Ex-BioWare developers reveal their passion project
Three developers leave BioWare after releasing The Old Republic, embark on dream development project
Earlier this year, just after shipping Star Wars: The Old Republic, three Bioware employees left the company to pursue development on their own dream project.
Arnie Jorgensen, Alex Thomas, and John Watson left BioWare and created Stoic Studio, before releasing a trailer for something called “The Banner Saga”.
What is the Banner Saga? Well, according to Stoic, the short answer is, “role-playing meets turn-based strategy, wrapped into an adventure mini-series about Vikings.”
The team set up a new Kickstarter campaign to fund the project, which has so far raised $72,469 of its $100,000 target. The project will only be funded if the Kickstarter campaign reaches its target by 20 April, so go give them some money.
In a recent interview with Gamasutra, the team explained that the motivation behind the project was to develop a game not for mainstream audiences, but for themselves.
“If you asked anyone in the games industry, I think most of them would tell you their ultimate goal is to make their own game. BioWare was a great experience for all three of us, but I think we realized that if we didn’t [make this game] now, we never would, and we’d regret it,” said Alex Thomas.
Apparently the game is heavily influenced by the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics and Shining Force. With the Banner Saga, Stoic hopes to pay homage to these games which inspired them as children.
“I think what we’re developing really harkens back to a deep appreciation for games, and playing them since we were kids. That’s what it’s all about — being blown away by something like Baldur’s Gate or King of Dragon Pass or X-COM, and wanting to make something that does them justice,” said Thomas.
“Our first priority has always been to make a role-playing game that feels and looks fresh, and plays like the classic tactical strategy games of our childhood, but it’s not just about defeating the villain and saving the day. It’s not about grinding to get past the next fight.”
So it’s not all about combat and gameplay, Stoic wants us to care about the characters and world it creates. “We want the player to care about what happens to the people they travel with because ultimately, you and your kin are all in it together. There’s a sense of community missing in games that we’re trying to bring to the front of The Banner Saga,” said Thomas.
Thomas wants players to view The Banner Saga as not just another tactical RPG, but an “interactive drama”.
“For us, more than anything, The Banner Saga is a chance to take a risk. Here’s the bottom line — we wanted to make a game that you can really influence, that feels like a TV miniseries. You’re not watching superheroes, you’re watching people with their own motivations and desires that you can relate to. You want to see what happens to them and how they deal with conflict,” he said.
The Banner Saga is sounding like one of the most interesting projects currently on the horizon. Let’s hope it achieves its funding targets.