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Embark Studios backs Blender Development Fund

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Hotly tipped Swedish game studio to pay €30,000/year toward Blender development.

Swedish game developer Embark Studios has become the latest firm to back Blender, becoming a Gold sponsor of the Blender Development Fund. The €30,000/year donation will pay half of the salary of another full-time Blender developer, which would take the size of the core team to just under 20 people.

The firm will also release some of its own in-house Blender tools to the community.

Early concept art for Embark Studios' debut game: an upcoming cooperative free-to-play action game, being created using Blender and Unreal Engine. You can read more about the project here.

So who are Embark Studios, and why do they like Blender?

Founded last year by Patrick Söderlund, former head of Battlefield creators DICE and later Executive Vice President for Worldwide Studios at its parent company, EA – Embark Studios had already grown to 80 people by the time giant Korean game publisher Nexon acquired a majority stake in the firm in July.

Its debut title will be an as-yet-untitled "cooperative free-to-play action game set in a distant future", which is being created using Blender, plus a set of core add-ons including boxCutter and hardOps.

"In early 2019, when Embark was a completely new studio with no established pipelines or workflows, the early team of artists here figured we had an opportunity to try something new and see if Blender could work in a real production environment," said senior environment artist Robert Berg.

"This coincided with the release of the Blender 2.8 beta, which really changed everything. Suddenly, all that had made Blender quirky in the eyes of a jaded artist like myself was gone, and Blender started rivaling the best 3D software out there."

New open-source Blender tools for games artists

Embark Studios is also an established supporter of open-source software, with a blog post extolling the virtues of open-source tools, and an online portal dedicated to its own open-source projects, which include an interesting example-based texture synthesis system.The company also plans to share its in-house Blender tools publicly on the portal in future.

In its blog post announcing the sponsorship deal, Embark Studios describes Blender as "a great piece of software. It’s fast and reliable, and its community makes it better every day."

"For too long our industry has been walled-off, with expensive software licenses posing a barrier for non-professionals to even get started. All that is starting to change now, and Blender is a great example of what happens when powerful software is made available for everyone to use."

About Author

Jim Thacker

I've been writing about Blender since the mid-2000s when, as editor of 3D World magazine, I commissioned a series of on-set diaries from the Blender Foundation's first open movie. Since then, I've worked with ArtStation and Gnomon, ‘development edited’ books for Focal Press and Design Studio Press, and am currently editor of industry news website CG Channel.

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