BioWare Wanted to Make a Spy Thriller

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BioWare Wanted to Make a Spy Thriller

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BioWare could have developed a James Bond-style drama alongside the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises.

It's human nature to look back and wish things could have turned out differently, especially when following geek culture. We still have trouble grasping why Star Wars Battlefront III was never completed, and FOX will probably never live down its cancellation of Joss Whedon's Firefly. The sad truth is that cancellations and canned projects are common in any creative industry, even among teams that have achieved great critical acclaim. Take BioWare for example; back in 2009, the developer behind Baldur's Gate, Mass Effect and the then-upcoming Dragon Age: Origins pitched the idea for a spy RPG that would combine the best elements of James Bond and Jason Bourne movies. Sadly, the concept never took off, but based on how game director Trent Oster describes it, we could have had a fine game indeed.

"The concept was to do the other half of GoldenEye," Oster said. "The idea being that James Bond isn't just a gun that walks around the world and shoots people. He's a suave manipulator, he's a talented martial artist, he's a secret agent. We wanted to cross that 007 with Jason Bourne, where he's been modified in some way; you're not sure what, but he's definitely deadly."

The undeveloped spy RPG, given the working title Agent, was heavily inspired by Casino Royale and the Bourne Trilogy. Agent would have allowed for a mix of intense action and espionage-inspired drama, and would rely heavily on digital acting sequences. "We really wanted to be very high drama, very intense scenes," Oster continued. "I always think of the scene in the second Bourne movie where Jason Bourne's choking the guy out with a book and he's right in his face and it's this very intense moment. That was one of the key things we wanted to carry off."

Sadly, Electronic Arts didn't feel the same way about Agent, and BioWare was forced to move on to other projects. "Fundamentally EA didn't believe in the concept," Oster explained, "and if the company's not behind it, it doesn't matter how hard you struggle you just can't make it happen."

It's a shame not simply because the concept is intriguing, but because Agent would be a perfect fit for BioWare. BioWare games tend to strike a fine balance between epic action sequences and detailed character development, something that spy games rarely take advantage of. Alpha Protocol had the right idea, but its story and characters never reached the level of appeal that BioWare's Mass Effect or Dragon Age franchises held. Perhaps one day another developer will take a chance on the genre, and I'm hoping that game will go beyond the initial concept stage.

Source: Eurogamer

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Great. Because we needed something ELSE to hate EA for.

Fanghawk:
"Fundamentally EA didn't believe in the concept," Oster explained, "and if the company's not behind it, it doesn't matter how hard you struggle you just can't make it happen."

Surprising no one, EA hates fun.

Anyways, it's probably for the best. Obsidian made one instead, and better than Bioware would have, I think.

This is why corporate society should never be in command of game designers. Something like Agent by Bioware could've been kinda cool, but because EA didn't want to 'risk' a new IP instead of milking Dragon Age and Mass Effect, they could never try it. This is why Valve always has such interesting stuff, and why they will never go public or let themselves get bought.

God. Damnit.
Yeah, that would have been right up my alley.

So it would have been Alpha Protocol, or Deus Ex: Human Revolution, as done by Bioware.
That might have been fun.

I would have bought it and probably loved it and told my friends to buy it.

Instead, Bioware's EA Overlords have told them to start on ANOTHER Mass Effect and keep milking Dragon Age, probably with more online passes, day-1 DLC, and retailer-exclusive pre-order bonuses that every gamer hates.

Ever since EA bought Bioware, I wondered if EA's business methods, of turning creativity into manufactured franchises, was going to bleed into Bioware's development. It apparently has. I do wonder if Microsoft, who approved them for so many original and bold new IPs, would have allowed the game to be made.

But, yeah, I would have been interested in playing a spy game from Bioware... but it's apparent EA's fully intent on turning Bioware into just another EA franchise factory at this point... even if nobody is really asking for a new Mass Effect at this point.

elilupe:
This is why corporate society should never be in command of game designers. Something like Agent by Bioware could've been kinda cool, but because EA didn't want to 'risk' a new IP instead of milking Dragon Age and Mass Effect, they could never try it. This is why Valve always has such interesting stuff, and why they will never go public or let themselves get bought.

Milking Mass Effect? ME was always intended to be a trilogy, how can you milk a trilogy?

Pitch sounds near identical to Alpha Protocol, and look at how crappy that turned out...

Iron Criterion:

elilupe:
This is why corporate society should never be in command of game designers. Something like Agent by Bioware could've been kinda cool, but because EA didn't want to 'risk' a new IP instead of milking Dragon Age and Mass Effect, they could never try it. This is why Valve always has such interesting stuff, and why they will never go public or let themselves get bought.

Milking Mass Effect? ME was always intended to be a trilogy, how can you milk a trilogy?

Ask George Lucas.

Iron Criterion:

elilupe:
This is why corporate society should never be in command of game designers. Something like Agent by Bioware could've been kinda cool, but because EA didn't want to 'risk' a new IP instead of milking Dragon Age and Mass Effect, they could never try it. This is why Valve always has such interesting stuff, and why they will never go public or let themselves get bought.

Milking Mass Effect? ME was always intended to be a trilogy, how can you milk a trilogy?

Dunno, maybe by making a fourth one: http://www.t3.com/news/mass-effect-4-confirmed-on-twitter

So it would pretty much be Alpha Protocol with worse writing?

Let's get this over with.
QQ, Mass Effect ending, DAII shitty, evil EA.
There we go, now we can talk about this article rather than all these irrelevant stuff.
...

I was never a fan of Ludlum, and therefore Bourne, but a spy RPG sounds pretty badass. I'd love to see it happen, really. Especially since BioWare could use another brand. ME and DA are getting a bit stale, no matter how much I might like them or not.
I might be idealistic in the respect that I think the BW writers are actually capable of producing an enthralling story. They'd just have to get rid of the weakest links. I'd love to see a spy or heist genre done by them.

Kickstarter it, if EA won't do it?

deth2munkies:

Iron Criterion:

Milking Mass Effect? ME was always intended to be a trilogy, how can you milk a trilogy?

Ask George Lucas.

Oh snap! :D
I approve of this message.

It'd be nice to get more spy thriller games.

*cough*alphaprotcol2*cough*

deth2munkies:
Pitch sounds near identical to Alpha Protocol, and look at how crappy that turned out...

its got a cult following these days. personally its one of my favourite rpgs despite its flaws.

wombat_of_war:

deth2munkies:
Pitch sounds near identical to Alpha Protocol, and look at how crappy that turned out...

its got a cult following these days. personally its one of my favourite rpgs despite its flaws.

i'm not sure i would call it a "cult" following, but for the most part you either REALLY like the game, or you REALLY hate it. (basically if you didn't mind the glitches/unpolishedness or not.) I would say it's a 50/50 split on who liked it and didn't, but of course more people are going to go out of there way to say they don't like something, than to say they like something.

but yes, it's one of my favorite rpg's too, that game does more with "choices affecting the story" does than the whole mass effect trilogy combined, I've beaten it 10+ times now and every time it ends up being different for me in some way, especially if you do/don't find out information/dossiers.

So basically, Alpha Protocol but better?

EA, if you make this a thing, instead of running Mass Effect into the ground, all will be forgiven.

mmm this definitely confirms what I thought, EA is changing bioware's culture.

Before EA bioware rarely did sequels, there were sequels to their games but they mostly by other developers i.e. obsidion. Even they if were very popular among fans (jade empire). Each game was a new world to explore, a different setting though somethings were very similar (hellforge chart) and bioware always tried new things, eventually they decide to try a trillogy.

EA on the other hand are somewhat hesitiant to new I.P. and prefer fanchaises. The decision not to greenlight this I.P. and push for a mass effect sequel (a game which story has ended and old bioware I believe would not of greenlit and moved into something new) Is a sign that bioware is losing it's culture and identity and is being replaced by EA's.

Meh, I'm very much un-disappointed. I liked Alpha Protocol well enough and I feel Bioware's talent would've been wasted on the concept. Remember the Zero Punctuation: Alpha Protocol review? The game worked in spite of or even because the protagonist was kind of an ass. On the other hand, a renegade Shepard wasn't much fun to play, especially towards the end of the series. I think there was a statistics splat screen about Mass Effect 3 stating that a vast majority of the players preferred paragon Shepard.

What I'm saying is: Let Bioware stick to Dragon Age, Mass Effect and SW:TOR, at least I know I care for those...

Fanghawk:
Alpha Protocol had the right idea, but its story and characters never reached the level of appeal that BioWare's Mass Effect or Dragon Age franchises held.

I felt that Alpha Protocol's story and characters were far superior to either of those games. It was the borderline-unplayableness that brought it down.

I don't really like spy thrillers anyway so meh

It wouldn't have been as good as alpha protocol, but more spy stuff is always welcome, especially considering how cover-shootery splinter cell & hitman have gotten. A shame, really.

Bioware wanted to make Alpha Protocol? That's weird.

This is why EA has to die. DIE!

so it would almost be like alpha protocol.

EA keep on digging your own grave..

Let's look at it from EA's perspective. Launching a new IP is a bit of a risk, because you don't have the brand name to go off of. So, they look at the market, and see how similar games have done. Most likely, the games they looked at were Alpha Protocol and The Bourne Conspiracy.

Alpha Protocol had mixed reviews, and has sold 700,000 copies on the PS3, 360, and PC since its release 2 years ago. Now, those numbers may not include Steam sales, so I'll be generous and bump it up to an even 1 million copies.

Bourne Conspiracy received mixed reviews, and has sold a grand total of 750K copies worldwide on both the PS3 and 360 combined to date, 4 years after its release.

Looking at those numbers, can you blame EA for not getting behind a game concept that has been tried twice, and failed both times?

... and then Obsidian would have made a buggier but far better sequel to it, eh?

thebobmaster:

Alpha Protocol had mixed reviews, and has sold 700,000 copies on the PS3, 360, and PC since its release 2 years ago. Now, those numbers may not include Steam sales, so I'll be generous and bump it up to an even 1 million copies.

Sega didn't see it to be worthwhile doing a sequel. I wouldn't be surprised if EA had thought worse.

OT: In hindsight, I'm glad they didn't go ahead with it.

deth2munkies:
Pitch sounds near identical to Alpha Protocol, and look at how crappy that turned out...

Oh look someone who didn't play Alpha Protocol.....

EA probably threw the idea out because they couldn't find a way to needlessly tack multiplayer onto the campaign.

mad825:

thebobmaster:

Alpha Protocol had mixed reviews, and has sold 700,000 copies on the PS3, 360, and PC since its release 2 years ago. Now, those numbers may not include Steam sales, so I'll be generous and bump it up to an even 1 million copies.

Sega didn't see it to be worthwhile doing a sequel. I wouldn't be surprised if EA had thought worse.

OT: In hindsight, I'm glad they didn't go ahead with it.

You see my point though, right? Everyone is jumping on EA for making what, at the time, seemed like a good business decision. You can point to the sales of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but that had the advantage of having an established fanbase from previous games, and being a somewhat marketable name. Both the original spy-type games they had to look at bombed financially, and weren't successful enough critically to overlook that.

thebobmaster:

You see my point though, right? Everyone is jumping on EA for making what, at the time, seemed like a good business decision. You can point to the sales of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but that had the advantage of having an established fanbase from previous games, and being a somewhat marketable name. Both the original spy-type games they had to look at bombed financially, and weren't successful enough critically to overlook that.

It "seemed" like a good business decision.

But EA has a history with this. They buy out acclaimed creative studios and then they inject their own business logic into the equation, ruining the unique creative flair and destroying the value of their purchase.

We could have gotten an awesome spy RPG and a worthy ending to the Mass Effect series, but instead we got SW:ToR - and the production of SW:ToR, alongside shoehorned social features, ruined Mass Effect - and with it, the BioWare brand.

Imthatguy:

deth2munkies:
Pitch sounds near identical to Alpha Protocol, and look at how crappy that turned out...

Oh look someone who didn't play Alpha Protocol.....

I did. I stopped playing for months after the tutorial because the hacking mini-game sucked so much. I came back to it later and it just played so horribly compared to Deus Ex: HR (that I was also playing at the time) that I just abandoned it.

The game was barely playable and the bugs and stupid shit I'd heard about that happens later in the game sapped my will to work through the shit.

thebobmaster:
Let's look at it from EA's perspective. Launching a new IP is a bit of a risk, because you don't have the brand name to go off of. So, they look at the market, and see how similar games have done. Most likely, the games they looked at were Alpha Protocol and The Bourne Conspiracy.

Alpha Protocol had mixed reviews, and has sold 700,000 copies on the PS3, 360, and PC since its release 2 years ago. Now, those numbers may not include Steam sales, so I'll be generous and bump it up to an even 1 million copies.

Bourne Conspiracy received mixed reviews, and has sold a grand total of 750K copies worldwide on both the PS3 and 360 combined to date, 4 years after its release.

Looking at those numbers, can you blame EA for not getting behind a game concept that has been tried twice, and failed both times?

HOW DARE YOU USE LOGIC! HOW DARE YOU! GET OUT OF HERE!

OT: This pretty much. Like every publisher/developer at the end of the day it's about money. Whether we want to admit it or not. And this type of game hasn't done well so far.

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