This week, I’m going to depart a little from the usual insights into the world around Star Wars: The Old Republic
and talk about another studio that isn’t owned by LucasFilm
and certainly isn’t owned by Electronic Arts
. I’d like to talk about Fogbank Entertainment
Some people believe that a studio makes a game what is it. Others believe that it’s the IP that the studio carries that makes the video game unique. I think that IP and the studio name carry weight. I certainly would not play SWTOR as much as I do if it carried an IP like Valérian and Laureline. But one of the primary reasons that I believe that SWTOR performed as well as it did (or didn’t, depending on your opinion) was the quality of the people behind it. For me, some of the most integral people to making a good game are the writers. And many of the SWTOR writers have moved on from BioWare and have effectively started their own studio: Fogbank.
If you recognize names like Daniel Erickson, Alexander Freed, Drew Karpyshyn, and Hall Hood, then you will definitely want to see what they are up to at Fogbank Entertainment. If you don’t know who they are, then give me a moment to explain why they are superstars of the gaming and MMO industry.
Surfacing at the tail end of last week was the news that multiple former BioWare devs who’d all contributed heavily to Star Wars The Old Republic at one point or another in their careers were moving on to a new studio called FogBank to work on unnamed narrative-centric games. The Fogbank roster includes Daniel Erickson and Alexander Freed, both of whom left BioWare and SWTOR years ago. But it also includes renowned storyteller Drew Karpyshyn, who’d returned to BioWare specifically to work on Anthem, which certainly cast some doubt on the state of that game, which has been delayed at least once (though EA denies it).
On Saturday, Anthem studio boss Casey Hudson address growing player concern on Twitter, suggesting rather ambiguously that Karpyshyn had simply finished his work on the game and was moving on as part of the natural course of development. “Story will always be an important part of every BioWare game,” he wrote. “Drew has wrapped up his work on the project, but Anthem’s Lead Writers and their teams continue to do amazing work developing the world, story, and characters.”
We don’t know exactly what titles they’re working on, but three former Star Wars: The Old Republic veterans have joined forces under a studio now called FogBank, working on an “episodic narrative” game developed in conjunction with an “interactive storytelling platform.” As GIbiz reports, FogBank isn’t entirely new; it’s a a spinoff of Kabam that was picked up by FoxNext as Aftershock, then renamed.
The studio is led by studio director Daniel Erickson, the former creative director of Star Wars: The Old Republic; he moved around in the last few years after departing BioWare and SWTOR, most recently doing a stint for Kabam, where he was the director on mobile titles Spirit Lords and Star Wars: Uprising.
VentureBeat notes that Alexander Freed, the beloved SWTOR senior writer credited with the popular Agent storyline, will oversee narrative development for the new company. He left BioWare in 2012 too.
Legendary BioWare writer Drew Karpyshyn
is joining the celebration for this month’s release of the classic Knights of the Old Republic
on Xbox One. In a short but interesting post
, Karpyshyn expresses amazement over the longevity of the character of Revan and his satisfaction over how the team wrapped up his story in Star Wars: The Old Republic
“With the release of Shadow of Revan, the 2014 expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, the conclusion of Revan’s tale was finally told,” he wrote. “It’s amazing to me that the story of this character I helped to create has now spanned more than a decade. The tale of Revan winds its way through all the BioWare Old Republic games, uniting them with a shared heritage and mythology — a common thread linking KOTOR to SWTOR.”
To synergize with the release of KOTOR on Xbox One, SWTOR is currently giving the Rise of the Hutt Cartel and Shadow of Revan expansions to players for free.
It’s still very early to get excited about BioWare’s upcoming co-op shooter Anthem, but the game is bringing in veteran talent for development. Drew Karpyshyn has confirmed that he’s working on the title as a writer, although he’s been quiet about his degree of involvement and any actual details of the writing.
Which… seems pretty obvious, considering the title is still early in the reveal process. Obviously.
Karpyshyn is best known as the lead writer on Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, but he has a lengthy history with Star Wars: The Old Republic as well; he penned two novels for the game, wrote much of Knights of the Eternal Throne, and had major input on the Jedi Knight class story. Of course, we currently know next to nothing about Anthem’s story, but we do know it’s being shaped by experienced hands.
For the last five years and more, Star War: The Old Republic
told the story of Tenebrae, a Sith of humble origins who rose to great power and ultimately corruption. Of course, there were other great stories along the way — the eight player stories, and ultimately, the Outlander’s story — but even the story of Revan revolved around this hidden but powerful figure who was eventually unveiled as the Sith Emperor.
At the end of last year, I talked to Producer Ben Irving and Creative Director Charles Boyd about the past five years of SWTOR and about what the future holds for the game. It turned out to be a wonderful, frank interview. I learned many things that I didn’t know about Irving and his introduction to BioWare, which I mentioned a post last year. But I also learned some fun facts about the future of the SWTOR story.
Without spoiling too much, I think it’s safe to mention that Tenebrae’s story wraps up in a nice little bow at the end of Knights of the Eternal Throne. I spoke to Boyd about the challenges of closing up a long, pivotal story and where the writers go from there. And one of the things he mentioned is a “new adversary.”
Star Wars: The Old Republic’s
next expansion is but a week away, so you best start preparing yourself for the next evolution of the MMO (it’s still
an MMO, right?). A good start to your preparations would be to soak in all of the details of Knights of the Eternal Throne
courtesy of a long developer Q&A livestream.
Dulfy has the highlights of the expansion details. Knights of the Eternal Throne will add five new levels and nine additional chapters to the game, which will be it until the next expansion. The story was written by SWTOR veteran Drew Karpyshyn and will let players pilot a walker, go undercover as a mouse droid, and visit the brand-new planets of Iokath and Nathema.
There’s a lot more to the expansion, of course, including new character animations, the controversial galactic command system, and difficulty levels for each chapter. SWTOR’s fifth anniversary celebration is coming up in December as well, during which players will be able to buy some items for a single credit each.
If you’re the sort that would never settle for a mere recap, we’ve got the full hour livestream for you after the break!
I took a look back at some of my previous Hyperspace Beacons
and noticed that I have really never talked about the Sith Emperor, who has been the primary focus of Star Wars: The Old Republic
since the game launched about five years ago. I’ve sprinkled hints here and there, but I’ve never really dedicated a whole article to the most powerful force user in the entirety of the Star Wars universe. I think I will remedy that today.
But I’m not just going to give you an article about the Sith Emperor; I will also dive deep into my speculations surrounding this mysterious figure and who he might actually be. I was recently speaking to a fellow roleplayer about the Sith Emperor and where he might have come from. He said that my theory was amazing and said, “You should write for BioWare.” I don’t know that my theory was that great, but I believe that it makes the most sense given the personality changes between person we knew as Lord Vitiate and Emperor Valkorion.
writer Drew Karpyshyn is back with the studio
after leaving to pen several Star Wars novels.
On his personal blog, Karpyshyn confirmed that he’s been tapped to work on Star Wars: The Old Republic once more: “I suspect a lot of folks are going to wonder if this means BioWare is about to announce a new project tied to my return. The short answer: no. I originally came to the Austin studio many years ago to work on SWTOR and — at least for now — that’s what I’m focusing on again.”
Karpyshyn wrote two SWTOR novels a few years back: Revan and Annihilation. He said that he will be participating in an Ask Me Anything on Reddit on October 8th.