Aether Studios’ 3D follow-up to Rivals of Aether was teased on April 1 via Twitch. (Aether Studios image)

The makers of the hit indie game Rivals of Aether announced Monday that they’ve founded a new studio in Seattle to continue work on their next game.

Aether Studios is being built around its first project, a new, still-untitled fighting game with 3D graphics that’s set in the same universe as Rivals of Aether. It’s also planned to serve as the “front-facing home” of future work in the Aether universe, which includes a forthcoming series of comic books. The Aether games currently on the market will continue, at least for now, to be published through creator Dan Fornace‘s self-titled LLC.

The original game, Rivals of Aether, debuted on Windows and Xbox One in 2017. It’s self-billed as a “platform fighter,” putting it in the same genre as Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros., and was built by and for fans of that series. The original creator of Rivals, Fornace, worked at Microsoft Studios between 2011 and 2014, where he was the lead designer on the first season of content for the 2013 revival of Killer Instinct.

Like Smash, characters win in Rivals by throwing their opponents off-screen, rather than fighting to a knockout. The cast of Rivals are anthropomorphic animals, each of whom has been imbued with particular elemental powers, as part of a larger struggle between warring civilizations on the planet Aether.

Rivals has a pro league, the Rivals Championship Series, and two spin-offs. Lovers of Aether began as a 2019 April Fool’s joke, which recasts the characters as high school students in an all-ages dating simulator, and Creatures of Aether, a card game for mobile devices, launched last September.

With the founding of Aether Studios, this marks the official move to turn the world of Aether into a full-blown multimedia franchise, in part because many of the most popular fighting games on the market today are all drawing on universes with at least 20 years of lore behind them. There’s a lot of cultural momentum built up behind something like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, and Aether wants to tap into that.

“We want to build amazing fighting games,” the company wrote in its official announcement, “and we also want people to care about our roster of characters. Our other games and stories give us the chance to highlight our characters.”

Aether Studios is currently hiring staff to work on its 3D fighting game, including artists, animators, and programmers that are familiar with Unreal Engine 4.





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