During this weekend’s Eurogamer Expo, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the developer session held by BioWare co-founders Dr Ray Muzyka and Dr Greg Zeschuk.
The session was originally penciled in as a talk about their upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, but was changed during the week to incorporate their other popular franchises such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age and Jade Empire.
The session kicked off with a rundown of Bioware’s history and its catalogue of titles, from its debut Shattered Steel, to its latest titles Mass Effect 3 and SWTOR, showing footage from each title to highlight the developments. Seeing such classics as Neverwinter Nights and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was a real trip down memory lane for the 500 or so gamers in attendance.
Dr’s Ray and Greg spoke of their vision to create, deliver and evolve the highest quality, most emotionally engaging games in the world as well as wanting to be the first doctors to make great videogames. Then detailing the companies growth from 1996 to present, expanding from their base in Edmonton, Canada, to now having seven studios, its latest in Galway, Ireland.
During the talk it was mentioned a couple of times that there is more to come from Dragon Age in the future, and they hope to take the best bits from Origins and the sequel and meld them together, so I’d be expecting a third title to be announced early next year.
The E3 Mass Effect 3 trailer was shown, with the Dr’s saying it will be a “fitting end to the trilogy”, as well as saying customization will be a key feature of the game.
They also showed footage of another new online title. Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes that was announced last month at Gamescom. It will be a free to play 6 vs 6 vs 6 multiplayer game, perfect for 15 minute sessions. They also gave everyone who attended the session Beta access when it launches.
Then they got onto the good stuff, and what everyone was there to see, The Old Republic. Ray and Greg were joined on stage by R2D2, Darth Vader, Storm troopers & a Jedi as they announced everyone in attendance will get exclusive Beta access as a thank you for attending, and obviously the room went mental, with loud cheers throughout. It looked as if the session was winding down but boy was there a surprise to come.
After a little banter and teasing the 2 doctors announced the biggest news to come out of Eurogamer, the launch date for SWTOR. It will launch on December 20th in the US and December 22nd everywhere else, everyone in the room went nuts, several people around me looked like they were going to cry. A new trailer was shown for the very first time with the dates at the end, the room was buzzing.
As the excitement died down a little they invited questions from the crowd, but could only get through a couple before being told time was up.
One fan asked if we’re ever likely to see a return of Jade Empire, “We’ve been talking a lot about that actually on and off over the years,” said Ray.”it’s a setting that we’re really passionate about, and we still are. Both Greg and I were big believers in the IP. We’re just looking for the right way to deploy it. We have a lot of different projects now on a lot of different platforms, and you might see some of that [Jade Empire] in the future. You never know. We don’t have anything to announce on it right now,” Muzyka added, “but it is a franchise that’s near and dear to us.”
And that was pretty much it. It’s hard to translate it into words, but it was a great session. If you attend Eurogamer in the future I’d advise attending these sessions as they give a real insight into the industry.