Ex-Bioware boss calls Frostbite ‘delicate and hard to manage’

During a keynote speech at Reboot Develop Red in Banff, Canada, ex-BioWare general manager Aaryn Flynn didn’t mince words. The entire talk centered around the importance of tools to a game maker. As he described his own experience, he mentioned Frostbite, EA’s propriety game engine that’s taken the blame for many of its follies this generation.

The words, first captured by GamesIndustry.biz, continue to tell the story of a studio struggling to express their creative vision in the face of complicated technology. Flynn was at BioWare during the development of three Frostbite titles, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Mass Effect: Andromeda, and Anthem. He compared working with the engine to maintaining an F1 racecar. “My experience with it was very much like this: you could do amazing things, go very fast in some elements, but very delicate and very hard to manage.”

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He noted that moving to Frostbite slowed BioWare down, although he also blamed the rising standards of AAA gaming. “It was harder and harder to move that content through these pipelines and do things. And even though we had more people — we had more teams, more folks — we were slowing down the rate at which we could build and craft these experiences.” At the end of the day, his team “couldn’t seem to find their footing,” and the games suffered as a result.

Flynn is now managing an internal studio at Improbable focusing on making games using the company’s SpatialOS tech. He states in the speech that his experience with Frostbite has led to big changes in his new position. He claimed that his next game would use tools “an order of magnitude more powerful” than what BioWare had at their disposal. “This was a very frustrating thing for me — to not have the systems and tools in place so that our developers could do that.”