It was 20 years ago when I joined BioWare – September 8, 1998. I had just finished my degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta and found out through a local TV show that there was a videogame studio right here in Edmonton. I spent the summer talking with the founders, Greg and Ray, about joining BioWare as a Technical Artist, and they offered me a job.
Back then we were a small independent studio. Under 50 people. But we were working on a game that was highly anticipated around the world. Baldur’s Gate was a few months from release, and even though I was hired as an artist, my first task was to help test its multiplayer feature.
I was impressed with the vision for the game: recreating on the PC the experience of playing pen and paper D&D with friends. Being able to adventure together with your friends as a team of heroes, even if they are playing from another city or country, was a magical experience – and one that made a strong impression on me about our mission as a studio. We knew we had something special. Baldur’s Gate had fun gameplay, impressive visuals and rich storytelling with memorable characters. And beyond that, we were excited about its potential to bring players together.
20 years later, I’m having the exact same feeling.
Last week, the Anthem team passed its Alpha milestone – meaning that every part of the game is in, and functioning. It’s a ton of fun to play, and full of engaging character moments and storylines. But it’s also exciting to see people around the office (and at our partner studios) grouping together for adventures in this new world we’ve created. BioWare games have always been about capturing a shared experience – whether through a party of fictional characters or other players – and somehow the idea of players being immersed together in the universe of Anthem makes the setting seem even more real.
These days the energy around the office feels a lot like it did back then on Baldur’s Gate, where the team is starting to get a sense of the magic they’ve created together and there’s a growing excitement about finally releasing it into the world. There’s a ton of work ahead, but everyone knows what they need to do and is working with a level of passion and effort that’s truly inspiring.
The team has been working incredibly hard to reach Alpha, and considering the complexity and scale of a game like Anthem, hitting this milestone on time is a tremendous achievement. So what’s next? Now that all the important pieces are in the game, we can move almost entirely to bug-fixing, testing, and tuning – which will be an incredible amount of work on a game this big. We have some really ambitious plans for launch and beyond, and we really want to get it right. We will have news soon about when you can learn more about Anthem and try it out yourself.
Until then, know that your support means everything to us. Seeing so many of you at PAX for the Our World, My Story panel, your encouraging words and great questions on Twitter… It makes a difference. Because all the effort that the team puts into making these games is really fueled by the hope that in the end, you will like what we’ve made. And even though we’ve passed a huge milestone, there’s still a lot to do. So like Haluk says, “tiiiime to get to work!”