Kotaku has put together a brief article of the history of BioWare before putting out titles such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins, and while I suppose most of our readers should already be familiar with this kind of information, a refresher is never a bad thing. Here's a sampling:
Normally, it takes a developer a few games to warm up, to really hit its stride, but in 1998 BioWare already knew what it wanted to do with role-playing and story-telling, and was ready to show it. Baldur's Gate was released on the PC in November 1998 and blew people away, its rich, involving take on Dungeons & Dragons making it one of the most critically acclaimed RPGs of all time.
Baldur's Gate also showed that it wasn't just combat and story that were important to BioWare's game design: morality played a big part too, players given choices between the "right" and "wrong thing to do, something that would be at the heart of the company's titles over the next decade, and which continues to this day.
Yet while Baldur's Gate was a hit RPG, and BioWare would go on to almost exclusively develop games in the genre for the next thirteen years, not every game was about hit points and epic quests.
After releasing a Baldur's Gate expansion in 1999, called Tales of the Sword Coast, BioWare would work on something surprisingly different: MDK2, the sequel to an action game that had been developed by Shiny, the guys behind games like Earthworm Jim.
Not that this departure mattered; the game was well-received, and gave BioWare the experience with shooting and action that it would draw upon years later when work began on the Mass Effect series.