Space Dust Studios / Varkian Empire
Based in Melbourne, Australia

Founding date:
February 22, 2013


Press / Business Contact:



+61 401 482 120


Space Dust Studios Pty Ltd is a video game developer from Melbourne, Australia. The company trades internationally as Varkian Empire. The team are former developers from Visceral Games, Crystal Dynamics and Atari, and have contributed to franchises such as Battlefield, Need For Speed, Tomb Raider, Dead Space, Burnout and Silent Hill. They are currently working on their debut party combat racer "Obliteracers" for PC, Xbox One and PS4.


Early history

Space Dust Studios was founded in 2013 by veteran game developers Nathan Thomas, Michael Davies, Grigor Pedrioli, Glen Stuart, and Stephen Honegger. Prior to Space Dust Studios the team had worked together for over a decade on AAA titles for Electronic Arts, Crystal Dynamics, Transmission Games and Atari Melbourne House. During this time they contributed to franchises including Battlefield, Need For Speed, Tomb Raider, Dead Space, Burnout and Silent Hill. The closure of Visceral Games Australia was the catalyst that led to the birth of their own studio and its creative vision: to independently produce PC and console games that live up to AAA expectations.

Current project: Obliteracers

The studio began by prototyping two original IPs, leveraging their experience with multiplayer, science fiction and vehicular gameplay. They then pitched to investors within Australia and abroad. Their concept for an intergalactic party racing game was approved by Film Victoria Australia, allowing them to produce a vertical slice demo codenamed "Space Dust Racers" which featured one track and two characters from the final game. This caught the attention of Microsoft and Sony at GDC, who registered them shortly after as developers for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. They later titled the game "Obliteracers", and have been blogging candidly about their workflow and challenges.

Director biography: Nathan Thomas

With over 17 years experience in video game development, Nathan has worked across nearly every aspect of game art, including art direction, concept design, 3D, lighting and UI. He has also worked internationally at companies such as Electronic Arts and Crystal Dynamics, and his passion is working with great people on cool ideas, creating worlds that are just as interesting as they are fun to play in.

Director biography: Michael Davies

Michael Davies is an all-rounder software engineer with over a decade of professional video games experience and a Bachelor of Computer Science from the University of Melbourne. He has worked internationally as a senior and lead gameplay engineer on a wide range of platforms, genres and titles. His areas of interest include gameplay, artificial intelligence, networking, audio, and user interfaces. Beyond his professional video games career, he has designed and released several independent video games for iOS and PC, and developed augmented-reality installations for retail spaces.

Director biography: Grigor Pedrioli

Grigor is a multi-disciplined Senior Artist with over 12 years experience in the games industry. An exceptional artist with extensive experience working as an environment artist, vehicle and prop artist, lighting artist, VFX artist and level designer. Grigor's games development career began as a quality assurance technician at Atari Melbourne House. The practical and technical knowledge forged during this time in QA has given Grigor a great understanding of all aspects of the games development process. Prior to games development, Grigor worked for many years in production management at some of Australia's premier video and film production companies.

Director biography: Glen Stuart

Glen Stuart is a seasoned software engineer with a passion for graphics, rendering and optimisation. With close to a decade of professional video games development under his belt, working on a variety of titles, across multiple platforms and genres, he has gained experience performing in multiple programming roles. Whether as an engine programmer or a member of the core game teams, he has designed, implemented and maintained systems including large scale rendering, lighting, particle and effects systems, as well as animation, math and core systems. In other roles he has been tasked with research and development, prototype development, creating exciting gameplay mechanics and AI for single player and networked multi-player games. Working closely with artists and designers, he has helped create multiple AAA titles.

Director biography: Stephen Honegger

Stephen is a Senior Environment artist with over eight years experience in the games industry. Specialising in highly detailed environment models and props, Stephen is an expert 3D modeller and texture artist with an exceptional eye for detail. As well as working in games development, Stephen is a renowned video and installation artist who has participated in a wide range of individual, collaborative and curated exhibitions in Australia and overseas. Coming from a fine art background, Stephen has an in depth understanding of the principles and elements of visual art, which greatly enhance the work that he produces as a digital artist.



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Selected Articles

  • "IGM Interviews: Space Dust Studios (Space Dust Racers) – Part One"
    - Interview (May 2015), Indie Game Magazine
  • "IGM Interviews: Space Dust Studios (Space Dust Racers) – Part Two"
    - Interview (May 2015), Indie Game Magazine
  • "IGM Interviews: Space Dust Studios (Space Dust Racers) – Part Three"
    - Interview (May 2015), Indie Game Magazine
  • "Space Dust Racers is a combat racing game that supports up to sixteen players via the use of their smartphones as controllers for the game. I got in contact with Space Dust Studios to talk a bit more in depth about the control choices, weather effects, and other features of their game."
    - Interview (April 2015), Indie Games
  • "Former developers from EA and Visceral Games (Battlefield 4, Need For Speed: Rivals, Dead Space) are working hard on a cool game Space Dust Racers. We’ve met the guys at GDC 2015 and immediately wanted to talk about the project, Unreal Engine 4 and the advantages and disadvantages of making games in Australia."
    - Interview (March 2015), 80 Level
  • "We at Xsolla had the chance to recently interview Space Dust Studios Lead Gameplay Developer, Michael Davies, and see what he and his team have been excitedly producing including coverage of their newest unreleased game, Space Dust Racers."
    - Interview (June 2014), Xsolla Blog

presskit() by Rami Ismail (Vlambeer) - also thanks to these fine folks