Category Archives: Mass Effect

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Map Survey

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Hello, Mass Effect 3 multiplayers!

 

Edit added April 19. Thanks for taking part everyone. This survey is now closed. Keep checking the BioWare Blog for future surveys.

The Mass Effect team is looking back at Mass Effect 3 multiplay and needs your feedback on the different multiplay maps you encountered. Those Mass Effect fans who enjoyed playing multiplay are encouraged to take a new survey to gauge your thoughts on multiplay elements like map layout, difficulty and atmosphere in ME3 multiplayer.

If you were a fan of multiplay in Mass Effect 3 and want to give your opinion to the team, please take a moment to answer our Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Map survey. The survey will be open for one week to collect responses.

Thanks, everyone!

Blog: Mike Gamble

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Written by: Producer, Mike Gamble (@GambleMike)

Post launch support is something that we’ve taken very seriously at BioWare. Since ME2, we’ve worked hard to make our DLCs special, and expand our worlds in fantastic ways – long after the game has been released. DLC gives us an opportunity to try new things (Lair of the Shadowbroker car chase, Citadel party), but also gives us an opportunity to tell interesting stories that, while related to the core game experience, are fun and unique in their own way.

Downloadable content at BioWare also gives us the opportunity to use our extremely talented team, and further develop their skills. To provide good post launch support, there’s sort of an ebb and flow to things. We have to balance between teams in BioWare Edmonton and BioWare Montreal. Focus on supporting single player adventures, as well as multi player expansions. All the while, we need to maintain a consistent level of quality in these packs, while listening to our fans for feedback and support.

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When I was first asked to be the Producer for the ME3 DLC plan, we were somewhere in the twilight hours of development on the ME3 base game. Of course, at that time, the entire team was desperately trying to pack as much quality into the remaining time– so I can easily admit my focus wasn’t yet on the year *after* we shipped the game. We just needed to make sure we released an awesome game. Besides, I thought, I had been the Producer for most of the ME2 DLC…what could possibly go wrong or be different?  Fast forward to the day that we submitted the main game to certification. Many cheers and high-fives were given around the office, but for me and the first DLC team – work was only really getting going.

From the beginning, the objective for us was clear. We wanted Mass Effect 3 to be a game that people loved for the entire year, long after they had finished it the first time. We wanted to broaden the story that we had produced in the main game, deepen relationships, add new characters and amazing missions, and support this little feature called Multiplayer the best we could. These were the key pillars of the plan, but of course, plans are built so that they can change…and I’m glad they did!

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As soon as we completed the main game, we moved onto From Ashes nearly immediately. From Ashes was a tough one. The team had been pushing pretty hard to complete the main game, and everyone deserved a nice break. Well, everyone except for the From Ashes team! We had learned a lot from our previous character DLCs, and decided to ensure that we focused our development on broadening Javik as a character, and fully integrating him into the ME3 story. Doing that is a huge task, and it involved a bit of planning and foresight as you need to put certain hooks into the main-game for it to connect to the DLC content properly.

We also needed to make sure that Javik felt just as fleshed out as the other squad mates. We learned what we did right and what we needed to improve with previous characters like Zaeed and Kasumi. For Javik, we ended up writing numerous character moments for him, making him part of squad banter, and developing his personal story throughout the large arc of ME3.

After From Ashes launched, we were inspired by the amount of great feedback we had received regarding the character. People found him strong, intelligent, and humorous. It was positive and reassuring to know that the fans loved him. We were, of course, seeing feedback for other aspects of the game too – interpreting the feedback on the endings of the main game became a strong focus for the ME3 team, and helped us to shape the direction of DLC in the coming months.

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The Extended Cut was an extremely challenging but rewarding experience. On one side, we wanted to ensure that we put the Extended Cut out as soon as we could for the fans to enjoy with their playthroughs. To that end, we reprioritized the DLC team to put the Extended Cut first on the schedule. On the other side, we wanted to make sure the extended cut answered a lot of the questions that the fans had as well as provide additional clarity and closure. The core ME3 leads and DLC team sat down together for nearly a week and charted out the entire ending sequence on a giant flow chart, with a consolidated list of fan feedback up on the projector screen to ensure we were capturing the right goals.

We made additions, tweaks, and adjustments to the flow, and built in the expanded depth that you see in the Extended Cut. We tried to account for as many characters, plots, and variables as we could fit into the DLC – constantly battling the download size, with some platforms having an upper limit of 2 GB (a technical limit we eventually solved for the Citadel pack).  With the Extended Cut’s size and complexity, it was sometimes a dice roll whether or not the build would succeed. It was a hard push to the end… but the team enjoyed the opportunity to spend a little more time resolving the end of the trilogy.  When the Extended Cut was released, there was a unanimous breath of relief from the entire DLC team. Onward to our next DLC.

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Next for us was Leviathan. Because the extended cut reprioritized our time, we were able to spend some more energy on the ideation process around what we wanted Leviathan to be. Interestingly, it took us some time to actually figure out what we wanted to cover in our first ME3 story-based DLC. Was it a story that was parallel to the war, or tangential? Did it focus on the Krogan? Or perhaps the Salarian STG groups? As we went through this exercise, we eventually solidified on one thing.

We wanted the DLC to be about exploring the galaxy, and giving the player a mystery to solve. The fun part, for us, was to see how we could make that work within the framework of ME3. Our fantastic writing team took that concept, and worked with a number of ideas that they were tossing around at the time (Leviathan of Dis was one of those!). In the end, the story of Leviathan, and its connection to the origin of the Reapers was one that we were all excited for.

After the initial concept, the development process for Leviathan went fairly smoothly, and we made sure we included a lot of existing elements that we knew the fans would enjoy (squad banter, deep character interactions, etc). Of course, while the BioWare Edmonton team was working on Leviathan, the team in Montreal was cooking up something special as well.

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Omega was different for us for a variety of reasons. First, it was developed primarily by the team at BioWare Montreal, and it had begun development shortly after the release of ME3.  Second, Omega gave us the ability to return to a much-beloved area from ME2, and really flesh it out like we had never been able to do before. What does Omega look like underneath the shopping district you saw in ME2? How far would Aria go to reclaim it? What other interesting enemies and friends called the space station their home? The focus for the team in Montreal was to really answer some of those questions, and to create new places and characters that broadened the series.

Of particular note, Omega also gave us the ability to explore a new character by the name of Nyreen. She was a female turian, and while we had alluded to female turians before, we had never shown one. Of course, a lot of the driving force behind that came directly from the fans and their feedback. I don’t think we could have predicted how popular Nyreen ended up being with the fans, but we’re glad she did. We were recently discussing some of the amazing cosplay we recently saw at PAX, and were proud that she was an inspirational character for some.

Citadel

Our final DLC for the trilogy, Citadel, was a real treat for us to do, and personally it was my favorite DLC to work on since Shadow Broker. It allowed us to close out the trilogy while adhering to the pillars that Mass Effect has become known for. We’re very much aware that Mass Effect is driven by the incredible characters which incorporate the galaxy, so even our earliest plans for ME3 DLC had us ending on one last adventure that focused on memorable moments with favorite characters. Of course, with the Citadel being an iconic location for us, we also wanted to showcase some of the areas of the space station that players had previously only wondered about – but without a doubt, our focus was on the characters.

That’s why, when we started production on the Citadel, we ensured that the writing and cinematics teams were well equipped to bring our characters to life in new and exciting ways. A tango for Garrus? A music performance from Tali? All of these scenes worked into the larger theme of the pack – a love letter from us, to the trilogy and to our fans. We wanted to round out the pack with some amazing additions (such as the Casino Hub area and the Combat Simulator), in order to add additional value to the pack, and to give us an opportunity to bring in some of the gameplay advances that we’d been pushing in multiplayer over the past year. Now that it’s all completed, we’ve been humbled by the fan reaction to it.

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Of course, no discussion of DLC would be complete without talking about our multiplayer content as well. Originally, we didn’t know what to expect from players regarding multiplayer. We had never done a feature like this in Mass Effect before, but we hoped that it would prove itself when the game released. Needless to say, we were pleasantly surprised. From the beginning, we had always planned to support the MP feature with free DLC. What we didn’t plan for is how much we would end up doing!

We wanted to keep the player-base from becoming splintered (those who did download the DLC vs. those who didn’t), and we wanted to make sure that everyone had access to the content. Once we saw that people were playing (and loving) multiplayer, our imaginations went wild. What other features could we add? How many more kits would the engine support? Could we give players access to new challenges, and have their progress reflected on the web? We were able to do all of that, and more.

We have an extremely talented levels and gameplay team who have been tasked over the past year with making multiplayer an ever-growing service.  Our only constraint has been how quickly we were able to get the content out. Since we’ve always been developing a story-based single player DLC, it normally meant that we had to develop the multiplayer content at the same time. That was a bit tough on the team, but we have an extremely experienced team, and they were able to deal with it. A full year and 5 multiplayer expansions later, we’ve packed the game to the gills, and it was only possible thanks to your support.

I sincerely hope that we’ve been able to entertain you over the past year, and I’m glad we have such an amazing fan base. You’ve been great. You tell us what works and what doesn’t, and you’ve helped to make this year one of the most rewarding of my life. Thank you.

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BLOG: Bryan Johnson

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What a year it has been! I have learned so much from our fans and have enjoyed interacting with them a great deal. I hope that I will be able to replicate the same satisfaction that I have gotten out of the last year for anything I may do in the future.

The passion of our fans is a motivation for me, because they are the ones that ultimately make this all possible. After so many late nights interacting with all of you, I can honestly say I would not trade it for anything.

I don’t have much else to say other than thank you all for the laughs, the tears, and the memories.

-Bryan “BroJo” Johnson

Senior Tester

BLOG: From Fan to Developer

Citadel

From Fan to Developer

By: BioWare Montreal Writer, Jo Berry

I clambered out of my vehicle, breath hissing in my helmet, and took my first few steps on the surface of the moon. After getting my bearings, I looked up and caught a glimpse of Earth overhead, blue, green, and white suspended in an endless sea of black. The sight was beautiful, startling, and to my surprise, genuinely moving. I stared for a long time, slowly understanding that this moment—looking up at Earth—was a small realization of my lifelong interest in space; my yearning to travel to the stars.

Eventually, I signaled my squadmates, and we started up the hill toward our mission objective. It was 2007. I was in the early hours of Mass Effect, and we had a galaxy to save.

I would go on to have memorable experiences throughout the Mass Effect series—epic cinematic scenes, interactions with my team, laugh-out-loud lines—but that unscripted moment on the moon was what sealed me as a fan forever.

As someone who grew up with ’80s science fiction movies—Star Wars, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Flight of the Navigator, The Black Hole—Mass Effect was the kind of bighearted sci-fi adventure I’d always wanted, and it was one in which I was in total control of who my character was and what she believed. I’d already pounced on the prequel novel, Mass Effect: Revelation, and now I was setting foot on distant worlds, commanding a starship, and learning about alien cultures as textured as my own. But because of the way the game was built, there was room for these smaller, subtler moments too, which genuinely resonated because of what space travel means to me.

* * *

I’ve always been a writer; nothing makes me happier than the chance to create something. When I was playing Mass Effect, one thought kept cropping up in my mind: “This. I want to make something like this.” Soon after, I saw that BioWare was looking for writers. Having enjoyed BioWare games since Baldur’s Gate II, I thought, “Well, why not try?”

I was fortunate enough to make it through selection, module submission, and a tough 48-hour writing test. After my training, I was delighted to work on a childhood love, the Star Wars franchise, when I took over as the Jedi Consular writer for Star Wars: The Old Republic. As Mass Effect 2 and 3 went through development, I glimpsed the creative process from the inside: internal sizzle trailers, cool tech demonstrations, concept art. When I transferred to the Mass Effect franchise at BioWare Montreal last year, I had my chance to contribute to a universe I’d been exploring and discovering for years.

It’s been tremendous fun. One standout experience to date was working with fellow BioWare writer Ann Lemay on the “Fight for Omega” ARG on Twitter. I wrote the tweets for the Cerberus forces as they fought Nyreen Kandros and the Talon gang (whom Ann wrote) for control of Omega, complete with encrypted messages for participating fans to solve and help shape the conflict. (Incidentally, the chance to write as Cerberus’s passive-aggressive HR department filled me with glee—there’s a machinima series waiting to happen!) From there, I’ve gone on to… well, suffice it to say that I’m having the time of my life, and I’m excited about where things are going.

I’m coming at Mass Effect from an unusual perspective. I’m a huge fan who knows the series inside and out, but now I’m also a writer and designer who can look back and see how it was crafted. Mass Effect gave me complex, engaging experiences, like the romance with Kaidan that overcame changes and challenges over the years, or facing choices that would affect the fate of the entire geth collective, or understanding what drove Mordin to reshape the genophage. But those moments have also been as simple as standing on the moon, gazing up at Earth, and feeling both small and great at the same time.

This is what Mass Effect gave me. This is what I want to create.

Jo Berry

Writer, BioWare Montreal

BLOG: Does This Unit Have a Soul?

Does This Unit Have a Soul?

By: Assistant product manager Nick Clifford

Mass Effect is so many things to so many people. It’s different for everyone, and that’s the beauty of it. Each player gets a unique experience and walks away with their own feelings after playing it. For me, it’s a collection of moments crystalized in time that I will never forget. Yes, it’s the story of one man or woman (Commander Moxxie Shepard in my case) that rallies the galaxy to break a timeless cycle of death and destruction, but there’s more to it than that. It’s what you do along the way and who you meet that defines your adventure.

You might be wondering who I am, exactly. I’m Nick in marketing. WAIT, before you jump to the “scheming super villain” conclusion, let me say that we’re not all bad. When EA first partnered with BioWare, I had the wonderful fortune of joining the team almost immediately. As a huge fan of BioWare’s work and, in particular, the original Mass Effect, how could I turn down the opportunity?

That was all back in 2009 when we first showed Mass Effect 2 at E3. I’ve been slaying dragons and Reapers ever since. If you’ve been to any of our live events, San Diego Comic Con, or PAX, you might have seen me. Crazy dude dressed up as Shepard? Yup, that’s me. I help with live events, work with the dev team, develop artwork for the website and packaging, and have fun with the community. You remember the Mass Effect 3 Space Edition? Yeah, I was there in San Francisco, not sleeping for 26 hours, tracking those damn balloons down. But you guys were right there with me, including those of you following us online.

 

I’ve been a Mass Effect fan since dropping an ME1 disc into a tray back in 2007. Having played Jade Empire and KotOR, I thought I knew what to expect. Nope, I was wrong. I wasn’t even close to prepared for how big the game felt: the entire galaxy to explore, being the one person who could uncover the truth about the rogue Spectre and the plot to destroy everything in existence, and the poignant moments, epiphanies, and choices you couldn’t go back on. Since then, nothing has been the same.

These encapsulated, beautiful moments are what Mass Effect will always be to me. You remember in ME1 (spoiler?) when you first talk to Sovereign on Virmire and you find out that Saren’s ship is actually a Reaper?! It’s alive?! Or, better yet, how about when you are on Ilos and you meet Vigil? That’s my favorite moment in the game. Your perception of what Mass Effect is up to that point is totally shattered. Sovereign isn’t just one big robot, but the vanguard of an entire army of ancient malevolent machines! Oh, and by the way, humans aren’t the first. Vigil saw them wipe out the entire Prothean Empire. Yeah, Shepard, you had your work cut out for you.

Then Mass Effect 2! Shepard survives everything in Mass Effect 1 just to be ripped away from us. Watching the Normandy burn and Shepard getting spaced, running low on air… it still haunts me. And then the Collector-Prothean connection and how it’s the future of the human race if we lose? Mind=blown.

Mass Effect 2 was great because we met so many amazing characters and learned more about the ones we held close in ME1: Archangel, the STG scientist, the spiritual assassin, and Legion, my favorite.  Legion has an ideology all his own and, for me, he’s the best-developed character in the story, which is a quirky paradox seeing that, as a machine, he’s meant to have no character. But he does somehow, right? Why did he choose to attach Shepard’s armor to his frame? “Because there was a hole.”

Sadly, the trilogy has come to an end. Mass Effect 3 took everything I loved about the first two games and turned it up to 11. Everything has lead up to this; we have all invested so much. Would my love interest survive? Would Earth? Would the galaxy? Could I make every moment count? Mordin making the ultimate sacrifice, watching Tali get sauced, shooting cans with Garrus… you don’t realize how much these characters mean to you until the moment is gone. You think you’re prepared for it—that it won’t hit you so hard—but it does.

Oh, Tali, it’s okay. One day you’ll learn. Actually, don’t learn. I love you just the way you are. Tequila se ‘lai.

And that’s how I remember Mass Effect, its amazingly well-crafted story and characters. The time I spent in the universe and the moments crystalized forever. Nothing will ever be the same as my time spent aboard the SSV Normandy.