Basics About Arcen (Ar-ken) Games

Arcen (pronounced with a hard c, like “ken”) was founded in 2009 by Chris McElligott Park (that’s me!). A lot of really talented folks have worked with me over the years in both fulltime and part-time capacities, but the company has always been relatively small.

If you’d like a really comprehensive history of what our history has been and how it has played out, I have a full company history for you.  It is stupidly detailed, clocking in at novella-length, but is still just the abridged version.  The same questions kept coming up in interviews and AMAs and so on.  Now it’s all in one place.

So what’s this company about, in the TLDR sense?  I guess I would have to say: giving players opportunities to feel clever.  There’s been more strategy games by us than any other genre, but I really don’t consider myself a strategy game developer.  I love most genres of game.

Future Plans

At the time of writing, I’ve been doing this fulltime for 12 years, but I’m still constantly learning and finding gaps in my understanding of this ever-changing, evolving market.  I strongly suspect that my core design approach for most of my career was backwards, for example.  We’ll see how that plays out in future titles, but I’m excited to be able to continue to work on projects both large and small.

After AI War 2 finally wraps, the plan is to get back to smaller games that are fun within the first five minutes and only grow from there.  It’s a bit of a different approach to most of the larger projects that we’ve done over the years, but I look forward to putting some of what I’ve learned into practice in a project beyond AI War 2.

The Arcenverse

Most of our games are set in a large internally-consistent “Arcenverse.”  It’s a really rich sci-fi landscape that spans a few trillion years of history and future, and which has ties between most of our games.   All of our hard sci fi games are in one large shared multiverse (you can think of it as mostly being a single universe, but your own choices in any given game are part of what perpetuate the multiverse, since any way you play is considered canonical).  If you want to know about it all in insane detail, of course I have that for you.

Music

If you’re wondering about the awesome music in our games, that is always the incomparable Pablo Vega.  He’s been here since literally the first month the company existed, and we’ve both been growing in our respective disciplines together.  His incredibly talented wife Hunter Vega is often heard on vocals, and other times his smooth tenor is what you hear.  The two of them in duet is always something to behold.

Hey, My Last Name!

Oh!  It is worth noting that my last name changed in 2020.  I was born Christopher Michael Park, and went by Chris Park or Christopher M. Park.  I went through a rough divorce in 2018 after an 18 year relationship.  After floundering around for a while, I met and later married the brilliant Dr. Kara McElligott.  

I thought it was kind of old-fashioned for just the woman to change her name, and besides which we both had large bodies of work referencing our “maiden” names.  She had already decided to change her name to McElligott Park, and I decided I would do the same.  We blended our families, as we both already had children, and I wanted to have a name in common with both my daughter and son.  Also, frankly, her family is amazing and talented and I was just really proud to add McElligott to my name.

So that’s me now: full name is Christopher Michael McElligott Park.  But I professionally now go by Chris McElligott Park.

Developing Under My Own Name, Publishing Via Arcen

Starting with Calling the Rain, the two “Developer Studios” you will see on the next few titles will be Chris McElligott Park and Pablo Vega.  The publisher will still be Arcen Games.  These are smaller and more personal works, and feel a lot more like novels in how they are being created, so this just felt like the right thing to do.  I am not personally interchangeable with Arcen, and I have never enjoyed being referred to as “they” in the press if it’s something that is a more solo project.  For a lot of years we absolutely were a company, a collective, a “they.”  That’s no longer the reality, so I’d prefer to signal that with this developer mark:

Yep, I love chickens.  Right now I have ten.

They are the dinosaurs I always wanted.