Mass Effect Interview with Bioware
Mass Effect Interview with Bioware xbox360
Chris Priestly, Community Coordinator for Bioware, was in town last week to talk about all things Mass Effect. We sat down with him and talked about what it's like being a Community Coordinator and what it's like working for Bioware.
BigPond GameArena: You’re the Community Coordinator for Bioware. What does your job entail exactly?
Chris Priestly, Community Coordinator, Bioware: Basically I’m the public mouthpiece for Bioware. With the internet I can communicate with the fanbase, usually through the forums, and I can tell the dev guys what the fans want.
GA: What’s the hardest part of your job?
Obsessive fans, with questions like “What’s happening with Mass Effect? Why are you wrecking it?!” and “Why do you keep doing these stupid sci-fi RPGs!? Why don’t you get back to your roots?”
CP: I can tell them about DragonAge, the new fantasy game we’re working on, but they’re still very overzealous. The job takes a thick skin, and you need to be a great listener, or reader, or whatever. You have to be able to gauge community reaction and not take it to heart when its negative.
GA: Your job essentially came from you maintaining a strong presence on the Bioware forums. Obviously you were already a part of the QA team before this came about, but did you imagine you would get this out of it?
CP: Never. I was in QA for 5 years, and I was the QA lead for Jade Empire, and while a lot of people think that QA is a stepping stone into the industry, it usually isn’t.
Fortunately for me, Bioware realised how important maintaining strong fan interaction is and what a loud voice I have, so I got into this position.
GA: Has there been any shock factor in going from being part of making the game to being a “suit”?
CP: Well, yeah I think there has. I mean, to start with I’m enjoying games more. Being in QA wrecks games pretty quickly. I mean I’ve played Mass Effect about ten times, but I’ve really enjoyed this time around. When I was in QA my version of “playing the game” would be “running into a wall 100 times” while with Mass Effect I can just play it my way.
GA: Do you still find yourself slipping into QA mode sometimes while playing? If you stumble upon a bug, will you find yourself reloading to try to replicate it?
CP:The way things work at Bioware, definitely. I mean, everyone will test a new build of Mass Effect. They’ll send an email out to anyone in the company saying “We’ve got a new version out, try it out and give us feedback” and you can just jump on and download the new build. So yeah, when I’m playing I still do all those things.
GA: What’s your favourite Bioware game?
CP: I had a heap of fun with Jade Empire. I was the QA lead on that and I have a lot of fond memories of it. I was actually a big part of getting John Cleese on board to do voice acting for it. But overall though, my favourite game is definitely Mass Effect. As a gamer it hits all the right targets, and I think its definitely one of the best games I’ve ever played.
GA: And what’s your favourite non-Bioware game ever?
CP: I’m gonna have to go with No One Lives Forever. That game is always the first game that comes to mind whenever I get asked that question.
GA: Do you think the buyout by EA is going to have a “mass effect” on the next games in this trilogy?
CP: (Laughs) Probably not. They wouldn’t spend all the money they did on us to get rid of everything we do. We’re not going to start making racing games or something. We’ll stick to what we know which is RPGs.
GA: So they’re allowing you guys creative control on the project? Does this mean we can blame you guys if you give us a cliffhanger ending, Halo 2 style?
CP: (Laughs) It’s never gonna happen, we all hated that ending as much everyone else. But sure if it ever happens, send all your hate mail to Chris Priestly and I’ll read your letters.
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