Longtime Lionhead designer goes it alone

Rag Doll Kung Fu creator Mark Healey to form new studio. Lionhead "sad to see Mark go."

With the casual words "I've made the leap," the part-time indie game designer and full-time Lionhead staffer Mark Healey blogged his intentions to leave Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios to start his own development studio.

The designer had been with Molyneux since the early days of Bullfrog Studios, Molyneux's pre-Lionhead studio that put titles, including Dungeon Keeper, Syndicate Wars, and Magic Carpet into gamers' hands.

At Lionhead, Healey contributed to Fable and Black & White, among other titles.

Calling his departure from Lionhead "a very hard decision," Healey elaborated in a post on the Steam users forum. "My current plan is to spend rest of this year finishing the map editor with Alex [Evans], get the free demo out (sorry about delay on this--it's in Valves hands as to when and how they release it), and then set up a dev team, to make a new game next year, with Alex and Dave [Smith], who helped out on Rag Doll. (This time, it will be full time, none of this spare time business, TOO TIRING!)"

Healey made Rag Doll Kung Fu in his spare time. A quirky side-scrolling 3D platformer with no prescripted animations, the game got a rousing welcome earlier this year when Healy presented it to Game Developers Conference attendees in San Francisco. The full version of the game has been available via Valve's download service, Steam, since October.

"Rag Doll was originally just an idea for me and some friends to have some fun making an old-style Kung Fu movie," said Healey in a now oft-quoted statement posted on the game's Web site.

Emphasizing the terms of his departure, Healy said, "I would like to point out that I didn't leave Lionhead on bad terms or anything, it was just time for a change really."

A Lionhead spokesperson told GameSpot, "We're all sad to see Mark go but wish him the very best for the future."

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21 comments
KamaKase
KamaKase

Mark Healey is a legend and a generally nice guy. I wish their new company had a name and a website or something.....it's something I want to keep my eye on.

pocketmnky
pocketmnky

Rag Doll Kung Fu was innovative in its control-style and extremely well polished for an independant project. It would have been better if it was a touch easier; but that would have been against that point. I think we're going to see something great and original from Mark Healey and I for one, wish him good luck.

chrisdojo
chrisdojo

is he going to make any real games next?

Igiss
Igiss

Many people wish to develope their own games, few succeed... but Mark has a good chance. Will be waiting for more releases from him. Though I still think that Rag Doll is not worth $15.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

Hope he does well with his new studio.

nemes1s3000
nemes1s3000

Don't risk it Mark, you just started.

necrogodomega
necrogodomega

Ahh, I'd be happy if everyone left Sir Peter's team and made their own way. That way good games would come out without Peter wrecking everyone's fun with stupid hype. I'm sure he has a lot of good folks working for him, but with the rep that Lionhead gets most of the time it's gotta be crappy to work for.

blackIceJoe
blackIceJoe

I hope many good games come out of this.

dru26
dru26

Zuma kicks ass. I am hoping the next Fable is a lot better then it's predecessor.

bossjimbob
bossjimbob

Indie games are alive and kicking. Fire up Xbox Live Arcade and check out Wik: Fable of Souls and Zuma. Good stuff.

SturokBGD
SturokBGD

Just goes to show there's life in the indie business, EA doesn't own the world yet.

Jason____
Jason____

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Jason____
Jason____

RDKF was a great game for a side project. I bought the game and had a fun time playing it. It will be interesting to see what he makes with his own studio.

ghsacidman
ghsacidman

Hey broxibear, what's "wank"? You must be British. RDKF was just a fun side project, not a big budget game, so don't be so quick to be a hater. GHOSTRyDr, broxibear: Have love for the man cause he was a big part of Lionhead. He had his hand in Fable and Black and White, so obviously the guy has talent. He made RDKF in his spare time. Ghost, Broxi, you ever made a ground breaking fun mini game in your spare time that was distributed through out the world? No..... then you have no room to talk.

bdub20791
bdub20791

i hope fable 2 is more modern now.

Subterfuge
Subterfuge

I hope he can make better games then RDKF, or he is in some serious trouble.

DarkGord
DarkGord

Let us hope his new team is able to produce innovative games, and that they are good enough to succeed and not have to be sold to some mega publisher or the other.

broxibear
broxibear

Why the love for this man? Is it not the consensus that his Kung Fu game was utter wank?

bossjimbob
bossjimbob

Good for him. While it's sad to see such a great studio lose a man of such talent, it probably means he will be able to concentrate fully on new and exciting game designs instead of blockbuster-sized projects. Probably a refreshing change.