A long, long time ago in video game years, before BioWare were known primarily as the Dragon Age and Mass Effect studio, they were working on a sequel to their action RPG Jade Empire. After multiple internal reboots from Jade Empire 2 to Jade Empire Modern, to spiritual successor Revolver, the project was eventually cancelled internally without ever being announced. BioWare art director Matt Rhodes has now pulled out some old artwork to share a look at what it could have been.
"Between 2005 and 2008 I worked on Project Revolver," Rhodes says in a post, noting that BioWare have recently opened up about the project's history in the book Bioware: Stories And Secrets From 25 Years Of Game Development. "To celebrate, I sifted through the archives and blew 15 years of dust off some of my favorite pieces from that project."
Hey, I actually happen to have that book on my shelf but hadn't gotten a chance to flip through it yet because gosh it's big. Turns out 25 years of history is a lot. Several of the character designs that appear in the section on Revolver's history are also in this gallery Rhodes shared. There are even more on Instagram if you want a look at Revolver's creatures and environments too.
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Over the course of its multiple reboots, according to the book, the game went from martial arts RPG Jade Empire 2 to the modern action game Revolver where characters would use guns and swords both. One amusing detail, to me, is that Revolver's protagonist would have been named either Cole or Carver, names which have both since been given to Dragon Age characters. Waste not a decent name.
Another tidbit comes from Patrick Weekes, current lead writer on Dragon Age 4, who notes how difficult it was for the team to invest so much effort into Revolver and then mourn its cancellation privately because it was never announced. BioWare have had plenty of triumphs and trials in the years since Revolver, but it's nice to see some of its history out in the wild where it can be appreciated even if the mourning is long over.
We've not seen too much of the next Dragon Age game yet, but a lot of speculation about its characters and details has also come from artwork by Rhodes and other BioWare artists. You can spot a lot of it in the behind the scenes teaser below.