BioWare built on 'humility'

Develop 2010: Greg Zeschuk uses keynote speech to discuss studio's creative culture; suggests its games are made better by "press feedback."

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In a keynote speech at the Brighton, UK-based Develop conference, BioWare cofounder Greg Zeschuk called a culture of "humility and integrity" key to the Mass Effect developer's success. Zeschuk, also group creative officer of EA's role-playing game/massively multiplayer online studio group, said that taking fan and press criticism on the chin was a cornerstone of BioWare's creative culture. "Some would say we're obsessed with our review scores," he said.

Zeschuk used his keynote speech to discuss BioWare's creative culture.
Zeschuk used his keynote speech to discuss BioWare's creative culture.

In a general talk on BioWare's attitude to creative game development, Zeschuk said that BioWare aimed to stay humble, in spite of commercial success or press criticism. "Some people might see it as a position of weakness, but it's really not that at all," he said. "You're only as good as your next game."

Zeschuk underlined the importance of building on fan and press criticism. "You have to be open and take feedback…We've made our games better largely on press feedback. If you have humility it means you don't get indignant [about negative feedback]."

By way of example, Zeschuk admitted the iPhone game that bridged the first and second Mass Effect games, Mass Effect Galaxy, was not one of the developer's best products. "The team [that produced the iPhone game] went back and made a lot of games that were way better," he said.

Zeschuk called the purchase of BioWare by publisher EA in 2007 "an interesting cultural challenge," saying that it took the developer about a year to learn how to interact with the publisher. "It's like any relationship; you have to put time and effort into it."

He described the more recent joining of BioWare and massively multiplayer online game developer Mythic as a role reversal from the EA-BioWare deal. "When Mythic joined BioWare, we were able to take that learning [into the merger]: Suddenly we were EA, and Mythic was the BioWare [of that relationship]."

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