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.”
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.”
I’m going to hit you again with some lore this week from Star Wars: The Old Republic
. However, I promise that there will be a lot less speculation and a little more factual information because we are going to talk about a character who is reemerging for the bonus Knights of the Fallen Empire
chapter Shroud of Memory. Some of you might be thinking that I’m going to talk about HK-55 or the HK series of droids in general, but you’d be wrong. I want to talk about the central figure in my absolute favorite series of quests, the macrobinocular quests: the Shroud.
I have played through every storyline in SWTOR. I have played through every operation and every piece of group content. I’ve downed every boss and even explored some places I was supposed to go. (Ask me about Belsavis on Twitter.) Out of all of those places and questlines, my favorite series of quests is still the Shroud series that released at the same time as first expansion for SWTOR, Rise of the Hutt Cartel. Give me a few moments to explain why this series was my favorite and why I am excited that this character is coming back to SWTOR.
For those who’ve not played through the macrobinocular questline, I will not spoil it. Promise. Continue reading.