Once again, the decision to force every child studio to use EA’s Frostbite was criticized for making unnecessary arduous games.
A process of development is full of instability.
BioWare “just started working on Anthem,” but the truth is not so simple. Many of the development team’s initial ideas are not feasible or clear enough to implement. Take the example of the movement feature in the game: BioWare wants the game to have a vast and seamless map, without being divided, so gamers will not need to face loading screens when going from one area to another. The development team experimented with gamers climbing on cliffs and rocks, but they felt this feature was “wrong.” After that, the flying story was taken into account, was removed, and brought back into the game many times.
Changing this move is not merely a redesign of the character’s movements. It significantly affects the game’s map design, forcing BioWare to squash or stretch the terrain’s height to fit. A new style of training. Another problem comes from randomly encountering opponents and in-game phenomena. The idea is good, but BioWare doesn’t find a way to do it smoothly, and the randomness also makes the game not attractive at all times.
How did Anthem descend from a peak into a bottomless abyss? – P.1 The details of Anthem’s turbulent development have just emerged from the water showing an unstable working process behind the “BioWare miracle”.
The whole story of the game has been changed many times. When David Gaider, a writer who wrote the script for the Dragon Age development team, switched to Anthem, David’s writing was very different from what the game had before. Anthem in David’s hands follows the style of Dragon Age: complex plot, alien artifacts, complex “final boss” … Many development team members do not like this because they think this is just a Dragon Age fiction version and want to change that plot.
For his part, David said that he made the Dragon Age plot’s content at the discretion of design director Preston Watamaniuk: a game that combines science with fiction. According to him, many people in the development team want to have a say in driving the story of the game, but they do not come up with a specific idea other than repeating “something that BioWare has not yet done.” worked.” For David, this was quite frustrating because he fell into the upper anvil under the hammer.
The inconsistency in the plot of the game is the reason David left BioWare in 2016. He shared that he no longer felt like playing the game he was developing and so decided to go. Of course, a new pen will take David’s place, creating a new storyline and further chaos.
Mistake from above
In addition to the plot and gameplay, the game’s orientation is not clear after Casey Hudson left BioWare in late 2014. The project leadership teams are Jon Warner, Preston Watamaniuk, Derek Watts, Parrish Ley, and several other BioWare veterans who have participated in Mass Effect. However, the development team members criticize the ranks for their low vision, indecision, and mismanagement.
“What are we doing? Please tell us. The mainstream is no vision, no clear explanation, no one director says ‘this is the way things have to be connected,’ ” said a former BioWare employee. “They never seem to decide. They are always looking for something new. ” Many of the interviewees said that the leaders did not dare conclude the controversy during the game’s feature meetings and made the discussion meaningless.
Perhaps because Anthem is a new game, and no one knows what is right, the BioWare team did not dare to take responsibility for themselves. This makes each person go a turn, making the game development process become confusing and lack focus.
Because of all of the above, the Anthem development team realized that they didn’t do much in 2015 and 2016. They had trouble with the online structure, not knowing how the game’s tasks would take place. And even the gameplay of the game has not been determined. Sometimes the game will have many cities, then be repaired into a city and outposts (Outpost) built by gamers. The outpost turned into a mobile base of Strider and eventually into a single fortress. Best. Under this drastic change, the idea of a game with a heavy emphasis on survival completely disappeared.
The indecisive leadership is a big problem for the Anthem development team, but even in the rare cases where someone dares to take a beating, their decision takes a lot of new time to become a reality. A BioWare employee said that there are many plans where the gap between approval and release is a year, and the game has changed. The only reason for this delay is one thing: Frostbite (cold burns).
Already a disaster with many EA’s studios including Visceral, Frostbite was BioWare employees and many veterans who worked for EA’s studios for … deep hatred. It is the foundation engine for DICE’s FPS masterpieces, and for some reason, former EA CEO Patrick Soderlund forced all of his studios to make games on this engine, regardless of genre. EA studios have to throw away the old engine they are “familiar with, or work with” and use a completely new engine not designed for their game.
In BioWare, this engine has caused them “headaches” since the first day of using it to develop Dragon Age: Inquisition in 2011. Frostbite doesn’t even have the save / load feature but an RPG title required, and because it’s an engine developed for FPS, it doesn’t have the Third-person view that Dragon Age uses. Therefore, BioWare employees must do all the tools and features they need from the beginning and take as much time and effort as building a new engine. Frostbite’s renovation and development process lasted through three titles Dragon Age Inquisition, Mass Effect Andromeda, and Anthem.
“Frostbite is a self-made engine with all sorts of problems – lack of system, patching, something like that,” said a former BioWare employee. Moreover, since this is an engine made by DICE, BioWare employees have no one to refer to or learn from when having trouble or wondering about its features. For help or bug reporting with this engine, they have to contact EA’s Frostbite support team, a cumbersome, time-consuming process that … is unlikely to be answered because they cater to all EA’s studio at the same time, and everyone needs help with Frostbite.
During the early years of the Anthem development process, BioWare realized that many of the features they planned for Anthem would be very difficult or impossible on the Frostbite platform. They can build big and beautiful screens but lack the tools to realize their ideas for those levels. This forced BioWare to cut back on the environmental features and the survival game that they had set from the beginning because they were impossible.
Even at this point, after eight years of constant improvement and editing of Frostbite to make RPGs, BioWare employees still say that this engine makes their work much harder. Fixing a bug in the game can take days back and forth, and encouraging BioWare employees to cheat by covering the bug under other features instead of setting it. “The biggest problem with BioWare is that doing a fundamental thing also takes a lot of steps,” recalls someone who was involved in the Anthem implementation.
Besides, the fact that Anthem is an online game also forces the BioWare team to develop a lot of new features for Frostbite from scratch. For example, your inventory: a small, narrow inventory like Dragon Age will not serve gamers in a looter shooter game, so BioWare needs to make a new inventory system.
In addition to the difficulties Frostbite engine brings, BioWare is still very short of people to develop Anthem. There are many causes for this problem, such as the fact that FIFA has also used Frostbite since 2016, and this is EA’s golden egg, so EA transferred a lot of BioWare’s experienced staff to FIFA. Also, geography is mentioned in the city of Edmonton, where they are headquartered. Often temperatures from -20 F to -40 F (about -30 degrees Celsius) make recruiting very difficult.
FIFA is the “darling” of EA – EA’s Frostbite support team mentioned above always prioritizes FIFA (or Battlefront, Battlefield) because their loot boxes bring vast amounts of money compared to one title. RPG of BioWare. So BioWare’s plans could be ruined if a problem with Frostbite happened and they didn’t get the help they needed.
By the end of 2016 – 4 years after the game was planned – Anthem is still in the pre-production stage because BioWare yet doesn’t know what to do with its game and an engine challenging to use, difficult to fix. At this point, BioWare employees started to have a bad feeling about the endless overtime ahead, similar to when they developed Dragon Age: Inquisition or Mass Effect: Andromeda. Meanwhile, BioWare’s leadership team is optimistic that “everything will be fine” and “the BioWare miracle” will happen. The employees’ concerns were dismissed or ignored, and many veteran employees still believed that the game would be okay.