During a recent conference call about Mass Effect 2, BioWare CEO Dr. Ray Muzyka stressed the importance of emotional engagement in the game by mentioning the phrase "emotionally engaging" over and over again.
The conference call was an odd one. Instead of asking questions directly, we either submitted them ahead of time or delivered them to a moderator while on the call, who then imparted them to Dr. Ray, so I've no real idea who asked what questions during the call. For all I know, I was the only one there. Hell, I might not have been there. It's all fuzzy.
The call mainly covered ground that we've already covered in one form or another, so rather than rehash points we're already aware of, I thought I'd simply harp on how much Dr. Ray enjoys using the phrase "emotionally engaging."
Dr. Ray on memorable moments in Mass Effect 2...
"The memorable moments for me are the ones that have emotional impact. The ones that have emotionally engaging consequences that really pull you in and grab you on an emotional level. Mass Effect 2 is just full of those kind of moments. What struck me playing through the game - I recently did a completionist pass of the game...was how many of those memorable moments were in the optional content. The fidelity of it is the same as the main game - it's virtually indistinguishable.
It's about these emotionally engaging moments. These memorable moments. The game's full of them."
Dr. Ray on carrying over storylines from Mass Effect 1...
"The way we developed certain (story) threads was that we tried to pick the ones we felt were the most emotionally engaging in the first game and made sure the fans who played through Mass Effect 1 get that payoff. "
Dr. Ray on Mass Effect sex scenes...
"I see games as an art form. We try to do things that are true to the emotionally engaging experience we are trying to deliver. Video games are an emerging art form that more and more people are playing and more and more people are playing and finding compelling and satisfying on an emotionally engaging level."
"The key is to understand that this is part of a grand whole. It's an art form and it all fits into its larger context. When you play through it you'll understand that actually is done very tastefully and appropriately, and I think it's emotionally engaging and very satisfying. "
Dr. Ray on the future of BioWare...
"I think our future is brighter and our best work is ahead of us. I think the vision we have of creating, delivering, and evolving the most emotionally engaging game experiences in the world is a vision that has no endpoint to it. You can always improve, you can always strive, you can always get better at that. Mass Effect 2 is the next step in the evolution of our craft. I think our best work is always ahead of us."
Dr. Ray on creating strong characters...
"I think we've really focused on emotional engagement. That's our vision for our all group. I think the outcome of that is that when you focus on making characters that are emotionally engaging, really compelling, you develop love/hate relationships with some of them."
I get the odd feeling they've really focused on emotional engagement myself. Call it a hunch.
I might have missed a couple of instances there, but you get the basic idea. Dr. Muzyka also touched on the intense combat system in Mass Effect 2 as well as the importance of the choices you make and the optional content you take part in on how the story unfolds, but emotional engagement was clearly the winner of the day.