Greg Zeschuk Interview

The editors at have posted an interview with BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk that they conducted during the recent Develop conference in Brighton, England. Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Star Wars: The Old Republic are all on tap:
A lot of the RPG elements from Mass Effect 1 were streamlined for Mass Effect 2. Was this done to attract a wider audience?

Well I think it comes back to one of our main goals at BioWare: that we always try to improve the experience. It's interesting, because one of the things we knew right off the bat that we wanted to do for the sequel to Mass Effect, was keep the same level of detail, but make it a bit easier to access. It wasn't so much a case that we were going for a wider audience we just wanted make a better game, which was easier to pick and play and enjoy. The potential to bring Mass Effect to a wider audience was a secondary consideration. The key thing for us was to make the whole thing better.

Looking at the success this system has had in Mass Effect 2, will BioWare look at making the RPG elements in games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and the forthcoming Dragon Age sequel more streamlined too?

Yeah, to a certain degree. Like I said, we want to make each game better than the last and to a certain degree, the easier we can make the gameplay while maximising the depth of the game's detail, is something to aim for. We announced Dragon Age 2 a short while ago and of course we've been talking about Star Wars: The Old Republic for a while now and people have had a chance to play it and probably see what some of our objectives are with the game. We try to do a lot of focus testing and usability testing with our fans. We're always trying to make our games as fun and easily usable as possible.


World building is a big part of your games. But in the case of Mass Effect or Dragon Age, you have complete executive control over the timelines, characters and lore of the universes, because they are created completely by BioWare. Now, in the case of Star Wars: The Old Republic, you're using a pre-established universe and timeline as a backdrop for a new game. What are the challenges this presents?

Well, in the case of Star Wars we get a couple of benefits going in. First off, it's iconic, it's well known and we don't have to explain as much as we would in say, the first Mass Effect; everyone knows what a Jedi is, everyone knows what a Wookie is. Star Wars is a part of our language, so developing a game which uses that universe allows us to immediately skip over a lot of the time you'd spend with a new IP explaining the universe to the audience.

The traditional boundary you have with licenses is that you always are required to get approval before you move forward and that's really complicated. The great thing about The Old Republic is that, because we're setting the game in the Star Wars timeline well before any of the events in the movies take place, we have a lot of latitude. We're also working collaboration with the people at LucasArts, who have been really great to work with. There's been a lot of good back and forth with them. So we don't really feel constrained at all in the way some developers can do when they're dealing with licensed properties. We kind of have the best of both worlds with The Old Republic. We have the benefit of the iconic license with a lot of flexibility. We've also actually create and this also happened with Knights Of The Old Republic some of the prehistory of Star Wars. So really, we have a best case scenario with Star Wars and LucasArts, and of course, the main beneficiaries of that are the fans.