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.
Jonesing for a fun mobile Diablo-like title? Then it might behoove you to check out the recently released Spirit Lords on both iOS and Android.
Spirit Lords is a free-to-play action RPG in which players take on one of two classes and acquire numerous “spirits” that add various abilities to aid in battle. It’s a hub-and-instance setup that allows for both solo and multiplayer, with the added factor of a guild system for social and cooperative support.
The game was made in part by Daniel Erickson, the former creative director of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Erickson said that his passion for MMOs was a driving force behind this game: “On Spirit Lords, we’ve been able to talk the grand scale and scope of epic console RPGs and MMOs and attempt to recreate that feel on the mobile platform while still having room to experiment.”
You can check out the launch trailer for Spirit Lords below!