What The People Behind Mass Effect, Dragon Age Are Trying To Do

I spoke to the men running the studio behind many of the world's biggest role-playing games a couple of weeks ago, to discuss a variety of things. I left with a bonus: The BioWare Vision Statement.

Here is that vision, from the mouth of Ray Muzyka, EA's general manager for (as he named them) BioWare Edmonton, BioWare Austin, BioWare Mythic and BioWare Montreal: "Create, deliver and evolve the most emotionally engaging gaming experiences in the world. That's the vision for the BioWare group across the four studios, and they all have different ways to approach that."

He mentioned this during an interview in San Francisco tied to the 2010 Game Developers Conference. I had been needling Muzyka about his propensity for using the phrase "emotionally engaging" a lot. But, he said, that's the BioWare vision, something that he said came clear in the past year after a series of meetings with the heads of the studios.

Emotional engagement, he said, is what great role-playing games can create between the games and their players. "These experiences just pull you in... The features of classic RPGs help do that, they facilitate that. The journey of an explorer gives you the sense of awe and mystery as you enter new places. You feel like you're the first person to see it.

"The tension of combat and feeling like you're going to get your arse handed to by some gigantic creature or some kind of space monster or something like that. Or a villain in a contemporary setting...

"[There can also be a]sense of pride in your progression of a character.

"There are lots of emotions you can have interacting with other characters in a game: hatred, love, loyally, friendship, remorse, sadness, grief - all kinds of different interesting emotions. As long as you're engaging people in that level, we think that's a more compelling experience."

Muzyka's colleague, BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk offered his way of looking at it: "People are thinking about our games after they play them. The average game.. you play it, you experience it, your go back to work or home and it doesn't stick with you. Somehow, our stuff sticks with you. It's the character interactions, all these things that Ray discussed. It all lives with you after."

BioWare's four branches currently have several projects in development, including future instalments of Dragon Age and Mass Effect as well as Star Wars: The Old Republic. Mythic's ongoing project is Warhammer Online. The Montreal studio's project(s) is/are unannounced. Expect the above goals - or an attempt to attain the above - to be targeted in all of those games.


    ..good 'ol Ukrainian boys know all about emotion .
    good job lads keep up the good [email protected]

    Until they get voice acting right, the games will never be emotionally engaging.

    I've had enough of generic sounding american voice acting

      Mmm while what they have now is ok something other than american voices would be great and not in the token aussie/brit/frenchman sense.

        Really? I thought Mass Effect 1 & 2 had superb voice acting, and Dragon Age was mostly good except for some minor characters.

      It's generic Canadian voice acting over at BioWare.

      Oh come on! Female Shepard has the best voice acting ever. The script is written beautifully and she performs it in such a way that allows you to make Paragon decisions and still sound like a badass, and Renegade decisions without sounding like a total taint-bag.

    These are all things that I think most developers do keep in mind and strive for, but just can't get it right to the level that Bioware does. I think they are one of the most reliable studios, they make making games look almost easy.

    Hooray for the good guys!

    I love Bioware games, but I hope that when they reach the level of "emotional engagement" that they're striving for... they set their new objective as quality control and bug testing.

    Man thats so true.
    Without realising it I was ranting about somthing that happened in Mass Effect 2 to my mum an sister.
    They then told me "you do realize its just a game"

    Its the same with Dragon Age...damn you Bioware! Why must your games be so addictive an full of win!?!

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