Ex-BioWare dev: It’s ‘impossible’ to plan for live games

An ex-BioWare community representative has said that “it’s just impossible” to plan for live games. Frank Sanchez worked at BioWare between 2010 and 2012, assisting in managing the Star Wars: The Old Republic community. Sanchez also said that while he would prefer games were shipped with no bugs that isn’t realistic and it’s about how developers deal with issues once they occur.

Sanchez made the comments in an interview with GamesRadar, in which he addressed the many issues facing developers launching large scale online games. Sanchez spoke about how, even when games appear similar when it comes to functioning online, each game has “a lot of uniqueness”. The ex-BioWare developer’s primary sentiment appears to be that games companies can’t fully prevent issues that occur upon launch, “it’s not the issues, those are always going to happen. It’s how you address those issues. If you’re slow or you don’t address them properly, or if you’re hostile toward your players, it’s going to stick with them. If there’s one thing I wish players would understand, it’s that issues do happen regardless of how well you plan for them.”

The interview involved other developers including development manager and former QA analyst at EA Alex Mann. Mann discussed the misunderstanding of the importance of server size when it comes to the launch of online games, “capacity isn’t necessarily about the number of servers. Even if we’re expecting millions of players and we’ve got the servers, we’re not expecting them all to hit that login portal at the same time. It’s about having enough lanes on the motorway for people to come through.” Fredrik Bronjemark, director of live services at Massive Entertainment, also took part in the interview and reiterated the intricacies of the issue stating, “large online games are extremely complex pieces of software, relying on a massive online server infrastructure to support it.”

Both Mann and Bronjemark discussed the importance of pre-launch betas. Mann stated, “betas are massively helpful. You cannot get the size and scale that you do with a beta test internally.” Bronjemark emphasized the need for player betas, “you cannot get the size and scale you do with a beta test internally. I’d like to dispel that myth.”

BioWare’s developers are already working hard to mitigate problems with Anthem. Over the weekend, the studio changed the rate at which high-level items drop from enemies within the game.