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BioWare: Zeschuk and Muzyka Have Left the Building

By Shamus
on Thursday Sep 20, 2012
Filed under:
Video Games


BioWare co-founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka are leaving the company. According to their own announcements on the issue, they’re not pulling a Pete Molyneux and going indie. They are very explicitly retiring from the games industry altogether.

Now would be an excellent time to bring up the BioWare video from Mr. Nerdrage. I love this video not just because I agree with it, but because he takes the points I’ve been arguing for years and puts them into a nice organized package.

Link (YouTube)

I’ve said or touched on many of these same points before:

  1. Tone at the top: The leadership sets the values for an entire company.
  2. Just because a company is big and powerful doesn’t mean it’s being run optimally, or even competently.
  3. “All our games should be like FIFA” and “all games should have multiplayer” are great examples of what you get when non-gaming executives look at sales trends and make broad decisions for developers, ignorant of the fine details.
  4. Games should be getting cheaper to produce, not more expensive.
  5. The “we make money to make games” versus “we make games to make money” mindsets will ultimately produce different sorts of products. This circles back to the “values” point in #1.

Seriously, someone needs to get Errant Signal and Nerdrage under the same roof of long-form academic-style analysis. And the guy who makes Reset Button should totally make more videos.

The frustrating thing about the story of Zeschuk and Muzyka leaving BioWare is that everyone has a strong desire to read between the lines. We want to know what’s been going on at BioWare over the last few years. How did SWTOR end up as such a soulless, ugly, broken, disappointment? Was the Mass Effect transition move from “thoughtful” to “shooty” something that BioWare chose, or something imposed by EA? Was the smaller scope and art recycling of Dragon Age 2 a result of a creative decision, or from executive pressure to make Dragon Age a FIFA-ish yearly title? What happened to the small, creative company launched by three passionate guys that turned it into a grinder of perma-crunch and revolving-door contract work? How can a company change so fast in such a short time?

Basically, how much blame can we put on hated EA and how much can we spare Zeschuk and Muzyka?

Of course, unless someone writes a tell-all book we’ll probably never know. In fact, not even then. We don’t know, and we can’t know. All we can do is guess and argue and speculate, which is what we’ve been doing since EA bought BioWare in 2007.

Comments (118)

  1. Infinitron says:

    I’ll repeat something I said on the Codex the other day:

    Bioware’s mistake was that they didn’t try to monetize the NWN engine somehow, perhaps by using it to make a Guild Wars-style small scale MMO. Instead they went the high budget cinematic console game route, which basically forced them into EA’s deathly embrace.

    • Lalaland says:

      As far as I’m aware CD Projekt Red was the only company to licence the engine as it seemed only suited to RPG style play. I’d be doubtful of it’s suitability to MMO play without major rewrites but I agree if they’d kept TOR to a much smaller ‘KOTOR Online’ model rather than ‘WOW Beater 2.0’ style they went with they’d have done much better

    • Artur CalDazar says:

      Didn’t they use the NWN engine to ‘make’ Dragon Age, using it to test out ideas and build a kinda demo version of the game before starting to make the maps proper?

      • Infinitron says:

        That’s true. And it only took them about five or six years to make?
        DA:O was kind of a throwback to Bioware’s PC-centric roots, but it was too little, too late, and quickly abandoned again.

        My main point is, they were too quick to throw away the independence and creativity that comes with PC-centric development. Compare and contrast with Valve.

        • Thomas says:

          The thing is you can’t. The problem with Valve, is they don’t actually have to make money on their games and in fact, because of their management style, they physically can’t set budgets for games. When you’ve got 200 people swapping desks over a 5 year development cycle, how many man hours have been spent on any one game?

          For example, LA Noire took 7 years development and ended up costing $50 million. Metal Gear Solid 4 took 4 years to make and cost $60 million. Too Human cost $60 million+ Apparently HL 2 cost $40 million to make (even then, I’ve no idea how they managed to work that out :D. Very tight record keeping I guess)

          If Valve weren’t in a position to self publish, apparently they’d be receiving about £3 per game sold, which would require them to sell 8 millions copies at full price to even break even. After 4 years of selling Half Life 2, Valve had only sold 6.5 million. So 4 years after HL2 Valve wouldn’t even have sold enough to begin paying staff wages for those 4 years or fund the production of another game.

          Valve can only do what they do, because they own Steam, they don’t have to pay publishers a cut and in fact they only have to not lose as much money as the cut they take of every game sold on Steam in a year to stay afloat. Which is why they have independence and freedom and creativity.

          The actual state of independence you get from being a PC developer is that of Obsidian. Even CD Projekt publishes games for it’s income source. Whereas Obsidian are a competent developer with no outside income source who want to make PC games (Avellone never stops complaining about console RPGS :D) but can’t, because the truth of unsupported PC development is that you end up becoming a publishers whipping dog, making licensed sequels of other companies games that get released before you’re even allowed to QA.

          Maybe if the engine had done really well and was licensed by a crud load of other people, they could have survived like Epic Games survives. But that would really require a consistent strong RPG PC market, which is possible but dicey

          • Infinitron says:

            Thomas: That’s the situation today. It wasn’t as bad a decade ago.

          • Michael says:

            With HL2, it wouldn’t even be tight record keeping, even basic record keeping should be enough to get a general idea of what people are working on.

            Even if they’re salaried, you’d still want to know what they’re spending their time on.

            After that, the margin of error on a number like 40m is massive. Off by a couple hundred thousand? Don’t sweat it, it’s just a round number.

    • Alphadrop says:

      You sir, raised my hopes and dashed them in an instant, or about 4 minutes.
      The Youtube comments supporting Fuse aren’t helping much either.

    • ccesarano says:

      While the latter trailer shows a rather depressing change in visual aesthetics, primarily in the color filtering and toning down some of the more colorful art styles (why’d they get rid of the one kid’s trench coat?), the two trailers are also of a different nature. The former is pure cinematic and merely shows off the writing team’s, well, writing.

      We can’t tell if the gameplay from the second video was ever supposed to be anything different. As such, I can’t get worked up over a change in visuals. Plus, you don’t know who made that call to change them.

      Note I didn’t read the Polygon article you linked, though, so perhaps there is more information shared in there.

      • zob says:

        Character designs changed. In previous trailer all members of the team had their own image. New one shows them in the same “modern military armor” with that “constipated” facial expression industry uses for “grim” and “serious” And I thought that stupid “darker and edgier” stuff got left behind in 90s.

      • Sagretti says:

        That’s the huge loss, though. I doubt the gameplay is much different, but the basic style and plot of the game has been completely changed to make it more “serious.” Something with humor and wit is now yet another game about using big games and a grimace to fight an alien menace. It was influenced by The Incredibles, now it’s like most of the other mediocre-or-worse shooters from the last 15-20 years.

        I don’t know if we can blame EA yet, as the article is simply a hype piece. I do say that we can blame the current nature of the game industry, where every new ip has to maximize its appeal to some imaginary “typical gamer.”

        Edited to Add: While it has no bearing on the actual product, the trailer music choices are a stark contrast. One was a well chosen garage rock song that fit the action and theme. The other was some generic hip-hop/electronic dance music/whatever song that had nothing to do with what was going on in the video.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        The first game had flavor and character. The second one is just bland.

        • ccesarano says:

          All I’m saying is while I find the aesthetic choices disappointing as well, a trailer is only reflective of what the marketing team thinks people want to say.

          I mean, when you sat down and played Dragon Age Origins, did it come off like these trailers (featuring Marilyn Manson screaming “THIS IS THE NEW SHIIIIIIT”) suggest? And you can argue that those trailers also convey some plot of blah-de-blah, and all you really have is “Lord of the Rings rip-off that happens to be bloody, rated R and sex appeal”.

          …okay, so that might be all you got out of Dragon Age anyway, but I stick by my point. What I got out of Dragon Age: Origins was greatly different than the game they were trying to sell in those trailers.

    • Even says:

      The first trailer: Had me smiling by the end of it. Visuals that catched the eye and writing that set a humorous tone. It didn’t tell much about the gameplay but it gave an interesting glimpse of what to expect.

      That second trailer: I just.. why and what? What are you (they) trying to sell here? Explosions? Darkness? Gameplay gimmicks we already knew would be in the game? The cheesy song?

      I didn’t know I could hate EA even more than I already did. Learn something new every day.

      • anaphysik says:

        Honestly, look at some of the trailers released recently for Mass Effect 3 (e.g. the Leviathan one). Far too many minutes are spent showing dudes moving slowly, shooting weapons – and that second trailer looks a heck of a lot like that.

        In a sense, the salient point to me here is ‘what were they trying to show off in each trailer?’ In the first, it’s clear character design and goofy action humour. In the second, it’s science-y buzzwords (not actually technobabble, but since the actual materials terminology they use seems so far to be completely divorced from the effects, it may as well be) and average gameplay (note how they don’t even seem to focus on each character’s special ability all that much; even the one guy’s giant shield thing is obscured by poor palette choice).
        And to me the takeaway idea from the two trailers is that the people making them had completely different ideas in mind of what should “define” the game.

        (EDIT: I’m not really certain why I replied to you in particular here; I’m certainly not disagreeing with what you said. In fact, I pretty much agree entirely with it.)

    • Cody211282 says:

      Wow, that first trailer looked amazing. Then for some reason the game went through the “dark n gritty” filter to look like another horrible average shooter.

      Damn it EA stop ruining everything good.

    • Lalaland says:

      Goddammit if EA ruin another fun developer with lashings of GrimDark I’m going to cry. Resistence 3 actually managed to acheive a fairly elegaic tone for what is ultimately a simple FPS, if the EA grinder ruins them too it will be too tragic

    • Shamus says:

      That’s not game development.

      That’s vandalism.

    • kanodin says:

      I read the article, thought the Insomniac guy was making strong points for the change. They seemed on the right track, even if maybe taking their magical alien goo a bit too serious. And then I actually watched the new trailer. Ouch.

    • Hitchmeister says:

      That’s really sad. The first trailer looked like a creative and imaginative game with a sense of humor. I was actually thinking, “This looks like fun. Why have I not heard of it?” Then the second trailer looked like “Yet Another Bro Shooter.” Why would I care? This has been done countless times before and almost certainly better. I was wondering, “Is this just bad advertising?” Glancing at the article says no, they actually took out anything that made the game look interesting.

      • Ofermod (Formerly Keredis) says:

        Yeah. The first trailer had some real personality to it, and I don’t just mean that the characters were… well, characters. It gave a certain feel to the type of universe it’s set in, as well as the gameplay mechanics.

        The second trailer removed all of that, leaving behind just a generic multiplayer game where each player has a specific gimmick weapon.

    • Jace911 says:

      What the actual flying donkey fuck…?

      How do you decide to take something so awesome and turn it into such a festering sphincter? The first trailer looked like Borderlands, Team Fortress 2, and the Incredibles mashed together. The second literally looks like Call of Duty with shiny lasers.

      • Michael says:

        When the person making the decisions, isn’t part of the dev team, is part of corporate middle-management, doesn’t understand gaming, but plays COD with his frat bros on weekends…

        …and has no soul.

        You know, the guys who said no to Wasteland 2?

    • Abnaxis says:

      One thing first: I am disappointed with the changes they made to the art. I agree with you, I just enjoy picking these things apart and playing Devil’s advocate.

      That said, maybe they went in a different art direction because if they stuck with a lighthearted style, they were afraid “4 player coop with cartoony style and irreverent humor” would translate into “Borderlands with fewer guns.” The gameplay mechanics seem strikingly similar to Borderlands, so maybe pushing the art toward more realism is their way of trying to distinguish the game more.

      Of course, I would prefer it if they hadn’t done that, but I’ll still probably try Fuze when it comes out…

    • el_b says:

      how could they ever believe that was a good business decision?

      • Michael says:

        Because Call of Duty sells. Because Gears of War sells.

        Remember, the people who made this decision were the same ones who thought the Medal of Honor relaunch, and Battlefield 3 would genuinely displace Call of Duty.

    • paercebal says:


      The first trailer had that kind of smart ass humour and beautiful visual design that made me wonder when I would be able to buy it.

      The second trailer is about some anonymous, forgettable, “meh” game that pollute the shelves when the DVD box is presented. While I’m not that sensible to the music in the first trailer (english is not my birth language), the aural noise in the second is just in par with the visual stains on the screen, so, all in all, this is all balanced and coherent.

      Anyway, being able to turn the first game into the second game is an impressive achievement. Someone did actually recognise everything that seemed cool, amusing and surprising in the first game, and had it removed just to make sure the game won’t stray from its aimed average mediocrity hidden behind Kaboom explosions.


    • GabrielMobius says:

      That feels almost like a punch to the gut.

      The first trailer made me immediately wonder when I’d need to budget around that $60 expenditure.

      The second trailer underwhelmed me to such an extent that I actually forgot the first one existed, for a brief moment.

      I will weep internally for the loss of such vibrant aesthetics.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Not that I’m actually this optimistic, but this could just be an advertising difference.

        In the same way that I’m very interested in the game of the first trailer and not interested in the second game, I had the same feeling with two ads I saw for Looper last week. I can’t find the first one I saw though.

        It’s the same movie -but one of the trailers was for a dramatic action piece about time travel and identity and loyalty. The other one was a slapstick movie where Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have an odd-couple “i want to kill you but I can’t” style relationship complete with hectoring father figure saying “why haven’t you killed him yet.”

        Same movie, very different feels from the ads. That’s probably the worst thing. As a result I can’t tell whether I want to see the movie or play the game, because the information about the product is so refined it has no definite taste.

        • Danath says:

          The colors, they are gone.

          You can show, or present things very differently depending on the trailer, but the colors… that’s a bit different. All the colors were gone or muted, the vibrancy was just poof. Everything in the second trailer was grey, brown, and eye searing orange accompanied with annoying hip hop music the entire way through.

          The bits you see of the characters also shows a distinct toning down of the more cartoonish appearance they had in the Overstrike trailer, further rendering this into the gritty realistic shooter territory and undermining a good chunk of the games personality.

          Such a shame, I want whats in the first trailer, even if it didn’t show me much in the way of gameplay.

    • AJ_Wings says:

      What a shame, especially coming from Insomniac. Those guys made such wonderful games like Spyro The Dragon and Ratchet & Clank.

      • Alphadrop says:

        Whoops, just imagined those two game series being passed through a dark ‘n edgy colour filter with added dubstep music and random grainy footage of… cellular structures (I think).
        Won’t be sleeping easy anytime soon.

  2. ENC says:

    That’s exactly the problem Shamus; we don’t know what’s going on there, and never will.

    If giving a game multiplayer, even at the expense of singleplayer, improved the sales 10% then would it be fullish not to do it even at the expense of artistic integrity?

    Unless your company is not-for-profit then the investors will always want to see maximum returns, especially in a public company, unless they would prefer to narrow their margins at being in charge of a better game if owned privately and exclusively in-house (rarely does this actually occur).

    • Wandring says:

      Game companies don’t make development decisions (like to include multi-player or whatever it may be) because they can somehow guarantee them an extra profit, it’s because it seemed to be a factor in other successful games in the market.

      The bigger the company is the fewer the risks they take, most will try to be safer to copying existing formulas (i.e. “all games must have multi-player to sell”). Companies see a successful product and attribute it’s success to the elements in it, rather than the whole package, the audience, artistic tone (space opera is NOT soccer), timing in the economy, etc.

      The unfortunate part – for everyone, consumer and producer alike – is that correlation does not equal causality. They end up looking very foolish, for trying to playing it safe.

    • Shamus says:

      “If giving a game multiplayer, even at the expense of singleplayer, improved the sales 10% then would it be fullish not to do it even at the expense of artistic integrity?”

      This is where those “company values” come in. With a company you began yourself, with your own money, because you wanted to make something great? Of course you’d dump multiplayer in favor of making the single-player better.

      And that’s even assuming that there IS a 10% benefit to be gained, which I think is increasingly difficult to support. The Spec Ops example is pretty damning, and that’s just one example of many. Does day-1 DLC make money? Sure. Does it make more money than it loses due to people refusing to buy in disgust? Not even EA knows that. This is to say nothing of the long-term effects of making it such a headache to get your content. The Nerdrage guy pointed out how he doesn’t but Final Fantasy titles anymore. He’s not boycotting. He’s just not interested. How many of these decisions are leading to short-term boosts in sales at the cost of long-term destruction of their franchises.

      I say they’re doing it wrong, to the harm of both themselves and the hobby. The fact that I can’t see the balance sheet doesn’t make it invalid to have this conversation.

      • stratigo says:

        It is all about the short term.

        Why would they care about a franchise when, after it dies, they can just purchase another company with a popular idea and have them produce the same thing to death

        • krellen says:

          We as a society don’t value long-term thinking. We used to, but short-term value and constant movement are now far more en vogue than long-term investment and slow (but steady) progress.

          This is “what’s wrong with games today”, as well as what’s wrong with many other facets of life. Looking at the short-term isn’t wrong, but making it your sole consideration is.

      • Aldowyn says:

        The problem is (krellen talked about this the other day on his blog) is that these multiplayer titles are necessarily MORE of a risk in some ways. Multiplayer doesn’t add anything, ESPECIALLY for shooters, because unless you’re CoD or BF3 or something, it’s extremely unlikely that anyone actually cares. Multiplayer games have to hit a certain threshold before it actually helps, because otherwise you just have empty servers and no decent community.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        I remember a chapter from The Wisdom of Crowds where Surowieki (and yes, I had to look that name up) points out the downside to the wisdom of crowds. If everyone is making independent judgments, then aggregating them some way -averaging or somesuch -can produce more accurate predictions. Markets work this way -a thousand independent transactions provides a price. Think about buying a car, you look up the bluebook value, talk to some friends, and talk to the sales rep to come to a price.

        However, if everyone does that, the system breaks down. The transactions are no longer independent, they are based on everyone comparing themselves to everyone else comparing themselves to everyone else. The data are junk because there is no information there. It’s all circular.

        Bots on Ebay do this. A is programmed to offer B’s price+15%, B is programmed to offer A’s price+10%. They can spiral upwards to absurd prices before someone figures it out and resets the price. (Of course, no one buys as they are doing this.)

        Someone, somewhere, has to be trying to build a better mousetrap. If everyone is just following the leader -and there aren’t actually any leaders to follow -of course they are making mistakes.

      • ENC says:

        That’s the beauty of EA though from a financial perspective.

        Because they kill their divisions off so quickly they never have an established reputation to begin with.

        Hell, they’re still raking in money despite being labelled ‘worst American company’ by a survey. It’s not like the average consumer pays much attention to who actually makes a game (I know I certainly didn’t until the mid 2000s) either, they just base their purchase off of what looks good and possibly how it was reviewed.

        It’s also a shame that this style of thinking is still going on despite the fact we went into the GFC primarily because of this type of thinking in the US in a simplistic sense.

        I don’t claim to know what exactly Bioware or anyone else are privvy to either, but I know many companies take gratuitous amounts of data so they can precisely monitor things such as of who plays the game how many finish single player, where they get stuck, how many play MP before playing single player, etc, and extrapolate from there.

        Also, foolish, urgh that mistake will haunt me forever.

      • BlackBloc says:

        In my opinion the complaints about Day 1 DLC are likely overblown and due to a misunderstanding of development process. Art assets are on the DVD? That’s expected because that’s probably one of the first things of the DLC that was done. In order to be able to ship on time for a given release date, developers must drop in a milestone by a given date so that it can get a full QA cycle and be burned on disks and shipped out in time. Now the developers must have a list of quests, characters and so forth they want to put in and they probably mostly always have an ambitious list that they have to trim down once the milestone date comes crawling into view. So on D Day they just stop work on all the stuff that’s not finished, disable it and get it off to QA and on to the Gold Master and printing. At that point the choice is have your devs move on to something else or spend the period of time (a few months) between that point and the game arriving in stores all over the planet. I think the thing most people who complain about Day 1 DLC don’t get is that the choice was probably either have Day 1 DLC or that part of the game not being in at all (they could also have their devs work for free for a few months instead… yeah, that’s realistic).

        • Infinitron says:

          I don’t care how much sense Day 1 DLC makes from a development or logistical perspective. It still sucks. They shouldn’t do it.

        • some random dood says:

          “Misunderstanding of the development process.” Sorry, but I think we actually do understand. The company doesn’t gave a dangnabbit about their customers, only about cash. Basically the story doesn’t matter, the gaps left by leaving out content doesn’t matter, but being able to nickel and dime the punter for an extra few dollars (wow, inflation gone rampant – 10 bucks for what used to be nickels!) – PRICELESS!

        • newdarkcloud says:

          I don’t mind costumes and songs and crap (Y’know, frivolous stuff) being sold as Day 1 DLC. Someone wants to buy a costume, be my guest.

          What pisses me off is when major story/lore content is sold as Day 1 DLC! Take Javik from ME3 for example. He’s very crucial to the lore. Also, he is FAR too well ingrained into the game for Day 1 DLC. We has tons of cutscenes and assets dedicated to him. When it was revealed he was ON THE FUCKING DISC, we were not surprised. Disappointed, but not surprised.

  3. ccesarano says:

    I feel like I should be worried that these guys are leaving, but honestly, I cannot be bothered to care. Maybe I’m not close enough to the company, or maybe I haven’t read enough interviews with the Doctors to get a sense of who they are or what their visions have been, but I just don’t feel worried about the future of Bioware.

    Well, outside of some of the crap EA has been saying about their future plans and all, but that seems to have put Dead Space at more risk than any of the Bioware games.

  4. Joshua says:

    As an accountant, I’d say this was a fairly insightful and spot-on video. Having gone through several M&As now, it’s always slightly weird when you have these culture clashes, and sometimes getting too big does tend to make you into a juggernaut that can’t change direction easily.

    • Lalaland says:

      Hopefully this doesn’t pull you too much into ‘work mode’ Joshua but I posited below that there isn’t much ‘synergy’ between what EA does and what Bioware used to do. Would two companies in the same industry but with different customer bases be regarded as good matches in M&A? Or does the fuzzy nature of the media industry make such analysis all but impossible (as compared to say manufacturing concerns)?

  5. Raygereio says:

    I put most of the blame for the “new Bioware” on Bioware itself. The biggest problem in ME2, DA2 and ME3 for me was the writing and EA was not the one sitting behind the typewriter. Heck, the original ending of ME3 (without the aplication of extreme handwavium of the extended cut DLC) runs directly counter to EA’s interests as it effectively killed of the ME franchise.
    As for TOR. Here’s a quote from someone who worked on the game over from Something Awful:

    I got hired on the exact same day that EA bought BioWare, which was ominous, but to be completely honest I think EA was very fair in how they handled SWtOR. Maybe too fair. The truth is that the game was coming way over budget and over schedule and EA bankrolled the majority of it without much interference until the end when they sent in the “get it done” managers. At the end of the day it shipped with minimal polish because it was one of the most expensive games ever made and they were bleeding money like noone had ever seen before. Without EA I believe it would have come out in a lot worse condition.

    Reading more from this guy, I get the impression that Bioware didn’t really know what they were doing when trying to do a MMO.
    A possibility is that EA recognized that they screwed up when they acquired studios before. EA itself seems to agree with that.
    And maybe they tried to be more hands of with Bioware and just watched it backfire on them anyway. Who knows.

    My personal pet theory about what went wrong: Looking back to comments from Bioware writers it seems like Bioware’s best writing comes from when their writers work together, reviewing eachother’s work, giving eachother ideas, etc. Apparently ME3’s ending came from just two guys banging their heads against the wall without the rest of the team. While Tuchanka was done by the whole writing team.
    I think Bioware spread itself to thin working of ME, DA and TOR and this enabled some people who might produce okay writing when their more dumb ideas are stopped, to run amok.

    As for the doctors. I don’t know. They’ve been damned busy in the last couple of years with getting TOR out of the door, keeping their employees happy and making sure the studio survived (if I recal right Bioware was not doing okay back when EA bought them). And they weren’t exactly sitting stil before EA took over.
    I’d be shocked they aren’t even a little bit burned out after being very busy for 17 years.

    • Hitchmeister says:

      “I get the impression that Bioware didn't really know what they were doing when trying to do a MMO.”

      But the question in my mind is, “Why were they making an MMO?” Is it because BioWare decided to make an MMO, or because EA decided MMOs are profitable and tasked BioWare with turning their next Old Republic game into one?

      If it’s the first, EA should have stepped in and said, “No. We want you to stick to what you’re good at for the sake of our bottom line. We will not give you the enormous budget needed to develop an MMO.” If it’s the second… well, this happens.

      • Infinitron says:

        FYI, SWTOR has been in development since before Bio joined up with EA.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        You hear stories like this and Kurt Schilling’s infamous failure and you wonder what exactly makes the MMO genre so alluring to developers and publishers. It’s like they don’t recognize the challenge of the genre. It takes skill to pull something like an MMO off when competing with WoW and now Guild Wars 2.

        • Sagretti says:

          What makes it alluring is the 12 million (or whatever WOW had at its peak) people paying you 15 dollars a month in subscription fees, plus the cost of the game and any expansions. Nobody wanted to believe that those numbers were a fluke that would probably never be replicated in the same way. The true realities of creating and running such a game don’t become clear until after it’s too late. With Warcraft declined somewhat, and the no-subscription fee Guild Wars 2 being the strongest competitor, hopefully new MMO developers will have much more realistic expectations and goals.

          • Matt K says:

            Pretty much. My guess is they figured with that kind of money they could fund whatever dream project they wanted. Given their name, the KOTOR pedigree and the fact that SWO and EVE were essentially it for Space MMO’s it does sound like a good bet at the time they started.

            That said, once the costs ballooned like it did they were going to be in a good deal of trouble unless they came up with a creative solution, like GW’s buy the game and then Free to play or perhaps backing out a single player (or coop game) ala KoA. Unfortunately they went with the standard model and lost as a result.

        • Shamus says:

          The allure:

          In it’s heyday, WoW had ten million people paying $15 a month. Running the numbers, that’s $150 million dollars, every single month. (Ignoring the fact that some of those ten million people live in Asia, where the pricing is different.) That’s not even including retail sales, expansion packs, and premium items.

          It’s the same numeric trick that tricks people into playing the lottery: Yes, the odds are long, but the reward is SO BIG. And at least in a lottery, you have a decent estimation of the odds. When someone says, “We’re going to make a game better than WoW”, how can you tell if they’re full of ideas or hubris?

          Heck, even for those of us who have played these games for years, it’s pretty dang hard to tell what will hit or miss. For an executive that’s used to thinking of games as products like soap, or snack cakes, or silverware, they probably don’t even realize how much they don’t know.

          • krellen says:

            Anyone that looks at WoW as something that can be imitated is clearly looking at only the one high blip and ignoring the entire rest of the graph. WoW is an anomaly. Other MMOs might reach one or two million, tops. Ten million is an extreme statistical outlier, and any well-trained, professional analyst would immediately exclude it from their analysis, recognising it as a flash-in-the-pan, lottery-style victory that cannot readily be repeated.

            Certainly not a goal to base a sound business decision on.

            • Raygereio says:

              Well for starters the people making the decisions don’t think like that. They only see the success WoW had and want in on that action.

              Another problem here (and not just in videogames, but in a lot of industries) is that corporate culture prefers to go after fads, instead of focussing on more long-lived, sustainable models.
              Making a big pile of cash quickly often looks good on your resume, while having built something that provides a smaller income for years doesn’t. It’s dumb, but that’s corporate culture for ya.

          • Steve C says:

            Just to be pedantic, WoW had 12M subs in it’s heyday.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I am able to believe that EA would interfere with BioWare. But the point of the corporate form (at least from an org-theory perspective) is to diversify. So trying to force BioWare into the EA culture is self-defeating. Now you’ve just doubled down on the existing model and what was the point of bringing in BioWare?

      As a result, my first guess would be that the problem really is with BioWare. Maybe they overpromised, or their eyes were bigger than their budgets, or they spread themselves too thin. EA may not have helped.

  6. Jethro says:

    My friend just left BioWare as well- I won’t detail his remarks, other than to say he just didn’t have the same joy as he used to. He’d been there since before EA took over, so I suspect it may have something to do with the corporate culture and all that.

    At any rate, it’s a drag, because now I will need to make a new friend there so I can get cheap copies of EA titles. #firstworldproblems

  7. Lalaland says:

    In the EA/Bioware blame rainbow I’m more on the Bioware end of the scale, they chose to partner with EA, they knew the history and they still chose them. If they lost their passion for game design dealing with the management of a company they chose to sell to then my sympathies are greatly limited.

    I’ve been on an old school Bioware binge of late replaying both KOTOR and Dragon Age: Origins. Both higlighted to me the tragedy of the choice to sell to EA everything that improved in the merger were areas that didn’t influence my purchase of Bioware games. The graphics got better technically but regressed in terms of design, the combat got more fluid but the non-combat interactions devolved into Jesus/Jerk dichotomies and above all else they started to pad their titles with combat instead of ‘postman’ quests which at least filled in the world. I saw what happend to ME in it’s sequels and have enjoyed too many articles bemoaning the destruction of the series to entertain the thought of playing DA2, let’s hope DA3 get’s back on track

    To use M&A parlance there was no synergy there, the two companies technically both made ‘games’ but enjoyed as much overlap as Intel and Texas Instruments, sure they both fab and design chips but for radically different markets.

    Also picked up KOTOR 2 on Steam and with the TSLRCM 1.81 it is a far more interesting game than KOTOR 1, so colour me excited for Project Eternity.

    • Infinitron says:

      Bioware has two problems:

      1) The quality of their games is slipping. This is well-known.
      2) Even the good games don’t sell well enough for the likes of EA. Yes, 3-4 million copies sold just doesn’t cut it these days.
      Thus Bioware is under constant pressure from EA to change things up and the two problems feed into each other.

      Basically joining up with EA was a huge strategic mistake, although it may have looked wiser in the days of the first Xbox with their lower budgets.

      A long time ago, David Gaider posted on an Internet forum about how he didn’t want Bioware to end up like Troika. Well, Tim Cain is making the game of his dreams now with the direct funding of the fans. Maybe staying independent to the bitter end wasn’t such a bad idea, hmm?

    • Hitchmeister says:

      You invest all your savings into a game company and years of your blood, sweat, tears, and personal life into creating something wonderful. Everyone tells you it’s wonderful, one of the best things ever, but you barely make enough money back to cover your financial investment, let alone all the blood, sweat, tears, and social life. Then a big corporation comes along and says, we’ll buy your company making you as rich as you should be for all that work and bankroll your next big thing with promises of even greater financial success. Do you really turn down the reward you’ve worked so hard for?

      I find it hard to put myself in the shoes of BioWare and make a different decision than the one they did.

      • Klay F. says:

        Disclaimer: This comparison is hyperbolic.

        If this was the case, then you could still blame Bioware for not being genre savvy. If an all powerful organization comes to you with answers for every one of your problems, all the while failing to mention any fine print that might be involved, anybody on the face of the planet should be able to see that you are making a “deal with the devil”.

        It should have been that simple. You don’t make deals with (seemingly) all-powerful entities who offer miraculous solutions to your problems. There is always fine-print, you will end up selling your soul. What good is success and fame without a soul?

        • megabyte says:

          “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
          Mathew 16:26 King James Bible.

          Disclaimer: I verified this passage with a quick online search, but I apologize profusely if I have misquoted it.

    • Khizan says:

      DA2 was, imo, a more ambitious story than DA:O and a better game, excepting the clumsy ending.

      When you get right down to it, DA:O was just “Hero saves world from orcs! Hooray!”. It was set in an excellent world, and it was polished very nicely, but it was nothing new or groundbreaking. Reskinned orcs in a Dragon Cult were ravaging the surface world, and you had to drive them back by personally solving every freaking problem in the world to recruit allies. Yawn.

      DA2 wasn’t as polished, but the storyline was so much more ambitious than ‘Defeat the big bad and save the world!’, and I can cut them an awful lot of slack for just attempting to run a major RPG that’s not based on Saving the World from the Big Bad Guy.

      • kanodin says:

        Agreed I quite liked Bioware’s storytelling in DA2. The really disheartening thing for me was that a lot of the complaints were about that storytelling, about how it needed a big central evil for you to kill. Which is not to say all the complaints were that, or that there weren’t numerous legitimate issues of course.

        • Khizan says:

          Yeah, I found that to be extremely depressing, too.

          Rail about how they shouldn’t have reused all those dungeons, and I’ll agree with you. It doesn’t particularly bother me, but I’m willing to admit that my distaste for “explore all the things!” puts me in the minority and it was a bad call over all.

          Rail about how it had endless waves of thugs dropping from the ceiling and I’ll agree with you again, though I will maintain that given the choice between the Mage Age: Origins ‘get just within maximum spell range, obliterate enemy group, wait for cooldowns’ style and the “wade in and hack things up with a sword’ style, I will choose the second one every time.

          Complain about the ending and I will wholeheartedly agree that they messed it up, though I like Orsino giving in at the end, as I view it as a proof of the Templar’s point, that even the best mages can be driven to horrible things and so must all be contained.

          But complain about the fact that the story wasn’t based around a Big Bad Evil Guy and Saving the World and that it was instead based around the main character’s interactions with their home city and two powerful factions in the world, and I shake my head and despair.

        • krellen says:

          My complaint is that I just didn’t give a shit. I didn’t care about anything that was going on, or about the characters, or about the city. I tried replaying DA2 back at the start of the year (after I did successfully replay DA1 all the way through), but stopped somewhere in Act 2 because I really just couldn’t give a good damn about it.

          Also the combat sucked.

        • Danath says:

          Each individual story was good, and the characters and their evolution over the game were mostly well done. I even liked emo elf, which surprised me, although Varric was my favorite by far.

          The part where the stories had to connect did not work and kind of left you without any real payoff, not enough buildup, no big overarching goal linking them together (not necessarily an evil to kill), and generally poor ending that disregarded most of your decisions anyways. The mage/templar conflict was there but it always kind of felt distant until it really took prominence in the third act, you were expecting it sure, but aside from Anders constant complaints they didn’t really a good job on making the conflict meaningful as usually if you’re “good” at least one of the factions shows itself to be a total dick in x situation, making it easy to figure out who you should help. Or in one egrarious situation, a blatantly evil templar/chantry combo (trying to get me killed), or a blatantly evil mage (blood mage wife lady or whatever) who for some reason I was NOT given the option of killing, despite the fact I WOULD have in both situations for a huge variety of reasons. And in situations where both sides are moderate, le gasp, you can get them to work together, kind of defuses the conflict when it’s only there due to extremism on both sides.

          Combat was too fast, it felt weird, FAR too fast weapon swings and teleporting between enemies and other various annoying imbalances. Run into 3-4 guys, end up fighting 30-40 who leap into my meat grinder 2h sword, then suddenly insta die to two lieutenant rogues who insta stealth and double backstab me (50% of max hp). Yes I was playing on the hardest difficulty, still annoying.

    • Taellosse says:

      Except it isn’t entirely fair to blame “Bioware” for deciding to accept EA’s buyout. Bioware was NOT an independent company at the time–it was at least partly owned by a private equity firm. And it was bleeding money and personnel trying to make SWTOR. I very much doubt that The Doctors actually had much of a choice. They had SOME ownership of Bioware at that point, but I very much doubt they were actually the majority shareholders between them.

      To the private equity firm that owned Bioware at the time, selling to EA made ALL the sense in the world. They made a profit over their initial investment, and Bioware stopped being an expense on their quarterly balance sheets. What happens to the company after that matters to THEM not at all.

      • Lalaland says:

        That’s a fair point they were at the time of the takeover part of the Bioware/Pandemic Studios vehicle created in 2005 with the venture capital fund Elevation Partners. As part of that deal though they gave up control of their ultimate destinies to tool up for the coming console titles with the chairman coming from Elevation Partners rather than from either studio.

        Elevation Press Release (pdf file)

        It’s interesting to note that the press release from Elevation Partners lists the titles then already in production at Bioware with Mass Effect and Dragon Age being the only then unreleased titles. If you look at the list of released titles from that point on (excepting ME1 and DA:O which were already in production) there is a marked change in the type, and to my mind quality, of games being produced. Perhaps this change stemmed from that fateful decision to go for the consoles in 2005 rather than anything EA did when they bought Elevation out. Which rather seems to imply any change in quality or tone stemmed from decisions taken quite deliberately at the top by Bioware rather than anything forced by EA.

  8. Even says:

    It doesn’t really matter in the end. What’s been done is done. For both EA’s and Bioware’s sake I just wish they could learn something from it and more importantly I hope the industry as a whole would learn something from their mistakes. It’s another piece of history that doesn’t need repeating.

  9. rayen says:

    The only argument I’d make against this video is in the games should be getting cheaper to make. And not even the point as a whole just the first bullet that companies can license instead of creating… I don’t know that I’m board with that entirely. New engines and platforms are the driver of new game-play and mechanical innovations. Now if you want to make one and release 5-10 games on it over period before making a new one (see iD) or create a engine and run for every game you make and continually updating it (see Valve) I’m fine with that. I’m also fine with licensing for the first few games you make to turn that startup into an actual development budget. But everyone licensing would homogenize games even more so than now, which is something we don’t need. also the way our patent system and intellectual properties works might make that a bit of a headache.

    • Wedge says:

      But he’s also talking about tools like Unity, which is very flexible and capable of supporting a wide range of gameplay. Middleware tools, as well, which can help keep the cost of developing an engine down, if you do decide to roll your own. What he’s missing, though, is that art assets are *extremely* expensive, and the cost of developing game art can’t be amortized in the same way as software tools. So I guess I agree with your conclusion, but for a different reason :)

      I think the real problem is that AAA studios continue to put “best possible graphics” at the top of their list of priorities, and that is what drives the cost of game development through the roof. What the burgeoning indie scene is showing us is that you don’t have to have super-high-quality graphics to have an attractive and interesting game, but as he points out, AAA publishers are BIG, and big companies don’t change easily.

      • Infinitron says:

        It’s not just the best possible graphics. It’s the fanciest possible cinematics, it’s the most expensive marketing, it’s the most redundant celebrity voice overs.

        They do everything too expensively because they think there’s a linear relationship between money and quality.

        • Wedge says:

          It’s not just confusing budget for quality, it’s focusing on presentation rather than gameplay. As you say, it’s all about graphics, cutscenes, getting big-name actors to play voice parts. A good deal of technical progress over the last decade has been on the visual aspects of video games, but graphics aren’t games’ defining characteristic; interactivity is. AAA developers, however, have basically gone all-in on developing video games as a visual medium and neglected the interactive aspect because it’s a lot easier to improve visuals by throwing money at them. Gameplay, on the other hand, can’t be manufactured, it has to be designed, and designing new things is hard, and risky.

          I forgot what my actual point was, here, so enjoy my unfocused rambling.

        • krellen says:

          The funny thing is, so far as voice acting goes anyway, the best talent and biggest names “in the biz” aren’t really that expensive. No one has to pay the millions Liam Neeson demands to get Grey DeLisle, Jennifer Hale or Steven Blum to voice their game.

          • StashAugustine says:

            I would buy a game on the strength of Jennifer Hale or Elias Toufexis over half the actors in Hollywood.

          • Matt K says:

            For that matter, I’m currently playing Divinity 2 and the voice acting isn’t anything to write home about, but for the most part its good enough and doesn’t interfere with anything else (eg Dramatic scenes aren’t funny due to bad VA). I’m sure their VA budget was less than say Liam Neeson got paid and it did its job.

    • BlackBloc says:

      I also don’t buy the argument that costs should go down. Costs for technology stuff should. The problem is that the vast majority of costs in AAA game making is not coding, but art assets: writing (which I’ll admit ought to stay relatively constant within a given genre), cinematics, audio, 3d models, animation, etc. A lot of that can’t be recycled easily due to the need for games to have distinctive looks, unless you are redoing the same game over and over and oh my god that’s why we’re swimming in a sea of sequels, right?

    • Klay F. says:

      “New engines and platforms are the driver of new game-play and mechanical innovations.”

      No. No they aren’t. You want proof? Fine. Gears of War and Tribes: Ascend. Games that couldn’t be more different, both made in Unreal. Argument defeated. Engines have very little to do with gameplay innovation.

  10. Anachronist says:

    I suppose you might someday run into Zeschuk and Muzyka at a conference, and you could ask them about it. It can happen. Similar things have happened to me.

  11. The Hokey Pokey says:

    I’ve heard speculation that Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka’s departure is related to the terms of the buyout. From what I gather, it isn’t unusual to have a back-end payout clause where they stay on for x amount of time in order to earn a portion of the money. A twitter post from Tycho at PA said that this is standard operating procedure whenever people try to buy them, and five years probably isn’t a coincidence.

    • lurkey says:

      It’s not just about money; when there’s a buyout, employees of a venture that’s got bought naturally feel anxious and insecure, and that leads to productivity drop and other things, so the old bosses are contractually obliged to stay as some sort of a buffer. Time they serve, I guess, is dependent on merging company policies, size and whatnot.

      All in all, I believe these two dudes got burned out five years ago and back then already wanted to move on to kitten charities and homebrew beer and that’s why they sold it. My sincerest condolences go to Mr Zeschuk, who had whole bloody of five years separating him from his beer dream. :(

  12. “You have chosen the ‘Get the Hell out of Dodge while the Getting’s Good’ option. After overseeing the ‘Destruction’ option, you unveil your personal Mass Effect Relay that will transport you to a place simply called ‘Away.’ Were any other Relays still in operation, they’d glow purple. We don’t know why, nor do we care. After you depart, your Relay disintegrates into a cloud of connection error messages and conflicting plot notes scribbled on with crayons. The End.”

    [Cut to a scene of Shepard’s corpse, which does nothing. Ever.]

  13. Dreadjaws says:

    “Of course, unless someone writes a tell-all book we'll probably never know. In fact, not even then. We don't know, and we can't know. All we can do is guess and argue and speculate, which is what we've been doing since EA bought BioWare in 2007.”

    BS. As soon as I finish this mind-reading helmet prototype I’m working on, I’ll know exactly what happens inside those people’s mind.

    Then again, maybe I don’t want to know.

    • Ofermod (Formerly Keredis) says:

      … Wow. I’ve got to say, it does take some balls for a publisher to even approach Obsidian and make that “offer”.

      Balls that should be squarely kicked, but still.

  14. I worked at Bioware-Austin in 2010-2011. I currently work for a new studio that was created by 3 former Biowareians. As Shamus stated, we’ll never really know the whole story, but here’s a synopsis of what most of us who worked there think might have happened… at least in terms of SW:TOR.

    a) The use of the HeroBlade engine was intended to shorten the development cycle. Instead, it prolonged it by over 2 years as the programmers had to gut much of it and redesign it to meet the game’s specific needs.

    b) A persistent “we gotta get this game shipped” mentality pervaded every decision that was made during the course of the development. Time was always the enemy and we were told that there was never enough of it. The artists, the animators, the writers, the programmers, etc. – were all denied the tools/resources necessary to achieve the level of quality that they wanted.

    c) Texas laws and regulations highly favor the company over the employee. It’s cheaper for a game developer to acquire contractors on a revolving-door basis than to hire and train full-time employees. Almost every department had a constant rotation of employees. Not hard to see how this might affect the overall quality of the end product.

    Most of us who worked on SW:TOR don’t enjoy talking about it. It’s just too depressing. We all know it could have been a lot better.

    • Lalaland says:

      I was at a conference in Derry a few years ago about software development (particularly games) where a presentation was given by a US developer who had her own company. One of the attendees asked her for advice on how to deal with ‘difficult’ employees, her response was simple ‘fire them’. Her reaction on hearing the level of employment protection enjoyed in the UK was hilarious. Of course that has it’s downsides too but I wonder whether the ease of firing in the US has led to a devaluing of the importance of having permanent employees at all.

      • Ding-Ding-Ding! We have a winnah!

        It’s actually not hard to fire people even with union representation in America, if they’ve actually done something wrong. Very often, union contracts have clauses about termination. The union has to “protect” every member the same way that everyone’s entitled to legal representation in court. This is often painted as the union trying to keep bad apples on the payroll, but it’s required. Anyway, if employee X is doing something wrong, all management has to do is actually document it. That’s often too much like work for a lot of administrators, so nothing but complaining is done until workplace protections are weakened to the point that you can be fired for no cause whatsoever, or for such thinly-veiled reasons that unemployment doesn’t have to be paid.

        It’s a lovely system… for some.

        • Klay F. says:

          One wonders why you think being able to fire someone for doing something wrong is a bad thing? Seems rather natural to me.

          • You miss my point: Being able to fire someone for doing a bad thing is fine, but the onus is on the employer to document it. This prevents things like your manager firing you at a whim because of [insert reason here] that may or may not be true, relevant, or legal.

            As I stated, if you’d read my post, most union contracts stipulate how firing is to work, and all that’s needed is for management to document what the infraction was. I worked in a union office, and our union steward was often pulling her hair out over how idiotic the management was when trying to fire a guy who wouldn’t do his job. All that was required was for them to pull his work history from the computer system and show how it didn’t match what he claimed he was doing during the day, but they couldn’t be bothered. The steward wholeheartedly agreed the guy should be gone, but she was bound to provide a defense (in this case, just asking management to present their justification).

            It’s as if someone was busted by the police and the cop failed to show up for the court date.

            This might seem like far too much hassle, but it’s to prevent a lot of workplace wrongs of the past, like someone getting fired because they won’t acquiesce to doing extra unpaid work, vote a certain way, violate the law, etc. Me, I rather like having at least some layer of protection between being employed and a manager deciding that I don’t go to the right church, wear the right color tie, or have the wrong skin color and therefore should be let go.

            • Shamus says:

              What if you wanted to cancel a service that you no longer wanted? Like, your internet or cell phone. What if you couldn’t cancel them at will, but you have to PROVE to some third party that they had failed you? And while this this investigation is taking place, you are obligated to continue paying for the service. Oh, and that third party gets a cut from everyone who is currently signed up, so they have a financial incentive to rule against you.

              When people support unions, they’re usually comparing the IDEAL of unions to the reality of corporations run by self-interested jackasses.

              When people are against unions, they’re usually comparing the IDEAL corporation to the reality of a union run by self-interested jackasses.

              I’m not saying you shouldn’t support unions. But when you call them a “lovely system”, you’re cheering about the benefits to one group at the expense to a loss of freedom to another. Maybe it’s worth it to you, but don’t be quick to paint the other side as evildoers. The problem looks very different from the other side of the executive desk.

              • Soylent Dave says:

                For what it’s worth, I’ve been on both sides of the desk – your example is more equivalent to redundancies than employee termination (firing), though.

                ‘not needing your employees any more’ isn’t the same thing as ‘firing them without (legitimate) reason’.

                Unions exist because replaceable employees (unskilled and semi-skilled workers) don’t really have any leverage with large employers when it comes to contract negotiation. You can withdraw your own individual labour, and your employer won’t care – because he can replace you.

                Employees like that need someone with leverage – be it a Union of workers, or even the government – to put in some pressure on their behalf, because without that pressure employers have very little reason to be ‘fair’ when setting up contracts (not out of any in-built ‘corporate malice’, but because fair usually costs money, and employers have a duty (to shareholders) not to spend any more than they absolutely have to).

                I don’t think Unions are lovely system. I do think they’re essential.

                I don’t judge employers, big or large, for trying to make as much profit as possible – but such a system by its very nature requires something to balance against.

                (edit: My ‘European Socialist’ bias may be showing a little, here…)

  15. cannibalguppy says:

    why cant the gaming industry learn from Valve or Blizzard.. companies with mostly long term goals and longer development cycles and listening to their customers.. i am so sick of how they all blame piracy and failing to see why most people doesnt pirate Valve or Blizzard games.. they are actually good enough to justify the 60€ price tag(and yes i said euroes since they are worth more than dollars so the 60€ price tag is even more damning..). i loved DA 1 for its attemt at trying to be like the RPGS of old, hard complex and deep characters with even deeper storyline, yes it failed at some points but it did most things right. then comes DA 2 and everything they did well was removed to add something that made no sense. the combat was completely trash, the storyline even worse and on top of that they dident follow up on a game called ORIGINS.. in the interveiws about the first game they said that dragon age origins was the first game in an epic series about a character you made.. then we got DA 2 that had nothing to do with the first.. just how can this happen????

    on a side note: i must be the only person in the world to really really like male shepards voice acting :P

    • Bill says:

      Well, Valve and Blizzard are tricky to use as examples of “how to do it” because both companies have fairly large and fairly steady stream of income that are mostly independent of their release of games.

      I’m talking about the cut that Valve gets from all Steam game sales and, of course, the money Blizzard gets from World of Warcraft subscriptions.

      Now, all credit to these companies for getting these steady revenue streams going and for doing (mostly) all the right things to keep them going.

      But, in the absence of these revenue streams, I don’t think that Valve and Blizzard would be able to operate the way they do and take the “we’ll polish our games for as long as we need to” approach.

      So, if your advice to game companies is:
      Step 1. Make a few good games.
      Step 2. Find something that gives your company a large, steady revenue stream.
      Step 3. Take as long as you want to polish all the subsequent games you make.

      Then yeah, I agree. But step 2 is a tough one.

  16. Loonyyy says:

    It’s good to know that TUN completely fails to understand logical fallacies.

    Slipery slopes are fallacious on account of the slope part. You make a single case, and then extrapolate to results which are not necessarily contingent on the premise. There’s no definite connection.
    It’s A, therefore B, where the link between A and B is not estabilished.

    It’s an informal fallacy because for inductive reasoning and probabalistic measures, it’s fair to extrapolate, but you’re not proving anything, you’re speculating with a certainty attached. It’s completely fallacious to use it deductively, and there is no way to justify it.

    The funny thing is, his argument really isn’t a slipery slope. His premise is, what, that EA and by extension, Bioware, make decisions based on estimates of profit determined by whether they piss of the customer and lose them, or continue to sell to them. Fair premise. His second premise is, businesses, whilst being all about making these decisions, screw it up all the time. Fair, see financial crisis, the last 3-4 years, etc, as he said. Conclusion: They can screw it up, and their decisions aren’t necessarily going to come to a good conclusion.
    Perfectly justifiable, since he didn’t make any concrete predictions.

    I like my logical fallacies, and I hate to see people misinform people about them. He could have cut that stuff from his video, sounded slightly less knowledgeable, but been actually smarter, and had a perfectly serviceable clip.

  17. collar says:

    What I find really sad, is that I don’t really care anymore. It wasn’t that long ago I was a massive Bioware fanboy, fell in love with Baldur’s Gate and associated infinity engine games (Icewind Dale was a blast even if it wasn’t so deep). Neverwinter Nights was great, played the hell out of KOTOR, even enjoyed the somewhat panned Jade Empire. If Bioware released it, I’d pretty much be buying it day 1.

    Now, I haven’t even played Mass Effect 2 and somehow they managed to screw up so badly to make me unenthusiastic for SWTOR, when Bioware + Star Wars + MMO should have had me in a frenzy busily handing over my credit card details.

  18. Institutional culture is a very complex topic: Sociology, business, political science, administrative management and public sector learning, etc. all spend a lot of time trying to get at the complexities of an institutional culture. Suffice it to say that any time there’s an acquisition, merger, or other change to the company, of COURSE the institutional culture is going to change. That doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, especially when companies are smart enough to avoid eating the goose that lays the golden egg, like Disney so far has been with Pixar. But the crucial thing is that these happen all of the time, and analysis like Nerd Rage’s is appropriate because it can help us figure out why a beloved company isn’t producing things that people like anymore or is making weird decisions. People need to recognize that, if I buy a game from a company who have 30 developers and I buy another game from the same company with 30 different developers, I by and large might as well have bought a game from two different companies.

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I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>