He believes that the publisher grants a lot of creative freedom without an obligation to use the Frostbite engine either.
In Kotaku’s Splitscreen podcast, Aaryn Flynn showed up. He left BioWare in July, and he worked on Baldur’s Gate II, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age: Origins. After he got promoted, he overviewed the development of Dragon Age II, Mass Effect 3, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Regarding whether Electronic Arts enforces implementing monetization and microtransactions into the games that they publish, Flynn repled with the following: „Not in my experience, no. They have an ambitious business plan, and they want to do certain things, everything from growing market share to entering new markets, but those are very good goals, there’s nothing controversial about those goals. They have a very solid business plan that everybody is aware of and everybody works hard to deliver.
I think they are a great company to be a part of because they care very much about the creative process – they care about that – so they want you to be successful, and they will do whatever they can to help you be successful. Every company has got constraints and thinks you gotta do, things you have to get done, but they are excellent at giving creative freedom for sure.”
He also revealed whether BioWare was forced to switch to the Frostbite engine (the original Mass Effect trilogy used Unreal Engine 3) or not: „No, not at all. It was our decision. We had been wrapping up Mass Effect 3, and we just shipped Dragon Age II, and we knew that our Eclipse engine, that we shipped DAII on, wasn’t going to cut it for the future iterations of Dragon Age. It couldn’t do open world; the renderer wasn’t strong enough, those were the two big ones. We thought about multiplayer as well, as Eclipse was single-player only.
We talked internally about three options. We could have burned down Eclipse and started something new internally, we could have gone with Unreal Engine, or we could have picked Frostbite which had shown some really promising results on the rendering side of things, and it was multiplayer enabled. When it came down to it, we talked to folks, and they liked the Frostbite option, and again, back to this idea of being part of a community, there were more and more teams [at EA] that were considering Frostbite. It was a decision that I made after all of the technical deep dives in probably late 2011.”
He still thinks the switch to Frostbite was the right choice: „Oh yeah, I think so. Being part of a community – everybody at EA is on it now – that is powerful, it’s a good place to be. It’s a credit to the Frostbite team how they keep so many diverse titles on one engine, everything from FIFA to Anthem, it’s amazing to me. I hear that, and certainly, we would look at things and say ‘Oh man, we got a lot of work to do on this,’ but it’s tough because it’s also true that the titles are ambitious. So is it the ambition or a specific technical issue [that’s causing problems]?”
So, Flynn is happy the team switched. However, we’ll see if the next BioWare game, Anthem, is up to snuff in early 2019 when it launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.