|Title||Immortals of Avium|
|platform||Windows (EA App, Steam, Epic), PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S.|
|release date||July 20, 2023|
Imagine a scene from any Call of Duty game where soldiers go head-to-head with all kinds of weapons, helicopters attack from the sky, and all kinds of explosions occur to add to the chaos. Now turn the chopper into a dragon, imagine the explosions as all sorts of magical effects, and replace the soldiers’ classic weapons with different magical weapons that behave almost similarly. Voilá: You just turned an ordinary shooter into a Magic Shooter. That’s exactly what Immortals of Aveum is. The game is a new Ascendant Studios project and will be released on July 20 by Electronic Arts, under the EA Originals label.
This is the same label that was responsible for Unravel and It Takes Two, among others. The latest game in particular put this branch of EA, which focuses on collaborating with smaller studios, on the map. With Immortals of Aveum, the label is entering its biggest collaboration yet. The label wants to focus more on AAA projects and with this game, and the previous release Wild Hears, that strategy is reversed. This does not mean that EA Originals will now focus primarily on AAA and no longer do the “niche” business, Jeff Gamon shows us. Gamon is the Managing Director of EA Partners and therefore responsible for EA Originals. “Let me make it clear right away that I don’t believe in ‘niche games’ at all. Any high-quality, innovative game has the potential to attract an audience of millions. We’re working to expand what falls under the definition of an EA Originals game, but our North Star is still supporting developers.” creators, regardless of the size and budget of the studio involved.”
Gamon explains that collaboration between EA and development studios varies by collaboration. “We recently released Wild Hearts. Our role in this project was to help Koei Tecmo bring the game to players in the West. At Immortals of Aveum, our focus is to support the production, marketing and publication of the game. This way we ensure that Brett Robbins and his team have all the creative freedom to develop their vision” .
Call of Duty, but with magic
Brett Robbins is President of Ascendant Studios and Creative Director of Immortals of Aveum. You may know his name if you have followed Sledgehammer Call of Duty games over the years. Long before that, Robbins also worked at Crystal Dynamics and was the lead designer on From Russia With Love and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. His breakthrough came as creative director on the original Dead Space. All along Robbins had the idea of a shooter set in a world full of magic, kind of Call of Duty, but with a magical world and battles instead of soldiers. After nearly thirty years in the industry, the time has come to articulate this vision. For example, Ascendant Studios, now based in San Rafael, California, was born about five years ago.
When word came out that Telltale was shutting down, Robbins and his co-workers went straight to the bar where the Telltale developers were drinking their sorrows for telling them about the Immortals of Aveum.The funny coincidence was that the early days of Ascendant Studios coincided with the end of Telltale Games, makers of games like The Wolf Among Us, Tales of the Borderlands, and The Walking Dead. You can take it literally. On the day that Telltale employees were told their studio would cease to exist, a large group of those employees went to a bar to drink their grief. When news of Telltale’s closing came out, Robbins and his first classmates immediately shut down their computers and headed to the same bar. This is well remembered by Dave Bogan, Artistic Director of Immortals of Aveum. “While we were there, emails and messages from other studios’ human resources departments were already pouring in, but Bret and his crew called us right away and told us about their plans. A week later I was sitting in a garage in Sausalito, I was hired and Bret gave me a design document from Over sixty pages, it is the basis of Immortals of Aveum.”
Partnership with EA Originals
After the start-up phase, it was time for Ascendant Studios to find a partner. After all, most development studios don’t have the resources to market a game worldwide and to provide marketing and support. Several publishers were interested, Robbins reports, but EA Originals turned out to be a logical choice. “Above all, I wanted a partner who could bring our game to the widest possible audience. I’ve worked for EA for years, I know their reach and this seemed like the best option. And I was right: they supported us excellently with marketing and publishing. I felt that with EA we wouldn’t We not only get to reach more people, but they can help make the game better. And that’s exactly what happened.”
Ascendant Studios has since grown into a company that employs more than 140 people, in the Bay Area around San Francisco, but also beyond. Executive producer Kevin Boyle “thanks” the coronavirus pandemic for the latter. “It is, of course, difficult to have everyone at home, but it also opened up new possibilities. As local collaborations became less important, we were able to attract talent from all over the country and even from other continents. If I could gather all the people who work for us in one studio Together: great! But the truth is that we simply would not have a large part of our current squad. In this sense, the pandemic helped us as well. “
The Corona crisis has allowed Ascendant Studios to hire talent from all over the world, rather than just people who live near San Francisco.Boyle agrees that remote work presents challenges. For example, the difference in time zones is a factor in this. During my recent visit to the studio, I personally saw how Ascendant Studios hopes to keep the lines short. witness weekly All hands meeting Which takes place every Wednesday at 10 am, which is 7 pm in Western Europe. All team members are kept up to date by the team leaders. For example, we hear that all elements of the combat system have been integrated into the game and that a DLSS update will be made for the PC version later that week. Robbins also tells his colleagues that journalists will be there that day to play the game and give interviews. There’s also an online preview event, where slightly more creators will get to see the game in action. All of this is happening in the context of the first trailer being released and announcing the release date, which is set for July 20th.
no As few crunches as possible
The meeting is an example of how Robbins wants his people to continue to see and feel: as people. This includes an accessible group of team leaders, but also a healthy work-life balance. It makes sense, but in an era when story after story is coming out about little kids, it’s refreshing to see a studio move so decidedly in the other direction. Robbins: “Crunches can be beneficial, but only if the goal and time frame are clear. What I’ve experienced on several occasions is that the time frame in particular wasn’t clear: it went on and on and on. I don’t want that for my people. We did some specific crunches.” “Very far to achieve some milestones, but nothing more. I’m convinced the rigged developers are doing a better job than what you achieve with a corporate culture in which crunches are the order of the day.”
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