All a stir for Alistair

Steve Valentine, the voice of Alistair, isn’t just the king of Ferelden—he’s the king of our hearts. His smooth accent is unmistakable, which is probably why so many Dragon Age fans recognize him on sound alone.
He’s had nothing but positive interactions with our fans at conventions and in public—that is, until he met our community manager, Jessica Merizan.
Swooning, it turns out, is also bad.

What’s in a Name?

We analyzed player data from Mass Effect 3 to determine the most popular names for Commander Shepard. The most common choices by far were the defaults, John and Jane, but for those players who ventured off the beaten path, these are the top five names for each gender.shepardnames

Our Lonely Wall Needs Your Help

In a quiet corner of a small studio in the city of Montreal, there lived a sad wall of little importance. Neither load-bearing nor fanciful in material or design, the wall simply stood where it was put, as walls are wont to do. And though standing still is an admirable trait to have in a wall—indeed the one thing that’s expected of it—this wall dreamed of more.

It was tired of the blank, expressionless faces on the game developers walking past. It was tired of sectioning space into rooms and hallways. It was even tired of being red. And as days turned into weeks that turned into months, the wall grew more morose.

Then a funny thing happened. It seemed the sadder the wall got, the more people noticed it. They would pause in the hallway and say things like, “My word, is that ever a sad looking wall.” Others would agree, “Dreadfully sad.” Soon it was hard for anyone to even think of the dreary patch of drywall without weeping with abject sorrow.

“This damned wall is ruining our day,” they said. “Something must be done!”

Of course, you can’t just paint a wall and expect it to be happy – and hiding it behind drapes would be rather silly. After much debate, it was decided that the best way to cheer up the weepy, old wall would be to cover it with joyful things: art and letters and photographs from Mass Effect fans who want to share their love for the franchise with the studio.

And so, in a rather roundabout way, we’re asking you, the Mass Effect community, to send us things to cover our wall. Send us pictures and postcards and paintings. Send us weavings and writings and watercolors. We’ve got a wall to fill, and we want what you make.

The saddest wall you've ever seen.

The saddest wall you’ve ever seen.

To partake, send your Mass Effect creations along with a signed release to:

BioWare Montréal
3, place Ville Marie
Suite 200
Montréal, Québec, Canada
H3B 2E3

You can also submit print quality work to fanart@bioware.com

*All fan art must be your own original work, and cannot contain any images from third parties. For photographs, please include a signed release form for all parties involved.

It Takes a Village to Make a Game

David Lam, Bioware's Outsourcing Art Director, talks to University of Alberta students about the value of teamwork. Photo courtesy of Kevin Schenk and Vadim Bulitko.

David Lam, Bioware’s Outsourcing Art Director, talks to University of Alberta students about the value of teamwork. Photo courtesy of Kevin Schenk and Vadim Bulitko.

There aren’t many industries more multidisciplinary than video game creation. Musicians, artists, programmers, animators, writers, and people from pretty much every other skill set work together to develop games.

With that many different types of people and personalities in play, you’ve really got to be able to share your toys and play nice. This is why BioWare is such a big supporter of the University of Alberta’s CMPUT 250 course, which takes students from every faculty and teaches them how to work together.

Students in the CMPUT 250 course work in groups of six to develop games over four months. Photo courtesy of Kevin Schenk and Vadim Bulitko.

Students in the CMPUT 250 course work in groups of six to develop games over four months. Photo courtesy of Kevin Schenk and Vadim Bulitko.

The course on computers and games requires students to take a game from concept to release in four months. Each team includes a writer, musician, artist, and three programmers. Vadim Bulitko, who teaches the course, chooses each term’s students from a stack of applications to ensure an even distribution from the different disciplines.

“The greatest thing they learn in this course is how to work in an interdisciplinary team,” Bulitko says. “Now days, a lot of projects are interdisciplinary, and wherever you are, you’ll be working with people of different backgrounds and educations. Being able to work and be successful in that kind of environment is a great asset.”

Each year, the university hosts an award ceremony for the games the teams make, celebrating excellence in art and design, writing, audio, and technical achievements, as well as a Game of the Year.

The overall winner this year was a stealth-action game called The Day I Died, where players must use both corporeal and spiritual forms in tandem to solve puzzles and escape purgatory.

BioWare's Associate Recruiter, Shanda Wood, poses with the game of the year winners. Photo courtesy of Kevin Schenk and Vadim Bulitko.

BioWare’s Associate Recruiter, Shanda Wood, poses with the game of the year winners. Photo courtesy of Kevin Schenk and Vadim Bulitko.

“The games I’ve seen are very diverse: everything from first-person combat to stealth and logic puzzles,” Bulitko says. “Because there’s no commercial aspect, the exploration costs are very low, so they can just explore what they think is artistically and creatively interesting.”