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PAX Panel ME Liveblog

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  1.        
  2. KCox:
  3. This is the Mass Effect panel, at PAX East. They'll be seating the room and getting started shortly.
  4. 4:45
  5.        
  6.        
  7. KCox:
  8. Roughly 1200 PAX-goers are streaming into the room and getting themselves settled
  9. 4:47
  10.        
  11.        
  12. KCox:
  13. Everyone's still getting settled. (It's a -big- room.) Several really excellent cosplayers.
  14. 4:52
  15.        
  16. KCox:
  17. Guy in a Grunt mask and an Alliance jacket seems to be making a number of friends. Room almost filled up, should be starting soon
  18. 4:55
  19.        
  20. KCox:
  21. (Tali closplayer on the side of the room so surrounded by cameras that it's a PAX paparazzi moment over there. )
  22. 4:55
  23.        
  24. KCox:
  25. And we're starting!
  26. 4:56
  27.        
  28. KCox:
  29. (...in one more moment. False start from the man with the mic...)
  30. 5:01
  31.        
  32. KCox:
  33. Moderator thanks for turnout; BioWare thanks community
  34. 5:02
  35.        
  36. KCox:
  37. Chris Priestly moderating
  38. 5:02
  39.        
  40. KCox:
  41. "I want to thank these five guys who have come out... there's, um, a lot of Mass Effect fan -love- and -affection- out there right now..." Audience laughs. "They were brave enough to come out, they want to talk to everyone"
  42. 5:03
  43.        
  44. KCox:
  45. Panel: Mike Gamble, producer for ME
  46. 5:03
  47.        
  48. KCox:
  49. Alex (applause), level designer
  50. 5:03
  51.        
  52. KCox:
  53. Reid, senior QA
  54. 5:03
  55.        
  56. KCox:
  57. John, senior writer
  58. 5:03
  59.        
  60. KCox:
  61. Patrick Weeks, on the end
  62. 5:04
  63.        
  64. KCox:
  65. Producer Mike: Thanks everyone for coming to panel. "ME 3 was a labor of love for the dev team and we're extremely privileged to be here"
  66. 5:04
  67.        
  68. KCox:
  69. Discussing how Edmonton and Montreal worked together; most present are from Edmonton studio
  70. 5:04
  71.        
  72. KCox:
  73. "the fans and the community are what make us that extra little bit and we really appreciate it"
  74. 5:05
  75.        
  76. KCox:
  77. polling audience: which ME is your favorite? very few hands for ME1. TONS for ME2. Not so many for ME3. "So. You guys just want to talk about ME2..."
  78. 5:05
  79.        
  80. KCox:
  81. (Now polling audience Geth vs Quarian. Audience starts shouting, "PEEEEEEAACE.")
  82. 5:06
  83.        
  84. KCox:
  85. "FemShep or BroShep?" Every female voice in the room yells, "Fem..."
  86. 5:06
  87.        
  88. KCox:
  89. Mike - producer for DLC - "we hope to be able to offer a lot"
  90. 5:06
  91.        
  92. KCox:
  93. (Will be offering more detail on extended cut later, he says)
  94. 5:07
  95.        
  96. KCox:
  97. Resurgence DLC - showing trailer
  98. 5:08
  99.        
  100. KCox:
  101. (Which ran on Kotaku this morning. The audience here loves it. Go watch!)
  102. 5:08
  103.        
  104. KCox:
  105. (Free, available 10 April)
  106. 5:09
  107.        
  108. KCox:
  109. "We want to keep you guys happy and keep the discs in the trays, essentially." -- discussing free DLC
  110. 5:10
  111.        
  112. KCox:
  113. Discussing extended cut - NOT a reimagining of the endings or a new ending
  114. 5:10
  115.        
  116. KCox:
  117. Currently building it right now, cinematics team and writers heavily involved, working on it
  118. 5:10
  119.        
  120. KCox:
  121. "Wanted to answer the questions that we're seeing" via twitter, social networks, etc
  122. 5:11
  123.        
  124. KCox:
  125. "We definitely look, we definitely put together a list." The community team feed the dev team the questions. "We want to give you some more closure" around the questions you have, fill in some of the unknowns. "Want to give players a sense of personalization with the endings"
  126. 5:11
  127.        
  128. KCox:
  129. "When you see the ending of Mass Effect, you now have the information and the context to feel satisfied"
  130. 5:12
  131.        
  132. KCox:
  133. Still "summer" release - "going to put in the time and the effort that it takes, not going to rush it." "More than just a few cinematic scenes - definitely a considerable amount. So we're happy to be doing it."
  134. 5:12
  135.        
  136. KCox:
  137. Answering social media channel questions - FAQ, more or less
  138. 5:12
  139.        
  140. KCox:
  141. "Will Extended Cut provide new endings?" no no new endings, but closure
  142. 5:13
  143.        
  144. KCox:
  145. "Why was that content not in the game at launch?" The dev team stands by what we releasei nt he core product, wer'e very proud of it (mild applause from audience) "It was important though, for us to listen to the community, and community feedback ovbviously didn't come until the game came out" "couldn't have included in game because we didn't know there was huge demand for it
  146. 5:14
  147.        
  148. KCox:
  149. "How does BioWare feel about the response from the fans?" We always welcome constructive criticism; there are always a few in the entire lot that are... not as constrcutcive as possible... but we don't let it make us jaded. we understand that there is a lot of valuable feedback to be provided
  150. 5:14
  151.        
  152. KCox:
  153. "Keep it coming! There's nothing stopping you guys"
  154. 5:14
  155.        
  156. KCox:
  157. "whether it's support, love or anger, rage, whatever it is -- we get it from you fans BECAUSE YOU CARE about the game."
  158. 5:15
  159.        
  160. KCox:
  161. "When we get the feedback, the dev team is listening (reviews, twitter, etc) it MATTERS to us and it helps us make better games and DLC
  162. 5:15
  163.        
  164. KCox:
  165. next questions "Why did we choose to show Tali's face at all, and two, why was it the way it looked?"
  166. 5:16
  167.        
  168. KCox:
  169. 1.) because everyone wondered, "and we wanted to do it in a tasteful way that didn't throw it into the game engine" "a gift from tali was the most appropriate way to do it"
  170. 5:16
  171.        
  172. KCox:
  173. 2.) We often use source material, source art, for MANY things withing the game -- wanted it to be photorealistic, high fidelity, correct color -- as close to a picture as possible. Pored through thousands of images to combine extisting image and artistic vision to create Tali's face
  174. 5:17
  175.        
  176. KCox:
  177. Calling for Samara cosplayers in room to stand up -- the woman in the back is the actual Samara face model, here cosplaying
  178. 5:17
  179.        
  180. KCox:
  181. "great example of how a real face" can make a good image. Liara also face model, Shepard (dude), Miranda
  182. 5:17
  183.        
  184. KCox:
  185. "We really felt that Tali deserved that same treatment - we wanted her to be based on a real person, because" that relationship is important to players
  186. 5:18
  187.        
  188. KCox:
  189. "Do we have any comments about the indoctrination theory?"
  190. 5:18
  191.        
  192. KCox:
  193. "The indoctrination theory illustrates again how, um, committed the fanbase is..." don't want to comment either way. Don't want to be prescriprive -- fans interpret their own way, plus DLC coming. "We want the content to speak for itself, and we'll let it do so"
  194. 5:19
  195.        
  196. KCox:
  197. Alex, level designer (and fact checker and informatino buff) has stats
  198. 5:20
  199.        
  200. KCox:
  201. Normandy - most complicated piece of content ever created." Same designer for three games.
  202.  
  203. ME1 - 136 convos on Normandy. ME2 - 172 convos on Normandy. ME3 - 300 conversations that occur on Normandy. 150 full, 150 ambient. Some multi-part
  204. 5:20
  205.        
  206. KCox:
  207. 300,000 VO words recorded. In 7 languages. Team of 21 translators... 4 million words
  208. 5:20
  209.        
  210. KCox:
  211. 7 1/2 novels worth of content in the game
  212. 5:21
  213.        
  214. KCox:
  215. 15,000 pieces in the Normandy, "put together by hand!" "That also need to be tested..."
  216. 5:21
  217.        
  218. KCox:
  219. ME design team ~23 people, ME2, 55. ME3, 57. Double the work, same team.
  220. 5:22
  221.        
  222. KCox:
  223. To designers, it seems like a lot more content
  224. 5:22
  225.        
  226. KCox:
  227. Number of variables - increased. "Insanely." 3500 different plot values, in ME1. (Some minor.) ME2 - 6400. ME3 15,000 (fifteen thousand) different plot states.
  228. 5:23
  229.        
  230. KCox:
  231. Try to keep breathing live into characters - how does a digital actor transform from one state to another, to give performance. ME1, 3000 rules. ME2, 15000 rules. ME3, 64,000 rules to handle animation
  232. 5:23
  233.        
  234. KCox:
  235. "We kind of created this problem for ourselves... this is what happens when you leave an open-ended game. Each progressive game you make things more complicated"
  236. 5:24
  237.        
  238. KCox:
  239. Difficult to do in ME3. Not double the levels, but double the content (based on outcomes in ME1 and ME2)
  240. 5:24
  241.        
  242. KCox:
  243. "ME3 has probably 3 or 4 times the amount of conditional content"
  244. 5:24
  245.        
  246. KCox:
  247. Had to painstakingly choose from immense list of variables -- just not feasible to make every single one matter
  248. 5:25
  249.        
  250. KCox:
  251. Themes and story elements that carried over from 1 to 2 to 3, across the whole arc. NOW SPOILERS.
  252. 5:25
  253.        
  254. KCox:
  255. Complicated - "the challenge of the genophage"
  256. 5:26
  257.        
  258. KCox:
  259. "The best thing you can do is focus on the characters"
  260. 5:27
  261.        
  262. KCox:
  263. Realized had never been revealed what female Krogan looked like. Decided "hey! this is the perfect time for Eve to make her entrance"
  264. 5:27
  265.        
  266. KCox:
  267. decided genophage cure arc would be HER story, her plot and hopes and dreams and worries for the future
  268. 5:27
  269.        
  270. KCox:
  271. wanted her to represent the other side of the krogan, the part that isn't "violence and more violence". Face value - "do the krogan really deserve the cure?" Designed Eve to represent the other face of the Krogan, that they could be worth saving
  272. 5:28
  273.        
  274. KCox:
  275. Design of Tuchanka mission a "terrific, collaborative effort," added the city to show that once upon a time, the krogan had culture
  276. 5:28
  277.        
  278. KCox:
  279. Wanted to rpesent the cure or not cure choice up front (not usual) so that the yes / no choice was always on your mind as you proceeded through tuchanka and the city and talked with wrex/wreav/eve
  280. 5:29
  281.        
  282. KCox:
  283. VAST majority of room played with Wrex, never met Wreav
  284. 5:29
  285.        
  286. KCox:
  287. An opportunity to show the two different faces of hope for the krogan. Wrex represents one path, Wreav represents another
  288. 5:29
  289.        
  290. KCox:
  291. "got Wreav talking to Mordin but Mordin could be dead; Wreav talking to Mordin's replacement" -- having potentially dead characters talking to other potentially dead characters
  292. 5:30
  293.        
  294. KCox:
  295. complicated. "the spaghetti I'd gotten myself into..."
  296. 5:30
  297.        
  298. KCox:
  299. "Getting all these guys into the same scene is quite the feat"
  300. 5:30
  301.        
  302. KCox:
  303. Ultimate challenge - "how does this pay off?" Had been imagining sequence of events in tower for a year and a half -- "magical moment" -- someone releaasing the cure from on high
  304. 5:31
  305.        
  306. KCox:
  307. Patrick (who wrote Mordin in ME2) left idea hanging: "Mordin should some to some kind of noble end." Idea + Mission = "hurrah! p[erfect solution!" Patrick really excited about Mordin
  308. 5:31
  309.        
  310. KCox:
  311. "So for me, Mordin is... is two different characters. The first character is the one I was given when I came on to ME2 and I was told he is the scientist who re-did the genophage. And my initial reactino was... unrecordable... but translated roughly as THAT JERK, because Wrex was my bro"
  312. 5:33
  313.        
  314. KCox:
  315. "So I had a choice. In manager speak, I had a probletunity. I could either write Mordin just as a guy who did that -- went, 'yup sterilized 'em' -- and maybe the renegade players would like that." But no-one else would bring Mordin along or talk with him then. So cast as guy who thought he did good. No cartoonish justification. "lgets up every day, looks in mirror, and thinks, 'it was the right thing to do even if I'm sorry I had to do it." "Then the other part is the gilbert and sullivan."
  316. 5:33
  317.        
  318. KCox:
  319. "So obviously the ending had to capture both of those parts of him."
  320. 5:33
  321.        
  322. KCox:
  323. "The last scene with Mordin" is "really about three scenes."
  324. 5:34
  325.        
  326. KCox:
  327. 1.) You told Mordin and Wrex/Wreav as soon as you possibly could, in the truck. (like 2/3 of the room said they did)
  328. 5:34
  329.        
  330. KCox:
  331. "So that's the first, and that I tried to write that as just a good sendoff for a good character." Doing what he wanted to do, and you were his friend, and he did go out singing. (ed note: *sniff*)
  332. 5:35
  333.        
  334. KCox:
  335. (Audience yell: "BUT I CRIED!")
  336. 5:35
  337.        
  338. KCox:
  339. 2.) If you didn't tell him. "That scene is almost completely different, because the emotional context is different." People who tried to lie to Mordin and told him to go away -- very, very few renegade players in the room!
  340. 5:36
  341.        
  342. KCox:
  343. Walters: "What if in order to solve the cure, you have to kill Mordin?" But they felt they laid the groundwork for that in ME2
  344. 5:37
  345.        
  346. KCox:
  347. ME2 Mordin: one of the only characters who will stand up to you. "I believe in what I'm doing enough to stand up to Commander Shepard." One of the only followers they can imagine in that kind of standoff. He never draws a gun but he believes in what he's doing enough to say "You can pull the trigger but I'm. Not. Stopping." Man, that was hard to write"
  348. 5:37
  349.        
  350. KCox:
  351. audience boos the renegade Shep players in the room
  352. 5:38
  353.        
  354. KCox:
  355. On how Garrus makes cure-sabotaging players feel EXTRA BAD with MORE GUILT TRIP after the Tuchanka mission
  356. 5:38
  357.        
  358. KCox:
  359. Room has many, many Garrus fans.
  360. 5:38
  361.        
  362. KCox:
  363. Many, MANY FemShep / Garrus shippers.
  364. 5:39
  365.        
  366. KCox:
  367. Written kind of as Butch Cassidy and Sundance kid. Garrus, Wrex, and Javik - your bros
  368. 5:39
  369.        
  370. KCox:
  371. "I wrote the way I thought fans probably wanted it to end, which was on this amazing note of friendship. That scene up on the rafters --" audience applause
  372. 5:40
  373.        
  374. KCox:
  375. Describing the cinematics / art of Garrus / Shep bucket list scene. Who let Garrus win? About 60% of room. Who refused to miss the shot - 40% of room.
  376. 5:40
  377.        
  378. KCox:
  379. Fan feedback from ME1 wanted romanceable Garrus in ME2, so "we just brought it home" for "Hollywood moment" up in rafters.
  380. 5:41
  381.        
  382. KCox:
  383. Garrus and Tali - only two squadmates who have been with Shepard for all three games
  384. 5:42
  385.        
  386. KCox:
  387. "Tali'Zora Nar'Rayyah! And then Vas Normandy!" "We weren't sure we were going to be able to do that. Can we change her title card? Can we do that?" "Our guy said it was a pain in the butt until -- 'OH! You want to change it to vas Normandy? We can totally do that!!""
  388. 5:42
  389.        
  390. KCox:
  391. "So Tali and Garrus were my favorites. Not that we have favorites. We're completely impartial. Um."
  392. 5:43
  393.        
  394. KCox:
  395. ME2 - Quarian culture. in ME3, if Tali is alive "and you're not a monster," she's the lens through which you see quarian culture. Favorite because she's flawed. Not perfect.
  396. 5:43
  397.        
  398. KCox:
  399. "She's... she's racist! She grew up in a very racist society that has had several centuries to tell its version of what happened with the geth. And that doesn't mean that she's a bad person; it means that's where she grew up. That's the life experience she had."
  400. 5:44
  401.        
  402. KCox:
  403. "She has an unrealistic willingness to sacrifice herself for the fleet, by human standards. But that's what quarian culture is..."
  404. 5:44
  405.        
  406. KCox:
  407. If new to ME3, trying to give any kind of reason why on earth you might side with geth over quarian, needed lens for understanding
  408. 5:45
  409.        
  410. KCox:
  411. Decided to show that quarians were flawed as well as geth -- too passionate, too emotional. Deeply spiritual people who care about their homeworld but are willing sometimes to do atrocious things. Who punched Admiral Geralt? You made the -right call."
  412. 5:45
  413.        
  414. KCox:
  415. "Tali's romance... she doesn't have a big date on the citadel. Your date is getting her homeworld."
  416. 5:45
  417.        
  418. KCox:
  419. Panel now opening floor to Q&A for brief moments - panel runs out of time in 5-10 minutes
  420. 5:46
  421.        
  422. KCox:
  423. First questioner - introduced to ME because he had to play it for class assignment! His question - when citadel is moved, what happens to everyone on it?
  424. 5:47
  425.        
  426. KCox:
  427. Answer: One of the things in the citadel codex is that anyplace -inside- the citadel has emergency seals, and some exterior areas have emergency seals that can keep atmosphere in. Even if the Citadel is destroyed (which it may or may not be in ending), "is not like the entire things blow up." People on (in) the arms may well still be alive. No reason to assume 100% casualtties
  428. 5:48
  429.        
  430. KCox:
  431. Question something about withstanding all forms of criticism, not just constructive -- something artistic / developer integrity.
  432. 5:49
  433.        
  434. KCox:
  435. A: "Whenever you craete a piece of art, you're never going to have everyone happy." constructive over beliggerent -- want ways to improve and make things better. "If you didn't like the endign, you're entirely okay not to like the ending" Constructive helps them make the game BETTER, and they want feedback they can take action on.
  436. 5:49
  437.        
  438. KCox:
  439. Q: is comment that shooting Mordin is an excellent scene. Beautiful and sad. "It's very nice?"
  440. 5:49
  441.        
  442. KCox:
  443. A: The first time cinematic designer showed, there was a bug where it went to slow motion. Immediate response: "THAT'S NOT A BUG! KEEP IT!"
  444. 5:50
  445.        
  446. KCox:
  447. crawling in the blood and all even made devs cry. Now asking about Ilos
  448. 5:50
  449.        
  450. KCox:
  451. Ilos - statues of tentacle people. "Are those protheans? Because Javik..."
  452. 5:50
  453.        
  454. KCox:
  455. A: "so, we've potentially contradicted ourselves here..." But civilization could be the one, mentioned on Ilos, that had the planet before the protheans did
  456. 5:51
  457.        
  458. KCox:
  459. Next question about QA tools; answer that they're in-house tools.
  460. 5:52
  461.        
  462. KCox:
  463. Q: Ending DLC. More cut-scenes, or additional gameplay?
  464.  
  465. A: currently planning on extended cinematics but cannot currently comment otherwise. "keep giving us your feedback."
  466. 5:52
  467.        
  468. KCox:
  469. Q: "IF you could throw one character other than Shep into the synthesis ending, who would it be?" A: Marauder shields! Also Conrad [verner]. "He deserves it."
  470. 5:53
  471.        
  472. KCox:
  473. Next Q is what-if about protheans, asari, ardat-yakshi, "what if, what would have happened?" A: if protheans weren't involved, salarians might have discovered citadel before Asari did"
  474. 5:54
  475.        
  476. KCox:
  477. Q - about how Garrus and Tali can hook up. A - they've always been there; they've always had this bantering, bickering relationship; they bond over the whole dextro thing. threw in a comment as an easter ergg on the citadel in ME2, but then just drew on it for 3.
  478. 5:55
  479.        
  480. KCox:
  481. Last questioner is up!
  482. 5:56
  483.        
  484. KCox:
  485. Last Q is commenting about emotion through facial expression - how it can be AMAZING - but that often at high points, like Shep's GO GET 'EM speech in ME2 - and Shep doesn't necessarily really act out the way the player expects. Doesn't get angry enough etc.
  486. 5:57
  487.        
  488. KCox:
  489. A is that it's quite a challenge for cinematic team to fit -every- possible situation, combination, idea. Not always as much time as they want but also can't do everything
  490. 5:58
  491.        
  492. KCox:
  493. No set of animations is going to fit EVERYONE'S interpretation of Shepard's motivation and action, even with diffefrent ones for paragon and renegade. Only so much they can do, so they stick within guidelines for character
  494. 5:58
  495.        
  496. KCox:
  497. Closing word from Mike
  498. 5:58
  499.        
  500. KCox:
  501. Extending thanks to community and fans. "Without you, we are nothing. We are artists without an audience." Audience applause
  502. 5:59
  503.        
  504. KCox:
  505. And with that, we end. PAX Attendees can find BioWare reps in BioWare booth on floor 1. Everyone else, the team reads feedback online.
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