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Looking Glass Studios

Looking Glass Studios

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Looking Glass Studios was a computer game development company during the 1990s.

The company originally formed as Looking Glass Technologies, when Blue Sky Productions and Lerner Research merged.

Their games were regarded for demonstrating innovative gameplay, pioneering physics simulation
Game physics
Computer animation physics or game physics involves the introduction of the laws of physics into a simulation or game engine, particularly in 3D computer graphics, for the purpose of making the effects appear more real to the observer...

, and well-written, engaging stories. However, many of their games, despite wide critical acclaim, sold poorly in comparison to contemporary rivals.

Their best known games series were Ultima Underworld, System Shock
System Shock
System Shock is a first-person action-adventure video game developed by Looking Glass Technologies and published by Origin Systems. Released in 1994, the game is set aboard the fictional Citadel Station in a cyberpunk vision of 2072...

, and Thief
Thief (series)
Thief is a series of stealth video games in which the player takes the role of Garrett, a thief in a fantasy/steampunk world resembling a cross between the Late Middle Ages and the Victorian era, with more advanced technologies interspersed...

. In 1997, the company merged with Intermetrics, Inc
Intermetrics
Intermetrics, Inc. was a software company founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1969 by several veterans of M.I.T.'s Instrumentation Laboratory who had worked on the software for NASA's Apollo Program including the Apollo Guidance Computer....

 to become Intermetrics Entertainment Software, LLC
Limited liability company
A limited liability company is a flexible form of enterprise that blends elements of partnership and corporate structures. It is a legal form of company that provides limited liability to its owners in the vast majority of United States jurisdictions...

. Intermetrics became AverStar after it acquired Pacer Infotech in February 1998. In March 1999, Intermetrics divested
Divestment
In finance and economics, divestment or divestiture is the reduction of some kind of asset for either financial or ethical objectives or sale of an existing business by a firm...

 Looking Glass Studios Inc. The company went out of business on May 24, 2000 during a financial crisis related to their publisher at the time, Eidos Interactive
Eidos Interactive
Eidos Interactive Ltd. is a British video game publisher and is a label of Square Enix Europe. As an independent company Eidos plc was headquartered in the Wimbledon Bridge House in Wimbledon, London Borough of Merton....

.

Originally based in Lexington
Lexington, Massachusetts
Lexington is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 31,399 at the 2010 census. This town is famous for being the site of the first shot of the American Revolution, in the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775.- History :...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, in 1994 the company moved to Cambridge
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

. A significant number of Looking Glass personnel were MIT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

 graduates. Looking Glass also had satellite offices in Redmond, Washington
Redmond, Washington
Redmond is a city in King County, Washington, United States, located east of Seattle. The population was 54,144 at the 2010 census,up from 45,256 in 2000....

, Austin, TX
Austin, Texas
Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of :Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 14th most populous city in the United States. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in...

 and Huntington Beach, California.

People


After the company folded, people from Looking Glass went on to work at Ion Storm
Ion Storm Inc.
Ion Storm Inc. was a Texas based developer of computer games founded by John Romero, Tom Hall , Todd Porter, and Jerry O'Flaherty, under the slogan "Design is Law"...

, Irrational Games
Irrational Games
Irrational Games is a video game developer founded in 1997 by three former employees of Looking Glass Studios: Ken Levine, Jonathan Chey, and Robert Fermier as Irrational Games...

, Harmonix, Mad Doc Software
Mad Doc Software
Rockstar New England, formerly Mad Doc Software, is a computer game development company founded in 1999 by Dr. Ian Lane Davis. The company is based in New England in Andover, Massachusetts, just north of Boston.-Overview:...

, Arkane Studios
Arkane Studios
Arkane Studios is a video game developer based in Lyon, France. It was founded in 1999, and released its first game, Arx Fatalis, in 2002. Arkane Studios opened an Austin, Texas-based office in July 2006....

, Valve
Valve Corporation
Valve Corporation is an American video game development and digital distribution company based in Bellevue, Washington, United States...

, and to found Floodgate Entertainment
Floodgate Entertainment
Floodgate Entertainment is a Boston-based video game developer, founded by Paul Neurath in 2000. Many of the company's employees are former Looking Glass Studios employees....

 and Digital Eel
Digital Eel
Digital Eel is a self-funded independent video game development team located in the Seattle, Washington area. The group was formed in 2001 by Rich Carlson , Iikka Keränen and Bill "Phosphorus" Sears .-Developers:*Rich Carlson - design, sound, music and art*Iikka Keränen - design, code and...

, amongst other later studios. Ion Storm Austin developed Deus Ex
Deus Ex
Deus Ex is an action role-playing game developed by Ion Storm Inc. and published by Eidos Interactive in 2000, which combines gameplay elements of first-person shooters with those of role-playing video games...

, Deus Ex: Invisible War
Deus Ex: Invisible War
Deus Ex: Invisible War is an action role-playing game developed by Ion Storm Inc. and published by Eidos Interactive. Released simultaneously for Microsoft Windows and the Xbox video game console on December 2, 2003, the game is a sequel to the critically acclaimed Deus Ex...

, the second game in the Deus Ex series and Thief: Deadly Shadows
Thief: Deadly Shadows
Thief: Deadly Shadows is a stealth video game in which the player takes the role of Garrett, a master thief. It is set in a fantasy/steampunk world resembling a cross between the Late Middle Ages and the Victorian era, with more advanced technologies interspersed...

, the third game in the Thief series. Arkane Studios went on to develop Arx Fatalis
Arx Fatalis
Arx Fatalis is a partially open source first-person role-playing video game for the Xbox and PC, released on November 2002 by Arkane Studios, a video game developer based in Lyon, France....

, a dungeon crawling game that bore heavy resemblance to Looking Glass' cult series Ultima Underworld, and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, additionally subtitled Elements on Xbox 360, is a first-person action game developed by Arkane Studios and Floodgate Entertainment. Kuju Entertainment developed the multiplayer mode...

, which was co-designed by Floodgate. Ex-Looking Glass personnel have worked on such games as Deus Ex
Deus Ex
Deus Ex is an action role-playing game developed by Ion Storm Inc. and published by Eidos Interactive in 2000, which combines gameplay elements of first-person shooters with those of role-playing video games...

, Guitar Hero, Rock Band
Rock Band
Rock Band is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems, published by MTV Games and Electronic Arts. It is the first title in the Rock Band series. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were released in the United States on November 20, 2007, while the PlayStation 2 version was...

, Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2 , the sequel to Half-Life, is a first-person shooter video game and a signature title in the Half-Life series. It is singleplayer, story-driven, science fiction, and linear...

, Freedom Force
Freedom Force (2002 video game)
Freedom Force is a real-time tactical role-playing game developed by Irrational Games and published by Electronic Arts and Crave Entertainment in 2002. The player guides a team of superheroes as they defend Patriot City from a variety of villains, monsters, and other menaces. A sequel, Freedom...

, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a single-player action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks and the Take-Two Interactive subsidiary 2K Games...

, Fallout 3
Fallout 3
Fallout 3 is an action role-playing game released by Bethesda Game Studios, and the third major installment in the Fallout series. The game was released in North America, Europe and Australia in October 2008, and in Japan in December 2008 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360...

, Bioshock
Bioshock
BioShock is a first-person shooter video game developed by 2K Boston and designed by Ken Levine. It was released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 on August 21, 2007 in North America, and three days later in Europe and Australia. It became available on Steam on August 21, 2007...

, Empire Earth II, Boom Blox
Boom Blox
Boom Blox is a puzzle video game for the Wii console, mobile devices and N-Gage 2.0 developed by EA Los Angeles in conjunction with film director Steven Spielberg. The game was released on May 6, 2008, in North America and on May 9, 2008, in Europe...

, and Star Trek: Armada II among others.

The following people worked on projects with Looking Glass Studios (by no means an all-inclusive list):
  • Steve Aarnio
  • Jonathan Arnold
  • Sean Barrett
  • Seamus Blackley
    Seamus Blackley
    Seamus Blackley is a former agent with Creative Artists Agency representing video game creators.After entering Tufts University to study jazz piano, Blackley switched to study physics and graduated Summa cum Honore en Tesis. As a sophomore, he published his first paper in the Journal of Magnetic...

  • Eric Brosius
    Eric Brosius
    Eric Brosius is a musician and video game developer, and a former employee of Looking Glass Studios. He is a former member of the band Tribe, and is married to Terri Brosius, also a former Looking Glass employee and Tribe member....

  • Terri Brosius
    Terri Brosius
    Terri Brosius is an American musician and voice actor, best known in computer gaming circles as the voice of SHODAN in the System Shock series.-Tribe:...

  • Wes Carroll
    Wes Carroll
    Wes Carroll is one of the pioneering practitioners of vocal percussion in contemporary a cappella music. He is credited as a primary teacher of this art form, primarily through instructional videos and DVDs first created in the late 1990s.He was the founding vocal percussionist for the Boston...

  • Rich Carlson
  • Dr. Cat
    Dr. Cat
    Dr. Cat is president, co-founder, executive producer and creative director of Dragon's Eye Productions. He is best known for creating the 2003 Independent Games Festival finalist MMORPG Furcadia with game artist Talzhemir...

  • Jon Chey
  • Doug Church
    Doug Church
    Doug Church is an American computer game designer and producer. He attended MIT in the late 1980s, but left and went to work with Looking Glass Studios, when they were making primarily MS-DOS-based first-person adventure/shooter/roleplaying games, including Ultima Underworld, Ultima Underworld II,...

  • Michael Dornbrook
  • Austin Grossman
    Austin Grossman
    Austin Grossman [b. ] is a writer and game designer who has contributed to the New York Times and a number of video games.He is the author of the novel Soon I Will Be Invincible, which was published by Pantheon Books in 2007....

  • Frank Kane
  • Iikka Keränen
    Iikka Keränen
    Ilkka Keränen, a native of Finland, lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Rose and two cats. He is a level designer at Valve Software. He also co-founded Digital Eel, an independent video game development group, in 2001...

  • Marc LeBlanc
    Marc LeBlanc
    Marc "Mahk" LeBlanc is an educator about and designer of video games.LeBlanc attended MIT where he received a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science....

  • Ken Levine
  • Greg LoPiccolo
  • Mike Chrzanowski
  • Art Min
  • Paul Neurath
    Paul Neurath
    Paul Neurath is a veteran game designer and creative director in the computer game industry. He founded both Blue Sky Productions and Floodgate Entertainment. He is currently Creative Director of Zynga Boston....

  • Emil Pagliarulo
    Emil Pagliarulo
    Emil Pagliarulo is a video game designer working for Bethesda Softworks since 2002. He is best known for being the lead designer of Fallout 3, for which he received the Best Writing award at the 2008 Game Developers Choice Awards.- Video game credits :...

  • Michael Ryan
  • Bruce Seder
  • Dan Schmidt
  • Harvey Smith
  • Randy Smith
    Randy Smith (game designer)
    Randy Smith is a game designer who has worked extensively on the Thief series with both Looking Glass Studios and Ion Storm Austin. In addition, Smith has participated in the Indie Game Jam....

  • Rob Caminos
  • Warren Spector
    Warren Spector
    Warren Spector is a role-playing game designer and a video game designer. He is known for having worked to merge elements of role-playing games and first-person shooters. He currently resides in Austin, Texas with his wife, fantasy writer Caroline L. Spector...

  • Tim Stellmach
  • Allen Varney
    Allen Varney
    Allen Varney is an American writer and game designer born in St. Louis, Missouri. He has a dual B.A. in English and History from the University of Nevada, Reno....

  • Sara Verrilli
  • Mike Kulas
  • Nathaniel Thurston
  • Matt Toschlog
  • Jeff Dixon

  • List of titles


    List of video games developed by Looking Glass Studios
    • System Shock
      System Shock
      System Shock is a first-person action-adventure video game developed by Looking Glass Technologies and published by Origin Systems. Released in 1994, the game is set aboard the fictional Citadel Station in a cyberpunk vision of 2072...

    • System Shock 2
      System Shock 2
      System Shock 2 is a 1999 first-person action role-playing video game, designed by Ken Levine for Microsoft Windows. The title is a sequel to the 1994 PC game System Shock, and was co-developed by Irrational Games and Looking Glass Studios...

    • Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri
      Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri
      Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri is a 1996 tactical first-person shooter video game developed and published by Looking Glass Technologies. Set in a science fictional depiction of the 24th century, the game follows a faction of humans who colonize the Alpha Centauri star system to escape from a...

    • Thief: The Dark Project
      Thief: The Dark Project
      Thief: The Dark Project is a 1998 first-person stealth game developed for Windows by Looking Glass Studios and published by Eidos Interactive...

    • Thief II: The Metal Age
      Thief II: The Metal Age
      Thief II: The Metal Age is a 2000 first-person stealth game developed by Looking Glass Studios and published by Eidos Interactive. The sequel to Thief: The Dark Project, the game's plot follows Garrett, a master thief, as he attempts to uncover a conspiracy in a medieval, steampunk city...

    • Flight Unlimited
      Flight Unlimited
      Flight Unlimited is a 1995 aerobatic flight simulator video game developed and published by Looking Glass Technologies. It allows players to pilot reproductions of real-world aircraft and to perform aerobatic maneuvers. They may fly freely, race through floating rings against a timer or take...

    • Flight Unlimited 2 (1997)
    • Flight Unlimited 3 (1999)


    Lerner Research

    • Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer
      Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer
      Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer is a 1987 computer aircraft simulation game produced by Electronic Arts that was orginially released as Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Simulator...

      (1987)
    • F-22 Interceptor
      F-22 Interceptor
      F-22 Interceptor is a 1991 flight simulator created by Ned Lerner and Gene Kusmiak. It was released by Electronic Arts and Ingram Entertainment for the Mega Drive/Genesis....

      for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis
      Sega Mega Drive
      The Sega Genesis is a fourth-generation video game console developed and produced by Sega. It was originally released in Japan in 1988 as , then in North America in 1989 as Sega Genesis, and in Europe, Australia and other PAL regions in 1990 as Mega Drive. The reason for the two names is that...

       (1991)
    • Car and Driver
      Car and Driver (game)
      Car and Driver is a computer racing game, developed by Lerner Research and published by Electronic Arts in 1992.- Cars :*Porsche 959*Ferrari F40*Lotus Esprit V8*Lamborghini Countach*Shelby Cobra*Ferrari 250GTO*Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1...

      (1992)

    External links