Former Artsy BioWare Devs Creating The Banner Saga

By John Walker on February 22nd, 2012 at 11:10 am.

That certainly is a banner.

Former BioWareites, Stoic, are formed from a gathering of those who worked on Star Wars: The Old Republic, then ran off into the Texan wastelands to form their own studio. The three-man indie team is working on an online hybrid called The Banner Saga, that plans to merge RPG, turn-based strategy, and vikings. It is the combination mentioned in the Mayan Codecs.

At first glance of the game’s sparse website, you can really tell this is a team including two artists. Emulating animated films, the cartoon world will feature turn-based combat of hand-painted enemies, and because they spent more than ten seconds at BioWare, it’ll have conversation choices to make with long-term consequences. Of it, they say,

“The Banner Saga is a mature game aimed at gamers who appreciate art, story and strategy.”

The game will apparently be free, and is described as an “adventure mini-series”. Also worth noting is that the game is being made in a goat shed. Really. First it looked like this:

Then it looked like this:

We shall be pestering Stoic for more details on this immediately.

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50 Comments »

  1. Luke says:

    Is it still a goat shed if there’s not a goat in it?

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      tumbleworld says:

      C’est ci ne pas un Goat Shed.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Well now it has affordable, easy (kind of) to assemble Swedish furniture in it.

      So I guess that makes it an IKEA shed?

    • Gnarf says:

      It’s mostly just sad if there’s no goat.

      Goats are very cute animals.

    • sneetch says:

      Let us ponder on this. Really, this should be the RPS thought of the day.

      Surely, going by the evidence of the first picture, it was a “crouched man” shed.

      BTW, I like the artstyle on their website. Beautiful and I’m so glad they’re not going for a “realistic” style, I get enough reality in real life to be honest.

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      Gap Gen says:

      Clearly it has shed its goats.

    • Oof says:

      Gap Gen is amazing.

    • max pain says:

      Code monkeys are a thing of past, goats come to take their place.

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      Bluerps says:

      That is probably the reason that RPS is going to pester them for more details.

  2. Premium User Badge

    golem09 says:

    Smells like goat spirit.

  3. unimural says:

    May I just sidetrack you for one moment. This – what shall I call it – nickname of yours…

    • westyfield says:

      I guess this was a reply to a spambot that got deleted? Care to enlighten us with regard to its username?

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      felisc says:

      “John walker” is an astonishingly bold nickname indeed.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      John Walker is an unfortunate nickname given that the first result it receives in google is that of an American terrorist.

    • Apples says:

      It’s also unfortunate because it’s very easy to change into a rather rude word.

      Not that any of us would ever stoop to that level, of course.

    • unimural says:

      Oh, no. I was merely trying to be funny, and failed. You see, it was a reference to the Monty Python’s Arthur ‘Two Sheds’ Jackson sketch. Which was funny. And this piece of news was about a shed.

  4. Jimbo says:

    From top to bottom I rate these screenshots as: Very Vikingy, Quite Vikingy and Not Vikingy At All.

    • mrwout says:

      But..but… that’s IKEA ?! If that isn’t the most vikingy furniture of all I don’t know what is.

    • InternetBatman says:

      He speaks the truth. Ikea is the most Norse of all furniture.

  5. Scooper says:

    I have the exact same carpet.

  6. Oof says:

    This looks pretty. We’ll see if it’s any fun. I do hope they write better dialogue than is typical of a Bioware employee.

    • John Walker says:

      I keep reading comments like this, but I’ve yet to see the examples of BioWare’s terrible writing. What with their writing being the best in the business.

    • Oof says:

      “I’m hungry.” “I want to be a dragon.” Etc.

      “Dialogue” is a slight misnomer. Their weakness is in characters, and character development and interaction: I do hope they write better characters, and character development and interaction, than is typical of a Bioware employee.

    • Josh04 says:

      There is always a catch! Life is a catch! I suggest you ‘catch’ it while you can!

    • Leelad says:

      John I would assume that he’s referring to this utter nonsense.

    • Doesn'tmeananything says:

      It’s very well known that this business has quite low writing standards, but still, Bioware’s the best? Seriously?

    • Oof says:

      Bioware’s writing is “popcorn-y” at best. (At best.) But that was not my point: I hope Stoic Studios can do better. There’s no reason not to be able to.

    • NathanH says:

      “Well-written” and “badly-written” are almost always nonsense empty words that don’t really tell you what the current writer means. I would go so far as to say that, if someone writes “badly-written”, then their criticism is badly-written.

      If I write a moving emotionally engaging story, but use “less” instead of “fewer” at every point, am I writing well or am I writing badly? You can’t explain that.

    • InternetBatman says:

      @John Walker

      Well, there’s Anders in Dragon Age 2, and Carver. Really a lot of Dragon Age 2. Most importantly there’s Shepard; he / she’s the plank of wood that supports the interesting characters. Also, Carth in Knights of the Old Republic and the vaguely stereotypical Henpecked Hou in Jade Republic.

      Generally though Bioware does have significantly better writing than the industry standard.

    • DogKiller says:

      I don’t think Bioware’s writing has ever been the best in the business. Up until the original Mass Effect, I’d say it’s been pretty good compared to most games, but it’s never up there with the likes of Planescape Torment and such. From then on it seems mediocre, standing out only because it tends to win by default.

      Bad writing doesn’t mean bad game; some of the games I’ve played and enjoyed the most have had barely any story at all beyond fleshing out scenarios and such, but Bioware trumpet their stories as though they believe their own hype that only they can craft brilliant story-driven games when that’s just not true at all. Other games are taking story and narrative much more seriously these days, and that only serves to highlight the repeated tropes and rehashed ideas that Bioware continually wheel out for each game that much more.

      Their sometimes angry responses to people questioning their writing pretty much sums up their rather complacent attitude towards this stuff, and as far as I’m concerned, much of their reputation for storytelling was built years ago on games made by people who no longer work there.

    • mouton says:

      Bioware writing is really uneven. They can be truly brilliant when writing characters and their dialogue but are also capable of creating the hollywood-y illogical mess that was the main ME2 plotline.

      It is the fact that they can be so good makes their failures so much painful.

    • Oof says:

      DogKiller (really?)
      Exactly. When your point of difference is your story and your dialogue, it’s not enough for it to just be mediocre. What reason do I have to buy something that is mediocre in both its gameplay and its storytelling? None. There are games that do either better, and even some that do both.

      Mouton
      They have moments of excellence. That 1% is weighted disproportionately in assessing what are generally very middling games.

      If Stoic can provide “Bioware and then some”, I’ll be more than happy to give them money. Their art is up to scratch. Now they just need to impress with either their gameplay or their storytelling.

    • E_FD says:

      Bioware’s writing is never worse than competent, which already puts them far ahead of nearly everyone else in the gaming world, but it’s rarely any better than competent either. I’ve never gotten a sense that there’s any imagination or wonder behind Bioware’s games; they feel like formulaic rehashings of the the same plot points and character archetypes over and over into safe, easily-defined formats like “generic fantasy saga” and “generic space opera”.

    • Tuco says:

      I’m sorry, Mister Walker, but when I think about the best writing in games I think about Tim Schafer and Double FIne, Erik Wolpaw and Valve, Troika with Arcanum and Bloodlines, Rockstar, Obsidian…

      I’m not even saying they are the worst, but Bioware writers are nowhere near the top to me.

  7. Chalky says:

    Not banana saga as I first read. I am disappointed.

  8. mckertis says:

    Saga of the Banner of the Stars… ? No, of course not…*sigh*

  9. Cinnamon says:

    I was sold until you said it had Bioware style conversations. Pass.

  10. Leelad says:

    That bottom image looks oddly like certain “gentlemen films” I accidentally found one time.

  11. terry says:

    The Mayan codecs? Is that like Realplayer?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Yea, except there’s this bug in the date system so it only goes up to 2012

  12. LennyLeonardo says:

    There are no horny helmets. This is good. Contrary to popular wisdom, studies have shown that helmet horniness is actually inversely proportional to genuine Vikingness. Ipso facto: this is good.

  13. Eschwen says:

    The art style of this is a wholesale ripoff of Eyvind Earle.
    Example

    Not that I entirely mind, Eyvind Earle was an amazing artist, but this is so close to his style of art that I feel like they need to give the man some credit. Take the people out of that banner and you’d easily think it was an Earle original piece.

    • Jinnigan says:

      Definitely, in the interviews they’ve given they specifically talk about him

  14. sharkh20 says:

    Reminds me of this

  15. Catweasel says:

    I lost interest when I saw online.

  16. pbbpbb says:

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    you can find many cheap and fashion stuff

  17. spoofies says:

    haha, love it, donated $50. and now a fan forum is up! http://thebannersagaforum.com