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BioWare

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BioWare
Type Subsidiary of Electronic Arts
Industry Software & programming
Founded Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (1995)
Headquarters Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Key people Casey Hudson, Director
David Gaider, Writer
Ray Muzyka, CEO
Greg Zeschuk, Vice-President
Products Video games (See complete products listing)
Revenue increase CA$17.482 million (2003)
Owner(s) Electronic Arts
Employees ≈800 (2010)[1]
Parent Electronic Arts
Website bioware.com

BioWare is an American-owned Canadian video game developer founded in February 1995 by Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk, and Augustine Yip, and currently owned by Electronic Arts. BioWare specializes in role-playing video games, and became famous for launching highly praised and successful licensed franchises, Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. They later made several successful games based on original IP: Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age II. They are currently working on two projects: Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3, both scheduled for release in 2011.

The BioWare Group of studios is now four studios (BioWare Edmonton, BioWare Austin, BioWare Mythic, and BioWare Montreal)[2] comprising the RPG/MMO Group within Electronic Arts, with Muzyka, EA Senior VP and the Group General Manager and Zeschuk EA VP and Group Creative Officer of the BioWare Group; Yip left in early 1997 to return to medicine. Other senior leaders in the BioWare Group (RPG/MMO Group) of Electronic Arts are Rob Denton (EA VP and Group Operations Officer of the BioWare Group), Patrick Buechner (EA VP and Group Marketing Officer of the BioWare Group), Gordon Walton and Rich Vogel (EA VPs and co-General Managers of BioWare Austin), Aaryn Flynn (EA VP and General Manager of BioWare Edmonton), Eugene Evans (EA VP and General Manager of BioWare Mythic, in Fairfax, Virginia), and Yanick Roy (Studio Director of BioWare Montreal).

Contents

Company history

An old Bioware logo

BioWare was established in February 1995 by Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk, and Augustine Yip, who had graduated together from medical school at the University of Alberta.[3] Its first game was released the following year. During its ten years as an independent company, BioWare developed Shattered Steel, the Baldur's Gate series, MDK2, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Jade Empire. It had publishing relationships with Interplay (through Black Isle Studios), Infogrames/Atari, LucasArts, and Microsoft.

The next few years saw a number of changes in BioWare's corporate status. In November 2005, it was announced that BioWare and Pandemic Studios (itself founded by former Activision employees) would be joining forces, with private equity fund Elevation Partners investing in the partnership. On October 11, 2007, however, it was announced that this new partnership (organized as VG Holding Corp) had been bought by Electronic Arts.[4] BioWare therefore became a unit of EA, but retained its own branding.

In 2007, BioWare released the science fiction RPG Mass Effect. The following year, BioWare released Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood on the Nintendo DS, its first title for a handheld game console. Near the end of 2009, BioWare released the fantasy RPG Dragon Age: Origins, and in January 2010 Mass Effect 2. Recently, EA announced that BioWare would be merged with Mythic Entertainment, another division of EA, so that they could have all of their RPG development in one business unit.

BioWare is currently working on at least four further projects. The MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic will be based on BioWare's previous contribution to the Star Wars franchise,[5] and was announced on 21 October 2008, although BioWare had first mentioned an unspecified new collaboration with LucasArts in October the previous year.[6] The other projects are a sequel to Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 3 and an additional project about which no details have yet been revealed.[7][8][9]

The growth of the RPG/MMO Group as part of Electronic Arts in 2008+ has resulted in three additional studios being added to the BioWare Group outside BioWare's original home base in Edmonton. The first, located in Austin, Texas and headed by industry veterans Gordon Walton and Richard Vogel, was created to work on the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG project. Both the studio and the project were announced on March 13, 2006. On March 2, 2009, BioWare announced it had opened a new studio in Montreal, Quebec to assist with existing projects as necessary.[10] In 2009 Mythic Entertainment, based in Fairfax, Virginia, became part of the RPG/MMO Group, later being renamed BioWare Mythic in early 2010.

Electronic Arts announced on June 24, 2009, that they are restructuring their RPG and MMO games development into a new group that includes both Mythic Entertainment and BioWare. This newly formed team (now called the BioWare Group) will be led by Ray Muzyka, co-founder and General Manager of BioWare. With this change, Muzyka becomes Group General Manager of the new RPG/MMO studio group. BioWare's other co-founder, Greg Zeschuk, will become Group Creative Officer for the new RPG/MMO studio group. Rob Denton will step up as General Manager of Mythic and report to Muzyka, later becoming Group Operations Officer of the new Group. BioWare's studios remain unchanged and continue to report to Muzyka.[11]

The company announced that it would be opening up a new customer service office in Galway, Ireland, in 2011.[12]

The company was also a starting place for other Albertan game developers, such as being the former employer of the HermitWorks Entertainment staff. The group developed the well-received genre mixing game Space Trader, which was developed under an art grant from the Canadian government.

Games

Title Release year Game engine Platform(s) Notes
Shattered Steel 1996 DOS, Mac OS Some Interactive Preview discs were defective, rendering working copies very scarce for collectors and fans.
Baldur's Gate 1998 Infinity Engine Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast 1999 Infinity Engine Microsoft Windows, Mac OS Expansion pack to Baldur's Gate
MDK2 2000 Omen Engine Dreamcast, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, WiiWare Sequel to MDK
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn 2000 Infinity Engine Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal 2001 Infinity Engine Microsoft Windows, Mac OS Expansion pack to Baldur's Gate II
Neverwinter Nights 2002 Aurora Engine Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS X
Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide 2003 Aurora Engine Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS X Expansion pack to Neverwinter Nights
Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark 2003 Aurora Engine Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS X Expansion pack to Neverwinter Nights
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2003 Odyssey Engine Xbox, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
Jade Empire 2005 Odyssey Engine Xbox, Windows XP, Xbox 360, Mac OS X
Mass Effect 2007 Unreal Engine 3 Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood 2008 Nintendo DS
Mass Effect Galaxy 2009 iOS
Dragon Age: Origins 2009 Eclipse Engine Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac OS X Described as being a spiritual successor to their Baldur's Gate series of games.
Mass Effect 2 2010 Unreal Engine 3 Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening 2010 Eclipse Engine Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Expansion pack to Dragon Age: Origins[13]
Dragon Age II[14] 2011 Lycium Engine[15] Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Released March 2011[16]
Star Wars: The Old Republic[17] Q2 / Q3 2011 HeroEngine Microsoft Windows In development
Mass Effect 3 Q4 2011 Unreal Engine 3 Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 In development[18]

Engines

BioWare created the Infinity Engine, which was used as a core component for development of 2D role-playing video games based on Dungeons & Dragons, such as Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale. For their game Neverwinter Nights, launched in 2002, BioWare developed the Aurora Engine, the basis for a number of successful 3D RPGs thereafter.

Neverwinter Nights shipped with a number of tools allowing users to create their own role-playing adventures for single and multiplayer online. The tools, using the Aurora Engine, have been adapted to many forms of gameplay and storytelling, with thousands of amateur and professional modules available on various web sites; some released for sale as premium content. Neverwinter Nights was a pioneering example of user-created game content commercially supported and distributed over the internet.

The Odyssey Engine was developed for the game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which was based on the Aurora Engine. BioWare has recently developed the Eclipse Engine (a next generation RPG engine) for the game Dragon Age: Origins.

After years of working with licensed content, particularly from the D&D world, BioWare began efforts to develop their own original, independent universes and franchises. Jade Empire was a step in this direction, as are their current projects: the RPG series Mass Effect for Xbox 360 and PC, which utilizes the third version of the Unreal Engine.

BioWare maintained a limited oversight on Obsidian Entertainment's development of Neverwinter Nights 2 and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords.

Aurora Engine

The Aurora Engine was the 3D successor to BioWare's earlier, 2D game engine, called the Infinity Engine.[19] The engine allows for real-time lighting and shadows, as well as surround sound.[19] The first game released using the Aurora Engine was Neverwinter Nights, and included an accompanying "Aurora toolset" for users to create their own content. The sequel, Neverwinter Nights 2, developed by Obsidian Entertainment, features an updated version of BioWare's engine named the Electron engine. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (from Obsidian Entertainment) use an updated version of the Aurora Engine called the Odyssey Engine. Aurora was also used by CD Projekt Red in their game The Witcher, although the rendering engine was written from scratch.

Third party games using BioWare engines

Infinity Engine:

Odyssey Engine:

Aurora Engine:

Awards

In addition to numerous game awards, the company has been awarded with a number of business related awards:

The full list of awards can be found on their web site.[23]

See also

References

  1. ^ Brightman, James (2010-06-04). "BioWare on RPG Success, Old Republic, Natal and More". industrygamers.com. http://www.industrygamers.com/news/bioware-on-rpg-success-old-republic-natal-and-more/2. Retrieved 2011-03-11. 
  2. ^ Stephen Totilo (March 10, 2010). "What The People Behind Mass Effect And Dragon Age Are Trying To Do". Kotaku. http://kotaku.com/5497736/what-the-people-behind-mass-effect-and-dragon-age-are-trying-to-do?skyline=true&s=i. Retrieved July 7, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Alberta Inventors and Inventions - Dr. Ray Muzyka & Dr. Greg Zeschuk". Heritage Community Foundation. 2003. http://www.abheritage.ca/abinvents/inventors/muzykaandzeschuk_biography.htm. Retrieved June 22, 2009. 
  4. ^ Klepek, Patrick (October 11, 2007). "EA Acquires BioWare, Pandemic". 1UP.com. http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3163607. Retrieved June 14, 2009. 
  5. ^ Glasser, AJ (October 22, 2008). "Star Wars: The Old Republic – What We Know So Far". Kotaku. http://kotaku.com/5066929/star-wars-the-old-republic--what-we-know-so-far. Retrieved June 14, 2009. 
  6. ^ LucasArts.com | LucasArts and BioWare Corp. to Create Ground-Breaking Interactive Entertainment Product
  7. ^ ActionTrip Mass Effect Interview
  8. ^ Purchese, Robert (28 January 2010). "BioWare's Illusive Man Live QA". Eurogamer.net. http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/ray-muzyka-biowares-illusive-man-live-q-and-a. Retrieved 2 February 2010. 
  9. ^ James Ransom-Wiley (January 29, 2010). "BioWare says Dragon Age 2 to look 'super hot'". Joystiq. http://www.joystiq.com/2010/01/29/bioware-says-dragon-age-2-to-look-super-hot/. Retrieved July 7, 2010. 
  10. ^ Thorsen, Tor (March 2, 2009). "BioWare Mass-ing Montreal devs". Gamespot. http://www.gamespot.com/news/6205477.html. Retrieved June 22, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Bioware and Mythic Form New MMO/RPG Group". Mythic Entertainment. June 24, 2009. http://forums.warhammeronline.com/warhammer/board/message?board.id=dev_discussions&thread.id=2509. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Electronic Arts to create 200 jobs in Galway". http://insideireland.ie/2010/05/26/archive3648-3708/. 
  13. ^ Jeff Haynes. "Dragon Age: Origins -- Awakening Announced". http://uk.pc.ign.com/articles/105/1058169p1.html. 
  14. ^ Mass Effect 2 DLC and Dragon Age 2
  15. ^ Hinkle, David (February 8, 2011). "Dragon Age 2 preview: A shot of adrenaline". Joystiq.com. http://www.joystiq.com/2011/02/08/dragon-age-2-preview-a-shot-of-adrenaline/. Retrieved February 24, 2011. "While it might appear to run on a new engine, Dragon Age 2 employs an evolved version of Origins' Eclipse engine (now called the Lycium engine internally)." 
  16. ^ "Dragon Age 2 review scores roll out". CVG. March 9, 2011. http://www.computerandvideogames.com/292554/news/dragon-age-2-review-scores-roll-out/. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  17. ^ "E3 2008: Knights of the Old Republic MMO on the way". http://palgn.com.au/article.php?id=12255&sid=f8c25f44a880a10fca674ae7fc2dbefd. 
  18. ^ Geoff Calver. "New Mass Effect Coming In 2011". http://terminalgamer.com/2010/02/09/new-mass-effect-coming-in-2011. 
  19. ^ a b Shields, Jo (27 August 2002). "The new night". HEXUS.net. http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=411. Retrieved 13 May 2009. 
  20. ^ "Calgary Herald, "Alberta's top 40 places to work", October 18, 2008". http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/story.html?id=02b19397-2fdf-4039-ba29-b93eaf908adb. 
  21. ^ "Edmonton Journal, "Alberta's best focus on attracting, keeping staff", October 31, 2008". http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/story.html?id=5bc8514a-b0eb-4538-bab4-a63f11f51a16. 
  22. ^ "Reasons for Selection, 2009 Alberta's Top Employers competition". http://www.eluta.ca/top-employer-bioware. 
  23. ^ BioWare: BioWare Corporate And Community Awards[dead link]
  24. ^ USA Today

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