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.