Former BioWare CEO Casey Hudson has revealed more about what’s going on at his new Humanoid Studios team, and it sounds exactly like what you might expect from Mass Effect’s project director: “A cross-platform AAA game , focused on character-driven storytelling in an all-new sci-fi universe.”
Hudson had a long career at BioWare, dating all the way back to Baldur’s Gate 2 and MDK 2, but he’s best known for leading development on the original Mass Effect trilogy. He left BioWare in 2014 and was therefore not involved in the development of Mass Effect: Andromeda, but returned shortly after its release in 2017 to take over general management of the studio. Hudson left, very unexpectedly, at the end of 2020, with Dragon Age executive producer Mark Darrah; he unveiled Humanoid Studios in June 2021 but said nothing about his first project other than that it would be a “brand new IP”.
We still don’t have a name for Humanoid’s first game, but thanks to a major update to the studio’s website, we now have that very basic description above, and some concept art that looks like a lot like Mass Effect to me: Human explorers in space suits staring at the skull of a massive, presumably (hopefully) dead creature or machine; long stretches of shiny technology embedded in quiet green spaces; a spacious living room orbiting a pockmarked planet; and more explorers, cruising outside in their space cars on a decidedly toxic planet.
Some of the tech looks less polished than what we’ve seen in Mass Effect – that orbital lounge is more 2001 than 2183, and those spacesuits are chunky – but you can’t get too much out of a handful of game art. at this early stage. (Let’s not forget that Destiny was once supposed to feature a really big frog.)
Most of the Humanoid website isn’t dedicated to the new game, but to finding people to help make it. Messaging on the site speaks of creative freedom and independence, and also that the studio is “a safe and supportive environment” in which to work, reflecting growing concern over toxicity and widespread abuse in the video game industry. .
“We believe in the power of small, agile teams and a flat organizational structure, where everyone is empowered to make decisions and contribute to the project vision,” the site says. “We hire great people, give them the best tools and a supportive environment, and give them the creative freedom to explore their full potential.”
Big-name developers announcing new studios long before they’re ready to talk about what they’re actually doing seems like an increasingly common occurrence. In some cases, they are explicitly looking for new employees, but in others, the goal seems to be above all to attract attention. Jade Raymond launched a new studio then sold it to Sony without saying a meaningful word about her first new game, while the Yakuza creator announced his own new studio with nothing more than a promise that his future games will be “bigger” than his. the elders. Dr Disrespect launched his own development venture late last year with little more than the promise of “the best, most community-driven online PVP multiplayer experience the world has ever seen” (and job openings), and in 2020 Hudson’s BioWare alum Mike Laidlaw launched his own studio, which last week revealed it was working on “an all-new fantasy action RPG” – and that It is hiring.
Even without big name developers, early game announcements are increasingly becoming the norm. It felt like real news when Bethesda confirmed The Elder Scrolls 6 was in development while simultaneously warning that it was still many years away (and they really weren’t kidding about that), but BioWare recently did the same thing for the new Dragon Age and Mass Effect games, and just yesterday CD Projekt released a Witcher 4 confirmation that contained almost no information beyond that it was happening.
Humanoid Studios is clearly on the “help wanted” side of that equation, and the website currently has a list of several high-level roles, including lead artists, lead level designer, lead writer, and senior designers and programmers. Unfortunately, there’s nothing specific about the game in the listings, except that it’s apparently made with the Unreal Engine.