The story of Irrational, the studio that closed to rediscover its roots

Tracking DNA

This article first appeared in PC Gamer Magazine Edition 354, as part of the “DNA Tracing” series, where every month we delve into the strains of popular games and studios.

Why choose the name illogical? Because, while it would someday be worth millions to a major American publisher, founding the studio was not a reasonable decision. John Che, Rob Vermeer, and Ken Levine have all left full-time jobs at Looking Glass Studios, and only one of them has shipped a game. The year was 1997, and so there was no way for a small studio to distribute games independently – they had to rely on the publishers’ blind faith.

It turned out as you’d expect: within three weeks, Irrational’s first deal was canceled. The game was FireTeam, a Counter-Strike-style tactical shooting game co-designed by Harvey Smith of Arkane. Irrational was tasked with developing a single player campaign, until the publisher decided that FireTeam simply didn’t need one.

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