Looking for an easier way to manage mods? Try ModDrop, our new mod manager.

  • Runic Games - Where are they Now

    Happy Belated Birthday Everyone!


    That’s right, it’s YOUR birthday as much as it is MY birthday (which technically it isn’t) because our great big community fansite turned TEN YEARS OLD last month! Somehow we outlasted the company I started this site for and made it to double digits!


    Why didn't I celebrate this last month? Because I was busy preparing something REALLY special for everyone. As a fun little gift to everyone I have put together this“Where Are They Now?” piece to see what the former Runic Games staff are doing now, roughly ten months after the company shut down. This was put together with the help of our former Community Manager Brian Ward and with the help of several of the former devs who contributed their own words for the article. Everyone who didn’t contribute their own words I researched via LinkedIn or Google, which of course leaves a few blank or outdated entries on the list.


    BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! We’re also simultaneously hosting an Anniversary Celebration Contest (sponsored of course by ModDrop) in which YOU could win a $50 (USD) Steam Digital Gift Card. Be sure to check out this link for details!


    Skip to the bottom for some more big news regarding this website!


    I have organized the list roughly by when the devs started working for Runic Games, by my own best guess. I tried to mark Founders where applicable as well. In addition, I scrounged up some old links on the history of Runic. They are as follows:



    Who Works at Runic Games news post all the way back from 2009:

    https://www.runicgamesfansite.com/ma....html#post3545


    Remains of an old Wiki page on the History of Torchlight/Runic Games. The old BBCode is broken now that the wiki itself is gone:

    https://www.runicgamesfansite.com/va...orchlight.html

    Another article about the history of the company up until Hob was started:

    https://www.polygon.com/features/201...unic-games-hob



    Without further adieu, here are the Runic Games devs you came to know (and love?) over the years:


    Founding and Torchlight 1 Era

    Runic Games was founded shortly of the original team's former studio, Flagship Studios (North) was shut down in July of 2018. They spent several months doing odd jobs to get by while Max, Travis and Erich tried to find a publisher or someone to invest of the group. In the end Perfect World provided the funding to create Torchlight 1, which was intended from the beginning to build a fanbase for a Torchlight MMO that was supposed to follow directly afterwards.

    Travis Baldree

    August 2008 (Founder)- April 2014 as President

    I'm Travis Baldree. I was the President of Runic Games for the first 7 years or so of its life, and one of the cofounders. I was also the project lead and lead engineer for Torchlight and Torchlight 2, and left after we assembled an initial prototype of what became Hob. I departed to go even smaller and founded Double Damage Games with Erich Schaefer where we made Rebel Galaxy, and where we are about to announce our next game.


    From the initial founding period where we scrambled to exist, to pushing the Torchlight games to completion, I think it's fair to say I may have left the most blood in the dirt at Runic, so to speak. It was a hell of a ride with a bunch of wonderful people, and I hope they're all happy they did it.


    Jason BeckAugust 2008 (Founder) - September 2013

    Several companies later, now a Lead Artist at The Pokemon Company International

    Greg BrownAugust 2008 (Founder) - August 2014 Tools Engineer

    Now a Senior Engineer at VREAL


    Kyle CorneliusAugust 2008 (Founder) - April 2016 Senior Concept Artist.

    Currently doing Freelance work as a “Workshop Concept Artist”


    John DunbarAugust 2008(Founder) - November 2017 Game Designer/Game Programmer

    Now a Co-Founder at Monster Squad Entertainment


    Mike FisherAugust 2008 (Founder) - November 2017 UI Artist

    Current Status Unknown


    Jeff MianowskiMay 2009 - January 2015 as Lead Character Artist then Art Director

    Now a Character Man for Double Damage Games


    Kevin GreenAugust 2008 (Founder) - November 2009 Artist

    Now an Environment/World Artist at ArenaNet


    Peter HuJan 2009- Oct 2015 “Founding Partner” ( I suspect the start date for this is a bit off)

    Now CEO for Rhino Games


    Brock JonesAugust 2008 (Founder)- August 2014 Senior Producer

    Worked for Wizards of the Coast and now is a Software Engineer at VREAL.


    Jason Lamb
    May 2009- November 2017 QA Manager

    Currently continuing his education to get a new degree.


    Matt LeffertsAugust 2008 (Founder)- November 2017 Lead Animator

    Now a 3D Animator for V1 Interactive, Inc.


    Marsh LeflerAugust 2008 (Founder)- December 2017 First as Vice President/Lead Programmer, later as CEO/Studio Head

    Now Studio Head and Co-Founder for Monster Squad Entertainment


    Adam Perin
    September 2008 (Founder) - April 2016 Environment Artist/Lead Environment Artist/Senior Technical Artist

    Now a Technical Artist for ArenaNet

    Also the voice of the talking sword “Sword of Adam” in Torchlight 1.


    Patrick BlankFebruary 2009 - November 2017 Game Director/Lead Level Designer

    Now a Co-Founder & Creative Director of Monster Squad Entertainment


    Sirio BrozziFebruary 2009- September 2010 Concept Artist

    Two companies later, now an Art Director and Lead Concept Artist for Red Moon Workshop


    Ben EvansMay 2009- December 2017 Senior Operations Engineer

    Now a Release Manager for Bungie


    Mike FranchinaDec 2009- August 2014 Senior Concept Artist

    Now a Concept Artist for Blizzard Entertainment


    Jeremy HuxleyMay 2009 - August 2010 Senior Environment Artist

    Appears to now simultaneously be an Instructor for Computer Graphics Master Academy and an Environment/Shader Artist for Naughty Dog.


    Wonder RussellAugust 2008 (Founder)- November 2017 Head of Marketing

    Now Director of Communications for Undead Labs


    Erich SchaeferAugust 2008 (Founder)- April 2014 CCO/Designer

    Now President of Double Damage Games


    Max SchaeferAugust 2008 (Founder)- December 2017 CEO

    Now CEO at Echtra


    Matt TanwantengAugust 2009- October 2013 as a Software Engineer

    Now Lead Engineer at Binary Thumb


    Jamus ThaynMarch 2009 - September 2013 as Senior Character Artist

    Now Senior Artist at Panic Button (after a lot of jumping around)


    Matt UelmenJanuary 2009(Technically a founder I believe) - November 2017 as “Noisemaker”

    Now doing music for Torchlight Frontiers at Echtra


    Torchlight 2 Development EraTorchlight 2 was another step towards an MMO. Torchlight 1 came out during a sweet spot, before Diablo 3 was out and very few other ARPGs of the type were on the horizon. The general outcry for the game was that it was wondering but was missing Multiplayer.... and that was unacceptable. In the end Torchlight 2 and Diablo 3 were due out at nearly the same time, so Runic delayed Torchlight 2's release to add more to the game, and polish while the initial focus on Diablo 3 lessened.

    Justin Miller
    December 2010- March 2014 Senior Software Engineer (Networking)

    After bouncing around a bit, now a Co-Founder and Network/Server Lead for Echtra


    Brian BarhostMay 2010- January 2015 Level Designer

    Now: Senior Designer at Bungie


    Matt MunroeApril 2011-November 2017 QA Tester

    Now a Software Test Engineer for Camoflaj


    Tim SwopeJuly 2010 - November 2017 as Lead Environment Artist

    Now an Environment Artist at Valkyrie Entertainment


    Matt TinariMay 2010 - March 2015 Lead Environment Artist

    Now a 3D Artist at Valkyrie Entertainment


    Jesse TuckerApril 2010 - February 2015 as a Level Designer

    Now a Designer at Galvanic Games Incorporated


    Colin TurnerFeb 2010 - November 2015 as Senior Animator

    Now Lead Animator at Double Damage Games


    Tim VarneySeptember 2012 - April 2016 as Technical Support Engineer

    Now listed as a Law Clerk for Chicago Public Schools (What a career changed!)


    JD WikerApril 2010 - June 2012 Lead Writer

    Currently listed as Writer/Editor for En Masse Entertainment


    Brian WardBrian here! I was Runic's Community Manager from June 2010 until the last day we were in business in December 2017. If you played our popular Scavenger Hunt at PAX, that was my doing. I'm now working with the fine folks at City State Entertainment, where we're making a TriRealm MMORPG called Camelot Unchained. If you're familiar with Dark Age of Camelot, then this is the game for you. It's currently in Beta, so go check it out. At CSE, I'm in another CM role, where you'll see me frequently running large scale playtests with our Backers. Find out more at http://camelotunchained.com/


    Joey Ziegler
    September 2010 - November 2017 as a QA Tester

    Current status unlisted - Rumored to have done QA for the original Rogue Galaxy.


    Pre Hob Development Era
    This is a hard era to track. Torchlight 2 was wrapping up, but the majority of the team didn't want to do ANOTHER "Diablo clone." Some members of the team had literally been working on nothing but this style of game since working on Diablo 1. As a result, several members of the company left, either to start their own companies or join others. Multiple game prototypes were tested out while the company tried to find something that satisfied them, including a concept prototype for what eventually became Travis and Erich's new baby, Rogue Galaxy.

    George Davison
    May 2014 - September 2015 Principal Graphics Programmer

    Now a West Coast Technical Director at City State Entertainment


    Ole CilioxNovember 2014 - Unknown. Señor Programmer. Current job status unknown.


    Jeremy MillerNovember 2013 - November 2017 Character Artist/ Lead Character Artist

    Current status unknown, possibly doing Freelance, possibly doing concept art for Warhammer Online.


    Sierra SoleilDecember 2014- November 2017 Senior Linux Administrator

    Now DevOps Engineer at Quadient


    Sophia MacDonnellOctober 2014 - October 2016 Gameplay Programmer

    Now a Software Engineer for 343 Industries


    Hob Development to the Shutdown
    Finally the new team decided to make Hob, a game that was part adventure, part giant puzzle, part Zelda clone, and also drew inspiration from multiple other games. I had a chance to try it in development twice, and it was fascinating to see what concepts were in the game from very early on to survive to release. Unfortunately very shortly after Hob was released Perfect World decided to shut down Runic Games, choosing to focus on multiplayer games instead of single player experiences. Unknown to the greater world at this time, the fabled Torchlight MMO, known now as Torchlight Frontiers had been in development for up to a year.


    James BallMay 2016- May 2017 Environment Artist

    Now a Senior Environment Artist at Harebrained Schemes


    Lauren DetjenJuly 2017 - October 2017 as Software Quality Assurance Tester

    Hey there! I’m Lauren, and I was brought onto the Runic team in the summer of 2017. I was primarily software QA with a dash of community support, such as helping folks on the Runic Games Discord channel as well as service tickets people would submit. While being there was short-lived for me, I’ve met and worked with some of the coolest people ever and would do it again in a heartbeat if I could.


    Currently, I’m working at Microsoft doing more or less the same work on State of Decay 2! I help out Undead Labs’ Discord server, peruse the /r/StateofDecay subreddit for issues and bugs, as well as testing both the latest builds and retail for problems people may be facing.


    Allen FongFebruary 2016 - November 2017 Chief Operating Officer

    Working on something unannounced.


    Tom Hanrahan
    April 2016 - April 2017

    Hey, I'm Tom Hanrahan and I was a Level Designer on Hob from April 2016 to April 2017. My biggest contribution to Hob was designing the dungeon where you get the punch upgrade. It was my first task when I started at Runic and definitely the area that I spent the most time on overall. Currently I work at Zynga where I design levels mostly in 2d (as opposed to a big 3d world like Hob) and it's been really fun and a cool change of pace, having spent all of my career working in 3d. I feel really privileged that I got to work at Runic and be a part of Hob. Thank you to everyone who played and enjoyed Hob, and thanks especially to the fans of Runic who keep the torch (pun intended) going.


    Kochun HuNovember 2015 - November 2017 Audio Lead

    Now only listed for Freelance Composer/ Sound Designer for Superhero Soundworks


    Gabe JacksonJune 2016 - May 2017

    The first time i saw Torchlight 2, I immediately thought "THIS is a game I'm designed to build art for"

    In 2015 I saw a Demo of hob and was blown away by the Uniqueness of the environments & overall ambiance.

    Little did I know the Runic team would bring me onboard in 2016.
    For nearly a year I helped the Art team build out & finalize a series of creatures & critters used to populate a dystopian land, long forgotten by time.
    I watched a unique world & all it's inhabitants come to life around me, as the hard work of my colleagues came to fruition. You have no idea what it's like to take an idea, work with others to build it, then watch it spring into Life; into Motion! As a Character Artist, that's what I live & grind for!


    Rick LesleyMarch 2015- October 2017 Level Designer, then Senior Level Designer

    Now a Game Designer at V1 Interactive, Int


    Kristina NessDecember 2015 - November 2017 Senior Concept Artist

    Now listed as a Concept Artist for Valve and System Era Softworks


    Joshua MillerI was a last minute addition to the QA team for Hob. I came near the end of development working to find any game breaking bugs and have the honor of testing out all the achievements. I also played fetch with Falcor as part of regular runic responsibilities. Working at runic re-ignited my passion for games and is why I'm studying game art and development during my free time. A man still has to pay the bills though, and after the launch of Hob, I went on to the Xbox Game Store team before eventually transitioning to my current role at Expedia earlier this year. Now I help to manage projects but I miss the games industry.


    Nick SouthamMay 2016 - Unknown as a Concept Artist

    Now possibly a Concept Artist at 5thCell


    John VeneronI'm John Veneron, I was the producer at Runic from 2016-2017 on Hob. In addition to owning the schedule, defining team milestones, and organizing everything process, I was also responsible for running playtests, playing the absolute crap out of the game, and all aspects of studio personnel management. Since I left Runic in the summer of 2017, I've released multiple patches for Rock Band 4 - can you believe it is still in active development? After wrapping up work on RB4, I moved from Seattle to my home town of Rochester, NY, where I am focused on growing the local game development community.


    Uncertain

    Paul RichardsConcept Artist for Hob, other info unknown


    Leo Miller

    Rachel Shapiro
    Aaron Wardell
    Ian WelkeDates Unlisted, but job title appears to have been Quality Assurance Manager

    Current status unknown


    Matt WyattAppears to have been the company Accountant

    Now a Revenue Account Manager for Unity Technologies


    Final Thoughts and an Announcement
    As you can see, there are a lot of groupings where either former Runic employees left to form their own studio or joined the same company to come back together. For the most part it sounds like nearly everyone found work after leaving Runic, which is a huge relief! On the other hand, it pretty much kills off the notion some fans had that they might refound again as a new studio.

    So that.... that brings the story of Runic Games to an end. The Torchlight franchise is living on with Max, Justin, Matt Uelmen and the Echtra team, and we're excited to see where that goes.

    As for Runic Games Fansite... well this will likely be the final article written under that name. We're going to be rebranding to a new domain name very soon, so the story of Runic Games Fansite will also be born again as something new. I hope you all stick around to see what happens next!