Nels is probably the only Canadian game developer who was born & raised in Wyoming. Now in Vancouver, he is Sonderlust Studios' Creative Director. He has been making games professionally for over a decade, starting as a gameplay programmer on DeathSpank before joining Klei Entertainment as lead designer on Mark of the Ninja. After finishing Ninja, he left to help start Campo Santo and create Firewatch. His Campo colleagues went on to join Valve while Nels started a new team that would become Sonderlust. He could not imagine being happier than with the team he gets to work with now.
Nels believes systems are the beating heart of games. And those systems can enable a unique collaboration between creators(s) and players. Games can invite their players to develop richer understandings of a complicated system's dynamics with clever metaphor and construction. They can put the player and their decisions at the centre of the experience. They can enable profound agency and plant the seed of empathy. They can empower by posing, "Here are the rules, now what do YOU want to do?" Nels believes Sonderlust's first game can capture these qualities in an exciting new way.
Nels also plays a whole heap of video games, board games, tabletop RPGs and he was really into Netrunner for a while there. He also loves history, baking and to ensure he remains a cartoonish parody of a Vancouverite, he's super into rock climbing, sushi and brews his own kombucha.
Thief, Dark Souls, Planescape: Torment, Final Fantasy VI, Far Cry 2
Brett is Sonderlust’s Technical Director. At the start of his 20+ years in the industry, he worked as a generalist and lead programmer at LucasArts on the Star Wars games Starfighter, Jedi Starfighter, and Republic Commando. After LucasArts and a few years of consulting, he did a stint at Bethesda Game Studios as the Lead Systems Programmer on Skyrim, with contributions to both Fallout 3 and 4. After deciding to take a break from AAA development, he returned to consulting and even taught a game design class before co-founding Sonderlust Studios.
Brett lives to use his own creative abilities to help his collaborators reach their fullest creative expression, to code up the potential for universes, to help those universes spark to life. If his collaborators can dream it, he wants to help them build it.
When not coding Sonderlust’s underlying systems or the tools to help populate them, you can usually find Brett reading, watching movies, cooking up a storm, or playing board games and tabletop RPGs with his kids. He’s also the co-host of Dev Game Club, a weekly podcast which looks at older games to discuss their impact today.
Shadow of the Colossus, Uncharted 2, Advent.exe, Drop7, whatever JRPG he’s playing this month
A Nova Scotia denizen now residing in Toronto, Lyndsey is Sonderlust Studios’ Art Director & UI/UX designer. With 8 years of game industry experience, Lyndsey spent the early years of her career visually designing mobile games that were enjoyed by over 50 million players. Though the challenges of making great visuals on teeny-tiny screens for the kind of hardware specs that have to fit in your pocket was a cool challenge, she eventually quit mobile games to pursue making the kind of games she actually played: the ones she wanted to make since she was a dorky 7 year old playing Warcraft I over a modem. After a brief stint freelancing for a variety of independent game studios, as well as in comics and film, she met the team at Sonderlust and is now making, without a doubt, the finest work she’s ever created.
Lyndsey is passionate about using visuals that create atmospheres that push the edge of familiarity and challenge classic visual genres in exciting new ways, as well as using visual direction to create atmospheres that communicate worldbuilding, so writing and mechanics can be free to challenge the player in different ways. Nobody plays games for the exposition via text! If we let the visuals take care of that, the rest of the game is free to shine.
Besides makin’ video games and art, Lyndsey is a yoga enthusiast, marathon runner, rabbit-owner, a pretty-dang-good cook, lover of karaoke, and the goofiest addition to any D&D campaign foolish enough to allow her to join. Oh, and she plays a lot of video games. Obvs.
Ultima Online, Final Fantasy Tactics, Dungeon Keeper II, Morrowind, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Stacey is an Oakland transplant with an east-coast soul, and Sonderlust Studios’ Narrative Director. She has been working in R&D roles for narrative games and interactive literature for the past 10 years. Stacey started her career as an editor and researcher for hypertext literature publisher Eastgate Systems. It was there that she first began pontificating on the internet, and found her voice as a critic and creator of experimental interactive literature. Since then, she’s made a career researching narrative and design technologies at places like Zynga, 2K Games, and most notably Telltale, where she was the creative lead for the R&D group. Her passion for boundary-pushing storytelling brought her to the Sonderlust team, where she has never been happier.
In addition to working on the industry side of games and narrative research, Stacey also leads a double-life as an academic. She holds the Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship at UC Santa Cruz and is working on a PhD in Computer Science looking specifically at using AI techniques to make game narratives feel more reactive. She frequently rants about the accessibility of academic research, and streams a lot of her research on Twitch.
Stacey is fascinated by stories that push the boundaries of how we think of narrative forms. As such, she’s an avid consumer of many forms of experimental narrative, ranging from interactive gallery art shows, to immersive theater experiences and questionably-legal ARGs.
When she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, Stacey also loves karaoke, wine tasting, running, going to local comedy and poetry shows, and trying new restaurants. She is also an amateur singer and flutist and attends musical theater, ballet, and symphony shows at every possible opportunity. And she plays a lot of video games.
Final Fantasy IV, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Street Fighter (any of them), Dark Souls, D, Transistor, Overwatch
From the far away lands of Gaspésie, Pier-Olivier now lives in Montréal, where he works as Sonderlust Studios' Environment Artist. He's been working in the industry for the past 6 years on various IP adaptations, original mobile games, and a multiplayer-only PC title. P-O wanted to continue experimenting and working on something new, and when he saw the beautiful work, team dynamic, and values of Sonderlust, he found a team he wanted to be a part of.
Pier-Olivier loves to create colorful and stylized 3D environments to immerse players in the world with the right amount of details and familiarity.
Pier-Olivier loves getting/designing tattoos, going to live music shows way too often, and playing games. He’s also been known to dance rockabilly jive pretty okay!
Bloodborne, Shadow of the Colossus, The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, Metal Gear Solid 3, Night in the Woods, Journey
James grew up in New Jersey (really, it's not that bad) and now works in Vancouver as Sonderlust's Technical Designer. He has been working in the games industry professionally and unprofessionally for the last 10 years, most recently spending 6 years as a Technical Designer at Klei Entertainment where he helped design and lead the team that created Invisible, Inc. He also contributed to many other projects including Don't Starve Together and Hot Lava. After leaving Klei, James developed several independent games before jumping at the opportunity to join the incredible team at Sonderlust.
James believes the best games are driven by systems that become much more than the sum of their parts. Great systems offer infinite possibilities, but the fun part is the way each possibility comes with a tangible, logical consequence. Drill into any one of these infinite points and you are greeted by a paired tree of possibility and consequence that expands out to touch each corner of your mind and live comfortably there until the sun rises and you realize you are only going to get two hours of sleep before work.
James is really into playing video games, board games, and card games. He also enjoys reading, cooking, and economics.
StarCraft, Counter-Strike, 868-HACK, Go, Persona 5, Day of the Tentacle
MALLORY "Z" SCHLEIF
Z is Sonderlust's Lead Writer. With over a decade of professional experience writing and designing games with BUNGiE, Vicarious Visions, Nintendo, Disney, and Dreamworks, Z is excited to break new ground with the Sonderlust team.
Formerly a field linguist studying indigenous language revitalization, Z is passionate about language, intersectional representation in media and media creation, and interactive storytelling in all its forms. She believes that creators have a responsibility to challenge their audiences to cultivate a sense of curiosity and compassion about other people and cultures; she believes that audiences have a responsibility to try to engage thoughtfully with media that showcases new perspectives outside of their own personal experiences.
She spends a lot of time stressin' about climate change and making fun of her dumb cattle dog with her wife.
Final Fantasy VI, Civilization, Journey, Undertale, Katamari Damacy, Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening