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BioWare Founders Announce Retirement 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the thanks-for-all-the-fish dept.
hypnosec writes "BioWare founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk announced their retirement from the gaming company as well as the video game industry. In two separate blog posts, the founders announced their decision and their future plans. Muzyka writes, 'After nearly two decades in videogames, I've decided to move on to pursue an entirely different set of challenges.' Zeschuk writes, 'I've reached an unexpected point in my life where I no longer have the passion that I once did for the company, for the games, and for the challenge of creation.'"
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BioWare Founders Announce Retirement

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  • yup... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @01:08AM (#41383391)

    "I no longer have the passion that I once did for the company, for the games, and for the challenge of creation."

    I would lose all my passion as well if I sold my soul to Electronic Arts...

    Killed Westwood Studios and C&C / C&C:RA, now working on the final edges for BioWare!

    • Re:yup... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sir_Sri (199544) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @01:30AM (#41383495)

      I would lose all my passion as well if I sold my soul to Electronic Arts...

      and now had enough cash I didn't need to work and could actually enjoy games as a player rather than as a developer.

      And their studio catastrophically fucked up with SWTOR, and that means heads have to roll.

      It's very unlikely that it's a coincidence they're going out at the same time. I suspect between the furore over the ME3 ending and the financial disaster that is SWTOR EA told them 'you have your millions, GTFO, oh, and you have a retention agreement for at least 5 more years, so you can leave, but you can't work for anyone else without losing a boatload of money in shares'. Or it told one of them (Zeschuk, who is ultimately responsible for SWTOR) to leave and the other tried to salvage the situation and said 'if he goes, I go' and EA said 'if you're going to stand with someone who lost us easily 100 million dollars, you go too then'.

      None of what is wrong with SWTOR is really an EA issue. It's a game design issue at a basic level (how do you travel around the world, what quests are there to do every day, are they interesting to do more than a couple of times, can players understand how to level up and raid etc.), and that means whomever was in charge of that studio (Zeschuk) hired the wrong people, or trained the ones he hired wrong, or didn't get the right feedback during testing (which they definitely didn't, I was in a lot of the testing and they didn't really understand anything past the first 200 hours of play time, which is the first month for an MMO). If he was still an owner at a private corporation (and Bioware pandemic had been owned by someone else than just the founders for a while I believe) it might have survived as an expensive learning experience, but at a public company when you report to someone else, you don't make mistakes like that and keep your job.

      Killed Westwood Studios and C&C / C&C:RA

      The list of studios destroyed by EA is a lot longer than just westwood. But, ironically, they are resuscitating the C&C franchise with BioWare montreal. Though I suspect EA has forced a change of direction on that title because they didn't seem to be planning what they say they're doing now.

      • Re:yup... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by constpointertoconst (1979236) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @04:37AM (#41384367)

        and now had enough cash I didn't need to work and could actually enjoy games as a player rather than as a developer.

        Personally, as a player-turned-developer, I find it difficult to enjoy games past a certain point without the opportunity to participate in their creation.

        • I keep telling my son (9yrs old, don't know if he believes me) that building games much more fun than playing them.

        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          I speak from experience on that one as well. I'm finishing up my PhD in game development.

        • and now had enough cash I didn't need to work and could actually enjoy games as a player rather than as a developer.

          Personally, as a player-turned-developer, I find it difficult to enjoy games past a certain point without the opportunity to participate in their creation.

          Agreed. Only a cynical person would view not working on games as freedom. I absolutely love working on games, playing them, and sharing them.

          • by Sir_Sri (199544)

            Being on the budgeting side can take a lot of fun out of it. Especially if you have to lay people off in cycles.

            It really depends on what you do, I'm a graphics and AI guy, so I can get a fair bit of enjoyment out of development. But if you're in charge of the studio and looking at things like monthly churn, profit margins etc. it can sap all of the fun out of it. These guys were the studio directors, and that generally entails a lot of meetings, a lot of budgets and a lot of HR type stuff. Most of which

      • Re:yup... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @09:20AM (#41385975) Journal

        None of what is wrong with SWTOR is really an EA issue. It's a game design issue at a basic level

        What's basically wrong with SWTOR is that everyone really just wanted KOTOR3.

        • No no, Everyone wanted KotoR 3 with co-op mode.

          AKA you're supposed to be overpowered depending on the difficulty level you choose. You're not supposed to be balanced but all classes should be playable... etc. Sort of like Vanilla WoW. All classes had SOMETHING to make at least one of that class desirable in a raid but beyond that nothing was very terribly balanced. This is where Blizzard got it right. They made it FUN first, and balanced afterwards. So much feedback from so-called "elite" players espousing

          • by Hatta (162192)

            No, I certainly did not want KOTOR with co-op. I want to be the protagonist of the story. That can't happen in multiplayer RPGs.

            • by Sir_Sri (199544)

              Sure it can. It did in SWTOR even. The suspension of disbelief that comes when everyone else is also the hero of a story isn't really a problem, surprisingly.

            • No, I certainly did not want KOTOR with co-op. I want to be the protagonist of the story. That can't happen in multiplayer RPGs.

              I'm supposing you never played Guild Wars.

          • by Sir_Sri (199544)

            Sadly they spent so much time balancing that PVP was pretty good at first (in beta) and still the most popular feature at release, then turned thier backs on it entirely without taking enough time to properly fix PVE first.

            PVP balance is tricky. But the core problem with PVP was more things like Ilum and the progression from battlemaster to War Hero. Lots of people don't want to invest 100 hours of gameplay to be competitive.

            In terms of play the game very much plays (and is balanced) as well as WOTLK WoW. The problem is that WOTLK wow had some really bizarre mechanics (stats that capped, stats that were non -obviously better than primary stats to a point), and then the itemization is there, but not all that easy to get you

            • Resilience is a bad tacked on mechanic to fix a bad tacked on competitive PVP system.

              In reality they should choose a direction and go with it. People will always want to have some fun nuking other people here and there but things like battlegrounds and Southshore in WoW solved that urge nicely. PVP being a total bolt-on actually works, and IMO created more fun PVP than this new crap they have. I actually enjoyed seeing the odd mage run into the middle of a huge group and massacre them just because no one in

              • by Sir_Sri (199544)

                Uh, no. Resilience is there because players weapons tend to grow in power faster than their defenses. People notice it more when they do more dps, they don't notice is as much when they take less damage.

                Being slightly unbalanced and having most classes wrecking most other classes faces is chaotic, and fucking awesome.

                Sure. But that doesn't mean you don't need a resilience stat.

            • i remember when my arms warrior had 100% Armor Penetration without any buffs in WOTLK. all from gear and gems. I had to run lots of numbers to figure out what drops i needed to accomplish this but finally I got it. The part about figuring out all the numbers and the number crunching in general was really fun. I am probably not in the majority there. I told the mods on blizzard that ALL they had to do to balance pvp and pve was to give certain abilities/stats/cd's different numbers, depending on whether or n
              • by Sir_Sri (199544)

                The part about figuring out all the numbers and the number crunching in general was really fun.

                and for the people who aren't capable of doing that math how much fun is it?

                Crit (towards the end of WOTLK), armour penetration and mastery on tanks in cata all have problems with capping but not. It's not 'hard' to figure out, but not everyone wants to, or is capable of doing that.

                The problem with armour pen was partly the hard cutoff at 1400. It was worth more and more until it was worth nothing. That's just bizarre.

                You have to design a game for everyone, not just for people who can do math.

            • You can say this about wow if you arleady invested the 100 hours in pvp gear. If you were starting from scratch it would be the same story. I love SWTOR. It just is like early wow. It was not until after Burning Crusade that things started to go right. BC was buggy as fuck too when it came out. WOTLK was great with the main protagnist. I started growing tired of Wow and fell in love with it again during WOTLK. I soo wanted Artharas's ass on a stick! It had qualities that were gone in catacylsm and are there

              • by Sir_Sri (199544)

                You can say this about wow if you arleady invested the 100 hours in pvp gear. If you were starting from scratch it would be the same story.

                yes, that's why blizzard changed it, and BioWare should have been smart enough not to copy it.

                EA rushes shit and did so with SWTOR but it is now improving.

                Having been in a lot of testing I disagree with you on this. They could have launched the game 3 months earlier easily. They were waiting on SOE's exclusive licence to drop on Dec 15th.

                They launched the game they wanted to launch. That was the wrong game, but it was definitely what they wanted it to be. And even then, if you look the changes they've made since, relatively little of it has been about fixing the

          • I disagree with Blizzard got it right. I love SWTOR but I do admit it was released before it is ready and they are balancing and adding things to it now like a dungeon finder. It seems development came and then was rushed without the tunning.

            Why I no longer play Wow is because the quests are boring as fuck, the characters have no personality, You have to grind grind grind to get to 85 and then what?!

            SWTOR you can have storylines, companions, and a co-op mode too if you do not want to play with other players

            • SWTOR was actually pretty balanced with the exception of one class and one or two sub-types.

              The problem wasn't bugs either. It was probably -THE- singular most bug-free MMO launch I have EVER had the pleasure of going through.

              It was the fact that the game was awesome till level 20 then fell off a cliff. It was unfinished and a lot of the reason was they wasted too much time balancing and tacking on PVP shit in beta.

              WoW became linear and the chaoticness it once had is now buried out behind activisions shed s

              • PVP still bites ass. For example every class has the ability to knock someone down. Tanks should have resistance to that and not every class should have that ability. But it is improving little by little.

                The whinners take issue is it was not as good as wow on opening day nor as mature so they left. EA then fires everyone and forces the 2 co owners out. The fact that the servers now can handle much more people show that it was not optimized yet. The merging was done quick as name conflicts happened and cause

                • I'll probably never go back. At least not for a long time. The problem for me is they're finished developing the mid-level and end-game dungeons etc. They're not going to go in and re-do those to bring them up to the quality level of the first dungeon.

                  I've been burned too badly to waste money to try it again at this point.

                  • Its free to play in November. Of course that means you need to pay for certain gear. But try it again then? They added to new dungeons too in the end. Mid level not so much though

                    • Paying for gear?

                      I should have known EA would make it Pay-To-Win...

                      Hopefully thats not the case, but every time I see buying gear in a game its almost inevitably what happens.

                      Unless they restrict it to being able to purchase say, XP bonuses to make the grind shorter or vanity gear(or gear skins)/pets etc then its a pretty horrible idea and will just sink the game further.

                    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

                      Paying for gear?

                      SWTOR is a game very much about cosmetics on top of actual gear. I'd expect that you'll be able to pay for the look of your gear but not necessarily the functionality.

                      But who knows, money is money, and BioWare austin needs to find a way to justify keeping hundreds of people on the payroll . They were at 400 or so this time last year, but well, some of those people had to go (on top of that are the call centre support people).

        • by crazyjj (2598719) *

          What's basically wrong with SWTOR is that everyone really just wanted KOTOR3.

          I wish I could mod you to +3.2*10^32 Insightful As A God. They could have made a decent profit with KOTOR 3. Instead they got greedy and decided to go for the WoW bucks. They screwed over the console owners who helped make KOTOR 1 and 2 so successful. They tried to milk the franchise. And they forgot that they aren't Blizzard. And they got burned--and deservedly so.

          Good riddance, assholes.

      • by crazyjj (2598719) *

        What are you talking about? SWTOR was a huge success! Why, just last week they increased their player base by 20%, when a family of 4 brothers in Illinois joined all at once. That's 20% a week growth, man!! At that rate, they'll overtake WoW in no time.

        • Mod up!

          SWTOR still has over a million subscribers and those who wine played for 1 week and noticed it did not have 8 years of tuning that Wow had and left. It is a new game for crying out loud and it does have new things like storylines, companions, and feels more like an interactive movie than pointless quests to grind in wow. My imperial agent wants to hunt down The Eagle for killing Darth Jadas, my Sith Jaguarnut wants to find this new apprientice who can discover spies fast! That is just chapter 1 stuff

          • by Sir_Sri (199544)

            No goals. Some may disagree and do not find that appealing and that is fine but give SWTOR for being different.

            Without a doubt, that was what BioWare was trying to bring to the genre. That doesn't mean the game stays fun.

            Unfortunately when they run out of story they don't know what to do. Blizzard doesn't have a particularly good story (well other than the generic overarching story of the world), but they have people who understand what to do with the 800 hours of play time that come after the questing to level cap is over. Or at least they're better at it than BioWare.

            noticed it did not have 8 years of tuning that Wow had and left

            Considering they almost verbatim copied WoW

    • Re:yup... (Score:5, Informative)

      by popo (107611) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @01:34AM (#41383509) Homepage

      This news comes ironically as Baldur's Gate is being re-released. It was their finest moment.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It is tough to judge. Baldur's Gate 2, SW KOTOR, and Mass Effect 2 were about as close to perfect games as one can imagine. Though to be fair, Baldur's Gate 1&2 had the best quotes by far:

        Go for the eyes, Boo, go for the eyes!
        Boo points, I punch. Is very simple relationship, but it is effective.
        Fear not! I will inspire you all by charging blindly on!
        Live by the sword, live a good looong time.
        When Tiax rules, breeches shall not ride up so wedge-like!
        None stand where Tiax stands, lest he walk atop them.
        Te

        • by arth1 (260657)

          Baldur's Gate 1&2 had the best quotes by far:

          Go for the eyes, Boo, go for the eyes!
          Boo points, I punch. Is very simple relationship, but it is effective.
          Fear not! I will inspire you all by charging blindly on!
          Live by the sword, live a good looong time.
          When Tiax rules, breeches shall not ride up so wedge-like!
          None stand where Tiax stands, lest he walk atop them.
          Tell us a story, Monty! Something about bears and gold!

          Onwards, to futility!
          Why are you so fat?

      • Re:yup... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hedleyroos (817147) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @04:51AM (#41384427)

        I have my doubts about the Enhanced Edition. Even the webpage is not up to the usual high Bioware standard. And you'll need an always on internet connection to play, and have to pay constantly for DLC. No thanks, I'll buy the original from GoG and use the BiG World project.

        • Could have modded but I rather say that this is an interesting point I wasn't aware of.

          Baldurs Gate is probably the computer game I've loved the most ever and intended to buy the enhanced edition but requirement to always be online and DLC was something I didn't know and I certainly won't support.

          I'll just dig out my old discs instead.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It is activation only DRM [baldursgate.com]. Where did this always-online DRM rumor start?

        • by ShakaUVM (157947)

          I tried playing through BG again a couple months again using the TOTO project, but the green water and lack of resolution really irked me.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I agree that the Baldur's Gate series was the pinnacle of Bioware's success. I am looking foward to the re-release; however, they pushed back the released date until November (it was supposed to come out yesterday). That was disappointing news!

    • Re:yup... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @01:36AM (#41383525) Homepage

      Origin
      Westwood
      Bullfrog
      Maxis
      Bioware
      Several others not mentioned...

      Yep...when you sell your soul to EA, you only have yourself to blame.

    • Re:yup... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @01:41AM (#41383537) Journal

      Thank you AC I thought I was the only one! The millisecond I saw the headline all i could think of is all the devs from great software houses that ran screaming after spending time in the PHB hell that is EA. Is there any of the guys from Bullfrog or Westwood or any of the greats they bought still hanging around?

      And I would bet my last dollar the reason they are "retiring from gaming" is that EA made them sign a no compete clause when they bought the company. Watch in 5 years or so they'll come out of "retirement" with some killer new game from a fresh idea that EA told them wouldn't make a new Call Of Halo: Gears of Killzone cookie cutter franchise, since that seems to be pretty much all they care about anymore.

      • Maybe not.

        5 Years is a long time to "hide away" just because of some legal contract clause. If they get a new good thing going, then power to them.

        Also, in Internet Time, I for one can no longer "settle down to wait 5 more years" for something. I retired from most comp gaming many years ago, so this is just a "nice little story to read" but I won't remember it next month, let alone 5 years from now.

        I'm like a Grade D prophet - barely good enough to predict these guys won't come back like you suggested, but

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Well you don't know how much these guys got paid to sign that contract, hell they could spend 3 or 4 years just having a damned good time and THEN try something new. Remember a game will take a couple of years from idea to shelves.

          Plus if I were a game designer? I could see sitting out for a couple of years, it'll take that long for the new Xbox and PlayStation get out and the new dev tools become mature so i can see letting others take the sucky job of putting out the launch titles.

          No matter what they de

      • Dude if I had $5 million I would probably not work again. Maybe do things for fun or get a PHD for the hell out of it, but with that kind of money it is best to sit back in your new mansion in Vail and play them all day long with tons of hookers around by the swimming pool serving you cavier.

    • I think that these two will be back a year from now, posting their new indie game idea on Kickstarter. They just don't want to work for EA anymore, and who can blame them?

      Odds are that it will be their best idea in years, considering that they'll no longer have to through EA's focus groups and finance guys to get the project green lit.

    • Yawn, bullshit, who cares. After two decades building games do you really end up this stupid about economics? His social impact investing has been going on for two decades and now. The best way to help people is to make jobs. What is "making jobs?" Generating, collecting, and organizing money so as to perpetuate the process. That is social impact investing.

  • EA will do that (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Billly Gates (198444)

    They rushed Star Wars the Old Republic and caused over half the users to leave because the top 5% of features in Wow were not there.

    It is so frustrating as SWTOR now has a dungeon finder, sever consolidation, user population support that matches wow per realm, and other things that match it with wow today but most refuse to go back and it frustrates me.

    If only EA didn't want to slaughter the goose to meet Christmas sales and released it today the number of subscribers would double. EA also fired a lot of go

    • by Fulminata (999320)
      Even when they do the right things, they do it the wrong way. I left as a result of the server consolidations My main, created on day 1 of the pre-release period, was stripped of its name because of a combination of a lack of choice of servers to move to, and no attempt to implement reasonable rules regarding character naming conflicts as a result of the merger. So because somebody's alt had the same name as my main, and my server was the one being merged into the other, I had to lose the name that I've us
      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        I shudder to ask... what do you think "reasonable rules regarding character naming conflicts" should look like?

        • Re:EA will do that (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Fulminata (999320) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @05:44AM (#41384659)
          Most other games doing server mergers have had a system in place where the oldest character kept the name, as long as that character was over a certain level to ensure that it wasn't just a place-holding alt. Another popular alternative is to allow players to check a server for naming conflicts before doing a transfer and to select a server where a conflict doesn't exist. SWTOR's forcing all transfers to go to a single server prevented this as an option, but they could have still done the first one.
          • by mwvdlee (775178)

            How is that fair to the other person who was allowed to pick that same name?
            Ofcourse this could have been easily prevented by not allowing duplicate names across servers, but given the current state, why would you have more right to the name?

            • by Krojack (575051)

              If your character was created before the other and was a higher level then you should take priority and get to keep your name. How hard is that to understand?

              • by mwvdlee (775178)

                And what if your character was created earlier and the character of the other has a higher level?

                • by Krojack (575051)

                  If I made the rules, the person that made the character first. Only rule I would include is that you must be at least n level. n being something around 10 or 20. Depends on the game and how fast you can level. In WoW getting to level 20 can be done in a few hours.

    • Sure, IF the did X then Y would happen. Yeah, we're all smarter in retrospect. My take on it is that Knight of the old republic was a single player game, a brilliant one at that. KOTR 2 was a half finished mess, but with fan edits & mods (and the eventual remake now on steam) it can be pretty good at times... Now, following that, what made them think that that success of a single player game will directly translate to an MMORPG? Better yet, how did they think they will manage to get all those users i
    • by Anonymous Coward

      There are (or were before I quit) many more problems in SWTOR than a lack of a dungeon finder and population. It's just a terrible game:

      PVP is years behind other MMOs
      Ridiculously unbalanced classes
      Boring questing
      Bugs all over the place (I found numerous places where I could just walk off the end of the map!)
      No flying mounts (in a sci-fi game?!)
      Idiotic companions
      Half-assed economy
      Useless trade skills
      Bad graphics engine
      Broken updates
      Failure to deliver on promised patch features

      Need I go on? I don't think EA c

    • Do they have addon and macro support? Or even just macros?

      I was a Juggernaut and I had a HUGE number of keybinds I had to manage for every fight and it was just painful to try to both maintain situational awareness when tanking and also manage all those keybinds and abilities that procced without macros.

      The other issue I had was with the way abilities were tied to animations, which meant that if you hit a button too soon (which ALWAYS happens when you have a huge number of keybinds to manage) you would wind

    • I played SWTOR at launch and it was extremely fun. It had one of the best/most enjoyable leveling experiences that I've seen in an MMO. The graphics, story and combat were all well done. Unfortunately the end game was completely lacking. Too bad, it could have been an amazing MMO.

      Guild Wars 2 is pretty much identical to SWTOR in that the leveling experience is extremely good, but the end game is non-existent. There's lots of good quests and places to explore and it's all very new and exciting. But once you

  • by wermske (1781984) * on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @01:14AM (#41383423) Homepage
    My warmest congratulations. Clearly, you've out leveled this zone. You have enjoyed a long and productive career of which you can justly be proud. The experience, skill, and capabilities you can share with social institutions is rare and badly needed. Good on you. Game on...
  • That's one hell of a career jump. A tasty one too, I might add, maybe I should get in on brewing too....

  • EA (Score:5, Funny)

    by EnsilZah (575600) <EnsilZah@GmailGI ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @01:23AM (#41383463)

    Assuming direct control.

  • Whatever (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @01:35AM (#41383521)

    I don't give a shit about what happened with SWTOR. I haven't played a MMORPG since UO. But the work Bioware did with the Baldur's Gate series, SW KOTOR, Jade Empire, and Mass Effect is legendary. For a decade, Bioware was the Pixar of game developers. So I will remember them for their kickass games. It is a pity that Bioware is gone. Hopefully some company is ready to fill the void.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @02:43AM (#41383769)

    ...they are faced with three options.

    A. They can destroy the company.AKA "the blue ending"

    B. They can join EA. AKA "the red ending"

    C. They can merge them both. AKA "the green ending"

    In the end, it all looks the same.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • enough reason to go into hiding.

  • This is pure speculation on my part but I'd suspect that any non-compete clause on their contract would remain in effect for at least for a couple of years after they left EA. Big, bright new things in a couple of years, I'm sure.
  • by dammy (131759)

    I can only hope that this will mean EA will split Mythic from BioWare and turn it once again into a separate entity and sold off. EA ownership of Mythic has been a ugly nightmare.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Given that they both are retiring at the same time and it's been 5 years since EA bought Bioware, it's likely both of them had a stipulation in their contract which stated they must continue working for EA Bioware for 5 years after acquisition.

    Part of me feels bad for those guys, EA took the brand Bioware and slapped it on so many of their studios just so their damned marketing team could brag about how it's "from Bioware!"

    • by zlives (2009072)

      hopefully they kept their new creations in a box away from EA and can now create games i might again enjoy.

  • Thanks for Baldur's gate, and good luck on your future endeavors.

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