The name of Leslie Benzies might not be as popular as that of Hideo Kojima and Shigeru Miyamoto in the world of video game producers, but you may have heard of his work: the Grand Theft Auto franchise.
Benzies, the former president of Rockstar North and currently involved in a $150 million lawsuit that he filed against Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games, has launched his new studio and its first project.
The Everywhere Project
Everywhere is just the working title of the game, which will be produced by Benzies's new studio which does not yet have a name but has locations in Edinburgh and Los Angeles. The studio was opened by Benzies alongside Matthew Smith and Colin Entwistle, who are both former developers for Grand Theft Auto, and now currently has about 30 employees and still hiring.
"It's ambitious and different from anything I've worked on before," said Benzies of Everywhere in an interview with VentureBeat, adding that the game will have a lot of traditional mechanics but will be offering even more, drawing inspiration from everywhere, as the project's title suggests.
According to Benzies, players will have real freedom in Everywhere, with a huge variety of modes and styles that players can enjoy with their chosen identities. Smith added that the story and setting of Everywhere will remain a secret for now, but echoes that the game will be all about giving players "an enormous amount of freedom."
Smith continues by saying that there will be a balance of possibilities and constraints in Everywhere, which will be enough to keep players entertained while making them feel that they are able to actively shape the game's world in a genuine alternate reality.
Is Everywhere Too Ambitious?
While setting ambitious goals is part of how an amazing game starts development, is the plan for Everywhere too ambitious?
In an interview with Polygon, Benzies said that Everywhere will be very different from the Grand Theft Auto games. While there may be parts that would be satirical similar to some aspects of Grand Theft Auto, the tone will be very different, with players even being in control of the tone that will be set in Everywhere.
Smith added that there will be plenty of stories and characters in Everywhere, though players will be allowed to create their own stories and characters in the game.
From the statements of Benzies and Smith, it seems that Everywhere will be an open-world game unlike anything ever seen before, and while that would draw raised eyebrows due to how immense an undertaking a genuine alternate reality would be, it is exciting to see how the project will turn out.
Lawsuit By Benzies Against Take-Two, Rockstar
Benzies filed a lawsuit for $150 million against Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games in April 2016, and litigation is ongoing which means that Benzies could not discuss the issue in interviews. However, he added that the lawsuit is not affecting his work on Everywhere.