Former Dragon Age 4 lead says “BioWare magic” contributes to crunch

Former Dragon Age 4 executive producer Mark Darrah has hit out at the idea of “BioWare magic.”

Yesterday, the veteran developer posted a new video to his ‘Old Game Dev Advice’ YouTube channel, with a title “BioWare Magic – rants #crunch.” The seven-minute video is Darrah speaking about what the phrase “BioWare magic” actually means at the development studio, outlining the entire process with an excellent analogy themed around a hockey stick.

Darrah says video game development in general (not just at BioWare), is a lot like the curve on the hockey stick: it ramps up right near the end, resulting in almost-inevitable crunch periods. The former producer specifically points to this as what’s behind the phrase BioWare magic, and it’s clear he’s saddened by the phrase still being used at the studio.

However, Darrah makes sure to mention that it’s obviously not just BioWare where this happens. What Darrah is specifically talking about is the fact that using “BioWare magic” as a selling point for the studio directly contributes to periods of crunch for the development team, where everything needs to come together for a game at the eleventh hour. 

The former Dragon Age 4 executive producer also deliberately points to a strange culture aspect at BioWare, where one leadership team on a game might be stuck in the past because they’ve been developing a single project for so long, and haven’t absorbed the culture of the studio around them. This, Darrah believes, contributes to the “BioWare magic” still being used long after it should’ve been stamped out.

For now though, we’ll have to see how BioWare’s immediate projects pan out in the near future. Dragon Age 4 is reportedly targeting a launch window of next year in 2023, and the mysterious Mass Effect 5 is even further out, although its reveal poster is apparently still hiding several clues for eagle-eyed fans to uncover.

Head over to our new games 2022 guide for a full look at all the more imminent games.

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