BioWare - All News
Thursday - February 12, 2015
New Mass Effect - Confirmed to Have Online
Hardcore Gamer has information that BioWare is now hiring for a new Producer to help implement online play for the next Mass Effect game in development.
Although BioWare games remain a decidedly single player focused experience, BioWare has proved they can deliver diverting online content in both Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Now the studio looks to be continuing that trend as a career listing has popped up for BioWare seeking a Online Producer.
Here are some highlights from the job description (roughly translated from French):
“Create and defend the vision multiplayer connected experiences and characteristics of online gambling in accordance with project management objectives and be due in respect of quality targets and achievements”
“Create and champion the vision of the multi-player, connected experiences and online features of the game with respects to the project leadership goals. Be accountable for the quality targets and the results Achieved.”
BioWare - Progressive Sexual Politics
Sonic Chronicles was the exception to the rule, thankfully, but BioWare has earned the reputation as the RPG studio who lets you go to bed with your party. The tradition goes back to the inception of the stone-cold classic Baldur’s Gate in the ‘90s and has continued into the modern day, as we saw with last month’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. They haven’t always gotten this right, as we witnessed when queer players were exiled to their own remote gay planet in Star Wars: The Old Republic, but there is a refrain of sexual liberation that you don’t find in other big studios’ games. Players are free to live out any sexual orientation they want, including, gay, lesbian, or bi.
Still, there is always room for games to be more gay-friendly. Previously, being gay was an opt-in activity in BioWare titles. If you weren’t interested, homosexuality was totally off the table and you didn’t see it in your game. But for Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare included two exclusively gay characters: the mustachioed and chiseled elemental mage Dorian, and his female counterpart Sera, an elf raised by humans who only dates other women. No longer do your love interests waffle between sexualities depending on your inclination. These characters are decisively gay.
Monday - February 09, 2015
BioWare - PAX South Presentation Video
The BioWare Blog has a new video from Pax South about making Dragon Age.
You’ve played the game, now see the panel. Learn what it takes to ship a modern AAA title along with some behind-the-scenes stories from the production process. Featuring creative director Mike Laidlaw, art director Matt Goldman, lead editor Karin Weekes, cinematic designer Frank Gordon, and Aidan Scanlan, BioWare’s director of writing and design.
Saturday - January 31, 2015
New Mass Effect - Leaked Information
Gameranx has posted information they claim is leaked about the new Mass Effect.
A video published by Youtuber MathChief aggregates some very interesting data from around the web. He's got multiple Bioware developers going on record about Mass Effect 4. One piece of information reveals that there were only fifty developers working on Mass Effect 4 before Dragon Age: Inquisition released, but now that number has quadrupled. With so many talented people working on what is assuredly a massive budget, we only expect great things from Mass Effect's fourth iteration.
Just hurry and officially announce the game already Bioware.
Wednesday - January 28, 2015
Mass Effect 4 - More Game Rumors
Onlysp has more game rumors this week for the next Mass Effect game. They claim the game will be at E3 2015, and the release date will be sometime in 2016.
We know that a new Mass Effect is in development, and just a few months ago we were shown some glimpses of concept art from the game, but until now we haven’t really heard much about the game itself. According to Shinboi, that’ll change at E3 this year.
This isn’t exactly all the unexpected, however, considering we reported in May 2014 that the game was about halfway through its development stage. This, may or may not have changed since that time as game development is a constantly changing process, but all signs are pointing towards an E3 2015 reveal. Normally we’d say this is a no brainer, but with many supposed big E3 reveals coming and going over the last couple years, you never really know for sure anymore. Fallout 4 anyone?
With the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition out of the way, there’s now reportedly over 200 people working on the next Mass Effect and the game has entered full production stages.
As for a release date, it would seem that Bioware is aiming for a 2016 release. I would imagine though that the game is still far from completion, and will probably release around the same time Dragon Age: Inquisition did in 2014, which would be late in the year.
Monday - January 19, 2015
New Mass Effect - Will Dwarf Previous Games
Gamingbolt has more information about the next Mass Effect based on more supposed insider knowledge. I wonder when the game will officially be announced by Bioware?
Trusted industry insider shinobi602 has taken to the NeoGAF forums to drop some information regarding Mass Effect 4. Though the ninja has been right in the past, take it all with a grain of salt as we are yet to have official confirmation from Bioware on anything.
He revealed that the development team’s staff number is said to have skyrocketed following the release of Dragon Age Inquisition. He also stated that the team comprised “50 or so” developers when Inquisition and now that number has since quadrupled. There is no release date set for the game, not even internally but shinobi602 is confident that the game will launch next year.
Talking about the development of the game, Mass Effect 4 entered full production around the completion of Inquisition. The game apparently dwarfs previous Mass Effect games and even Dragon Age Inquisition. Shinobi602 also alleged that the game’s title has already been finalized. As per usual, this is all just rumour and speculation so I advise you to draw your own conclusions.
Thursday - January 15, 2015
ME4 - Feels Like Mass Effect @ AusGamers
AusGamers has a short post about the latest Mass Effect 4 milestone review were Producer Michael Gamble OF Bioware revealed it "Feels Like Mass Effect".
Mass Effect producer Michael Gamble took to Twitter to voice his excitement at a milestone review of Mass Effect 4's development progress.
Naturally this is good news, though I can't imagine he'd jump on Twitter and say they failed the milestone review or that the game doesn't feel like Mass Effect, but for fans this asserts that this thing is real and is happening.
Of course being the slow news period, punters couldn't help but fuel some rumour fire by suggesting the game will land as an Xbox One exclusive in either full form like Tomb Raider recently did, or timed. To this rumour mill though, Mike chimed in by stating it's just that: rumour.
Sunday - December 28, 2014
ME4 - 10 Things To Learn From DA:Inquisition
So enjoy your Sunday and read another top ten list from Whatculture. This time the list has 10 things Mass Effect 4 must learn from Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Mass Effect 3 was one of Bioware’s most controversial games. Following the near universal acclaim for Mass Effect 2, expectations were incredibly high for Bioware to deliver the spectacular ending fans were promised. While Mass Effect 3 was a good game in its own right, certain design choices were clearly influenced by corporate interests, and this left many fans feeling betrayed. For the first time faith in the developer was shaken. Some of the more extreme fans even declared that they would never purchase another of their games again.
Enter Dragon Age: Inquisition. In a time where the video game industry is being infested with shameful business practices and a lack of transparency, Inquisition is a reminder of why people play video games. In terms of sheer scope and wealth of things to do it is the biggest game of 2014. Its diverse characters and world building are second to none. Not only is it one of the best games of the year, in many ways it is one of Bioware’s best games.
What does this have to do with Mass Effect you may ask? Well, if Inquisition is anything to go by, then the Mass Effect series appears to be in more than capable hands. For anyone still sore over the Mass Effect 3 debacle, playing Inquisition is a must. It shows that, even with all the changes that have transpired over the years, Bioware continues to make some of the best video games.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is so good that the next Mass Effect could learn a thing or two from its design choices. Given the sour note the series last left off on, a lot is riding on the success of the upcoming Mass Effect 4. Here are some of the things the next Mass Effect should learn from Dragon Age: Inquisition in order to make the best game possible.
Saturday - December 20, 2014
ME4 - Designer Teases More Information
If you feel like reading more information about Biowares next Mass Effect game then head on over to gamingbolt who has a roundup of Twitter posts from Bioware.
Bioware hasn’t showered us with Mass Effect 4 information in the past year (we’re still waiting for an official name till this point) but it has offered one tiny bit of information after another. The latest bits come via designer Jos Hendriks who talked on Twitter about traversing the space in the game. Hendriks first tweeted that, “I’m in space now, you guys. Space sure looks pretty these days.
The rest deal with the Mako, and talk about the game.
Friday - December 19, 2014
BioWare - The Sound & The Fury
Bioware's latest blog entry talks about what the writers of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and what music they listened to for inspiration to write the game.
If you wandered into the Writer’s Pit while Inquisition was in full swing, you probably would’ve seen seven writers (and one editor) with headphones on, eyes fixed on monitors, typing furiously. Most of the writing happens when we can shut out the rest of the world and immerse ourselves fully in the story and characters. For many of us, this requires music. Often the music we listen to informs and even inspires what we write.
Thursday - November 13, 2014
BioWare - Inside the Temple of Dragons
Bioware released a new video on their official blog page with Composer Trevor Morris who gives us a look at how the music was made for Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Enter the iconic Ocean Way Studios in Nashville, where award-winning composer, Trevor Morris, works with strings, brass, and choir to bring the music of Dragon Age: Inquisition to life. Trevor shares his process, inspiration, and what it’s like to create a brand new voice for an established franchise. Listen to the main theme for Dragon Age: Inquisition here.
Monday - November 10, 2014
BioWare - N7 Day Roundtable Stream
Bioware hosted a live Twitch stream two days ago with more information about their new upcoming Mass Effect game. Here is a YouTube version of the stream.
On Nov 7th, Bioware hosted an N7 Day roundtable where they discussed the upcoming Mass Effect game in the Mass Effect Universe. Enjoy!
Sunday - November 09, 2014
BioWare - Untitled Star Wars Game?
Well here is another rumor about the next Star Wars RPG from Bioware. According to a site called junkiemonkeys it will include Chewbacca, and release next year.
As usual take this with a grain of salt.
Last year EA confirmed that their video game developers Visceral, DICE, and BioWare were working on three separate Star Wars titles. Not much has been said about BioWare’s untiled Star Wars game, but a recent job posting has revealed that Chewbacca is set to appear in the game.
A Star Wars game centered around Wookies and starring Chewie? Probably not, but while I was roaming around Craigslist, I stumbled across this recent ad searching for voice talent to mimic Chewbacca in an upcoming Star Wars game from BioWare.
BioWare is currently working on another Star Wars RPG under EA and if we are to believe what this post is saying, that means we can expect a release in 2015!
Considering little to no details have been revealed for BioWare’s Star Wars project, it’s hard to believe that this title will launch next year. Only time will tell at this point.
BioWare - Last Court Now Available
Bioware annouces the text based game Last Court is now available.
Available now in the Dragon Age Keep, The Last Court is a very Failbettery game of lordship where you play as the ruler of Serault, an eclectic fiefdom at the farthest end of Orlais. As the Huntress or Scholar, you’ll guide the realm through its most crucial period in its history.
Will its ancient Shame be forgotten? Will Serault fall into obscurity?
Manage the affairs of your court. Choose a lover, a counselor, a bodyguard, and an accomplice. With stories to explore and secrets to unravel, you’ll meet a host of new characters and encounter a few familiar faces in The Last Court.
This free text-driven, story-rich game is a great way to satisfy your Dragon Age cravings ahead of the release of Inquisition. The Keep will record the choices and decisions you make in The Last Court, but don’t worry: it won’t have an impact on your story in Dragon Age: Inquisition and is entirely optional. (That being said, we totally suggest you play it because it’s incredibly fun.)
Saturday - November 08, 2014
BioWare - Mass Effect Trilogy Re-Release?
Kotaku has information that Bioware is polling fans if they want to see another Mass Effect Trilogy Re-Release built for the new consoles, and PC.
Bioware's Edmonton & Montreal studio GM, Aaryn Flynn, has been canvasing for opinions on a Mass Effect trilogy re-release in a NeoGAF post.
Well if true who didn't see this happening. So whats your opinion on the re-release?
Friday - November 07, 2014
Mass Effect 4 - New Concept Art & Information
Aarynn Flynn has updated the Bioware Blog with info on the new leads for the next
Mass Effect game. The Lead Writer, Chris Schlerf, has written for Halo 4:
He moved into game writing with 343 Studios, where he worked as lead writer for the critically acclaimed Halo 4. And though writing for an interactive medium requires a different approach than writing for the screen, Schlerf says the heart and soul of his work remains the same. "As a writer, I write for characters," Schlerf says. "To me, it's always about what makes my characters tick and what stories I can tell through those characters that will actually engage people about their own lives. It provides a mirror to that player's experience [so that they are] not just sitting back in an armchair."
Halo 4 featured a more human, interesting story than past games in the series, which is quite the trick when you're writing for a faceless soldier and an AI construct. The new Mass Effect game seems to be in good hands.
Producer for this game wil be Mike Gamble:
One of his primary roles is to represent the voice of the fan, and advocate for what the player wants and expects from a Mass Effect game. As such, Gamble is heavily involved with gathering feedback from the community and then sharing it with the team. He also closely watches the video game landscape as a whole, monitoring how other games are received, what they do well, and what they could improve on. Combining these perspectives through what Gamble calls a bit of a "black art," he's then able to advise the teams as to what players are looking for, while ensuring they stick to the core tenets of the franchise and maintain the vision of the game.
The next Mass Effect game will introduce new alien races and species for players to encounter, BioWare announced during a Mass Effect N7 Roundtable. According to Mike Gamble, these new alien races will have their own special worlds complete with unique architecture. Producer Fabrice Condominas added that the game's new focus on exploration extends to these new characters. "That entire aspect of exploration is not only about the geography," Condominas said. "It's really about discovering other species, human species and yourself."
Wednesday - October 15, 2014
New Mass Effect - Will Be at Honorcon 2014
Gamer Headlines has news that Bioware will be showing off the next Mass Effect game at Honorcon 2014. I have never heard of this convention so here are the details.
According to Canadian developer, BioWare, the next entry into the beloved Mass Effect series (Mass Effect 3‘s ending aside) is still a considerable ways off in terms of an official release date, however, the press and public alike continue to speculate on what Mass Effect 4 may bring to the proverbial gaming table.
Fortunately for Mass Effect fans around the world, some new developments regarding the series’ follow-up, Mass Effect 4, may arise from this year’s Raleigh, North Carolina-based military science fiction convention, Honorcon, where the game will be featured in a panel – “Science Fiction in Video Gaming.”
The article also has more infomation on the game.
In related news, the next entry into the Mass Effect universe will most likely not be called Mass Effect 4, with BioWare’s community manager, Chris Priestly stating:
“To call the next game ‘Mass Effect 4′ or ‘ME4′ is doing it a disservice and seems to cause a lot of confusion here. We have already said that the Commander Shepard trilogy is over and that the next game will not feature him/her. That is the only detail you have on the game. I see people saying ‘well, they’ll have to pick a canon ending.’ No, because the game does not have to come after. Or before. Or off to the side. Or with characters you know. Or yaddayaddayadda. Wherever, whenever, whoever, etc will all be revealed years down the road when we actually start talking about it. I do not call the game ME4 when I talk about it ever, [because] that makes people think of it more as ‘what happens after ‘Mass Effect 3′ rather than ‘what game happens next set in the ‘Mass Effect’ Universe. Obviously fans are going to speculate content, character and story until we actually reveal details in the years or months to come as you have almost no actual details, just don’t get bogged down in ‘well how are they going to continue ME3.”
“What Chris is saying is that thinking of the next ‘Mass Effect’ game as ‘Mass Effect 4′ would imply a certain linearity, a straight evolution of the gameplay and story of the first three games. Story-wise, the arc of the first trilogy has also been concluded, and what we will do is tell a new story set in the ‘Mass Effect’ universe. That doesn’t mean that events of the first three games and the choices you made won’t get recognized, but they likely won’t be what this new story will focus on. I apologize for being cryptic right now, but it’s early enough in development that we don’t have much to share – things still fluctuate quite a bit.”
Thursday - August 28, 2014
BioWare - The Best & Worst Companions
PC Gamer has a new article from Andy Kelly who writes about the best, and worst companion in Bioware games. Here is a small sample.
Warning! The following article contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for the Mass Effect, Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, and Dragon Age series.
With a new Dragon Age on the way, we've been reminiscing about our favourite, and least favourite, BioWare companions. Interesting buddies, and sometimes enemies, have been a staple of BioWare games since Baldur's Gate, and the studio is famous for creating people you actually care about. So I decided to ask the entire PC Gamer team who among the vast pantheon of BioWare NPCs they hate, and who they love. Some of the answers may surprise you. Especially Chris Thursten's.
Tuesday - August 26, 2014
Mass Effect 4 - Editorial @ Video Game Writers
I found another website called Video Game Writers where they posted a new opinion article about why Mass Effect 4 should be set after the trilogy.
Obviously, it’s very possible – and even likely – that Mass Effect 4 will be set during the original trilogy, or before. Maybe the game will take us to some dark corner of space, away from Shepard and the Reapers, in order to tell a new story. But if BioWare decide to move the franchise forward, to explore the changed world post-Mass Effect 3, to break the industry trend of doing prequels and spin-offs, then Mass Effect 4 could be the start of an incredible new era for the series. A time without the Reapers, or the Mass Relays; a time where all synthetic life has been wiped out, or possibly combined with organics to create the next phase of sentient existence. It would be a risky move for BioWare, no doubt, but one that could result in some of the most compelling and thematically challenging science-fiction stories in video games.
Sunday - August 24, 2014
BioWare - Dressing Up Your Dressing Downs
Bioware has released a video with the voice actor of Vivienne Indira Varma, and Bioware's community managerJessica Merizan about how to destroy bullies.
I really have no clue why they posted this, or why I did so enjoy.
When reputation is on the line, nothing else matters. So when Mary Kirby, writer of Vivienne, oversteps in snark toward Jessica Merizan, something must be done. Indira Varma, who voices Vivienne, demonstrates in true Orlesian fashion how to deal with bullies. After all, it’s not enough to merely rebuke one’s detractors – they must be destroyed.
Sunday - August 17, 2014
Shadow Realms - Gamescom Presentation
IGN has a four minute video of Bioware's new MMO RPG Shadow Realms.
See what the online co-operative title looks like in action.
BioWare - LBGT Approach Benefitting All Gamers
However, regarding a role-playing game, gamers should rejoice that Bioware is embracing a universal approach to their games that strives to meet the needs of the entirety of the gaming population (LGBT or otherwise). Many will ask why, but the answer is quite obvious. The RPG genre of video games is, ideally, about the freedom of choice. While many comparable RPG's give players the option of choosing gender, race, abilities, statistics, and attributes, very few give the ability to specifically choose their player character's sexual orientation, and if they do, it is often ambiguous in nature. Not every gamer is going to opt into that opportunity, but the fact that it is available exemplifies a mature step forward in terms of the sociocultural dynamics and gameplay systems of video games as a whole. It shows that Bioware is truly committed to allowing players to create a character that conforms exactly to who and what they want their character to be.
Saturday - August 16, 2014
Shadow Realms - Interview @ PC Gamer
James Ohlen, our creative director, said that [despite how amazing some RPGs are now], we still don't have that thing we had in D&D—a dungeon master sitting at the edge of the table creating things and changing things and being dynamic in the game. We have AI, it's awesome, but imagine if you enhanced it with a dungeon master."
From that starting point, BioWare built out the capabilities they wanted their DM to have: spells that affect the heroes, the ability to spawn monsters, controlling the overall monster makeup of a level, spawning tricks and traps. "That was the pretty straightfoward stuff," Hickman said. "Then you get into: can we allow him to change the world? In its simplest form, as players are passing through [a level], the shadowlord says: there's two doors in the room. That door will open, that door will not. Or there are two destructible walls, or whatever—he makes a choice and says that one won't open, that one will. By giving the shadowlord those kinds of things to do, we can change the flow of the environment."
Hickman also hinted that BioWare has ambitions about how the shadowlord may even be able to affect the story. "The shadowlord is part of the story. As of right now, he can't change the story directly, but he definitely has an impact on the story in some ways...[that's something] we're going to continue to experiment with."
BioWare plans to use the Shadow Realms alpha to get feedback on the 4v1 shadowlord gameplay—the feel of the action RPG combat, difficulty, balance. "When we get to the point where the players and us think it feels good, we'll put the progression system in, and the loot system, and the story," Hickman said.
Thursday - August 14, 2014
Next Mass Effect - A Generational Leap
Dual Shockers had the chance to get a look at the Next Mass Effect game at Gamescom, and posted a short article about it's graphics from Bioware.
Today I had a chance to check out Dragon Age: Inquisition at Gamescom, and to chat with BioWare Creative Development Senior Director Alistair McNally, who is also working on the next Mass Effect.
While Dragon Age: Inquisition definitely looked impressive running on PC (and you’ll learn all about it in a dedicated preview soon) McNally was very clear in mentioning that the next Mass Effect looks a generation beyond the upcoming fantasy game visuals-wise.
That’s because Dragon Age: Inquisition is still a cross-generation game, and there are a lot of factors limiting the current generation version due to the fact that the gameplay needs to be the same on old-gen consoles.
The next Mass Effect (unfortunately I could not convince McNally to reveal its actually title, to the surprise of no one, even if he did confirm that the previously leaked code name Mass Effect: Contact was indeed used by BioWare, but it’s not the official title) will not suffer from the same issue, so BioWare will be able to complete the generational leap.
Well we all know graphics are the most important part of a game.
Wednesday - August 13, 2014
BioWare - Shadow Realms RPG
Being developed by Bioware Austin,
it is a a novel online RPG with a modern fantasy setting. It's coming to PC in late 2015 - no other formats were mentioned. It's an asymmetric multiplayer game, with four hero characters cooperating against a single player-controlled enemy, the Shadowlord, who has extensive powers to manipulate the game world.
Apparantly it is
an attempt bring back the magic of pen-and-paper role-playing, with players collaborating to pit their wits against a human game master.
It is a game that finally fulfills that fantasy of a never-ending RPG where the players meet up regularly to keep their epic adventures going for as long as they want. All the enemies, traps and challenges are squarely in the hands of another player, who controls them just like a Dungeon Master. The monsters and villains are smart and unpredictable, making every battle a test of strategy and power. Best of all, everyone gets to enjoy a story that plays out like their favorite TV series, but where they decide the fates of its world and characters. Shadow Realms isn't just hearkening back to those early BioWare PC games-it's finally bringing the magic of tabletop RPGs to the digital realm.
Do you think Bioware will succeed?
Friday - August 08, 2014
BioWare - Casey Hudson Departs
It seems Casey Hudson has left Bioware according to a new post on the Bioware Blog.
After nearly 16 years of game development at BioWare, Executive Producer Casey Hudson has made the decision to move on from BioWare and enter a new stage of his career. We thank Casey for his hard work and dedication as we look back on his time with BioWare.
Starting as a Technical Artist on Neverwinter Nights and MDK2, Casey moved into the Project Director role with 2003’s Game of the Year Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. He then led the team in the development of the Mass Effect trilogy, an award-winning series that I and many others consider to be one of the most important science-fiction universes of our generation. Casey’s focus on production quality, digital acting technology, and emotionally engaging narrative has made a substantial impact on BioWare and the video game industry as a whole.
Sunday - August 03, 2014
BioWare - Developing Next Mass Effect Game
Bioware has released a video detailing the Comic-Con 2014 event where the developers talk about how they want to develop the next Mass Effect game.
Mass Effect developers from the Edmonton and Montreal studios discuss what it's like to expand on a well-established and beloved video game franchise. Panelists Carl Boulay (lead animator), Fabrice Condominas (producer), Mike Gamble (producer), and Noel Lukasewich (senior artist) share their experiences in shaping the next Mass Effect game with new possibilities while staying true to the critically acclaimed series. Moderated by Malik Forte from Nerdist.com. From San Diego Comicon 2014.
Saturday - August 02, 2014
BioWare - Charting a Course for Next Mass Effect Game
Nerd Appropriate has been to the this panel at Comic Con 2014. In an article at the site they sum up the talks given by the developers as well as the audience Q and A.
Here are some of them:
What are some of the trials you have to face making a [series] like Mass Effect? - "[Creating] a new entry into a series like this is extremely difficult. The precedent we've set before, the fans, the press, fans like you [the audience] who are willing to camp out during various panels to see it... so we've got the expectations of folks like you and our own creative ambitions [regarding] the things we want to do. At the same time we don't want to retread old ground, right? We want to make sure that we're doing something fresh, something that has not been done before. [We want to make] a Mass Effect for the next generation; we don't want to make a new Shepard story, right? That's not the point whatsoever; [the point is] to refresh things [and create] a spiritual successor to the game as opposed [to having the same characters]. - Mike Gamble
A quote on the Mako:
So, the Mako is back [note: crowd goes crazy], but this isn't the Mako that you remember, this is a DIFFERENT Mako. The point here is that it is a really agile Mako, it's different than the one you've seen before. There is no cannon on it. Maybe it can hover, maybe it can jump, I don't know. We've [had] a lot of help designing it, it's gone through a lot of iteration." - Mike Gamble
And a quote from the audience Q and A:
Will we be seeing characters like Aria T'Lok again? "We haven't decided... well, we've decided (but aren't telling yet). The theme is [that] we want to create new experiences for the player, but we still want to bring in elements of what you know and love about the previous trilogy that might include certain characters and it might not. So guaranteed, either way that we end up going you're going to see a certain amount of the old with the new." -Mike Gamble
Sunday - July 27, 2014
BioWare - New Mass Effect Game Details
Bioware was at Comic-Con 2014, and shared a few more details about the next Mass Effect. I couldn't find a video so the images with the articles will have to enough.
The Mass Effect panel at San Diego’s ComicCon has proved to be of far more interest than the underwhelming showing at E3 2014. Unlike that rather rubbish E3 video, this event had actual information about the next game in the Mass Effect series.
There was still plenty of vagueness and hints of course, but a couple of concrete details were mentioned. Incidentally, IncGamers is not at the San Diego event so I’m getting this all second hand from the Nerd Appropriate twitter account (who was watching the panel.)
Hardcore Gamer also posted two short articles from the panel.
During Bioware’s “Charting a Course: Developing the Next Mass Effect” panel at Comic-Con, the first glimpse of male and female armor in the next Mass Effect (which was stressed not to be called “Mass Effect 4″) were shown off.
HardcoreGamer - Mako Returns to Mass Effect 4
During Bioware’s “Charting a Course: Developing the Next Mass Effect” panel at Comic-Con, it was announced that the fan-favorite “Mako” vehicle will make its return to Mass Effect 4. No word on if it will differ from past games, but its visual aesthetic certainly seems sleeker.
Wednesday - July 23, 2014
BioWare - Will Be at San Diego Comic-Con
Bioware has a short blog post about the developer will be attending the San Diego Comic-Con 2014, and list what time you can join the different panels.
We’re very excited to announce that BioWare will be attending San Diego Comic-Con next week, and we’re bringing Dragon Age: Inquisition with us. We’d like to thank our friends at Microsoft and AMD as our show sponsors this year.
If you’re going to the show, we’d love to see you! Here’s a schedule of where you can find us throughout the week.
Monday - July 21, 2014
BioWare - Freaking out the Neighbors
Bioware released the second audio only video from their GaymerX 2014 panel. The video has no transcript Log for those interested in just reading it.
Freaking out the Neighbors: What is "good representation" in games and why would anyone be opposed to it? Considering the romance elements in BioWare games, we've heard it all, and it's worth discussing where some of these feelings come from and how it's possible for a developer to be inclusive in a way we can feel good about. Let's talk about where this is going for the industry and what expectations LGBTQ fans have.
Friday - July 18, 2014
BioWare - Building a Better Romance
Bioware released a new audio only video today from the GaymerX2 2014 panel.
Building a Better Romance: A discussion of how romances came to be in BioWare games. Why are they done as they are? What purpose do they serve in the overall game? What issues exist, and is there a better way to make them that isn't simply "add additional content?"
Wednesday - July 16, 2014
BioWare - A New Mass Effect 4 Survey
Help us make the next Mass Effect game the best one yet. Id appreciate it if you folks did this short survey.
Tuesday - July 15, 2014
BioWare - Mass Effect 4 at Comic-Con
Dual Shockers has news that Bioware will be at Comic-Con 2014, and will share details about the next Mass Effect game. They also promise to stay true to the series.
If you’re looking forward to the next, still untitled Mass Effect game, July 26th is a date to mark on your calendar, as BioWare will be at Comic-Con International in San Diego and will have developers in attendance of a panel titled “Charting a Course: Developing the Next Mass Effect” to discuss the upcoming game.
The panel will be held at 2 PM in Room 25ABC and is described as follows:
"Mass Effect developers from the Edmonton and Montreal studios discuss what it’s like to expand on a well-established and beloved video game franchise. Panelists Carl Boulay (lead animator), Fabrice Condominas (producer), Mike Gamble (producer), Noel Lukasewich (senior artist), and Jessica Merizan (community manager), share their experiences in shaping the next Mass Effect game with new possibilities while staying true to the critically acclaimed series. Moderated by Nerdist.com."
Considering the recent trend of rebooting everything, even when it doesn’t really need any rebooting, it’s good to hear that BioWare intends to stay true to the franchise. Hopefully we’ll be hear something more specific during the panel itself.
Sunday - July 13, 2014
Mass Effect IV - 10 Things That Will Kill It
What Culture has posted another of their infamous lists that takes a look at Mass Effect IV, and talks about tens things they think will ruin the game.
The Mass Effect franchise has fast become one of the most popular action-RPG franchises of all time, and a legendary sci-fi series in its own right. The first two games were critical (and commercial) darlings, while Mass Effect 3 was still a worthy entry despite not quite meeting the high expectations. Bioware’s creative universe, inhabited by bizarre creatures and filled with incredible locations, has resonated with fans worldwide.
Thanks to the series’ cult-like following, Mass Effect 4 is by far and away one of the most hotly awaited sequels of all time. While the game has been officially announced, EA and Bioware have been extremely tight-lipped with regards to the project, with only a few titbits of information being shared here and there.
For example, they’ve made it clear that Shepard’s story has ended, and the fourth entry won’t be a direct continuation of the original trilogy. Of course, we also don’t know whether that means it’ll be taking place a few years after Mass Effect 3, just with new characters, or if it will be set hundreds of years later.
Either way, Bioware need to take some lessons from the more questionable aspects of Mass Effect 3, if they want the franchise to live on beyond the fourth game. In this list, we’ve put together a list of 10 things that would totally kill the franchise if they were included in Mass Effect 4.
Friday - July 11, 2014
BioWare - Will be at GaymerX 2014
We're excited to return to GaymerX again for another year to celebrate its inclusive mantra #EveryoneGames! If you're planning on attending the convention, here's a rundown of panels and signings where you can find David Gaider, Jessica Merizan, Robyn Theberge, Karin Weekes, and Patrick Weekes throughout the weekend. For those of you at home, we're hoping to record and upload some coverage of the event to share with you.
Here's tomorrow's event for Bioware:
Saturday July 12
Yes, And? An Improvised Approach to Inclusion (with David Gaider, 12:00PM Room A)
Meet BioWare's David Gaider (2:00PM Room B)
Building a Better Romance (with David Gaider, Jessica Merizan, Robyn Theberge, Karin Weekes, Patrick Weekes; 3:30PM Room A)
Twinfinite - Like Bioware? Then Stop Complaining
Twinfinite has a new article that I fully agree with about fans of Bioware games, and the constant complaining on the internet. So bring on the replies.
Being a BioWare fanboy isn’t always easy, especially since the mainstream opinion of them has been pretty negative, at least as of late. Despite the critical acclaim of their recent titles (read: almost all of them), their popularity isn’t exactly at an all-time high. And this is not the way it should be.
Baldur’s Gate. Kotor. Mass Effect. Dragon Age. Games that we here at Twinfinite and many others have fervently enjoyed. Games that have prompted almost shocking backlash from the “community” over things like Dragon Age 2′s lack of area variety or Mass Effect 3′s ending controversy. Events that, in light of BioWare’s incredible track record, shouldn’t dictate the company’s public image.
And recently, with a Q&A the producers of Dragon Age: Inquisition just conducted, it is clear that anyone should be proud to enjoy BioWare and their games. Setting themselves apart from the other prominent developers today, they have shown themselves now and in the past that they are a company that listens to and cares about its gamers.
The message is clear: BioWare is listening. BioWare never stopped listening. The developers, after all, haven’t changed in their mission. BioWare is still BioWare; they’re the name on Mass Effect and Dragon Age, the franchises that made them the giants they are. They’re the company responsible for one of the largest and greatest gaming communities in the last two decades thanks to Neverwinter Nights. And they are, as always, making games because they love games. And they want to make games that are loved.
Monday - July 07, 2014
BioWare - Alix Wilton Regan on Spit Takes
Bioware is back again another behind the scene video this time with voice actor Alix Wilton Regan. I found this one sillier than the other videos on the blog.
Alix Wilton Regan, one of the voices of the Inquisitor, discusses her method for producing convincing spit takes. There are certain things you just can’t fake in the booth, and this is one of them.
Sunday - June 29, 2014
BioWare - Mass Effect 4 - What we know
The story will focus on a fresh protagonist who won't be another version of Commander Shepard, BioWare has said, but while there will be no direct continuation of the Commander's story, nods to past adventures will be included.
Here's a little more information abouy two new alien races in ME4:
The attendee had claimed that the two new alien types they were shown included an "arrogant", skeletal race with glowing eyes and an "ancient, advanced guardian" race with a sci-fi golem-like look. Mako-esque land vehicles were also apparently shown, with different models for various environments.
It seems that ME4 will be Bioware's main focus in 2015, according to a post written by Chris Priestly, Bioware's former community manager, in the official forums:
Then, after the success of DA:I and at least 1 major DLC, we'll learn about MENext at E3 2015 and the focus for BioWare will shift from DA:I to MENext for 2015. Then MNext becomes the focus for 2015, launching in 2016 (or maybe late 2015 dependng how Montreal ramps up as a studio). Then things repeat as above in 2016 as Casey reveals the new IP his team is working on, then in 2017 DANext.
Monday - June 23, 2014
BioWare - The Future of Mass Effect
A few key developers of Bioware talk to OXM in a new interview about the future of Mass Effect, a few possible spin-offs, and talks about entering the unknown.
The new Mass Effect continues to be quite the enigma. EA devoted several minutes of its E3 presentation to concept footage for the game (and BioWare's unannounced new IP) but declined to say anything specific about it. If you're worried that this is evidence of a creative roadblock, the below, enormous interview with key staff should be reassuring.
Conducted a month or two after Mass Effect 3 hit shelves, and originally published in OXM US, it's effectively a laundry list of feature concepts, narrative directions and assorted musings for future games in the series. Much time has passed since these thoughts were recorded, of course, so try not to extrapolate too wildly as to the next game, which takes place in a new region of the galaxy and seemingly features a new lead character. Kudos to Francesca Reyes and the former OXM US team for their questions and insights. Oh, and in case it isn't obvious, watch out for thermonuclear spoilers.
Sunday - June 22, 2014
BioWare - Under the Horns Video
Bioware has a new post on the company's official blog with a new video with actor Freddie Prinze Jr. who is back again this time to voice Iron Bull.
Meet the voice behind the Iron Bull! Freddie Prinze Jr. tells us what it’s like to take on the mantle of the biggest, baddest, toughest mercenary in all of Thedas.
Saturday - June 21, 2014
BioWare - The Next Mass Effect @ Hardcore Gamer
Hardcore Gamer has a new article that goes into detail about BioWare, and the new video from E3 about The Next Mass Effect.
For a while now, it has been common knowledge that a new Mass Effect game was in development at Bioware Montreal, the studio behind the surprisingly great Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. Aside from the fact the game would not feature Commander Shepard and wouldn’t be a direct continuation of the original trilogy’s story, we didn’t really know anything about it going into E3 2014. Though many were hoping for a proper reveal of the game during EA’s press conference, what we got was a brief documentary style video featuring some ambiguous prototype footage and discussion from the development team. Even though we weren’t able to actually see the game in action and received no real concrete information about it, there were certainly hints and clues about what the next Mass Effect game could entail.
Wednesday - June 11, 2014
Mass Effect IV - What I Want to See
VGU has a new article where they talk about what they want in the next Mass Effect.
EA’s press conference featured a lot of tiny looks at huge projects that are coming in the future from DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront to a brand-new IP from BioWare. While it was exciting to hear about all of these anticipated titles, the one that I personally can’t wait for is the next Mass Effect game.
Bioware’s Montreal studio is working on another title in the popular Mass Effect series that will break away from the previous three games and not be the story of Commander Shepard. Mass Effect has been one of my favorite game series since it came out in 2007 (Mass Effect 2 is my favorite game of all time), so I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in the franchise.
We don’t know a whole lot about this next Mass Effect game but we do know that BioWare is breaking away from Commander Shepard and bringing us a whole new story. There is a lot of potential for this game to be either great or a disappointment. Here are some things I would love to see happen in the next Mass Effect game.
Tuesday - June 10, 2014
BioWare - Trailer for Next Mass Effect Game
Xbox Magazine has just released a trailer where Bioware shows conceptual prototypes
for the next Mass Effect game.
The next Mass Effect is indeed in development and will be "taking you to a whole new region of space"......The Bioware trailer also revealed that the team are working on an all new IP, although no concrete details were provided.
Sunday - June 01, 2014
BioWare - Looking Back on Pax
Bioware released another video this week with a recap of their time at Pax East.
Three days, fifteen panels, and zero sleep: it was another PAX East. And now that it's over, we can finally answer the burning question we fielded again and again: "What's with the camera?"
Over the course of the weekend, we recorded a ton of footage at the BioWare Base and throughout the convention center to give those at home a glimpse of what they missed.
We met hundreds of fans from all over the world and heard stories about how our work touched their lives. Thank you to everyone who came by the base—and to the army of people proudly wearing N7 gear who made us feel right at home.
Sunday - May 25, 2014
BioWare - All a Stir for Alistair
Bioware released another behind the scene video this with voice actor Steve Valentine who voiced Alistair in the last two games, and will voice him again in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Steve Valentine, the voice of Alistair, isn't just the king of Ferelden—he's the king of our hearts. His smooth accent is unmistakable, which is probably why so many Dragon Age fans recognize him on sound alone. He's had nothing but positive interactions with our fans at conventions and in public—that is, until he met our community manager, Jessica Merizan.
Swooning, it turns out, is also bad.
Sunday - May 18, 2014
Ray Muzyka - Interview @ University of Alberta
Ex-Bioware founder Ray Muzyka was interviewed on the University of Alberta website.
Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk stepped onto the Princess Anne Theatre stage in London, England, to applause from 220 gaming professionals and students who had come for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ annual video games lecture. The topic was “Games as Art,” and who better to deliver it than the co-founders of BioWare?
Through their upstart gaming company, the MDs-turned-game developers had helped revitalize the genre of computer role-playing games. They were among the first to show that video games could be artful — more than a grab for points, more than a battle for bragging rights, a wholly emotional experience. By the time Muzyka, ’90 BMedSc, ’92 MD, and Zeschuk, ’90 BMedSc, ’92 MD, stood onstage at the end of 2011, the BioWare brand had become one of the most beloved in the gaming industry. Not long after the lecture, its most highly anticipated title, Mass Effect 3, would sell 1.5 million units in a single month.
So it might have come as a shock to audience members to know that “the Doctors,” as they were known in the industry, were having a change of heart about their careers.
“Entrepreneurs can change the world in a meaningful way. They can dream and imagine, they can work at problems from different angles and they can create enduring change.”
In a small, subtle exchange backstage as they waited for the auditorium to fill, Muzyka had turned to his best friend and business partner of 20 years. “You know,” he said, “I think this might be the last time we ever give a speech together while we’re still in the industry.” This was the first tacit understanding between them that they might each be considering retirement.
The former University of Alberta med students had grown up parallel to the industry as it went from 16-bit cartridges to online stadiums. They had turned a gaming hobby into an industry-changing company bought up by the world’s fourth-largest gaming company, Electronic Arts, for more than half a billion dollars.
Now, the effervescent Zeschuk, general manager of BioWare’s Austin, Texas, office and a vice-president for Electronic Arts, was losing interest in games and thinking about transferring his unbridled passion to, of all things, craft beer. Muzyka, senior vice-president and general manager of Electronic Arts’ BioWare label — spread across eight cities in three countries — was considering shifting his focus to impact investing. He wanted to put his good fortune toward for-profit social enterprise, working with socially responsible companies that would, in ways big and small, improve the world.
Friday - May 16, 2014
BioWare - What’s in a Name?
The Bioware Blog has another update for the Mass Effect games with facts about what where the most common names for Commander Shepard.
We analyzed player data from Mass Effect 3 to determine the most popular names for Commander Shepard. The most common choices by far were the defaults, John and Jane, but for those players who ventured off the beaten path, these are the top five names for each gender.
Friday - May 09, 2014
BioWare - Editorial @ Gamemoir
Gamemoir has a new article that talks about what they think our the five most agonizing choices from all BioWare Games. Here is a small sample I picked out below.
BioWare has given us dozens of memorable choices to make over the years, and have pushed forward storytelling in video games to previously unthought-of heights along the way. The true test of whether or not a choice has any meaning is how it makes you think and feels, and BioWare regularly serves up some emotional doozies.
The way I play these types of games is to make my choices and stick with them; even if I regret them. Most of the time, I don’t go back and load a previous save. I prefer to deal with the consequences of my actions as if the story wasn’t just a game. My first playthrough is my canon playthrough for always; no takebacks allowed. I want to see how the game bears out my on the spot decisions made with good intentions, even if things end up going full Breaking Bad on me.
In the best cases, I may make the decisions I think are right, and the results may seem horribly wrong when it’s said and done. That’s when you know you’re playing something that’s more than a simple video game. That’s when it’s interactive art. Here are the moments BioWare has given me control and left me wondering for years afterwards if I did the right thing or regretting that I failed to do it.
Sunday - April 06, 2014
BioWare - Your Place In The Inquisition
Bioware has posted an update on the contest were anyone could send in videos to get a chance to get their voice in Dragon Age Inquisition.
It’s been a week since our little “Take Your Place in the Inquisition” contest closed, and we’re still sorting through the mountain of entries received.
There have been loud ones, quiet ones, husky ones, gruff ones, soft ones, squeaky ones, intense ones, and pretty sure that’s helium ones. We’ve also seen skits, cartoons, the occasional housecat, and plenty of damn fine voice acting.
In the end, we received more than 2,000 entries. You put a lot of work into them, and we wanted to take the time to show our appreciation. Thank you all for making this such a great success and for bringing our scripts to life.
Saturday - March 29, 2014
BioWare - The Art of Voiceover
Bioware has another post on the company's official blog with a new video were Claudia Black and Brian Bloom talk about how they voice their ingame characters.
Claudia Black and Brian Bloom, the actors behind Morrigan and Varric, talk about their art.
Monday - March 17, 2014
BioWare - Warming Up with Claudia Black
Bioware has a new post to the company's official blog thats gives us a look behind the scenes with Claudia Black on how she voices her role as Morrigan.
Ever wonder how the pros get ready for voice acting? Claudia Black took us behind the scenes to show us how she warms up for her role as Morrigan.
It’s invaluable advice for any aspiring actors out there—especially if you’re planning on entering our contest to voice a character in Dragon Age: Inquisition. It’s not too late for all you golden-voiced procrastinators.
Saturday - March 08, 2014
BioWare - International Women's Day
Today is the International Women's Day. Bioware did decide to make a blog entry about this. Bioware's David Hulegaard talked to a few female Bioware employees about what women can do if they want to work in the game industry.
Advice from Karin Weekes:
Constantly hone your skills and keep being really good at what you do-your craft is more important than anything else. Work to be a good communicator and listener. Connect with other women in the industry for support and problem solving. If game development is your passion, you deserve to be here, and there is a place for you. If someone tells you otherwise, they're wrong.
Melanie Faulknor's advice:
I work with some of the most talented people in the industry, and that includes women who are Level Designers, Cinematic Designers, Directors, Editors, Writers, Programmers, and Producers. Tons of our fans are women too. Women in the industry provide a very valuable perspective, so don't let anything stop you from pursuing a career in games if it's something you love.
Thursday - February 27, 2014
BioWare - New Forums Launched
According to a post on the Bioware Blog I missed earlier they have launched a new forum site. The site will be used for all past, and future games. Here are the details.
Announcing “the BioWare Forum”
One of my favorite moments at a convention is one that you guys never see– it’s the moment right before we open the doors. After months of planning — and shortly after inhaling coffee that’s just a bit too hot –we’re ready to let you in and see what we’ve been up to.
Today, we’re sharing another one of those moments with you. We’re launching the BioWare Forum, which I believe will be an exciting addition to our online space.
Before we get into details, this is not the discussed community destination site currently still in development. That site—which builds on fan and employee surveys, interviews, and other feedback—is still to come, and we can’t wait to share details as we continue working towards this. However, this reveal is part of the roadmap to get us there, and brings us one step closer to the promise to both ourselves and fans to continue rebuilding a positive, constructive community.
The BioWare Forum replaces the old discussion forums, adding new features designed to foster an entertaining, educational, and safe space for developers and players to engage one another. Among the improvements is updated technology that allows for much more robust moderation, along with a new set of guidelines with more clearly enforceable rules. A new design lightens the look and feel of the site while keeping the tone of the modern BioWare brand. Other notable features and changes include:
- Mobile skinning and functionality for the first time ever
- Converting posts from the (now “legacy”) BioWare Social Network over to conserve pre-existing threads
- Rebranding social.bioware.com as a new landing page to guide players to our key online spaces including Dragon Age Keep, the BioWare Forum, N7HQ, and EA Answer HQ
- Curating Legacy BSN as a Read-Only web portal available as a link at the bottom right-hand corner of the new social.bioware.com
Wednesday - February 26, 2014
BioWare - Working on Small Secret Project
Keeping secrets doesn’t come naturally to us. We are excitable: we love our work: we love talking about our work.
But for the last year, on and off, we’ve been working in absolute secrecy on a project for a much larger company. When we’ve gone quiet for no obvious reason, it’s because we’ve been heads-down on this. When I’ve mentioned that we don’t take client work any more, with rare exceptions, this is the rare exception.
We’ve finally been allowed to lift one corner of the veil. I can’t tell you anything at all about the project – not for a little while yet – except to say that it’s a Failbettery one, down to its bones. But I can tell you the name of the company:
We are thrilled about this. We can’t wait to say more.
Monday - February 10, 2014
Mass Effect IV - Playable, Explorable, & Unknown
Gamer Headlines has gathered together all the information the next Mass Effect game.
Gamers have an interesting stereotype associated with them: they don’t like reading. Or at least, that’s what many people tend to think. Apparently, Mass Effect 4 has changed all of that. Gamers are Googling the title at the speed of light trying to squeeze out every last bit of information they can possibly get from the title. There’s no denying the fact that Mass Effect 4 will be huge when it hits, but we still have a way to go before we get the controller in our hand.
This isn’t helped by the fact that Bioware continues to throw tiny hints and gestures toward progress without revealing too much information.
While there are still many aspects of the game that we’re very unsure of(and trust me, there’s a lot), we’ve compiled some tidbits we’ve gathered ourselves and it’s information we can both observe, and discuss.
Saturday - February 01, 2014
Mass Effect IV - Twitter Updates
Gameranx has news for Mass Effect IV based on a few new Bioware tweets.
Motion capture has begun on the next Mass Effect at EA's Vencouver studio while supposedly amazing new enviroments have been added to the game according to BioWare developers, who've been hard at work on the game for some time now. The developers at BioWare have yet to reveal any solid details about the game. Not so much as an image or detail about who the game's main character will be has been released as of this time.
Friday - January 24, 2014
BioWare - David Gaider & Romance Options
OXM has an article about David Gaider, and romance options in Bioware games.
"I can easily imagine a time when the romances in Inquisition are revealed (whether that will be before or after release, I have no idea)," Gaider wrote. "There will be an inevitable reaction from people who are disappointed they couldn't romance someone with their character of choice, and some of them will rant at length as to how they were only deprived of said romance because of some agenda.
He then talks about both sides, and mentions they might try something different.
"I know some fans would be happy if we just abandoned the effort altogether," Gaider went on. "Generally those are people who don't use that sort of content in our games anyhow, so us not pursuing it naturally wouldn't bother them. I'll just ignore the element who see romances as a thing that only 'fangirls' like, and which is thus of lesser value to a 'real game'.
"It's possible we could answer that question. We've made a few games without romances before, and we could do it again. Perhaps, if we made a new IP, we might decide it's best not to open that particular Pandora's Box (which, yes, romances have always been) and go with something else...but that 'something else' better be something damned good, as there are a lot of people who enjoy that part of our games immensely and who might not be willing to buy into a new series which didn't have it.
"Some folks might be eager to write those fans off, but I'm not really sure that BioWare feels the same."
As for me I don't mind them in my games, but it would be nice to see something different.
Thursday - January 16, 2014
BioWare - Several Unannounced Projects
Dual Shockers has news that BioWare Austin is working on unannounced games.
Looks like the cogs are in motion at Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s studio BioWare Austin, as showcased by quite a few job opportunity ads published by Electronic Arts, all including the same introduction, like this one for a Senior Software Engineer (discovered by NeoGaf user Nirolak).
"BioWare Austin is home to the critically acclaimed and award winning Star Wars®: The Old Republic™ MMO. After the hugely successful addition of its Free 2 Play option and the highly praised launch of space PVP with the Galactic Starfighter expansion, the Austin team continues driving forward with SW:TOR and is also hard at work on several unannounced projects. Apply today and learn about the exciting opportunities at our Studio. It’s an amazing time to come and work with us!"
Unfortunately the posts don’t give many solid hint as to what those “several projects” entail, but at leas one may be a MMORPG or an action game, or a mix of both, as hinted by another ad seeking testers.
"BioWare is hiring temporary game testers. Our ideal candidates have played both online games such as MMORPGs (Star Wars the Old Republic, DC Universe Online) and action games (Bayonetta, Devil May Cry, Infamous)."
Of course we won’t know much more than this until something else leaks out, or an official announcement is made. For now we need to be content with knowing that something is brewing, or “several” somethings, to be more precise.
Monday - January 06, 2014
Mass Effect IV - Editorial @ National Post
The National Post has a new article were they talk about a few things Bioware’s Mass Effect team can learn from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
Exploring the galaxy has always been one of my favourite parts of the
Mass Effect series. The hardcore sci-fi nerd in me adores the way these
games let you seek out and learn about new star systems and their
planets, explore interstellar phenomena, and engage in deep space
activities, such as boarding derelict craft.
The problem, though, is that this exploration feels disconnected from
everything else we do, with the work of travel taking place on various
star maps over which little ship icons crawl, and travel depicted by
loading screens and repetitive Mass Relay cinematics.
I’ve always been aware of this problem, but was willing to chalk it up
to technological limitations. Creating an open galaxy for players to
explore would surely prove a daunting challenge.
However, Black Flag‘s innovations in ship-based exploration combined
with the recent advent of more powerful living room hardware is making
me wonder whether Bioware might not now be in a position to begin
solving this problem.
Saturday - December 28, 2013
David Gaider - Characters I Didn’t Write
Lead Writer of BioWare's Dragon Age games David Gaider answers a question on his blog about the characters he didn’t write.
Here was the fans question.
And here is part of his response.
Thursday - December 26, 2013
Mass Effect IV - Editorial @ PC Gamer
PC Gamer has a new article about what they want in the next Mass Effect.
How do you follow an act like the galaxy's most high-stakes game of three-card monte? Apparently by completely starting over. BioWare has long insisted that Mass Effect 3 marked the definitive end of Commander Shepard's story arc, regardless of whether you picked the green pill, the red pill, or the blue pill. The good news, of course, is that it's created a universe that leaves plenty of room for other stars.The big question is who that star will be. BioWare has only dropped a few hints that yield some clues as to what kind of ride we're in for during the next installment, and thus we'd like to put forward a few of our own ideas about how the next chapter in the Mass Effect saga should unfold. (Also, there are spoilers ahead, particularly if you somehow missed the furor over the ending of Mass Effect 3 last year. For convenience, the upcoming game is called "Mass Effect 4," even though BioWare has stated that this won't be the title.)
Saturday - December 21, 2013
BioWare - Next Mass Effect Game is Playable
Aaryn Flynn, General Manager, on Bioware, said on Twitter that he had had a
Great time playing the next Mass Effect game in Montreal. Ambitious. Beautiful. Fresh but recognizable. And fun.
Thanks to Darth Revan91 for this news. You can view the thread about this at the Bioware forums here.
Monday - November 25, 2013
Mass Effect 4 - Editorial @ Unigamesity
Unigamesity has posted another article this time about next Mass Effect , and asking if the Reapers will make a return again. Frankly I would perfer they don't what about you?
The reapers are definitely the core enemy faction of the Mass Effect series, they simply seek the destruction of everything and everyone. But it’s not that simple, in theory they seek to maintain a fragile balance between species. They believe that without the extinction cycles, the synthetics would completely annihilate all organic life and as a consequence, new species wouldn’t even have a chance to come to existence. The Mass Effect trilogy is set in the end of a cycle but for the first time there’s enough resistance. This generation of organics and synthetics has discovered all the secrets behind the reaper existence but it’s up to players to decide the final fate of the reaper race – destruction, control or synthesis. Any of these options result in a direct defeat and obliteration of the race as we once knew it. So the question arises, will the reapers return in Mass Effect 4? I would be more than glad to say no, they won’t come back, but unfortunately, there is a huge chance that these ancient aliens will be back regardless the timeline of the upcoming story. Let’s analyze the prequel and sequel cases.
Saturday - November 09, 2013
BioWare - Announcement For Next Mass Effect ?
During the 2010 Video Game Awards, fans of the Mass Effect series were treated to the announcement and reveal of Mass Effect 3. The game ultimately saw a delay, but suffered from quite the controversial ending.
While we’ve known for quite awhile that Commander Shepard won’t be involved in any future titles for the series, Bioware teased the next Mass Effect via Twitter yesterday. From a new character to various looks at the environments in the game, we still weren’t able to take much from the images.
The 2013 Video Game Awards are set to take place next month, and we’ve been informed that the next Mass Effect title will receive an announcement there. The source that passed this information to us is also the same that helped us bring forth the first details on the existence of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.
Similar to the reveal of Mass Effect 3, we’ll be given a title and a CGI trailer. We weren’t able to obtain information regarding the game’s protaganist, but as we’ve mentioned above it will not be featuring Commander Shepard.
The game is expected to hit next-generation consoles and PC in late 2014, but early 2014 is also a release window being discussed.
Sunday - November 03, 2013
BioWare - N7 Day 2013
Bioware annouces on the companys blog that N7 Day 2013 is just around the corner. Now I have no idea what it is but give it a look if your interested.
November 7th, 2012 marked the inaugural N7 Day — a day to join together as a community and celebrate the Mass Effect universe. Through the power of social media, we connected with over 12 million fans around the world and delivered a day’s worth of content and activities! With additional support from our family of partners, we were also able to offer some great deals on Mass Effect merchandise.
Monday - October 28, 2013
Mass Effect Series - Retrospective @ Play.tm
Play.tm has a new article looking back at the entire Mass Effect series, and calling it one of the series that defined this gaming generation.
Over the course of the three games the Mass Effect trilogy showed that gamers can become truly emotionally invested in the characters of a series and even more so given that their survival or less depends on the decisions of the player.
BioWare also managed to show a real character development arc for almost everyone that Shepard encounters and managed to tie up what could have been a never-ending cascade of loose ends in the ending of Mass Effect 3 (the Extended Cut, although the original ending was not without its merits).
The real test of how well the series has gone down is just talking to others that have played the trilogy from start to finish. In sharing my playthrough stories with others I have learned just how much the experience varies from player to player. It stands testament to just how well the Mass Effect trilogy was constructed to see just how personal other players experiences were.
There are plenty of other series that have managed to make this generation what it was but none did it in such an emotionally engaging way and, it makes me excited to see what BioWare have planned for the next console generation.
Wednesday - October 16, 2013
Mass Effect Series - Interview @ The Complex
The Complex has a new interview with writer Mac Walters at the NY Comic-Con were he talks about the comics, and the controversial ending of Mass Effect 3.
Complex: So with Commander Shepard gone, are you starting anew, or are you going to continue any of that story?
Mac Walter: Well, I can’t get into details, but the idea is that we have agreed to tell a story that doesn’t relate necessarily to any of the Shepard events at all, whatsoever. Beyond that, that’s what we’ve been deciding for awhile. But throughout it all, one of the key things is that it has to be Mass Effect. It can’t just feel like a spin-off. It has to feel like a Mass Effect game at its heart, at its core. Just without the Shepard character or the Shepard specific companions.
Complex: What are your thoughts on all the people who complained about the third game’s ending?
Mac Walter: It’s been 18-19 months since it came out and my thoughts on it are that we addressed it the best we could in the extended cut. We’re obviously not going to be changing anything now. We’re only going forward. But you know what’s interesting? The only view I’ve had on it was, well, I was watching Breaking Bad, and that deals with (spoiler alert) the main character dying. And in no way do I think that anybody was surprised that he died. It was set up, even from the get-go, that this was a character that was going to die. But the interesting difference there is that that’s not a character that people had control of. They didn’t have any say at any point at what would happen to Walter White. Period.
And I think that’s one of the things we really underestimated, which was how much ownership people would take over a character that they could do that. You know, you’ve been given free choice to make all these decisions with this character, with the fates of millions of people, and then, you don’t get to choose your own fate. And I’m not saying that our decision was wrong or right. I think we just underestimated the impact that would have on certain players. To be fair, I get people, especially at the Cons, who will say, “I loved it. It was heart-wrenching, but I felt it was right for my Shepard.” And to me, that’s why it was the right path. But because there was no choice, it was going to be right for some people, and for others, in the middle, and other people were obviously very upset about it. In hindsight, I don’t think there was anything we would have changed about that, but it is a really good lesson learned.
Monday - September 23, 2013
BioWare - On Being “Lead Writer”
David Gaider has a new post on his Tumblr blog about being Lead Writer at BioWare.
I get asked this question in various permutations quite frequently— and, even when I’m not asked it, I get the impression that people have wildly different interpretations of what it might mean.
So, okay. Bit of a boring post if you really have no interest at all in learning what a Lead Writer for BioWare actually does. If you do, then here you go.
First thing you’d need to understand is that there’s no single definition in the game industry as to what a “Lead Writer” is or does, or indeed even what a writer does at one company to the next. Some companies bring in writers after the rest of the game is designed, often on contract, to add a story and dialogue. Others have writers who also wear other hats, as level designers or even programmers. Only a few have full-time writers who only write, and who participate in the game’s design from the get-go— though that number does appear to be growing.
Second thing you’d need to understand is that the position at BioWare has changed over time. Back in the days of Baldur’s Gate 2, there was no such thing as a “Lead Writer”— all creative decisions and management were handled by the Lead Designer. As the team sizes grew, it became too much work for the Lead Designer to manage the entire design team directly— so some of the work began to be off-loaded to “sub-leads”. At first the Lead Writer was just the sub-lead responsible for keeping an eye on the overall narrative, making sure it flowed throughout the game and alerting the Lead Designer if something needed to change. Over time, more responsibilities were off-loaded to the sub-leads, until the Lead Designer became a position that is as much co-ordination of his sub-leads as it is creative leadership.
Thursday - September 19, 2013
BioWare - Pax Prime Podcasts
Nerd Appropriate has an archive of old and new podcasts with Bioware about a variety of topics. Most of the new ones deal with Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Thanks so much for checking out Nerd Appropriate’s coverage of the 2013 BioWare Base at PAX Prime. We were happy to bring you coverage of the base at PAX East and are absolutely excited to do it again for PAX Prime 2013.
For over 3 years we've been producing our podcast, Rated NA. We have had guests from Bioware like Jennifer Hale, Ali Hillis, Patrick Weekes, and Jessica Merizan as well as non-Bioware friends like Abbie Heppe from Respawn, Ashly Burch from Borderlands 2 and Courtnee Draper from Bioshock.
We have another full week of releases for you, here is a quick look:
Monday, Sept 16: (BioWare) - Women in Gaming, (Dragon Age: Inquisition) A Look Behind the Scenes
Wednesday, Sept 18: (BioWare) - The Future of Gaming, (Dragon Age: Inquisition) Playable Races
Friday, Sept 20: (BioWare) - Seventeen Years of BioWare, (BioWare) How to Get a Job at BioWare
Wednesday - September 11, 2013
BioWare - EA Appoints New Boss
VentureBeat has news that Matthew Bromberg who was General Manager of BioWare Austin has been appointed Head of the whole BioWare label.
Electronic Arts has named Matthew Bromberg as head of its BioWare Label, elevating him from his role of general manager of BioWare Austin.
The job has been open since the founders of BioWare, Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka, left last year after decades of developing games. The post is an important one because BioWare has some of EA’s most successful game franchises — Mass Effect and Dragon Age — and also some of its biggest budget games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Bromberg will now be the group general manager of the BioWare label. He will retain leadership of the BioWare Austin division and extend his responsibilities to include BioWare Canada (Edmonton and Montreal), as well as the Victory studio in Los Angeles and the Waystone Studio in Redwood City, CA.
Reporting to Bromberg will be Aaryn Flynn (for BioWare Canada); Jon Van Caneghem (for Victory and Waystone); and Jeff Hickman, who will become the new general manager of Bioware Austin.
Thanks go to alrik for sending in this story.
Tuesday - September 10, 2013
BioWare - Interview with Matt Rhodes @ UltimateChibiTeam
Bulltox has made an interview with Bioware's Matt Rhodes for the Dragon Age France fanpage. You can read the interview in French here. If your French is a a bit rusty,
you can read the English version here.
An interesting fact about how Matt Rhodes started at Bioware:
2- How did you start your career? BioWare found me at art school. I was just finishing my 3rd year when they came to look at portfolios. They took me on as a summer intern where I drew Jade Empire characters and began designing characters for the first Mass Effect.
A quote on how he works with the writers:
8-........ We worked very closely with the writers to create the looks for the cast. It started with writing sending us about 40 simple descriptions of potential character directions. We pointed out which ones excited us and did some very rough drawings based on them. The writers then expanded on a smaller group, giving us a paragraph or two. We went back and forth quite a bit. I think that the cast of Inquisition followers are the strongest we've ever put together because of that collaboration.
A quote on which videogames he likes:
14- I guess you might be a gamer right? Do you have time to play video games? If yes, what are your favorites? I don't have a lot of videogame time these days (especially now that I'm a father). I'll usually play for a couple hours at a time at work. I really enjoyed Skyrim and Bioshock Infinite. I was feeling nostalgic and dug Thief II out of the games library at work and fell in love all over again.
Monday - August 19, 2013
BioWare - Drop Zone Charity Auction
Bioware is taking part of the Drop Zone Charity Auction. The event is for a good cause so give it a look, and who knows you might even get the best item for sale.
We recently assembled a team to participate in the Edmonton Easter Seal’s Drop Zone fundraiser. Our 28-story drop date is fast approaching, and our fundraising efforts are now in full force. We are incredibly thankful for all the support we’ve received so far, and we want to extend the invitation to our fans.
Enter… the BioWare Drop Zone Charity Auction! On August 19, we will be auctioning off a number of exciting items on eBay. Here’s a way to support a great charity event and also score some great BioWare swag! I’ll just say that when word spread ’round the studio about what we have available for auction… there were more than a few envious gasps.
We have numerous collections up for grabs. We have a (very) limited edition Dragon Age lore book, a collector’s edition Mass Effect art book, multiple comic book collections, copies of our games, and more. And as a special thank you for helping us reach our fundraising goals, the auctioned items will be autographed by BioWare developers. This is a one of a kind opportunity to get really cool BioWare memorabilia!
Sunday - August 18, 2013
BioWare - Jennifer Hepler Leaves BioWare
Eurogamer has news that Jennifer Hepler has left BioWare. You may remember her from being fan-harassed last year.
Jennifer Hepler, the BioWare writer harassed by fans for her work on Dragon Age 2 - and for comments made years earlier about wishing to skip combat sections in games - this week left the famed RPG studio to work on a book and pursue some freelance work.
She had received death threats, had her family and children threatened and found herself the figurehead of a raging debate about how fans treat game makers in an age of unprecedented access brought on chiefly by Twitter.
She spoke to Polygon about the ramifications it could have for gaming as part of a large and impressive article.
"It's something that comes up in almost every conversation with female developers," she said of her experience.
"Overall, people seem to try to shrug it off publicly and fume privately, and younger women contemplating the field are reconsidering whether they have the stomach to handle what it currently asks of them.
"That's the biggest risk in my opinion: that we will lose out on the talents of people who would make fantastic games that we would all be the better for playing, because they legitimately don't want to make themselves into targets.
"A lot of the best artists and storytellers (and quite a few great programmers too)," she said, "tend to be sensitive people - we shouldn't lose out on their talents because we are requiring them to be tough, battle-scarred veterans just to walk in the door."
Monday - August 05, 2013
BioWare - Making LGBT Inclusive Games
BioWare was at GaymerX in San Francisco. David Gaider addressed the importance of heeding the demand for diversity.
Hesitation over tackling LGBT issues, Gaider said, can come from pessimistic assumptions made – both by creators and marketers – about how the audience will react. One of BioWare's earliest gay characters, Juhani in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, was practically snuck into the game. "I think for a long time it was just assumed that nobody would accept it," he said. "That's what the mentality was. It's not like we went and tried to ask permission or anything - we kind of hid it. She never says, 'She was my lover.' She just says, 'We are very close.'"
Gaider tempered assumptions made over EA's bottom line following the (eventual) inclusion of gay romance options in Mass Effect: "It's fair to say that our taking that step affected our sales in no way whatsoever." While some may choose to object and avoid purchasing the game as a result, "I think we have equal evidence of people who bought the games because it included that."
By opting for empathy and inclusion, Gaider said, EA gained new fans that are vocal in their support of those games through forums and social networks. "That's the sort of language that companies listen to," he said. "As developers we are there to make art, but we are also there to survive and make money. In talking about it, they are making their presence heard."
Visit Joystiq for the full story.
Tuesday - July 30, 2013
Mass Effect 4 - News Roundup
Unigamesity has an article explaining why Mass Effect 4 should be a sequel.
There are absolutely no doubts about the continuity of the Mass Effect (ME) series, the fourth game has been announced and it’s currently being developed by the KOTOR team despite the conclusion of Commander Shepard’s story. The protagonist’s purpose is complete; the hero has fulfilled his mission and saved the galaxy from the reaper supremacy. What’s entirely unknown, however, is the upcoming’s narrative content and structure, is it going to be a prequel or a sequel? In fact, it could be both but a sequel would be the most logical option for the series and the hardest one to create as well, since articulating a new future based on the past events of the previous three games is far more complicated than creating a prequel, a brand new world with basically no connections with the world that is yet to come. It does seem a disadvantage point but what do players prefer? Do they want to see an enthusiastic sequel, where they get the chance to explore how the galaxy rebuilt itself after the reaper invasion or do they want a predictable prequel, where understanding the organic alliances seems to be the only preponderant point to consider before Shepard’s dominance.
Lastly twinfinite has more info on a comic called Mass Effect Foundation that is meant to set the stage for the next game.
Mass Effect fans, eat your hearts out, we’ve heard unconfirmed rumblings that Mass Effect Foundation is meant to set the stage for the next game. For those unaware, Dark Horse Comics has published the first issue of Mass Effect Foundation, a 13 part comic series written by Mac Walters, on July 24th. Walters was the lead writer on Mass Effect 2 and 3, and has openly said he is actively working on the next Mass Effect game. In order to not spoil anything about Foundation, there’s not much that can be said about the plot other than it is enjoyable and there is a clear link to the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3, though probably not the first one that pops in most players’ minds who played it.
If this is indeed a prelude to the next Mass Effect game, it could mean many things. Given the timeline, it could be a prequel, which many fans have expressed displeasure in, though only being issue one leaves a lot that could happen to pass time. Again, leaving out spoilers really negates any real discussion to be had at this point, but I personally have liked what I’ve read so far and plan on grabbing future issues.
Thursday - July 25, 2013
BioWare - Behind the Scenes Concept Art
BioWare Concept Artist Matt Rhodes gives a look back at the concept art of various games he has worked on while at Bioware.
The role of a Concept Artist is the role of an explorer, tasked with charting a world without sunlight. Bear with me here.
You start off with your reference and research. These are well established base camps. They’re well lit, highly populated and safe. The better your reference the better your bearings will be. The artist’s job is to start at base camp with a bag of torches and run furiously out into the darkness. Every doodle, sketch, painting and storyboard is a torch lit somewhere out in the black. You mostly find weeds and rocks out there. But if you keep pushing you sometimes find a rich landscape that can hopefully become a new basecamp.
I was inspired by my friend Hethe Srodawa, who recently posted his most nitty-gritty of concept work: his paintovers. We can tend to keep our less pretty, less refined work hidden away on our drives but I think it paints a disingenuous image of the roll of concept artists. There’s a lot more to the job than the few polished portfolio pieces that get released. Hethe pulled his pants down and it has inspired me to do the same.
What follows is a smattering of rag-tag concepts.Some saw the light of day, some were changed dramatically, some were scrapped entirely. All were necessary.
Wednesday - July 24, 2013
BioWare - Pax Australia 2013 Video
GameSpot has posted their coverage of Bioware at Pax Australia 2013. Visit the link if you have time to spare. I mean it the video is over one hour long.
Chris Priestly, Cameron Lee, Patrick Weekes and Karin Week from BioWare make the long journey from Canada to hang out with all their Australian fans and answer a gamut of questions!
Thursday - July 18, 2013
BioWare - Random Comments
Bioware has been busy lately on twitter announcing a few updates. First up Softpedia noticed a new tweet about the next Mass Effect game.
The next game in the series will take the franchise into a new direction with a new hero but, according to BioWare Montreal boss Yanick Roy, the title will welcome both longtime fans and new ones.
While talking on Twitter, Roy confirmed that, while it's unclear just how the story of the original trilogy will be delivered to new players, the game will share with them the backstory of the universe.
What's more, he also pledged that homosexual romance options will be available to players no matter the genre of their protagonist.
Next DSOgaming noticed BioWare’s Casey Hudson revealing that his team is currently working on a new IP for BioWare.
Admit it; Star Wars: KOTOR was one of the best Star Wars games. Good news then for everyone as BioWare’s Casey Hudson revealed that this talented team is currently working on a new IP for BioWare.
As Hudson pointed out, the Core team – the studio responsible for KOTOR that was also behind the Mass Effect series – is now working on a new, unannounced, IP project that will most likely hit next-gen platforms.
In case you’re wondering, this Core team is consisted of David Falkner (Lead Programmer), Steven Gilmour (Lead Animator), Casey Hudson (Producer / Project Director), Drew Karpyshyn (Lead Writer), James Ohlen (Lead Designer), Preston Watamaniuk (Assistant Lead Designer), Derek Watts (Art Director).
Tuesday - July 16, 2013
BioWare - 10th Anniversary Impressions
The Bioware Blog has a few developers sharing their opinions about the tenth anniversary of KOTOR.
Today marks the tenth anniversary of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and we’re ready to celebrate! We checked in with a few members from the old KotOR team and asked them to put aside their current projects for a bit and share their memories about working on the game.
Thursday - July 04, 2013
BioWare - Chris Priestly to Leave Bioware
@BioEvilChris leaving Bioware. I wish this was April's Fools Day. :(
In this now locked thread Chris Priestly confirms that he's indeed leaving Bioware, and adds this statement:
My time here at BioWare is indeed coming to a close. I thank all of our fans for supporting us over my years here. I do look forward to watching Dragon Age Inquisition develop from outside the company, so when it does come out, I can play a BioWare game as a fan instead of as an employee for the first time in over 12 years. DAI is gonna be great.
I am attending PAX Australia this month and my time isn't up till the end of the month. However, this isn't really DAI news. So it gets closed.
So, one Chris (Priestly) is leaving and another Chris (Wynn) is joining the Bioware team.
BioWare - New Development Director for Next MassEffect
Chris Wynn one of the senior producers who has created Gears of War: Judgment earlier in the year, announces that he is now a part of the BioWare team that's working on the next Mass Effect title. The information arrived via a Twitter message that reads,
"Thrilled to announce that I will be joining @Bioware as the Sr. Development Director on the next Mass Effect!"
So is this good news or bad news?
Thursday - June 20, 2013
BioWare - Will be at the San Diego Comic Con
Bioware announces that they will be attending the San Diego Comic Con.
BioWare is pleased to be visiting San Diego once again to be part of San Diego Comic Con. This year, BioWare will be part of the Dark Horse Comics booth inside the exhibit hall; as part of our booth presence, Community Manager Jessica Merizan will have members of the Dragon Age and Mass Effect teams, along with special guests.
Come out and meet Jessica, along with Mass Effect producer Mike Gamble, Dragon Age editor Ben Gelinas, and Dragon Age artist Nick Thornborrow. Ben and Nick are the creators of the Dragon Age: The World of Thedas lore book, and will be on hand at the BioWare section of the Dark Horse Comics booth to sign autographs with fans; they look forward to talking with fans in attendance. We are also working to have some special guests visit us; we’ll update everyone when they are confirmed.
Visiting the Dark Horse booth is your only chance to get your hands on the San Diego Comic Con exclusive, the Bronze SR-1 Normandy. There are only 300 of these available and are limited to two per person, so make sure you come to get yours before they run out.
Monday - June 17, 2013
BioWare - GM Aaryn Flynn Reflects on E3 2013
BioWare's GM Aaryn Flynn shares his thoughts about this years E3 on the company's blog.
What did it feel like to show the first glimpse of Dragon Age: Inquisition to the world during the E3 press conference?
[Aaryn Flynn]: Very humbling. Many team members who are much closer to the game could have stood up there, but I got chosen because I’m more ‘expendable’! To represent their collective effort, in front of thousands of people is a big responsibility.
I wish I could convey how hard the team has been working for the past couple of years on the game. They had a vision to not do a CG trailer, but instead to show a trailer made from in-game footage, and they accomplished that in spades. But beyond that, there’s so much we haven’t shown yet, and we will very soon. This was just the team’s way of showing a small window into the game for fans that’ve been with us from the beginning.
You shared just a few of the first details about the game during the conference, but for those that weren’t able to watch, could you leave us with a refresher?
[AMF]: Dragon Age: Inquisition will launch in the Fall of 2014 on PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360. We’ve shown Varric, a Qunari (who has a name, we’re just not releasing it yet!), Cassandra, and Morrigan.
With the breach of the Fade happening in the sky, demons have poured out and created a pretty big problem for the Inquisitor, the character you will play. You’ll have to cover huge areas of Thedas to uncover what happened. As you do, the choices you make will impact the world and bring everything to an ultimate conclusion.
Friday - May 24, 2013
BioWare - Will Be At PAX Australia
Well if you live in Australia this little bit of news from Bioware might be interesting.
G’Day! I’m very pleased to announce that BioWare will be attending the very first PAX Australia in Melbourne from July 19 to July 21. BioWare has been part of both PAX Prime and PAX East for years, and we are thrilled to now be able to come to Australia and meet our fans there.
Come out to PAX Australia for your chance to meet Cameron Lee (Producer), Patrick Weekes (Senior Writer), Karin Weekes (Lead Editor), and “Evil” Chris Priestly (Community Event planner) as they hold their first-ever-in-Australia panel “BioWare Goes Down Under” Friday July 19 from 4:30-5:30 in the Dropbear Theatre.
We’re still finalizing other activities for our visit and want to hear from local Melbournians… Melburnians… Melbournites…. BioWare fans about where we should go and what we should see. We want to see the sights and meet our fans during our stay, so any suggestions for gatherings, parties or ways we can talk with you are very welcome! Email us your ideas to email@example.com or contact me through Twitter at @BioEvilChris and visit the BioWare Facebook Page for updates on our Australian trip.
We hope to see you mad blokes and ace sheilas for a fair dinkum chin wag when we come down under for PAX Australia! (Ok, ok – I promise no more Canadian guy trying to use Australian slang. No worries.)
Monday - May 13, 2013
BioWare - Mass Effect Spin-offs
OXM has an article from their magizine with Casey Hudson, Mac Walters, Dusty Everman, Mike Gamble and Preston Watamaniuk. One of the topics included more Mass Effect games that might be spin-offs.
The clear favourite for Shepard's replacement appears to be our old Turian chum Garrus, despite his insidious penchant for calibrating things. "There's so much that could be told in the Mass Effect universe," Hudson began. "It'd be cool to do something completely unrelated to the larger storyline, like a story about a private investigator on the Citadel. Or maybe something detailing Garrus' time in C-Sec."
Everman's also carrying a candle for the G-Man. "While being one of Shepard's most loyal friends, Garrus has also had some of the most driven personal goals. He's a hero in his own right, as Archangel and beyond. Who wouldn't want to see the further adventures of the bold, charming Garrus Valkarian (there's a lot of guns out there to calibrate)." Watamaniuk, however, reckons "a game centred on brutal Krogan combat with more of a melee focus could be pretty exciting". I'm sure Grunt would be up for it.
Walters can't make his mind up. "Aria. The Illusive Man. Kai Leng. Any henchman. The list goes on. I think most of them could have successful spin-offs of their own in some fashion." Aria, it's worth remembering, got storefront billing in Mass Effect 3's Omega DLC - on the strength of your adventures together, would you say she's got leading lady potential? And what about Mr Illusive? I reckon he'd do rather well out of a prequel set during the First Contact War.
Gamble, finally, thinks there's more to be told about Javik - the galaxy's sole surviving Prothean, introduced by the From Ashes DLC. "Following the story of Javik a little bit more would be pretty cool. As the last remaining member of a lost race, I think that we could tell a lot of stories about his adventures in the Milky Way, and coming to terms with his place in the new Galaxy."
Saturday - May 11, 2013
BioWare - Why Mass Effect Only Had Humanoid Squadmates
OXM has an interview with Bioware, and asked why every character in MassEffect is Humanoid. Simple answer time and money.
"In Mass Effect 3 we had a moment where the player took on the role of Joker during the Normandy assault," Everman recalled.
"Similarly, we'd planned on having the player take on the role of a Quarian scientist before Tali's loyalty quest, and a colonist on Horizon during the Collector attack. It was a bit controversial to not be Shepard, and we thought it better to put the development energy into other places."
"Yeah, we always start with some fairly radical ideas when we're putting together a level or gameplay sequence," Gamble elaborated. "For many of these, what you see in the end product is a result of constant iteration and transformation of these ideas.
"In certain circumstances, we like to explore some of these ideas more in DLC. The car chase mission, in Lair of the Shadow Brokers, was something new that we'd wanted to try for some time, and found a perfect venue for it in that DLC."
BioWare once gave serious thought to adding a non-humanoid squadmate, but eventually decided that the effort involved would detract from the rest of the game. "We knew some races would figure prominently in the storyline," Hudson explained. "So they had to function like the human characters, be able to carry a gun, etc. But we also wanted a sense of "other aliens" around the periphery - species that may eventually play a major role but are really there to suggest that there's an exotic universe out there.
"For Mass Effect we developed a set of additional aliens, that would mainly be featured in the Citadel. Each developed a bit of a following, so over the series we found ways to make them play more important roles."
"All party members needed to use a humanoid skeleton," Everman added. "If we'd ever tried to use a non-humanoid, the cost would have been huge. Instead, we took all the development effort that we could have put towards an odd squad mate and made a larger, more polished game."
Friday - May 10, 2013
BioWare - Dragon Age Qunari Symbol Creation
BioWare programmer Owen Borstad has a new post on the official BioWare blog to explain how he created a Qunari logo/symbol from the Dragon Age series.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing with sizes, trying to figure out how big I wanted it, at what size to print it out, etc. I made a smaller version as a prototype, which looked decent even if I didn’t finish it (I don’t have a picture of this; it was destroyed in one of my trips to and from work). After making the prototype, I discovered I had it backwards (inside out), as I didn’t want my numbers to show when I finished making it, so I fixed that up, then re-exported and re-imported.
I finally decided how big to make it so as to fit on the wall, and saved out a PDF of the exploded structure (see PDF). I printed it on 11×17 Cardstock Ledger paper, and started cutting it out. I had to score the thing backwards to what the PDF said to do to keep the lines and numbers on the “inside” of the structure.
After gluing the back all together with thinly spread white glue and cutting/scoring every piece, I finally started assembling it. It turned out that gluing the “boxes” and then gluing to the back was the easiest way to put it together, and so I eventually finished gluing to the back, then worked on “zipping” the model together.
After a total of about 30 hours, I finally finished it, and cut a circular hole in the back by which to hang it, re-enforced the hole, and stuck it on the wall with a pushpin. And that’s how I came to be the prince of… oh, wrong story, anyway, that’s how I made the giant logo! I might do another one if I feel like it, or go do something completely different for my next project.
Sunday - March 31, 2013
BioWare - RPS Interviews Gaider about DA2's weaknesses
David Gaider has been interviewed (again) by RPS. This time he's talking about the weaknesses of DA2.
A quote about the forums:
RPS: You mentioned the forums. BioWare is a company that seems very tuned in to what people are saying about their games - even if you don't always manage to please everyone.
Gaider: Yeah, it factors not as much as some people would think, but more than some others would think. If you aren't getting feedback from somewhere like a game forum, then where are you getting it from? The worst thing is to just ignore it utterly and work entirely in a vacuum. Even with the input from the fans, the feedback from the fans, at some level you have to make what you think is right. With something like the forums, their opinions are all over the place. Often when a fan will speak on a forum they speak as if everybody on the forums agrees about their concern and they all think exactly the same thing. I've never found that to be true.
And Gaider on the themes in DA2:
RPS: Yeah, you were just sort of surviving. Is that what you were intending with that story?
Gaider: Yeah. The themes that were going on in Dragon Age II weren't about heroism, necessarily. That wasn't a theme. It was about freedom versus security, which I thought was a good, timely issue. How much freedom do you let people have versus how much security is necessary for people? Like the mages versus templars. That had more application than just that, that struggle between the need to have a secure society versus the struggle for individual freedom. We had family as a big issue we wanted to focus on. That came up a lot in the game. Maybe we had too many themes going on?
Saturday - March 30, 2013
BioWare - Interview with David Gaider @ RPS on Sexism and Sexuality
RPS talked to Lead Writer David Gaider from Bioware about sexism and sexuality in games. Here's Gaider's thesis:
RPS: So what's the basic thesis of your GDC talk? I know you're discussing sex and sexism, but what conclusion are you ultimately trying to draw?
Gaider: Basically I'm saying that, from the perspective of a writer and a designer who's had to deal with a lot of romance in games - romance and sex - which brings me directly into confrontation issues and sexism and sexuality... Until we had broached that topic, it was kind of a side issue. I guess back in the day, when we were first starting with it, it wasn't something that the industry kept in mind at all. But the fact that we have charged directly into that field, that means... Sexism and sexuality issues are things that I end up having to deal with on a regular basis. I thought I could offer some feedback on that.
Gaider on diversity in games:
RPS: For you personally, is that the next step: to discuss more and create awareness? I mean, clearly, that's what your doing here.
Gaider: That's something that we've always done, at least on the BioWare side. I don't know that it's an agenda of mine, per se. I have an actual game to write. That's not my first concern. But it is a concern. If we're talking about how we need our big-budget games to sell to more people and have a larger audience, to say that that larger audience should only be 18-25 males exclusively... So, what, we're all going to fight over the same demographic? There are actual reasons why having diversity in your games and being inclusive of a larger audience has sound financial backing. If you're talking about that, maybe that's the only way the industry is going to listen. It takes somebody to do it and do it well and prove that this is something that makes financial sense before the industry will accept that maybe it's a thing.
Friday - March 29, 2013
BioWare - A New Universe, ME's Universe to be Expanded in a New Way
For the new game, Casey Hudson, said this:
"We are developing a whole new fictional universe at BioWare for myself and Preston [and other main Mass Effect trilogy creators.] That's kind of our next thing," Husdon said. "We're focusing on building something new the way we did at the very beginning on Mass Effect.
For the new ME 3 game, Casey Hudson said this:
We want to be able to give fans an opportunity to get back into the world with these things you've come to know and love about the Mass Effect experience but start something fresh and new-a new way for you to explore the whole universe in Mass Effect."
Saturday - February 09, 2013
BioWare - Next ME Game not to be Called ME4
We have already said that the Commander Shepard trilogy is over and that the next game will not feature him/her. That is the only detail you have on the game. I see people saying "well, they'll have to pick a canon ending". No, because the game does not have to come after. Or before. Or off to the side. Or with characters you know. Or yaddayaddayadda. Wherever, whenever, whoever, etc will all be revealed years down the road when we actually start talking about it.
What Chris is saying is that thinking of the next Mass Effect game as Mass Effect 4 would imply a certain linearity, a straight evolution of the gameplay and story of the first three games........... Story-wise, the arc of the first trilogy has also been concluded, and what we will do is tell a new story set in the Mass Effect universe. That doesn't mean that events of the first three games and the choices you made won't get recognized, but they likely won't be what this new story will focus on. In other words, because the game takes place before of after the first trilogy does not mean it necessarily is a straight prequel or sequel.
Thursday - February 07, 2013
BioWare - Robin Sachs Voice actor in Mass Effect and Dragon Age Series Passed Away
Voice actor Robin Sachs has passed away at the early age of 61 - tells Strategy Informer.
This tragic news first appeared on the official site and the Daily Mail has a nice orbituary on him.
Gamers know him perhaps best for voicing Saul Karath in SW:KOTOR and Zaeed Massani, a companion for one of ME2's DLC as well as Lord Harrowmount in DA: Origins. Othes might know him for his character in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and his apperance in Babylon 5.
A quote from the Bioware blog seems most appropriate here:
Our thoughts are with Robin's family and friends during this difficult time, and we thank him for bringing Zaeed to life in the way that only Robin could.
BioWare - Remembering Robin Sachs
BioWare has posted a memorial for voice actor Robin Sachs, who has passed away:
It is with great sadness this week that we learned about the passing of our friend Robin Sachs. Robin was a talented actor best known by BioWare fans as the voice actor who played Zaeed Massani in the Mass Effect series.
Robin also played Lord Pyral Harrowmont in Dragon Age Origins, Admiral Saul Karath in Knights of the Old Republic and had many memorable roles in games, film and television.
Our thoughts are with Robin’s family and friends during this difficult time, and we thank him for bringing Zaeed to life in the way that only Robin could.
BioWare - David Gaider on Opinions
David Gaider has taken to his blog to write about the difficulty developers face making comments on the internet. It's not specifically about RPGs but a few readers might find it interesting:
On the occasions when I do speak publicly, however, I’m certainly not going to trash-talk decisions made by my company or my team that I happen to disagree with. Not only is that unprofessional, that’s highly suspect behavior. For one, I was there. I know how that decision got made. I’m aware of the issues that went into it, the ugly stuff and all, and once that decision’s made there’s really no point in continuing to bitch about it or airing dirty laundry in public. If we operated like that, we’d never get anything done… we’d be a group of squabbling children constantly pulling the project in multiple directions. Great for fan forums, not great for actually getting the project shipped. Secondly, whoever I’m talking about, whoever made those decisions, won’t be present to defend themselves. People outside the team would be listening to my opinion, getting half the story and bringing their own agenda into their interpretation and leaping to conclusions— which would probably be wrong. Some people might find it informative, but my experience on the Internet has been that a great many posters have the reading comprehension skills and self-awareness of a toddler. So that would be incredibly unfair and back-handed criticism to expose a co-worker to.
Then again, it doesn’t take much for fans to think that anything I speak on involves either my personal support or my personal condemnation (see above comment regarding reading comprehension on the Internet). If I say “this is what we’re doing and why”, that will be taken as me personally thinking it’s awesome, and that it was my idea. And the company is awesome for agreeing. And if you disagree with that, you’re a bad person. That’s actually pretty rarely the case. Sometimes I think these are good ideas and superior to other approaches, and I will say so, but usually I’m just explaining. Most times a given approach will have its upsides and downsides, and whether the upsides make it better overall really depends on the context (both of the given project and its other features as well as the preferences of whomever is reading). But I’m aware of this, and the fact that many people will equate me with BioWare itself regardless of whether what I’m speaking on is even something over which I have any control. I am the big, bad Godzilla rampaging over their sensibilities. Oohhh, run in fear!
Tuesday - February 05, 2013
BioWare - Greg Zeschuk Interview @ Los Angeles Times Online Edition
The online edition of Los Angeles Times has a rather interesting interview with Greg Zeschuk, one of the two co-founders of Bioware who left the company in September 2012. It's interesting because of what he says in it. Apparently he doesn't lile console games much these days:
“Console stuff has become really boring,” he says, adding that it’s indie publishers these days who are doing the “progressive stuff.” “The big guys,” he says, “are doing these really boring same ol’, same ol’ games,” he says, referring, broadly, to action titles and games of the “Call of Duty” ilk.
And what does he say about Bioware's own games? Well, here's what he say about
those, although first his praises go to a game called Spaceteam
created by former BioWare employee Henry Smith. It’s a mobile game, designed for iOS, and it requires at least two players. Players must be in the same room, as they’ll need to shout instructions at each other as they try to prolong the inevitable explosion of a ship. It’s fast, simple and not at all similar to the massively complex heavily layered games of BioWare, be it the “Mass Effect” series or its online multiplayer game “Star Wars: The Old Republic.”
Do I detect a slight dissatisfaction with how ME3 and SW:TOR turned out in his
Tuesday - January 29, 2013
BioWare - The Long Strange Journey of Greg Zeschuk
Polygon has an article format interview with ex-BioWarian Greg Zeschuk on his career journey. Although the piece discusses his next foray into a beer video blog, a fair amount of space is dedicated to BioWare and the reasons for leaving:
Just why Zeschuk lost his passion for gaming remains a bit unclear. Was it because of the sale to EA, Star Wars: The Old Republic's relatively small subscriber base, the anger some fans felt over the ending of the Mass Effect trilogy?
"Everything's a factor," Zeschuk tells me. "There's nothing that's not a factor, but there's no single one thing. I think the best way I can describe is: Do the same thing for twenty years and it's very, very intense. It's very high pressure. It's very high stress. It's challenging. It's sometimes rewarding and sometimes it's not. And you just get tired of it after awhile. That is probably the easiest way to for me to describe it. Sometimes you just need to change things.
"One of the few things I find kind of funny is the responses of the fans, because they sort of respond that they are kind of mad at us for leaving because they think we owe them more games. You know it's sad I wish I could deliver on that, but I don't think I would be as good as I was in that space historically. Like I said, the fire wasn't there."
Sunday - January 27, 2013
BioWare - David Gaider on Writing Games Compared to Writing Novels
In hist latest blog post, David Gaider discusses the difference between writing novels, games and comic books. A quote on how con change when you're writing for a game:
And content is something of which you have to be mindful. Unlike with a novel, you are not writing this story alone. You can’t simply write “They rode on their horses to the castle where the dragon awaited!” unless you have horse models, the ability to have character models ride those horses, an area in which they are ridden, a visible castle towards which they must ride, a dragon model and a combat system that allows fighting such a large creature. If the team comes back and says, “letting the player see the castle from the outside will be really expensive… are you sure you want to do that? If so, we’ll need to cut some other levels.” At which point you change what you wrote to “They rode swiftly through the forest, and then there was a fade to black as they arrived in the courtyard. There the dragon awaited!”......“Hmm. Are you sure you want that dragon? Those horse models are really complex to do properly, especially if we need all the character models and their variations to have all the riding animations. Plus you said you wanted jousting. That’s a whole system. To do that and add a dragon, and dragon combat? I dunno.” Then you change what you wrote again: “They ran swiftly through the forest, and there was a fade to black as they arrived in the courtyard. There the dragon awaited!” “We have to cut some levels. That castle courtyard is really expensive, especially considering you only need it for the one scene. I mean, they go there and have the fight and leave after, right? Is it really that important?” Then you change what you wrote again: “They ran swiftly through the forest, and there was a fade to black as they arrived in the forest clearing. There the dragon awaited!” It’s a constant series of back-and-forth compromises, so even once you’ve written a good story and it’s passed muster with the rest of the team you’re still going to have to make changes on the fly. Big ones that will drive giant dump trucks through your plot, sometimes without leaving you enough time to go in and patch the holes.
Tuesday - January 15, 2013
BioWare - David Gaider on Romances
David Gaider has penned a blog post on game romances, responding to a discussion arguing that all party members should be romanceable:
Actually, I would not.
Surprising? Perhaps. If we had more resources, I suppose I wouldn’t mind allowing the player to try romancing every follower, but to allow them to successfully do so? No, I can’t say that appeals to me very much for two main reasons:
1) Romances are a side show, not the main game. Yes, some people like them a lot, and I have absolutely no beef with them doing so. In fact, it’s very gratifying. While I suppose a game could be made where the romantic plot takes a level of importance equal to that of the critical path, that has never been the case with the games BioWare makes. These plots are tertiary, optional content… something to add to your enjoyment, and add to your level of emotional investment in the characters… and that seems to get forgotten when people discuss it at length.
Such is the case whenever any piece of content gets discussed online. Under a microscope, whatever you’re discussing seems like all there is… and thus is clearly the most important thing ever. I cannot do that. I always have to keep my eye on the bigger picture, and there is an entire rest of the game that needs to be contended with… which includes a lot of elements that have much more pertinence to the game than who someone does or doesn’t get to have sex with. Romances are a nice extra, and naturally we’re always going to struggle with how to do them right, but they’re well down the list on things I need to concern myself with. I could, in fact, happily have a game without any romances at all… or spend an equal amount of time developing relationships with followers that are non-romantic.
Occasionally the focus on romances reaches such a fever pitch that idea seems rather attractive, actually. But only occasionally. [...]
Wednesday - December 12, 2012
BioWare - Mass Effect Series Interview @ Gamer Syndrome [Updated]
Gamer Syndrome caught up with the Mass Effect "team" to talk about the past and future of the series:
GS: Now that another Mass Effect game has been announced, why was it decided to not only change studios (Edmonton to Montreal) but also to change game engines? Will we still experience the same style, choices, and action we’ve come to know in Mass Effect games? Does changing engines delay the games release date?
BioWare: While I can’t comment on why it changed studios, fans can expect a similar style of choices and action that they’ve come to know in Mass Effect. Casey Hudson is very much involved in the new Mass Effect game, as well as many from Edmonton. BioWare Montreal is a great studio and they did fantastic with the multiplayer for Mass Effect 3, so fans should know the series is in good hands. The game isn’t far along in development so I can’t comment on specifics because they isn’t any yet, Frostbite 2 is a really good game engine that we are also using on Dragon Age 3. As far as release date, there’s nothing to be announced yet. You’ll hear more about the new Mass Effect game [next year] in 2013.
GS: If you were to give a rough idea on a release window, what would you say?
BioWare: Late 2014 to Mid 2015. I honestly can’t tell you an exact because full development on the game started a month or two ago.
Update: Interestingly, the piece has been pulled from Gamer Syndrome with EA telling G4 "at no time did EA or BioWare provide any answers to questions from Gamer Syndrome."
Sunday - December 02, 2012
BioWare - David Gaider on narrative design
I keep forgetting to catch up with David Gaider's personal blog on tumblr, The Bitterweetest Thing. A couple of days ago he posted Part 5 of a series on Narrative Design (the previous part is linked from this one, so work back if you want) and offers some amusing anecdotes on the design of Dragon Age - specifically, naming things:
These are laws that, since I created them, have yet to fail me.
Gaider’s Laws of Naming Things
1) If the name is a made-up word for something, everyone will have different connotations and immediately dislike it.
2) Within 3-6 months, people will begin to associate that made-up word with the thing… and they will forget that they ever had an objection. Of course it’s that name. What else could it be called?
You think I’m kidding? I am not kidding.
“Qunari” was initially despised. Some people thought it sounded too much like canary. Some people thought “the Qun” was difficult to pronounce, and sounded too much like a bad word (seriously?). It was allowed to remain as a temp name, and we would look at it later for what it would actually be. Lo and behold, when we turned around 6 months later, suddenly nobody wanted to change it. That’s what they were. What else could they be?
The Dragon Age world was not initially called “Thedas”. There was a name that existed, but I didn’t like it and refused to use it in the documentation or in conversation… so, when we had to refer to it at all, we called it “the Dragon Age world” or “the Dragon Age setting” (with the understanding that eventually we would have to give it a real name).
It amused us to find on our forums that, lacking a provided alternative, someone had begun using the acronym “TheDAS” (The Dragon Age Setting) …and it stuck. Funny! So we started calling it Thedas in conversation, mostly because that was shorter. Then, lo and behold, when we sat down for the meeting to give the world its real name, we couldn’t settle on anything. Every option didn’t seem right. Nothing fit. Sheryl asked, “Can’t we just call it Thedas?”… and we realized the truth. For good or ill, Law #2 had already taken hold.
“Grey Wardens”. What else could they be called? Plenty! The oldest name I recall (it may not be the first) was the “White Rangers”. First we had to change the word ‘rangers’ because that was felt to be too close to the Tolkien group. There was, oh, about twenty different iterations. My frustration began to mount as each was was countered with, “Oh, I don’t know… I just don’t like it.” No suggestions, just concern about how important this group would be for DAO and how the name had to really sparkle. Ugh. I eventually threw out ‘wardens’ in desperation, and was surprised it stuck. Then the conversation turned to whether ‘White’ made them sound too much like good guys. Cue me losing more hair.
Friday - November 30, 2012
BioWare - DA3 in 2014 on new consoles?
Not surprisingly, the original link has disappeared so take this as rumour. Gamers Hell reports EA Shanghai designer Tao Gu claimed Dragon Age 3 has slipped to 2014 - according to his now-gone Linked In profile. Supposedly the game is being changed to next-next-gen consoles:
Tao Gu, a game designer at EA Shanghai has updated his LinkedIn profile saying that Dragon Age 3: Inquisition, has been delayed to 2014 and will arrive on next-gen platforms: "Scope of the DAIII has been chaged, which will target next gen platform and will be postpone to 2014."
Source: Blues News
Tuesday - November 20, 2012
BioWare - Mass Effect Prequel or Sequel?
BioWare's Casey Hudson has asked via twitter whether fans would prefer a prequel or sequel for the next Mass Effect game. From IGN:
"Parsing through your thoughts on the next #ME game," he revealed. "Would you be more interested in a game that takes place before the trilogy, or after?"
Monday - November 12, 2012
BioWare - Mass Effect Sequel to be Developed by Bioware Montreal
The Bioware Blog has been updated with this news. Yanick R. Roy from Bioware Montreal introduces himself and his team:
A few years later, in January of 2006, I was lucky enough to join my favorite game company! I was immediately assigned to the original Mass Effect, which was in very early production at the time, as its Senior Development Director. I worked closely with Casey Hudson and the Leads team through the rest of ME1 and the first half of ME2, when BioWare decided to open another studio in Montreal. I was honored to be asked to lead the team, so I wrapped up my work in Edmonton and moved back to Montreal in the summer of 2009, where our small team was being put in place.
We started by building about half the cinematics for ME2, then most of its N7 missions, and finally we played an important role in the development of much of its post-release content. Then on ME3, we took charge of the multiplayer portion as well as making significant contributions to the single-player campaign. Most recently, we built a large piece of DLC that will be released on November 27 and that you know under the name of Omega. With each new portion of work, we took on deeper and broader responsibilities, but we always worked in conjunction with Casey, the Mass Effect leads, and the developers in Edmonton.
They will still have support from Bioware Edmonton:
To ensure a proper and effective transition, we’ll continue to be supported by the Edmonton studio through the game’s development, working with and learning from them on some critical initiatives. On top of that, Casey remains the Executive Producer, but he will have a Project Director under him, working in Montreal, leading our development team and making day-to-day decisions for the game. We all care very much about Mass Effect and make our decisions based on what’s best for the game.
The other thing I can tell you is that, while it will be very respectful of the heritage built over the course of the first three games, with the original trilogy now concluded and the switch over to a new engine, we are exploring new directions, both on the gameplay and story fronts. You can still expect the pillars the franchise is known for to be fully intact though, including diverse alien races, a huge galaxy to explore, and of course rich, cinematic storytelling.
Friday - November 09, 2012
BioWare - Mass Effect Sequel in Development
A tweet from Casey Hudson, executive producer for Mass Effect, mentions that a sequel is being worked on:
We're in early stages of designing a completely new Mass Effect game. What would you want to see in it?
Sunday - November 04, 2012
BioWare - Mass Effect Trilogy Update and Trailer
External Producer Ryan Warden provides an update on the Mass Effect Trilogy at the Bioblog:
We began work on Mass Effect Trilogy in earnest last April, shortly after Mass Effect 3 had shipped. The trilogy was complete, but there was a slight complication — there are people who had missed out on one (or more) titles in the series. From day one, we had announced that Mass Effect would be part of a trilogy. Jumping into the series at a midpoint could be intimidating. One thing you should know about our development team is that we’re all very passionate about the trilogy, the entire Mass Effect universe. So we started looking at ways to take away any intimidation or barriers players new to the franchise might feel, while also providing an amazing overall experience at a great price for the holidays. So the Mass Effect Trilogy was born.
Now I know that may sound like an easy thing to do, but it actually took a lot of talented people and a lot of effort to make this happen – for every version of Mass Effect Trilogy. Even for the platforms we’ve launched all three games on before, reissuing a game isn’t easy. There isn’t a switch in the game code that you can flip and suddenly it runs on newer, completely different hardware architecture or a new online client. There is no such thing as “just a port.” Luckily, we have great partners at Microsoft and EA who were instrumental in helping us make as seamless of an experience as possible for all three games.
Then there was building the original Mass Effect for the PlayStation 3.
...and there's a trailer via VG247.
Friday - October 26, 2012
BioWare - How to Bounce Back @ GameFront
GameFront has penned an article on how Bioware can bounce back after the BioDocs, Ray and Greg, has left the company. In it, the say that Bioware needs to return to its roots, stop counting the beans, as well as focus on new IPs and rebuild their community.
A quote on rebuilding the community:
In short, BioWare needs to essentially do the opposite of what it’s done since Dragon Age 2 was launched. This isn’t to say BioWare should simply do whatever fans tell them – they really should care about their, yes, artistic integrity, enough that they make the games they intend to make, regardless.
A quote on how Bioware should focus on new IPs:
BioWare should put Mass Effect 4 on hold, and focus on this unnamed new IP. In fact, they should release at least one other new game before even considering revisiting the Mass Effect Universe, or Dragon Age 4. Everything should be devoted to making these games as excellent as their previous successes.
Saturday - October 20, 2012
BioWare - No "Shepard 2" for Mass Effect 4
Speaking with VG247, BioWare is taking feedback from the team on the direction of Mass Effect 4:
“This is really our starting point. Now the Mass Effect universe is vast, and very, very rich. So at this point in time, we don’t even know what kind of time frame we’re going to be in. All we’re doing is more gathering ideas from the teams, gathering feedback to see several things.”
“So first, we don’t want to make ‘Shepard 2′, or Mass Effect 4 with like, ‘oh there’s no more Shepard but you’re a soldier in the universe’. So this will be a very, very different context for sure, and nothing has been decided on the rest.”
Thursday - October 11, 2012
BioWare - Dragon Age 3: Inquistion Editorials
The Koalition has penned an editorial named "Why I Have No Hope for Dragon Age 3" about this game. A quote about the story direction:
From what we know so far about Dragon Age III: Inquisition there seems to be a number of ways that Bioware can spin the story back in the direction we desire. But will they? The fact that they swayed the story in the second game leads me to believe they’ll have to account for those events specifically in the next game, more-so than the first game. I highly doubt whether Bioware will neglect to fall back on the events of Kirkwall, seeing as DA2 likely sold more than Origins did. Also, judging by how Mass Effect 3 turned out we can’t be too optimistic.
Brent Knowles, a former employee of Bioware, has penned a blog entry about "What Bioware Has Learned". A quote about Mark Darrah's blog entry announcing the game:
I think it is clear from how this post has been written that BioWare has learned that they need to be more upfront on who is working on their titles, to help mitigate the idea that BioWare has lost all its original staff. Mark makes it clear that he is a gamer and that he has loads of experience with traditional gaming. Mark was with BioWare from the beginning, well before I started.
Wednesday - September 26, 2012
BioWare - Mass Effect Trilogy Bundle Announced
Bioware announced today that a Mass Effect Trilogy Bundle, spanning all three ME games will be released on November 6th. An snip from the announcement:
Mass Effect Trilogy
When does the Mass Effect Trilogy release? Mass Effect Trilogy releases on November 6th 2012 for Xbox 360 and PC, and later for PlayStation 3.
What does the Mass Effect Trilogy include? Mass Effect Trilogy includes all three Mass Effect titles, featured in a new premium foil box featuring artwork of Commander Shepard. Is the Mass Effect Trilogy compatible with other versions of Mass Effect, for example multiplayer? Yes, the Mass Effect Trilogy will be compatible with other versions of Mass Effect. You will be able to play Mass Effect 3 multiplayer with other players.
No word so far if the DLC for all three games are included or not. However, Chris Priestly's thread on this announcement on the BSN forums ca be accessed here.
Monday - September 24, 2012
BioWare - BioDocs Made Games the Good Way @ Venture Beat
In an editorial about the BioDocs leaving the industry, Venture Beat's Dean Takehashi shares his thoughts about the BioDocs and how "they build games the nice way." Here's a quote about a personal experience with the Ray and Greg, the doctors at Bioware, after Dean reviewed the first Mass Effect game.
But the reaction from the doctors was kind. When I talked to them about it, they said that my review had taught them something. I’m sure they weren’t happy with what I wrote, but they didn’t say that. They said they appreciated the second piece and instructed their team to draw lessons from my gaming experience. They made it easier to learn the proper way to play in Mass Effect 2 and said that I had influenced how they designed the sequel. A lot of other people had no patience for me — loudmouth that I had been. But the doctors didn’t drop the hammer on me, and I appreciated that. After all, they seemed to recognize that journalists are people, too. And my experience was probably similar to a lot of other gamers’ out there.
Thursday - September 20, 2012
BioWare - Tribute to the BioDocs @ Gamesindustri.biz
In an article named Jaded Empire, Gamesindustry.biz mentions how other developers feels about the announcement that the BioDocs retire. It seems he BioDocs have gained both recognition and respect. A couple of quotes are relevant here, this time from Brian Fargo and
Chris Taylor, Gas Powered Games founder
Greg and Ray are two of the industry's smartest and most respected superstars. They worked extremely hard to accomplish what they did, and it's no secret that passion, hard work and a true love of the art of making games is what got them there. If they are both serious about moving out of the gaming business (and I hope they're not) then they will be truly missed… and the business won't be quite the same without them.
Brian Fargo, InXile Entertainment CEO
I was quite surprised to hear they both are retiring from the industry altogether. And I'm sure many fans will be disappointed but I'm certain their Bioware legacy will continue. It sounds like they are very passionate about their new ventures so they are in a good place.
Wednesday - September 19, 2012
BioWare - Aaron Flynn on the Future of Bioware after BioDocs Retire
After we've told you that the BioDocs retire, it seems only appropriate that we tell you of the future of Bioware. Aarynn Flynn, General Manager at Bioware Edmonton and Montreal, shares what's in store for Bioware in the future here. He, of course, also comments on Ray Myzyka and Greg Zechuck leaving Bioware. Head over for the full text here.
A quote then on the future of Bioware:
DRAGON AGE 3: Inquisition – Yesterday, we announced that BioWare is now developing the next chapter of the Dragon Age series. Executive Producer Mark Darrah and our teams have been meeting with fans about what they want in a new Dragon Age game. I love spending time with the Dragon Age team as they work on Inquisition. The thought-provoking discussions, the fun, and most of all, the discovery of what’s possible on a new engine is both exhilarating and humbling.
MASS EFFECT – Executive Producer Casey Hudson and his team are coming off an amazing eight-year run with the Mass Effect trilogy. But they’re not done yet. We are releasing more multiplayer content and we have more single-player stories coming throughout the next six months, including Omega which is coming in the Fall. But the Mass Effect universe is vast, and Casey and our teams have plans for another full game. “Where to go next?” with such a project has been a question a lot of us have been asking, and we’d all love to hear your ideas.
BRAND NEW GAMES FROM BIOWARE – Both Dragon Age and Mass Effect started as single games but grew into vast universes. But we aren’t stopping there. While Casey continues to oversee the development of our new Mass Effect project, he and his leads are putting together their vision for an all new game set in a fictional universe, built from the bottom-up with all new gaming technology.
Tuesday - September 18, 2012
BioWare - It's Official: the BioDocs Retire
After what feels like ages of speculation, Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk have simultaneously announced their retirement from BioWare and the industry. In lengthy blog posts at BioWare, Ray and Greg thank their teams and fans for the last 20 years.
From Ray, who confirms the rumours from earlier in the year:
After nearly two decades in videogames, I’ve decided to move on to pursue an entirely different set of challenges. This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make; after thinking about it for many months, I made the decision to retire from videogames back in early April 2012 – at that time I provided six months’ notice to EA, to help enable a solid transition for my teams at BioWare.
...and Greg, who is clear he will leave the video game industry altogether:
Writing a note like this is something one imagines doing once in a lifetime, if at all. The experience of following a dream, achieving it and along the way working with the most talented, passionate and engaging people imaginable isn’t something I’m likely going to repeat again. Building BioWare over the years with Ray and the many other people involved was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’ll cherish it always.
After nearly twenty years working at BioWare I’ve decided it’s time to move on and pursue something new. This decision isn’t without significant pain and regret, but it’s also something I know I need to do, for myself and my family. I’ve reached an unexpected point in my life where I no longer have the passion that I once did for the company, for the games, and for the challenge of creation. For the people I have had the privilege of working with, however, my passion burns as brightly as it did the day we started. The people I work with now, and that I have worked with in the past, have inspired me and really made all of the challenges we’ve collectively faced over the years worthwhile. We have been blessed with tremendous success over the years at BioWare, and the reason is simply down to a large number of great people doing great work. Successful people or companies have to admit luck also plays a part in their success, and it certainly did for us; a few times over the years we made the right game at the right time and success flowed as a result. When we got it right, it was like a hole in one or a home run; it was a magical feeling and incomparable in positive impact for everyone involved.
Head over for the full texts. Thanks, Avantenor!
BioWare - Interview with a Writer @ The Border House
The Border House has an interview with Ann LeMay, a writer for Bioware. They talk about what her role is in the company, what games she's been working on, how building the world - in the games - works and much much more. A quote about a typical day - when a game is in preproduction:
Basically, it depends on which phase of the project we’re currently in. If we’re in preproduction, there are a lot of meetings and defining of things, along with documenting all the decisions taken and then expounding on them. And approving said material, then taking it all down and rebuilding it, and so on and so forth. Over and over and over and over again.
A quote on the difficulties a writer is facing when writing for a video game:
As a writer in videogames, you are never, ever an island. Any writing done away from a team will see revisions to adapt it to the work being done on the floor, I can guarantee you. Any writing that’s done on the floor will see regular revision, tweaking, etc. The more the narrative is important to the team and project, the more iteration you’ll see on all sides. And if a whole level is cut at the last second, then you – and level design and cinematic design and everyone else and their pet cat/dog/jackalope – will have to scramble to adapt and adjust.
And finally, a quote on books:
Among the good books I’ve read recently are Alpha by Greg Rucka, Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines (get his Jig the Goblin books, btw, NOW), and the Eli Monpress series by Rachel Aaron.
Monday - September 17, 2012
BioWare - Dragon Age 3: Inquisition Revealed @ Bioware Blog
Since we don't have a listing for DA3: Inquisition as of yet, I've filed this newsbit under Bioware. I think it is appropriate though, because Mark Darrah tells us about this news
at the Bioware blog. After a rather lengthy introduction, talking about how long
he has worked at Bioware, he confirms this:
- The next game will be called Dragon Age III: Inquisition.
- We won´t be talking about the story of the game today. Though you can make some guesses from the title.
- This game is being made by a lot of the same team that has been working on Dragon Age since Dragon Age: Origins. It´s composed of both experienced BioWare veterans and talented new developers.
- We are working on a new engine which we believe will allow us to deliver a more expansive world, better visuals, more reactivity to player choices, and more customization. At PAX East, we talked about armour and followers… Yeah, that kind of customisation. We´ve started with Frostbite 2 from DICE as a foundation to accomplish this.
Link to Chris Priestly announcements on the BSN here.
Link to Upsettingshorts thread on Bioware using the Frostbite engine for DA3: Inquisition here.
Link to the general forum for DA3: Inquisition here.
Wednesday - August 22, 2012
BioWare - Peter Moore, COO, Interview @ Eurogamer - satisfied with Bioware
Eurogamer has talked to Peter More, the Chief Operating Officer, COO, of EA. He is pleased with Bioware's performances, and stands behinds the the team's decision, both for SW:TOR and ME3. Apparantly both games have done well financially. He talks about how Bioware dealt with the trouble over the endings for ME3; the more important stuff seems to be in this quote:
In May EA announced Mass Effect 3 had generated $200 million in sales. "Mass Effect has been enormous for us. It's done great," Moore said. "The public numbers bear that out.
Tuesday - August 21, 2012
BioWare - Drew Karpyshyn Interview @ Eurogamer
Drew Karpyshyn left BioWare way back in February but since our interest stems from his work with them, I'm going to file it under "BioWare".
Eurogamer caught up with Drew to discuss a number of BioWare-related topics, including his thoughts on the ending of Mass Effect 3, although he doesn't really take a position:
BioWare once intended Mass Effect 3 to end differently than it did. One possible ending concerned the spread of Dark Energy - a force used for mass effect fields and biotic powers. It goes that Reapers were created to stop the spread of Dark Energy, which would ultimately destroy everything. That's why Reapers, every 50,000 years or so, processed (turned into a Reaper) an entire species - to slow the spread of Dark Energy. The Human Reaper was to be the last throw of the dice for the Reapers. The ending of Mass Effect 3 would be you deciding whether to sacrifice the entire human race, and create a Human Reaper, or take your chances that humanity could come up with another alternative.
That ending, Drew Karpyshyn came up with. It was one of several, apparently.
In response to that being aired, Drew Karpyshyn wrote a lengthy blog post on his website. "Yes, we had a plan, but it was very vague. We knew we wanted to focus on some key themes and bring in certain key elements: organics vs synthetics; the Reapers; the Mass Relays. Beyond that, we didn't go into detail because we knew it would change radically as the game continued to evolve," he explained.
Tuesday - August 14, 2012
BioWare - Explaining Day One DLC
BioWare's Fernando Melo has explained the business proposition for Day 1 DLC and other paid DLC in a speech for GDC. In essence? Players buy them. From IGN:
Yet that still didn’t address the question of why the DLC wasn’t just part of the base game. As the production timeline Melo presented during the talk showed, multiple packs of downloadable content must go into production before the base game is complete. Melo couldn’t provide specific sales figures, but showed a high percentage of players, particularly with Dragon Age: Origins, purchased the content made available day one. Even significant percentages of those who purchased titles used from game stores went on to activate online passes and purchased additional DLC.
The piece also discusses the completion rates for several of their games (Joystiq lists a couple more) - don't expect new games to be as long as Dragon Age: Origins, with only a 36% completion rate; Mass Effect 2 was highest of the games provided at 56%.
Saturday - August 11, 2012
BioWare - Zeschuk still on board
We should catch up on the rumours about the Biodocs which, not surprisingly, turned out to be premature. From Eurogamer:
UPDATE: Greg Zeschuk's role as General Manager at BioWare Austin was "always planned to have a finite endpoint", the company co-founder has explained to Gamasutra, addressing speculation around his departure.
"With regard to BioWare Austin, I handed off the leadership of the studio to Matthew Bromberg quite some time ago (back in May). Ray [Muzyka, BioWare co-founder] and I picked Matthew to take over and he's been doing a great job with the studio."
Zeschuk also affirmed his continued presence within BioWare as a whole.
ORIGINAL STORY: "My time in Austin was always planned to have a finite endpoint (my family was still living in Edmonton throughout my time in Austin) and now that I've handed the baton to Matt I will be able to spend more time on a wider range of BioWare games rather than focusing on just one as I did with SWTOR."
Thursday - August 09, 2012
BioWare - What went wrong with SWTOR?
We normally bypass MMOs but CountChocula sends in this article at Gamasutra, titled What went wrong with Star Wars: The Old Republic.
A. Cooperative Play: Taking on an opponent with five, 20, or even 100 of your friends and teammates adds a great deal to the excitement level of a game. Not only does the result of an encounter require a lot more communication and team work, it also adds additional randomness that can make every encounter unique. Doing well in such situations also can bring great prestige as others will come to admire you if you perform well under pressure when they are depending on you.
The best parts of SWTOR are the story line missions. Their cinematic quality makes you feel like you are in a movie that you control. The weakness of this design is that the focus is on a single player, and that a full group could be just two players and AI companions. This gives SW:TOR the feeling of a "Massively Single Player Game". While there are missions that can accommodate more players, the game never manages to escape this feel.
Wednesday - August 08, 2012
BioWare - To Bioware's Defense - Editorial @ Forbes
EriK Kain from Forbes has written an editorial entitled "In Defense of Bioware."
Here's his main argument:
Personally, I think the gaming industry would be worse for wear without BioWare. Already, many people believe that EA purchasing BioWare in the first place was a tragedy but if BioWare were to be shut down, I think a lot of great potential for new games would be lost. Role-playing games in particular would take a serious blow.
Sunday - August 05, 2012
BioWare - BioDoc Rumours
German site GamersGlobal is running the rumour that Zeschuck and Muzyka might be leaving BioWare and/or BioWare Austin might be coverted to EA Austin. The basis of the rumour is thin at this point, so please take this with a huge grain of salt. Here's a translation of the original German source:
Star Wars - The Old Republic is suffering from a shrinking subscriber base. An optional switch to F2P in autumn is supposed to turn things around. And in May, for the second time, several employees of Bioware Austin have been let go in a "restructuring effort". Another bad news could be that Bioware founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka might have left Bioware or could be in the process of leaving – possibly because of the limited success of the MMO that started as a challenger of WoW.
A trustworthy source has been told by an employee of Bioware Austin yesterday that neither Greg Zeschuk nor Ray Muzyka have been present at a Bioware Company Meeting in Austin, Texas, just a few days ago. The employee claimed that this has not been the case before at such a meeting. The six others members of Bioware Austin's leadership have been there. Also, Greg Zeschuk has not been seen for several weeks now, the Bioware Austin employee claims.
There are supposed to be internal rumours at Bioware Austin that Ray Muzyka (pictured left) and Greg Zeschuk have left Bioware. According to our source, some employees at Bioware Austin fear that the company will be transformed into EA Austin.
Please note that this news is a rumour without any official confirmation.
Thursday - July 26, 2012
Ultima Forever - Interview @ RPS
There's an Ultima Forever interview at Rock, Paper, Shotgun featuring lead designer Kate Flack. There are also two screenshots that I don't I've seen before. Here's a snip on modernising Ultima:
RPS: So to reboot it, what do you think has to be changed for a modern audience? Admittedly, as someone who bangs the drum for the series all the time, I do appreciate that it can be difficult to show them to one of these youths I hear about and try to get them interested, particularly with the early ones.
Flack: There’s some basic stuff to do, like core controls, which have to fit the platform you’re on. Having it so you don’t need 27 differnet function keys to remember. Nice menus, quest logs, maps. Things we take for granted now.
We’ve also focused gameplay into segments. The shortest loop you can play the game for is fifteen minutes, so it’s built into these fifteen minute chunks. This isn’t sit down for six hours like with something along the lines of Skyrim. You can get in and get out fairly quickly. So, short dungeons, get in, get to the end, get out. That’s both to facilitate play on the iPad but also to accomodate groups coming in and coming out. Not everyone has hours to sit down and raid anymore. I squeeze my gaming in around a whole bunch of stuff I’m doing in my life.
You can play for fifteen minutes and have a viable and productive session, but if you do have two hours you can do multiple game loops, dungeon runs, quests, advance your virtues some more.
Do you play a lot of MMOs?
Tuesday - July 24, 2012
Ultima Forever - Preview @ Joystiq
BioWare aims to reinvent Ultima with Ultima Forever offers some snippets from the game's lead designer, Kate Flack:
To begin, it will be an iPad game. It will eventually move to other platforms (though Flack couldn't say yet how soon that will happen), but at first it'll be specifically a tablet-based title. "All these tablet devices," Flack told us, "there's something very personal about picking up the game, and touching the screen to make things happen in the game."
You'll tap to move and run your character around, and of course tap to navigate the redesigned menus. The game will also take advantage of the iPad's built-in virtual keyboard, Flack told us, "to chat with other players." A virtual joystick or buttons won't be an option at all. "I don't like them," said Flack.
As we've heard previously, the game is a reboot based on Ultima 4, so it will include many of the same situations and quests, but also updated content. Flack said the map is generally the same, though "we've expanded some things, we've moved a couple of things around on the map. We have quite a graphical fidelity now, so we're able to go into more detail on what things look like." The conversation system has changed as well. "You won't sit there and try to get keywords when you're clicking on things," Flack said.
I got to see a few gameplay shots at Comic-Con (though, unfortunately, EA's PR declined to approve those for posting), and the game does look like Ultima 4's flattened isometric view, albeit with the generous additions of next-gen resolutions and models. Some of Sosaria's original landmarks are in there as well, though they look more like later games in the series than Quest for the Avatar specifically.
Dragon Age 3 - Question of the Month
BioWare's latest Dragon Age Question of the Month asks yet another vital question of the community:
We love attending live events and meeting with fans. Which events or conventions do you think we
should be attending? And what type of presence is most important to you
(playable demo, immersive booth experience, parties, exclusive swag, panels,
developer meet/greet, etc)?
For context, some events we've attended this year and scope include PAX East (BioWare Base) and SDCC (Multiplayer Lounge & Purgatory Bar). I'll also be at Geek Girl Con, Gamescom, and PAX Prime in August! Who knows where we'll go after that.
We're intersted in events big and small and what you like about them! Really excited to read what you have to say. As usual, this is a chance to have your voice heard, not to engage in debates. Everyone's opinion is valid here. Feel free to get creative with your thoughts.
Thursday - July 19, 2012
BioWare - SWToR Killer HK-51s Trailer
We don't follow MMOs but Thaurin sent in a new CGI trailer for SW: The Old Republic featuring HK-51 assassin droids that fans will enjoy.
Sunday - July 15, 2012
BioWare - Previews @ Joystiq, MMORPG.com
But my alarm bells started ringing when I saw that only two classes were available in the game: Fighter and Mage. Character class in the middle Ultima games (IV, V, VI) was intrinsically tied to its Virtue system, which was equally connected to the game's geography, as well as individuals. Eight classes, eight virtues, eight towns, eight dungeons, eight recruitable characters. For example, a Bard was associated with Compassion and the town of Cove, with Iolo joining your bard.
The entire point of Ultima IV was to have your character embody those virtues, by either being or recruiting that class, by acting according to the virtue (for Compassion, donating to the poor), understanding the town of Cove in order to learn about the symbols of Compassion, and in proceeding to the associated nearby dungeon to cleanse the evil from the area. That formal symmetry gave Ultima IV power. It wasn't just "collect the seven runes to save the universe!" as so many games had, it was a structure that gave both the game and its world structure. In an interview with MMORPG.com, creative director Paul Barnett suggested that there would be more classes to tie into those virtues, although they might lie behind a paywall.
Moving on to the MMORPG.com preview:
The story itself is quite literally a reboot on Ultima IV. It begins 21 years after that title ended, with Lady British now on the thrown in place of her father Lord British. This makes sense given that the lead designer is no longer Garriott, but Kate Flack who’s been handling UO now for some time. It’ll sport the same isometric view we’ve come to know and love, and have all the cool stuff we remember from Ultima IV like hot air balloons, sea travel, and more. Paul says many on the team liken it to Baldur’s Gate with Friends in a lot of ways, getting back to BioWare’s roots in that way.
Thursday - July 12, 2012
Ultima Forever - News Roundup
Ultima Forever is everywhere today and although none of the articles shed great light on the game, BioWare Mythic's Paul Barnett makes a few comments here and there.
An overview from GameSpot:
Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar is set to launch on iPad and PC later this year. The game, which Barnett said will be playable "start to finish" for free, is the second major free-to-play project from BioWare, the first being Facebook tie-in Dragon Age Legends. He said the team took several lessons from the EA2D project which was recently discontinued online.
"It had a lot of good ideas in it, it struggled to find a long-term audience, and perhaps was too aggressive with its monetization policy," Barnett said. So instead of "glass walls" preventing advancement through the game, Ultima Forever players will be able to buy additional means of transport or the ability to fast travel through the world.
Ultima Forever will feature the same set of virtues from its 1985 counterpart, but players will find new choices and consequences reflected in the game's fully integrated multiplayer. "Virtue is how you treat other people, in lots of games that's how you treat NPCs," said lead designer Kate Flack. "We want to take that same idea of how you treat other people and then apply it to the players."
Kotaku has the best information and has Paul Barnett saying "We've taken Ultima IV, and then we've re-imagined it. We've basically taken the Batman reboot option. The Spider-Man reboot option."
What we've done is we've picked Ultima IV, because we think Ultima IV is really cool, and it's neat, and it's ace, and then we've made it so it's small groups of people, three or four people down [in] the dungeon, going through the world of Ultima, going in to see all the famous towns and all the NPCs and the entire world's available...
Going into hot air balloons and flying over mountain ranges, getting into galleons [and] sailing across the oceans, surviving the great big storms, getting back to sea monsters, going to Stygian Abyss, and then competing to collect the actual Virtues, the eight Virtues that make you a good person, which is why Ultima IV is neat.
[We'll be] doing that by giving you quandaries, actual conversations that you have to solve. Which are things like... you find some money. You've got the merchant who lost the money, and you can give it back to him which is the Just thing to do, or do you give it to this poor person who's starving, which is the Compassionate thing to do.
They're both good answers. But they're both challenging answers. You've got to think about both of them. And that's basically the driving force behind this game.
He goes on to describe some basics:
In this case, that means a top-down isometric view, with hand-painted backgrounds and 3D characters. According to Barnett, "It plays fast, it's clicky, but the combat's fluid and fun rather than tactical and mind-numbing. The character progression is soft with a smooth up ramp... You're going to get in conversation trees which are much more like you would get in Dragon Age."
Read the full Kotaku article for Barnett saying it can be completed (slowly) solo and without paying anything.
Barnett tells IGN the game is almost finished:
While Barnett was unable to provide a release date, he did tell IGN that "it's mostly finished. We're in the polished phase." Hopefully we'll get to play it soon to find out if it lives up to the legacy of the Ultima franchise, but for now you can learn a bit more and sign up for the upcoming closed beta on the official website.
And what about the gameplay? Is Ultima Forever an MMO?
No, though Barnett says it has "a lot" of players in it. "It's very tribal in the way we're building it," he explained. The game is a small-group affair, with "tactical, positional" combat that is less about hotbar abilities and more about where your characters stand, what kind of equipment they have, and how you use your abilities together.
Barnett compared the game to the hunting areas in older BioWare titles like Baldur's Gate, and he pointed out that the essence of Ultima Forever is focused on improving your virtues through a BioWare storyline and plenty of dungeoneering. "It's very much a classic RPG adventure. It's more in Dragon Age's territory than that of an MMO," he explained.
Ultima Forever - Beta Signups
Remember Ultima Forever? The free-to-play project from BioWare Mythic is now accepting Beta signups. We don't have much to go on - the official title is Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar (no, I didn't get that wrong) and here's the accompanying description:
The first great Western RPG has been lovingly restored in Ultima Forever - return to the Ultima series in BioWare's new cross-platform action RPG. Accept the challenge from Lady British and save the land of Britannia. Play as the Fighter or the Mage and travel alone or with friends, restore virtue and become the Avatar!
It's about time a F2P MMO featured Lady British!
Tuesday - June 19, 2012
Dragon Age 3 - Question of the Month
If you recall, BioWare recently announced a "Question of the Month" on their forums to garner feedback on the next Dragon Age game. I wasn't impressed at the time with the first question and the second does even less to show they are genuinely seeking player feedback to improve the game:
If you wanted to own a piece of Dragon Age history in a collector’s edition of a future hypothetical title, what item (or kind of item) would you most treasure?
We recognize that not everyone has dragon-like inclinations to hoard pieces of treasure, so if you’re not interested in collector’s pieces, there’s always next month’s question!
Let us know what high-end physical item you would most like in a collector’s edition here!
Wednesday - May 23, 2012
BioWare - SWToR Layoffs
We don't follow MMO projects but I'm sure some readers will be interested in the fate of BioWare. Greg Zeschuk has taken to the forums to announce layoffs from the SWToR team in Austin to allow them to "refocus". No numbers are provided, but the team apparently remains "very substantial":
Hey folks, since you’re reading this you may likely have heard that we’ve done some restructuring here on the SWTOR team. Sadly, we are bidding farewell to some talented, passionate and exceptionally hard-working people who helped make SWTOR a reality. Impacting people’s lives this way is always very hard, but we’re ensuring the affected people are treated with dignity, fairness and respect.
Looking back at launch, we all came together and did something historic. We executed one of the largest, most successful and stable launches of any MMO yet in industry history. That is not an easy feat for any development team or company and we are humbled and honored by our fan community’s strong support both at launch and beyond.
Looking forward, the studio remains vibrant and passionate about our many upcoming initiatives for Star Wars: The Old Republic. We still have a very substantial development team working on supporting and growing the game, and we feel we are in a strong position, with your continued involvement and feedback, to continue to build Star Wars: The Old Republic as one of the most compelling and successful online experiences in the world today. There are many strong initiatives planned for cool new content and new features that we’re excited to tell you about in the upcoming weeks and months.
Rest assured that we remain dedicated to delivering a high quality service in SWTOR to you, our fans, and we will continue to support and grow Star Wars: The Old Republic over the weeks, months and years to come.
Greg and Ray
Tuesday - May 15, 2012
Dragon Age 3 - Question of the Month
The Bioblog has a new Dragon Age feature, titled Question of the Month (Discovery and Learning). This is essentially a way to engage fans on the future of Dragon Age - though based on various previous comments, I find it hard to believe they aren't further along with planning than this would suggest:
Beginning today, we’ll do a series of questions and discussions around Dragon Age. Consider this a conversation between fans, the community team, and the developers. Everyone at BioWare is incredibly excited about the future of the franchise but we’re interested in what you have to say. Every month, we will discuss a topic or question about Dragon Age and game development. You will have one week to post your thoughts, desires, and hopes before we close the thread for review. Moderators and developers will pop into the thread to chat every now and again, so keep an eye out.
These questions and discussions are not only for future games, but other potential products like novels, animated features, pen and paper RPGs, and comics – all of which offer us opportunities to expand on parts of the world.
However, it’s worth reminding that we’re not making promises, we’re talking about ideas. We won’t guarantee that things we discuss will materialize and we’re not showing anything until we’re ready. And as a last bit of housekeeping, the purpose of these exercises isn’t crowd sourcing or soliciting your game dev concepts (keep those close in case you want to make a game someday!). This should remain a discussion between BioWare and fans about what you loved about Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age 2—what this franchise means to you.
BioWare co-founder Ray Muzyka has mentioned that we’d like to open up more in future Dragon Age titles, so now we turn to you: What kinds of things would you like to learn more about? Antivan weddings? Orlesian balls? The remnants of the Tevinter empire? Burial customs among the Chaisind?
What kinds of things would you like to discover and learn about the Dragon Age world?
Tuesday - May 08, 2012
Dragon Age 3 - Team Seconded to SWTOR?
Take this with a grain of salt but market analyst Michael Pachter believes a "significant portion" of the Dragon Age 3 team was moved over to SW: The Old Republic to help boost end-game content, delaying DA3 into 2014. From GamesIndustry.biz:
Dragon Age III appears to have slipped to FY:14. We had previously expected the next Dragon Age to be released in Q4:13, two years after its predecessor. However, we believe that a significant portion of the BioWare team responsible for the game was reassigned to Star Wars in order to create content and fix bugs to keep the game's audience engaged," Pachter commented.
Saturday - April 14, 2012
Dragon Age 3 - More on Armour Customisation
David Gaider expands on the PAX panel about armour customisation in the next Dragon Age game. There are art examples and then David poses questions for people like me, who just don't get it:
I’m sure this all brings a few questions to mind:
What’s wrong with the inventory system used in Dragon Age: Origins? Why not just use that?
There’s nothing wrong with that system per se. It was, however, a lot of resources that led to end results which weren’t ideal… namely that we had less appearances overall in addition to very little visual identity for the followers. Morrigan was the only character in Origins who had a unique appearance, and one which was immediately lost the moment you put different armor on her. Other followers had little visual identity at all outside of their faces, and ended up looking like every other character who wore that armor. Again, that’s not terrible in and of itself (characters are defined by more than just their appearance, after all)—but we’d like to do better.
Wednesday - April 11, 2012
BioWare - Dragon Age PAX East Presentation
We posted some summary comments from Mike Laidlaw's Dragon Age presentation at PAX East the other day but you can watch the entire thing yourself on the Bioblog courtesy of GameSpot.
Sunday - April 08, 2012
BioWare - Laidlaw on the next Dragon Age game
Gametrailers reports on a presentation from BioWare's Mike Laidlaw at PAX East about the next Dragon Age game. Laidlaw discusses several items but warns "we're not making promises here, we're talking about ideas". For my money, most of the "ideas" are minor elements and there is little discussion of the core issues but here is a sample:
"Suppose, in your party, you have a Gray Warden. And suppose you had a Seeker," he said, showing a male Gray Warden and female Seeker. "And you had this thing: a suit of armor, a chest piece, and it had stats and stuff."
Laidlaw showed that armor set applied to the Warden, then to the Seeker, in concept art form. The armor looked slightly different on each, with "thematic" aesthetic differences applied so "they don't lose their identity in the process." Laidlaw then showed a slew of concept art, with various armor pieces from helmets to shoulder guards to bracers, then full sets, each applied to the two different classes.
He also teased the possibility that players might be able to fully customize armor pieces, applying color and types of material (cloth, leather, mail) to armor sets.
Friday - March 02, 2012
BioWare - On the Future of Gaming
At G4, Ray Myzyka and Greg Zeschuk from Bioware discusses the future of gaming with Randy Pitchford from Gearbox Software, Time Schafer from Double Fine Studios as well as other game developers. You can watch the three minute video here.
Thursday - February 23, 2012
BioWare - Of Jennifer Hepler, Trolls and Hate mail
If you've been around for a (long) while, you might vaguely remember a gaming site centred on female gamers called Killer Betties and a 2006 interview with BioWare writer, Jennifer Hepler. I recall the article raised a few eyebrows - and we moved on. An example:
What is your least favorite thing about working in the industry?
Playing the games. This is probably a terrible thing to admit, but it has definitely been the single most difficult thing for me. I came into the job out of a love of writing, not a love of playing games. While I enjoy the interactive aspects of gaming, if a game doesn't have a good story, it's very hard for me to get interested in playing it. Similarly, I'm really terrible at so many things which most games use incessantly -- I have awful hand-eye coordination, I don't like tactics, I don't like fighting, I don't like keeping track of inventory, and I can't read a game map to save my life. This makes it very difficult for me to play to the myriad games I really should be keeping up on as our competition.
It seems someone dredged up the interview and the slightly controversial comments from Hepler and used it to troll Reddit - and from there, the internet took over and personally maligning Hepler became a sport. From Kotaku's article on the story:
The original screencap posted on Reddit included the words: Cancer, Infection, Sewage, Plague. These are not light comments. Reddit's ohemeffgee also said that Hepler has been harassed with phone calls and emails from people echoing the statements made by Reddit user corporateswine, who uploaded the first Reddit post that spurred the witchhunt.
Monday - January 30, 2012
BioWare - Choices and Consequences @ IGN
BioWare: Choices and Consequences isn't what you might be thinking - it doesn't really examine the role of choices in BioWare's games as wonder about the choices against the backdrop of BioWare's narrative intent. Heavy spoilers apply in the actual acticle:
BioWare wants you to choose. Throughout the course of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, your Commander Shepard has no doubt made some pretty hairy decisions. In Mass Effect 3, we're hoping to see the final manifestation of those decisions, some of which have been developing over the unprecedented course of two games. Yours truly rocks a goth FemShep with noir lip-balm and a renegade way of solving everything. A promiscuous bisexual with an appetite for destruction, she really has no business commanding the Normandy – or taking advantage of its crew. First she melded naked minds with Liara's blue allure, then she rode Thane's terminal green machine. Finally, she sampled the perilous erotic delights of Morinth and, well, perished. Zevran nodded approvingly when I reloaded after that last one. "I would have done ze same thing," he'd said.
She's my Shepard, and I wonder what the end of her story has in store for her.
But is she BioWare's Shepard?
Tuesday - January 10, 2012
BioWare - Interview with Jonathan Perry, Cinematic Designer
On the Bioware blog, there's an interview with cinematic designer Jonathan Perry talks about how he got into the industry, what he does at work everyday, the proudest moments in DA2's development and much more. Here's a tidbit:
What does an average day look like for you?
As a lead I spend a lot of the day attending planning meetings and coordinating with the other departments to make sure we get the assets we need from them and vice versa. The rest of an average day might include building stages for conversations, creating cutscenes (which could be anything from an emotional romance scene to a high-action combat scene), tweaking our various digital acting systems, and sometimes attending VO recording or motion capture sessions.......
Do you have any advice for those wishing to get into the video game industry?
Make something! Make characters, textures, animations, machinima, a mod or whatever you’re interested in doing. There are lots of easily accessible game engines and toolsets out there to play with. The results might not be very good at first, but keep making things and they’ll get better. I love it when candidates have a big portfolio of work that shows they’re passionate about what they’re making and would be doing it even if they weren’t trying to get a job in the industry. And play lots of games! Be able to discuss a variety of games and what they did well or what could have been improved.
Wednesday - December 21, 2011
BioWare - Checking Out Skyrim for Dragon Age 3
Wired has comments from Dr. Ray Muzyka that BioWare is "checking out" Skyrim, although the suggestion that might take any real inspiration seems unlikely to me, especially given the doctor goes on to say "I’ve seen something in the last couple of weeks that is really the future of that franchise", which suggests they are (unsurprisingly) well into the design, if not the production. Anyway, here's the quote:
“We’re checking [Skyrim] out aggressively. We like it. We’re big admirers of [Bethesda] and the product,” he said. “We think we can do some wonderful things.”
“[The next Dragon Age] is gonna have the best of features from the prior Dragon Age games, but it’s also gonna have a lot of things I think players are gonna find compelling from some of the games that are out now that are doing really well with more of an open world feel,” Muzyka said.
Thanks to Frozen Fireball, via GameInformer.
Sunday - December 11, 2011
BioWare - Latest Game: Command & Conquer Generals 2
Not even vaguely RPG-related but we've tracked BioWare for the better part of 10 years, so we'll cover this latest announcement this once before moving on.
As promised, the latest "BioWare" game has been revealed at the VGAs: Command & Conquer Generals 2 - you can watch the debut trailer at Gametrailers. The development comes from a studio called Victory Games - freshly re-named BioWare Victory, so this isn't a BioWare-developed game beyond the new label - though RPG fans might be interested to know Jon Van Canegham (New World Computing, Might & Magic) heads up BioWare Victory.
Presumably EA thinks the BioWare label will add credence (or they think the RPG and RTS genres should be grouped together).
Wednesday - November 30, 2011
Dragon Age - Multiplayer Rumours
Kotaku has an article claiming information from an "insider" that BioWare is working on a Dragon Age game with multiplayer, built using DICE's Frostbite 2 engine. The insider didn't know if this is supposed to be an offshoot or Dragon Age 3 so take the source and reliability into account:
Apparently, dragons will also be playable in Dragon Age multiplayer, giving players the chance to go head-to-head with foes in fire-breathing, swooping-through-the-air dragon form.
The insider wasn't sure if Dragon Age multiplayer was going to be part of a full, stand-alone title (ala Dragon Age 3) or available separately as a downloadable game. It is apparently being developed on DICE's Frostbite 2 game engine (used for Battlefield 3), and even early-on the game apparently looks stunning.
The multiplayer is supposedly an arena-based affair and features player versus environment (PvE) elements as well as player versus player (PvP), as well as humans fighting dragons. Details on what PvE battles entail are scant.
Wednesday - November 23, 2011
BioWare - 2011 VGA Teaser
Here's another VGA teaser for Bioware's new game. It's about three seconds long. According to the teaser it's a new direction from a new Bioware studio.
Saturday - November 19, 2011
BioWare - Overview @ CVG
CVG has a profile of BioWare, although it's little more than a broad overview with little depth. You get a couple of paragraphs on the Biodocs and a brief overview of the games the studio has worked on:
The studio was founded in February 1995 by Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk, and Augustine Yip, a trio of medical graduates hailing from the University of Alberta. In its early days the studio was dedicated to developing games exclusively for the Interplay Enterainment, the publisher with its name attached to classic franchises including Baldur's Gate and Fallout.
During the partnership BioWare created a number of titles including Shattered Steel, a few entries in the Baldur's Gate series and MDK 2. Following a dispute with Atari involving the Dungeons & Dragons license BioWare moved on to develop critically acclaimed Star Wars RPG Knights of the Old Republic as well as ancient China inspired action-RPG Jade Empire.
Monday - November 07, 2011
BioWare - New Game Image
As promised, GameInformer has a single image from Rage BioWare's untitled new game that is purportedly from a new studio. It's hard to draw any conclusions other than it looks like a AAA action game - looks like my guess of a Facebook / mobile / social game was way off but it doesn't look any more RPG for that.
Thanks, Frozen Fireball!
Thursday - November 03, 2011
BioWare - New Franchise Revealed Soon?
This thread on the Bioforums exposes a tweet that points to a "new franchise" being launched by BioWare at the VGAs in December, although GameInformer will apparently have some teaser images as early as Monday.
Here's Geoff Keighley's tweet:
Also at the VGAs: Alan Wake returns and @Bioware unveils a new game from a new studio. Teaser images in December Game Informer mag.
Three promised reveals include a look at a brand new franchise from BioWare, the developer behind Mass Effect and Dragon Age. We'll also get a look at the next Alan Wake title and a full reveal of Metal Gear Solid: Rising. We'll have the first teaser images of these titles this Monday at Gameinformer.com (also featured in the December issue), so check back then.
Note the "new studio" part in the first quote, so that presumably excludes Edmonton and possibly could even mean a completely 3rd party titled published under EA's new BioWare label.
Tuesday - October 25, 2011
Dragon Age 3 - Tidbits from ComicCon
This video has been up for a week and I've finally had the time to watch it. Mike Laidlaw and David Gaider lead this presentation at NYCC, covering the Dragon Age franchise. The video starts with discussion of the next Dark Horse comic product but around 3:02, turns towards the next Dragon Age video game. Laidlaw promises more strategic combat, saying "you're gonna want to make sure you are worried about positioning...expect this to take a much, much, much stronger part of future Dragon Age titles". He also says they'll make use a larger map with more locations that DA2, although it won't be an open-world game, because that's not what BioWare do. All in all, it's positive stuff but the proof will be in the pudding, as they say.
Friday - October 07, 2011
BioWare - Interview @ Sarcastic Gamer
The Biodocs were interviewed by the Sarcastic Gamer at the recent Eurogamer Expo. The article-format conversation covers their attitude on working with the Star Wars IP and some very general comments about BioWare's future:
“The vision for us is a broadening of the genre,” Muzyka said. “We see a lot of other genres incorporating features of RPGs and in turn RPGs are incorporating features of other genres. There are more action elements, there’s different ways to tell a story, there’s different ways to have characters interact for adventure games, action games, shooters, and that’s exciting to us.
“It’s actually making a lot of other games more engaging in the same way we could make RPGs more engaging and successful … by incorporating features that are popular in different genres. But we want to bring our core fans along with us on that journey too, so it’s not always easy to get a balance that does both, but we’re striving to do that.”
Wednesday - October 05, 2011
BioWare - NY ComicCon and More
Chris Priestly has posted that BioWare will be attending the New York ComicCon, with Mass Effect 3 and DA2: Mark of the Assassin on offer - full details in the post on the Bioforums.
In vaguely-related I-don't-think-it-deserves-it's-own-newsbit-news, Rock, Paper, Shotgun is highlighting a trailer for the live-action video series Dragon Age: Redemption (and sniggering just a little).
Friday - September 02, 2011
BioWare - Interview @ Irrational
I forgot to post this yesterday - the latest Irrational Podcast features Ken Levine interviewing Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, which might make it more interesting than the typical Biodoc interview. From the description:
As a fellow entrepreneur, Irrational creative director Ken Levine chats with the doctors about the challenges and perks of running a video game company–all three have seen their studios grow from small PC-exclusive teams to modern, triple-A, multiplatform dev studios. They also share the experience of starting out in fields not particularly related to games, Ken in screenwriting and Ray and Greg in medicine.
“We were having lunch one day after having made some medical education software,” recalls Ray, “then we realized what we’re really passionate about is video games. Why don’t we just make some video games? Take everything we own, and everything we make as doctors on weekends, to fund the company. …That was the extent of the conversation.”
It seems to have worked out.
Wednesday - August 24, 2011
BioWare - Greg Zeschuk Interview @ VG247
Greg Zeschuk spoke with VG247 at Gamescom about BioWare's promotion from a studio to a full label within EA and their approach and work in general. I have to take this sensationalist quote because it's so obvious - but it can be viewed from different angles; on how RPGs are "less relevant":
Do you see Bioware as ‘the’ RPG studio for EA now, or do you see yourselves as being broader than that?
I think broader. I mean – it’s funny – RPGs are and always have been our bread and butter, our heart is there, but at the same time I think – well, we had the RPG panel breakfast at GDC yesterday – and what was interesting about that was that we had the conversation about ‘what is an RPG’ and it’s a blend. The genres are blending right now, you’re getting lots and lots of progression and RPG elements in shooters – online persistence and so on.
It’s funny because the RPG in the context of the current world is – well, it’s not specifically irrelevant, but it’s becoming less relevant in and of itself. It’s more a function of ‘hey, this game has a great story’. For us having that emotion but also having other great features like combat and persistence of character progression and stuff.
It’s kind of what we are, but more importantly we’re just about great games.
Thursday - June 30, 2011
BioWare - Pulse TV # 8 - Comic Con Sneak Peek and Bioware Showcase Fan Art at Comic
Bioware has uploaded another one of their tv broadcast to Bioware Pulse TV. This time it is about Comic Con in San Diego. VP of Marketing Patrick Buechner talk about how Bioware are showing off Mass Effect 3, SW: TOR, and finally the DLC for Dragon Age 2, called Legacy at Com Con. They also show fanart submitted for the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises.
On that note, in this thread at the Bioware Social Forums Chris Priestly encouraged people to submit fanart to be showcased at the San Diego Comic Con from 21th of July to July 24th.
Whether you drew, painted or graphically rendered a piece of art depicting a BioWare game 10 years ago or last night this is your opportunity to have your art displayed at the BioWare Art Gallery and help us show the world that we have the most talented fans! You have the option to have your artwork entered into the judging process where our talented team of BioWare artists will deem who's piece is the best. Prizes will be awarded and you do not need to be at Comic Con to win.
Submission deadline is July 15, 2011
Friday - June 24, 2011
BioWare - Alerting Customers About Recent Hack
You all know by now that Bioware was hacked. Bioware is now announcing this fact and sending out emails to their customers. The gist of the emails is to change your passwords for your own protection. Here is the email I received from Aaryn Flynn GM BioWare E. minus a few links:
We recently learned that hackers gained unauthorized access to the decade-old BioWare server system supporting the Neverwinter Nights forums. We immediately took appropriate steps to protect our consumers’ data and launched a thorough ongoing evaluation of the breach. We have determined that no credit card data was compromised from the servers, nor did we ever have or store sensitive data like social security numbers. Our investigation shows that information such as user names, encrypted passwords, email addresses, mailing addresses, names, phone numbers, CD keys and birth dates from these forum accounts on the system may have been compromised, as well as other information (if any) that you may have associated with your EA Account. In an abundance of caution, we have changed your password to ensure account security. Please visit this XXX to reset your password immediately.
We take the security of your information very seriously and regret any inconvenience this may have caused you. If your username, email address and/or password on your EA account are similar to those you use on other sites, we recommend changing the password at those sites as well. We advise all of our fans to always be aware of any suspicious emails or account activity and report any suspicious emails and account activity to Customer Support at 1-877-357-6007.
If you have questions, please visit our FAQ at http://support.ea.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/5367/ or contact Customer Support at the phone number above.
Studio GM, BioWare Edmonton
VP, Electronic Arts
I don't trust emails that ask me to do anything to my password so I went to the site myself and did it then. Turns out that I was just being a little paranoid since this is a legitimate email from them. I would encourage anyone who hasn't done so to change their password just to be on the safe side.
Thursday - June 23, 2011
BioWare - Christina Norman Leaves Bioware
Our sources in the Bioware Social Forums has told us that Christina Norman, Lead Gameplay Designer for ME2, has left Bioware. Apparently she's been hitched - married. Here's a quote from the social forums over at Bioware, Chris Priestly says:
I removed Christina Norman from the Twitterinformation section as Christina has left BioWare (she recently got married and she and her husband moved away from Edmonton). You are still welcome to follow Chistina if you want (she is a very interesting person and a lot of fun on Twitter), but she isn't part of the Mass Effect or BioWare teams anymore, so I removed her info.
Thursday - June 16, 2011
BioWare - Hacked
This is getting tiresome. BioWare joins the list of sites hacked recently with the old community forums (e.g., NWN and NWN2) compromised. This is presumably the reason the old forums were offline, rather than a pre-planned obsolescence. Here's the announcement on the Social Network:
Yesterday (June 14), we learned that a hacker gained unauthorized access to the decade-old BioWare community server system associated with the Neverwinter Nights forums. We immediately took appropriate steps to protect our consumers’ data and launched an ongoing evaluation of the seriousness of the breach. We have determined that no credit card data was compromised, nor did we ever have or store sensitive data like social security numbers. However hackers may have obtained information such as user account names and passwords, email addresses, and birth dates of approximately 18,000 accounts--a very small percentage of total users. We have emailed those whose accounts may have been compromised and either disabled their accounts or reset their EA Account passwords. If you did not receive an email from us, or if your password still works for your EA account, your username and password were not compromised. Nevertheless, changing your password regularly is always helpful to protect your account.
We take the security of your information very seriously and regret any inconvenience this may have caused you. If your username, email address and/or password on the Neverwinter Nights forums are similar to those you use on other sites, we recommend changing your password at those sites as well. We advise all of our fans to always be aware of any suspicious emails or account activity and report any suspicious emails and account activity to Customer Support at 1-866-543-5435.
Studio GM, BioWare Edmonton
VP, Electronic Arts
The EA support link at the end has additional details. A snip:
Q: How extensive was EA/BioWare’s data breach?
A: The data breach was extremely limited. The only server system known to have been affected by the unauthorized attack was that associated with BioWare Edmonton’s Neverwinter Nights forums. Approximately 18,000 accounts were affected—a very small percentage of total users.
Q: When did EA/BioWare learn about the unauthorized access to the server system associated with the Neverwinter Nights forum?
A: June 14. We quickly assessed the exposure, communicated to our fans and re-issued accounts we believed may have been compromised.
Q: What has EA/BioWare done in response to this breach?
A: We acted immediately to secure the server system associated with Bioware Edmonton’s Neverwinter Nights forums. We also launched an ongoing evaluation of the seriousness of the breach. To further enhance security, we have disabled all legacy BioWare accounts that were affected, and reset the passwords of any EA Accounts that were affected. Emails have been sent to all affected users alerting them to the issue with instructions on how to change their passwords and/or create new accounts (as applicable).
Tuesday - June 14, 2011
BioWare - Pulse TV Launched
Bioware used the E3 last week to launch their own tv-channel, called Bioware Pulse. Here's a snip from the Christ Priestly announcement on the ME3 forums:
The BioWare Pulse brought you interviews with BioWare notables, like Ray & Greg, Casey, and Daniel, it brought you behind the scenes glimpses at the E3 demos and we even did a live question and answer with fans of both ME3 and SWTOR. If you missed any of the 5 episodes, you can watch them here.
Saturday - May 21, 2011
BioWare - Dragon Age 3 Confirmed
Thanks also to Zohaib for a similar submission.
Source: Blues News
Friday - May 20, 2011
BioWare - Interview @ Gamasutra
Gamasutra has interviewed the Biodocs, covering a wide variety of areas. Apparently a real-world setting might help them sell more units - I'd recommend a military shooter, personally:
BioWare has made all kinds of games, but right now it's the fantasy and the sci-fi genres that you're very focused on. Do you consider moving beyond that and trying to get more people that might not be into sci-fi or fantasy settings, and try more real world-type settings? It seems like that would be an opportunity to deliver emotions.
GZ: Yeah. That's something we've absolutely debated over time. As we look forward, that's something we consider more and more. It's interesting, I think. Initially, I remember, the debates were kind of entertaining. I think our context initially was from a very traditional RPG perspective.
So, think of the discussion 10 years ago. Okay, [compare] Baldur's Gate to current day. ... You look to where both Dragon Age II and Mass Effect 2 and then 3 have evolved to, and it's very, very different.
You can imagine the cop drama set in the Mass Effect sort of framework. You can imagine a spy adventure in that context. I think actually that what's happened is our ability to conceive and understand different game contexts has evolved. Then that starts opening up new platforms into things that are maybe less traditional than we have historically [done].
We're not confirming anything today, but it's something we discuss a lot, because one of the things we want to do is really try and broaden our appeal, broaden our reach, sell more units, get more fans.
Monday - May 09, 2011
BioWare - The Cracks Are Starting To Appear
Hooked Gamers writes The Cracks Are Starting To Show:
Gamers have been polarised by the news that Mass Effect 3 has been delayed until 2012. Some were left weeping uncontrollably on their knees, whereas others were glad to hear that BioWare had grown the balls to spend more time developing one of the most beloved franchises in gaming.
It is an alluring thought that the delay could be a reaction to feedback received from players on BioWare’s most recent release. After all, thousands of fans expressed their disappointment in Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 suffering a similar fate would be devastating to BioWare’s standing in the community. I fear, however, that other reasons are behind the decision. Those reasons can be found in statements made by EA CEO John Riccitiello during EA’s latest 'investors update':
"[Bioware] is adjusting some of the gameplay mechanics and some of the features, which we'll see at E3, that can put this into a genre equivalent of shooter meets RPG, and essentially address a far larger market opportunity than Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 began to approach."
While we're talking the Mass Effect series, GameInformer notes a Normandy miniature in the works for those who collect stuff. Thanks to Zohaib for both of these.
Wednesday - April 13, 2011
BioWare - Jade Empire 2 Was In Development?
GameBanshee has picked up on a LinkedIn profile for former BioWare designer Rafael Jabulani Brown. Jade Empire 2 is listed in the "unreleased" section, though given that he worked for BioWare in 2006 - 2007, it seems reasonable to speculate the project was canned or put on hold but we don't really know.
Monday - April 11, 2011
BioWare - Dragon Age 3
With Dragon Age 2 released it's time for the rumour machine to spit out the latest blurb: Dragon Age 3 is in the making. The source of this is the Official Playstation Magazine of which the information can be found on CVG. The hottest part of it is probably that Dragon Age 3 is multiplayer.
The gears of Official PlayStation Magazine's rumour machine have been turning and according to the mag a third game in BioWare's fantasy role-playing series Dragon Age is currently in production, complete with an all-new multiplayer mode.
Monday - February 21, 2011
BioWare - Facebook Friday - Patrick and Karin Weekes
The Bioblog's latest Facebook Friday profiles Patrick and Karin Weekes. Patrick used to post here occasionally and it's a shame he doesn't these days; head over to learn more about the couple.
Thursday - February 10, 2011
BioWare - Lost Game: Five Fingers of Death
This one is just for interest because it's now lost in time - or perhaps the idea became Jade Empire. IGN has a snippet from the DICE summit where Biodoc Ray Muzyka revealed they once prototyped a kung-fu game using the Infinity Engine, called Five Fingers of Death:
Speaking at DICE last night, BioWare's Dr. Ray Muzyka revealed that many, many years ago, he created Five Fingers of Death, an adventure that combined the successful Baldur's Gate formula with a love for kung fu movies. In fact, those movies were going to play a pivotal part in Five Fingers, as cutscenes to punctuate the action and advance what sounded like a rather unserious narrative. Apparently, Muzyka himself edited old footage in Premiere and provided a good number of the voice overs.
Sounds crazy, right? Too bad Bioware's then-publisher didn't quite see it that way.
"We took it out to Interplay and they laughed us out of the building," said Muzyka.
BioWare - Wikia Giveaway
Ausir writes in to say the Wikia sites have a BioWare giveaway with six prize packs on offer, including a copy of Dragon Age 2, a hoody and other swag. Head over for all the details
Friday - December 31, 2010
BioWare - On Same Sex Romances
Omega also points out comments fom Gaider a couple of weeks back defending the inclusion of same-sex romances in Dragon Age 2. I've no idea why this would bother people (any more than normal romances in RPGs, which aren't my thing) but there you go. Head to Joystiq for the story.
Friday - December 17, 2010
BioWare - Doctors to be AIAS Hall of Famers
The BioDocs will be inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in February, according to Gamasutra:
The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences is inducting BioWare co-founders Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk into its hall of fame, and the pair will speak at AIAS' 2011 D.I.C.E. event.
The BioWare Doctors make the 14th and 15th inductees to the AIAS Hall of Fame -- marking the first time the honorees have been a pair rather than an individual. According to AIAS, Muzyka and Zeschuk were chosen for "their emotionally engaging and detailed cinematic games," which include Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Dragon Age and other respected titles.
Sunday - November 28, 2010
BioWare - Facebook Friday - Matt Rhodes
The latest Facebook Friday developer profile on the Bioblog is Assistant Art Director, Matt Rhodes.
Friday - November 26, 2010
BioWare - Interview @ Develop
What is your favourite game ever, and for what reason?
Zeschuk: I really like Wasteland, which was a precursor to the Fallout stuff. It was one of the first open-world RPGs, and one of the first of that type, so I was just blown away by that. I think it was the game that opened my eyes to what you would eventually be able to do. It let me see the possibilities.
Muzyka: Mine was probably the original System Shock. It was awesome. I think I finished that game four times in ten years. I loved the way it was the first true 3D adventure. The shooter mechanic in 3D meant it was very hard to control in a way, but the richness of the world was amazing. Our IT guys hate us for it, but we use a fan website with patches to make sure System Shock will work on our current gen laptops.
Tuesday - November 23, 2010
BioWare - Another Tease From Bioware
Bioware has a teaser trailer out showing a little more of the new game. They will announce the game at the Video Game Awards on December 11th:
Thursday - November 18, 2010
BioWare - Mass Effect MP Rumours
Kotaku has a rumour that the new game teased by BioWare yesterday is a Mass Effect multiplayer spinoff designed to appeal to the Call of Duty market. The evidence is pretty light but BioWare certainly made it clear they are interested in that market. We'll find out on December 11.
Wednesday - November 17, 2010
BioWare - Teases New Game Announcement
BioWare is treasing the official announcement of a new game, which they will unveil at the Spike Awards on December 11th. I say "new" but Mass Effect 3 is my bet though it isn't guaranteed by any means. Rock, Paper, Shotgun examines a cryptic tweet and then a teaser video that shows a glimpse of a man with a gun:
They said it couldn’t be done, but Bioware did it anyway. Their next – as yet unrevealed – game will feature a man with a gun. We at Rock, Paper, Shotgun have often said that more games should feature a) men, or b) guns, but to combine the two in a single videogame product is something we had hardly dared to dream of.
I can scarcely contain myself for the full announcement of what this teaser image is implying about the future of videogames. I’m crying here. Crying.
Thanks also to BlackCanopus for a similar submission.
Friday - November 12, 2010
BioWare - Facebook Friday - Nick Thornborrow
This week's Facebook Friday is BioWare concept artist, Nick Thornborrow:
What does a concept artist actually do:
We design all of the characters, costumes, set pieces and anything you see in game as drawings and paintings. As for what I do specifically, I do the bulk of the 2D artwork that appears in Dragon Age, such as the fresco sequence seen in the prologues of Dragon Age: Origins, and Awakening.
Saturday - November 06, 2010
BioWare - Facebook Friday - Christina Norman
What is your average day like at the office?
The great thing about being on the gameplay team is every day there is something new and interesting to review. Whether it’s changes to our cover mechanics, or a new combat animation, a new creature, a new power, or a new programming system for weapons every single day I see something new and awesome that will likely make it into our next game. I tend to spend more time reviewing work done by others and providing feedback, but I also manage to sneak in dev time on my own features.
Friday - October 29, 2010
BioWare - Facebook Friday - Fernando Melo
Dragon Age Online Producer Fernando Melo gets profiled at the BioBlog:
Coffee. Check email, server traffic graphs, sales reports, social forums/PMs – usually undo whatever plan I had for today based off what new things may be on fire. Coffee. Daily DA2 play session with the senior leads – call out top issues for the day. Coffee. Then off to some stand-up meetings with some of the game teams. Coffee. Next deal with whatever needs attention – this can be a variety of things: meetings formal or impromptu, emails, phone calls, IM’s… try not to be too distracted by new incoming emails and calls (or adjust plan as needed). Coffee. Roll resistance check…fail…sneak a peek for any Steam deals today. Coffee. On a “light” day, actually do some proper work and catch up on documentation and feedback, non critical emails, review bugs, play the game and have lunch. On a “normal” day, usually I’m packed with meetings and conference calls – so scurry between these (with coffee runs in between), and gather up notes from all these throughout the day. Starting mid-afternoon, there is a similar daily ritual of meetings – a larger daily playthrough of DA2 open to anyone on the team where we pick up where we left off the character and call out issues as we go, followed by the daily bug triage with senior leads – a 1 hour fun-filled session of reviewing new change requests, new (and old) bugs, and breaking people’s dreams (sorry, no unicorns in DA). Coffee. Daily call with Victor Wachter on what’s happening on social & the community. It is now anywhere from 6-7pm – time to document all those notes from today’s meets, move calendar items around to make tomorrow pretend to be a reasonable day. Depending on the day – in the evening (after kids are in bed) pop by social and catch up on the PMs and forums, or play DA2, or play other games.
Friday - October 15, 2010
BioWare - Facebook Friday - Jess Houston
BioWare Producer Jesse Houston gets profiled in the second Facebook Friday:
What does a “producer” actually do:
I get coffee for the developers. In actuality I’m the front man for the team. I’m a mix of leader, spokes person and responsible for the day to day activities of about 50 people. Let’s say that a project needs ‘doing’, the Executive Producer will come to me, have me build a team, create the schedule and lead the team through the various development phases until it goes to market. This means that I am one of the Executive Producer’s right hand men. I am responsible for Mass Effect 2 PS3 as well as the various other versions of Mass Effect 2 still in development. I am also responsible for the GUIs for the franchise and a bunch of other unannounced things!
Friday - October 08, 2010
BioWare - Facebook Friday - Evil Chris
The BioBlog has kicked off a series of "Facebook Friday" dev profiles, starting with community rep Chris Evil Priestly:
Hello BioWare fans.
We thought we’d show you that those of us who work at BioWare are regular people just like the rest of you. So we thought we’d start a series of weekly staff profiles where each week a chosen staff member will give you some details about who they are, what they do for fun and their job here at BioWare. The selected staff member will give you a little insight into their personality and their job here at BioWare.
Since it was my idea to do this, I get to be the first person for Facebook Fridays here on the BioWare Facebook page and BioWare Blog. In the coming weeks we’ll have more BioWare staff, some you may have heard of others you may not have, all of whom will give you a little look into who they are and what they do here at BioWare. We hope you enjoy these looks into our lives here at BioWare.
Saturday - September 11, 2010
BioWare - Unannounced Handheld Game?
VG247 thinks BioWare is working on an unannounced handheld game, based on a LinkedIn profile:
Wednesday - August 04, 2010
Mass Effect 3 - Tracking 1000 Variables
I have the feeling we've seen this before but perhaps I'm thinking of the hype leading up to Mass Effect 2. Anyway, Casey Hudson has told CVG that Mass Effect 3 will have 1000 variables from ME2 to use:
"We plan out the larger plot points of the story from one game to the next, but it would be impossible to plan it all in advance," he told PC Zone issue 224 (in all good stores now, folks).
"More importantly, we'd never be able to plan as many creative opportunities if we'd do it all up front. Instead, we record what a player has done in a play-through, and then we have all of those choices available that writers can refer to as they build storylines...
"Numerically, it's over 1,000 variables that we'll have access to for shaping the Mass Effect 3 experience for people who've played the previous games."
Wednesday - July 28, 2010
BioWare - Interview @ VideoGamer
Omega and wolfgrimdark on our forums point out this interview with Greg Zeschuk at VideoGamer. It's a general conversation that covers BioWare's approach, the console reaction to Dragon Age, changes to DA2 and so on - but this quote is probably the headline:
Q: I enjoyed your keynote speech this morning. You mentioned that BioWare had been lucky to have a few 'minor hits'...
Greg Zeschuk: Well, not minor!
Q: I was going to say. If Mass Effect 2 is a 'minor hit', I can't wait to see a major one.
GZ: Well, we need to sell 10 million units. That's actually the new target, right? We do Top 10 games, our stuff is quite successful. I know Mass [Effect 2] is number eight so far this year, in North America. Sometimes I'm facetious when I say some of those things, knowing that we can sell a few million but seeing that someone else can sell 25. You're kinda like, 'Well, that's a hit!' We always joke that if we only do half as well as Blizzard on Star Wars: The Old Republic, we'll be quite satisfied. We've been very fortunate. I always joke about that, but...
Friday - July 23, 2010
BioWare - Interview @ The Telegraph
Greg Zeschuk has been interviewed at Telegraph.co.uk, discussing a little of DA2 and ME2 and then a fair bit on their Star Wars MMO. On streamlining Dragon Age 2:
Looking at the success this system has had in Mass Effect 2, will BioWare look at making the RPG elements in games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and the forthcoming Dragon Age sequel more streamlined too?
Yeah, to a certain degree. Like I said, we want to make each game better than the last and to a certain degree, the easier we can make the gameplay while maximising the depth of the game's detail, is something to aim for. We announced Dragon Age 2 a short while ago and of course we've been talking about Star Wars: The Old Republic for a while now – and people have had a chance to play it and probably see what some of our objectives are with the game. We try to do a lot of focus testing and usability testing with our fans. We're always trying to make our games as fun and easily usable as possible.
Sunday - July 18, 2010
BioWare - Interview @ NowGamer
NowGamer has an extensive and rather detailed interview with Greg Zeschuk. Topics include
Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect and Star Wars:The Old Republic as well as some thoughts on where the game industry is heading. The quote is from the beginning of the article where he talks about how Bioware plans their games:
Speaking of worlds, you guys put a lot of effort into creating yours – could you give us a quick overview of the effort required?
The interesting thing is, when we build a game - especially for a new franchise – we spend almost a year exploring the world and creating documentation. Usually anytime you start prototyping your technology, we’ll literally spending months to a year figuring our the world, who the characters are and the setting. If you’ve got a really fleshed-out setting it’s very easy to lay a game on top of it.
Thursday - July 15, 2010
BioWare - Interview @ Eurogamer
Eurogamer is another site to catch up with Dr. Greg Zeschuk at Develop to discuss small scale MMOs and everything else. A bit on Dragon Age 2:
Eurogamer: People are saying, 'I loved Dragon Age. Why are you changing it?' It must be a difficult balancing act to keep the fans happy while implementing the changes you want to.
Dr. Greg Zeschuk: Yeah. We're careful about it. Sometimes we'll do stuff for effect. You go back to Dragon Age 1, everybody was freaked out about that one trailer with the Marilyn Manson music. They were like, 'ah!' It was another facet of the game.
The interesting thing about doing PR is there is no way at this essentially early moment we can reveal everything. We can't show all the facets. Say we show one facet, and everyone freaks out. Then we show another piece, and they say, 'Oh, well, I'm okay now.' When you play it, you get a sense of what the gameplay is like. You go, 'oh, okay, it all fits together'.
From a PR perspective, just people talking about something is a good thing. They'll give it a look regardless. You'll see when we show all the elements, people will go, 'oh, okay'. They'll probably be less freaked out.
Eurogamer: Some people are saying you're turning Dragon Age into Mass Effect.
Dr. Greg Zeschuk: It's different. It's not quite going that way. You could make that case based on what we've shown. It's like looking at the game through a keyhole. You go, 'oh, well that's all there is'. Well, there's a lot more than that. But that's what we're showing right now.
Wednesday - July 14, 2010
BioWare - Develop Coverage
BioWare has presented at the Develop conference and a bunch of sites have coverage and quotes from the event.
VG247 has a full interview with BioDoc Greg Zeschuk. He talks about the differences in the Dragon Age 2 versions, the controversy over not choosing your race, their commitment to review scores, Mass Effect 2 DLC and more:
You’ve made the decision to only have a human lead character in Dragon Age II, and not allow people to choose their race. Can you explain why?
Greg Zeschuk: With all our games, we don’t always want to create a true sequel in the sense that it’s more of the same. You can see it from Mass Effect 1 to Mass Effect 2 that you’ve changed up quite a bit of stuff.
We decided to sort of change and create a different type of game at least on the surface. And the interesting thing is that in the case of Dragon Age II, we’ve only shown a little slice of it so far. And everyone’s very excited, right? If you’ll remember with Dragon Age 1, we had the Marilyn Manson trailer and everyone freaked out and we said, “Don’t worry: we’re just showing you a different perspective.”
Over time, I think people will kind of understand what we’re doing and probably really like it.
We like to challenge our players on a sequel. It’s still a Dragon Age game, that hasn’t changed. But it’s going to be challenging and interesting in many ways. We think it’s ultimately going to be a better game, so I think ultimately the fans will agree when they get to play it. That’s the fundamental thing.
CVG reports BioWare as saying "consoles are the past", as they look to Facebook and mobile and everything else.
Eurogamer reports a similar thing but with a different slant - apparently BioWare is exploring small-scale MMOs.
Thursday - July 08, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Full Reveal Imminent?
We know further Dragon Age products are underway with both financial news and a teaser card in Awakening referencing a new DA game early next year - assuming a full sequel isn't much of a stretch but we don't know for sure. IGN and Kotaku believe Dragon Age 2 will be fully revealed tomorrow, following a couple of indicators today. First, an EA announcement on Warhammer Online mentioned DA2 in the corporate stuff at the end. We received the PR ourselves but didn't read the fine detail because we don't cover MMOs any more. Checking again...
BioWare develops high quality console, PC and online role-playing games, focused on rich stories, unforgettable characters and vast worlds to discover. Since 1995, BioWare has created some of the world's most critically acclaimed titles, including Baldur's GateTM, Neverwinter NightsTM, Star Wars®: Knights of the Old RepublicTM, Jade EmpireTM, Mass EffectTM and Dragon AgeTM. BioWare operates in Edmonton (Alberta, Canada), Montreal (Quebec), Austin (Texas) and Fairfax (Virginia). Currently announced projects at BioWare include the development of ongoing downloadable content for Mass Effect 2TM, one of the highest rated video games of all time, Dragon Age 2, the highly anticipated sequel to 2009’s “RPG of the Year” Dragon Age: Origins, and the story-driven massively multiplayer online game, Star Wars®: The Old RepublicTM.
Emphasis mine. Then the BioWare twitter feed produced this:
2morrow will be a great day for BioWare fans. Just sayin'
Well, not long 'til we find out.
Saturday - June 26, 2010
BioWare - PC is made for gaming
Omega points out some comments from BioWare over at CVG. Apparently BioWare is all about the PC, though that doesn't match my memory:
Bioware has told CVG that the PC is "made for gaming" - and that there is "no question" over whether it will continue to lead development of its games on the format.
The studio is now hard at work on hugely ambitious MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic - which will be exclusively released on PC.
Bioware designer and writing director Daniel Erickson said that the PC's interface was "less restrictive" than console equivalents.
Friday - June 04, 2010
BioWare - Interview @ IndustryGamers
IndustryGamers has a new interview with the Biodocs, which essentially serves as a general marketing platform for them. Here's the only interesting snip I can see:
IG: Yeah, and, of course, he mentioned the BioWare games. Whether it's BioWare, or Lionhead, or Bethesda, the Western RPG makers really seem to have stolen the thunder of the Japanese developers. I’m just curious about what your thoughts are on the Japanese RPGs and what’s going on between East versus West.
Greg Zeschuk: Well, it’s interesting. I think in the past year we saw a very interesting counterpoint to that argument, which was Demon’s Souls. That title was, in my mind, probably one of the most innovative RPGs/games in ages. So, there’s still flashes of brilliance, obviously, and I think… I haven’t played Final Fantasy XIII yet, but obviously I hear a lot of how they’ve gone a very different direction than one they’ve traditionally gone: much more streamlined, which is interesting. So, I think what happened is they got very complacent for a very long time. They kept making the same thing, and the same thing, and, in a sense, almost provided an opening for all of us to jump in with our style of games. I know first hand that they’re looking at our games now; they’re kind of looking at our stuff, the Fable stuff, and Fallout, and all that, and going, “what are these things?” I think they had gotten used to making the same thing over and over, and it was working. I think the other thing, too, is that the Japanese market has gotten quite a bit weaker and weaker. It’s just not as strong a market. It used to be a tremendously strong game market, so I think they’re kind of looking at it going, “man, we’ve got to figure out where else we can sell these,” and I think the traditional, very structured, old-school structure RPG wasn’t selling anymore; so now, I think we’re going to see some changes. I think Final Fantasy XIII, you know, I can’t say first hand... but I know definitely Demon’s Souls was a very, very different direction than any Japanese RPG I’d seen before.
Monday - May 31, 2010
Mass Effect 3 - Multiplayer Indications?
CinemaBlend has noticed a job advert that would seem to indicate multiplayer will be a feature of Mass Effect 3:
Maybe "suggests" is too weak a verb - the BioWare Montreal opening (picture below) is for a "Multiplayer Programmer (Mass Effect Franchise)." Not much room for interpretation, there. The ideal candidate will have to come up with "solutions to deal with network latency, de-synchronization of data between networked machines/players, packet compression, cheating, and interrupted connections." They'll also have to "work with databases that allow for chat rooms, client/server games, player matching, player stats, etc.".
Wednesday - April 07, 2010
BioWare - Interview at Gamasutra
Bioware's Greg Zeschuk recently talked to Gamasutra. This resulted in a 4 page interview. Topics covered are how Bioware writes their games, the massive amount of lore in their games, how they create user interfaces and they cover the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games as well. And much much more...
Here's a snip from the interview:
When playing both Dragon Age and now Mass Effect, I got the feeling that these were two games coming from a similar mindset but with slightly different takes on it. Was that at all the case?
GZ: That was absolutely the case. I think there are sort of two reasons for that. One is because the RPG/MMO division has really a portfolio strategy, in the sense that there's multiple games that are serving multiple audiences. Absolutely, there's a crossover, but there's diversions.
So, by no means do we think that everyone that plays Dragon Age will play Mass Effect 2. There's going to be some crossover; there's going to be some difference. The second reason is that it's reflected by the respective teams. So we had absolute distinct teams in those two games. They have different things they're trying to accomplish, different things they're trying to do. The game is really a reflection of the game and what the team wants to accomplish. That's how things naturally diverge. We think that's to our advantage to try and cover more of the potential market that way.
Tuesday - April 06, 2010
BioWare - Auction Under Way
If you've saved up your points over the last week, BioWare's swag auction is now under way. Seems like you'll need a lot of points to even get a t-shirt.
Wednesday - March 31, 2010
BioWare - Community Announcement
Dr Ray posts on the Bio forums, apologising for issues with their Bazaar and promising upcoming events for the international community:
Hi everyone -
The BioWare Bazaar was launched this week as the start of a year-long celebration around BioWare’s 15th anniversary.
We recognize that BioWare has a global community, and the Bazaar this week was originally intended to be an international event to reflect our truly global fanbase. Unfortunately, we encountered some last-minute legal complications around how contests can be structured in different parts of the world that prevented us from including all territories in this first event, even though that was our original goal. And for that, we sincerely apologize – our goal with this sort of celebration is to show all our fans worldwide how much we appreciate your support!
BioWare definitely really values all members of our world-wide Community, no matter where you live. Accordingly, in the coming weeks, we will be announcing details about future events specifically for fans living in those territories which were excluded from participating in the first BioWare Bazaar. The future events will be a bit different from the first Bazaar in how they’re set up and structured, but our goal is to feature the same caliber of awesome prizes and great BioWare collectibles. We’ll announce more details in the coming weeks :)
The reception from those fans who have been able to take part in this first event has been incredible – thank you for participating! - and we’re looking forward to future events where we can enable fans from additional territories to also join in the fun.
Thank you all for your continued and ongoing support and participation in the BioWare Community – we really appreciate all your support over the past 15 years, and the future will be even brighter!
Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk
Monday - March 29, 2010
BioWare - Countdown Finished, Bazaar Announced
BioWare's countdown has finished and I just know you didn't pick this as the result. Announcing the BioWare Bazaar:
We are pleased to announce the BioWare Bazaar http://social.bioware.com/bazaar
The BioWare Bazaar is a chance for eligible fans to get their hands on some awesome BioWare swag. There will be t-shirts, novels, hoodies, high end PC memory, headphones, even some amazing PCs custom painted with Dragon Age or Mass Effect art.
Earn tokens for the BioWare Bazaar by registering your games and DLC, taking surveys, following us on Twitter and completing challenges, then next week, you will be able to redeem your tokens for fabulous prizes through the BioWare Bazaar auction. Every 15 minutes new items will be available for you to bid on. You can check out the full list of prizes here: http://social.bioware.com/auction_rules.php#prizes
Check out the BioWare Bazaar and start earning your tokens here: http://social.bioware.com/bazaar
Friday - March 26, 2010
BioWare - Mass Effect 3 and Project Wombat
Omega points out a piece at IGN about a tweet from BioWare's Christina Norman. She teases about changes in Mass Effect 3 as she starts work on "Project Wombat":
Lead gameplay designer Christina Norman recently teased on her personal Twitter account she's starting working on something new for the third game. "Today I started work on 'Project Wombat' for Mass Effect 3," she wrote. By comparison "The ammo system in Mass Effect 2 was originally called 'Project Sasquatch,'" she added.
How about a third ammo system?
Tuesday - March 23, 2010
BioWare - Interviews @ Joystiq, UGO
The BioDocs are still hard on the campaign trail and Omega points out two more today. The more substantial one is at Joystiq, where the conversation covers "communicating" the Mass Effect 2 changes to RPG fans, DLC and Mass Effect 3:
Joystiq: Mass Effect 2 garnered almost universal praise from reviews, but there's still a small audience that feels it was a step too far from what they consider to be an "RPG." What are the challenges in communicating to people that you're combining genres in a way that is attempting to satisfy both groups?
Greg Zeschuk: It's a tough one. I think the challenge is the only way to really experience it is to play it. It's funny because, both for Ray and myself, we sat down with Casey way early in the process and Casey said, "These are our goals, here's how we're going to evolve this game." We thought, oh, cool. And then, literally, fast forward a year or so and we start playing it and go, "Wow." We go up to Casey and say, "This is way more streamlined." And I wasn't sure about it for the first little bit, but then when you actually play it, you see most of the functionality is there, it's just done differently.
Ray Muzyka: Actually, all the RPG features that players would expect, I think, are there. They're manifested a little differently, they're a little more integrated, a little more accessible. You know, like you grab your weapons off the rack as you're heading to an away team mission, you're changing your armor up and your cabin's got collection mechanics for various things. Your codex is there with a lot of backstory and you can upgrade your ship -- your ship is almost a character in itself, with progression mechanics.
The UGO article is obviously a piece of a larger interview but this fragment discusses the number of games planned for Dragon Age and sees the Doctors saying "we've got some tricks up our sleeves for Mass Effect 3.
BioWare - Mysterious Countdown on Bioware's Sites
According to GameBanshee, Bioware has put up a countdown on their homepage that expires on March 29th 2010 as well as all their game-related subsites. There's no hint as to what this countdown is actually counting down to, the clock is just silently ticking away.
As to what it is, your guess is a good as mine. I haven't a clue to what it is, but maybe you do? Or are willing to take a (wild) guess?
Monday - March 22, 2010
BioWare - What They're Trying to Do @ Kotaku
Kotaku reports BioWare's Vision Statement and the advantages they see in the RPG genre to deliver those benefits:
I spoke to the men running the studio behind many of the world's biggest role-playing games a couple of weeks ago, to discuss a variety of things. I left with a bonus: The BioWare Vision Statement.
Here is that vision, from the mouth of Ray Muzyka, EA's general manager for (as he named them) BioWare Edmonton, BioWare Austin, BioWare Mythic and BioWare Montreal: "Create, deliver and evolve the most emotionally engaging gaming experiences in the world. That's the vision for the BioWare group across the four studios, and they all have different ways to approach that."
Friday - March 19, 2010
BioWare - Interview Roundup
Omega sent in a handful of BioWare interviews, so I'll collect them here. DLC is the common thread, though other topics are tackled.
GameReactor has a video interview with Fernando Melo on Awakening. He confirms more content to come for DA:O, which isn't a surprise given the two-year plan explained in the past.
UGO has an interview with the BioDocs on DLC strategies and they deny efforts like the Cerberus Network are related ti used game sales:
UGO: Obviously something like Cerberus Network (Day One DLC free for new buyers) encourages people to purchase the game...
Muzyka: Cerberus is very specific. We wanted people to feel like they belong to something. Like clubs, like a membership.
Zeschuk: We want to reward (the players).
UGO: Do you think offering Cerberus has made an impact in used sales?
Muzyka: We don't really look at that; we think of it more in a long-term strategy. For us, we want to have a really good relationship with the customer: Mass Effect 1, Mass Effect 2, DLC stuff, Mass Effect 3, future things. What we are most concerned with is having that customer relationship. I think something like Cerberus is a great way to cement that because part of the game comes up in beginning messages from Cerberus, and it's part of the community.
GameInformer also has a BioDoc interview, suggesting they'd like to expand on their current line-up of sci-fi and high fantasy:
Ray: Our portfolio includes a lot of different things short term and long term, different business models, different levels of risk, different IPs, different technologies. Different settings I think we are very interested in. We would love to build some new IPs and settings that are different than the ones we’ve currently got while continuing to build within the frameworks of the franchises we’ve got, too. We’re going to have a mix of all those things going forward.
Finally, Edge Online has excerpts from a "fire side" chat at GDC on building blockbusters. Apparently, BioWare now has a franchise team planning those cuddly Urdnot Wrex toys I just know you're dying to buy:
Myzuka further noted that Bioware now has a dedicated 'franchise team' working on expanding this consumer experience in future. “Franchises have a lot more to them than just games; there are books, music releases, toys. You have to co-ordinate the effort of many teams and productions; it’s a multi-year plan. I could tell you what we plan for Mass Effect for the next ten years.”
BioWare - On Day 1 DLC
Ars Technica has a quote from BioWare's Casey Hudson on the legitimacy of Day 1 DLC:
We spoke with Casey Hudson, the project director for Mass Effect 2, at GDC. He's a man who knows a little bit about post-release content, and he explained it in a way that makes sense. The simple answer? It takes time to get discs into the hands of gamers.
"People may not be aware of it, and people may say if you have content available day one, why not put it onto disc? What goes out on disc, it takes about 12 weeks to debug and certify and get into the trucks to go out into stores," he explained. "That gives us a period of 8 to 12 weeks where we can make content, but we can't put it onto the disc because it's already out there. But we can insert it digitally, day one."
Tuesday - March 16, 2010
BioWare - Biodocs Interview @ BioWare
Drs. Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk have been interviewed at GameSpy about EA, Mass Effect, Dragon Age and more. Much of the conversation is about the day to their day to day input and, as usual, they are very careful to say little. Here's a bit about their involvement with BHG's Project Mercury:
GameSpy: It just seems like your scope has really expanded since the days when it was just BioWare. Now you've got your hats in so many different rings. So when it's announced that you're going to be collaborating on Curt Schilling's 38 Studios game [ed. note: developed by Big Huge Games], what does that entail? Is that saying, let's have a talk over dinner? Or is that, "let's work on your game and really try to bring it up to BioWare quality?"
Dr. Greg Zeschuk: I think it was the Big Huge Games title, so it's the one that Ken Rolston and those guys are working on. That was right from the beginning, we worked with the EAP [EA Partners] guys, we looked at the game, because they wanted an opinion, what we think of it. Then the next phase would be, as it's getting made, maybe giving the same, similar type of feedback. Talking to them. We actually know Tim Train and those guys... You're poker buddies with him, right?
Dr. Ray Muzyka: Yeah, I chatted with him for an hour at DICE, good folks. But it's necessarily, it's a level removed from the products that are within our own group. But yeah, it's a product distributed by EA, and we're trying to help them out, trying to give them feedback. It's a little more infrequent, we might fly out there periodically, every few months or something, just chat with them. It would be that level of feedback, and ultimately they're the ones building it. We're not building the game or anything.
Wednesday - March 10, 2010
BioWare - Their Philosophy on RPGs @ 1Up
GDC 2010: A Glimpse at BioWare's Philosophy on RPGs comes from a GDC presentation on localising large RPGs. The article starts with a look at some of the stats and word counts and ties this back to the discussion on whether Mass Effect 2 is an RPG or not:
From what I've read, the average 300 page novel clocks in at approximately 75,000 words. By comparison, the original Mass Effect contains approximately 300,000 words, Mass Effect 2 adds to that total with 450,000 words, and Dragon Age dwarfs them both with some 1,000,000 words. On top of that, Mass Effect 2 contains 140,000 lines of voice-over dialogue, which were recorded over the course of some 300 days at the studio with the help of more than 350 actors. The takeaway, of course, is that making an RPG is hard. [...]
The reason I mention all this is because much of the debate concerning whether or not Mass Effect 2 is an RPG is based around the combat and the lack of an inventory (there's even another BioWare panel later this week titled "Where's my Inventory!") But the common thread in all of BioWare's games is always the dialogue trees, which is obviously what they consider to be the heart of an RPG. During the panel, the localization team talked about how the writers are tweaking and recording new dialogue up until the last weeks before Cert, and how a great deal of time and money is devoted toward making sure the dialogue is just right.
Monday - March 08, 2010
BioWare - Bioware Manifesto @ GameTrailers Bonus Rounds
A roundtable discussion can be found at Bonus Rounds on the GameTrailer website. Participants are Greg Zeschuk, Bioware, David Jaffe, Eat Sleep Play, and N'Gai Croal Video Game Consultant. In this first part of the conversation, they talk about storytelling and
[i]The Bioware Manifesto[/i]
Thursday - March 04, 2010
BioWare - Video Interview
G4TV has a video interview with the BioDocs. Here's their intro, which explains the setup:
Do you have any idea what it really takes to bring a huge game title to completion? What about two projects within a six month period? What about two incredibly deep, critically-acclaimed RPGs? What types of minds would be able to thrive in a high-pressure environment such as this? Why, two doctors naturally.
Adam Sessler catches up with BioWare's CEO/GM, Dr. Ray Muzyka and President/GM, Dr. Greg Zeschuk to discuss the success of Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 2, the challenges of game development cycles and much more.
Monday - February 08, 2010
BioWare - Mass Effect 3 and Beyond
IGN catches up with Biodoc Ray Muzyka about the success and future of the Mass Effect franchise:
IGN: There's a renewed focus on the shooter aspect for Mass Effect 2. Was there a concern that it would put off BioWare's more traditional RPG fanbase?
Ray Muzyka: The RPG features are still there. A lot of the reviews I've read are very interesting and accurate, because at first glance the RPG features are not as strong, but keep playing and you can see that they're there in a different fashion. For example, you can grab weapons off the rack when you send your team off on away missions, and you progress your ship, which is almost a character – that you're adding research modifications to increase your chance of surviving the final battle. That's a progression mechanic in its own right, and it's pretty satisfying and deep.
And there's lots of new tactics and abilities, all embedded in the squad command wheel now. It's not an inventory management system now as much as your commander's quarters – you can change your armour, appearance. And then ammo and other things like that, you break down on your squad command wheel, so it's done tactically in the heat of battle, so you can change from incendiary to freezing to disruptor ammo and so on.
Wednesday - February 03, 2010
BioWare - Interview Part 2 & 3 @ Gamerzines
We filed the first part of Gamerzine's interview with Ray Muzyka under Mass Effect 2 but as we're reporting these two together and they're neatly divided into ME2 and Dragon Age conversations, I'll group it under "BioWare". On Mass Effect 2:
GZ: Do you think Mass Effect 2 is a success largely because its a sequel and you've had a chance to write all the wrongs of the original?
RM: Our team really love sequels because we can use feedback from fans and press. We take it to heart and try and make each game better than the last. For Mass Effect 2 we took feedback really seriously and I talked about this with Casey(Hudson) and Greg(Zeschuk). We wanted to make the game more intense, focus on technical improvements, amp up the fidelity of each of the uncharted worlds and make them more central to the experience. Add all those things together and this makes one of our best games to date. It is part of our effort to over deliver for our fans and make every game better than the last.
...and from the Dragon Age portion:
GamerZines: Any plans to add new enemies to the DA universe?
Ray Muzyka: Well it's interesting the Awakening expansion touches on more about the darkspawn and they aren't as uniform or as straightforward as they seem. When you start to explore their back story or motivations, yes motivations even! You'll learn a lot more about where they came from and where they are going. As we expand the Dragon Age universe you'll learn about some of the other kingdoms and empires around the world that are really interesting places to explore in their own right. We've only touched on one country thus far in Dragon Age: Origins with Ferelden. The world is pretty vast and we have an I.P bible that maps out all these different places and cool locations you get to go to potentially and we'll build on that by working on future expansions in the DA franchise.
Thursday - January 28, 2010
BioWare - Ray Muzyka Chat @ Eurogamer
An edited transcript of a live chat with Biodoc Ray Muzyka at Eurogamer is online, with various questions from the community. Nothing new, but BioWare will be showing stuff at E3:
Super Moderating Hero: Lovely. That's nearly all of the questions! I should ask what else we can expect from BioWare in 2010? Reveals at E3?
Ray Muzyka: Yes!
Friday - January 22, 2010
BioWare - Medicine Men @ NowGamer
Medicine Men is an interview with the Biodocs at Nowgamer, covering their history and the like. It has a few oddities - despite being dated a couple of days ago, Dragon Age is referred to as a future release - but the Baldur's Gate stuff is worth a look:
Baldur’s Gate put the doctors BioWare to the test: they had to resuscitate an ailing genre, stitching together pieces of past classics – Wizardry, Wasteland, Ultima, Pool Of Radiance – as they went along. The result was one of the most original games of the decade, one that set the stage for more or less every Western RPG made since, where the themes of choice, morality, and love were made paramount, and expressed through open-ended gameplay. “This was the first time we had a chance to really see our vision,” Zeschuk explains, “which is to create an emotionally compelling narrative where people really felt that they were part of the story. It was a great start.”
The game sold slowly at first but built up momentum at a surprising pace, eventually becoming one of the highest-selling RPGs of the Nineties. “It was a very slow burn,” Zeschuk adds. “It was one of those unusual games. It sold more each month. Right at the end of December, it turned out by February, we were selling more than January, then March, April… it was a few months in, and it looked like it was going to be a huge commercial success.”
Thursday - January 21, 2010
BioWare - Talking IP @ GameInformer
The Biodocs discuss IP and a bunch of other stuff in a new interview at GameInformer:
How do you approaching maintaining an IP’s integrity when someone else is working on your property? Such as when Obsidian worked on the sequel to KOTOR, or when another writer comes on board to work on a novel for one of your IPs?
The easiest way to manage the process is a very clear, explicitly defined set of mutual goals, and frequent communication. We also have fairly expansive IP bibles for our games that we use both internally and externally to educate folks we’re working with about the property. These are actually quite a bit of fun to read as you see a lot of stuff that has never appeared directly in our games, but this kind of background is essential in creating a believable framework for our game worlds. It’s like an iceberg where you only see a small portion at the top but the portion beneath the waves provides a strong foundation and stability for what is surfaced to the player. These IP bibles also allow us to extend our games to ancillary products and sequels more easily.
Tuesday - December 29, 2009
BioWare - Ray Muzyka Interview @ IncGamers
IncGamers has a two part interview with BioDoc Ray Muzyka covering everything from the company's foundation to games as art and BioWare's current direction:
The marketing campaign for Dragon Age famously focused more on the sex and violence aspects on the title itself. There was, from some quarters, a bit of a critical backlash to that. On the other hand, now that the game is out, it's been ridiculously highly acclaimed. It's a very, very good game. How do you feel about the two things? Were you worried when there was the initial backlash, and are you satisfied with the response you're getting to the game now?
The moments in the marketing campaign you're referring to - they were pretty focused, and I think you saw the campaign broaden after we introduced some of those elements. It was more just making people aware - "Yeah, this is part of the game, these are some elements that are part of a mature sensibility." Making players aware that "Hey, this is more of an M-rated title than you may have seen from some past BioWare games." Then after that we showed the entire scope of everything that was in the game, and now what people are reacting to, I think, is the whole picture of the game, and they understand where the mature elements are in the context of the rest of the game. It's not inappropriate or out of place. It just fits in the context of the world and the story that we built. I think we're satisfied with the acclaim. I mean, we're always pushing the envelope, we're always trying to make each game better than the last, so I think we're always hoping to get as many people excited about the game as possible, but it's great for the dev team to see the feedback from the press and the fans is so positive so far, and I think it's exciting.
Sunday - December 20, 2009
BioWare - Zeschuk on JRPGs
I can see all sorts of arguments in both directions from this...Biodoc Greg Zeschuk has answered a question from Destructoid during the current Mass Effect 2 PR push and here's what he apparently had to say:
"The fall of the JRPG in large part is due to a lack of evolution, a lack of progression," Zeschuk said. "They kept delivering the same thing over and over. They make the dressing better, they look prettier, but it's still the same experience.
"My favorite thing, it's funny when you still see it, but the joke of some of the dialogue systems where it asks, 'do you wanna do this or this,' and you say no. 'Do you wanna do this or this?' No. 'Do you wanna do this or this?' No. Lemme think -- you want me to say 'yes.' And that, unfortunately, really characterized the JRPG."
Tuesday - November 24, 2009
BioWare - Working On An Unreleased Original IP
Bioware may be working on an additional original IP according to the Linkedin Profile of former Senior Producer Daniel Roy. In the profile it states that he was the senior producer at Bioware for an unreleased original IP from January 2008 - June 2009 (1 year 6 months).
Monday - November 16, 2009
BioWare - Ray Muzyka Interview Teaser @ IncGamers
A teaser for IncGamer's upcoming interview with Bioware's Ray Muzyka has been posted on their site. Myzyka talks about the future of gaming, seeing the singleplayer game and the MMO game co-exist:
"Maybe you can consider the world where there's massively multiplayer games, there's also maybe massively single-player games, where you have the game as a platform where you're launching a lot of post-release downloadable content, or user-generated content tools, or links to a social website."
Saturday - November 07, 2009
BioWare - Greg Zeschuk Interview @ Retronauts
There is a 3 part interview over at Retronauts with Dr. Greg Zeschuk. They talk about the history of Bioware, a little bit about the development of Dragon Age, why he changed careers from being a doctor to game developer, juggling two major releases so close together, past Bioware games like Shattered Steel, MDK, Neverwinter Nights, the detailed stories within the games, and the voice acting from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empre and Mass Effect.
Part One: History of Bioware and background info on Zeshuk.
Part Two: MDK and Neverwinter Nights.
Part Three: The stories and voice acting.
Wednesday - October 21, 2009
BioWare - Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk Interview @ Strategy Informer
Strategy Informer did an interview with Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, the two co-founders of Bioware. This is the third part of their three part interview series. They talk about where they see the game industry going, how rpg gaming might evolve - and much more. Part of the interview is shown below:
Dakota Grabowski: Where you do see the future of video game technology, whether it be Project Natal, motion-controllers, digital distribution or any variety of other developments that are currently occurring?
Greg Zeschuk: I would agree. Digital is definitely the full future, but it's going to be awhile before we get there. I think it's very interesting as retail is still used as a mechanism to help promote the game and the concept of a launch. A lot of games enjoy a big launch and retail helps roll that out property.
Thoughts about the future of rpg gaming:
Dakota Grabowski: Where do you see the future of the role-playing genre heading? Do you think Eastern developers will continue to cater to the Western audiences and keep targeting the demographics to sell better here in North America?
Ray Muzyka: I see it broadening. We see it definitely broadening with our games and continually diversify. So we are always trying to add different elements, features, content and continue to expand our definition of a RPG.
Source: Strategy Informer
Monday - September 28, 2009
BioWare - Building Experiences
BioWare's Greg Zeschuk does another branding interview, this time at Gamasutra:
What do you think about the current state of RPGs? It's interesting that your two upcoming games [Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age] represent almost two different eras, the more modern action RPG and the more sprawling, traditional RPG.
GZ: Yeah. From the perspective of what our overall strategy is for all the games we make, I think one thing that's really important is to make games that play and feel very different. Mass Effect 2 has got a really strong shooting component. The shooter is really good. And of course, you've got the incredible cinematic conversations. We describe it as a third-person conversation where you're directing Shepard, and he's doing stuff.
Whereas Dragon Age is very much, right from the beginning, an intimate playthrough of who you are, where you came from, and the decisions that got you to the point in the game where it starts. That's a very personalized experience. It's a little more traditional in that you've got a party and you can directly control the party members. You said "sprawling," which is a good word to use, because really it's a gigantic game.
It's funny -- I've been teasing the lead designer about that while we're here because I'm almost done with my [Dragon Age] playthrough.
Is that Mike Laidlaw?
GZ: Right, Mike Laidlaw. I was just realizing how big this game is. One of the guys from Mythic just finished it, and I was saying to him, "Did you get to this part, and did that happen? Did this guy go in your party?" He goes, "What do you mean? You can get him in your party?"
It's got that magical thing we strive for, which is personalization. The state of the industry in general, I think, is very exciting, because we've been seeing other games kind of coming into this space, this story-driven gaming, but it's also progressive -- all the pillars we talk about at BioWare, like combat and great characters.
We've really been progressing a lot. I look at Fallout 3, which is probably the best exploration-driven game ever. I think that is just incredible. All of us have continued to work at our craft to keep making better and better games. Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 are among our best games ever. It's very exciting to actually have this coming in pretty quick succession for a little while here.
Tuesday - September 22, 2009
BioWare - Story Interview @ CrispyGamer
Greg Zeschuk fronts up to CrispyGamer to discuss BioWare's approach to story-telling and story as a reward in gaming. An early quote on Dragon Age:
Crispy Gamer: There's a move toward revision in fantasy storytelling -- at least, if you count the popularity of George R.R. Martin's books as a movement. What's happening in Dragon Age: Origins? Is it more classic than, say, A Game of Thrones?
Greg Zeschuk: We always talk about how it's "dark, baroque" fantasy and it really isn't classic. We've always had this historical view of dwarves who are happy, gruff guys who go mining, drink a lot of beer, and like fighting; whereas the dwarves in Dragon Age are really, really nasty to each other. They're backstabbing, political.
Crispy Gamer: The elves feel a little different as well.
Zeschuk: They're barely surviving in the Dragon Age world. And they're subjected to all kinds of racism and they're put in these ghettos. It's a really different spin on all these things. In a sense, it's another form of revision -- a reimagining of the traditional images. In some ways, bringing them into a more contemporary setting. In the comics space there's the whole Ultimates thing -- taking all the old franchises and recasting them so they're more relevant to today. I think, in some ways, that's what we're trying to do with Dragon Age.
Monday - September 21, 2009
BioWare - Jay Watamaniuk Joins ME2 Team
Chris Priestly writes a salute to Jay Watamaniuk on the Bioblog as he leaves the BioWare Community team to join Mass Effect 2 as a writer:
Monday, Jay starts a new job here at BioWare. Jay has always wanted to be a writer (if you’ve enjoyed the good writing on the BioWare Blog or laughed at the newsletter you’ll have seen a glimmer of his talent) and he’s moving onto the Mass Effect writing team to help fulfill his dream. He’ll still be stopping by the forums from time to time, twittering, blogging and such, but now Community will have to soldier on without him.
I’ve worked with Jay for over three years now and I’ve always said that he was the brains and I was the mouth. Without Jay, I wouldn’t have this cushy cushy job working on the internet, jet setting around the globe, attending fan events, and really enjoying my life. Community is a great gig and you’ve left some big shoes to fill, but we wouldn’t be here today without you.
For that Jay, much thanks.
Thursday - September 17, 2009
BioWare - Greg Zeschuk Interview @ Kotaku
All Things BioWare is the title of this Greg Zeschuk interview at Kotaku, so you can obviously expect most of their upcoming games to get some sort of coverage, although there's nothing really new:
He said he's been playing through the Xbox 360 version of the game, "staying up to stupid late hours" to go through it. He's excited about the game's community site, which, as previously reported here, will help players of the single-player adventure compare the paths they took to completion. The site is designed to take that BioWare trademark of malleable narrative and let gamers more easily compare the narrative contortions they made. "What's interesting is [going] back to our classic things like KOTOR and Mass Effect, and I talk to [BioWare co-founder] Ray [Muzyka] and say, 'How did you do this part?' And he goes, 'Well I did this.' And 'I did that.' That's what we want."
Thursday - September 10, 2009
BioWare - PAX Updates, Ray Muzyka Interview
Jay Watamaniuk wraps up his PAX blogging with Part 2 and 3 now online, decribing the show and offering a photo of Mike Laidlaw, Chris Priestly and David Silverman in Dragon Age and Mass Effect costumes.
Meanwhile, GameTrailers has a video interview with BioCEO Ray Muzyka labeled "Past, Present and Future".
Friday - September 04, 2009
BioWare - PAX #1
Jay Watamaniuk writes the first quick blog from PAX for BioWare. Not much happens, so this is one for the die-hard BioFans.
Wednesday - September 02, 2009
BioWare - Finally Visits Canada
BioWare is a proudly Canadian company. Sure, we have a lot of international employees, but we were founded by Canadians in Edmonton Alberta and we remain very proud of being a Canadian game development studio. However, even though we are proud to be Canadian, we’ve never really had a presence at Canadian gaming events. Sure, we always attend E3 and lately we’ve been attending other international shows like GamesCom in Germany or PAX in Seattle (more on PAX later this week), but we’ve never really done much here in our home country. Well, all that changed this past weekend as the BioWare Community Team took Dragon Age Origins to Fan Expo Canada.
Saturday - August 29, 2009
BioWare - GamesCom Wrap
Chris Priestly adds a general wrap about GamesCom to the BioBlog:
Both Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins were a huge hit at Gamescom. This couple met through the BG2 forums and are still together. Awww. To be honest, I think the Dragon Age line was slightly longer than the Mass Effect line, but both lines were huge. For the entire conference, they had almost 300,000 people attend with over 100,000 on Saturday alone. The place was absolutely packed and there was barely any room to swing an inflatable sword or throw out a free t-shirt. The lines were amazing with some folks waiting up to 4 hours for a chance to get their hands on with their favorite games. When we would discover a hardcore BioWare fan, they would get invited up to the Community Lounge so they could have extra time with Dragon Age or Mass effect 2 as well as ask questions to us directly. We had a great time meeting fans from Germany, Holland, the UK, France, and many more countries. We even met up with a couple who, in their opinion, owed their lives to BioWare. He was a web designer who worked on the German BG2 site. He met her on the BG2 message boards and they are still together and still big BioWare fans. I may have to change my job title to “cupid”.
Thursday - August 27, 2009
BioWare - Ray Muzyka Interview @ CVG
CVG was another site to catch up with Ray Muzyka at GamesCom. Part 1 of their interview is online, although much of the conversation is wasted on peripheral stuff like other developer's games. On Mass Effect 2 looking good:
It focuses on deep character development but how do you get players to really care about polygonal characters?
Muzyka: That's a really good question. I think one of our visions is to really create an emotional engagement with the game and that can be done in a variety of ways.
One of them is through characters and story, to get you to make choices that matter and to have characters that feel like real, living characters - digital personas that you actually care about.
With Dragon Age it's a little bit different, but with Mass Effect's Sheppard, it's almost like a third-person authored experience because you're given general directive orders and then you see Sheppard enact it, and that's almost a game in itself - seeing what he's going to do. Be he has a strong personality and it grows on you so you really care about him doing the right things.
But the small things matter. You have to have digital actors that are credible and believable. The small things like the characters' eyes - whether they look right, where they look and if they blink at the right frequency, whether the light reflects off their eyes in the right way, whether their hand movement is right.
In real life you don't even need to speak - you can convey as much by nodding your head or lifting your eyebrow, and that's the same thing that a high-fidelity character can bring. It's with this motional expression that, if you can make players believe in your characters, the possibilities are endless.
Wednesday - August 26, 2009
BioWare - Ray Muzyka Interview @ VG247
From GamesCom comes this interview with BioWare's Ray Muzyka, which touches on all of their current projects and EA Mythic. On Mass Effect 2:
What about the general buzz around Mass Effect 2? How are you feeling about that?
Ray Muzyka: Awesome. A lot of people have told me that Mass Effect 1 was one of their favourite games ever, and it’s a great honour to hear that. But I can tell them that if they liked Mass Effect 1, they’re going to love Mass Effect 2. We’ve got so many improvements across the board. The intensity of the experience has been amped up, there’s precise shooter controls, tactical deployment of your troops on the field, smart AI, cover mechanics… And there’s a whole range of technical improvements too: the frame-rate’s real fast, faster loading, the elevators are faster, smooth texture loading…
...and Dragon Age and calling it one of their best games:
If you’re going to say Dragon Age is one of the best games you’ve ever played… I’ve finished Dragon Age. I’ve played it extensively on PC and console. I can really stand behind it. I’ve played it a lot. On one of the play-throughs I spent 120 hours. Two hours a day for 60 days, 90 percent of the game, according to the telemetry. And I loved it. Every minute of it. I couldn’t wait to come home. After about ten hours of gameplay, every day I was talking about coming home and I played it for two or three hours, or whatever time I had free, and play it to the early hours. Luckily I don’t sleep as much as my wife. I’d stay up till after midnight and play it after she was asleep.
Friday - August 21, 2009
BioWare - GamesCom Blog #1
Convention season is nearly over but until then, BioWare has more blogging to do. This time, Jay Watamaniuk talks about his experiences at GamesCom:
BioWare was found in three locations around the massive convention centre, which is so large I couldn’t even find the main show floor for a solid 30 minutes of wandering around. When I did find it, I snuck into the Dragon Age booth and nodded sagely at the hordes of people tucked away playing or lining up for the chance to do so.
Thursday - August 20, 2009
BioWare - GenCon Blog #2
Gather Your Party Before Venturing Forth is the second wrap blog from Chris Priestly on GenCon:
I guess I should back up a bit. If you read part 1 of my Gen Con blog (and if you haven’t go do so now, I’ll wait) you know that me, Fernando Melo (Producer), David Gaider (Lead Writer), Cori May (Technical Designer), Randall Bishop (Assistant Brand Manager), Derek Beland (Senior Programmer), Bryan Derksen (Toolset Programmer) and Vanessa Prinsen (QA Analyst) all came to this years Gen Con in Indianapolis Indiana to show off Dragon Age: Origins. We had 4 stations each for hands on demos of the PC and Xbox 360 versions. We also had a stage where we gave presentations and toolset demos to the crowd. Everyone had a great time meeting and talking DAO with fans. I think 99% of the people who came to the booth walked away impressed with the game. The 1% who walked away unhappy wanted it to be an MMO (too bad for them as they missed out a great single player RPG. We told them to check out Star Wars The Old Republic for cool upcoming MMO goodness).
Saturday - August 15, 2009
BioWare - GenCon Blog #1
We're finished with ComicCon, so it's straight off to GenCon. Chris Priestly writes about the first day in Indianapolis:
Sure, there are conventions that are larger for video games (like E3 or the upcoming PAX conference in Seattle), but I think it is the largest convention dedicated to gaming in North America. There are all sorts of games here; board games, dice games, live action role playing, card games, miniatures and, luckily for BioWare and EA, a growing segment of video games. The video games here try to play fit in with the audience here, so BioWare has sent our next great Fantasy RPG, Dragon Age: Origins for fans to play. There are other great games here as well like Dante’s Inferno and Warhammer Online, but I think we are the game that best fits in with the convention attendees. All of whom are games, fans of fantasy and, like me and the rest of the BioWare team, huge nerds who love the games we play.
Tuesday - August 11, 2009
BioWare - Comic Con Wrap #3
More from Chris Priestly about how BioWare made it to ComicCon, despite the hurdles:
I would love to now write about the incredible battle where little tiny me goes up against the face of huge Comic Con and how they tried to beat me down but through dogged preservation and a never-say-die attitude I managed to win out and was carried through the streets to great acclaim from fans. This would be turned into a movie possibly starring Seth Rogan as me, Christopher Walken as the bad guy and Yvonne Strahovski as my wife (hey, I can dream can’t I?). The problem would be that it just wouldn’t be true. Sure, the Convention organizers are very careful about what they allow to occur during the convention, but they listened to what we asked, took a day to think about it, and approved it with no hassle at all.
Sunday - August 09, 2009
BioWare - Comic Con Wrap #2
Catching up from a couple of days ago, Chris Priestly continues the story of BioWare making it to Comic Con:
In my previous blog entry, I said that despite having a great time at the famed San Diego Comic Con in 2008, I didn’t think we were going to be able to attend in 2009. Y’see, the SDCC is THE premiere Comic Con event in the world. Oh sure, there are other up and comers, but due to the fact it has been around 40 years, always brings in the top companies, artists, writers, etc in the industry and, due to San Diego’s proximity to Hollywood, they get to bring in some big name movie and television stars to the show cp1 (See picture of Fernando, Hiro & Mike). Due to its massive popularity, any space inside the convention center is booked years in advance, so it did not look like we would be a part of the Con this year.
Sunday - August 02, 2009
BioWare - Comic Con Wrap #1
Chris Priestly steps up to the BioBlog to write about Comic Con from his perspective:
For me, it all began back when I was 12 years old while I was walking home from elementary school and a friend came up to me and showed me his copy of Teen Titans #1 written by Marv Wolfman and illustrated by George Perez. I already enjoyed comics having read the adventures of Judge Dredd and Johnny Alpha the Strontium Dog in 2000 A.D. as I was growing up in England, but I didn’t really follow them much here in Canada. But when Corey showed me Robin, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg and the rest of the Titans fighting Trigon the Terrible, I was hooked for life. Yep, I "Evil" Chris Priestly am an unabashed comic book nerd.
Monday - July 27, 2009
BioWare - Greg Zeschuk Interview #2 @ CVG
The second part of CVG's interview with Greg Zeschuk is now up, although it focuses on console issues:
There's always talk of you guys being interested in the Wii. Why hasn't a Wii game from BioWare come into fruition yet considering the Wii's been massively successful for a fair while now?
Zeschuk: I think... we're a little slow. No, I mean, the challenge for us has been figuring out what would be the best possible BioWare experience to deliver on the platform. We've done a lot of platform exploration - we've done our first iPhone game and we've done DS, so we're always looking at platforms. But what's been hard for us and the Wii is figuring out how to best match the kind of games that we make with the Wii experience.
The optimum Wii experience is a game where four people sit together on a couch and play. We've done multiplayer stuff in the past, but our optimal product always engages a player on an emotional level. I'm sure there's ways to do that on the Wii, but we just haven't figured that out yet. Once we do that we could very well do something on it.
Thursday - July 09, 2009
BioWare - Greg Zeschuk Interview @ CVG
Greg Zeschuk has been busy with a second interview popping up at CVG. Part 1 focuses on Dragon Age, discussing the game, DLC, sex and a demo:
What about a demo?
Zeschuk: We've not really talked about a demo. There's a few different ways we could do it. The way the game's set up actually makes it hard for a demo because there are six origin stories and we don't know whether to just pick one or a couple.
And then the really cool thing with the game is seeing what happens when you pick an origin story later in the game - like the way that characters get to know you.
It's not likely that we'll have a demo ready for release, but very shortly after we'll probably figure out some parameters where we chop the game into pieces and make them available for people to experience.
Wednesday - July 08, 2009
BioWare - Dr Greg Zeschuk Interview @ Eurogamer
Dr Greg Zeschuk talks about Bioware's WIP games, and the recent merger with Mythic to make EA's MMO department.
Eurogamer: Dragon Age: Origins is looking like a fairly grim game, and Mass Effect 2 is quite a bit darker than the first one - is everyone at BioWare feeling alright?
Dr Greg Zeschuk: Well, we've been with EA for a while. No, it's a funny thing. I think that why they are that way is interesting. Certainly, in the case of Dragon Age, it was to set it off thematically from the traditional perception of fantasy. People have been asking us, "Why have you been doing these more aggressive sex-and-violence trailers?" and a lot of it is to point out that fantasy isn't necessarily - I'm stealing this from a journalist in the US - it's not all "flutes, lutes and men in tights".
I think that was one of the things holding fantasy back. Obviously, Peter Jackson managed to break through that with the Lord of the Rings, and for us it's been that we've made a game that's very sophisticated, so it seems natural to follow that with very mature content. Also, it's typically our teams that really set the tone. Ray [Muzyka - co-founder] and I have very high-level goals, but the teams work on the moment-to-moment game, so the work they do is what translates into the experience that fans have most directly.
Monday - July 06, 2009
BioWare - Interview @ Gamesindustry.biz
Gamesindustry.biz has posted a Q & A session with Bioware's Dr. Ray Muzyka and creative director Greg Zeschuk, focusing primarily on hardware innovations such as Microsoft's proposed controller-free system for the XBox 360 known as Project Natal, but also touching on narrative, setting and story and how they may play out in Bioware's future games:
Q: You are very much a story-driven company as far as your creative output. But your output is also – correct me if I'm wrong – almost entirely sci-fi and fantasy. Is it too soon to have more contemporary stories in games?
Ray Muzyka: No. We're interested in a variety of settings. We've already pursued a few different ones too. Jade Empire was very different for example from Mass Effect or Dragon Age. We are interested in contemporary settings. We haven't announced anything on that front, but it's safe to say that we think it's rich with possibility as well.
Q: I guess what I'm getting at is, when do we get to the point where there's for example a romantic, story-driven game on a sort of AAA scale?
Greg Zeschuk: The romantic comedy in game form?
Q: Yes, exactly.
Greg Zeschuk: That's a great question. I think we're actually getting to the point where the acting is almost there. We talk a certain amount internally about whether you need to have combat as part of the experience. Are there possibilities to actually start separating pieces of the game and actually tailor it to the audience? Certainly the core gaming experience, folks that are used to playing games over the last ten years, they want to have those battle moments, and the fighting. But there are different audiences that would maybe just enjoy the story. I think it's actually possible. I think the interesting thing about it too is I don't know if it's even necessarily a technology thing. I think once we've got the breadth of audience available to us, there could be really good opportunities created by different people coming to games that are story-driven. And primarily, that's the main thing.
Source: Blues News
Saturday - June 27, 2009
BioWare - More on the BioWare/Mythic RPG 'Team-Up' @ Gamasutra
Ray Muzyka interviewed on EA's new RPG/MMO Group.
The actual announcement was a bit vague -- what are the practical ramifications of the BioWare and Mythic reorganization?
Ray Muzyka: Structurally, each of the organizations remains intact. They're working on the same projects they were working on before, I just have another studio that reports into me. It's not that BioWare or Mythic is changing; they're retaining their brands, their unique cultural identities, their projects they are working on. I'm really excited about what we're doing; we have great people at each location.
Rather, a new group is being formed that is more of a reporting structure of Rob Denton, the GM of Mythic; Richard [Vogel] and Gordon [Walton], who already report to me from [BioWare] Austin; Yannick [Roy], our studio director at BioWare Montreal, who already reports into me; and then BioWare Edmonton, and I already manage that studio myself.
It's a collaboration opportunity. Each of the groups continues to make the same thing in their [own locations]. But it's fuelling and enabling more communication, collaboration, best practice sharing, encouraging each other to play each others' games -- but no formal change per se in what anybody's doing. It's a recognition that there's a lot of synergy between them already. I'm going to make sure everyone at each location knows who the others are, and their comparable roles, and to make sure they talk.
Meanwhile, Mark Jacobs says his goodbyes.
Following Mark Jacobs' official departure from Mythic Entertainment, the studio's co-founder has addressed his former staff in a reflective post on his personal blog.
"To describe these past two months as difficult would be a great understatement as change is almost never easy," he wrote.
The majority of the post is devoted to honoring Mythic employees -- and Jacobs promised there would be more of that to come.
"Whether it was the extra late night and/or weekend efforts or simply the passion so many of you showed for our games, your level of commitment is something I will never forget," he continued. "I will have a lot more to say about this over the next few weeks and I will try, and I’m sure fail, to adequately express my thanks and deepest gratitude to many of the team members."
Friday - June 26, 2009
BioWare - A Day in the Life of a Senior Designer
David Feltham's new post at the Bioblog is A Day in the Life of Senior Designer and offers exactly what it advertises - a blow-by-blow description of his day. Here's the first 20 minutes or so:
8.35am Kids were good this morning and I’m arriving at a decent point. I’ll be able to test my level and get the Lead Designer (Preston) and Lead Level Designer (Dusty) to play it and give me feedback so I can incorporate it before Thursday’s review
8.45am Brazilian Priscila in the French Press. Fantastic coffee.
8.46am Ivan, one of the QA for our scrum, has tendinitis and has his entire left hand in a splint! Oh noes!
8.50am Looks like my build failed: Yesterday I got a 3-red ring on my devkit and had to get a new one: forgot to update the IP address on my auto update. Time to cook over the opening level so I can work!
8.55am Time to drink some coffee and peruse my iGoogle. Yesterday not much happened. Perhaps there’s some new articles up now.
Wednesday - June 24, 2009
BioWare - The Long Road #4
The last piece of The Long Road to Bioware by David Feltham gets down to specifics about hs position:
On Mass Effect 2 we divide all Level Designers into groups of around 3: 2 Level Designers and 1 Senior. Each of these groups is called a Scrum or dogpile and each dogpile has a puntastic name: Fighting Fish Dogs, War Beasts and us, the Hellhounds…Yeah I think we got the best name too. These dogpiles have one or two designated QA, usually one artist per Level Designer, and a writer and cinematic designer who float between dogpiles for best distribution.
Monday - June 22, 2009
BioWare - The Long Road #3
Dave Feltham has kicked up Part 3 of The Long Road to BioWare. This installment talks about his current role:
Before I tell you what I do, I have to start with a description of what a Level Designer does. A Level Designer determines the building blocks of an area of the game, is owner of the fun of the level, and is a funnel for all departments who bring their work into the game. We model the blueprints of the level, we script in events, we give XP and treasure, and we put in combat that is challenging enough that you find it rewarding to finish, but not so hard that you die a lot. If a level is great fun or not fun at all, that’s due to the Level Designer. Blame him or her.
A level at BioWare, and specifically on Mass Effect, starts with a writer’s rough overview for the plot. After everyone involved with the level (artist, Level Designer, cinematic designer, cutscene artist and writer) are in agreement with, on paper, what will happen on the level, the Level Designer takes that and begins to craft the level. Sometimes a sketch is made in the meeting, other times not. But the narrative playable, the 3D version of what was discussed in that writer’s overview, is the goal: show how the level looks, show me how the mission is paced, and show me where the conversation and combats happen. And if this is approved, then everything evolves from this.
Sunday - June 21, 2009
BioWare - The Long Road #2
Dave Feltham has upped Part 2 of The Long Road to BioWare and becoming a Mass Effect 2 Senior Designer.
Thursday - June 18, 2009
BioWare - Another New IP?
Several sites including VoodooExtreme are reporting Christopher Tudor Smith's LinkedIn profile - the ex-Bioware designer's comments on his past work revealing a new IP in progress. We've know BioWare has another title underway for a long time but I can't recall if we knew it's a new IP. Anyway:
Christopher Tudor Smith: Principle Lead Designer, BioWare Corp
September 2007 — April 2009 (1 year 8 months)
Principle lead designer on an unannounced ‘AAA’ project. Responsibilities include the creation of a new IP and managing a team of designers, writers and level designers. BioWare is an amazing place to work and I am sad to leave such an exceptional company although I am excited in my decision to move to be with my fiancé.
BioWare - The Long Road #1
BioWare designer David Feltham tells the story of becoming a designer a on Mass Effect 2 on the Bioblog. Part 1 starts way back in 1997:
I’d love to tell you that I worked hard on learning Unreal, made lots of maps, created a ton of Neverwinter Nights maps and modded the hell out of some engine. I’d love to tell you that it was this that helped me get a job in the industry and that if you keep it up you too will join us in the fray. But this isn’t the case. In fact, my ass in this seat at BioWare, working on Mass Effect 2, the sequel to the number one game of all time on the Xbox 360, is due to equal parts Luck, Networking and Determination.
What I do now as a Sr. Designer is a lot different to what I did 12 years ago. After 3 1/2 years fast-tracking a degree in English Literature followed by a diploma in Computer Graphics, I started my career in broadcast design.
This is where the Luck comes in.
Tuesday - May 26, 2009
BioWare - Neither Rain, Nor Sleet #4
An army of zombies, four priests who could all take my powers away and one who could resurrect anyone who was destroyed vs. Max and the two SAVE agents who were scratching around in the forest for sticks to use as prop weapons. Things were indeed looking pretty bleak.
Saturday - May 23, 2009
BioWare - Neither Rain, Nor Sleet #3
Day 2 also marked the arrival of the evil priests bent on collecting the pieces needed to finish the final rituals. Once the artifacts had been connected they were summoned to help Mic, who was really the Priest of Slugs (yes, lovely title). We finish the next ritual which restores Maximillian’s youth (much easier to be a villain if you aren’t scared of breaking a hip). Only three rituals to go before the Unnamed Horror wrecks havoc upon these pathetic creatures. Villainy!
Thursday - May 21, 2009
BioWare - Neither Rain, Nor Sleet #2
Jay Watamaniuk continues Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Gloom of Night with Part 2 of his live gaming experience.
BioWare - Neither Rain, Nor Sleet...
Jay Watamaniuk continues his live gaming series on the BioWare blog with Part 1 of Neither Rain, No Sleet, Nor Gloom of Night... :
After a 2 hour road trip north of Edmonton and a few wrong turns myself and my friend Hal ended up at the site for the game. We knew it was the site because as you drive along the private side road you passed by dozens- and I means dozens- of old and abandoned shacks, houses, farmhouses, utility sheds and buildings of every description. All built in the years directly following World War II by a single man was had some very real demons that ultimately consumed him. He would create a structure, live in it for a time and then build another structure a few feet away and live in that for time. Amazing and tragic.
Each was built of slates of wood cut from the surrounding trees and hammered together with iron nails. This was the site of the game? It was chilling place in the middle of the day never mind late at night in the darkness. The players were headed for an exciting experience to be sure.
Thursday - May 14, 2009
BioWare - The Future of Storytelling
Once again, BioWare has made a keynote speech on storytelling in games, this time at GDC Canada. Gamasutra has a report on the presentation and here's a bit on Dragon Age I didn't know about:
External narratives are something uniquely suited to games, due to their technological focus. While other forms of narrative engender outside discussion, games can put structure around those emergent narratives.
For example, in Dragon Age, "we're exporting data from player achievements and highlighting that on the community site," said Muzyka. For the MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, "Manipulation of world server data based on a broad range of user activities can actually change the game world."
Monday - April 27, 2009
BioWare - 10 Reasons Gaming Makes You Sexy
Worth a chuckle. Jay Watamaniuk serves up the Top 10 Reasons Gaming Makes You a Sexy Beast on the BioBlog:
1. Chicks dig scars…even if they come from banging your head on the dining room table while moving to retrieve your Warhammer miniature that fell on the carpet
2. Enormous amounts of time spent thinking about plans for the zombie apocalypse will see you survive with food, shelter, weapons and, of course, a babe
Wednesday - April 22, 2009
BioWare - Interview @ CrispyGamer
Is it just me or have their been lots of non-game-specific interviews with the Biodocs, lately? CrispyGamer has a conversation from GDC with Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk discussing "big picture and the little details in BioWare's games":
Narcisse: At a panel I went to at DICE, a THQ exec said that working on better story could be an easier way to earn better Metacritic scores because it gives writers something else to write about. His basic point was that it's cheaper than spending money on the other elements of developing a game.
Muzyka: That sounds like a comment from someone who hasn't actually done it, because story isn't cheaper. Story's actually more expensive, because it's not superficial. Every aspect of a game has to flow into creating emotional engagement. You have to invest in the world, in the history of the world that a player ever gets to see. It's like an iceberg; it's there and has weight, yet all the players see is this top part. But the top part feels real because of the other stuff under the water. You have to invest in a whole bunch of stuff to make that happen. You have to make sure the characters comment on the world, the exploration, the combat and interactions amongst themselves. You actually multiply the possibility space of what you have to manage and test exponentially, when you add a dimension like deeper story.
Sunday - April 19, 2009
BioWare - Interview @ Gamasutra
Gamasutra has a new interview with the Biodocs, discussing the growth of the company since EA's acquisition. Here's a a partial answer on their next games (the complete response fills the page):
Your next two games, Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age, are obviously both RPGs with some common heritage, but they do exhibit two divergent avenues from BioWare to an extent. Mass Effect 2 continues the more modern action-infused RPG thing you did with Mass Effect, whereas Dragon Age is more an evolution of the classic computer RPG BioWare made its name with. Strategically, what makes you think you can sell that to someone who hasn't played Baldur's Gate or other games in that style?
GZ: It's simply the number of people who keep on asking us to do that. It's one of those forgotten gems. There are very few examples of that style of game, which I think is still popular. Secondarily, because we're also going to consoles, and we're going to customize the interface on them for Dragon Age: Origins, while it will still be at its core that kind of good classic role-playing, at the same time it's going to feel very natural on the 360 and PS3.
I think people have been wanting it. There are very few examples in the same milieu -- Neverwinter Nights 2 and The Witcher, for example. Those all still did well, so it's exciting to do those and realize in many ways we helped to start that whole ball rolling, or restart it.
You know, it stopped for a while. We helped to kind of poke it and get it going again with the original Baldur's Gate.
Coming back to it now, we can do a super job on all the platforms. Some people who haven't played Baldur's Gate have heard of it, and in many cases, they think, "A spiritual successor to this great classic game? It's probably worth checking out."
Then the folks who have played it, no matter where they're playing, they're going to be able to play it as well, whether on PC or consoles.
Thursday - April 16, 2009
BioWare - Now Twittering
From the Bioblog, we learn about the Biofeed - BioWare's freshly launched Twitter feed:
I was asked if I could help get BioWare into the Twitter ring as it has proven to a force of nature in the slippery cabal of online communication. I have rounded up a good group of BioWare developers who are interested in this method of info-exchange and some have even been Twittering for a good long time now.
Monday - April 13, 2009
BioWare - Running a Horror Game #3
Late last week, Jay Watamaniuk posted the third part in his Running a Horror Game series on the Bioblog.
Friday - April 10, 2009
BioWare - Running a Horror Game #2
Chapter 1: Arrival of Players
It is either a normal meet and greet (maybe they were invited to a dinner party at a posh house in the woods) and something is wrong that needs to be explored and searched (house in disarray, person they were going to meet is missing).
The initial set-up of your location contains documents or props that need to be pieced together or solved by the players to unlock some of the overall plot. A small example is a picture that has been torn up and scattered around your environment that needs to be put together to reveal a location of a key. You can create as many of these clues as you wish but as long as they all reveal part of the overall plot and the players gain something from putting the clue together (a key to a safe, a weapon, a new document etc.). This gives players something to do immediately and brings them into your story.
Thursday - April 09, 2009
BioWare - Interview @ Ripten
Ripten has an interview with the Biodocs, presumably from GDC. It's a lengthy piece that starts with an overview of their current projects before settling on discussing different forms of game narrative:
JZ: What narrative are you guys most passionate about? Are you most passionate about the main story line or the different quests, trying to direct the narrative? Or are you more passionate about letting the player almost create their own based upon where they go or how they explore?
RM: The last thing you said feels to me like the most–
GZ: Yeah, the non-linear storytelling.
RM: Because the story is certainly part of that, but even that’s not linear. Then of course bigger narrative is moment to moment like Greg said, you can kinda weave your way through the world and do some combat, go back to that area that you couldn’t get past before and keep butting your head against it until you finally break through or go to progress your character for a bit first and then go back and take on that tough enemy. Or explore the world and see if you can find some items to give you more capabilities, or try to drive the story forward a bit more and get some more quests so you can find more stuff to do that’s cool.
We call these things activity chains, going back and forth between different activity types, but that’s the meta-narrative that really is the essence of our game. Even if story and character interaction is one of the parts we’re known best for — it’s the easiest one probably, just to see, “Oh, BioWare makes games with characters that we find compelling, emotionally engaging, who you want to travel the world with,” but our games are more than that. They’re the story of the explorer, the story of combatants, or conflict, and the story of progression and customization of your character, too — making the character that you want to actually have with you on your journey.
BioWare - Running a Horror Game
A bit tangential to CRPGs but the latest entry at the Bioblog is Jay Watamaniuk writing about setting up for a horror-themed live-action game:
You need a space to play in. It can be a house, a cabin in the woods, a warehouse. Whatever it is you will need access to it before game start for scouting and then set-up. For this article we will refer to the location as the ‘house’. It also needs to be a place where you can arrange furniture, move in props and even make a few simple changes if need be (we removed a few doors from their hinges at one of the games to give the place a bashed in, messy feel).
Wednesday - April 01, 2009
BioWare - Community Q&A @ MTV
MTV Multiplayer recently asked their readers for questions to put to the BioDocs and, unfortunately, came back with stuff that didn't need asking. Multiplayer, multiplayer, what about the PS3 and this classic (possible spoiler for Mass Effect):
MTV Multiplayer: So the ramifications of your choices… What if players change their mind? Like Wrex is dead, and by forever, you mean forever. I’m assuming you’d have to start over then…
Zeschuk: Mmmm. I think you’ve got to go back. You can’t rewrite history. You’ve made your choices. First they have to buy another copy, and then they’ve got to play it again.
Muzyka: [laughs] Well, if they already own it…
The doctors stay on-message otherwise, which is that Mass Effect 2 is listening to player feedback and "amping up the action".
Monday - March 30, 2009
BioWare - GTTV Coverage
The latest episode of Gametrailers TV features a BioWare studio visit. The 21 minute show does cover a couple of other games but Star Wars: ToR, Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age are the focus, presented by Ray Muzyka, Dan Tudge and Casey Hudson. For Dragon Age, Dan shows off zombies, werewolves and new spells: Cone of Cold and Stonefist, which combine for a shatter effect. There's also an example of a choice-and-consequences involving the werewolves.
For Mass Effect 2, Casey says we'll find out the status of Shepard at E3
BioWare - Sweet Fantasy Violence
Bio designer Jay Watamaniuk kicked up an entry on the Bioblog late last week, embracing that sweet, fantasy violence:
Even in the most emotionally engaging story of tragic love, stalwart courage and unswerving devotion you will generally need to resolve conflict by punching someone in the face. That what our forefathers taught us and I’m O.K. with that. And while our lives generally involved being upset over printer stalls or an incorrectly made café latte I fondly imagine if shot in the shoulder I could still take back control of the plane from escaped convicts and land that sucker in the middle of Vegas (Bruckheimer! BRUCKHEIMER! Gadddamit! Whooo!). I admit however, in my darkest, truest underbelly that I would probably curl up in my own filth and ask if everyone could stop blinking so loud and weep like the big kids broke my Easy Bake oven. I like fantasy violence. This is why I play games.
Friday - March 27, 2009
BioWare - GDC Interview @ IGN
The Bio doctors chat with IGN from GDC, touching on Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age and future products. Intriguingly, the doctors hint that a future game might embrace an unusual setting:
Aside from the types of fantasy and science-fiction settings BioWare is known for building into its games, the duo commented on a few other scenarios that might be interesting. "We actually discuss that stuff a lot," said Zeschuk. "We've got other stuff that may be in other genres."
"In fact," chimed in Muzyka, "it probably is."
Getting back to the question, Zeschuk started up with, "A horror RPG you could do a whole kind of different ways, it's been done before by some folks but we'd probably put our own fingerprints on it. There's lots of places you could tell a story. We haven't talked much about Wild West…Victorian England. [laughter]."
"I'm not sure about that last one," said Muzyka. "But you can make almost anything into an RPG.
Wednesday - March 25, 2009
BioWare - Video Interview Sneak Peek
BioWare is spruiking the upcoming episode of GameTrailers, which will apparently feature interviews on Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age - with a sample already online. Here's the post:
Geoff Keighley and the fine folks from Gametrailers TV were here at the BioWare Edmonton office last week recording and interviewing for their awesome video game news show Gametrailers on Spike TV.
The episode where they discuss BioWare, Dragon Age Origins and Mass Effect 2 featuring interviews with Ray Muzyka, Dan Tudge and Casey Hudson will be available on Spike TV this Friday March 27 at 10 pm PST.
Check your local schedules for times to make sure you don't miss the coolness. Here is a small taste of what you'll see when you catch their show: Watch Gametrailers
Thursday - March 19, 2009
BioWare - Demo Moments #2
Bruce Venne continues at the BioBlog on presenting demoes:
So demoing can be very stressful. You are responsible for presenting the game to the public. A game that the team has been pouring its hearts and souls into, and working long hours to produce. A game that has been years in development. And then when are finally ready to show the game to the press and public it all falls to me. You start imagining how all of the team’s hard work will be utterly destroyed by something you do during the demo. It doesn’t help that demoing involves a lot of waiting. For the sales meeting we arrived the day before so I had the whole evening and most of the next day to imagine nightmare scenarios.
Wednesday - March 18, 2009
BioWare - Demo Moments #1
QA guy Bruce Venne writes for the BioBlog about the potential difficulties demoing their upcoming games at various events. This first part includes an anecdote, although I doubt it will end up in any "most embarrassing gaffes" lists. The intro:
Demonstrations or demos are an important tool for BioWare to let people know about the games we have in development. It is always a challenge to put a demo together. We have the challenge of creating a ten to fifteen minute slice of the game that showcases all the RPG elements that our fans expect in a great role-playing game, some exiting combat in order to make the demo interesting to watch but framed by the story. The demo has to tell a story since rich-story-telling is a hallmark of any BioWare games. Subsequently there is a lot of stuff in the soup that eventually becomes a game demo. Having all of those game elements colliding into one another can lead to chaos. Our demos tend to be very complicated. Things can go wrong.
Thursday - March 12, 2009
BioWare - Q & A @ NowGamer
NowGamer has an interview up with Bioware's Dr. Ray Muzyka on multi-platform game development, and past, present and future Bioware games:
Do you miss those old, ‘hardcore geek’ games you used to make for the PC?No, I think we’re still making them, but we’ve augmented them, we’ve evolved them and we’ve taken them into a new direction. They are, at their core, the spiritual successors to the stuff we used to do. It definitely has a lot of parallels. The pillars are still the same – exploration, progression, customisation, combat and story. We’ve had to evolve along with the systems. PCs are a lot more interesting and technically more capable than they used to be, just as console systems are. The PlayStation 3 is a really amazing platform to work on, so is 360. Wii is as well. All of them are really advanced relative to the systems of 10-20 years ago. That’s why I think it’s exciting to be developing on any system right now in the videogame space....
How do you think advances in development technology have affected your approach to game design?
The technology is an enabler that allows the emotion and the artistic vision to be delivered. It’s no longer a technology challenge to try and make the [development] architecture deliver, and squeezing every last pixel out of it. It’s more of a challenge artistically. Can you make an experience that moves people and delivers emotionally powerful content that makes people feel that there’s an emotional vision and a point to what they do. I think that’s ultimately what our vision as a studio is – to deliver genuine emotion, and to make people feel something.
Source: Blues News
Saturday - March 07, 2009
BioWare - Interview @ Play
UK Playstation mag Play has a partial BioWare interview on their website (full version is in print). You'll get a laugh from the heading if you read the entire piece because they're obviously desperate to find a Playstation-related positive. Greg Muzyka answers the questions and trundles out the usual PR lines:
Your older games on the PC are known for their depth and detail. Is it difficult to maintain those qualities when making a game that has to be accessible to console gamers?
We have an obligation always to make our games as accessible as possible, and yet you don’t have to lose the depth and richness of the tactics, the systems, the customisation and progression and storyline and exploration – all those great features of RPGs – in the process. You don’t have to lose anything in the translation to become accessible. And accessibility can be achieved in a range of ways too. It doesn’t necessarily mean simple or that it’s not good. On the other hand, you have to be careful how you do it. You have to make sure you’re focussing on interface and control systems and usability, and make sure that you’re not losing the deep, rich systems that people do love. The key is to make it so that it’s easy to play, fun to play, easy to pick up with a nice, smooth learning curve and a great progression system so that you can pick up more depth as you go along. We have to spend a lot of time building tutorials and building the interface and controls to make sure it’s going to reach as wide an audience as possible. But the kind of games we make, games like Mass Effect or Dragon Age, you can see there’s a lot of depth there. We’ve still got that same level of depth, we’re just trying to make it easier to use and make it feel like you’re not even using an interface, make it feel like you’re just connected to this world and you’re a hero walking around in this world. Ideally you shouldn’t even be aware that you’re using an interface. You’re ideally just enjoying the storyline and enjoying the vistas and if you pause for a moment you think you’re looking at a real world. It may be an alternate reality, but you should still feel like you’re there.
Friday - March 06, 2009
BioWare - How Do I Become A Writer #3
So, you want to be a games writer...David Gaider offers advice on your submission in this third and final part at the BioBlog:
A few tips, then, on how to put together a writing submission:
1) You don’t need to learn how to use the Neverwinter Nights toolset or any other applicable conversation-writing system. We have hired people who worked out just fine that submitted their dialogue in MS Word, using hyperlinks on the player responses to jump to the appropriate text box. It is perfectly okay in such cases to write things like [THIS APPEARS ONLY IF THE PLAYER IS EVIL] or [THE NPC WALKS TO THE DRESSER AND OPENS IT]. We’ll be looking to see how well you’re writing and how your quest works, not how well you script (unless that’s what you’re applying for).
Thursday - March 05, 2009
BioWare - How Do I Become A Writer #2
When it comes to game writing, skill is even more important. You’d be surprised how hard it is for people to wrap their head around the notion of branching dialogue. Often what happens is that the writer has a very particular path in mind and fails to account for different player “voices”: the player who’s trying to do the right thing, the player who wants to be a bastard, the player who is the suspicious and reluctant hero, etc. You won’t be able to accommodate every voice all the time, but it is a mistake to accommodate none of them. Especially if your goal is to prove how good you are at this.
Wednesday - March 04, 2009
BioWare - How Do I Become A Writer #1
David Gaider steps up to the BioBlog to write How Do I Become a Writer For Video Games? With his characteristically dry approach, David first outlines the position in this first of a three-part series:
It’s the question I get asked most often, and whether the person asking is looking to become a writer specifically or more interested in becoming a designer in general, my answer is generally the same: “you apply, just like with any other job”. The truth is a bit more complicated, of course, but if I don’t often delve into it with enthusiasm you’ll have to forgive me. As I said, I get asked this a lot.
First things first: what does a writer do? Well, I can tell you honestly that there isn’t a lot of call for dedicated writers in the game industry. There are only a handful of companies that actually have such a beast, and BioWare no doubt has the greatest chunk of them. Most other companies, I would suspect, either have people who wear various hats or outsource any time they need actual writing to be done. We do a little of both, ourselves. There was a time when the designers wore more than one hat out of necessity, but as BioWare has gotten larger we’ve begun to specialize within the design group. The writers are the people who do the quest design and a great portion of the story and level concepting, as well as all of the dialogue writing (which takes up the vast portion of our time).
Saturday - February 28, 2009
BioWare - Interview @ Kikizo
Ray Muzyka speaks to Kikizo in a short but wide-ranging interview that briefly touches every announced BioWare project and also his business role as an EA VP. On Dragon Age:
Kikizo: This concept of how player decisions affect the world or the story is something a lot of games are exploring - things like Fable come to mind - how would you say it works here? Some people say the decisions don't affect things much at all - some players said that about GTA for example.
Muzyka: It maybe comes down to: are you making the decisions sort of personal, or are you making the 'world' decisions impactful? And I think players want to be able to have decisions which have large consequences. So we're not talking about mundane decisions - I mean you get to make smaller decisions too - but the ones that count are the ones that have a big impact, and the ones you expect to have an impact on the world around you. You're a Grey Warden in Dragon Age, and you're there to save the world from the Blight. It's a pretty big role to take on, and you're going to have to do some hard things in that role. But in a mature world you're going to do difficult things that have consequences, too.
Source: Blues News
Friday - February 27, 2009
BioWare - Conveying Story without Dialogue #2
The BioBlog piece on Conveying Story Without Dialogue has been wrapped up by Pieter Parker, who writes Gears of War, Assassins Creed and Half Life offer good examples:
In Gears of War there are moments where Marcus Phoenix and his crew are communicating with helpers outside of the combat area via a headset. This helps to tie into the overall flow of the story as the player guides Marcus Phoenix towards the next combat area, being warned all the while about the enemies he is about to face. Doing this in such a way helps retain flow and immersion, and does not pull the player out of the game. Another good example of this is in Assassin’s Creed, where in almost every cutscene the player is able to have limited control of Altair as cutscenes are being played. The beginning of Half-Life 2 also does this extremely well, as what could have been conveyed as a cutscene is instead experienced directly by the player. I’m sure we all looked into that open slot in the doorway and saw the prisoner being tortured by the Combine the first time we played the game.
Thursday - February 26, 2009
BioWare - Conveying Story without Dialogue
BioWare's Pieter Parker writes for the BioBlog on Conveying Story to the Player With out Dialogue or Cutscenes. The answers are fairly obvious but here's an opening snip from Part 1:
With over 320,000 recorded words used in Jade Empire and 20,000 lines of dialogue in Mass Effect (the equivalent of 15-20 movie screenplays for you number crunchers out there), there is no doubt that BioWare games are story heavy games that are rich with dialogue. The question is, are cinematics and dialogue the only way to convey story to the player, or are there other options available to the enthusiastic developer? In short, the answer is yes; and we as both an industry and a fan base are seeing a change in the way story is conveyed in video games.
Monday - February 16, 2009
BioWare - Telling Stories
Jay Watamaniuk takes up the pen at the BioBlog with a piece called Telling Stories:
I’d like to step back a moment and let everyone in on a little secret: playing games is like lying. It’s telling an elaborate yarn that you and your friends will believe just long enough to participate in some group hypnosis voodoo that results in a new work of fiction where you are the hero, villain, victim or observer of events both large and small.
To me that is the essence of gaming.
Thursday - February 05, 2009
BioWare - Why We Fight
Respected modder Adam Miller drops by the BioBlog for a piece called Why We Fight, writing about why he became a NWN modder:
My long and rambling hobby as a modder began to spite my wife.
I had heard of Neverwinter Nights, and started to get excited as I had long loved playing with “Build Your Own Adventure” type games. I was busy writing dialog, making maps, and generally getting ready for my first module. We were at my in-law’s house and my mother-in-law asked, “What’s Adam doing?” “Something he’ll never finish,” my wife dryly replied.
Monday - February 02, 2009
BioWare - Trials and Tribulations of a Level Designer #2
Cori Nicole May from BioWare writes the second part of her experiences as a level designer for BioWare at the Bioblog:
I’ve made cutscenes, too. I discovered, in so doing, that I also have a terrible cinematic eye, and dramatic effect is not my forte. Fortunately, by some grace, in the meantime an entire department of cinematic designers has been created, and no one will ever be forced to watch my amateurish efforts again. I marvel at those who can do it, though; I love playing through the game and seeing the new cutscenes and staging that have been put in, the close-ups and pull-backs for special effects. I try to remember to tell the cinematics people how wonderful their work is, because I know how mediocre my previous attempts had been, in comparison. And the level artist and character artists too, for that matter. I just hope that makes up for the many times I have to go and whine about bugs and different interpretations of how something should look.
Wednesday - January 28, 2009
BioWare - The Trials and Tribulations of Being a Level Designer
Level designers get no respect, it seems. BioWare's Cori Nicole May explains what it's like to be one over at the BioBlog:
For one, it’s nearly impossible to explain to people outside the business, including my friends and family, what it is exactly that I do. When I say ‘I make video-games’, I mean that quite literally, but no one seems to believe me.
“But what do you do?” they will inevitably ask.
“I’m a level designer.”
“So you’re an artist?’
*deep sigh* “No, I’m a technical designer – we take the writer’s story and implement it, using the art and programming code. So, in short, I make video games.”
“Oh,” they’ll usually say, pretending they understand. “So it’s like programming?”
Defeated, I’ll say, “Yeah, it’s like that.” (Sorry, programmers; I don’t mean to claim your title because providence knows I don’t deserve it, but there’s no other way.)
Thursday - January 22, 2009
BioWare - Making an Emotional Investment
Jos Hendriks writes for the BioBlog about making an emotional connection with games:
Perhaps this only grew on me recently, or perhaps it has been present ever since I started playing videogames. Quite possibly this is different for each and every person out there who enjoys to pick up the occasional game, but I recently became consciously aware that games have slowly become harder for me to enjoy.
Part of this is because I make games for a living. Being busy working on stuff at the various companies I’ve worked at made me go from playing a game to analyzing it more than anything. Instead of seeing that huge spaceship disintegrate with an awesome explosion I see particle effects, interpolation (better known as keyframing), and animation tracks come together well*. But with good games that immerse me and that I want to play that is not the main reason for me to find real enjoyment in games.
Thursday - January 15, 2009
BioWare - Blogging on Medieval Fantasy Gaming
Ferret Baudoin (ex- Obsidian NWN2 lead and now with BioWare) has penned a lengthy two-part piece on the BioBlog about his fascination with the Middle Ages and related gaming:
There is one time period that fascinates me like no other - the Middle Ages. Knights in armor, kings and queens, and Crusades… what’s not to like? When I was a young kid and played my first game – I had no idea what medieval times were like. Honestly, I didn’t care. I got to kick goblin’s teeth in – wee! But as I got older I found that my suspension of disbelief was harder to swallow. So I thought quite a bit and wondered – what the heck was that time period actually like? On a summer vacation I picked up several books of medieval history and read them voraciously. That’s something I still do on occasion. I realized that the sort of Tolkien-esque worlds I’ve played in or had run, although fascinating, really paled to bits of real history. It also made me realize that the best way to smooth over the disbelief issue is to inject a lot of historical realism into things.
So I’ll tell you a little of my gamemastering journey. Hopefully it’ll make you think of a thing or two or be vaguely entertaining or interesting.
Thursday - January 08, 2009
BioWare - Mass Effect 2 GDC Panel
While it doesn't tell us anything new about Mass Effect 2, this page promoting a GDC panel on BioWare's iterative design approach to Mass Effect 2 obviously confirms the title. Head over to The Iterative Level Design Process of Bioware's MASS EFFECT 2 for a full description of the upcoming 60 minute lecture.
Tuesday - December 16, 2008
BioWare - The Greatest Shame of All
A little different but this article involves Drew Karpyshyn discussing game novelisaton.
"Honestly, I think many games wouldn't make compelling novels," Karpyshyn says. According to him, there are many aspects inherent to games - most notably their interactive nature - that make it difficult to translate them to other, more linear forms of storytelling. Yet that didn't stop him from writing books based on the PC and Xbox 360 RPG Mass Effect, also developed by BioWare. For Karpyshyn, that game was a special circumstance. "The reason the Mass Effect novels worked so well was the depth of the universe we created for the games," he says. "At BioWare, we spent a full year developing the Mass Effect galaxy before we even began work on the story of the game. By laying the groundwork for such a rich, widespread setting, we opened up the possibility to tell all sorts of stories beyond the plot of the game."
Much like Star Wars, the Mass Effect mythology encompassed a vast array of alien species, planets and technologies, punctuated by dozens of interesting characters and events. Creating a universe like this clearly lends itself well to different types of storytelling, literature included. There were many characters and events the game only touched on briefly that beg for further exploration. However, as Karpyshyn explains, most games don't feature that kind of fully fleshed-out game world, making the transition difficult. Instead, many authors are forced to slavishly follow the events of a particular game, often with unsatisfactory results.
Wednesday - November 19, 2008
BioWare - Blogging on Immersion
Gamebanshee posts some links to the Bioware blogs where in a 3 part series, writer Brian Kindregan discusses immersion versus stats in RPG's and how it affects gameplay. A sample from part 1:
So I’m leading a troop of Grim-mages across the wastes of D’rann when we get dive bombed by the Nalmerre aliens in their swooping zagoid ships. They’re raining chain bombs down on us and my Grim-mages quickly begin an ancient and dread chant…
Or maybe I’m actually staring at an array of tiny lights that are either red, green or blue. And maybe those lights are controlled by a much vaster array of numbers that are either one, zero or in the process of changing from one to the other.
Which version of reality do you prefer?
I think most people would prefer the version with the Grim-mages and the chain bombs. (Not everyone though!) So that’s an easy one, but let’s make it a bit harder.
Would you rather know that the ancient and dread chant summons a massive lava spew from the ground that will hurt many of the zagoid ships, or that the spell in question will do 100 to 300 damage to all enemy units in its area of effect? Would you rather know that Grim-mages are very crafty when dealing with flying opponents, or that the Grim-mage unit gets +6 to defense when fighting airborne units? Now we’re forming up on opposite sides of a line in the sand. (Let’s fight! Just kidding – the numbers guys would put a +4 beat down on my team.)
I want to be immersed, I want to feel that this is real. And real life does sometimes have numbers to help you. Often times it does not. This car may get better mileage than that one, but which one will make you feel safer/faster/sexier? This piece of fruit may have a longer shelf life than that one, but which one will taste better later this afternoon? There’s lots of guessing, intuition and dumb mistakes.
Monday - November 10, 2008
BioWare - MMOG Startups @ RPG Vault
RPG Vault has the second in their series on MMOG studio startups, this time looking at BioWare's Austin studio with Rich Vogel and Gordon Walton:
We also made the decision that if we were to build a BioWare game, we needed design leadership from the mother ship. James Ohlen, the studio creative director agreed to move to Austin, and brought along a few key design leads. We also ended up with several other strong veterans in important positions. They veterans were invaluable as our cultural touchstones, and were an excellent reality check on how well we were doing in staying aligned.
We immediately started evaluating available middleware, as we wanted to be in a position to be building and playing our game, not spending a year or two creating technology first. We were fortunate to find some that matched most of our needs, though we knew we would end up doing a lot of additions and changes to get exactly where we were looking to end up. We also had to integrate some of BioWare's knowledge in this area into our project.
Saturday - November 08, 2008
BioWare - Patrick Weekes on Romances
Writer Patrick Weekes writes a three-parter on the BioWare blog about romances, which he finds"baddass". Let's start at the beginning:
I should note, as we get going, that I’m uncertain as I write this how much of this is supposed to be words of wisdom, and how much of this is supposed to be an actual blog, which would look less like what I’m going to write and more like:
“Got into work late OMGPARKING!!! Horrible programmer took last cinnamon bagel I NEED BAGELZ 2 WORK 4 SRS!@!
Some gamers hate romances. Some gamers love them. They are an enormous and complicated bunch of conversation files that a lot of gamers will never bother to see. They are a true attempt to create a real emotional connection with the player. They are cutscenes that cost a ton of money and create public relations hassles. They are a chance to see side-boob on a blue cutie. They are an annoying distraction from the main game and a breath of fresh air between long combat sections.
Personally, I think romances are badass. As a gamer, I’d love to see a game whose main story was a love story (and which did not involve a tentacle-based minigame). The argument for awhile was that not enough gamers cared about these simulated relationships to have that be the main focus of the game, and that it would largely be a long bunch of conversations instead of a game. On the other hand, the new influx of story-focused gamers, combined with new advances in digital acting, make it entirely possible that a love story could succeed with modern fans.
Tuesday - November 04, 2008
BioWare - Hippocratic Game Design
Hippocratic Game Design is the title of an interview with the BioWare doctors at The Escapist on their history as medical doctors and how they got into the game business:
Medicine and game development were never really separate career phases for the BioWare founders, though. Instead, their two professions progressed in tandem, playing separate and equally important roles in the company that developed into BioWare. In medical school, seeing a gap in the educational software available to doctors, Zeschuk and Muzyka developed two pieces of software to use for training purposes, one of which was, as Zeschuk is quick to note with amusement, "the highly regarded Gastroenterology Patient Simulator." After they became doctors, their salaries largely went towards getting the nascent BioWare up and running.
Saturday - November 01, 2008
BioWare - Blog
Bioware have started an offical blog on this Halloween. Welcome message from Jay Watamaniuk.
I can pick no better day to start off BioWare’s offical blog - Halloween!
The theme of this blog will be story-based gaming of all varieties. I have a great list of people from BioWare and beyond who have an enormous amount of experience in running games, playing games, and making games. In keeping with the theme today Ferret Baudoin, Lead Designer has some advice on adding a bit of horror to your game and take a peek at what BioWare staff do on Halloween day…
Wednesday - October 22, 2008
BioWare - Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO
BioWare and LucasArts yesterday revealed their anticipated MMO - Star Wars: The Old Republic. Yes, it's a "KotOR" MMO, although the timeline is set 300 years after KotOR so there's plenty of room to continue to develop single player RPGs if they so choose. Head over to MMOWatch for the full announcement and links to art and the first preview from IGN.
BioWare - Star Wars: The Old Republic Announced
As expected, BioWare and LucasArts unveiled Star Wars: The Old Republic at a press event yesterday. Here's the press release:
LUCASARTS AND BIOWARE
REVEAL STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC
OCTOBER 21, SAN FRANCISCO – LucasArts and BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), today announced the development of Star Wars®: The Old Republic™, a story-driven massively multiplayer online PC game set in the timeframe of the Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic™ franchise. Star Wars: The Old Republic, being developed and published by BioWare and LucasArts, represents an innovative approach to interactive entertainment, featuring immersive storytelling, dynamic combat and intelligent companion characters.
In Star Wars: The Old Republic, players will explore an age thousands of years before the rise of Darth Vader when war between the Old Republic and the Sith Empire divides the galaxy. Players can choose to play as Jedi, Sith, or a variety of other classic Star Wars roles, defining their personal story and determining their path down the light or dark side of the Force. Along the way, players will befriend courageous companions who will fight at their side or possibly betray them, based on the players’ actions. Players can also choose to team up with friends to battle enemies and overcome incredible challenges using dynamic Star Wars combat.
"Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the most critically acclaimed Star Wars game in LucasArts history and a preeminent example of our company’s interactive storytelling heritage," said Darrell Rodriguez, President of LucasArts. "For a long time, we’ve long wanted to return to the franchise in a grand way, and we felt that the best setting for it was an online world that would allow millions of people to participate in the experience together. We knew that the developer capable of working with us to deliver an engrossing story with a fully-realized online world was BioWare."
"Traditionally, massively multiplayer online games have been about three basic gameplay pillars - combat, exploration and character progression," said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Co-Founder and General Manager/CEO of BioWare and General Manager/Vice President of Electronic Arts Inc., "In Star Wars: The Old Republic, we’re fusing BioWare’s heritage of critically-acclaimed storytelling with the amazing pedigree of Lucasfilm and LucasArts, and adding a brand-new fourth pillar to the equation – story. At the same time, we will still deliver all the fun features and activities that fans have come to expect in a AAA massively multiplayer online game. To top it all off, Star Wars: The Old Republic is set in a very exciting, dynamic period in the Star Wars universe."
Added Dr. Greg Zeschuk, Co-Founder and Vice President Development Operations, BioWare and Vice President, Electronic Arts Inc., "Star Wars: The Old Republic is set roughly 300 years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic, a timeframe that is completely unexplored in the lore. BioWare has been able to add to the Star Wars history in developing the game’s story and has created an overarching narrative that players can enjoy, regardless of their play style. Our goal is to offer players an emotionally rewarding experience that combines the traditional elements of MMO gameplay with innovations in story and character development."
Additional details on Star Wars: The Old Republic features, gameplay and release date will be announced at a later time. For more information about Star Wars: The Old Republic and to sign up for future product updates, please visit www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com.
While a few sites have covered the announcement, the first proper preview article we can find is up at IGN, with BioWare emphasising their "fourth gameplay pillar" of story:
Twelve full-time writers have been working on the content for this game for years already. The writing department was the first priority when it came to staffing so these writers have been working on the game longer than anyone. There's a whole galaxy to tell stories in, and unlike Star Wars Galaxies or The Lord of the Rings Online, The Old Republic isn't tied down to an intricate series of events and settings. As a result, they have a bit more liberty to fill in some of the dark places in the lore and to draw interesting connections between the elements that already exist in the Extended Universe.
If you're wondering how you get a good story-driven MMO, it appears the trick isn't any huge innovation beyond tailoring story-arcs for different classes:
The solution is to give each class its own story arc. While it means the writers have to create a lot more content, it also pays tribute to the fact that "not everybody's fantasy was to be Luke." There's plenty of opportunity to tell equally interesting stories for other possible character types like smugglers, bounty hunters, politicians and moisture farmers. Okay, well, maybe not so much with the moisture farmers, but those other possibilities seem like they'd have experiences that are every bit as exciting as you'd get as a Jedi.
Monday - October 06, 2008
BioWare - KotOR MMO to be Announced October 21?
Gamasutra takes this long-running story/speculation one step further, saying they received an invite to the official unveiling of the joint BioWare and LucasArts game:
LucasArts' and BioWare's long-awaited, much-discussed joint development project -- widely speculated to be an MMO set in the Star Wars universe circa BioWare's own Knights of the Old Republic -- will be revealed to the press October 21, according to an invitation sent out to media outlets including Gamasutra.
It is likely that the official announcement will come shortly after the October 21 press reveal held at LucasArts' San Francisco offices; events of this nature are frequently subject to a media embargo.
The postcard, which proclaims "The wait is over" and promises "the official unveiling of the game that's been rumored about for years," makes no explicit reference to Star Wars. It is branded with the LucasArts and BioWare logos and depicts floating robots and hooded figures in futuristic interior locations reminiscent of the sci-fi franchise.
Friday - October 03, 2008
BioWare - KotOR MMO to be Unveiled Soon?
Who knows with this stuff? Brit site CVG says a UK tabloid claims they've sent a reporter off for an exclusive on BioWare's KotOR MMO. Here's the evidence:
Backing up all this is the strongest confirmation yet (other than EA's boss saying it's in the works, of course) from UK newspaper, The Daily Star, of all places.
A column that appeared last Saturday reports that the rag is soon off to San Francisco to "file an exclusive report on the game", after stating that BioWare is working on "a MMO of Knights of the Old Republic".
Thursday - September 18, 2008
BioWare - People Don't Pay Money to Suck
Lead combat designer Damion Schubert discusses MMO gameplay, written up by Charles Onyett.
The endgame, elder content is also the most challenging piece of an MMO, says Schubert, especially compared to the leveling process, which he compared to popping bubble wrap. Because of the open nature of MMOs, it's possible to explore the world and discover where the best spots to level are, removing even more challenge from the process. With the endgame, however, people are more restricted, and the difficulty level, either in PvP contests or PvE raid encounters, shoots up dramatically.
In order to pull players through the sometimes dull leveling process, Schubert says it's necessary to give an indication of what's going on at higher levels. In games where the endgame revolves around player versus player territorial control combat, for instance, a good game will let players view a territorial control map. On World War II Online's site, for instance, the main page prominently displays the line of contest between the two sides and which side, the Axis or the Allies, are pushing forward. It's, in effect, an advertisement for the dynamic, high level activity that most new players might not necessarily be aware of.
Source: Ten Ton Hammer
Wednesday - September 17, 2008
BioWare - Spinning a Gripping Game
The Edmonton Journal has an interview in article format with BioWare writers about the process of Spinning a Gripping Game. There's nothing new but fans may be interested in Drew Karpyshyn's and Mike Laidlaw's approach:
The game boasts about 300,000 words of dialogue and an elaborate backstory. Everything has been accounted for, right down to creatures native to different planets. "There's a huge amount of content, more than you would find in a movie or a book," Karpyshyn says. "So you need an enormous amount of writing to flesh that out and really make the experience resonate."
Writers are assigned their own pieces of the galaxy to dream up. To start, they are given only the vaguest of directions like: create an ice world.
"It's a very broad mandate," Karpyshyn says. "Each writer is given quite a bit of freedom in their own little corner of this vast universe, but they have to make sure that everything fits together, and that's really what the lead writer's responsibility is."
As the writers work, they discuss elements with designers and artists, who help shape the look and feel of the game. How everything fits together is determined during a lengthy testing period.
Tuesday - September 16, 2008
BioWare - Cinematic Design @ IGN
IGN has a feature article up looking at the cinematic side of story-telling as discussed at the Austin Games Conference by BioWare senior writer Mac Walters and senior cinematic designer Paul Marino:
Mac started off with establishing the importance of stories in games and the degree to which that importance is noticed in the industry. "Narrative, story in games, is something that's increasingly important. Most of the studios out there have taken notice of this. We're seeing writers being hired, whether it's on contract or on staff, more and more frequently. I think more and more you can see a good story can set apart a mediocre game from a great game." But it's more than just telling a good story, he said, it's also about drawing in the player, making the game world feel believable, and generating some emotion...
So why isn't narrative and cinematic design an integral element of more games if it's so important? "It's freaking hard to do, at least to do it right," said Walters.
"Cinematic presentation is a really strong element," said Marino, "and it's also a challenge. We don't want to pull the player entirely out of the game, we want to make sure they're engaged entirely, all the time." For Marino, the cinematic design is comprised of a few main parts. The writing, the audio like sound effects and voice acting, fully realized game locations, and, like in the movies, camera angles, and the element of player choice.
Wednesday - July 02, 2008
BioWare - Interview @ MTV
The BioWare Doctors have chatted briefly to MTV on a handful of subjects. The headline revelation is their interest in the iPhone but there isn't much to the whole article. Here's a bit on continuing to make PC-exclusive games:
“Yeah. I think that’s quite feasible. The PC market is vibrant and you look at the success of games like ‘World of Warcraft’ or ‘Age of Conan.’ Those are very successful games. It remains to be seen how ‘Conan’ will continue to be successful but it’s off to a great start and we’re very supportive of seeing great PC titles in the market because we just think it’s another sign that the market’s very strong.”
Friday - June 20, 2008
BioWare - MMO due 2010/2011
Eurogamer reports that John Riccitiello's recent talks give an ETA on Bioware's MMO project.
Another snippet here from John Riccitiello's very illuminating talk with the William Blair and Company investor conference earlier this week: the EA chief noted that Bioware's MMO is scheduled to be released in "fiscal 2010" - that is, between April 2010 and April 2011.
This news slipped through the net earlier in the week, but the eagle-eyed Total Video Games picked it up.
In fact, Riccitiello did not mention Bioware, noting only that EA was "funding the MMO in Austin", but given that EA owns Bioware, and Bioware is known to be developing an MMO in its Austin studio, it's quite clear what he was talking about.
Tuesday - May 27, 2008
BioWare - Ray Muzyka Interview @ Joystiq
From late last week comes a new interview with BioWare's Ray Muzyka at Joystiq. It's a short article that touches on licensed vs original IP and, of course, the PC version of Mass Effect. Once again Ray casually mentions playing Dragon Age - you'd be forgiven for thinking the game was closer than April 2009 but note the "later this year" for more info:
Do you prefer creating stories in the confines of someone else's mythology (Star Wars, etc.) or the freedom of making your own?
Both choices have their own unique appeal. In the end, both are ends of the same spectrum, since successful new intellectual properties become licenses. In the case of Star Wars, it was an incredible honor to work with LucasArts as we were – and are - huge fans of the Star Wars IP! Lucas has created a universe that allowed us to be very creative, so it really wasn't confining when we considered the freedom available in the Knights of the Old Republic setting, some 5000 years before the movies. The other side of the equation, creating new intellectual property, is literally creating your own fiction and is a lot of fun as we are starting from scratch for new IPs like Mass Effect or Dragon Age. Dragon Age is awesome by the way – I was playing it just the other day and it's shaping up pretty marvelously – we're looking forward to showing more on DA later this year. But the ultimate answer to your question is, we love working on both types of properties and you can expect both kinds from BioWare in the future.
Monday - May 19, 2008
BioWare - Muzyka Discusses Life after EA @ Gamasutra
Gamasutra has a four page Q & A with Bioware's Dr. Ray Muzyka about what the future looks like for the Canadian developer under the EA umbrella. (There's no mention of Dragon Age.) The discussion ranges over such topics as the cross-platform, console and MMO games Bioware is working on, their PC endeavors with Mass Effect, and on the impact of being acquired by EA:
...Another thing I'm excited about is being part of a larger company. It's like this big toy box where there's this cool tech over there and interesting ideas and smart, nice people that are willing to share and collaborate on a bunch of things from different studios. But none of it's forced. It's as much as we can enable. It's up to us, as BioWare. It's part of that.
It's part of EA. We are EA. BioWare is a publisher now. It's a weird thing to say, but it's true, and that's not a bad thing. It's all about how you approach it. Are you oriented around your design, and your fans and long-term goals, not just short-term goals? It's going to be a very healthy thing, because being a publisher actually really is about having a closer connection to your fans, in some ways. You're selling things to them, so if you're listening to them, you can take that stuff and bring it in and make your games better, which is our philosophy. And I think it's the philosophy of the new EA as well...
...For us, our mission may [be] building the best story or narrative-driven games in the world, but I see narrative -- and I talked about this in the [DICE] panel -- as being very broad. I think you'll see more and more of that coming in BioWare games. It's the narrative of the explorer, and the narrative of the combatant and the hero's journey. It's the narrative of the story, characters, and the social space.
Friday - May 16, 2008
BioWare - Muzyka Discusses Mass Effect, Dragon Age @ IGN
IGN caught up with Dr. Ray Muzyka of Bioware at the EA Spring Break event in San Francisco, California recently and took the opportunity to ask him a few questions on Mass Effect, Dragon Age and PC gaming in general. Here's an except from the Dragon Age coverage:
"Dragon Age has been in development for a while," said Muzyka. "Part of that is BioWare's attention to quality and detail and making this rich universe that you want to be part of. Dragon Age is in BioWare's sweet spot; it's the ultimate fantasy-adventure. It's going to appeal to the fans of Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights and it's sort of the next generation of that…We haven't talked about it recently because we're just building up to something hopefully in the near future…I was just playing it last week and it's pretty damn cool."
And that's pretty much all that's being said on the subject for now...
On their PC market base:
Finally, what does Dr. Ray Muzyka think of the current PC market? "I think the PC market right now is a very strong place. It's stronger than it's ever been. The business models have changed, consumer tastes have changed, the way people pay for content, microtransactions, downloadable content, online services, in-game ads, these are all kinds of different flavors…You know at the end of the day it all comes down to can you make a really great game really fun for your fans? And if you can do that and you understand who your fans really are, I think it's an incredibly great opportunity to develop for PC."
Friday - May 02, 2008
BioWare - Ray Muzyka Interview @ The Guardian
Medical Marvels is the title of a conversation with Ray Muzyka at The Guardian on changing careers from medical doctor to game producer and BioWare's current emphasis on characters:
Bioware are deadly serious about characterisation - Muzyka refers to the cast of Mass Effect as digital actors, because that's essentially what they are: their minutely detailed facial expressions carefully mapped to every nuance of dialogue.
The team developed a tool they named "Bio-RPG" - a sort of acting system that sat above the graphics engine controlling character movement and body language. They even hired an acting coach to come in and go through the fundamentals of portraying emotion to the programmers and artists. And again, Muzyka's medical experience proved handy.
"One of the things I learned as a doctor is how important the eyes are for our ability to read people. You're looking into somebody's eyes typically, when you're talking to them, so the eyes have to be right, they have to have that double reflectivity layer, the surface underneath."
Thursday - May 01, 2008
BioWare - Vying to be a Video Game Tester
Bit of an different one...CityTV has a video that looks at the process of someone applying for a tester position at BioWare - competing with 4000 other applicants. I couldn't get sound, so I can't tell how interesting it is but it only runs for 4 minutes or so.
Friday - April 25, 2008
BioWare - Interview @ GameDaily
The BioWare doctors chat with GameDaily about storytelling in games, the Wii (and hey, they disagree on something - don't think I've seen that before, even if it is very, very minor), making an MMO and more. Here's the opening on why storytelling is the future of gaming:
GameDaily BIZ: I met with Silicon Knights president Denis Dyack earlier and he believes storytelling is the driving force that's going to take gaming forward. Do you agree with that viewpoint?
Ray Muzyka: Yes, but also, what is story telling? It's an interesting question to explore. I really believe there are different types of narrative in games that are starting to emerge now as separate threads. The story, VO, and the character interactions for us is an important one, but it's not the only one. There's also you as explorer, exploring new areas with that sense of awe and excitement, or you and combat as you as a combatant and progressing your abilities. Or developing your skills assuming your personal identity, growing your character, or interacting with other players in your online guild or community. Those are all separate narrative threads. When you start teasing out of them, what the player experiences, they are all important and as relevant as the story.
Then there's the storytelling aspect as well, in a non-linear experience, the players can try different things in different order. So there's the linear director's cut that goes through most games, with a starting point and end point (or multiple end points in our games), Every player has a different view. If you go to an uncharted world in Mass Effect, as an example, depending on what uncharted world you've seen before, your impression and experience of that world is going to be different than if you did it in a different order or never even saw certain worlds, so you have no context of back history or story or weight of the IP that's underneath the surface that's adding a truth to it all or making it feel more real.
Source: Evil Avatar
Saturday - April 05, 2008
BioWare - Scripting Its Classics @ CVG
An article called The BioWare Technique - Scripting its classics sees BioWare writers Drew Karpshyn and Mike Laidlaw discussing their approach:
BioWare create character bibles for most of the personalities in their games, and settle on three levels of importance - major, medium and minor. "Minor characters are typically the barkeep, where I'm not so worried about his family history, as in any interesting personality quirks he has - he's short and round, maybe has asthma..." says Laidlaw.
"But as a character grows in significance to the story we flesh them out a lot further, largely because we want these characters to be 3D, to resonate properly. You have to make sure that they have enough depth to go beyond [does lame tough guy voice] 'I am a guy with a gun!'
"The bibles then allow the artists to get a real grasp on the characters so they can then come in and provide concept art and models, and give their feedback," continues Karpyshyn. "Quite often you'll find they actually take what you were doing and emphasise a particular element that you had mentioned, such as push a character's appearance to be more humorous or more sinister - and it really helps us create that link between what you see in the game and the words that we're putting into the characters' mouths."
Monday - March 31, 2008
BioWare - Interview @ VentureBeat
Dean Takahashi (who caused some controversy with a Mass Effect review when he forgot to level his character) has interviewed the BioWare doctors about Mass Effect, EA and PC gaming. It's a staccato conversation and hard to pick a quote but here's an odd bit:
Takahashi: Do you want to stay in a turn-based world or go real time?
Muzyka: We have innovations in that area. We’ll have more to say about that later.
Takahashi: What do you think of the different digital business models ahead?
Zeschuk: We think there are opportunities with mid-session games. They can have short, contained games where you can buy digital items. We’re doing an online game in our Austin studio. We see things like episodic game play, new forms of digital distribution. EA is embracing those things.
Zeschuk: The game design has to directly support the business model. That means the game designers have to have a business perspective. They have to think about how to make money.
Muzyka: This isn’t abstract art. It’s commercial art.
I'd suggest "innovation" in turn-based gameplay pretty much always means it just isn't.
Saturday - March 29, 2008
BioWare - More Glamor than Game?
GamersWithJobs has an opinion piece up that examines the success of Bioware and their position at the top of the RPG tree, speculating on whether their reputation rests on the quality of their games, or their ability to sell them. The author starts with a disclaimer that he isn't tackling Bioware for their popularity, but for what's really behind it:
So, with that disclaimer tendered, let me offer the following: I believe Bioware’s games are vastly over-rated.
Here's some of his reasoning:
Bioware’s greatest accomplishment is not the digitized code that is pressed into millions of DVDs, but its astounding ability to capitalize on opportunities for success. While I am not necessarily beguiled by the company’s library of games, I am positively dumbfounded at the savvy of Bioware’s management to nimbly traverse the gaming business landscape. These are not men to be trifled with, and I would never denigrate their accomplishments by implying that some form of lesser-luck was involved. These guys are good at the art of manipulation, managing to paint themselves, their company and their products as paragons of the gaming landscape even if they don’t necessarily deserve it.
For example, Baldur’s Gate and its sequel are good, but were in many ways eclipsed by the Infinity Engine powered games from Black Isle, Planescape: Torment and the Icewind Dale series. Yet, despite a far more impressive track record, it is not Black Isle that survived the sucking whirlpool of Interplay’s bungling to become the crown jewel of Electronic Arts, but Bioware.
Bioware makes you believe in them, be you consumer, critic or executive. They seem unimpeachable, in the company of places like Blizzard for consistently issuing genius into the gaming landscape, and let’s be completely honest here, they are undeniable hit-makers. This is a company that will move product, that will get people through the door with money in hand, but to me Bioware seems better at making you believe their games are top-tier than actually making top-tier games.
And on their recent games:
I contend that with a lesser brand (and certainly without the Star Wars trappings) Knights of the Old Republic would have been a largely forgettable experience. And, Jade Empire would have been a product praised for making the effort but condemned to a host of average scores instead of being heralded by one IGN reviewer as “one of the greatest action RPG's of all-time” while another IGN reviewer suggested that the first had “underrated” Jade Empire by giving it a 9.9!...
I.. Like Neverwinter Nights before it, Jade Empire seemed to me like a game rife with averageness that was elevated by an admittedly competent story – that’s actually high-praise for gaming narratives – and the boisterous enthusiasm of reviewers who, I assume were playing the same game as I but coming to dramatically different conclusions. Maybe these folks are seeing something I’m not, but every Bioware game since Baldur’s Gate II seems to me like a ghost of an RPG with half-hearted trappings of the genre surrounding worlds of little depth with little choice.
...Mass Effect, like KOTOR, Jade Empire and Neverwinter Nights before, wasn’t a bad game by any means. It was an average game that was elevated by a decent narrative and the funding to add real production value.
I don’t believe there is anything nefarious going on here. I believe that reviews of Bioware games are good faith efforts by professional reviewers, but I also believe that there is a well cultivated sentiment among these professionals and their readers that anything from Bioware is naturally brilliant. Bioware does a good job of not dispelling this myth, putting the effort in the right places to sustain this perception, and even cultivate it, but I think more critical analyses of the games show that there are deep flaws which are too often glossed over.
Thursday - March 20, 2008
BioWare - Interview @ Crispy Gamer
This is the first time we've linked the oddly-named Crispy Gamer, which is a newish site with a large stable of well-known industry writers. For this article, the BioWare doctors front up for a Q&A on their history and development titled BioWare Design Docs. An interesting response on the position of small developers:
Crispy Gamer: Since you've effectively switched sides now to the evil empire, it begs the question: Can independent game studios still survive in this day and age, and do they still stand any reasonable chance of competing with the big boys, let alone producing a breakout hit?
Muzyka: There are a lot of interesting opportunities available for smaller independent studios, in areas as diverse as handheld or mobile development, post-release downloadable content, expansions, outsourcing, porting to new platforms, developing new titles using engines or toolsets released with other games (along the lines of what fans did for BioWare's Neverwinter Nights or Valve's Half-Life 2) or Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network or WiiWare downloadable content. The key is to understand your core competencies and focus on delivering something that stands out against your competitors.
Wednesday - March 19, 2008
BioWare - Podcast #4
Mass Effect PC details in the 4th Bioware Podcast here.
Tuesday - March 18, 2008
BioWare - Q & A @ bit-tech.net
Matt Atwood is again the Bioware rep for this short interview at bit-tech.net. Staffer Joe Martin asks him some questions about the relationship with EA, the upcoming Mass Effect for PC release, porting and piracy:
Bit: Speaking of customisation and all that, I mean, to me the RPG genre is one most closely associated with the PC. So, why did you take the Mass Effect franchise to the Xbox 360 and then to PC? Why not the other way around?
Matt: I think it depends on what you’re doing. Look at our next game for instance, Dragon Age, is a very traditional RPG and there’s a strong argument for making that for the PC first. But with Mass Effect, we wanted to deliver a different type of experience.
Mass Effect…It isn’t just a pure RPG, it’s so much more. You don’t have to level up and do all that stuff manually and you don’t have to follow all the side quests – you can just play it as a shooter, with your feet up on the coffee table if you want and that type of casual experience is more suited to consoles...
We’re certainly not making it an Xbox 360 exclusive and we’re working to get the PC version out as quick as we can because there are as many problems as there are…like the interface, for instance. The team did a great job and we did the best we could, but the PC allows us to do so much more.
Bit: It’s interesting you’d say that because a lot of PC games are moving more towards console games in an effort to avoid piracy. Was piracy a factor in the console launch?
Piracy is always a concern obviously, but if we were that worried then we wouldn’t do a PC version at all, right?
Hmm, maybe I should qualify that. We’re very concerned about piracy and we put steps in to stop people doing that. At the end of the day the BioWare team spent four years—it’ll actually be more than that when the PC version is out—of their lives making just the first game in this trilogy. Four years of their lives with very many long hour days. They deserve to have consumers pay for the title – they’ve put a lot of work in. That said, piracy didn’t factor into our platform choice massively and the sequels will be released in the same way – Mass 2, Xbox 360.
Wednesday - March 12, 2008
BioWare - On Mass Effect PC and More @ Tom's Games
The BioWare doctors have been interviewed at a site called Tom's Games, discussing Mass Effect for the PC, Bring Down the Sky, the PC as a platform and piracy. It looks like things are about to hot up for Dragon Age, with Zeschuk saying they are getting ready to "start showing" it and this:
Greg Zeschuk: Our next big thing is going to be Dragon Age [a fantasy RPG and reportedly a PC exclusive]. We've moved to an approach where we focus on one big project at a time. So the Mass Effect stuff has reached its twilight, and Dragon Age has come to the forefront. And Sonic Chronicles, the Nintendo DS title, will also be up soon. And well be potentially meeting again soon to talk about those.
BioWare - Improved Sidequests for Mass Effect 2
MTV Multiplayer has another short Q & A up from the recent GDC with Greg Zeschuk of Bioware on how sidequesting in their future games, including their sequel to Mass Effect, will be addressed:
Multiplayer: I played through the end of “Mass Effect.” I had a good time with it. I actually liked exploring a lot of the planets. But what do you make of the people who have said they really enjoy the critical path much more than the side quests? Have you learned any aspects about how to improve upon that aspect of game development, which seems to me to be necessarily always going to be secondary — because they are the side quests? How do you improve that area of game development?
Greg Zeschuk, General Manager, BioWare: “Mass Effect” was specifically designed so there was kind of a straight shot of really intense story down the middle. And then, on the sides, we almost had supporting casts — and those were the planets you could explore. And that was really purposeful. That was to give the player a lot of variety in what you could do and give the player a user-driven, sort of personally customized choice as to how you could play the game.
One of the things we’re looking at for sequels and some of our other games is better technical ways, smarter ways to auto-generate content, to create stuff that seems richer to the player. Another thing we’re looking at — again not specific to one game, but just generally — is a way of tying those additional moments back into the story: whether it’s having to gather certain things for those other planets, kind of making them more central to the story but making sure that they’re still the supporting cast. [We want to be sure] that there’s something really purposeful about them.
I think with “Mass” we just wanted to say, “Let’s make a whole bunch of planets for people to explore.” They all encapsulated, amongst themselves, some fun stories to do. Some kind of spanned among each other. But [next] we’re taking it to that next level of tying them into the central story as well.
On Mass Effect 2 goals:
Zeschuk: Side quests can sometimes be left on the side, so to speak. Pardon the pun. But a lot of times it’s even just getting that whole game done, that first shot [that is important]. We look at “Mass Effect 2” as incredibly exciting. Just the amount of effort and knowledge and know-how that went into building the technology for the first one is huge, and [we now have] the chance to actually make things a little bit richer.
We look into BioWare’s history and we’re really aiming for what happened with “Baldur’s Gate II” compared to what happened with “Baldur’s Gate” one. “Baldur’s Gate” one — extremely solid game, huge impact on the industry. But with “Baldur’s Gate II” we just took it to a whole new level. And I think that’s what we’re excited about with “Mass.”
Tuesday - March 11, 2008
BioWare - Games in the Post SeXbox Era
A bit of a tired subject now but MTV Multiplayer has a video interview with the BioWare doctors on handling romances in the "post SeXbox era". They have a transcription of one response, so here we go:
Ray Muzyka, General Manager, BioWare: We’re proud of the mature plots that we build into our games. They’re really appropriate for the type of story we’re trying to convey. And romance is part of that. It’s part of life. It’s part of an interaction — a healthy relationship with other people. But it’s optional, too. You don’t have to have romances in “Mass Effect” or in our prior games, but they’re available to you if you want and if you want to progress that part of the storyline. But they’re very tasteful, very appropriate. And they’re certainly appropriate for the level of rating, which, in “Mass Effect”’s case was mature.
And I think we’re going to continue doing those things. As an artform it’s exciting that people are actually reacting — they’re feeling something as a result of seeing these kinds of mature plots developing in games now as an emerging artform. The same kind of things happened at the start of movies. The same kinds of things happened at the start television and the advent of television and music, even paintings and books going way, way, way back. The same kinds of reactions — people were scandalized by certain things [and saying] “How can they be?” A lot of it is understanding how it can be appropriate and really not gratuitous at all. Just really appropriate and making the gameplay much better. We’re very proud of the work we’ve put in and our teams are amazing.
Thursday - February 28, 2008
BioWare - Interview @ Joystiq
Joystiq has an interview up with Bioware founders Muzyka and Zeschuk about Mass Effect 's PC debut and results of the recent EA purchase:
The impression the two give are of guys who have just been given a chance at the brass ring. Their comments, intimating that BioWare itself is now a micro-publisher, praising their new co-worker's common sense, hint at a new era of opportunity for the company...
The bottom line, unsaid in the interview itself, is a clear message: "Fans shouldn't worry. We're not, and neither should you." Here's hoping that they've got the right of it.
Here's two sample questions:
Speaking on that point, how come the turnaround was so quick to the PC? There was a little bit of a lag there with Jade Empire, and I think a lot of fans were expecting to have to wait longer than May to see that on the PC.
RM: Well, partly maybe as a response to that, we knew the fans were pretty excited to see that when we did the Jade PC version, like geez how can we ... We were focused pretty much on the 360 version so it was an exclusive development. Near the end we thought, let's satisfy the PC audience too because they're very important constituents for us.
We've seen how the game was technically refined, were there any ways in which the game's story was refined in the move to the PC?
GZ: We've got some things, I'm not sure if we really have talked about those things yet. We may have something in our back pocket. The main focus for us was to improve on what was already in Mass Effect; the story was so well received. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was perfect, there are always things you can tweak on. So the focus was let's put some effort in, let's put some effort where we think we want it devoted...
Friday - February 22, 2008
BioWare - Dragon Age Tidbits and Design Philosophy @ IGN
In more Bioware news, IGN has posted an article discussing some points raised by Bioware's Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk at the Games Developers Conference, where IGN spoke with them concerning several works in progress, including the long awaited Bioware IP RPG, Dragon Age:
"Dragon Age you can picture fitting back into the more core BioWare experience," said Zeschuk. "it's fun for us to get back to fantasy, there's a huge amount of passion for that." The game will take on a dark, brooding atmosphere, they say, yet remain a heroic experience. "We'll certainly have humor, but the world is a pretty heavy world. I don't think it's a direct social commentary, but there's a lot of strife…it feels very mature. It's not like a kids fantasy where there's dancing elves. It's for adults." They promised more information will start to roll out soon.
On their design philosophy:
The team is committed to the idea of games as art. "Why do you love movies that are great," asks Muzyka. "You laugh, you cry, you feel a chill down your spine, you feel like that's so cool, you just told me something about the universe. These are the things that games will do, and I think because you're actually playing them at the center of the experience instead of a passive observer watching it, you might get a more charged emotion out of it. I think games have the opportunity to be one of the most powerful forms of art."
Zeschuk chimed in with little pause in the conversation. "This whole concept of people controlling their destiny is awesome, right? It's the ultimate in fantasy fulfillment. Where's it going? Who knows? You still have to wonder, when you look at the Wii, is it a toy or is it really games? They're going a different direction. We're going for emotional engagement, they're going for entertainment.
BioWare - Q & A @ Gamespy
Gamespy has posted an interview with Bioware's Drs. Muzyka and Zeschuk, discussing EA and the new MMO they have in the works, possible competition with WoW and their traditional story-heavy approach to games:
GameSpy: Following Microsoft's cancellation of Marvel Universe Online, it's easy to be cynical about big publishers' willingness to invest in the MMO space. Are you afraid that EA will be hesitant to support BioWare's MMO if it doesn't reach WoW's critical mass?Dr. Ray Muzyka: No. We have brought ambitious goals, but we're competing with ourselves as much as anybody. That's how we're looking at it. It's a good thing that World of Warcraft has such great quality standards for that kind of game. It is the highest-rated MMO that's been launched to date. There are others that are very innovative, but it's the one whose [Metacritic rating] is the highest. It's grown the audience, and that's a good thing....We're ambitious and cautious and humble at the same time, so we're not afraid on taking on that challenge. But we're not going to make an assumption that we're going to get every person that's played WoW. But we're going to get people that didn't, because we'll have things they don't have, and that's a good thing for the industry. Our goal is to [continue to] grow that industry that they've grown, and we're going in a new direction.Dr. Greg Zeschuk: We want to make something that is first and foremost great. It's a great business to be in, but we also have to be moderately successful. We're very confident that we have a great team in Austin that really knows what they're doing. We have a lot of faith in the kind of stuff that they're thinking of for the genre.Muzyka: It's an expensive business to be in, and we're not going into it with our eyes closed.Zeschuck: It's not for the faint of heart.Muzyka: We've waited 15 years. That's how long we've waited to build this.Zeschuck: Our first design was an MMO, though.Muzyka: But we waited. We waited until we felt we were ready as a studio, and we had the right team in place with people who really respect the right design [philosophy], the right community, the right brand, and the right partners.Zeschuck: One of the things that's probably the least-understood outside the [MMO] space is how challenging it is [to develop one]. There's a very high technical bar.
GameSpy: No one's really figured out multiplayer storytelling yet, especially in a persistent world. Your fans will probably expect you guys to be the first to really tackle it. Do you guys have a plan?
Muzyka: Definitely. When you say it and I imagine it, it gives me a chill down the back of my spine, because that's what we're trying to do.
Zeschuck: We can't really talk about the mechanical details, but you nailed it in the sense that we're trying to figure out a way where you can actually have a fun, social experience, and enjoy a story together.
Muzyka: Not separately, but together.
Zeschuck: We have all this great technology now from all of the games we've made, and we can try different things. We've gotten to a point now where I think we have a pretty compelling system which creates a fun experience. The other side of it is that you have to be very careful with story because if it gets too pedantic and overpowering, it turns people off. You've got to have just enough, and that part has to be fun. We've gotten to a point now where I wouldn't say we've solved it, but we have a legitimate shot.
Muzyka: We're definitely striving to solve that.
Saturday - February 16, 2008
BioWare - Recruiting at 2008 GDC
IGN has posted a press release from Bioware, giving the information that the Canadian developer is recruiting for various positions in PC, handheld and console projects, and encourages interested parties to visit their HR booth at the upcoming Game Developer's Conference. Here's the press release in its entirety:
BioWare Recruiting at 2008 Game Developers Conference
The leading video game developer is looking for top-notch talent to expand teams developing PC, console and handheld projects.
February 15, 2008 - BioWare announced today plans to expand its development teams for future video game projects. With studios in Edmonton, Canada, and Austin, Texas, this leading developer of electronic entertainment software is actively recruiting for a variety of positions across numerous disciplines. Since 1995, BioWare has enjoyed a steady growth of employees and projects across both its studios in Edmonton, Canada, and Austin, Texas.
From February 18-22, 2008, BioWare will be attending the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, where hopeful recruits will have the opportunity to learn more about BioWare and its games, as well as the positions available, which include 3D graphics programmers, technical artists, senior writers, and many others. Interested candidates are encouraged to visit the BioWare HR team at Booth #230 in the Career Pavilion at the GDC Expo area in the Moscone Center, or find out more information at the BioWare website: http://jobs.bioware.com.
With a legacy of best-selling hits including Jade Empire, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Neverwinter Nights, BioWare released Mass Effect for the Xbox 360 videogame and entertainment system to critical acclaim in November, 2007. This sci-fi action role-playing game has received numerous awards including 2007 Game of the Year, Console Game of the Year, and Role-Playing Game of the Year. Other BioWare titles currently in development include the dark heroic fantasy Dragon Age, and Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood for the Nintendo DS. Unannounced projects include a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, and an additional unannounced title for a next-generation system. BioWare recently became part of Electronic Arts, the world's leading interactive entertainment company.
"We're looking for people with a passion for excellence in video game development," said Derek Sidebottom, BioWare's Director of Human Resources. "Our core values are Quality in our Products and Quality in our Workplace, and these have been recognized by countless product-specific awards, as well as BioWare being named amongst Canada's Top 100 Employers for 4 years and Financial Post's 10 Best Companies to Work For."
For a listing of available positions, visit the BioWare jobs website at http://jobs.bioware.com.
BioWare develops computer, console, handheld and online video games focused on rich stories and memorable characters. Since 1995, BioWare has created some of the world's best-selling titles including the award-winning Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights series, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Original BioWare-created IPs include Jade Empire and the 2007 Game of the Year, Mass Effect. With studios in Edmonton, Canada, and Austin, Texas, BioWare is hard at work on the epic fantasy RPG, Dragon Age and Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood for the Nintendo DS, as well as several unannounced projects including a massively multiplayer online game. In 2008, BioWare was acquired by the world's leading electronic entertainment publisher, Electronic Arts. For more information on BioWare, visit www.bioware.com.
About Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), headquartered in Redwood City, California, is the world's leading interactive entertainment software company. Founded in 1982, the company develops, publishes, and distributes interactive software worldwide for video game systems, personal computers, cellular handsets and the Internet. Electronic Arts markets its products under four brand names: EA SPORTS, EA, EA SPORTS BIG and POGO. In fiscal 2007, EA posted revenue of $3.09 billion and had 24 titles that sold more than one million copies. EA's homepage and online game site is www.ea.com. More information about EA's products and full text of press releases can be found on the Internet at http://info.ea.com.
BioWare, Mass Effect, Dragon Age and Jade Empire are trademarks or registered trademarks owned by BioWare Corp. in the U.S. and other countries. EA, EA SPORTS, EA SPORTS BIG and POGO are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Xbox and Xbox 360 are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies. Nintendo DS is a trademark of Nintendo. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
Friday - January 18, 2008
BioWare - Patrick Weekes, Plots and Hair
Since BioWare's Patrick Weekes hasn't been around in a while I had to check his blog to make sure he was OK. His latest post poses a good question: how important is it to be able to stumble on the plot?
Work continues. We are designing plots now, which is always cool after months spent not designing plots.
Current fun topic of the day: how important is it for the player to be able to stumble onto the plot?
On one hand, you have the pre-locked plot. You can't go down into the haunted crypt until you talk to the guy who asks you to go down into the haunted crypt. Sometimes the door to the crypt is barred from the other side, and warded against simple enchantments (cough), so you have to get the key. Other times, clicking on the door actually gets you a "You have no reason to go in here", which is always fun to get as a player. ("Um, if I have no reason to go in there, why is there a button?" Players love their buttons. You give a player a button, he's gonna press it.)
Sunday - January 13, 2008
BioWare - Sonic RPG Revealed
You may have seen some newsbits around the 'net in the last few days about a site possibly uncovering the name of BioWare's Sonic RPG for the DS after digging through some patent office filings. Seems they were right, because GameIndustryWire has a cover shot of the latest issue of Nintendo Power magazine and the cover story is Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood -
The latest issue of Nintendo Power features a cover story and 7-page feature on BioWare’s mysterious role playing game for the Nintendo DS that stars Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog. Titled Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, the DS RPG is said to be a stylus-controlled affair similar to The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass.
According to details from the newest issue of Nintendo Power, the game has a hand-drawn watercolor style. Each member in your party—which can total four of the eleven available characters—will have special abilities (we’re betting the farm on Sonic being fast). Battles are turn-based and attacks are said to follow an Elite Beat Agents model.
I doubt we'll cover this one but we may check in on it occasionally just to keep an eye on BioWare.
Monday - January 07, 2008
BioWare - EA Finalizes Acquisition & Gains 10 Franchises
The finalization of the EA/Bioware/Pandemic deal is being reported all over the net, and marks the official beginning of Bioware being run as a division of EA. Gamasutra gives the summary of details:
Electronic Arts has announced that it has completed its purchase of VG Holding Corp, making final the company's acquisition of BioWare and Pandemic Studios under the EA Games label, with which the company gains ten new franchises based on six wholly-owned IP.
EA Games president Frank Gibeau will oversee both studios within his organization, and BioWare's Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk have each been named as vice presidents of EA and co-general managers of BioWare. Similarly, Pandemic's Andrew Goldman and Josh Resnick have each been named vice presidents of EA and co-general managers of Pandemic, while Greg Borrud has been named vice president of EA and chief production officer of Pandemic Studios.
EA has said it aims to broaden its portfolio through the acquisition of the two labels, hoping to attain a competitive position in the RPG, action and adventure genres. EA agreed to pay up to $620 million in cash to the stockholders of the studios' parent, VG Holding Corp, and also said it would issue up to an additional $155 million in equity to certain vested or high-performing employees of VG Holding Corp.
The full press release is reported here at gamesindustry.biz
Tuesday - January 01, 2008
Jade Empire 2 is coming!
...eventually. From the tell-us-something-we-didn't-know department, the Mercury News has a friend whose cousin knows someone who saw some code from Jade Empire 2, so now we know it really is coming. No, really:
Here’s an opportunity for BioWare to get it right and for all of you fans out there to rejoice. Rumors have been swirling about the possibility of a sequel to BioWare’s Xbox hit, “Jade Empire.” For years, people have predicted it would come and Ray Muzyka, co-CEO of BioWare, even spilled the beans of something coming back in 2005. But I talked with someone who saw code for Jade Empire 2. It’s coming for the Xbox 360, and it’s real. It’s not much as far as scoops go, but I’m on vacation. What do you expect? Happy New Year.Jade Empire was BioWare’s second big game for the Xbox, following the exclusive Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic title in 2003. It will be interesting to see if Jade Empire 2 will remain an exclusive for the Xbox 360, now that Electronic Arts has agreed to acquire BioWare/Pandemic.
Saturday - December 22, 2007
BioWare - Christmas Wishes
Christmas wishes from BioWare courtesy of Chris Priestly:
As we get close to the Christmas break here at BioWare we had a number of staff want to pass along their thoughts and wishes to our community. So I took up my trusty podcast recorder and stuck it in the faces of anyone who wanted to volunteer. Check it out and hear peopel like David Gaider, Drew Karpyshyn, Trent Oster, Stan Woo, Evil Chris Priestly and others of BioWare's finest as they pass on their thoughts to the community.
Check it out here:
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone from the staff here at BioWare.
Wednesday - December 19, 2007
BioWare - InGame Tech Licensing for Dragon Age @ ShackNews & Gamasutra
Shack News provides a little information on some new in-game tech licensed by Bioware for it's long anticipated PC RPG, Dragon Age, as well as for Bioware's other projects in development. There's also a quote from Dragon Age programmer Peter Woytiuk:
PipelineFX's Qube! is the latest piece of software to be added to BioWare's ever-increasing stable of development tools, the two companies have announced.
Described as a "distributed processing and render farm management system" that enhances "productivity through pipeline acceleration," Qube! will be used in the creation of future BioWare releases, including its long-known return to PC role-playing, Dragon Age.
Recently purchased by EA, BioWare is best known for the Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights series of PC RPGs, Mass Effect (X360), and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC, Xbox). Among other projects, it is currently working on a Sonic the Hedgehog RPG for Nintendo DS and an untitled MMO, heavily rumored to be set in the Knights of the Old Republic universe.
"We were able to integrate Qube! into our pipeline in less than a week and immediately started seeing results," said Dragon Age principal programmer Peter Woytiuk. "Qube! has given our artists more time to produce and iterate on content, which is key to creating the next generation of BioWare games."
Gamasutra has a little more detail on the tech itself:
...Qube’s features include cross-platform support, fully exposed C++, Perl and Python APIs, client-server architecture for scalability, global resource tracking, stable MySQL database backend for data retention and production tracking, floating shared license management to maximize use of servers and desktops, and customizable job dependencies and priorities to handle complex asset dependencies.
Qube ships with an array of custom jobtypes for 2D and 3D applications, including Maya, 3ds Max and others. Each jobtype contains a submission GUI integrated into the application itself, a submission form for the queue management GUI, a command line submission tool, and a backend execution module specifically developed to interface directly with the application.
Tuesday - November 20, 2007
BioWare - History of Bioware @ Eurogamer
Eurogamer has posted an interesting article full of assorted factoids on the history of the Canadian master of RPG's, Bioware, starting from their Shattered Steel and Baldur's Gate days up to their latest release, Mass Effect.
Considering they've only been around for just over a decade, and have only produced eight games (plus sundry expansions, of course), it speaks highly of their near faultless track record that the name BioWare has become industry shorthand for state of the art craftsmanship and innovative storytelling...
...Of course, the PC gaming scene was already abuzz when BioWare appeared on the scene, thanks to the new fangled 3D graphics cards which, in conjunction with the PCI expansion slot appearing on motherboards, meant that even less technically adept gamers could quickly and (fairly) easily upgrade the visual muscle of their gaming rig to accommodate ever more impressive games. The mould-breaking likes of Quake and Half-Life were on the way but Shattered Steel, BioWare's debut, proved to be more than capable of delivering the sort of graphical thrills these gamers craved, boasting the world's first deformable terrain in a game. Commanding a series of robotic "Planet Runners", the mech-mashing game was a lot more action-orientated than you'd expect, given BioWare's later RPG centred reputation. Even so, it still showcased many of the hallmarks which would come to define their style - compelling narrative environments, dynamic music and, in the form of various talkative AI systems, shrewd use of character and dialogue to set the scene. The game was actually developed with help from another developer, Pyroteck, but even before Shattered Steel was completed, BioWare already had a more ambitious project in mind.
Battleground: Infinity was the title, and it was a game that would help to change the face of computer role-playing games forever. Don't worry if it doesn't ring a bell, you won't have played it. Or, at least, not under its original title. See, an early build of the game was shown to prospective publishers and it caught the eye of Interplay, which had been casually stroking the rights to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons like Blofeld's cat. Before you could say "convenient corporate synergy", BioWare was hard at work converting Battleground: Infinity into Baldur's Gate, and condensing the hefty AD&D 2nd Edition rulebook into something that could work as a real-time computer game. Somewhere between Shattered Steel and Baldur's Gate, co-founder Aug Yip left BioWare to return to medicine but, amazingly, Ray Muzyka has since claimed that none of the 60-strong team that wrestled this mammoth project to completion had ever worked on a videogame before. Even so, the powerful RPG engine that eventually grew out of the lengthy development process, named Infinity Engine after the game's original title, was licensed out and went on to form the seductively curved backbone of such classics as Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale.
Monday - November 19, 2007
BioWare - LucasArts Collaboration Speculation
Hedek writes that the games menu at BioWare.com now lists the announced BioWare/LucasArts collaboration as a new entry -- in addition to their Austin MMO project, which might lead to conclusions that this is a separate game and not KotOR Online.
Thursday - November 15, 2007
BioWare - Greg & Ray Talk
You may remember BioWare recently called for fan questions to submit to the Doctors in the aftermath of the EA acquisition. Well, the resulting video and podcast is in - I haven't had the chance to watch it but someone let us know if Dragon Age gets any decent responses:
BioWare's Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk wanted to take the time to answer questions directly from the fans about the future of BioWare, Mass Effect, Electronic Arts and even facial hair. We tried to get both of them to admit to being alien beings crafted in distant labs by an advanced race of brains in jars, but they are much too wily for us.
We asked BioWare's very own forum community to provide us with their burning questions, and our community team put them to our fearless leaders. Watch the video of the entire interview or download the podcast.
Tuesday - November 06, 2007
BioWare - Acquisition OK by FTC
News at GameSpot that the FTC has approved EA's acquisition of BioWare/Pandemic:
Though many EA detractors decried the deal, the only official hoop it had to jump through was landing approval from the Federal Trade Commission. Today, the Thomson Financial news service reported that the US government body has given its blessing to the BioWare/Pandemic even before the 30-day period required by federal law expired. Now, barring a stockholder revolt, nothing stands in the way of the acquisition being finalized in January 2008.
Wednesday - October 31, 2007
BioWare - LucasArts Project Speculation @IGN
IGN has a feature article up entitled The Future of Bioware and LucasArts, speculating on some of the possibilities of the recently announced collaboration :
So, in the interest of stirring up the hornet's nest, let's speculate on what the LucasArts project could be!
Knights of the Old Republic III
Gamers have been asking for this one for quite some time...
Knights of the Old Republic Online
The release of Star Wars Galaxies was a disappointment. While there were plenty of people playing upon release, it was not, in general, what the Star Wars and/or gaming community was necessarily hoping for. After years of rocky production and gameplay changes, the Galaxies audience has shrunk to a dedicated few. Lucas employees have mentioned in the past that thought of another Star Wars online game had not been abandoned, though no confirmation was given aside from that passing remark...
Indiana Jones RPG
It's also, possible, though highly unlikely given that Lucas has their own Indiana Jones game in production, that BioWare has been given the task of creating a whole new RPG system for the Indiana Jones property. With the new movie releasing next year, it's conceivable that Lucas is looking to capitalize as much as possible on the license while it's still fresh in everyone's mind. Frankly, this announcement would shock the hell out of us....
Completely New IP RPG or MMO
It's also very plausible that Lucas and BioWare have teamed up to do something entirely new. There have been some in this office to suggest that had it been a game in a big existing Lucas license that they would have been more than happy to announce the game and begin beating their chests about how great it's going to be...
Tuesday - October 30, 2007
BioWare - LucasArts Collaboration Announced
Well, well, well. BioWare and LucasArts have announced a collaboration to produce an unnamed "interactive entertainment product" and have launched a joint website at www.lucasartsbioware.com with this press release:
SAN FRANCISCO, CA and EDMONTON, CANADA — October 30, 2007 — LucasArts and BioWare Corp. today announced that they have entered into an agreement to create an interactive entertainment product. The product, details of which will be unveiled at a later date, will be developed and published by BioWare and LucasArts, and will push the boundaries of the gaming market by utilizing the strengths of both companies to deliver an innovative, high-quality experience.
“LucasArts has a deep commitment to developing compelling stories and characters for the unique medium of interactive entertainment, and we have been searching for a developer that shares this value. We found this in BioWare,” said Jim Ward, president of LucasArts. “Through our previous collaborations, we know that BioWare has an impressive ability to blend gripping stories with technological advancements, and we believe that our upcoming product will deliver an experience that will span the traditional boundaries of video game entertainment.”
“BioWare’s mission is to deliver the best story and character-driven games in the world, delivering powerful emotional experiences to our fans.” said Ray Muzyka, chief executive officer, BioWare Corp. Added Greg Zeschuk, president of BioWare Corp., “The collaboration with LucasArts allows us to combine our passion for creating high quality and innovative experiences with those of a company dedicated to bringing only the finest games to market.
Source: Shack News
Tuesday - October 23, 2007
BioWare - Yet More KotOR MMO Rumours
A site called Primotech is the latest to claim BioWare's MMORPG is based on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, according to unnamed source "close" to BioWare:
A source close to BioWare confirmed to us today that the studio’s upcoming untitled massively-multiplayer online RPG will be centered around the Star Wars universe, specifically that of Knights of the Old Republic, which the developer released in 2003. The game garnered critical acclaim and spawned a less-popular sequel, released by Obsidian two years later.
Wednesday - October 17, 2007
BioWare - Ask Greg & Ray
Is this your chance to ask the Big Kahunas about whether EA will ruin Dragon Age? Probably not, but BioWare is offering the chance to submit questions on their forum that Greg and Ray may answer:
If you could ask ONE question to Ray and Greg about BioWare, Mass Effect, Dragon Age or gaming in general, what would it be?
Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk are the founders of BioWare and have lead the way for BioWare to become one of the most recognized RPG developers around. They have been tireless advocates for the development of community and wanted to take this time to address any concerns or questions you might have on the future of BioWare and it's upcoming titles.
We can't promise to address all the questions but Ray and Greg wanted to speak to the community directly because it is one of pillars of what makes BioWare special.
We will keep this thread open and collect question until 12 noon (MDT) Thursday, Oct 18. We are hoping to grab Ray and Greg for an interview on Friday and have the results up and out soon.
Saturday - October 13, 2007
BioWare - Too Expensive?
Next Gen has an article that discusses the $860M price tag for BioWare/Pandemic with several analysts, raising the outrageous idea that Riccitiello might have paid too much. Luckily, analysts are good at backing both sides:
“We really like EA’s acquisition of BioWare/Pandemic, but the price paid ($860 million) on surface seems high to us—more than $1 million per developer,” he said in an investor note Friday. “That being said, if EA can generate mid-teens ROI or higher (as per its plan), the acquisition should be nicely accretive and worth the price. We may have to wait a few years to find out, though.”
Bhatia also said that in light of Disney’s recent $350 million acquisition of Club Penguin makes the BioWare/Pandemic deal appear more reasonable.
On the other hand, Gamasutra's group of analysts think the acquisition is "prudent", in part because one of them speculates BioWare's MMO is Star Wars-based:
Citi's Brent Thill noted that the "industry is buzzing over [BioWare's] mystery MMO," predicting, "based on past development work" that Bioware is quietly working on the Star Wars MMO. As said, Thill calls the potential of the title a "strong positive" for the publisher, and one that "bolsters [its] MMO exposure."
Friday - October 12, 2007
BioWare - EA Acquisition Roundup
News of EA's BioWare/Pandemic acquisition is washing over the 'net with interviews and commentary starting to pop up. First, GamesIndustry's newsbit notes John Riccitiello will earn $4.9M from the deal, according to an SEC filing. Gamasutra has a summary of an EA conference call on the deal as well as an interview with Pandemic. FiringSquad has an Insider View, with insight apparently coming from unnamed BioWare staff after a meeting to explain the situation, as well as general commentary:
The downside, however, is that John has arguably bet his own personal political bank at EA on BioWare and Pandemic. Should they not deliver to expectations, their failure could be an excuse for traditional EA elements to remove Riccitiello and return to EA’s profitable-but-boring sequelitis ways. This, of course, will mean the doom of BioWare in the way that Westwood, Origin, Bullfrog, and Maxis were wiped out. With any change comes friction, and there is little doubt that by cutting into the bloat in EA and by bypassing the traditional EA power structure with BioWare-Pandemic, John Riccitiello has created enemies in the company. Like, say, people who think that a slow, unwieldly, but attractive interface in the name of the Almighty Brand is a good idea.
...and GameSpot's Tor Thorsen is first to actually chat to the Doctors, who are always up for some positive PR:
Greg Zeschuk: Well, to be blunt, I don't really see ourselves as not being independent anymore. We've got a goal of making great BioWare games, and we believe in [EA CEO] John[ Riccitiello]'s vision--we can't overemphasize that. We've worked with John for years, and we're looking forward to keep doing what we're doing and doing it well.
We are Borg. Anyway, here's a bit on Dragon Age:
GS: Now, you just mentioned Dragon Age. Since Dragon Age wasn't mentioned in the acquisition announcement and so little has been heard about it, there's been some speculation that it was canceled.
RM: Oh, no. We were just playing that last week as well. It's one of the more enjoyable things I've done in the past few weeks, by far. I could not stop playing it. I meant to play it just for a little bit just to check it out, but I ended up playing it all weekend. I wish we could say more about it, as the team has been putting in some late hours on the project, and they've come up with some amazing stuff. We're gonna be revealing some more about Dragon Age very soon, I think, and I think you'll be excited to hear about it.
Thursday - October 11, 2007
BioWare - To Be Acquired by EA
Huh. Didn't expect this quite so soon. EA will acquire BioWare/Pandemic with an agreement reached for the purchase of VG Holdings and the transaction expected to be completed in January:
EA To Acquire BioWare Corp. and Pandemic Studios
Thursday October 11, 4:07 pm ET
Leaders in RPG, Action and Adventure Genres; Ten Franchises in Development - Six Wholly Owned
REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS - News) today announced an agreement with Elevation Partners to acquire VG Holding Corp. -- the owner of both BioWare Corp. and Pandemic Studios. This acquisition gives EA a strong competitive position in key genres in interactive entertainment: action, adventure and role-playing games. The two studios have been recognized for creating some of the highest-quality games in the industry.
BioWare Corp. and Pandemic Studios have ten franchises under development, including six wholly owned games. BioWare Corp. is currently developing the highly anticipated Mass Effect, which will be published by Microsoft in November, and is in the early development stages of a massively multiplayer online game. Pandemic Studios is redefining open-world games with its upcoming Mercenaries 2: World in Flames(TM) and Saboteur(TM), in addition to several unannounced projects.
Pandemic Studios and BioWare Corp. employ roughly 800 people across four studios located in Edmonton, Canada; Los Angeles; Austin; and Brisbane, Australia.
"These are two of the most respected studios in the industry and I'm glad to be working with them again. They'll make a strong contribution to our strategic growth initiatives on quality, online gaming and developing new intellectual properties," said John Riccitiello, EA's Chief Executive Officer. "We also expect this will drive long-term value for our shareholders."
Pandemic Studios is led by Andrew Goldman, Josh Resnick and Greg Borrud. BioWare Corp. is jointly led by Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka. These teams will join the EA(TM) Games Label run by Frank Gibeau, President of EA Games.
"Pandemic Studios remains focused on attracting the best talent and creating blockbuster action games," said Josh Resnick, President and Co-founder of Pandemic Studios. "As a worldwide publishing leader, EA represents the ideal partner to bring our titles to market as global entertainment events."
"We are truly excited by John Riccitiello's new vision for EA," said Ray Muzyka, Co-founder and CEO of BioWare Corp. "This vision is consistent with BioWare's focus on crafting the highest quality story-driven games in the world. It will enable us to further the careers of the passionate, creative and hard working teams at BioWare Edmonton and BioWare Austin."
EA will pay up to $620 million in cash to the stockholders of VG Holding Corp. and will issue up to an additional $155 million in equity to certain employees of VG Holding Corp., which will be subject to time-based or performance-based vesting criteria. EA will also assume outstanding VG Holding Corp. stock options. In addition, EA has agreed to lend VG Holding Corp. up to $35 million through the closing of the acquisition.
Saturday - October 06, 2007
BioWare - Annouces World Design Contest Winners
Lucky Day provides us with this link to the Bioware Forum announcement concerning the winners of their World Design Contest. According to the post, two of the submitters are up for recruitment at the Bioware Austin offices. It's a short post, so for the full list of winning submissions, check here.
Thanks, Lucky Day!
Friday - September 07, 2007
BioWare - Austin Game Conference: Writing for Mass Effect
Gamasutra has posted an article featuring a talk given by Bioware's Mike Laidlaw, Mass Effect's lead writer Drew Kapyshyn and managing editor Mike Walters at the Austin Game Conference on how story writing is approached at Bioware, with special emphasis on Mass Effect:
Laidlaw noted that the writing team is actually part of the design team, rather than its own separate team unto itself. But conversely, the writing is integral to the experience of BioWare's games, according to Laidlaw. "Design as a department is a holistic approach to both writing and implementation. Writers are responsible for putting stuff into the game. Of the 73 [designers] a third are writers, or at least part of the writing team."
On the actual job of writing:
At BioWare, a writer's main tasks are these:
Story: story development, character development, theatrical writing
Plot management: states and conditions, journals
Scene direction: voiceover, staging and cameras, animations and gestures
He then began to explain the designer's toolset which the writers use -- which is based on the tools that ship with Neverwinter Nights. "I want to create a very simple dialogue file from scratch. In the production phase, this is where the writers will be spending a lot of their time. When we write a game we want to give multiple responses -- to give the player a choice."
When asked why Mass Effect offers two genders for the main character -- given the expense of recording two sets of dialogue, Kapyshyn offered an artistic perspective. "I think with BioWare, I don't think you can look at it as a dollars versus increased sales decision. BioWare doesn't look at it that way. Our fanbase expects to be able to create their character -- to customize and create their character they want. For us, we believe it's a matter of quality. Now, you do have to look and go 'is it prohibitive?' We did, and it isn't."
Wednesday - August 15, 2007
BioWare - Austin Jobs
BioWare Austin has several new openings, presumably for their yet to be revealed MMORPG. Artists, web guys and a test lead are new additions to the multiple world designers and other positions on offer.
From a more general perspective, there's nothing that even hints at the actual game in development, unfortunately.
Wednesday - August 08, 2007
BioWare - Tracking Player Feedback @ Gamasutra
Gamasutra has an article written by Phillip DeRosa - BioWare's QA Director - on tracking player feedback to improve games. Aimed at developers and creating systems to statistically analyse gameplay, it's a fairly dry read but may be of interest to some readers.
Saturday - August 04, 2007
BioWare - Video Profile @ GameSpot
A profile of BioWare CEO Ray Muzyka can be found at GameSpot in video format, discussing his background as a doctor, how BioWare started and so forth.
Sunday - July 22, 2007
BioWare - World Design Contest Closes
BioWare's NWN World Design Contest - where one of the potential prizes is a job at BioWare - has closed. You can check out all the submissions here, including those of our own forum members Lucky Day and ffbj.
Best of luck!
Thursday - July 19, 2007
BioWare - Connecting Emotionally @ GameDaily
Ray and Greg have penned a sort of thought piece cum mission statement for GameDaily titled Connecting Emotionally with Gamers:
We'll start with a bold statement (at least for non-gamers): video games are not mere entertainment, but more than that; they have the potential to be the highest form of art. Much as with other forms of entertainment - books, music, art, cinema, and television - there are certainly many different kinds of games, but after thirty years our industry is finally reaching the point where the finest games are capable of reaching players at both higher and deeper emotional levels than the very best of any other form of entertainment.
Wednesday - July 18, 2007
BioWare - Sonic Q&A @ Wired
They're still not revealing details but Wired has an interview with the BioWare Doctors on their handheld Sonic project. Without details, the answers are pretty generic:
GL: Though Sonic games have had some story elements to them, the franchise is, at its heart, a simple platform game. You run, you jump, you collect rings. How do you see that making the transition to a genre that is traditionally far more character and story based?
RM: We plan on taking those core Sonic elements that fans love about games and incorporating them into a brand new adventure that will feature the best of both worlds: all the fast-paced action of Sonic, plus a deep and engaging storyline that will keep players on the edge of their seats. By staying true to those Sonic elements that fans are already familiar with, and injecting our own unique BioWare flavor, we plan to make that transition as smooth and exciting as possible.
Wednesday - July 11, 2007
BioWare - Podcast @ Insomniac Games
Insomniac Games (Ratchett & Clank) apparently run a regular podcast and this latest one features the BioWarian Doctors. According to the BioWare site, they feature from the 17:50 mark - there's no word on what they discuss but the Insomniac blurb has a pun on Mass Effect, so that's probably a hint.
Saturday - July 07, 2007
BioWare - on Concept Art Portfolios
BioWare has kicked up a detailed page from Director of Art David Hibbeln on submitting concept art portfolios:
We look to see if the concept artist has a range of subject matter. We look for as many of the following, as well-executed as possible:
- Characters – We like to see personality and "story" in the character. The drawing should answer many questions, but also invite the audience to ask even more, compelling them to want to learn more about the character. Have a sheet of facial expressions of the same character to show different moods and attitudes.
- Costumes – This is a chance to show off your sense of fashion. The costume is part of the character. Tell more of the story, showing the same character in different clothing as a good exercise. The clothing should have the right balance of form and function.
- Creatures – Must be believable, i.e., through the study of real animal/human musculature and skeletal structure, create a creature you believe can move, eat, fight, breed, and so on.
- Environments – Natural exterior environments that features organic structure and flora. Lighting, color and mood are essential.
- Environments – Exterior environments that feature architecture. These should be integrated into the landscapes that surround them. Must show a command of perspective, an understanding or architectural design, show the influences of various geographic and historical influences. We like to see this mixed with a bit of fantasy or sci-fi. A good split for "real" versus "imagined" architecture is about 70/30 - so a subtle approach to integrating fantasy into a concept.
- Environments – Interiors should have everything from the above point, but from the inside.
- Tech – We like to see how a concept artist understands technical things. How does a machine fit together? When you look at the drawing, can you imagine it working? This can be a fantastic catapult with gears and levers, or it can be a futuristic device. Both should look like they can work, have a sense of industrial design that reflects the culture and time they come from, and of course, look cool.
- Vehicles – Believe it or not, it is hard to find people who are really good at this, so it's one other thing we look for to help balance our team of concept artists. See tech above. Good vehicles can make or break a game (especially if the game play revolves around driving).