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

by cheapLEY @, Tuesday, April 02, 2019, 14:08 (171 days ago)

Jason Schreier just posted his newest piece of investiagtive journalism, this time looking at the development of Anthem.

It's an interesting (and depressing) look at the current state of making video games. It's the same old story--overwork and poor management.

I honestly think it helps put the state of Destiny in a better light. No, updates and content don't come as fast as we wish they would. But if Bungie has truly hit a no-crunch style of development (which I've seen rumored, but never confirmed), then I'm far more incline to accept the current pace and style of content.

It's far better than endlessly crunching and still putting out dogshit like Anthem, anyway.

Bioware is truly dead, it seems.

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Jason Schreier: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

by Ragashingo ⌂ @, Official DBO Cryptarch, Tuesday, April 02, 2019, 14:23 (171 days ago) @ cheapLEY

Was talking about this with some folks this morning. Here was my non-exhaustive first impressions:

That was a good article. Basically:

- Nobody ever ever decided what Anthem was
- Key features like flying were never key features. Anthem’s core differentiation was, for a long time, _not even part of the game._
- Constant developer shake up with no real leader until the final year of a 6 year project.
- EA leadership screwing things up + BioWare’s multiple studios trying to kill each other .
- Trying to make Anthem while the core team was struggling with Mass Effect: Andromeda. (All while the core Frostbite team was busy converting FIFA over to Frostbite)
- *Frostbite* - It sounds like EA demanding all their studios use Frostbite has now killed at least two major properties. The section on how unsuited Frostbite was to Anthem is an even worse indictment than how horribly unsuited it was for Mass Effect: Andromeda. Essentially: Very Unsuited multiplied by the demands that it be online multiplayer, which Frostbite doesn’t do.

At the end of the day, BioWare is straight up dying under a lack of leadership, EA miss management, and the demand that everything be Frostbite.

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Jason Schreier: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

by Vortech @, A Fourth Wheel, Sunday, April 07, 2019, 15:00 (166 days ago) @ Ragashingo

Was talking about this with some folks this morning. Here was my non-exhaustive first impressions:


- *Frostbite* - It sounds like EA demanding all their studios use Frostbite has now killed at least two major properties. The section on how unsuited Frostbite was to Anthem is an even worse indictment than how horribly unsuited it was for Mass Effect: Andromeda. Essentially: Very Unsuited multiplied by the demands that it be online multiplayer, which Frostbite doesn’t do.

Huh? I played a lot of Battlefield, so I'm confused by this.

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Jason Schreier: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

by Harmanimus @, Sunday, April 07, 2019, 15:36 (166 days ago) @ Vortech

There is a difference between a confined, competitive multiplayer environment and what is meant in this case by “online multiplayer” is the more shared-world aspects which allow multiplayer in what is otherwise a single player environment.

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Jason Schreier: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

by Ragashingo ⌂ @, Official DBO Cryptarch, Sunday, April 07, 2019, 19:06 (166 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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Jason Schreier: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Tuesday, April 02, 2019, 14:48 (171 days ago) @ cheapLEY

If Bungie is a no crunch studio, that policy was put into effect very recently.

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Jason Schreier: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

by cheapLEY @, Tuesday, April 02, 2019, 14:58 (171 days ago) @ Cody Miller

You'd know better than I would, but it's something I've heard post-D2 launch, regarding expansion development.

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Jason Schreier: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Tuesday, April 02, 2019, 15:32 (171 days ago) @ cheapLEY

You'd know better than I would, but it's something I've heard post-D2 launch, regarding expansion development.

Certainly plausible if post D2.

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Jason Schreier: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

by Harmanimus @, Wednesday, April 03, 2019, 09:59 (170 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Given the design of Forsaken, pacing of events, and the structure of the Annual Pass it points more to a design where things that require “crunch” are more distributed over time. So rather than multiple things coming to a head because of a lack of resources and a need to ship, things are staggered and appear more flexible.

I.e., you can rotate resources more efficiently when you have 12 goalposts through a year than when all 12-worth need to be done at the first post.

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Jason Schreier: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

by INSANEdrive, ಥ_ಥ | f(ಠ‿↼)z | ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ| \[T]/, Tuesday, April 02, 2019, 15:48 (171 days ago) @ cheapLEY

Most of this... well. Pretty much same old, unfortunately. Yet the thing that has me scratching my head the most is...

At the beginning, they called it Dylan. In late 2012 and 2013, while finishing up the Mass Effect trilogy, BioWare director Casey Hudson and a small team of longtime Mass Effect developers started work on a project that they hoped would be the Bob Dylan of video games, meaning something that would be referenced by video game fans for years to come.

I don't understand this. They already had their "Bob Dylan of video games" -they had just FINISHED it. It was called Mass Effect. You bring up Tali or Garrus or Wrex or Mordin... whatever... you'll get actual feelings and discussions - even today!

Case and point...

*Ahem*

...

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Wrex.

by INSANEdrive, ಥ_ಥ | f(ಠ‿↼)z | ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ| \[T]/, Tuesday, April 02, 2019, 15:48 (171 days ago) @ INSANEdrive

- No text -

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Shepard.

by Ragashingo ⌂ @, Official DBO Cryptarch, Tuesday, April 02, 2019, 16:21 (171 days ago) @ INSANEdrive

- No text -

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I should go.

by cheapLEY @, Tuesday, April 02, 2019, 16:40 (171 days ago) @ Ragashingo

- No text -

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I should go. I should go. I should go. I should go. I sho...

by Ragashingo ⌂ @, Official DBO Cryptarch, Tuesday, April 02, 2019, 19:54 (171 days ago) @ cheapLEY

[image]

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Jason Schreier: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Tuesday, April 02, 2019, 16:51 (171 days ago) @ INSANEdrive

Most of this... well. Pretty much same old, unfortunately. Yet the thing that has me scratching my head the most is...

At the beginning, they called it Dylan. In late 2012 and 2013, while finishing up the Mass Effect trilogy, BioWare director Casey Hudson and a small team of longtime Mass Effect developers started work on a project that they hoped would be the Bob Dylan of video games, meaning something that would be referenced by video game fans for years to come.


I don't understand this. They already had their "Bob Dylan of video games" -they had just FINISHED it. It was called Mass Effect. You bring up Tali or Garrus or Wrex or Mordin... whatever... you'll get actual feelings and discussions - even today!

Case and point...

*Ahem*

...

So… do you just give up at that point? Halo was more of a Dylan than anything. Did Bungie stop? Nope. They Dylaned online multiplayer with Halo 2.

There is nothing wrong with aiming to make something that will be remembered in time, even if you've done it before.

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Jason Schreier: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

by INSANEdrive, ಥ_ಥ | f(ಠ‿↼)z | ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ| \[T]/, Tuesday, April 02, 2019, 19:57 (171 days ago) @ Cody Miller

So… do you just give up at that point? Halo was more of a Dylan than anything. Did Bungie stop? Nope. They Dylaned online multiplayer with Halo 2.

There is nothing wrong with aiming to make something that will be remembered in time, even if you've done it before.

I state no wrong nor ill in ambition, simply how perplexed I was at the phrase. The difference is the lack of the word "again". This whole story that Schreier posted is about a studio blinded to choosing any direction, so I couldn't help but wonder... did they not realize what they already made? Why did they throw out the baby with the bath water, when they had already achieved that goal. Did no one learn anything?

...I just don't get it, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

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BioWare’s awful statement.

by cheapLEY @, Wednesday, April 03, 2019, 06:05 (171 days ago) @ cheapLEY

BioWare wrote a response before the article was even published, and it really only serves to prove the point. What a shit response. Fuck anyone who thought this statement was an acceptable response.


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BioWare’s awful statement.

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Wednesday, April 03, 2019, 08:47 (171 days ago) @ cheapLEY

I'm genuinely curious as to why companies keep trying to make games like Destiny.

Destiny is a bad game (outside of PvP). But it's held together with some great parts - parts Bungie alone can create. Things like the feel of guns and movement. The success of Destiny is despite the type of game it is.

No other company even has a chance when you are starting from the rotten foundation that is a 'loot shooter'. It sounds as if their initial idea was pretty solid. You grab friends, play a level, go back, gear up, and do another one. I want to know more about why THAT concept didn't work or why they didn't make that game. The one that sounds awesome. Knowing why THAT didn't work would be extremely interesting and helpful.

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That's like... your opinion man...

by MacAddictXIV @, Seattle WA, Wednesday, April 03, 2019, 08:56 (171 days ago) @ Cody Miller

- No text -

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BioWare’s awful statement.

by cheapLEY @, Wednesday, April 03, 2019, 09:02 (171 days ago) @ Cody Miller

You clearly haven’t paid attention to the reception of The Division 2. It’s arguably the only online looter shooter to have been super well-received from the very beginning, with intelligent loot and world design that doesn’t feel lacking. I won’t make any judgment of that as I haven’t played it, but the consensus is pretty clear.

You can argue that those systems are bad all day long, but the entire rest of the world apparently disagrees with you. You’re literally the only person to be confused about why a company that wants to make money would choose to chase Destiny’s success and the design ethos of that sort of game.

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BioWare’s awful statement.

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Wednesday, April 03, 2019, 09:21 (170 days ago) @ cheapLEY

You clearly haven’t paid attention to the reception of The Division 2. It’s arguably the only online looter shooter to have been super well-received from the very beginning, with intelligent loot and world design that doesn’t feel lacking. I won’t make any judgment of that as I haven’t played it, but the consensus is pretty clear.

Thank you for bringing this up. I'll certainly read up on it because I am curious.

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BioWare’s awful statement.

by cheapLEY @, Wednesday, April 03, 2019, 11:18 (170 days ago) @ Cody Miller

FWIW, I mostly agree with. I don’t think it’s a very good way to design a video game. Borderlands makes it work by its nature of being silly—getting a new thing is interesting just because it could do something wacky. Even Diablo has its charm due to the way gear is randomized in combination with the way the higher difficulty tiers scale and randomize enemy effects. It manages to feel at least somewhat fresh somehow.

But it feels like we’re the minority there, and it seems silly to question why developers are making those styles of games.

I’ll admit to being even more disappointed in Anthem after reading that article, as the original pitch for the game sounds so much more interesting. More of a survival style game, going out on missions and having to deal with weather and just survive as long as possible. Sounds way more fun than how that game ended up.

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BioWare’s awful statement.

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Wednesday, April 03, 2019, 11:25 (170 days ago) @ cheapLEY

I’ll admit to being even more disappointed in Anthem after reading that article, as the original pitch for the game sounds so much more interesting. More of a survival style game, going out on missions and having to deal with weather and just survive as long as possible. Sounds way more fun than how that game ended up.

I have a personal stake in wanting to know as well, because I have argued as such for Destiny. I've imagined a game designed with no PvE matchmaking, where to have fun you grab your friends and play a mission / level / raid / whatever. So the failure of this idea is interesting, whether creative or business.

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BioWare’s awful statement.

by Korny @, Dalton, Ga. US. Earth, Sol System, Wednesday, April 03, 2019, 12:09 (170 days ago) @ cheapLEY

I’ll admit to being even more disappointed in Anthem after reading that article, as the original pitch for the game sounds so much more interesting. More of a survival style game, going out on missions and having to deal with weather and just survive as long as possible. Sounds way more fun than how that game ended up.

Helldivers was (and still is) exactly this. You grab a few friends, each specialize for whatever role they want, then you drop into a procedurally-generated map against one of three factions to complete a mission. It was tough, but you were only limited by the gear you chose to go in with, and the skill and coordination of your team:

A third/first-person version of that would have been insanely fun.

DE is trying to make something like that with Railjack this year. Here's hoping that's successful.

Jason Schreier: How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

by metwaf100, Wednesday, April 03, 2019, 07:00 (171 days ago) @ cheapLEY

I doubt Bioware is dead, dead. What this definitely does mean is that big changes are coming, I think Anthem will be killed not long from now, it is fucked from the very foundation where Destiny had a very strong foundation but shallow content. Here there is little content and a shoddy foundation. I have a feeling Bioware will have one last chance after this or the studio faces a dark future.

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Jason Schreier reports, now they're screwing up Dragon Age.

by cheapLEY @, Tuesday, April 09, 2019, 17:35 (164 days ago) @ cheapLEY

Jason Schreier is on a roll, this time reporting on the current production of Dragon Age 4 (and the past production of a previously cancelled version of the game, which, apparently wasn't "live service" enough for EA).

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