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INTERVIEW Game developers BioWare

We chat with the role-playing masters, Canadian developers BioWare, about their current videogame successes.

They've given us favourites like the Baldur's Gate games, Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic , two Mass Effect adventures and Dragon Age: Origins , and they're all acknowledged classics. SFX is even listening to the epic soundtrack from Dragon Age: Origins as we upload this ( thanks Spotify ). With Mass Effect 2 currently riding high in the sales charts and an expansion for Dragon Age expected this month, the top guys from BioWare, Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka, took time out to talk to SFX about their projects. You may have seen some of that interview in SFX 194, now here's the rest!

SFX: In your mind, what was the biggest thing you had to achieve with Mass Effect 2 ?
Greg Zeschuk: At BioWare we aim to make each of our games better than the last, and to do this with Mass Effect 2 we decided to be very aggressive in progressing the game experience - and not make just more of the same. We left nary a system or feature untouched. We don't believe sequels are the place to stand still, but instead they provide an opportunity to make an even better game than the original.

SFX: And what sort of reception has Mass Effect 2 has been getting?
Ray Muzyka: We've had an incredibly positive response both critically and commercially. It's currently rated the 2nd highest Xbox 360 game of all time (tied with three other games) on and was already a multi-million seller after just a couple weeks! Beyond the numbers, we've had extremely positive feedback from many friends in the game business; along with hearing that our fans are enjoying the game, that's always among the most rewarding type of feedback we receive.

SFX: 2009's Dragon Age: Origins was epic and emotional. How are you going to maintain that momentum with the Awakening expansion pack?
Ray Muzyka: While it's definitely going to be hard to top the emotional impact of the original game - our team did a great job there - we're confident our fans will find Awakening extremely rewarding, very high quality.

SFX: How many hours of gameplay do you expect it to have?
Ray Muzyka: Like all of our games it's going to be quite difficult to put an exact number on the length of the gameplay experience - it will certainly be great value for money. Much depends on how you play, whether you like to go off the beaten path or not, and how you approach story, exploration, and combat.

SFX: Given your success in single-player experiences, why did you decide to work with LucasArts now on a MMORPG? Why not just create KoTOR III ?
Ray Muzyka: We've always been interested in multiplayer experiences (as you'll recall, the original Baldur's Gate games and Neverwinter Nights were both multiplayer) so it wasn't a huge stretch for us to want to work on a full massively multiplayer online experience. When we did start working on it, we discovered how truly massive an undertaking it is! Fortunately we've got a crack team down at BioWare Austin with a ton of experience working on the game, so we're really positive on both the team and the game. We've also combined a number of BioWare Edmonton designers in the mix as well, and based on this talented group of people we're very confident we'll build something very special.

SFX: How closely will The Old Republic ’s story intertwine with that of the original Knights Of The Old Republic games?
Greg Zeschuk: The Old Republic occurs a while after the original Knights Of The Old Republic games, thousands of years before the timeline of the movies - that's all we'll reveal right now on this front!

SFX: Thanks guys!

Read more of this article in SFX 194 , which is on sale now with a four-page guide to the best upcoming videogames.

Dave Bradley
I'm the Group Editor-in-Chief for Future's film group.