Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 Q&A Presentation

We've transcribed the questions and answers in today's Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 Q&A presentation that was broadcast live at 9:15 am PT / 12:15 pm ET today at GamesCom. Fernando Melo joined David Silverman on stage for the Dragon Age portion of Q&A, and Mike Gamble answered questions for the Mass Effect portion.

Firstly, here is the video of the presentation itself. We've prefaced each transcribed question with the time in the video to which you can skip in order to watch it play out with all the banter that didn't make it onto the page:

Host: David Silverman (DS), BioWare VP of Marketing

  • Fernando Melo (FM), Senior Producer on the Dragon Age team
  • Mike Gamble (MG), Associate Producer on the Mass Effect team

Dragon Age Q&A Transcript

[1:10] So, what can you tell us about Legacy? It just came out, what's been the reaction from the fans?

FM: Yeah, so, Dragon Age Legacy has just launched in the end of July. It's doing really well. We got some fantastic feedback from all of our players. Players really enjoyed a lot of the changes we made to it. The fact that it's all new areas – no area reuse, you're not going to be visiting that cave anymore. We're gonna have some new creatures in there. It talks about the story of Hawke, the family, in particular the father, and there's quite a lot of great stuff in there. So, the feedback has been absolutely amazing. It's great to hear that from you guys. Thank you.

[2:04] Will we see or hear more of the Grey Wardens in the future?

FM: Yeah, I mean, the Grey Wardens are an absolute pillar to what's going on in Dragon Age, so you will absolutely see more Grey Wardens in the future.

[2:20] What are we to assume happens to the Templars or the Circle at the end of Dragon Age 2. You just left me hanging there!

FM: A-ha, the story's not concluded yet, so we can't really talk about a lot of it just yet, but we're not done with Dragon Age 2. We're not done with Hawke's story. And of course a lot of the things that are going on in Dragon Age 2 are related the Templars and the Chantry so you will get to see some more of that as well.

[3:04] The end of Dragon Age 2 left it very possible that the Hero of Ferelden and Hawke might be seen again in the future. Will that be changing?

FM: Good question, I don't know that I can answer that. So these characters absolutely exist – the Warden exists, Hawke exists in the world. So, when we get into the future with more Dragon Age content, it's quite possible that you will run into these characters yet again.

[3:51] Are we going to be able to see more of Leliana in the future?

FM: Yeah, she's a fantastic character, and you will be seeing her sooner than you think.

[4:15] Mass Effect has been effective at showing real consequences and decisions from one game to the next. Dragon Age – not as much. Will that be changing at all?

FM: Yeah, absolutely. This is actually a really big piece of feedback that you guys gave us from the launch of Dragon Age 2. I think there's a lot of times where you were given choices and it didn't seem like there was a big consequence to it and we'll absolutely be working on that in the future, for sure.

DS:I think his question was more specifically in terms of from one game to the next.

FM:Oh, ok, yeah absolutely. I mean, all of our choices that are happening in the world of Dragon Age, unlike Mass Effect where you're playing as Commander Shepard and you're seeing the continuation of that, with Dragon Age you are playing through the character that is creating as much change in that particular place and time in the world of Dragon Age. So, with Dragon Age: Origins it's the Warden. With Dragon Age 2, with the events in and around Kirkwall and the Free Marches, Hawke is the pivotal person that iss going to make the most impact. So you get to play that person as your character. So the choices that you are making to the world will absolutely carry forward.

[5:30] What do you plan, in the future, for DLC in Dragon Age 2? Will there be as much DLC in Dragon Age 2 as there was for Dragon Age: Origins?

FM: We're not finished with Dragon Age 2. There's definitely more stuff coming. We can't really talk about it too much just yet, but you don't have very long to wait for that.

Will there be as much as Origins? No. And the main reason for that is, I think, with Origins, we released a lot of DLC, but in some of the feedback that you guys gave us, you felt it was maybe a little bit too short, sometimes the quality wasn't at the same level as the main game. We absolutely want to fix that.

With Dragon Age 2 Legacy, we spent a lot more time making sure that the content was as good as we could get it. There's a lot more content in there, but there's also - I think the quality was quite good as well. It's comparable to at least the main game or better, and that certainly takes time to do, and we want to continue to deliver high quality DLC.

So we will take longer. We will produce less DLCs, but hopefully better quality.

[6:58] Can we expect any more cameos in future DLC, such as other Awakening or Origins characters?

FM: Yeah, absolutely. Again, these characters, you guys love them. We love to do that for you guys, so you will be seeing more cameos, and you will be seeing - where it makes sense - more of these characters that you love from Origins and DA2 come back in.

[7:34] (FM gets a question shouted from the audience.) We won't play Hawke again, or what?

FM: For Dragon Age 2, you play Hawke.

[7:42] (Audience member attempts to allude to Dragon Age 3.) Next step?

FM: Next step? What next step? (Laughingly) When we get there, we'll know.

DS: It's good, see? They try to throw one past you.

FM: (Laughs) We can't talk about it just yet.

[8:06] The majority of the fanbase want to see Hawke, but especially The Warden and Morrigan continue. Will you respect this, Fernando?

FM: I respect it. (Laughs) Yeah, so I think, touching back on an earlier point, The Warden is very much a character that still exists in the world. Morrigan is an absolutely critical character to the world of Dragon Age as well. So, not to reveal anything that we can't really talk about just yet, but they exist. It is very likely you will hear about them or potentially meet them in the future.

[8:49] To use the common vernacular, when can I haz more Dragon Age?

FM: (Laughs) Soon.

[9:07] What are your plans for Dragon Age DLC? And when can we expect DLC or an expansion? By the end of the year? Is it going to happen?

FM: (Laughs) When we can talk about, we'll talk about it. Actually, one of the things we should talk about is what's happening next week. So, next week, we actually have a brand new set of items that are going to be available for download.

So, there was a first set of items for each of the three classes, and that was available - I think it was - in April. And that went out really, really well. A lot of people enjoyed customizing how Hawke looks. And there's also some fantastic weapons in there. So we're going to do more of that.

On Tuesday next week, you'll be able to download a brand new set of items for each of the three classes. And you'll have more powerful gear, and some fantastic looking weapons and armor.

[10:04] How do you feel the character-based storyline of Hawke worked compared to the world-based story from Dragon Age: Origins?

FM: That is a very good question. So, for Dragon Age 2 we wanted to create a story that was a lot more intimate. And in order to do that we had to revolve it around making you feel much more attached to an individual. And, this plays into the fact that the character now speaks. We also brought in family as a component of what's happening to the world of Hawke and the issues that he or she is trying to deal with in Kirkwall. So it's very important to try and build that up. So, for some people that means the story doesn't feel as epic – it's not as world-changing as what we did with Origins. But, fromm our perspective, I thought it was actually a much stronger story from that side. And, I think moving forward, we'll have to see where the future takes us. But, we'd love to get more of your feedback on that as well.

[11:11] Will there be DLC where we can go around Kirkwall again, or will all the DLC be set outside of Kirkwall from here on out?

FM: Good question. So, I think it really depends on what the story of the DLCs are going to be. Obviously, Kirkwall is a very central point to what is going on in the Free Marches. Chances are, you will be able travel or see parts of Kirkwall again. I think, given your feedback from Dragon Age 2 and things around revisiting lots of areas – and let's face it, you did spend a lot of your time in Kirkwall – we're going try to minimize the re-use of those areas. So if you are going to go back to Kirkwall, it's probably going to be short-lived, potentially some new areas, as well, of the city. But, of course, it's a key location for Hawke and the events of what's happening in Dragon Age 2.

[12:09] Will we be seeing other cities of the Free Marches, like Starkhaven or Tantervale?

FM: I'm trying to think of a way to answer that without revealing things I can't yet...

DS: I think you just did.

FM: Did I? All right, yes, likely you will. Yes.

[13:22] Have you guys plans for [a standalone expansion] like Dragon Age: Awakening?

FM: We can't really talk about what's happening that far out in the future. We'd love to do it. Awakening did really well, and people really liked it, so hopefully we can. But, I can't confirm or anything at this point.

[13:54] How do you guys stand [in regards to] the toolset and modding and stuff like that? Because Dragon Age has modding tools and Mass Effect does not.

FM: So, regarding tool mods – I'm a big fan of modding. I'd love to support that community. One of the challenges that we have with Dragon Age 2, where we did not release a toolset - we tried to make sure we didn't do anything too silly that would prevent other people from modding from using the Origins toolset, but there are some changes in there. Fundamentally, what it comes down to is modding, because it's PC-based, it's only ever going to be a very small portion of our audience. So, we always have to balance off every hour that we devote to something to a feature which only targets a small percentage of our players, we have to balance it off because [it's] an hour of something we're going to take that everyone that they can enjoy. But hopefully in the future I'd love to see us support more of it. I don't have anymore concrete information at this point on that, though.

[15:06] Is what Sandal said about the future going to ring true, or was he just talking out of his ass?

FM: (Laughs) Sandal is a fantastic character in many, many ways. Uh, we'll have to see. We'll have to see what the future holds, but he is pretty special, isn't he?

DS: He is special. Alright! More non-answers from Fernando, but at least he got some magical screenshot that somehow made it into the mix.

Mass Effect 3 Q&A Transcript

[16:28] How different is the gameplay from Mass Effect 3 than what we saw in Mass Effect 1 or Mass Effect 2?

MG: So, for Mass Effect 3, we made a lot iterations on the cover system, you know, you guys can move from cover piece to cover piece. That was one of the things lacking from Mass Effect 2.

We've also really deeped the certain classes a lot more. There's a really, really, really deep power progression system that we've added in to each of the powers. Now, more than ever, your Shepard can kind of be individually yours.

So, you know, that's the basic high level focus of what we wanted to do. We bring that forward, and what we try to do is make it the best shooting action game that we can. But at the same time, [with] the most customization that you can possibly get.

[17:18] Can you give me your info on the robot dog preorder I get if I buy the collectors edition?

MG: Oh, ok.

DS: I like to call that dog Chewie, personally, but I don't think Casey[ Hudson]'s going to buy that.

MG: No, no, no. He already vetoed that one. So... We have the robot dog. Obviously, if you guys preorder it -

DS: The collectors edition.

MG: Yes, collector's edition. He's a really cool dog. Basically, you know, he hangs out on the Normandy. You and him can interact, and basically, him and you do fetch and cool little animations... He might even follow you around, and you know; I don't want to reveal too much about what potential story tie-ins he might have, but he's a really cool guy to have on the Normandy.

[17:56] Follow up question from DSilvermanEA: Why not Chewie?

MG: Uh, because it's lame.

DS: Aw, thanks man.

[18:10] Can the default FemShep model - as you know, we put [up] a bunch of default female Shepards, we let them vote on the one they wanted on Facebook - they want to know is there any way the character creator can actually make those default female Shepards? If, say, the one they voted on didn't happen to [be] the final one.

MG: Oh, for sure. I mean, you know, for female Shepard especially, we're really adding a whole bunch of new hairstyles and stuff like that to Mass Effect 3. I think, for the most part, you'll be able to recreate the exact female Shepard you want, even if it isn't the default. So, rest assured, you'll be ok.

[19:00] Will there be an uber achievement for those who have completed all three games with one save rolling over to the next game?

MG: You know, uh, we haven't really locked down the achievements yet, but I think it's a pretty good bet that - because we did it in ME2, and because we value the fans who have basically been with us since the beginning, ME1 and ME2 - you know, something like that is not out of the question at all.

[19:25] Dear Mass Effect 3 developers, is it just me or did you add customizable effects to the omniblade in the new Squad Leader trailer? So, I think she's referring to the fact that we showed some gameplay footage of the Engineer. He had a different sort of omniblade attack than the Soldier that we've shown previously. How does that work?

MG: That's right. So, each of the six classes in Mass Efffect, you know, they have a different take on the omniblade. So, some of the classes we've talked about so far. Obviously, the Soldier has a single omniblade. If you play as the Sentinel, for those of you who have seen, he has two omniblades. The Engineer kind of has a pyrotechnic attack, which is really cool. And these can be used differently for different situations, obviously. For the Engineer, it's more of a "you hit him and he kind of burns on the ground for a while," whereas [for] the the Sentinel, it's just a direct, really hard hit. So, it does differ depending on the class you use.

[20:17] The Omni-Blade is cool, but how is it possible for a hologram to stab somebody?

MG: Well, you know, Omni technology is just that awesome. It's that simple.

[20:34] Do you have any idea how Tali looks under the helmet?

MG: Oh, I have an idea how Tali looks. Oh! I think we all have an idea...

[Likely realizing the question was about Tali's actual face and not his own idea] Oh, um, I don't know, maybe. We'll see. Play Mass Effect 3, you'll find out.

[20:51] Is it possible to play as a Hanar in your squad?

MG: Is it possible to play as a Hanar? Oh man, that's a great idea for a DLC. Not currently, but you know what? We'll talk after...

[21:15] So, like, in Mass Effect 2, we don't have much contact with characters like Ashley. They appeared and were like "Hello!", then "Good-bye" and they went away. And now I see in Mass Effect 3, we will have her again. So, like, will it happen, too, to characters that you had in Mass Effect 2, like Jack, or will we see all the characters, or are there some that will disappear and appear in the DLC?

MG: So I think, in general, what we want to do for Mass Effect 3 is make sure that we satisfy everyone's wanting this to conclude their relationships - to conclude their character arcs. And because of that, we're going to do satisfying conclusions to all them. They're not going to be just cursory things. And there's going to be a lot of backstory as to how their characters got [here], and what they were doing in Mass Effect 3 and what they were doing in Mass Effect 2. For example, Ashley, there's a lot of backstory in terms of where she came from and where she was in Mass Effect 2. So, we're definitely going to do the really good treatment on each of the characters.

[22:20] Tell us a little more about the Kinect feature. How large a part will Kinect feature in Mass Effect 3?

MG: So, Kinect is one of the things that we feel works really well with the way Mass Effect plays. We're not using the motion controls – those are better suited for other games. We are using the voice recognition system. What it allows you to do is basically keep your eye on the action and not have to manually tell the characters where to go and what to cast – you can just speak that. Also, I think it works really well with the conversation system. As you guys know, when you're playing Mass Effect, you don't exactly speak the words what Shepard exactly says, you speak certain words on the screen and Shepard basically paraphrases it. So, based on that, the disconnect is going to be very slight and it actually works quite well.

[23:20] Will the inventory system from Mass Effect 1 return to Mass Effect 3?

MG: No, unfortunately, we're not going to bring the inventory system into Mass Effect 3. But, that said, there's still a very deep level of weapon customization you can do. I mean, your weapons obviously exist on the Normandy and you can swap them out, and we want the weapons to basically operate within their own custom set. So, no, no inventory, but there's a still a lot of more RPG-type elements we can bring in.

DS: Why don't you talk about the weapon bench and how that works?

MG: Yeah, if you guys have played the game, the weapon bench is more or less a place where you can throw down your weapon and put some mods on it. It will change some various stats but it will also change the look and how the weapon acts, so you'll be able to add accuracy and damage and those things will actually be reflected in the weapon model in the game. So it's really kind of a cool thing to make Shepard look different as well.

[24:15] What improvements have been made to mining? And also, are we going to see more Yahg?

MG: Yeah, you'll see more Yahg. Where and what we're not going to talk about. But, the mining... I think to go back - the reason we had the mining is because we wanted to make exploration kind of our priority in Mass Effect and we still think that's really important. So, we want to do that. Whether it's with mining or not? We still haven't decided and we don't want to talk about it too much. But, I think if we had to give an answer today, mining is not going to be same in Mass Effect 3 than it was in Mass Effect 2. We always want to change things up, make things interesting.

[24:58] Will we need to gain loyalty of characters in Mass Effect 3 like we had to do in Mass Effect 2?

MG: Uh, not necessarily. I mean, the scope of Mass Effect 3 has changed in terms of what's important. So, Mass Effect 3: you know, the reapers have arrived, and it's the galaxy at war. So gaining the loyalty of individual characters, while important, is probably not the most important things when the reapers are destroying your city.

So, it's about getting the loyalty and the backing of civilizations, and resolving a lot of the plots that were outstanding, and that's basically going to feed into the main story thread.

[25:41] You say that Mass Effect 3 is an RPG, but everything I'm seeing is more action-oriented. Where's my RPG?

MG: Right, so you have to have hands-on it. You really do. You got to get into it. You have to open up the Squad menu. You have to progress in the powers. You have to actually mess with the different characters and how they can be changed. You have to actually be able to play through various classes at the same. And, you know, you also have to have a lot of hands-on with the weapons bench. Those are kind of the tenets around the RPG system and you really have to play with it to notice the true depth that you can get out of it.

[26:32] How are experience gains going to work? Like in Mass Effect 1 or Mass Effect 2?

MG: Experience will still come from normal combat. We'd like to take it back to, well, sort of like Mass Effect 1. Not exactly, but we're not going to do the Mission Summary we did in Mass Effect 2. We're moving a little bit away from that. But, not too much to announce right now in terms of the details of that.

[27:28] Will you be able to decide the fate of all your squad members or will there be deaths that will be inevitable?

MG: Ah, well. You know what? You may or may not. I mean, some things are inevitable. This is a war, and the Reapers are pretty nasty and they're destroying a lot of stuff. So, you may be able to prevent some stuff, but some things may be inevitable. And some things you may not mean to happen, but end up do happening anyway.

[28:06] What about the Mass Effect 2 DLC characters? Will they be coming back in Mass Effect 3?

MG: Absolutely. So you know, Zaeed and Kasumi – we're bringing them back. They might not be squad members, but they're going to be there, and you'll have a chance to talk to them. There's a lot more going on than you might think there.

[28:34] I love Tali! Can I marry her?

MG: Um, sure?

DS: Can he marry her in Mass Effect?

MG: Um, no, you can do other things, but...

[29:15] Will there be more banter between the squadmates?

MG:Oh yeah, actually there's going to be a lot more. We've narrowed down the number of squadmates from Mass Effect 2. We've basically focused it on a tighter group. Because of that, it's basically given us the opportunity to do a lot more in-context banter between each other. They comment on the level events a lot more. So, sure.

[30:10] You kind of answered, but maybe a little more context. Squad interaction will be a big part of the game, but will there be more stories and missions for the squad as well as romance options?

MG: With that, we've reduced the squad member number down a bit. It's given us a lot of opportunity to kind of branch out the romances and dialogues a lot more. And there are some specific missions currently slated for developing the relationships more within your squad members. So, yeah, for sure.

[30:45] Two questions about the Kinect stuff combined into one. If you don't have Kinect, can you use voice recognition on the Xbox? Can you use voice recognition on the PC?

MG: So, in order to use the system, you have to have to have a Kinect box. The voice recognition system in the Kinect is unique to that hardware, and because of that, you need to have the physical box. You can't just use a mic, you can't just use a PC as well.

[31:30] Can you put a sniper scope on an assault rifle?

MG: We haven't actually tweaked a lot of what's going to happen to the assault rifle in terms of the weapon bench. Right now it's mostly around damage and accuracy and things like that. But that's quite an interesting proposition.

[31:59] Endgame-wise, like after I beat Mass Effect 2, it kind of felt like it was over. Is there going to be stuff to do after I beat Mass Effect 3?

MG: You can do "New Game +." That's going to be in as a system, so you're going to be able to bring your character back into the game. But what happens at the end of Mass Effect 3 has a sense of closure, so...

[32:33] If you don't wake Grunt in Mass Effect 2, does he count as dead in Mass Effect 3, or can you, like, donate him to study?

MG: I don't know. (Laughs) Um, no, he's either alive or he's dead. If he's alive, he's in it. If he's not, well, he's dead.

[32:56] Will there be a Mass Effect SDK after Mass Effect 3 is out?

MG: Like a toolset? No, we base Mass Effect on the amazing engine. And, because of that, there's really no SDK that provides support for the 360 and things like that.

DS: All right, well, that's kind of all the time we have for today.

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    Addendum, about the buzz regarding the screenshot of Hawke riding on a dragon: yes, it was shown during this presentation. However, it was edited out in the final version posted on livestream after the event, so only the people who watched the presentation when it first aired on Livestream got to see it.