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Anthem Was Almost Called “Beyond” Just Before E3 2017 Reveal And Only Went To Production After That

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A lengthy report by Kotaku has shed more light on what happened to Anthem, Bioware’s latest game that, despite positive first impressions, has way too many flaws on launch.

One particular note is that despite its lengthy development time, most of it is spent on pre-production. Production, where developers start to make the game proper, only started after the E3 2017 reveal.

The name of the game, Anthem, was a last-minute change one week before the reveal. The original name was supposed to be Beyond, but publisher EA found it hard to trademark.

The Kotaku report went into lengths on the original vision of Anthem, which involved more survival elements and the trademark flying mechanic was put in and out of the game many times throughout development.

But more alarming is the state of Bioware themselves. According to various ex-employees of Bioware which spoke to Kotaku for the report, there has been infighting within the remaining two Bioware studios- Edmonton and Austin.

Despite Bioware Austin’s experience with running online games with Star Wars The Old Republic, the feedback they have given for Anthem fell on deaf ears. In particular, the way the story is told through radio chatter, would not work well when other players in the squad just want to rush through missions.

Not only that, developers claimed that it EA’s Frostbite engine is hard to work with. The engine is mandated to be used on all in-house EA games (though newly acquired Respawn just released Apex Legends running on a modified Source engine).

The worse of all: the mental conditions of the developers. Some are reported to take “stress leaves”- mandated leaves as prescribed by doctors for weeks and sometimes months. There is also a strong belief of “Bioware Magic”- the faith that last-minute work (read: crunch time) will be enough to get the game in great shape just before launch.

Yikes.

In response to the story, Bioware issued a statement. It did not address any particular issue on the report itself.

Bioware is still committed to making Anthem better with fixes and updates, but the report should expose that some AAA game development practices are not sustainable these days. Mass Effect: Andromeda, also another recent Bioware game, had similar development struggles and was a decent but mostly disappointing game.

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