BioWare developing for DS

Canadian RPG specialists take first foray into handheld market; unnamed game currently in development for Nintendo's handheld.

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It's no secret that BioWare has been looking to branch out of its normal roster of platforms it develops games for. Numerous times, execs from the gamemaker have expressed interest in moving beyond PCs (its bread and butter) and consoles (its current darling) and into handhelds.

At last year's E3, BioWare co-CEOs Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk beamed about their experience with Sony's PlayStation Portable, saying, "Can you imagine some of our RPGs on a handheld? All of a sudden, we've got these new handhelds that can actually handle it." Earlier this year at the GDC conference, Zeschuk once again told GameSpot that expanding the company's platforms was of interest, specifically to portables like the PSP and Nintendo DS.

More than half a year and an industry-shaking coalition with Pandemic Studios and Elevation Partners later, the company has officially announced that it is forming a handheld group at the company's Edmonton, Alberta, headquarters. The division will mark BioWare's first entry into the handheld space and will be headed up by project director Dan Tudge, who previously founded Exile Interactive.

The first game from the newly formed group will be a DS title, though no details or release period have been announced. However, given BioWare's portfolio (NeverWinter Nights, Baldur's Gate, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic), one would assume it will be a role-playing game.

In fact, scouring the job listings for the new group reveals that BioWare may want to bring its RPG savvy across the Pacific. In addition to saying that "familiarity with the fantasy genre and role-playing games is a must" for a principal lead designer opening, it also states that "experience in the design of successful games targeted art the Japanese market is preferred," and "experience/passion for Japanese games [is] an asset."

There's no news on whether the game is an original IP or a shrunken-down version of an existing property, but unspecified rumors have said the company expressed interest in bringing Neverwinter Nights to handhelds.

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