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BioWare seems determined to not let their co-operative action-RPG Anthem fade into obscurity. In order to prevent that, the studio’s Austin team is now experimenting with an assortment of new systems that should theoretically make the game more enjoyable in the long run. This month’s development update penned by BioWare Austin’s studio director Christian Dailey shares some additional details:
My name is Christian, and I am the Studio Director for the BioWare Austin office that is leading the production of what we are exploring NEXT for Anthem. NICE TO MEET YOU!
Prior to this role I was the Franchise Development Director for the Anthem Live Service helping guide the development of our post-launch updates which focused on stabilizing and improving performance of the service, our first Cataclysm, Season of Skulls, Icetide and into the most recent update with 1.7. And in addition, I have been silently stalking you over the past year on Reddit, EA Forums, Twitter, etc. taking in all the feedback you have been graciously providing and adding it to the giant cookbook of things we are experimenting with in Anthem.
As you can see from my photo and like most of you, I am all set up from home, ready to be juggling multiple things – children, pets, family. Some days are better than others, but I can tell you that regardless of where I am working or where the team is working – we’re committed to this project. With that, I wanted to start with a quick update on what is going on with Anthem since we last discussed it in February.
Incubation- AKA prototyping
The Anthem incubation team has kicked off and we are starting to validate our design hypotheses. Incubation is a term we use internally – it essentially means we are going back and experimenting/prototyping to improve on the areas where we believe we fell short and to leverage everything that you love currently about Anthem. We are a small team – about 30-ish, earning our way forward as we set out to hit our first major milestone goals. Spoiler – this is going to be a longer process. And yes, the team is small but the whole point of this is to take our time and go back to the drawing board. And a small team gives us the agility a larger one can’t afford.
We really want this experience to be different for the team and our players, but we know we have some tough challenges to tackle. We want to include you as we go and be open and honest with where we are at and what the expectations are with where we are going. The reality is you will see things that look awesome but end up on the cutting room floor or things that you might think suck that you feel we are spending too much time on – but in the spirit of experimentation this is all OK. We really want to provide you all the transparency we can because of your passion and interest in Anthem. But, with that comes seeing how the sausage is made – which is not always pretty by the way.
Start the conversation
We also want to start putting together some regular comms out to everyone to show/talk about these changes and our progress. This blog is one example, but we also want to include you in more of the day to day and hopefully get you some real interactions with the team. These updates could come in the form of an ad-hoc live stream, or some cool concept art posted on social media, or the occasional feed of me curled up in a ball crying in the corner…
We will get back to everyone on what our update cadence will look like soon, as we start looping you into our progress.
We hope this finds you well
We have a great studio here in Austin working on Anthem and other cool projects (shout out to the SWTOR team). I am proud of the folks I spend time with – and in this physical distancing new world, the folks I spend time on Zoom with. I am not here to over hype anything, but we do believe the changes we are making are the right ones and we hope you think so as well…but you might not and that is cool too. It is the constructive criticism and feedback we need – in either direction.
I hope everyone is staying safe and focusing on the things that matter most to you. As game developers we are all very lucky for the job we get to do but there is some real stuff going on out there and some real heroes looking out for our safety and well-being. Take care of yourselves and each other. Stay tuned as we kick this off and we hope to see/hear from you as we go on this journey (stronger) together.