BioWare's Matt Atwood
Some of the more 'hardcore' gamers out there were a little concerned when EA acquired BioWare, fearing that their beloved game maker might start churning out yearly sports franchises. However, the studio appear to be thriving under a rejuvenated EA, and with the PC version of Mass Effect now hitting shelves, times are good for the Canadian developer. We sat down with PR big wig Matt Atwood to learn more.
Mass Effect looks like it has been polished-up nicely for the PC. How important is this release for BioWare, and what feedback have you taken on-board from the Xbox 360 release?
For Mass Effect on the PC, some of the changes we made based on feedback was making the inventory system and Mako controls more intuitive, and we've added things like the new Tactical HUD which wasn't based on feedback, but really lends itself to the platform.
How challenging was converting the controls from the 360 to the PC?
Our focus in converting Mass Effect to the PC is to make it very natural for the platform. Any time you focus on making the experience very natural to a different platform, it takes both creativity and hard work. One thing we enjoyed is that by nature of the mouse and keyboard, the PC opened new opportunities for us to explore, including the new Tactical HUD, individual squad command, optimized controls and incredible visuals.
The initial DLC from the 360 will be included we gather, where next for Mass Effect expansion - on both formats?
We've got a lot of great ideas, but we haven't announced anything yet. Stay tuned!
Do you believe Mass Effect is a 'better' game on the PC (indeed, are RPGs generally more suited to the format)? What else has changed with this release worth noting?
We're really happy with the 360 version and are proud of the critical and commercial success the title received. That being said, the game looks and feels phenomenal on the PC and we are very proud of what the team is delivering.
What was your take on the controversial Fox News coverage of Mass Effect's sexual content? Will romance play a part in future BioWare titles, and do you think the mass media has 'issues' when it comes to interactive entertainment?
If it is suitable for the game, then we will definitely add romance to future games. I think that video games are starting to become accepted as the art form that they have always been, but there is still a need to educate some mass media outlets. Keep in mind that Mass Effect is an 'M' rated title, with themes that really appeal to our core audience of 18 - 35 year olds.
The PC format has taken some flak lately. Do you believe consoles are starting to marginalise the PC - making it the preserve of MMOs?
I think what's imperative for the PC market is that the content delivered is suited for the market. We believe strongly that the PC is a very viable platform and we have plans to support it in the future with highly anticipated titles like Mass Effect for PC and Dragon Age.
We hear talk of seven development teams at BioWare. How quickly has the firm grown, and what role has EA played in this?
BioWare has been continually growing since its inception and the growth is nothing new as we are fortunate enough to have a lot of fans who love our games. Being part of EA gives us access to more resources and that is helping our recruiting efforts, but really the growth is due to the studio's success and need for staff on future products. We're always looking for the best and the brightest staff, and there a lots of great positions listed on our jobs website at www.jobs.bioware.com.
How is Dragon Age progressing?
It is really looking great. I played a build just recently and the team is really making huge strides. We're looking forward to showing it off soon.
Would BioWare ever make a game that was unrelated to the RPG genre in some way?
As we evolve I think you will see more diversity in our lineup, since we're always interested in challenging ourselves. Keep in mind we are the company that made Shattered Steel and MDK 2, which were more action oriented but still had some terrific story and character elements.
What has BioWare learnt from Mass Effect that can aid the company's secret MMO project?
It wouldn't be a secret project if I gave away secrets. We have definitely learned from each of our titles and once we're ready to discuss it, I think you'll see what I'm talking about.
Lastly, how long will fans have to wait for word on the next installment in the Mass Effect trilogy?
We haven't announced a date or time frame yet, but don't worry, we're hard at work making a game that is going to blow people away.