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BioWare

Interview: CEO Ray Muzyka tackles the industry's big issues

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We have different genres in development; we have science fiction in Mass Effect, Dragon Age's dark heroic fantasy. I think regardless of what setting you're in, whether it's single player or multiplayer, for us the key is deep story - you want to be part of the world and we want to engage the audience emotionally.

Bioware's a big proponent of advancing storytelling in games. Is this one of the areas in which you feel the medium's a little immature and is it the most important thing to develop?

Muzyka:
I think it's one place to go. It's not the only thing you can do to develop games. Progression in customisation, exploration, combat and social experiences are important too.

For BioWare we want to make these characters that you want to be interacting with, we want to make storylines that you want to be a part of, [so] you want to be a hero or a villain in our universes. So for BioWare it's a very important pillar of our gameplay, for sure.

Zoom

There's an ongoing debate about the possibility of a one platform future. What are your feelings on the matter?

Muzyka: I can see it going there and I think there are valid reasons to do that. I see Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo maybe having some issues with that [as] they might want to continue their platforms.

Given that they create the hardware and they're big brands that have a lot of loyal fans I think that it may take a while before you see one platform.

But the idea of a thin client that you could run code over the internet on and distribute to is a possibility in the future that I think could happen.

You're seeing it on some PC titles now like the flash-based games that are arguably an example of that, where you're playing a game that's displayed and rendered and you interact with it on your machine but it may be running somewhere else. It's an interesting idea in the future.

Do I think it's the only way games could go? No, I think there are a few valid ways games could go. I'm more interested in seeing the art of games.

I think as technology accelerates and gets better and better it's less and less about pushing pixels through a technology architecture and trying to find the ways to optimise.

That's still part of development, but more and more we're coming to a standard camera, kind of like the movie industry, but while you still iterate the camera it's more about what you do with the camera, more about the artistry and craftsmanship and how you direct the experience.

I think videogames are pretty exciting because you get to be the actor and the director at the centre of the experience at the same time, unlike a lot of other passive forms of entertainment.

You mentioned Mass Effect. Interestingly there was a recent listing for a GDC 2009 session based on level design in Mass Effect 2. Can you tell us anything about that?

Zoom

Muzyka: That was interesting... Well, we haven't announced anything formally on Mass Effect 2 yet and the session at GDC is more development focused, but we have said that we're working on a trilogy of games or more in the past when we did Mass Effect and it's a franchise, which means we're going to develop in that universe for a long time. So maybe it would make sense for the team to be working on something like a Mass Effect 2, for example.

Can you see the franchise moving beyond PC and Xbox 360 this time?

Muzyka:
We haven't commented on platform choice or anything like that.

What's the likelihood of Star Wars: The Old Republic making it's way onto consoles at some point, or the possibility of a new Knights of the Old Republic game for consoles?

Muzyka:
Well the second question you'd have to ask LucasArts about because they're the owners of Star Wars, they're partners on The Old Republic and great partners to have.

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