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

Dombrow was responsible for the characters of Wrex, Garrus, and Javik, and he went into some detail about Garrus’ storyline. The writer wanted to end it on a note of friendship. Dombrow was playing the game, wandering the Citadel, idly wondering about what was up on the catwalks and superstructure that usually forms part of the background. “I bet Garrus knows!” he suddenly realized. That led to the plotline about the bucket list/shooting contest, which the art and animation team weren’t thrilled about at first. They were similarly reluctant about changing Tali’s character tag in Mass Effect 2, until the writers explained that they wanted it changed to “vas Normandy.” If they’re extremely cool, the writers explained, it’s a lot easier to get difficult design decisions implemented.

Weekes’ favorite characters in the series are the Illusive Man and Tali; he was largely responsible for the latter. Despite the copious amounts of fan love she receives, Weekes wanted Tali to be “imperfect,” blinkered by Quarian racism against the Geth. Still, he understood why players wanted to woo her, though he insisted on an atypical conclusion to the love story in Mass Effect 3. Most characters get a date to consummate their romance — in Tali’s case “your date is getting her her homeworld.”

The panel then took questions, which were largely a wasted opportunity, mixing in a lot of the “effusive praise disguised as a question” that is common at such events. The first person up asked if there were any survivors on the Citadel — Weekes assured him that there could have been. The second asked whether art should be prepared to stand up to any kind of criticism, not just constructive criticism — the panelists clairified that they meant “constructive” as in “not belligerent.”

The next person delivered a compli-question about how great Mordin’s death scene was. The developers agreed — it was great — and moved on to a lore question about the tentacle statues that appear Ilos, which don’t resemble Protheans. Dombrow admitted that this was a problem, but suggested that they could be representations of the civilization that preceded Javik & Co.

The developers confirmed that they used in-house tools for Q&A. They confirmed that there would be extended cutscenes in the Ending DLC, but wouldn’t comment on it further. If they could pick on NPC to sacrifice to the “Synthesis” ending? Shouts of “Marauder Shields!” and “Conrad Verner” drew big laughs. There was some speculation on what would have happened if the Protheans hadn’t taken the Asari under their wing, suggesting that the Salarians could have won the race to the Citadel. Some fan love for the Garrus-Tali relationship, which Weekes put down to their bantering, bickering dynamic, along with similar digestive chemistry. The last question was a meandering mess that eventually asked, more or less, “why wasn’t Shepard’s final speech to his army cooler?” No time was left for all the real, hard questions about the ending that BioWare is still yet to answer. Fans were, however, asked to stop by a BioWare booth later in the conference, so stay tuned.


Game Front is on-site at PAX East all weekend (April 6-8), bringing you daily news, hands-on previews, interviews and pictures. Stay tuned for more PC gaming-focused coverage!

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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.