Earlier in the year Develop FAQed the likes of Paulina Bozek, Dylan Cuthbert and Terry Cavanagh – and in its quest for trivia discovered that Peter Molyneux’s favourite game is Half-Life 2, that Andrew Oliver schmoozed his missus playing Mario Kart, and that David Braben loves The West Wing (obviously).
This month we’ve grilled the unpronounceable co-founders of BioWare, Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk. Enjoy!
What do you do?
Ray Muzyka: I’m co-founder of Bioware with Greg, and I’m general manager of the Bioware group. I work with great teams everyday, and really it’s to help bring worlds to life. It’s a great job.
Greg Zeschuk: And I’m VP and studio GM of BioWare Austin. It’s fun too. A big part of my job is working on the products. While I don’t make them myself I’m very involved, and I always give feedback and help our teams.
What are you working on right now?
Muzyka: We have four studios in our group. They’re all doing different things, working on different projects, but as part of our group vision, which is about making the most emotionally engaging gaming experiences in the world. It’s a pretty bold vision, so we try to pursue it in many different ways.
Zeschuk: There’s a lot of diversity across the group, and there’s 800 of us at work here. Everyday is a new adventure for us.
What was the first game you worked on in the industry?
Zeschuk: The first game for me was working on Shattered Steel. In fact we both worked on it. Together we wrote all of that.
Muzyka: Yeah. We did it all; the programming, writing, everything. But I’m not sure how much of mine ended up being in the final game.
Zeschuk: Didn’t we write lots of the mission descriptions? We had written some incredibly long-winded stuff, like five-minute level introductions. I mean, what the fuck were we thinking? We even did about 90 per cent of the animation. We did a lot of the design work. Really, I’m not sure how much of what I did worked [laughs].
Muzyka: We were at work on Baldur’s Gate at that time too. I was more focused on that.
What was the first game you ever played?
Muzyka: Scott Adams’ Pirate Cove was a game on cassette tape, maybe in 1980, on the Apple II plus. It took three minutes to load, and you had to do it three times. I remember my science teacher introduced me to it, and that was the moment. I was smitten with video games for the rest of my life. After that I spent all day in the computer lab learning to program from that point on.
Zeschuk: Mine was the home Pong system, literally in the mid-70s. I’d have to travel five hours to my cousin’s house to play, and as a kid I always wanted to make that journey.
Muzyka: Actually, I might have played a Coleco electronic game before Pirate Cove.
What is your favourite game ever, and for what reason?
Zeschuk: I really like Wasteland, which was a precursor to the Fallout stuff. It was one of the first open-world RPGs, and one of the first of that type, so I was just blown away by that. I think it was the game that opened my eyes to what you would eventually be able to do. It let me see the possibilities.
Muzyka: Mine was probably the original System Shock. It was awesome. I think I finished that game four times in ten years. I loved the way it was the first true 3D adventure. The shooter mechanic in 3D meant it was very hard to control in a way, but the richness of the world was amazing. Our IT guys hate us for it, but we use a fan website with patches to make sure System Shock will work on our current gen laptops.
What disappoints you about the games industry today?
Muzyka: There’s too many games released today. It interesting, because it’s very, very busy, it makes it very hard as a player to keep up. The releases clump up – even though that is changing a little bit.
For us, we have to play our games, play competitor’s games, play other relevant games, and play the handful of games we just really want to play more of and finish. I try and play two-or three hours a night, but that’s hard and it’s not enough.
What do you enjoy about the industry?
Muzyka: All the great games.
Zeschuk: And it’s the people. There’s all the great teams, and the quality across the board. There are so many good games to play, and so many people doing so many different things. There’s not really too much repetition; there’s just a lot of really good experiences. It’s amazing.