Three BioWare developers like Vikings and strategy RPGs so much, they started their own studio to combine the two.
In the world of gaming, Vikings are really popular right now. There's no way to tell how long this trend will last, but at least three veteran developers plan to take advantage of this opportunity before Vikings give way to some new craze. Arnie Jorgensen, Alex Thomas, and John Watson (no, not that John Watson) spent years as developers for BioWare, but recently decided that they wanted to start their own studio, Stoic, to make the kind of games they'd like to play. The Banner Saga, a strategy RPG in which players guide a motley crew of hand-animated Vikings through a deep story, aims to be the first of those games.
While information is still scarce for The Banner Saga, it doesn't sound too far off from a traditional BioWare project. "The Banner Saga is a mature game aimed at gamers who appreciate art, story, and strategy," the game's official site explains. The game focuses on "strategic, turn-based combat," developing relationships with party members through conversation, and traditional, hand-drawn animation for each marching war band and swinging sword. Beyond that, the site only advertises "Free Multiplayer Combat - Coming Soon."
Between them, the three men seem to have all the relevant skills for this endeavor. All three dedicated the last few years to getting Star Wars: The Old Republic out the door, and waited until the job was done before deciding to leave. Jorgensen worked as the Lead Concept Artist, Thomas as the Senior Environment Artist, and Watson as the Lead Combat programmer. In addition to artistic and design experience, Thomas has some writing chops, having written screenplays for Dreamworks and Cartoon Network.
Jorgensen, Thomas, and Watson seem to be the three latest cast members in the ongoing story of big developers quitting their day jobs to join the indie scene. They're also not the only influential members of BioWare to leave their jobs recently. If The Banner Saga is a big success, will more BioWare employees follow in their footsteps?