In September of last year, Bioware founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk announced their retirement in blog form on the Bioware website. The move was met with a pretty diverse net of opinions, with everything from well-wishes to ‘good riddances’ coming from fans of the studio. After the less-than-stellar fan reaction to titles like Dragon Age II, Mass Effect 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic, the diversity of fan responses wasn’t necessarily surprising.
What was a little shocking was the fact that neither man was particularly up front about their reasons for leaving, both citing being “creatively burned out” as the reason for their respective departures from the video game world. There was a lot of speculation as to the truth behind this, with some saying that the length and breadth of the whip that EA were cracking caused the two depart, and others positing that the fan outcry to aforementioned titles was just too much for the doctors-turned-developers.
Well, in a way, both ideas could be right, but they certainly aren’t the only reasons. In a recent interview with Polygon, Greg Zeschuk reiterated the idea that he was just too burned out, creatively, to continue working in video game development. As to exactly why he was so burned out, however, he couldn’t be particularly clear:
“”Everything’s a factor. There’s nothing that’s not a factor, but there’s no single one thing. I think the best way I can describe is: Do the same thing for twenty years and it’s very, very intense. It’s very high pressure. It’s very high stress. It’s challenging. It’s sometimes rewarding and sometimes it’s not. And you just get tired of it after awhile. That is probably the easiest way to for me to describe it. Sometimes you just need to change things.”
In a way, this isn’t surprising. Anyone who knows even a little about the process of game development knows that it’s a very complex process, and there are a ton of things that can make an already difficult situation even worse. When you consider the career that Zeschuk and Muzyka had, it’s not at all a stretch to believe that they just had too much. After all, these are men who trained to be doctors, not developers, and struck out on their own to create a studio during a time when gaming was still very much a niche hobby in popular culture. That’s a hard enough feat for any developer, but these two chose to do that at the beginning of their development careers. That takes moxie, my friends.
And, when Zeschuk says that everything was a factor, he means it. Not just the “bear hug of EA,” (which he calls well-meaning, but vigorous), but fan reaction also played a part in his decision, though that isn’t something that Zeschuk begrudges:
“”We are big boys and you have to be able to deal with that [criticism]. I totally get that passion. One of the absolutely exciting things about having worked in the game space is that the level of passion people have for what we create is insane.”
This may be a couple of months too late in the eyes of some, or too vague an explanation for others, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s just enough. I know enough about the creative process to know that it’s very easy to become burned out, and these two men kept the candle of Bioware burning for twenty years. You may not be a fan of everything that came from the studio, but you have to respect the drive that these two men had, and, above all, you have to appreciate that, sometimes, you just have to move on.
If you’re interested in what Zeschuk is up to now, well… I mean, it involves beer, so, hey, he’s headed in the right direction, at least. You can check out the website for The Beer Diaries (no, I’m not making this up) here.