Former Dragon Age creative director says ‘I just desperately don’t want to overhype anything’ in his new studio’s first game

After over a decade in leadership on the Dragon Age series at BioWare and a brief stint at Ubisoft, Mike Laidlaw co-founded Yellow Brick Games in 2020, and has been quietly working on his first project for four years. Yellow Brick finally revealed Eternal Strands yesterday, but just a couple weeks ago during an interview at the Game Developers Conference, Laidlaw told me that he really does not want to overhype anything—not due to a lack of confidence in the studio’s first game, but in anticipation of what it will create next.

“Most studios do not find magic immediately”

Mike Laidlaw, Yellow Brick Games CCO

At the time, Laidlaw didn’t divulge any details about Eternal Strands, aside from the fact that, despite what you might assume from his long career at BioWare, it isn’t an RPG. “With Yellow Brick, my personal goals have not been around redefining RPGs, or anything like that, in part because I wouldn’t say what we’re doing is an RPG in that very classic sense,” he said. We now know that it’s a third-person action game that combines Shadow of the Colossus-like climbable monsters with Tears of the Kingdom-style physics-manipulation magic—a pitch I admit I’m pretty compelled by.

“I just desperately don’t want to overhype anything,” Laidlaw said. “I’m just going to be like: Look here, it’s a videogame and I’m hoping you really enjoy it, because I made it, and a group of people made it with me, and we just hope you have fun.”

Rather than describing Eternal Strands directly, Laidlaw was more open to talking about his leadership goals post-BioWare: learning to better communicate his vision, empowering his team, and giving them the space and confidence to challenge the way games are made. He spoke a lot about the power of trust, and how teams that have cultivated trust in one another and stuck together have doubled down on their successes.

“I think that BG3 is a result of Divinity: Original Sin 1 and 2 and all the other Divinities before those … and recognizing that most studios do not find magic immediately.” Larian Studios definitely did not find magic immediately, it’s true. Despite now being known for the success of its Original Sin series and Baldur’s Gate 3, Divinity: Original Sin nearly killed the studio. I suspect that brush with death isn’t the part Laidlaw is eager to recreate, but the consistency in team and vision is.

“I find myself very excited because I do see teams that have managed to stick together really digging in and elevating what they were already starting to work on,” he said. 

Laidlaw spoke highly not just of Larian, but teams like Supergiant Games (Bastion, Hades) that he believes have retained their identity, focus, and continued to push themselves artistically in each new project.

“The biggest thing for me is that at the end of the day all the people working on it would like to continue working together. That would be my favorite kind of success, because what it means is that we’re in a position to say: Cool, what have we learned now that we all really know one another? Whatta we got?”

Granted, it’s the prerogative of a creative director to be charmingly humble while the marketing team sitting nearby undertakes the task of generating hype. Whether Laidlaw is personally hollering to the hills about it or not, we’ll likely hear plenty more about Eternal Strands between now and its launch in 2025.

Source: PC Gamer

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