BioWare’s PAX East Panel: Ignoring the Elephant in the Room

To prove his point, Weekes asked one of the Samara cosplayers to stand up. As our PAX East Day 1 photo gallery proves, she was the spitting image of Samara. This, as it turns out, is no coincidence — the cosplayer’s face was actually used as a model for Samara. Same goes for Liara, whose appearance was also based on a real person. Ditto Miranda, perhaps less surprisingly.

The developers then addressed the indoctrination theory, which they said “illustrates how committed the fanbase is.” That was as far as they would go, however: “We don’t want to be prescriptive for how people interpret the ending, especially with the DLC coming out….we want the material to speak for itself.” Neither a confirmation nor a denial, then. To conclude that portion of the proceedings, and to prove that they were listening to fan feedback, Gamble held up a bound book of suggestions that some fan had given him — it was about the size of an A.P. Biology textbook.

With that ugly business dispensed with, the panelists turned to other topics, made much more interesting by BioWare’s ability to be candid about them. A level designer spoke compellingly about some of the statistics that went into making the game, including the Normandy, which he claimed was one of the “most complicated pieces of content ever.” Mass Effect had 136 conversations on the Normanday, Mass Effect 2 171, and Mass Effect 3 300, of which fully 150 are interactive. The third game contains 300,000 words of voice-over, recorded in seven languages. 21 translators put in a Herculean effort to translate around 4 million words.

Weekes and his co-writer John Dombrow then took the floor and provided a wealth of information about the writing process. Dombrow described how he decided to use the the reveal of female Krogan as the hinge of the genophage story. Eve’s character, he explained, shows the side of the Krogan worth saving. Before the mission on Tuchanka, the Salarian councilor gives Shepard the chance to sabotage the genophage — Bioware’s writing staff wanted to have that choice weighing on the player’s mind throughout the mission. The ruined Krogan city isn’t just in there to look cool — it’s also meant to embody the positive side of Krogan civilization.

Weekes then turned to the character of Mordin, whom he initially hated — allegiance to Wrex made him suspicious of the Salarian scientist. Upon reflection, though, Weekes decided to write him as “someone who saw himself as good” — someone “who made the hard choice” and could rationalize the decision to implement the genophage, even if he wasn’t necessarily happy about his involvement. When it came to write Mass Effect 3, Weekes wanted Mordin to have a “noble end,” and judging by the audible cooing from female audience members when this end was described, he certainly succeeded. The slow-motion at the end of Mordin’s final scene was initially a bug, but for obvious reasons, the designers left it in.

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1 Comment on BioWare’s PAX East Panel: Ignoring the Elephant in the Room

S.J.M

On April 7, 2012 at 10:08 am

I followed this whole charade on the Bioware Social networks running thread, it was quite clear that all this Pax Panel has done is kick the hornets nest a few more times. The level of anger and outrage coming from a large percentage of users was something to behold, with most assuming (and you cant blame them) that these questions and people asking questions was nothing more then Bioware plants I think bioware has scored the mother of all own-goals with this debacle, PAX was the best chance they had to put this to bed, say that they have listened to the fans and will address the fans concerns and quite with this artistic integrity malarky that has suddenly found its way into the games developing industry.

Looking at these questions asked/answered, and just how Bioware made use of its Pax panel, Im left wondering who exactly have they been listening to, over the past 3/4 weeks? Its clear to me that its not the fans voice they are listening to.