Call of Duty Black Ops designer starts new studio to create a more ‘intimate’ shooter

call of duty black ops designer starts new studio to create a more ‘intimate’ shooter

Call of Duty Black Ops designer starts new studio to create a more ‘intimate’ shooter

David Vonderhaar left Call of Duty Black Ops developer Treyarch last August, after 18 years at the studio where he served as designer on eight Call of Duty games. On Wednesday, Vonderhaar announced a new venture and a new studio called BulletFarm.

BulletFarm is developing a “new and ambitious AAA game, built in Unreal Engine 5 and set in an original universe with an emphasis on co-operative gameplay,” according to a news release. BulletFarm and parent company NetEase Games say the new studio’s untitled project will be a “more intimate and relatable experience while offering a fresh take on first-person gameplay.”

Vonderhaar says he’s working “out of [his] comfort zone” with BulletFarm’s debut project.

“This is a departure from the games I’ve worked on, but one that showcases my passion for rich characters, precise mechanics, more intimate storytelling, and plenty of action,” said Vonderhaar, studio head at BulletFarm, in a statement. “NetEase has provided us an incredible support structure to explore these new avenues and allow true freedom to begin building the concept and ideas for our game.”

Thus far, BulletFarm has released two pieces of artwork that appear to be related to its new project. The one below offers a light retro ’90s aesthetic, with its CRT television and vintage covers for Thrasher, Raygun, and i-D magazines on the wall.

call of duty black ops designer starts new studio to create a more ‘intimate’ shooter

Joining Vonderhaar at BulletFarm is game designer Chris Cowell, who also has 18 years of experience working on Call of Duty. Cowell will serve as the new studio’s creative director.

BulletFarm is headquartered in Los Angeles but is described as having a “remote-first approach.” The studio is actively hiring, a welcome contrast to industry-wide news of mass layoffs in 2024.

Vonderhaar and Cowell were most recently credited on 2020’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. This year’s Call of Duty entry is being led by Treyarch, and is reportedly a sequel to Cold War set in the ’90s Gulf War era.

BulletFarm and NetEase did not announce a release window or platforms for their new game.

Treyarch and Cowell’s departures from Treyarch is part of a larger trend of studio leadership and senior designers exiting the Call of Duty studio. In 2021, longtime Treyarch developers Dave Anthony and Jason Blundell announced a new studio, Deviation Games, which is partnering with Sony Interactive Entertainment to develop a new franchise for PlayStation Studios. In 2022, veteran Treyarch co-head Dan Bunting left the studio in the wake of a Wall Street Journal investigation into a sexual harassment claim made against him.

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