One of the most recognisable Polish video game creators, co-author of, among others, The Mystery of the Statuette, Teenagent, Painkiller, Bulletstorm, and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Born in 1971 in Lubin.
Video game designer
Chmielarz started creating games in 1986, when he went to high school. His first experiments in coding did not stand a chance of surviving to this day (in a conversation with Culture.pl, he vividly compares the durability of games recorded on audio tapes to notes made on napkins).
After a period of selling games at a computer market, in 1992 he founded, together with Grzegorz Miechowski – a friend from school – the Metropolis company. The company was responsible for such games – nowadays described in Poland as cult – as The Mystery of the Statuette (1993), Teenagent (1994), and The Prince and the Coward (1998).
In 1999, Chmielarz left Metropolis, and in 2002, he established, together with Andrzej Poznański and Michał Kosieradzki, People Can Fly studio, which in 2004 created Painkiller. The first person shooter met with international success. As Chmielarz explains, the popularity of the game resulted from its quality and from the fact that it offered a ‘joyful massacre.’
When I think about Painkiller, the name of one game making studio comes to mind: Attention to Detail. When we were creating Painkiller, there was no room for compromises in any area: gameplay, music, sound, animation, or graphics – everything had to be absolutely perfect.
In his book Nie tylko Wiedźmin. Historia polskich gier komputerowych (Not Only The Witcher. The Story Behind Polish Video Games), Marcin Kosman writes about Painkiller:
The multiplayer mode calling to mind Quake […] and metal music accompanying the firefight gained a lot of praise. The graphic design was also well received. Yet the engine of Painkiller was constructed by a modest twenty-person studio, lacking funds for a verified license.
In the People Can Fly studio, Chmielarz also worked on the conversion of the console game Gears of War for computers, as well as on the game Bulletstorm. He also contributed to the creation of the game Gears of War: Judgement, even though, as he claims – many things changed in the game after he left the studio (in 2012) and he doesn’t feel like it is a project he can take responsibility for.
Polish game designer
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
epic games poland
people can fly
In 2012, Chmielarz founded the independent studio The Astronauts together with Kosieradzki and Poznański – with whom ten years earlier he created People Can Fly. Their first project was the adventure game The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. This game – unlike Painkiller or Bulletstorm – provided as much rapid action as unsettling intrigue and the possibility of conducting of a crime investigation filled with literary allusions (even the name of the studio makes a deliberate reference to Stanisław Lem’s novel). The game stood out thanks to a detailed and realistic graphic design (achieved through the application of photogrammetry technique), an innovative, immersive interface project, and uncommon plot.
Initially (in September 2014), the game was only released for PCs. Within eight months, its authors managed to sell 250,000 copies of the game, which not only gave them an investment return, but also enabled them to work on another title, which has not been announced yet. The sales performance and awards (including the prestigious British Academy Games Award for ‘game innovation of the year’), as well as high ratings were achieved despite a low marketing budget (as Chmielarz claims, the budget counted… approx. $1,500). In July 2015, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was also released on Playstation 4 (according to the creators, they saw double the return of the cost of adapting the game to the new platform within a week of its release).
Author: Piotr Kubiński, transl. AM, January 2017