Tag Archives: Dragon*Con

notes from the Lore of Mass Effect panel at Dragon*Con

One of the very few downsides of being a panel participant at Dragon*Con is that one can miss out on Committing Acts Of Being A Fan, i.e. attending other panels and events. This time around, I was able to make time to attend one of the panels involving the key game developers of the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series at Bioware, this one involving the Lore of Mass Effect. They invited any question that people want to ask, but noted that most queries pertaining to the still in-development Mass Effect: Andromeda they would be unable to answer. The group decided on the code word “banana” as a response in those cases, which seemed a fair choice. Some notes from the discussion:

-Panelists: Colin Campbell (Lead Level Designer, ME: Andromeda), Jessica Campbell (Level Designer, ME: Andromeda & DA: Inquisition), Ian Frazier (Lead Designer, ME: Andromeda), Patrick Weekes (writer on the entire ME trilogy & DA: Inquisition), & Karin Weekes (Lead Editor for ME 2 & 3, DA 2 & Inquisition)
-huzzah for 2 of 5 panels (and important people to Bioware) being women!
-“Can you comment on the ME lore in the the next game?” – “it’s in space… it’s in a new galaxy… BANANA”
-cannot say when the game occurs re: the first trilogy, i.e. before, during, or after
-someone in the audience congratulated them on the ending of ME3, the panel was very happy to hear that (for once), some people in the crowd muttered dissent
-panel noted that DA has a more concrete canon from game to game, while the ME canon is more about your playthrough, which makes doing the ME games (especially ME3) far more complex in terms of writing dialogue and accounting for plot points based on choices in prior games
-BANANA on whether Shephard will be referenced in future games as alive/dead re: if you play the game through to the best ending where she was seen drawing breath briefly in the end sequence
-from the inception of the first game, Shephard was always viewed as making a sacrificial choice at the end of the trilogy and intended to die
-panel asks Patrick if that means he is MEAN, he says yes
-question about more female races and female models/choices in races – answer BANANA on specifics but that they are acutely aware of the fan desire for more female focus, one issue is limitation of time/resources in making multiple gender models for each race instead of just one
-question about design concepts for some races, inspiration from real world elements – answer: some, they tried to design the architecture/ships for each race to reflect their body type and philosophical outlook
-Asari – started with idea of them being monogenedered, no military, emphasis curves/softness to reflect less military outlook, tentacles chosen and designed for head to make them alien but also give the impression of a hairstyle to make them feel more human, there is no “medusa” animation hiding somewhere
-Turians – conceived as ancient roman bird-aliens, spiky and more angular ships and architecture
-Pre-nuke Krogans – showing older bits of architecture was important to see Krogan have hope re: genophage decision, so important to note they formerly had a great society
-architecture designed to evoke Greek and Polynesian elements to imply that they not only had a previously grand civilization but also were not previously warlike yet lived under threat (Greeks and Polynesians lived in the shadow of possible volcanic death), on their home world they were the prey species so creature design/eye position reflect prey species on earth as opposed to predator
-example of adjusting to prior playthrough decisions – if Jack lived, Grissom Academy mission is emotionally awesome with her going all “mama bear”, if she did not live it ends up being a very grim story of near-child soldiers, they didn’t want to say there’s a right or wrong way to play the game, so there was never an option not to give you the mission if Jack died
-there were up to 12 different permutations of the genophage ending based on prior choices
-Patrick enjoyed writing Mordin Solus, because of the challenge of making a character who is responsible for the genophage, understands all the far-reaching conseqences of it, and is simulataneously believable and sympathetic
-question about all the little planets and moons you run across in the exploration missions that have ruins or other interesting things on them, do they have a bible of all of those planets and what their story is – answer: there is no big plan, but if something “pops” with the fans they may develop it later
-the Leviathan of Dis is an example of this, as it was a one-off line on a planet in the original ME, fans really were interested in the story behind it, so they felt the need to expand on it in ME3 but that wasn’t in their original plans
-Batarian plotlines are an example of something that weren’t emphasized in later ME games because they didn’t seem to hook fan interest as much as other things
-elevator dialogue and news reports were originially developed to fill load screen time, when the PC version of the game was able to cut the load screen times, they left the dialogue/news in because enough people were entertained by it
-the genophage plotline was made prominent in ME3 because fans responded to it strongly in prior games
-question: why were the design of the Protheans design changed from what was seen in the beginning of the trilogy – answer: practical, done so that Javik would “look like something you could play as”
-panel would love to see non-bipedal party members, such as Hanar and Elcor, but from a gameplay and resource standpoint would be very hard to implement (after saying this, Ian adopted a deep Elcor voice & said “shouted boldly” to much laughter)
-Karin says ME has been described as “That dating sim with the save the universe minigame attached”
-panel feels they have more freedom with dialogue and plot with non-romancible characters, which is why they don’t try to make more characters romancible
-Patrick claims that if Bioware had more time, they’d all enjoy doing a striaght-up dating sim
-the star Dholen (around which the planet Haestrom orbits) behaving oddly was a potential hook for the “dark energy” theme that was originally going to play a large role in ME3, but that was never followed up on
-panel would love to explore the yahg race more, as they are as angry as the Krogan and as crafty as Salarians, but this didn’t come through enough in the Shadow Broker mission
– question: if Quarians wear their suits to protect them from environments outside of their ships, why do they wear them on their own ships? – answer: they wear them on their ships because of fear of hull breaches and further immune system degradation, also no art/resource budget for not suited Quarians in the game
-question was asked about their science team that advises them, Patrick responded “It is so awesome that you think we have a science team” – they utilize their own employees with STEM backgrounds to get a sense if an idea makes sense in a general way scientifically, or not
-goal from a science and tech standpoint was to get buy-in from the players on the concept of element zero and mass effect fields as a thing, then make sure that all of the tech and science in the game was internally consistent and derived from that
-question: given the way mass relays work and their range limitations, how did humans get to the Andromeda galaxy – answer: (sung in chorus by the panel) BANANA
-on favorite characters: Jessica – “once you go Garrus you can’t go back”, Karin – “Rex doesn’t give a shit in the best of ways”
-re: Harbinger, there was minor bug that made it into the final version that was responsible for possessed collectors talking to you all the time, as the cool down on that was supposed on be 50 seconds not 5 seconds, leading to memes and Harbinger beatboxing videos on YouTube
-as such, while Harbinger was intended to have a much larger role in ME3 and continue to hunt Shepard in a specific & personal way, they chose not to include him in a big way because it would have been too “silly”
-in terms of creating and developing romantic animations and sex scenes, in terms of time and resources, “nookie is expensive”
-female Shepard couldn’t romance Ashley because it felt wrong for that character

Dragon*Con goings-on

Worldcon was great, and interesting, and fun, and then it was back to the usual life-things for a week, and now I have arrived at excatly the opposite of usual life-things: Dragon*Con in Atlanta, GA.

This time around I will be involved in events! Behold:

Getting Away with Murder ~ Sat 01:00 pm ~ 202 – Hilton
Description: Don’t kill people. But if you *were* to kill someone? Science can help you get away with it.

Body Alteration ~ Sun 10:00 am ~ 202 – Hilton
Description: Changing our bodies with prosthetics & implants, & our minds with chemicals. What’s next?

Infectious Diseases Want YOU ~ Sun 04:00 pm ~ 202 – Hilton
Description: Ebola, MERS, pertussis, measles…Learn the many ways you might die!

Future Drugs ~ Sun 08:30 pm ~ 202 – Hilton
Description: What does the future hold for drugs?

The ever lovely Moon Ranger is also here, and also discussing SCIENCE:

James Webb Space Telescope ~ Fri 2:30 pm ~ 309-310 – Hilton
Description: “Hubble’s Replacement”, the JWST will study every phase of our universe’s history. On it’s launch in 2018, it will be the next great observatory.

Where Science Intersects Culture ~ Sat 7:00 pm ~ 202 – Hilton
Description: Science is a human process that isn’t separate from cultural outlook, as things like the 30-meter telescope protests and #shitstorm show. What positive things can we take away from conflicts like this, and how can we mitigate our cultural biases when it comes to science?

2015 Parsec Awards ~ Sun 05:30 pm ~ Regency V – Hyatt
Description: The Parsec Award is available for Sci-fi & Fantasy Original Content and Speculative Fiction.

Kids Space Workshop ~ Mon 9:00 am ~ Hilton Crystal Ballroom
Description: Space is Cool! Space is FUN! And we show you how! It’s space science playtime! (Kid Friendly)

Satellites Old & New: What They Can & Can’t Do ~ Mon 1:00 pm ~ 309-310 – Hilton
Description: The launch of Sputnik, the 1st satellite, was the real start of the space age. Now, life as we know it could not exist without them!

Meanwhile, I will be tossing out the occasional #DragonCon thoughts here, and pleae feel free to say Hallo! if you are around!

Dragon*Con Goings-On

I am in Atlanta, Georgia, for the five-day festival of chaos that is Dragon*Con. While here, I will be involved in discussions of SCIENCE and things podcastery, namely:

A Practical Guide to the End of the WorldFri 07:00 pm, 202 (Hilton) – Earthquakes, diseases, asteroid strikes, solar flares: the universe is trying to kill us, but this discussion separates disaster fact from fiction.

The Future of MedicineSat 08:30 pm, 202 (Hilton) – Learn about the future of medicine, including 3D printing, tissue engineering, cell therapy, and more.

Disasterpiece Theatre LIVESun 11:30 am, 203 (Hilton) – Formulating Hollywood movie pitches sometimes means kicking around ideas like theme, plot events, and casting.

Ask a ScientistSun 01:00 pm, Atlanta (Sheraton) – You’ve got science questions? We’ve got science answers! Expert scientists explain anything you want to know about science.

2014 Parsec AwardsSun 05:30 pm, Regency V (Hyatt) – A celebration of speculative fiction podcasting. Awards are given in numerous categories, from specific fiction content to fans news reporting.

The Solve for X Science ShowSun 10:00 pm, Grand Ballroom East (Hilton) – Puppet show, PowerPoint karaoke, quiz game, storytelling: the scientists are loose, and nobody knows what could happen next.

Please feel free to say hello if you happen by, or track me by my pithy comments and observations.

Dragon*Con goings-on

I’ll be at Dragon*Con for the next couple of days, where I will be participating in several panels on the Science and Apocalypse Rising tracks, as is my want:

Title: Cough and Sneeze: The Science of Epidemiology
Time: Fri 02:30 pm
Description: From “con crud” to zombie viruses, come discuss the science – and likelihood – of a world ending plague.

Title: I (Do Not) Want My HPV
Time: Fri 08:30 pm
Description: An update on the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): the virus, cervical cancer & other diseases it causes (with pictures!), & the vaccines that prevent it.

Title: Read All About it: Zombies in the Media
Time: Sat 11:30 am
Description: From New Jersey to Miami and beyond… zombies are not just a thing of fiction and fantasy anymore, or so it would seem.

Also, on Saturday at 04:00pm, I will be helping out Laura with the Parsec Awards ceremony. Early Sunday morning, we’re flying to Chicago to catch the Hugo Awards ceremony and the last half of Worldcon because, well, why not.

If you happen to be in Atlanta or Chicago this weekend, feel free to track us down!

Dragon*Con goings-on

The Moon Ranger and I will be headed shortly to Dragon*Con in Atlanta, GA. We will both be attending the Charity Star Party at the Emory University Math & Science Center tomorrow night, and we will both be participating in the Parsec Awards ceremony late Saturday afternoon. In addition, my schedule includes:

  • Title: These are the ways the world will end…
    Time: Sat 11:30 am Location: 207 / 206 / 205 – Hilton (Length: 1)
    Description: Our panel tears apart the asteroid apocalypse theory, rips into the latest “world enders”, and answers questions. We’re probably safe (for now).
  • Title: XMRV, CFS, and the Internet: How Patient Communities Are Changing Medicine
    Time: Sun 11:30 am Location: 201 – Hilton (Length: 1)
    Description: How the Internet and patient advocacy is changing research and medicine, using the XMRV and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome controversy as a case study.
    Time: Sun 07:00 pm Location: 202 – Hilton (Length: 1)
    Moderator / MC for panel
    Description: Terrifying developments! New strains jumping from livestock to humans! Antibiotics that don’t work! But don’t panic – yet.

Laura will be involved in:

  • Title: LandSat – The Origins of Earth Imaging
    Time: Sun 04:00 pm Location: 203 – Hilton (Length: 1)
    Description: Before Google Earth or Mapquest , the LandSat program was delivering images of Earth & it continues to be a valuable scientific resource.
  • Title: I Work in the Space Industry, But NOT for NASA!
    Time: Sun 08:30 pm Location: 203 – Hilton (Length: 1)
    Description: You’ve always dreamed of working in the space industry but NASA’s not your thing. We’ve got the people to tell you how.
  • Additionally, Laura is assembling a so-fresh-it’s-not-on-the-schedule panel on Friday at 4pm that will spotlight the James Webb Space Telescope, which will focus on the importance of the mission as well as the plethora of reasons why a loss of funding for the project would be both an epic loss to science and an incredibly bad idea. Co-panelists will include Dr. Pamela Gay, and possibly another special guest.

Apart from these, I will be otherwise hanging about the science and podcasting tracks, and possibly be doing some Bad Doctoring for The Secret Lair. As usual, I will be posting occasional pithy observations, and if you are going, I look forward to seeing you there!

making the rounds

  • ReConStruction was a damn fun time, but notable for having rather desolate overall attendance and some interesting fan dynamics. Autopsy notes will be forthcoming.
  • I did not attend Otakon, having little direct investment in things otaku at the present time, but passively got a taste of event while out with friends in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor two weekends past. Costume watching proved to be rather brilliant, and I had not been aware that the con is nearly as big as Dragon*Con in terms of overall attendance. Given that the masquerade is likely to be insanely over the top, and is held in the First Mariner Arena, that may be worth checking out next year for the spectacle alone.

the Kessel Run nominees for 2010

parsec, a cc by-nc-nd image from kurt_eh on Flickr
parsec, a cc by-nc-nd image from kurt_eh on Flickr

It is of interest that the shortlist nominees for the 2010 Parsec Awards were released today:

Best Speculative Fiction Story (Short Form)

Best Speculative Fiction Story (Novella Form)

Best Speculative Fiction Story (Long Form)

Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama (Short Form)

Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama (Long Form)

Best Speculative Fiction Video Story

Best Speculative Fiction Magazine or Anthology Podcast

Best New Speculative Fiction Podcaster/Team

Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast (Specific)

Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast (General)

Best Podcast about Speculative Fiction Content Creation

Best Fact Behind the Fiction Podcast

Best Speculative Fiction Comedy/Parody Podcast

Hearty congratulations to all the nominees, and much luck! While my jaunt to Worldcon means I’ll be unable to reprise my emcee duties from years previous, I have it on good authority that things will be in good hands. And I’ll be watching… oh, yes, I shall.