BioWare's Shadow Realms plans to maximize player feedback

At this point, we're all familiar with this year's ubiquitous marketing bullet point of "community feedback," but it's still slightly surprising to hear it from an established developer like BioWare. Shadow Realms from BioWare Austin was announced yesterday and it's taking an approach not standard for a publisher like Electronic Arts. The game is being designed with community feedback in mind.

"That's one of the reasons we want to invite players to alpha, because we desperately want people to tell us what they think. We want both the data and the opinion," BioWare Austin general manager Jeff Hickman told us at Gamescom. "If you do listen to your players you will heavily increase your chances of making a popular game."

Hickman emphasized that everything is still early in the game and they want opinions. The game is ambitious and BioWare is trying to mix a lot in Shadow Realms. If all goes well, Shadow Realms should have the BioWare narrative experience that we all know, coupled with a game content pipeline that'll have appointment television qualities, and add to that a balanced 4v1 co-op experience against a human-controlled dungeon master (The Shadow Lord).

Our brief experience with the combat of Shadow Realms was solid, with it clearly being something that a group of friends could get together to play. We even confirmed it'll have joypad support, so take from that what you will. Where things will need to be really smooth is how players are paired (yes, you can totally make a group of four with friends) and ranked, along with a lot of the back-end mechanics BioWare Austin isn't ready to talk about yet, which will dictate the game's longevity.

"The people who are signing up for alpha right now on, they are going to start getting trickled into alpha next month," said Hickman. "Beta will happen whenever we're ready, but it's probably early next year."