I am really excited to share some news with you today, but first, since most of you probably don’t know who I am, I thought I would start with a bit of an introduction.
I was born and raised not too far from Montreal, in the province of Quebec, and while I won’t bore you with the details, I was lucky enough to grow in an environment where videogames were very present. The passion I had for them resulted in a bachelor degree in Computer Science, and in time work took me to Edmonton. I’d regularly play pen & paper role-playing games with my group of friends, until we switched to PC RPGs and played through Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, and Neverwinter Nights. You can imagine my surprise when I realized that the company who developed them, BioWare, was just down the street!
A few years later, in January of 2006, I was lucky enough to join my favorite game company! I was immediately assigned to the original Mass Effect, which was in very early production at the time, as its Senior Development Director. I worked closely with Casey Hudson and the Leads team through the rest of ME1 and the first half of ME2, when BioWare decided to open another studio in Montreal. I was honored to be asked to lead the team, so I wrapped up my work in Edmonton and moved back to Montreal in the summer of 2009, where our small team was being put in place.
Because BioWare has always believed that the company culture is one of the key ingredients of the games we make, we took two important steps with the team. First, we deliberately seeded the new studio with many transfers from Edmonton. Second, we chose to grow the team relatively slowly, allowing new people to join the team and integrate into its culture in due time. Even with that approach, though, the Montreal studio has made significant contributions to the Mass Effect franchise. We started by building about half the cinematics for ME2, then most of its N7 missions, and finally we played an important role in the development of much of its post-release content. Then on ME3, we took charge of the multiplayer portion as well as making significant contributions to the single-player campaign. Most recently, we built a large piece of DLC that will be released on November 27 and that you know under the name of Omega. With each new portion of work, we took on deeper and broader responsibilities, but we always worked in conjunction with Casey, the Mass Effect leads, and the developers in Edmonton.
That evolution now takes its next step, with the news that the next Mass Effect game is already in development, driven by the team here in Montreal. This is the goal we have been working toward for years now, and every member of our team is proud, excited, and humbled to take on the responsibility for the next game.
To ensure a proper and effective transition, we’ll continue to be supported by the Edmonton studio through the game’s development, working with and learning from them on some critical initiatives. On top of that, Casey remains the Executive Producer, but he will have a Project Director under him, working in Montreal, leading our development team and making day-to-day decisions for the game. We all care very much about Mass Effect and make our decisions based on what’s best for the game.
There is really not much I can tell you about the game right now, except that it will be built with the amazing technology of Frostbite as its foundation, enhanced by many of the systems that the Dragon Age III team has already spent a lot of time building.
The other thing I can tell you is that, while it will be very respectful of the heritage built over the course of the first three games, with the original trilogy now concluded and the switch over to a new engine, we are exploring new directions, both on the gameplay and story fronts. You can still expect the pillars the franchise is known for to be fully intact though, including diverse alien races, a huge galaxy to explore, and of course rich, cinematic storytelling.
Now that the core of our team is in place, the next step for us is to have the BioWare Montreal studio grow at an accelerated pace over the next year as we build a team large enough to support the production of what we know is going to be an amazing game in the franchise. If you or someone you know is interested in joining our team, keep an eye on our job postings. We’re always looking for talented and passionate people, but it is more the case now than ever!
We’re all looking forward to telling you more about this next Mass Effect game, but it’s probably going to be quite a while before you hear from us again. We know you have high expectations for the franchise and we want to make sure whatever we show you lives up to those expectations.
Thank you all for your interest and your passion,
Studio Director – BioWare Montreal