An inside report on Anthem throws a bleak light on BioWare. An insider report has appeared on the emergence of the online shooter Anthem, which cites 19 sources that have worked on Anthem. The report paints a bleak picture of the online RPG and its evolutionary history. Anthem was said to have been hastily put together in a final spurt.
Where does the information come from? The long report has been published on the US site Kotaku. Journalist Jason Schreier says he spoke to staff or former employees of BioWare or to people who were otherwise involved in the project. He would have interviewed 19 people. But they all remain anonymous because they are not authorized to talk about the genesis of Anthem.
EA and BioWare have refused, according to Schreier, to comment on the story. Schreier, however, is known for having sources in gaming studios and being able to tap them.
18 months in development instead of 7 years
This is the core statement: In the insider report, Schreier sources quote that the actual “production” work on Anthem only started in October 2017. So about 18 months before the release in February 2019.
Therefore, the game seems so rough. There would not have been enough time to test the game.
BioWare said they ‘ve been working on the Anthem universe since 2012 – according to the reports that Schreier evaluated, so did that. Only the first five years barely got around.
Lots of overtime, little decisions, and no vision
What went wrong before? There are many reasons why BioWare’s problems occurred in the months and years before the release:
- The studio had been drained of hard productions – BioWare had always worked so that for years little happened and it came to a panic sprint in the end. Even with Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014), the crunch was brutal.
- However, since the title was such a success, it led to even more problems: BioWare continues to rely on hard over time because they trusted the “BioWare” -Magie. However, this only put to the end: The game then comes together in the “Crunch Time” and was fantastic, even if it looked lousy before.
- Many employees left the studio during development or were suffering from stress. They would have been out for months.
- In August 2014, the boss, Casey Hudson, disembarked. The whole team was designed to set the direction. He was like Captain Picard on the Enterprise: The rest of the team obeyed his instructions.
Without Hudson, nobody wanted to make decisions
It did not want to make any decisions then. This paralyzed the team. The new leadership team had a disagreement. There were many fruitless meetings held the original vision of a game designed more for “survival in a foreign world” was gradually watered down.
Ultimately, there was no vision left for Anthem
The team really wanted to do something new and different than Dragon Age. The team resisted proposals for an epic story because it was “too Dragon Age.” The Dragon Age author, David Gaider, then left. He wanted a typical BioWare story.
Mass Effect: Andromeda also drew the attention of Anthem’s BioWare leadership for a while – as the release date approached and the project was in a crisis situation
Stress with EA boss and the Frostbite engine
- EA boss Patrick Söderlund would have played the Christmas demo of Anthem 2016 and completely perverted. That was not the game he had been promised. Especially the graphics are disappointing. Söderlund would have ordered the management team from BioWare to Stockholm to get help from DICE.
- There had to be new concepts – there was probably a lot of pressure and the team worked for 6 weeks on a private demo to convince Söderlund. It was not until here that they introduced flying again and focused mainly on Anthem looking great.
- Overall, the Frostbite engine was terrible and spent a lot of time – it was even a “strike team” of Battlefield developer DICE there to help. Besides, you should not have mentioned Destiny at BioWare and therefore could not learn from the mistakes of Bungie. It would even have been taboo at BioWare even to mention the word Destiny.
There internal issues because EA’s Frostbite technicians pulled off to work on the Gold Donkey FIFA rather than Anthem – the chilly Edmonton studio location made it hard to hire good programmers.
BioWare reportedly unable to postpone the launch of Anthem because of the release bound to be in the fiscal year of Electronic Arts, which ended in late March.
According to a developer, it would feel like Anthe basically been created in the last 6 to 9 months. Before that, there nothing, you could not play it. The complete article of Kotaku with many details can be found here in English (via Kotaku ).
So it goes on: There is also a glimmer of hope in the insider report. The people who now work on Anthem feel they can fix Anthem.
If players just had patience, Anthem could make the same turn as many service games before like Diablo 3 or Destiny.
BioWare finds unfair the focus of the Insider Report on Anthem
This is how BioWare reacts: BioWare wrote and published a blog post (via Blog.Bioware ).
It says that you stand behind every current and former employee who worked on Anthem. It decided not to comment on the story because it sees an unfair focus on individual team members and executives who given their best.
One does not think such articles contribute to improving the gaming industry and the craft of developing games. BioWare does not see any value in tearing down each other or the other’s work.
Creating something new is always the hardest task. Listen to criticism. They have already improved the studio culture and invested a lot in planning to avoid the crunch.
At the moment, the team’s full focus is on the players and making Anthem what it is for the community to do.
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