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Leslie Benzies recruits former GTA veterans and teams up with Amazon

Former influential Rockstar developer plans to open multiple studios to create Everywhere

Former Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies has broken cover to reveal the first details of his new team and project.

The GTA V designer, who is currently in a legal dispute with former employer Rockstar and Take-Two, has teamed up with Matthew Smith - former audio lead at Rockstar, and Colin Entwistle - who was lead camera programmer at the same studio. All three worked on Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online.

Smith and Entwistle left Rockstar in 2015 to form their own studio, Square Peg Games. Entwistle now takes the position of technical director at the new company, while Smith is studio head of the Edinburgh office.

The studio currently has no official name, although Benzies registered a series of names on Companies House last week, including Royal Circus Games, Starship Group, Everywhere Game Limited and VR-Chitect. The press release suggests multiple studios will be set up, including offices in Edinburgh and Los Angeles.

The team's first project is called Everywhere, which Benzies says will be "a platform where players can be entertained, and also entertain others while blurring the lines between reality and a simulated world." It doesn't sound too far removed from his previous project, Grand Theft Auto Online.

The game, or platform, uses Amazon Lumberyard, which is a free 3D game engine built upon CryEngine tech. Amazon funds the use of the technology via Amazon Web Services, Twitch integration and the server hosting service Amazon GameLift. All of which will be used by Everywhere.

Benzies was one of the key team members behind the recent smash hit Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online, although it all ended very acrimoniously between himself and Rockstar founders the Housers. Benzies is suing Rockstar for 105m in unpaid bonuses, with the development studio counter-suing and dismissing the allegations

Here are some quotes from the press release.

"I am proud to have been part of past advancements in gaming," said Benzies, "But I am even more excited about what we have in store for the future. The working title of this new game is Everywhere and the vision is long term, with the capacity to develop and grow forever. Our goal is to create a platform where players can be entertained, and also entertain others while blurring the lines between reality, and a simulated world."

Amazon Lumberyard general manager Eric Schenk added: "Leslie is a visionary who pushes what's possible in interactive entertainment, and we're honoured that he and his team have chosen Amazon Lumberyard as the foundation for Everywhere. We're obsessed with giving developers the tools they need to bring their most ambitious projects to life, and based on feedback from creative leaders like Leslie, we've made more than 1,700 updates to the engine in the last year alone."

If you have jobs news to share or a new hire you want to shout about, please contact us on newhires@gamesindustry.biz

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