Mass Effect 3 Interview: BioWare associate project manager, Robyn Théberge

PC World meets with BioWare associate project manager, Robyn Théberge, to talk about Mass Effect and Dragon Age

Robyn Théberge started her career in video game development after joining BioWare two years ago. Based at the developer's Edmonton office in Canada, the first game she 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.

You got started at BioWare with Dragon Age II. How would you sum up your time working on that game?

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.

You've now moved on to Mass Effect 3. How did you find the transition, moving from a fantasy game to a sci-fi game?

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.

You came into the development of Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 after pre-production was completed and full production was in swing. Did you find this challenging as opposed to being there at the beginning of pre-production?

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.

With each instalment of Mass Effect, BioWare has shown an increasing willingness to expand the experience to other platforms. What is the goal behind spreading 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.

On one hand, BioWare has said that Mass Effect 3 is the last game in the trilogy, but at the same time it has suggested that fans hold onto their save files for the future. Personally, 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.

Since the original Mass Effect was published by Microsoft, it became an exclusive for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners have not been able to play it as yet. Any chance that Mass Effect might somehow see the light of day as a downloadable title on the PlayStation Network?

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

With Mass Effect 3 rounding the series off as a trilogy, does that mean that we can soon expect a Dragon Age III?

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?

Want to read other video game interviews with key figures from Sony, Microsoft and more? Then check out PC World's complete interview archive.

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Patrick Budmar

Patrick Budmar

PC World

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