Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Anthem's Development

Jason Schreier has written an article on Anthem's development: How Bioware's Anthem Went Wrong. It's a very interesting read, and explains a lot about why Anthem is as it is.

In particular, there's a saying, "It's better to make a bad decision than no decision at all" which I think really applies here. It seems like until Mark Darrah came on board, the leadership kept flip-flopping. The whole going back and forth on flight, which is a core game system, is a real indicator of problems.

As the article states, you have to design your entire world very differently if you can fly. Think of the current Anthem world, which is very vertical to take full advantage of the ability to fly.

EA comes off surprisingly well in this. Other than the directive to use Frostbite, which is not unreasonable, they seemed very hands-off until presented with an unacceptable product. They seemed to be the only adults in the room willing to exercise judgement.

One thing that I've seen a lot of people talk about is that Bioware did not like referencing Destiny, preferring Diablo 3. I don't think this is as bad as people are making it out to be. The problem with referencing something too close to your project is that you'll often just end up making a slightly-better version. Of course, if you ignore that game, you might end up making the same mistakes as the first game. It's a hard line to judge. I think the decision to avoid looking at Destiny is defensible.

I do like Anthem, though. I enjoyed levelling through the story, and the basically game play is very fun. It's a good secondary game. I play for about an hour every other day or so. Log in, go through all the dailies, slowly improve my Javelins.

The fact that the team managed to put this together after such a rough development process is actually somewhat heartening. Hopefully they will be given enough resources to improve it further. The fact that they have a clearer identity and vision now should be very helpful.

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