When the multiplayer team at Starbreeze was formed during the development of Syndicate, I was made lead of the small cross-disciplinary group. It started out with only four developers, but grew over the course of the project to 16 people. Eventually, we would also shift focus from PvP to Co-Op. For me personally, I got to prove myself as a leader and a manager. And I spearheaded the technical development of Co-Op and represented Syndicate on a couple of press tours.
Unfortunately, Syndicate didn’t become the success that we had hoped. The project was hampered by many problems, especially on the single-player side. And Starbreeze at this time was in a bit of turmoil. In the end EA also prioritized the marketing for Mass Effect 2 over Syndicate. On top of this, some fans of the original Syndicate were angry that the new game was an FPS. In addition, sales turned out to be disappointing. However, as a fan of the original game, I loved working on this one! In the end, reviews for Syndicate Co-Op were very favorable, and I am extremely proud of what we achieved.
Syndicate’s single-player had a significantly larger team and a headstart in development compared to multiplayer. Fortunately, this meant that my team could re-use single-player assets and refactor existing code for PvP multiplayer. It wasn’t until well over two years into the project that Co-Op was born.
As a team, we believed that four player Co-Op would work very well in Syndicate. Similarly, it was a wink towards the original game. However, the Starbreeze engine did not have support for Co-Op. And it was believed to be too much of a technical risk to pursue in a single-player focused studio. But a small skunkworks team was formed anyway with myself on tech, Anders Backman on AI, Tommy Norberg on design and Carl Starendal on production. And we got a month of time to prove it could work.
As you already knew, we pulled it off. When EA had their next monthly publisher visit, they got to play the Syndicate Co-Op for the first time. By the following milestone it had been signed.
The Co-Op team was amazing. It had a leadership triad with Tommy Norberg on levels and content, Roger Mattsson on design and myself on tech and production. Above all, the team was one of the most driven groups that I have ever worked with. With severely limited resources, we definitely punched way above our weight class. A big shoutout to everyone in the team, for their fantastic work and the energy that they put into the project.
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Developer: Starbreeze Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Credited: Lead Gameplay Programmer Co-Op (as Lars Magnus Lång)
My role(s): Multiplayer Lead, Lead Programmer (Co-Op & Multiplayer)
My time on the project: 29 months