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The Indian programmer had spent a decade at Activision working across every Black Ops instalment to date and specialises in online, tools and gameplay programming.
Most notably, Nandakumar helped create the Theatre Mode in the original Black Ops – the first time a replay feature was featured in Call of Duty – and also lead data instrumentation & analytics for Treyarch’s recent titles.
Nintendo announced in early 2019 that it had decided to “restart development from the beginning” for Metroid Prime 4, with producer Kensuke Tanabe calling in series creator Retro to take over the project from its original, unannounced developer.
Retro has been hiring for Metroid Prime 4 ever since and its jobs page is still advertising for a lead animator and boss/AI designer, among other roles.
One recent hire is Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst and Battlefield V art director Jhony Ljungstedt. Retro had been advertising for an art director role for more than a year before Ljungstedt’s hiring.
Veteran Halo creative Kyle Hefley, also joined as the studio’s new lead character artist in August 2019.
Hefley acted as senior character modeller for the Halo series and modelled many of the armoured super-soldiers and alien warriors that appeared in Halo 4, Halo 5 and the upcoming Halo Infinite, including Halo 5’s Master Chief.
New Super Lucky’s Tale and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze lead designer Stephen Dupree re-joined Retro in late 2019 after a two-year absence.
Bryan Erck, who was previously the lead VFX artist for Crystal Dynamics’ Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Nicholas Wilson, who spent 12 years at Borderlands studio Gearbox, have also joined Retro as senior VFX artists.
Around half of the full-time developers who worked on Metroid Prime 3 remain at Retro Studios, according to VGC analysis conducted in August 2019.
It found that a core team of around 50 people worked full-time on the 2007 Wii shooter and around 27 remained at the developer, including four contractors made permanent.
Crucially, five of Metroid Prime 3’s 11 designers were still at Retro and potentially working on the upcoming Metroid Prime 4.
However, from the original Metroid Prime – which released almost two decades ago – less than 10 of the 40-plus team members remained at Retro and virtually all of the lead creators had moved on.
It’s currently unclear if Texas-based Retro is working on any projects in addition to Metroid.