Mass Effect Interview

Article Index

Eschalon: Book II

Developer:BioWare Corp.
Release Date:2007-11-20
  • Action,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
In early October, BioWare finally revealed a second RPG they currently have in development. Entitled Mass Effect and being developed exclusively for the Xbox 360, the game will allow players to lead an elite tactical strike force across an entirely unique galaxy.  The company is already planning to span the Mass Effect universe over three separate games with a continued storyline, ensuring that the RPGs will give us the epic storyline we've come to expect from BioWare.

To learn more about the first game in the series, we fired several questions off to BioWare joint CEOs Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, as well as producer/project director Casey Hudson. The questions and their answers:

GB: When did development of Mass Effect first begin?

Ray: We've been working on Mass Effect for some time now looking back through my emails, the first one I could find (on a quick review) was from summer 2003, soon after we shipped Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for Xbox. At that time we were working away on Jade Empire and the KotOR team leads were eager to work on an exciting new IP, having just come off KotOR, a project that they really poured their hearts and souls into. Greg, Casey and I spent some time talking about the vision for the project for the first few months as the rest of the team finished up the PC version of Knights. Soon after that, the core team leads started to come onto the project and project vision and design really began to take shape! We have a great team working on Mass Effect hardworking, passionate, creative, and really inspired by the project vision.

GB: Were there a lot of challenges associated with working on an Xbox 360 title well before the console system would actually debut?

Ray: There are always challenges working with early development systems of console platforms, but the great thing is that Microsoft, our publisher on Mass Effect, has been very supportive and really believes in both Mass Effect and the Jade Empire franchise. So many of the technical hurdles have been overcome thanks to their support.

GB: Can you give us a brief overview of the game's character creation system? From what we've heard so far, it sounds like you're going to be allowing for much more customization than we've seen in your past games when it comes to the overall look of a character.

Greg: Mass Effect's character creation system is fundamentally based on customization: you'll be able to customize many visual elements of your character before you start the game, and during the game your character's appearance will change based on the type of armor and equipment being used. In addition to visual customization we've got a deep role playing system in Mass Effect that players will also use to further differentiate their character because it is squad-based game we are aiming for significant differences between characters to fulfill our goal of a strongly tactical combat system where success will depend on the type of characters you're using and the actions you chose!

GB: BioWare's previous RPGs always contained a huge variety of weapons, armor, and other gear for players to equip their characters with. Do you plan on implementing a large number of items in Mass Effect, as well? If so, what sort of system will weapons and armor use to scale in power? If not, do you feel a lack of equipment might alienate some of your current RPG fans?

Greg: Mass Effect will feature a huge range of weapons, armor and items to keep even the most passionate role playing fan fully engaged. As mentioned above, your character's appearance will change based on the armor being used so you get a combat payoff as well as a visual payoff for your progression in the game.

GB: Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights had sorcery, Star Wars: KotOR had force powers, and Jade Empire had mystical styles and transformations. Will we see characters with any sort of non-physical powers or abilities in Mass Effect?

Greg: The world of Mass Effect features a powerful physical force based on dark matter, and humankind's harnessing of this power is fundamental to the story of the game. Mastery of these powers is one of the paths that characters can follow through the game.