A Look Back at GamesCom

A few weeks ago, my lead sent out an e-mail to ask if any team members were interested in attending GamesCom in Cologne.  As I’d never been to a big games convention—or to Germany—before, having the opportunity to go to GamesCom was exciting: visiting a new country for a little bit, and being at the largest games convention in the world.  It turns out that GamesCom is pretty cool.  :)

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There was always something fun to do while we were there.  At the convention, we usually had a little bit of time to wander the convention floor to check out other games, and we had the chance to play some pretty fun demos.  (Titanfall is awesome.  :) ) The sheer number of people at the convention made it pretty crazy to just walk around the halls. When I got back from the trip, I read that around 340,000 people came to the convention.

During the rest of the time, we hung out in the BioWare Community Lounge and got the chance to talk to fans.  As a developer, it’s not always easy to see how people respond to the games that we make other than the reviews posted online and reading the forums.

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Meeting fans at GamesCom allowed us to meet and hear from fans directly, and the amount of passion that people have for our games is amazing.  Some really cool Mass Effect and Dragon Age cosplayers came to the community lounge, and they looked awesome!  It’s great to hear that all of the hard work we put into our games is appreciated, and I’m excited for fans to see everything we’re working on for our upcoming games in the future.

-          Justin Yong, Software Engineer (Mass Effect)

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BioWare at Gamescom 2013

Summer is heating up and we’re anxious to get out and enjoy it. Luckily for us, that includes a stop at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany from August 21st to 25th. The Community team is excited to meet fans in Europe and bring the Edmonton & Montreal studio experience to Gamescom!

BioWare will be hosting a Community Lounge to meet fans, complete with couches to sit down and chat about their favorite games. The BioWare Lounge will be located in the EA Community Lounge.

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We’ll also be bringing a photo wall with us, so don’t be shy! Come say hello and get your picture taken with members of our team. The lounge will be open on Friday and Saturday.

Friday, August 22nd

  • Open to the public from 3:00pm to 6:00pm (We will also have the Heroes of Dragon Age mobile game there!)

Saturday, August 23rd

  • Open to the public from 2:00pm to 6:00pm

Scheduled to appear at Gamescom:

  • Melanie Faulknor, Producer on DAI
  • Jonathan Perry, Cinematic Director on DAI
  • Rodrigue Pralier, Principal Character Artist on Mass Effect
  • Justin Yong, Software Engineer on Mass Effect
  • Jessica Merizan, Community & New Media Manager

Gamescom is going to be a lot of fun and we hope to see you there!

BioWare Dragon Age 2 Podcast: Episode 3

In the latest edition of BioWare’s Dragon Age 2 podcast, Victor Wachter speaks with Dragon Age Executive Producer Mark Darrah about the process of creating the Dragon Age games and with Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw about his recent trip to gamescom and what you can expect to see at Penny Arcade Expo this weekend. Other topics include ponytail, Varric’s chest hair and Hawke’s beard.

Click hear to download BioWare’s Dragon Age 2 Podcast.

BioWare at Koln Gamescom wrap up. Danke Schon und Auf Wiedersehen

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Part 1 of 1, by Evil Chris Priestly

There are few gamers (as a culture) more hardcore for role playing than the German gamers. Gamescom Entrance I know I’ll here a “but me and my friends are hardcore” from someone in Canada or Australia or wherever, but in truth, I do not think that as a country there are gamers more interested in RPGs than Germany (although Poland comes pretty close). Don’t get me wrong, North America will always sell more games, but that is in part due to the size of the US and Canada added together. We know we have a great deal of hardcore fans waiting for more BioWare RPGs in Germany, so I was very pleased to learn that we would be heading back to Germany this summer to attend the Koln Games Convention.

As Jay said in his blog entry Koln, or Cologne, Germany hosts a huge event where fans from all around Europe come to learn about their favorite upcoming titles. BioWare had a presence in 4 separate areas of the convention. We were in the EA Business lounge where Ray Muzyka was doing interviews and both Dragon Age: origins and Mass Effect 2 were being shown BCD (Behind Closed Doors) to the European press. We also had 2 huge rooms as part of the EA area on the show floor, one for Dragon Age: origins and one for Mass effect 2. And finally, we had been invited by the EA Germany team to show off both DAO and ME2 in the Community Lounge, which was in a separate part of the complex from the others. As Jay alluded in his blog, we had a little trouble finding the Community room. Despite being given clear instructions, we took a short cut and became hopelessly lost in a deserted kitchen that felt like a scene out of a horror movie. We expected a knife wielding maniac in a leather apron to leap out of an abandoned meat cooler and try to make schnitzel out of us.
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After scampering out of there with many a backwards glance, we called for assistance and were rescued by the German Community Manager who was stunned by our ability to not follow a simple map.

Both Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins were a huge hit at Gamescom. This couple met through the BG2 forums and are still together. Awww. To be honest, I think the Dragon Age line was slightly longer than the Mass Effect line, but both lines were huge. For the entire conference, they had almost 300,000 people attend with over 100,000 on Saturday alone. The place was absolutely packed and there was barely any room to swing an inflatable sword or throw out a free t-shirt. The lines were amazing with some folks waiting up to 4 hours for a chance to get their hands on with their favorite games. When we would discover a hardcore BioWare fan, they would get invited up to the Community Lounge so they could have extra time with Dragon Age or Mass effect 2 as well as ask questions to us directly. We had a great time meeting fans from Germany, Holland, the UK, France, and many more countries. We even met up with a couple who, in their opinion, owed their lives to BioWare. He was a web designer who worked on the German BG2 site. He met her on the BG2 message boards and they are still together and still big BioWare fans. I may have to change my job title to “cupid”.

When we weren’t at the Con itself we were having a great time exploring Koln. If you have not had the chance, I really recommend coming to Germany. Jay does not like beer The people are friendly and very understanding of our lack of German language (I took a class in junior high almost 25 years ago and had to act as really bad translator). There is a lot to see and do here from walking along the Rhine River, beer, plenty of museums and art galleries, beer, great shopping, beer, really good food and beer. Did I mention that there is beer? I know there are other beverages, but we spent a lot of our time researching this ‘beer” thing. We even accidentally spent an evening at one of Koln’s gay establishments where we were warmly included in the singing and drinking by the friendly locals. We had a great time. The only drawback at all was Jay “I’ll drink it if it has fruit and umbrellas in it” Watamaniuk who doesn’t like beer.

Likely the most impressive thing in Koln is The Dom Cathedral. This massive structure is over 1000 years old and is incredible to be seen and explored. The church welcomes visitors and allows pictures and tours except during mass. Even though I am not of any faith, I found it very interesting to walk among the icons and architecture and really get a feel for the building. Something that we found especially neat was the Dom at night. There are lights on the nearby buildings that shine out and illuminate the cathedral. These lights also bring out a breed of birds who swoop around eating all of the bugs that the lights attract. In a rather cool Dragon Age cross over, these birds are referred to as the “lightspawn” by the locals. Upon hearing this, Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw began to work the idea into Dragon Age 2.

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So BioWare had a great time at Koln Gamescom. Both our games showed great, the fans really loved getting their hands on the games early and we all had a great deal of fun. Will we be back next year? I sure hope so. We will have shipped Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2 by next summer, but there is always DLC and a few secret projects up our sleeves. So BioWare fans, Danke Schon for your hospitality this year and keep your eyes out for us again next year.

Now it is on to Toronto for Fan Expo Canada. Keep track of us on Twitter at biofeed and check out our convention pictures on the Community Flickr account here: Flickr

Achtung! BioWare at Gamescom Germany

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Part 1 of 1, by Jay Watamaniuk

I got up at 4:45am to a catch a flight and before you can say ‘Dieses ist die neue scheiße’ I found myself in Cologne, Germany to help show off Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2 at the biggest video gaming event in Europe. Something like 340,000 tickets were pre-sold for the event. That’s a big event which means lots and lots of crazy gamers from all over the world to preview videos games, eat bratwurst and feel under-dressed compared to the stylish locals.

gamescom3BioWare was found in three locations around the massive convention centre, which is so large I couldn’t even find the main show floor for a solid 30 minutes of wandering around. When I did find it, I snuck into the Dragon Age booth and nodded sagely at the hordes of people tucked away playing or lining up for the chance to do so.

Right next door was a similar booth for Mass Effect 2 which also was almost impossible to get into to just take a peek. Just above both booths a massive EA video screen played a loop of the games being featured at the show.

I sauntered over to the EA Business Lounge which a huge closed off area for developers to give secret demonstrations to press, VIPs and other developers. The theme was something like ‘Wonderland of Ice and Giant Plushy Sugar Cubes’.gamescom2 One could grab a drink at the bar, some food and lounge around on the sugar cubes or steal away to one of the many game demonstrations being shown in the individual rooms constructed for the games being shown. Lead Designer, Mike Laidlaw was hard at work showing off a demonstration which featured a choice that could result in having to kill some of your own party members or facing a guardian dragon. Yes, the designers feast upon on your salty, salty tears.

The third location for BioWare was still under construction was the Community Lounge. This was to be a bit of an oasis of calm amidst the storm of screeching monkeys that was the show floor. Fans could come and play their favourite games in peace and quiet while getting help from tranquil developers grateful to be far from the maddening crowd. I will let Mr. Priestly describe the adventure we had trying to find the community lounge and leave you with this small preview: ‘murder kitchen’.

gamecon4We helped get the computers up and running the demonstration build of Dragon Age on the PC which would allow fans to play all of the origins stories from start to finish. I took the opportunity to play through the dwarf noble plot one more time and this time around I was a complete jerk. Excellent.

The next day we had a big presentation to a large group of fansite operators and super-fans who had been invited. Mike Laidlaw rolled out his best presenter voice and managed to keep everyone entertained while we frantically tried to solve a major computer glitch that had us phone Edmonton, Canada to get it sorted out (thanks Dave McG!).

Today Chris and I did some interviews for EA’s online sites and got a chance to talk about life at BioWare as a developer and what exactly the difference between my job as Community Manager and Priestly’s job as Community Coordinator which essentially comes down to how effectively you can dodge doing real work by handing it off to other guy. Thus far I’m winning.

Chris will have his recap up next!