How Anthem went wrong

Started by the-pi-guy, Apr 04, 2019, 10:27 AM

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the-pi-guy

Apr 04, 2019, 10:27 AM Last Edit: Apr 04, 2019, 10:58 AM by the-pi-guy
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It's a story of a video game that was in development for nearly seven years but didn't enter production until the final 18 months, thanks to big narrative reboots, major design overhauls, and a leadership team said to be unable to provide a consistent vision and unwilling to listen to feedback


Perhaps most alarming, it's a story about a studio in crisis. Dozens of developers, many of them decade-long veterans, have left BioWare over the past two years. Some who have worked at BioWare's longest-running office in Edmonton talk about depression and anxiety. Many say they or their co-workers had to take "stress leave"--a doctor-mandated period of weeks or even months worth of vacation for their mental health. One former BioWare developer told me they would frequently find a private room in the office, shut the door, and just cry. "People were so angry and sad all the time," they said. Said another: "Depression and anxiety are an epidemic within Bioware."
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It was mostly built over the course of its final year, which led to lengthy crunch hours and lots of exhaustion. "Some of the people in Edmonton were so burnt out," said one former BioWare developer. "They were like, 'We needed [Dragon Age: Inquisition] to fail in order for people to realize that this isn't the right way to make games.'"

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Early iterations of flying--which, developers say, was removed from and re-added to Anthem several times--were more like gliding, and members of the Anthem team say it was tough to get the system feeling all that fun. Every time they changed the traversal, it meant changing the world design accordingly, flattening and stretching terrain to accommodate the latest movement style.

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The engine allowed them to build big, beautiful levels, but it just wasn't equipped with the tools to support all of those ambitious prototypes that they'd created. Slowly and gradually, they started cutting back on the environmental and survival features that they'd devised for Anthem, in large part because they just weren't working.

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The amount of support you'd get at EA on Frostbite is based on how much money your studio's game is going to make,"
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At E3 2017, BioWare announced that Anthem would launch in fall 2018. Behind the scenes, however, they had barely even implemented a single mission. And the drama was just getting worse
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Until very recently, hardcore BioWare fans used to refer to the studio's various teams using derogatory tiers. There was the A-team, the B-team, and the C-team. Opinions may have varied on which was which, but in general, "A-team" referred to the original BioWare, the office in Edmonton, Canada responsible for Dragon Age and the Mass Effect trilogy. A couple thousand miles southeast was the "B-team," a studio in Austin, Texas that was founded to make Star Wars: The Old Republic, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. (The "C-team" usually referred to Montreal, the ill-fated studio behind Mass Effect: Andromeda.)

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That the first name in Anthem's credits is someone who started working on the game in October 2017, just 16 months before it shipped, says volumes about its development.
How BioWare's Anthem Went Wrong

BananaKing

dang, anthem went through hell. I can see why it shipped with so little after all that time in development (hell). Sad to see bioware lose its pedigree like this. They were one of the studios who made amazing single player content.

nnodley

Just one more reason why AAA studios are not where i want to work.  

But it's shaming on bioware.  Their response is very tragic when there are so many people calling them out and them being horrible for people's mental health.  

kitler53

this is honestly just the story of employment in the current times:

- companies are bigger than ever
- that naturally makes executives less informed than ever about what they are "managing"
- exploitation of labor common place because most lack true job mobility now that there are far fewer companies
- many even go so far as to non-compete polices to keep the labor market powerless
- politicians gave up caring about citizen now that they are also dependent on corporate donations to fund their campaigns


it's sad but this article is not all that unique in any industry these days.
       

the-pi-guy

this is honestly just the story of employment in the current times:

- companies are bigger than ever
- that naturally makes executives less informed than ever about what they are "managing"
- exploitation of labor common place because most lack true job mobility now that there are far fewer companies
- many even go so far as to non-compete polices to keep the labor market powerless
- politicians gave up caring about citizen now that they are also dependent on corporate donations to fund their campaigns


it's sad but this article is not all that unique in any industry these days.
Yeah.  Largely the article is a bit too familiar.  

But even still a lot of stuff spectacularly failed with Anthem.