At the end of the universe with Mass Effect 3

We look at the creation of the final chapter of BioWare's epic space adventure.

Based at the developer's Edmonton office in Canada, the first game Robyn Théberge worked on was the fantasy RPG, Dragon Age II, where she managed level artists, cinematic animators and sound designers. After Dragon Age II was released, she moved to the team responsible for the development of sci-fi RPG, Mass Effect 3. Théberge continued to work with the audio team on Mass Effect, as well as well as the Graphical User Interface and Visual Effects teams.

We sat down with Robyn, associate project manager at BioWare, to talk about the final chapter of Mass Effect.

How was working on Dragon Age II?

BioWare associate project manager, Robyn Théberge (RT): It was a really good experience. They have a very good team there, we put a lot of effort into that game and we were really proud of what we did with it. We have taken a lot of the fan feedback into consideration and we're committed to creating games that fans love. It really shows on both development teams behind Dragon Age and Mass Effect, and it's a real pleasure to work with people that are so committed to what they do.

What aspect of that game were you most proud of?

RT: I worked with the audio, level art and cinematic teams, and I was really proud of all of them. We were under some tight time restraints, and they really worked their butts off. The people I worked with really put everything they could into it to shape the best product they could.

How different is it to work on Mass Effect 3?

RT: It was a little bit different, but I basically moved my desk down two floors in the BioWare office. [laughs] Both development teams are based in BioWare's Edmonton office, so I just had to go and join the other group. Though, I kept working with the audio team, whose duties are spread between the Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises. So it was a pretty easy transition. As far as making the game itself, we use very similar production methods, so the actual genre itself I found did not have such a big influence on my day-to-day work.

Is it challenging to join development after pre-production is completed?

RT: While I wasn't involved in pre-production, I was involved in all of the full scale production schedules on both games. I came in right as things were peaking. That's kind of where I thrive, under tight deadlines and driving my teams to those tight deadlines, so for me to be "under the gun" is a good situation to be in. My background is in hard news journalism prior to working at BioWare, so I worked very well under that type of pressure. That's a strength I definitely look to rely on when I come in to the production schedule closer to the end.

Why expand Mass Effect 3 beyond consoles and PC?

RT: So what we've done is the "Galaxy at War" system, and that's inclusive of your single player and multiplayer co-op campaign, the datapad app, and Mass Effect: Infiltrator game that IronMonkey helped us out with. It just speaks to the scope of Mass Effect. It's about galactic war, and having the opportunity to control the galaxy from multiple fronts on multiple platforms will really help your single player campaign. If you have successes in multiplayer or in Mass Effect: Infiltrator, you collect war assets that go back to your single player campaign. We have the "Galactic Readiness Rating" that tells you how prepared or what your odds are against the Reapers in that final battle for earth.

What do you see happening beyond Mass Effect 3?

RT: It was always planned to be a trilogy, so we kind of have these key plot points. We are wrapping up this storyline, but the Mass Effect universe is a very rich science fiction universe, and there's definitely a lot of stories to be told there. I would recommend that people stay tuned.

Any hope for the original Mass Effect coming to PlayStation 3?

RT: We haven't announced anything along those lines, so I can't really shed any further insight on that.

How about a new Dragon Age game?

RT: Nothing new has been announced for the Dragon Age franchise, but we're still working hard at looking what's next, whether it's Dragon Age III or a different project. I'm not on that franchise anymore, so who's to say?

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Patrick Budmar

Patrick Budmar

PC World
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