Casey Hudson, Former Head of Mass Effect, Is Working on a New ‘Triple-A’ Sci-Fi Game

Former BioWare General Manager Casey Hudson has revealed more about what’s going on in his new Humanoid Studios and it sounds exactly like what you might expect from the project director of Mass Effect: “A cross-platform, AAA game with a focus on character-driven storytelling in a whole new sci-fi universe.”

Hudson has had a long career at BioWare, going back to Baldur’s Gate 2 and MDK 2, but he is best known for leading the development of the original Mass Effect trilogy. He left BioWare in 2014 and was therefore not involved in the development of Mass Effect: Andromeda, but returned shortly after its release in 2017 to take over as the studio’s general manager. Hudson came out again, quite unexpectedly, in late 2020, along with Dragon Age executive producer Mark Darrah; he revealed humanoid studios in June 2021, but didn’t say anything about their first project, except that it would be a “whole new IP”.

We don’t have a name for Humanoid’s debut game yet, but thanks to a major update on the studio’s website, we now have this pretty basic description above and some pieces of concept art that look a lot Mass Effect to my eyes: Human Explorers in Suits spacecraft looking into the skull of a massive creature or machine, presumably (hopefully) dead; long swaths of gleaming technology embedded in tranquil green spaces; a spacious hall orbiting a smallpox-scarred planet; and more explorers, playing outside their space cars on a decidedly toxic-looking planet.

Some of the technology looks less refined than what we saw in Mass Effect – that orbital hall is more 2001 than 2183, and those spacesuits are bulky – but you can’t take too much away from a handful of in-game art at this early stage. (lest we forget, Destiny was once going to present a very big frog.)

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(Image credit: Humanoid Studios)
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Concept art by Humanoid Studios

(Image credit: Humanoid Studios)
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Concept art by Humanoid Studios

(Image credit: Humanoid Studios)
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Concept art by Humanoid Studios

(Image credit: Humanoid Studios)

Most of the Humanoid website is devoted not to the new game, but to finding people to help make it. Messages on the site talk about creative freedom and independence, and also that the studio is “a safe and supportive environment” to work in, reflecting the growing concern for widespread toxicity and abuse in the video game industry.

“We believe in the power of small, agile teams and a flat organizational structure where everyone has the power to make decisions and help drive the project vision,” the website says. “We hire great people, empower them with the best tools and a supportive environment, and give them the creative freedom to explore their full potential.”

Renowned developers announcing new studios long before they are ready to talk about what they are actually doing seems to be an increasingly common phenomenon. In some cases they are explicitly looking for new employees, but in others the goal seems to be primarily to get attention. Jade Raymond launched a new studio and then sold it to Sony without saying a meaningful word about his first new game, while the creator of Yakuza announced his own new studio with nothing more than a promise that his future games will be “Larger” than the previous ones. Dr disrespect started his own development venture late last year with little more than a promise of “the best most community-focused online PVP multiplayer experience the world has ever seen” (and job listings), and in 2020 alumnus from Hudson’s BioWare Mike Laidlaw launched a studio of its own, which just last week revealed it’s working on “a new fantasy action RPG” – and that’s hiring.

Even without major developers attached, early game announcements are also increasingly becoming the norm. It felt like genuine news when Bethesda confirmed that The Elder Scrolls 6 is in development, while also warning that there were still many years to go (and they really wasn’t kidding about it), but BioWare has recently done the same thing for new Dragon Age and mass effect games, and just yesterday CD Projekt released a wizard 4 confirmation that contained virtually no information other than the fact that it is, in fact, happening.

Humanoid Studios is clearly on the “wanted help” side of this equation, and the site currently lists several high-profile positions, including lead artists, top-level designer, lead writer, and senior designers and programmers. Unfortunately, there’s nothing specific about the game in the listings, except that it’s apparently being made with the Unreal Engine.

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