BioWare Austin’s studio director confirms Anthem reboot will be more transparent and ‘a longer process’

    
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BioWare Austin’s studio director confirms Anthem reboot will be more transparent and ‘a longer process’

It’s been some time since we heard about the rumored and then confirmed reboot to Anthemsince February, to be precise. As of this past Friday, BioWare Austin studio director Christian Dailey has popped up with a quick dev blog update that effectively says that there’s going to be some time yet before the game is ready:

“The Anthem incubation team has kicked off and we are starting to validate our design hypotheses. Incubation is a term we use internally – it essentially means we are going back and experimenting/prototyping to improve on the areas where we believe we fell short and to leverage everything that you love currently about Anthem. We are a small team – about 30-ish, earning our way forward as we set out to hit our first major milestone goals. Spoiler – this is going to be a longer process. And yes, the team is small but the whole point of this is to take our time and go back to the drawing board. And a small team gives us the agility a larger one can’t afford.”

Dailey further confirms that the development of the next Anthem will be more transparent starting with this dev blog, with further showcases including things like concept art and livestreams. Ultimately, Dailey says that players will get to see “how the sausage is made – which is not always pretty.”

source: BioWare blog via Kotaku

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Crowe

Is there still enough demand to even support 30 devs working on Anthem? I mean, I actually enjoyed the game when it came out but I haven’t thought about it since I stopped playing.

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traja

It’s impossible to say without hiring a company to do market research but speaking only for myself, I would definitely go back to check it out. A lot of the basic gameplay was fun in Anthem so all that it needs is an end game rework. That of course is a tall order as well but it should be doable with 30 people if all goes right.

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Knecht_Rootrecht

If DA4 bombs and Anthem’s rework is no success, then EA will drag Bioware behind the shed, with a shotgun in hand.

The Weeb formerly known as Sray
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The Weeb formerly known as Sray

Rainbow 6 Siege. The Division. No Man’s Sky. Destiny 2. Star Wars Battlefront 2. Battlefield 5. Artifact. Anthem. Fallout 76.

That’s an “off the top of my head” list; I’m sure with little effort I could list another four or five games. But that list is nine games that all games launched in the last 5 years. They all launched in terrible shape. Not one of them had large and/or extended open beta periods. This is not coincidence: this is intentional. Big publishers are releasing massive live service games with nothing resembling adequate player testing as finished product so we buy up enough copies to cover development costs, and then they “finish making the game”. We are paying to be beta testers. The gamer outrage is just part of the cost of doing business now.

Every time gamers go running back to one of these games after they’re “fixed” we just send the message to the publishers that we’re okay with paying to be testers, and our whining can be mostly ignored.

If you’re tired of this cycle, then stop going back to these games after they get released in unfinished states. It doesn’t matter what studio made it, or that they made your favorite game ever 15 years ago, we simply have to stop going back: if it causes your favorite studio to close, that just the cost releasing a subpar product in a free market. We let one or two of these things fail, and triple A publishers will stop doing this. But it’s on each one of us to be responsible for our own actions, and possibly sacrifice a thimble full of instant gratification in exchange for our long term wellbeing as consumers.

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bobfish

I think you’re over estimating the capabilities and intelligence of those running these teams. Incompetence is much more common than malicious intent, especially for those listed above.

R6S – Game wasn’t broken or shallow, it was a new take of Rainbow Six (new for Ubisoft at that time), a return to something more realistic. When the rest of the genre were trying to be Call of Duty. It took them awhile to understand what players they had attracted and what those players wanted. A limited Beta test could’ve helped that, absolutely agree there, but highly unlikely there was any intention to ship half a game, in fact, R6S is the main reason Ubisoft shifted away from Season Passes and towards long term support post launch on their games.

The Division – Don’t know what you mean with this one, there was quite a lot of game there when it launched, nothing apparently missing, though a fair bit not fun.

No Man’s Sky – Over hyped, over marketed, a few lies from the studio head and perhaps a contract with Sony with a fixed release date. Given that they haven’t charged for any of the updates since it launched, this definitely seems like it was unintentional, or at the very least they learned not to do it again.

SW Battlefront 2 – Everyone knows what happened here. DICE took the micro transaction mandate from EA and went too far with it. Then had to throw resources at fixing that problem when everyone screamed about it. Again, the intentional part was the design, not that they were shipping an unfinished game, because from their perspective it was finished (just no one wanted it like that).

Battlefield 5 – This is fall out from SWBF2, no excuses though, EA/DICE released it before it was finished because of their own reasons that mean nothing to players.

Artifact – Just a bad game, with bad ideas.

Anthem – This is well documented all over the internet, most of the fault lies with BioWare, not EA. The game was incomplete, like BF5, it shipped for reasons that players don’t care about.

Fallout 76 – Another case of not knowing the audience, though its Bethesda, so a lot of incompetence in there as well. Maybe a little bit of envy towards the companies with live service games and probably some part of the horse armor mentality still existing.

There are many reasons games get released in bad shape or require significant updates post-launch, rarely is it the same thing. Even within the same company, there lots of different reasons why games are like they are when they launch (look at the three EA games on this list).

I think gaming would be much better for everyone, if there was no company name/logo on a game. Buy the game for what it offers, not because of the fancy marketing.

The Weeb formerly known as Sray
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The Weeb formerly known as Sray

I am flabbergasted that someone can look at that many games, in that short a time span, knowing it’s an incomplete list, and not see this has become the normal pattern of behavior for these publishers. These are not isolated cases: these publishers all look at what the others do, and if one gets away with something the other will all give it a shot. There multiple reasons games come out bad, but when you have a dozen large scale games coming out in a short time span, none of which received a large scale public testing period, you can pinpoint where things are going wrong. Continuing to look at this as such is exactly what we as gamers did while microtransactions infested full priced triple A games, and that’s worked out just dandy for us hasn’t it?

If it was two or three games games in the last five years, that’s incompetence. When it’s a regular event, it’s intentional. And over nine games coming out in five years means it’s a regular event. Continuing to look at each case as a separate event when it’s happening on a regular basis is why this keeps happening.

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mysecretid

The problem with starting again, I suppose, is the question of where do they plan to go with the game?

I played Anthem on my PS4, up until they announced the do-over, because it seemed a waste of gameplay time if everything I was doing in the game was slated to be erased.

I didn’t actually find Anthem to be broken or flawed, so much as I found it to be “underdone”.

What was there, I liked, but I constantly found myself wishing that there was more of pretty much everything the game offered.

For me, the problem wasn’t the content, so much as the fact that there wasn’t enough of the content.

It’s not exactly a secret that Anthem was launched barely-ready, and that sparseness showed pretty readily around the edges of the game.

Also, as I’ve said before, the game had good voice-acting, engaging characters, and interesting plotlines — it’s like the Bioware devs were secretly pleading “Please, let us make Anthem into an MMORPG game! It’s what we’re best at doing!”

But even though Anthem could’ve potentially beaten the Destiny franchise at its own “We’re actually an MMORPG with shooter combat mechanics, even though we won’t admit it” game, had they owned those aspects of what they were doing, that didn’t happen.

Even though I know that the Bioware which exists today is but a shadow of its former self, in many ways, asking a dev house known for its rpg games to make an action shooter-looter is rather like asking Renoir to work as your housepainter.

But, EA’s history of buying studios simply to sideline them, or mismanage them, is long documented.

I hope Anthem pulls off a proper resurrection, but who knows what we’ll actually see.

My opinions only, of course,

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Greaterdivinity

I have thoughts.

No clue who this guys is, and not seeing anything about him before this. Hope he kicks ass, but without much to go on no clue how confident I could be.

They’re…just starting? I thought this had already begun…

30 people? I mean…if the live game was getting steady updates and new content I think that’d be rad. But given that the game doesn’t seem to be/isn’t…is this functionally all that’s really left of the team?

Longer process is expected, but still a bit disappointing.

I’ll believe “transparency” and “communication” from BW when I see it. Their repeated promises to that effect post-launch never materialized.

Good luck to them, but I can’t say my hopes are particularly high : /

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cursedseishi

30 people is probably all the game is worth–and I’m willing to bet that it’s lucky to even be getting that much. Bioware Austin is a smaller studio meant pretty much for SWToR as well as Online gameplay for the main Bioware Studio titles. At the moment?

Dragon Age 4 is in active development, and with estimates putting it for 2022, Bioware (and, by extension, EA) are likely eager to get the Live service components put into development as well as planning out how it’ll play into a method of recurrent monetization. And being a main studio title, it’s far more important than Anthem.

And Bioware themselves only confirmed the rumors of a redo back in the middle of February, which is likely when they started putting some people together to start on it. At least until things got messy, which has likely delayed the start of any rework progress.

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bobfish

The team at Edmonton that made Anthem all moved to Dragon Age 4 as soon as it launched, leaving the Austin team to run its live service. Based on this news, sounds like the live team has been given the task of revitalizing the game.

30 people isn’t enough, they had something like 300 odd on Anthem in its last year before launch, across all their studios. Though maybe Christian Dailey sees this as a way to rebuild the Austin studio after BioWare gutted it to make Andromeda and Anthem.

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wratts

I’d have to assume that an Anthem reboot could be done with a smaller team than the initial build team. You’ve got a mostly functional engine, and plenty of art and sound assets, the animations overall in the game are already very strong, etc.

My question would be how many of the 30 members of the live team are actually qualified game designers? I’d have to imagine you’ve got CS agents, community managers, and server techs comprising most of that team.

It sounds like they’re at the phase where they’re really designing the roadmap for game changes, and ideally we should see some communication by summer. At that point, I would hope they can get the programmers they need from elsewhere in Bioware. You know they won’t slow down DA4, but is it possible they can backfill some roles there and bring people back to Anthem for a year or so?

This does have the smell of a disaster, but it’s really a question of how committed EA/BW are to making Anthem something viable. They’ve got the skill and resources to do it, just a question of funding and investor/executive will

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Vincent Clark

That first sentence…”The Anthem incubation team has kicked off…” had me rolling my eyes. Given what we now know…do we really need to continue talking about this disaster of a game (in any incarnation)?

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Phienyx

The game had a great idea, but it an entire experience needs more than one great idea. For those of you who have lost trust, I get it and I understand. I played Anthem and got very bored very quickly because beyond the whole “I am Ironman” feel, there wasn’t much depth to the entire experience. If they are committed to improving on what was there, lets see what they can come up with. No need to scrap the entire idea and move on. The good parts were very good. Perhaps they can achieve and surpass what we expected when we originally heard about this project. If not, it’s not like there is any real shortage of games to be played.

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bobfish

It makes you wonder what the game would’ve been like if it wasn’t for Patrick Soderlund telling them to keep the flying in it. Can’t believe the team were going to remove that feature, it wouldn’t have left anything unique about it.

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Ironwu

Why even bother? Take your lumps and move on.

Even if it is retooled into something viable, who in their right mind would risk spending any up-front money to find out?

I think this only works if they give everyone a 30 day free trial period. If the game is any good (think FFXIV reboot good), then folks will buy in.

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Richard de Leon III

For myself, It would be worth it if they included an offline story ala Mass effect of at least 30 to 40 hours. If they can manage that Anthem will sit along side my ME/Fallout/ES games as something i can replay for the story.

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angrakhan

I’d play it, and I am very much in my right mind. The Colossus gameplay is some of the most fun I’ve had in a video game ever. If they can retain that, but fix everything else that is wrong… Which is plenty to be sure… I’d pay for the game again.

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Grave Knight

Cool, cool, cool, but what does EA say since they’re the ones that are always interfering in development?

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Greaterdivinity

https://kotaku.com/how-biowares-anthem-went-wrong-1833731964

Nope. If anything, they’re actually the ones that saved the game from develop-hell and were behind the idea for the most popular part of it (flight).

rafael12104
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rafael12104

Very true. The irony isn’t lost on most of us who have hung in there with Anthem.

We were all ready to tar and feather EA for another bullshit mishap. But, no. It is at EA’s insistence that combat and flight are as good as they are. Everything else is Bioware’s bullshit. And I’m being kind.

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Danny Smith

Maybe this could have inspired confidence a whole year ago. I dont think anyone expects anything significant at this point.

Personally i’m amazed they aren’t just ghosting it like Mass Effect.