After sixteen years at BioWare, Mass Effect's creative director, Casey Hudson, is departing the studio to get some perspective and work out what it is that he wants to do going forwards.
Bidding BioWare and its fans farewell in a statement released on the BioWare Blog, Hudson had this to say about his departure:
“After what already feels like a lifetime of extraordinary experiences, I have decided to hit the reset button and move on from BioWare. I’ll take a much needed break, get perspective on what I really want to do with the next phase of my life, and eventually, take on a new set of challenges.
Though there’s never an easy time to make a change like this, I believe this is the best time for it. The foundation of our new IP in Edmonton is complete, and the team is ready to move forward into pre-production on a title that I think will redefine interactive entertainment. Development for the next Mass Effect game is well underway, with stunning assets and playable builds that prove the team is ready to deliver the best Mass Effect experience to date. And the Dragon Age: Inquisition team is putting the final touches on a truly ambitious title with some of the most beautiful visuals I’ve seen in a game.
But while I feel that the time has come, this is without a doubt the most difficult decision of my career. BioWare is as magical a place today as it was when I started. The projects we are working on are some of the most exciting and prestigious in the world. The talent in our teams is second to none. And the people here are some of my closest friends. I’ve spent more time with many of you than my own family, and I have enjoyed every day of it.”
Hudson, along with producer Mike Gamble, has pretty much been Mr Mass Effect up to this point, having helmed the series through a fantastic trilogy of games, and it's a real shame to see him depart the studio and the franchise he helped to make truly great.
In the same post, BioWare's GM, Aaron Flynn, paid testimony to Hudson's work with the studio over the years:
As we say a fond farewell, I know I speak on behalf of the entire studio when I say that we will be forever grateful for Casey’s hard work, passion, and everything he has taught us over the years – a methodical dedication to quality, a spirit of teamwork and camaraderie, and putting fans above everything else. But most of all, Casey has challenged every one of us in the studio to be better tomorrow than we were today. It is in that spirit that as we finish Dragon Age: Inquisition, we will continue working on the next Mass Effect game and our new IP project, confident in our goals and progress.
Thank you Casey. This is not an ending, but a new beginning.
The departure comes as something of a shock given the preparation underway for a new instalment in the Mass Effect series, and one wonders what effect this'l;l have on the new game's development. Moreover, regarding Hudson's statement involving BioWare's new IP and interactive entertainment, it's difficult not to see the studio's development under EA as anything more than a move towards the mass market. I'd posit that BioWare have some work to do to be able to get back to making such bold claims -- they are not the unimpeachable company that they once were. That said, I'm eager to see how Dragon Age: Inquisition and the new IP pan out.
We wish Hudson the very best for the future, and thank him for his role in creating one of the most memorable franchises this millennium. Hopefully his departure comes not as the result of burning out or as a knock-on from the rather personal attacks directed at him after Mass Effect 3's release, but rather from creative curiosity, and we'll be eagerly awaiting news of his next venture.