AusGamers Mass Effect 3 Robyn Théberge Developer Interview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 11:03am 01/03/12 | Comments
At a pre-launch event in Sydney, we caught up with BioWare Associate Producer Robyn Théberge for a chat about the massively anticipated upcoming sci-fi sequel Mass Effect 3. Read on or watch for what she had to say...
AusGamers Hey guys, welcome back to AusGamers. You are here once again with Stephen Farrelly out at a special event. Once again in Australia, not overseas for a change. We’re talking to Robyn, who has been working on Mass Effect 3; it’s coming out very soon. By the time you guys see this, it will probably be days away and we’re all really excited about it. I know I am; which is going to lead me into my first question:
I have this really strong relationship with Miranda. She’s my girlfriend, we get along. We’re like this. But Ashley got a little annoyed at me in the second game, but she’s been taking...
Robyn Théberge: You want to play both sides? [laughs]
AusGamers: No, not at all. I’m a one woman man, trust me.
But she’s [Ashley] been pretty predominant in the trailers leading up to the release of the game, so I kind of wanted to start there because there’s been a lot of talking about the action and The Reapers and that sort of stuff. But you invest so much time in the first game and the second game in relationships and building relationships, so let’s talk about... for people that played the first two games, what’s the carry-over there?
When I got to the second game, that Ashley thing kind of fizzled out. Is that going to happen again where you created a relationship in the second game. Can we go there?
Robyn: Well I think, in Mass Effect 3, the best way to summarise it is that you’ll get all the big payoffs that you’d expect as a fan of the franchise. You do get the option to import your characters and continue those relationships. So everybody, if they were alive -- if they survived Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 -- they will make an appearance in some shape or way in Mass Effect 3.
AusGamers: That’s not answering my question though.
Robyn: Well, I think it’s a unique experience. There are these characters that will come back and how you interact with them is all up to you as Shepard. Everybody will have their own relationships and it’s all dependant on you as the player.
AusGamers: Now, that’s another good place to start, because -- and I’ve kind of talked about this, because we’ve done a few interviews over the duration of this development cycle -- and there’s this concept you guys have been pushing which is: if you’ve never played Mass Effect before, this is a great place to start.
But one of the best parts of Mass Effect is the carry over from the first game and second game and third game. Will you guys be offering any kind of reward system for anyone who’s played the third game and finishes it, to go back and play the first and second games, in terms of carry-over rewards?
Robyn: I’m not too sure about that one. You will still have your new game plus option -- you will be able to go back and play Mass Effect 3 again with your levelled up character with more experience, and the combat does vary. So it will be more difficult based off of the level of your character. Also any ME2 imports into ME3 it works the same way. You get to keep all of your experience when you start the Mass Effect 3 story.
As far as going back further than that? I wouldn’t be able to say anything about that.
AusGamers: Well I guess the other part of that is trans-media. Which is a huge thing. The second game kind of toyed with it: I played the iPhone game and I got the extra conversation out of Mass Effect 2 experience and there seems to be a lot more of that going on this time around.
Can you talk a little bit about that and how far you guys want to go and how much you want to rein it in. Because to an extent, there are people that will go out there and just buy the game and experience the game, but might want to buy into it but might not have an iPhone or an iPad. Can you guys talk about the extend that you wanted to go to in terms of exploring the ability to expand this Universe without having to lock too many people into cross-media stuff?
Robyn: So on Mass Effect 3, we’ve taken that idea to a whole other level with the Galaxy at War system. So that’s your iPad app, that’s the infiltrator iPad game and that’s multiplayer co-op. And they all play into the single-player campaign in the same way.
You go into multiplayer with your friends, you win a battle and in a key location of the galaxy, you kick The Reapers out -- that becomes an asset in your overall war. In the same way that Infiltrator and your iPad do. You don’t need to have an iPad to get those points, but you can go into multiplayer. In the same way, you can just play lots and lots of single-player to gain all your assets and you still get that Galactic Readiness rating that tells you how prepared you are to face The Reapers in the final battle.
AusGamers: So there’s no downgrade for anyone that doesn’t have an iPad or doesn’t want to play multiplayer? If you just play the single-player, you can still come through and survive? Because I brought all my characters from the second game right through, they all survived at the very end and a lot of my friends didn’t do that. So I want to make sure that I don’t have to do any extra curricular stuff -- as much as I want to, because Mass Effect is a great game and everybody should play it -- I just want to make sure that you’re not locking people into having to go out and buy apps and blah, blah, blah.
Robyn: We just wanted to provide the option. It’s all part of the customisation of the experience. Some of our fans want multiplayer -- that’s something that a lot of people have been asking for -- so we wanted to offer that variety. If you are a true hardcore RPG fan, you’ll have no problem being able to identify where you’re at in your single-player campaign. You can go do another side mission and gain more assets all over your single-player campaign and play into that Galaxy at War system. So you’ll be very, very aware of where you stand in the overall war.
AusGamers: Now have you guys had much of a hand in the stuff that the IronMonkey guys [mobile app developers] have been doing?
Robyn: We have shared some assets with them. Mostly I think focused with audio and artwork, but mostly that’s been the IronMonkey guys on Infiltrator and they’ll be able to answer any reference to those questions.
AusGamers: Have you had a chance to play it? Is where I was leading to.
Robyn: I have and I am rubbish at it [laughs]. I did try first on the iPhone and I was having trouble aiming through my finger. On the iPad I was much, much better at it. But I found it quite challenging without a physical controller in my hands, because that’s my preferred style of play.
AusGamers: That’s fair enough. But those guys do do pretty amazing work -- Dead Space was awesome. I actually haven’t seen it yet guys, but I’ll be checking it out very shortly.
So I want to get back to: what’s next? There’s this concept that this is the end of the trilogy, but every time I’ve spoken to everyone in the last year, they’re always like “it’s never the end”. So I want to know...
I mean you can’t tell me obviously, because then I’d have some exclusive that no one else in the world will have, but is there some kind of plan to continue this Universe?
Robyn: Obviously we’ll have an extensive DLC plan for Mass Effect that we’ll be announcing...
AusGamers: That’s awesome, because the DLC for Mass Effect 2 was great -- I just wanted to let you know that!
Robyn: [laughs] So of course we’ll have extensive DLC for Mass Effect 3, but we are wrapping up the story. Mass Effect one, two and three was planned as a trilogy; we’re finishing the story-arc. Whether there’ll be something else after that -- I would stay tuned.
AusGamers: Do you know that you’re the first person that’s working on this game that has actually said “we’re wrapping it up after this”?
Robyn: Really? I would be surprised. I would be very surprised to hear that.
AusGamers: Well that’s awesome. Well, we’ll leave it there. The game looks great. I did want to rib you on multiplayer, but I think there’s a bunch of other interviews that need to go and it’s kind of unfair ribbing until we get the actual final product out there. So I’ll probably give you a call -- late night -- and just tell you that it’s either really awesome or... maybe not. Anyway, we’ll stop there [laughs].
Robyn: I got really addicted to it, so I’m pretty sure that once a lot of people dive in, they’ll feel the same. I know our demo has been very well received and it’s a fraction of what’s available in there. So I think it’s very exciting. I can’t wait to get in there and play with everybody online.
AusGamers: Ok, well I’m going to hold you personally responsible if I don’t like it. But I’m pretty sure I will because I’m obsessed with Mass Effect anyway.
Robyn: I’ll probably make you play with me.
AusGamers: Ok awesome. Well thank you so much Robyn and thanks for coming out to Australia as well and we absolutely cannot wait to get into the game, so thank you very much.