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The untold truth of Landon Montgomery

Landon Montgomery, co-founder of Gearbox Software, has tragically died. A titan of the gaming industry, Montgomery got his start working as an artist and level designer at Bethesda in the late '90s before moving on to help establish Gearbox. According to Shacknews, the developer was 46 at the time of his passing. The cause of his death has not been released to the public.

Though his life appears to have been tragically cut short, Montgomery made a number of contributions to the gaming world over the previous two decades. He helped shape several beloved franchises, including Borderlands and Half-Life, and spent the past half a year working as a producer at Nvidia, a company that has revolutionized gaming with its super-powered graphic processing units.

As the community mourns the passing of one of its own, take a moment to reflect on the ways Montgomery influenced the industry, touching the lives of thousands of gamers in the process.

Montgomery knew who he wanted to be

Landon Montgomery knew what he wanted to do with his life at an early age. Not many can say the same. In a Click Here Labs blog post, he stated, "When I was seven years old, I wrote a single-page story boldly predicting that I would play professional soccer in Alaska when I grew up. That, or I'd become a writer. Failing either of these (apparently, I was a rather paranoid wee lad), I'd just make video games for a living." He admitted that he'd never been to Alaska, but marveled at his younger self's predictive powers. 

After departing Bethesda, Montgomery spent a year and a half at Rebel Boat Rocker, a game development studio that dissolved after splitting with publisher Electronic Arts. He and some of his co-workers received a fateful call from Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve Software, who asked if they would be interested in creating an expansion pack for Half-Life. This is how Gearbox Studios was born, starting small and cramped in a strip mall before blossoming into the powerhouse studio you know it as today.

A jack of all trades

After shipping Half-Life: Opposing Force, Montgomery and the team at Gearbox started working on some projects that would go on to become classics. Back in the late '90s and early 2000s, game developer were often jacks-of-all-trades, and Montgomery's resume certainly reflects this. He worked on art, models, and animation for the original Half-Life. He was the director of development for 007: Nightfire. He worked on animation for three Brothers in Arms titles, serving as the lead animator for Road to Hill 30 and D-Day. He also worked on Halo: Combat Evolved

There's no denying Montgomery's influence on the industry. "If it wasn't for Halo: Combat Evolved I don't think I would have ever entered game design," said one game designer. "I'm heartbroken, Landon Montgomery and the games that he had helped produced have impacted me in a very personal way, and have had a lasting effect on me and the stories that I like to tell," wrote another fan.

Landon Montgomery's legacy

News of Montgomery's passing broke via a tweet from Gearbox Studios, which read, "We are heartbroken after learning today of the passing of one of our co-founders, Landon Montgomery. In our earliest years, Landon played a big role in helping to set our path. We will always be thankful and remember him for being a part of our lives. During this trying time, our thoughts, support, and affection are with those who were closest to him." 

In response, hundreds of fans expressed their condolences, while others recalled their favorite memories with the games he had a hand in making. Fellow Gearbox co-founder Randy Pitchford took to Twitter and reminisced about some of his fondest moments with Montgomery. Though he had not seen him in some time, Pitchford expressed his shock over the loss, a sentiment many echoed as they called for another Brother In Arms game or a Borderlands DLC memorializing Montgomery's life and achievements.