Jason Schreier: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong (Destiny)

by Ragashingo ⌂ @, Official DBO Cryptarch, Sunday, April 07, 2019, 19:06 (653 days ago) @ Harmanimus

What it sounded like to me was that unlike Unreal or Unity, Frostbite does not have widespread use and support. So when BioWare’s programmers needed help solving this or that challenge, they had to spend far longer cooking up they own new reinventions of the wheel instead of being able to rely on the forward progress of the industry. So that takes time and causes frustration and mistakes and going down dead end paths whereas maybe a lot of similar problems have known, battle-tested solutions in the more widely used engines.

It’s similar to what I’ve been doing the past year. I’ve become a Swift iOS developer writing some neat little apps for my company. And while I could have figured out each and every little thing on my own, I haven’t had to because the Swift language is very popular and there are a ton of sites and tutorials and Q&As about most everything.

BioWare’s Frostbite teams on Andromeda and Anthem? Sounds like they had to hope that the people busy working on the latest FIFA game would someday have time to stop making their game(s) and help BioWare make their games. So, sure, Frostbite can support good multiplayer games, but how much harder is it to develop one than it would otherwise be?

It should probably be noted that this kind of trouble isn’t unique to BioWare. Think of Bungie and Destiny. Custom game engine and tools used by nobody else? Check. Large delays and development troubles? Check. What Bungie had that it sounds like the Andromeda and Anthem teams didn’t was leadership that was able to at least somewhat salvage something from a very rough dev process. Now, Destiny is, oddly enough, the game to beat in this space. And Anthem... might survive it’s first year...

Another good example of good leadership saving the day was Tomb Raider (2013). That team was floundering for a while as told in the excellent Tomb Raider - The Final Hours documentary. For a while that game was in crisis too, but then one of the team leaders came back from an extended medical leave and helped right the ship. The game went on to be a modern classic and kicked off a a new trilogy.

For Anthem, it sounds like a custom, not well supported engine + poor leadership almost killed the game. BioWare might not cancel it like they did Mass Effect: Andromeda, but it won’t be worth giving a serious look for another year or so...

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