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Fan Blog: The RC Mako

Hi, everyone!

BioWare knows that we have some very creative and talented fans out there. Whether you are a cosplayer, an artist, a baker or something similar, we know that our games have helped spur your imaginations and skills.

We want to help recognize you and your creativity here on the BioWare Blog by letting you blog about your creative outlets and your enjoyment of our games. If you are interested in blogging about your art, cosplay, creations or similar, please let us know by emailing Community@BioWare.com We hope to hear from you.

Now please enjoy the first BioWare Fan Blog: The RC Mako.


In a small farming town in northern Louisiana, I terrorize the plains, scurrying through the tall grass in search of any miniature thresher maw predecessors and waiting for the chance to survey uncharted worlds. I may lack micro-thrusters and an element zero core, but my pilot will find ways around this. I am the RC Mako. (https://www.facebook.com/RCMako)

Finished Mako 1

Hey, everyone! My name is Laura Ducros, and I made a remote-controlled version of the M-35 Mako from the original Mass Effect. I consider myself a jack of all trades, being primarily an artisan crafter and cosplayer. I’m a huge Mass Effect fan. I have cosplayed as FemShep and made a few weapons from the game—including a Nerf Recon transformed into an M-920 Cain. I’ve even carved Mass Effect designs into a few pumpkins. My creations are all on my Facebook page: Rebel Among The Stars Studios (https://www.facebook.com/RebelAmongTheStars) or on my DeviantART (http://xrebel66x.deviantart.com/).

The idea for the remote-controlled Mako started after I attended DragonCon 2012. I have been to conventions across the US, including SDCC, but nothing prepared me for DragonCon. It was my first time attending, and I expected just another run-of-the-mill convention. I quickly discovered how wrong I was. The variety of unique costumes and the dedication I saw to people’s crafts put all of my past conventions to shame. Even though I was only able to spend one day there, it left a real impression on me. All I could think about was returning next year and bringing along something that would add to its vast geeky diversity. I spent the entire eight-hour trip home brainstorming. My mind was filled with ideas, but one stood out: an RC Mako.


I remember thinking, “I see at least one R2-D2 or K-9 being operated at these conventions. Maybe I can do something that is remote controlled, too.” I immediately knew I wanted something from Mass Effect, since the games are very dear to my heart. This also meant I could bring my creation along with me whenever I was dressed in my FemShep attire. The first vehicle that popped into my head was the Mako. Even though some people hated it, I absolutely adored it. I consider myself to be pretty darn good at maneuvering that monster around. Exploring uncharted worlds, shooting at thresher maws, driving over geth armatures and watching them wobble back upright…all the good memories I had with the Mako sealed the deal.

I had a general idea of how I wanted to execute it—something similar to the one an avatar on XBOX 360™ could have, but with my own flair added. I began scouting for ways to make this dream a reality. The first obstacle was the base. I contemplated building something entirely from scratch, but I lacked the funds and resources. I searched, and stumbled across a 6-wheeled truck in the toy department of my local Target™ that had a base identical to the Mako’s. It was exactly what I needed to start this journey.


As soon as I brought that base home, the Mako became my main project. Even when I wasn’t physically working on it, I was constantly thinking about it. It consumed six months of my life. There was a lot of trial and error—and countless messages sent to friends asking for advice or suggestions. I’d never tackled anything like this before, and it was a fairly challenging project, but I was determined to make it happen. It took me four attempts before finally getting the body perfect. (I nicknamed it “Bruce.”) I still keep the failed attempts as keepsakes to remind me of how I didn’t give up.

The end result was a body made entirely of craft foam, one dowel, and a few bottles of superglue. I used a papercraft model created by ThunderChildFTC (http://thunderchildftc.deviantart.com/) as a base for the final design. I enlarged the original model, made modifications to the design, cut out the new pieces in the foam, and winged it the rest of the way. Measuring 19.5″ long, 8″ tall, and 7.5″ wide, he’s no shabby little RC. The most difficult part was getting the cannon to turn on command, especially since I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. When I finally managed to get it working, my squeal was loud enough to startle my dogs. After 6 months, the finishing line was finally in sight. I couldn’t sleep during those final days.

I didn’t know what kind of reaction to expect. There are a great many professional remote controlled toys and props out there, and I was just an amateur with a big dream. My main goal was already accomplished, and that was rewarding in itself. But the positive response my Mako got makes me want to blush. I honestly never imagined it would be so well-received. Pictures appeared on Kotaku only a few hours after I posted them on DeviantART. The wonderful people at BioWare shared the video I created on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve even inspired others to make their own RC vehicles from Mass Effect, like Ammnra’s Kodiak (http://fav.me/d5vojhehttps://www.facebook.com/AmmnraCreations).

MomoCon Jennifer

People immediately recognized my Mako when he made his first public appearance at MomoCon 2013. Many came up and expressed their strong love or hate—some even joked that he handled better than the in game version (which he doesn’t). I loved driving him around and hearing people call out, “It’s the Mako!” But nothing could compare to the reactions I received from Chris Priestly, Keith Hayward, and Mark Meer when they took him for a test drive. It was truly overwhelming.

So what lies ahead for the RC Mako? I plan to take him to every convention I attend. I’m really looking forward to bringing him to SDCC and DragonCon. I’ll be driving him around during the parade while I’m marching with my fellow N7 Elite’s (https://www.facebook.com/groups/N7Elite/). I see myself continuously upgrading and improving my Mako for many years to come: I already have a very long list of things I want to add, including lights, a functioning cannon, and eventually having him jump around like he’s on thrusters. This whole process is still very new to me, so the more I learn, the more I can implement. One day, he’ll be crawling up 89-degree cliffs—and then I become an official member of the Mako Mountain Climbing Team.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story.

Laura Ducros

Rebel Among The Stars – https://www.facebook.com/RebelAmongTheStars

RC Mako – https://www.facebook.com/RCMako

BioWare goes down under to PAX Australia


UPDATE: Here’s the confirmed list of panels that BioWare will be participating in during PAX Aus!


G’Day! I’m very pleased to announce that BioWare will be attending the very first PAX Australia in Melbourne from July 19 to July 21. BioWare has been part of both PAX Prime and PAX East for years, and we are thrilled to now be able to come to Australia and meet our fans there.

Come out to PAX Australia for your chance to meet Cameron Lee (Producer), Patrick Weekes (Senior Writer), Karin Weekes (Lead Editor), and “Evil” Chris Priestly (Community Event planner) as they hold their first-ever-in-Australia panel “BioWare Goes Down Under” Friday July 19 from 4:30-5:30 in the Dropbear Theatre.

We’re still finalizing other activities for our visit and want to hear from local Melbournians… Melburnians… Melbournites…. BioWare fans about where we should go and what we should see. We want to see the sights and meet our fans during our stay, so any suggestions for gatherings, parties or ways we can talk with you are very welcome! Email us your ideas to community@bioware.com or contact me through Twitter at @BioEvilChris and visit the BioWare Facebook Page for updates on our Australian trip.

We hope to see you mad blokes and ace sheilas for a fair dinkum chin wag when we come down under for PAX Australia! (Ok, ok – I promise no more Canadian guy trying to use Australian slang. No worries.)

BLOG: Owen Borstad, Qunari Crafts Specialist

During our recent Dragon Age Week celebration, we shared an awesome looking Qunari symbol wall hanging that was created by a member of the Dragon Age team. Since then, we have received many requests from the community asking how to make one of their own.

We went straight to the source and asked Owen Borstad if he could provide detailed instructions on how he did it. Here is what he had to say:

Qunari Wall Hanging

Hi all!

I’m Owen Borstad, and I made the large paper Qunari symbol shown off by the community team as part of Dragon Age Week.  I’m a programmer at BioWare and have been here for almost 12 years now, and I’ve been doing paper-crafty-type stuff since long before working here. Apparently some folks are interested in how I made the Qunari artwork that now decorates one of the walls at BioWare, so here’s a rundown of what I did and how I made it, and some files to help you make your own if you wish.

For a while now I had been wanting to make a giant paper sculpture to decorate the walls/trophy cases/etc. of BioWare, similar to the works of Kota Hiratsuka, Matthew Shlian and Joel Cooper (I have no affiliation with these artists, just a love of their work) but hadn’t really found the time/right thing to make/source material for the project.  One day I stumbled upon the source Illustrator files for the various symbols in our game, found the Qunari symbol, and thought, “Hey, this would make an awesome wall hanging just like the Lion’s head!”, so I started thinking about how to make this happen.

I took our symbol (figure 1), and found the edges (figure 2):


Next I found the centerline (or just extracted it, figure 3), then subdivided it (by eye, no math, really; I should have done some math, figure 4):


I then put in the “facets” (figure 5), and thought “Ok, now how to make it 3D?”


I wasn’t familiar enough with the 3D programs we have here, but have played around with Google Sketchup before, so I loaded that up.  Unfortunately, there’s no easy way (short of paying the upgraded price) to import Illustrator files, so I went looking.  I stumbled upon exporting to svg, and importing via a plugin (which took some fiddling to work).  Eventually I got it into Sketchup, and then made it 3D by pulling the middle line up.  After doing a whole bunch of clean up on it to make endpoints meet, removing duplicate facets, etc., I had a model I could then play with.

Once I was happy with it in Sketchup, I exported to DFX and loaded up Pepakura Designer, which allows people to make templates for paper craft models from 3D data files.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing with sizes, trying to figure out how big I wanted it, at what size to print it out, etc.  I made a smaller version as a prototype, which looked decent even if I didn’t finish it (I don’t have a picture of this; it was destroyed in one of my trips to and from work).  After making the prototype, I discovered I had it backwards (inside out), as I didn’t want my numbers to show when I finished making it, so I fixed that up, then re-exported and re-imported.

I finally decided how big to make it so as to fit on the wall, and saved out a PDF of the exploded structure (see PDF).  I printed it on 11×17 Cardstock Ledger paper, and started cutting it out.  I had to score the thing backwards to what the PDF said to do to keep the lines and numbers on the “inside” of the structure.

After gluing the back all together with thinly spread white glue and cutting/scoring every piece, I finally started assembling it.  It turned out that gluing the “boxes” and then gluing to the back was the easiest way to put it together, and so I eventually finished gluing to the back, then worked on “zipping” the model together.

After a total of about 30 hours, I finally finished it, and cut a circular hole in the back by which to hang it, re-enforced the hole, and stuck it on the wall with a pushpin. And that’s how I came to be the prince of… oh, wrong story, anyway, that’s how I made the giant logo!  I might do another one if I feel like it, or go do something completely different for my next project.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the tale; if you have questions, send them to community@bioware.com and I can try to answer them, but no questions about what glue to use!


Dragon Age Week Community Message


Welcome to Dragon Age Week!

Dragon Age Week is an exercise the Dragon Age team does to spur their creativity while they work to complete Dragon Age 3. While Dragon Age 3 is well underway with lots happening in its development, we believe in having our developers think outside the box every now and then.

Last week, the team was encouraged to think outside their normal roles and come up with new ideas for the Dragon Age universe overall. The only boundaries they were given was that the idea must be something related to Dragon Age, and it must be something cool.

This week we want to open Dragon Age Week to our Dragon Age community. We know you all have creative ideas for Dragon Age and we want to know how Dragon Age inspires you. Do you replay Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age II making different choices? Do you create fan art of horrible fade demons? Do you read the Dragon Age comics and wish Morrigan or Fenris would appear? Are you baking Dragon Age cookies for the Arishok?

Let us know what you are doing for Dragon Age Week by Tweeting to @dragonage on Twitter with the hashtag #DAWeek. At the end of the week, we’ll share some of what the Dragon Age team came up with as part of their Dragon Age Week.

Let Dragon Age Week begin!

Blog: Mike Gamble


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.

FemShep (3)

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!

FromAshes (3)

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.

EC with Logos

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.


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.


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.


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.

Retaliation (4)

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.