Trent Oster Aiming For ‘Awesome Feeling’ Of Old School BioWare
Can BioWare bounce back? We recently asked ourselves this question and while we remain skeptical they’ll do it, we think it’s possible. Our advice can basically be boiled down to “do what you used to do really well,” and while that might sound a bit simplistic, it’s probably indisputable that the developer’s recent problems only really began when it began to self-consciously chase after people who don’t, as such, really play BioWare style RPGs.
Of course, we’re mere observers, and our perception of the company’s ills is based solely on what has managed to seep out into the public. That’s why it’s gratifying whenever former BioWare employees are willing to let slip, however obliquely, information that confirms what the rest of us are thinking. Take, for example, former SWTOR Lead Designer Daniel Erickson, who celebrated his decision to quit BioWare by tweeting two delicious mean and quite revealing comments about the state of the company under the rule of Electronic Arts. “Job hunt thoughts: If you think a monetization approach is the same thing as a game idea I don’t know why we’re talking,” he said, following this up with “I keep hearing companies are making games for people who don’t like games. I keep mentally replacing “games” both times with “hats.” Why?”
These comments were indeed delicious, but how representative are they? If comments made by former BioWare lead designer and current maestro behind Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition are any clue, they are very. Speaking with PC GamesN, Oster revealed not only the fact that he isn’t the biggest fan of the EA era of BioWare, but his clear feeling that BioWare has lost something as of late.
He was first asked to give readers a brief history of his time with BioWare. He left in 2009, and about that he only said “… time passes … July 2009 – EA and I part ways.” Oof. As if to further the point, he later described his goals for Beamdog, the studio he created after leaving BioWare, and it’s obvious what he thinks about the state of BioWare. His comments are worth repeating in full:
We’ve kind of asked ourselves, ‘What if BioWare went left and focused more on open world areas instead of going right and betting it all on hand-crafted story?’ Our goal with Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is to capture everything that was great about the original BG and add in some BG2 depth and polish through the new characters and adventures. With our work on BG2, we’ll probably to do same, try to inject a little BG1 magic into our new content.
I’ve been asked a few times, ‘Are you trying to build BioWare 2.0?’ The answer is no, I’m trying to build kind of a ‘Bioware 0.6 Mark 2’. A small team, oriented at the sweet spot of RPG development with a commitment to making great games as our first priority. Basically trying to recapture the awesome feeling of the early days of BioWare with the benefit of nearly 20 years in the industry to lend us direction. A company with a strong commitment to building empowering, efficient technology and a talented content creation team focused on making amazing games.
Ouch. But well played. Because I want this to happen.