MMO Week in Review: The myth of the BioWare magic

It was never magic. It was always the blood, sweat, and tears of the hardworking devs, ya morons.

    
27

If you were hoping that if BioWare just kept its head down and buffed up Anthem, it could avoid the trainwrecks of some other recent launches, then you can join me in being disappointed this week, as the company met a major publication’s exposé of the game’s chaotic development with a missive and memo that seemed more miffed at journalists than at management. (But maybe don’t panic yet!)

Meanwhile, Z1 Battle Royale saw layoffs, while Guild Wars 2 reshuffled its content teams ahead of its next update.

Here on MOP, we recapped all of our new columnists and columns in one convenient place so you guys can see exactly how we’re bolstering our content! Read on to catch up with the very best of this week’s MMO news and opinions today as every Sunday in Massively Overpowered’s Week in Review!

THIS WEEK’S TOP STORIES

THIS WEEK’S CASTS & STREAMS

Every week, get caught up on the MMO genre’s latest news and Massively OP’s best content in our MMO Week in Review! Want more roundups of content? Try Friday’s Betawatch for MMO testing highlights, Saturday’s Make My MMO for MMO crowdfunding updates, and Sunday’s The MOP Up, which mops up all the bits of news we didn’t cover anywhere else.

27
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Thomas

Bioware won me over with its excellent earlier games, the Mass Effect trilogy in particular. I therefore have cut them a lot of slack over recent years, in the face of disappointing games such as Inquisition and Andromeda, even as I cut ArenaNet a lot of slack based solely on my profound admiration for and years of delight with GW1 (GW2 is ok, but it is not as well designed, imo).

Today’s Bioware, sadly, is a mere ghost of its former self and has all but abandoned the very game design/story focus elements that once made it great. They’re like the (Aesop) fabled dog that greedily lunged for the bigger bone it saw reflected in the water and ended up with nothing.

Today, I’d rather play any of the ME trilogy games than Inquisition, Andromeda, and (most certainly) Anthem. This makes me wistful, rather than angry. I hope that some game developer company will pick up the (AI) party-based RPG baton that Bioware so cavalierly discarded. Games like Pillars of Eternity are falling far short of the Mass Effect standard, but I appreciate their efforts at least.

Reader
IronSalamander8 .

Bioware has been overrated for so long, I loved NWN but nothing else I’ve played by them really caught and held me. SWTOR has been a train wreck, even if I did really like it up till SoR, and Anthem seems like it’s trying to fail. That expose and form letter reply just seem par for the course now.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Neurotic

Perhaps that should read “a dismissive and memo”. :D

Mordyjuice
Reader
Mordyjuice

The magic of EA, brought to you by Star Wars

8a60c3f0385e918cf05fc59f4cd3b59b.jpg
Reader
rafael12104

I’ve been through the “magic”. I worked for a major computer mfg and in the months, days, and hours before a product launch we faced impossible situations that somehow we would overcome and ship the product on time.

It was talked about in the same way. We had “the magic” and even when we were knee deep in “shit” (industry term, heh) inevitably someone would say it. “I don’t know how we are going to do this, but we will. We always do.”

And we never missed. BUT here is the difference. And it is a big one. We had great teams and great leadership. We made tough calls quickly and rolled with it. We never, ever, ever, ever, blew things off and waited until the last phase in development to decide product features. And we never told management what they wanted to hear. Lol! We reported the unvarnished truth because that is how you solve problems.

I look back on it now and know that it wasn’t magic. It really wasn’t a mystery. We succeeded because we followed an established process. We struggled at times, and crunch was huge at the end. But the crunch wasn’t flailing desperation to get something out there.

And I can’t describe how satisfying it was to make it to the end. To see the product shipping, the ads and reviews (even the bad ones, heh.) etc. and know that I had a hand in it. I was proud. We all were.

So, I feel bad for Bioware and truly sympathize with the Anthem team. Because I know what is like to be in the “shit”. And if the endgame results in something unfinished, and with a butt load of issues? I would quit.

And maybe, that’s why I’m hanging on in Anthem. I want to be around to help and save it for the rank in file. Because after all the blood, sweat and tears they put in especially in the last 16 months, they deserve to at least step out of the shit.

Reader
Utakata

My pigtails are magic though…in my imagination. Pigs can fly there too! >.<

Mordyjuice
Reader
Mordyjuice

Reminds me of working at a hospital, over coming impossible odds while being knee deep in shit.

Reader
rafael12104

It feels a lot like that. As I’ve said before, game-devs aren’t the only ones who face crunch. For nurses and doctors, it is a given. No questions asked.

PlasmaJohn
Reader
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
PlasmaJohn

The rank and file deserves to be treated with respect and certainly not driven to be “stress casualties”.

Throwing money at a broken game isn’t going to help anyone. The damage is done. If by some miracle enough suckers do buy in then those employees’ bosses have no reason to change. The best anybody you can do is to cross their fingers and hope they can make the game worth playing (all of it) and stop enabling the abuse.

Reader
rafael12104

I don’t disagree, but I’m not enabling.

There are many on that Anthem team that, personally, need some modicum of success given all they have done to see realize the game. They sacrificed a great deal knowing quite well that in the end, the game wasn’t going to be what was promised. And now they are continuing to work hard to make the game into what they hoped it would have been. All they need is support and a little time.

But I do think that at this stage throwing money at Anthem will support the rank and file because they remain employed. It will also pick them up spiritually so that they don’t continue to feel demoralized.

The bosses, I believe, have every reason to change if they want to maintain the profitability of Origin Premium. Profits are what they value most, and the cat is out of the bag on crunch and their dev problems. And they can’t unring that bell.

I bet, having experience in the launch of similar products, if you polled the Anthem team they would all want the culture of crunch to change AND be given a chance to finish the game. I’ll gladly pay to see them get that chance.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Armsbend

Maybe a difference is when you shipped – half the staff wasn’t axed. In gaming, once your game is successful you can be assured firings come soon after.

It is such a bad reward system.

Reader
rafael12104

True. But again, a more mature process helps limit the ebb and flow.

In my case, there was a new product team and a sustaining product team (sustaining as in developing existing products and not the MMO definition.)

So once launch was complete a sustaining team would take over the development and support for the product. They would do patches, updates, improvements and even deliver new features.

The new product team would go back and start developing and planning the next product.

So, those that like the thrill of delivering something new and innovative would start something new. And those that preferred a steady less pressure-filled work environment would work in sustaining.

The big talent or those starving for the spotlight would be appeased and stay. And of course, there weren’t any cuts needed.

What boggles my mind is that this isn’t a secret. The video game industry as a whole seems to be way behind in process? How is that possible?

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Armsbend

man children trying to run real businesses.

Reader
rafael12104

Yup. Exactly.

Reader
Hirku

All work and no play makes BioWare a dull boy…

biojack.jpg
Reader
rafael12104

Here is Johnny!

Reader
rafael12104

Reader
Utakata

…yes, their brand is more closely resembling a term used in going to the bathroom to relieve oneself these days. :(

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Armsbend

That is a good one!

Reader
McGuffn

3 month stress relief vacation at the overlook hotel.

download.png
Reader
Tee Parsley

It’s more like they’re different flavors of bad. Depending on your taste buds, one may be more palatable than the other.

I don’t buy much at release anymore (thanks to the industry’s poor record), so I got no dog in that fight. But the Bioware we’ve got nowadays is just a shambling zombie corpse of its previous incarnation. Par for the course really.

Reader
Aiun Tanks

‘…the company met a major publication’s exposé of the game’s chaotic development with a missive and memo that seemed more miffed at journalists than at management…’

Well that’s because the memo was drafted by management, who were feeling (justifiably) attacked and got (unjustifiably) defensive.

Reader
angrakhan

You know… I realize it’s the hipster thing to do right now with piling on Anthem. However, The Division 2 has a lot of the same issues particularly with loot

For example: https://www.reddit.com/r/thedivision/comments/baa0s3/dont_throw_away_your_450_gear_they_have_higher/

People are still crashing to desktop left and right in TD2. There’s limited activities to do at end-game, and largely the gear dropping right now is all crap. The gear sets they just release are all completely ‘meh’ in their set bonuses compared to just min/maxing with yellow gear.

Yet somehow TD2 is the cat’s meow and gets a free pass?

I own both TD2 and Anthem, and personally I don’t see them as being remarkably far apart in quality. Yet Anthem is the pariah of the industry while everyone gives glowing reviews to TD2.

I’m confused. Oh well, I’ll rack it up to people black knighting Anthem due to EA I guess.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Armsbend

EA hate and it’s the third iteration of Warframe. Hating Anthem isn’t hipster really – it’s commonplace. More like the Top 10 of the Top 40 songs.

Reader
Jaymes Buckman

Anthem hate is Cardi B for people who also hate Cardi B.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Armsbend

I don’t even get this but I like it.

Reader
Tizmah

Lets see, you’ve got conflict pvp, darkzone, free roam with multiple activities, 4 strongholds, bounties, repeatable main missions and side missions, masked hunters to hunt down…all contributing to endgame

Anthem has like 2 end game dungeons with only one worth running?

I’ve not had any crash issues with Division 2 personally so I can’t address that.

If that scaling issue is true, then that only occurred with the most recent updated, WT5 a couple of days ago. Beginning to WT4 was solid, unlike Anthem. Reviews and praise came way before this.

Outrage in gaming is at an all time high. There is barely any positivity out there. Youtubers/Streamers feed off of it. I’m pretty sure they would have loved to toss Division 2 in with Anthem and Fallout 76 if they could. But, Massive did a pretty good job.

You should try out Tidal Basin, it’s pretty fun if you haven’t yet :)