into such nihilistic nonsense of a try-hard Road Warrior fanfic.


        And yes, Playground are most likely working on a cross-gen Fable game. It's been more or less known for a while, but with the acquisition and move, they're only now ramping up production.

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      July 31, 2018 10:48 AM

      I hope it's not Pixar's Cars branded RPG ala Kingdom Hearts.

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      July 31, 2018 11:38 AM

      Rumored to be Fable 4

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        August 1, 2018 3:14 AM

        It almost certainly is. While it's sad they closed Lionhead, Playground just seems like a much better run studio that has done superb work on Horizon.

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          August 1, 2018 3:27 AM

          Agreed. The only worry is that playground has absolutely no histpry of making story-based games, so they might not be prepared for the kind of hiccups I assume such things introduce into the process. Also, none of those new hires are writers... which you'd think was paramount for a good RPG. It's a bit worrying if they think the writing is something they'll tack on once they have a game.

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      July 31, 2018 4:05 PM

      Open world The Fast and the Furious RPG It's not going to be this

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      July 31, 2018 4:08 PM

      They are now Microsoft-owned, right? Definitely Fable.

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      July 31, 2018 4:14 PM

      Yes, sounds good!

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      July 31, 2018 11:30 PM

      Awesome! This could be amazing, my body is ready! The Horizon series is incredible, I can only imagine a full on open world RPG none cars.

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