Mass Effect 2 Pt. 2
1st Feb 2010 | 12:01
This is part two with out chat with BioWare co-boss, Ray Muzyka. For part one of our interview, click here.
Series director, Casey Hudson said recently that you're aiming for the same two-year development cycle for Mass Effect 3. Is that correct?
I don't think we've announced the timing for the third one yet but I can tell you the team's already working on it. Our goal is to get it out in a time frame that can maximise the quality for our fans, maximise the commercial success for the company and just make sure we do the right thing overall for the long term for the franchise.
Of course part of the reason for you not releasing Mass Effect 2 on PS3 was said to be down to the quick two-year dev time...
We haven't announced target platforms [for Mass Effect 3]. I can tell you that on PlayStation 3 we're working on a few titles right now and also a few titles on Xbox 360. We haven't revealed any details on what those titles are yet but I think both platforms are very powerful.
There seem to be a million games releasing in the next few months. If one of our readers only has £45 to spend, why should they get your game over the competition?
Because I think it's the kind of game that can appeal to a rarely wide audience in a deep way. It's as much a shooter as it is a role-playing game, it's got the best of breed features of both genres, it's a really interesting hybrid and I don't think it's every been done before in that way.
Not only that, it's got a really emotionally engaging narrative, a story that's very cinematic, elegant and immersive. I think the characters in Mass Effect 2 are some of the most realistic that we've ever created and some of the most realistic, credible and emotionally engaging characters that have been built thus far in the industry. They feel like they've come to life when you talk to them - you care about them.
I think a game that can actually make you feel something like that... that's a rare thing. Games that actually provoke emotional reactions are what we strive for as a group ultimately, across Edmonton, Austin, Montreal and Virginia. Our vision is to create, deliver and evolve the most emotionally engaging game experiences in the world - and Mass Effect 2 is an example of that. I think it really achieves that vision.
I don't really think about competition in the sense that it's a win/lose proposition. If you make a best of breed entertainment experience - and I think Mass Effect 2 holds up in any category of entertainment released in the last year - that is something that people make time for. They'll stand in line around the block and wait for it and they'll come back because they know we'll never break that line of trust; when they see our brand on a box they know they can trust the quality.
How much thought do you give making your games appeal to a mass-market audience?
Well every game has an audience. You try to broaden it as wide as you can without losing your focus and core fans, because at the end of the day they're the people that spread the word and virally propagate the message. The guy who buys a dozen games a year tells the guy who buys a couple of games a year, 'this is the game to get'.
It's an important audience. You can't abandon the core, I think. You always have to be conscious and include the features, depth and intensity of experience that's going to appeal to them.
We think about graphic interface elements, the tutorials, ease of play, length of play session, the pacing between exploration and combat - the balance for those things. Those are the elements I think can put off a wider audience. They're more the 'wrapper' around a great experience. If you make that wrapper as accessible as the experience then you can actually retain your core fans and also have a game that's really easy for users to get into. I think that's the balance between the core and the mass.
In the end how we reach those mass-market fans is through the core audience telling them or through the press. People listen to the press, the listen to the fans, they listen to credible influencers. That's how we reach the mass-market.
There's advertising, marketing and all these other concepts too, but at the end of the day it's all about a great product. If we don't make a great game all the marketing and PR isn't going to lead to results.
Coming back to Mass Effect 2's brilliant reception... how confident and ambitious does that make you for the future?
We're always really ambitious. The way we approach it is that each game has to be better than the last one. That's always been true for the last 20 years we've been doing this, that's just what we do. It's kind of in our culture now.
I think the team finds it reassuring that you've done something good, you've got great sales, great critical success, but they're driven by making the next thing even better. That's what drives me.
Do you think it'll be difficult to top this game?
I haven't really though about it that way. If it wasn't difficult it wouldn't be worth while.
Are you up for the challenge?
Oh yeah. Our best work is still ahead of us. That's why I'm doing it, because I think our best work is still ahead of us and that's why our teams are doing it, I think.