Hey everyone! For anyone who doesn't know me, I'm Christina from Bioware, Lead System Designer for Mass Effect 2 (and member of the Chad Concelmo fan club).
So E3 is coming up and I'm really excited about demoing Mass Effect 2. I'll be there with Casey Hudson (Project Director) all week performing Demos. Casey will be doing all the talking while I play the demo.
I thought it might be interesting to talk a bit about the process of creating a demo and preparing it for E3. First if you haven't seen it already, you should probably check out our pre-E3 video which sums up what we'll be showing: http://www.destructoid.com/mass-effect-2-prelude-to-e3-video-is-a-go-exciting-132259.phtml
So how was our demo made?
We wanted the demo to be 100% content you would see on the retail disc. Often companies make E3-only demos, but this is a waste of resources really. I'd prefer to put all of our time into content for the real game!
With that in mind, Casey reviewed the game a couple months ago and identified the best vertical slice to show off what Mass Effect is all about. An outline of the demo structure was written up and communicated to the team. This is a difficult process with a game that's as large and deep as Mass Effect 2, because you can only show a tiny portion of the game. The vertical slice was then communicated to the team so everyone would know what we'd be showing at E3.
A few weeks later, Casey wrote up our demo script. This script highlighted both what Casey would say while he presented the demo, and what we'd show on screen. Then we did some early runs of the demo. This was a great opportunity to tune the script, and identify any high priority bugs we wanted to fix before E3.
In the past week or so there have been regular meetings with Ray and Greg, EA executives, and marketing to show over the demo. The feedback has been very positive! No major changes have been requested which is always a good sign. Final polish on E3 content has also been completed.
For the past few weeks, I've been practicing the demo at home during the evening on my 360 dev kit.
I've been playing Mass Effect 2 for a while now, so getting through the demo is pretty easy, but regular practice is necessary to ensure that people observing the demo will have the best experience possible. The best way I can think to explain it is, think about when you're playing a game, and someone sits down next to you who isn't familiar with the game to watch you play. They will generally ask a lot of questions about what's going on - something we can't do in a demo. With that in mind I have to play the demo in a way that makes things as clear as possible to the observer. For example, there's a power I want to show in the demo that I know will show the best if it's used on an enemy that's angled 30-60 degrees on my right side. Since combat in Mass Effect 2 is different every time, I can't count on a situation like that arising, but I'll do my best to watch for an appropriate situation and unleash the power at that moment. Practice is what lets me best identify and respond to those situations.
Despite all of this scripting and preparation every presentation of the demo will be different! When you're on the demo floor you need to respond to your audience, and tune the experience to what works best. That's one of the things I really love about giving demos!
I hope this was interesting! After the E3 demo is done, I'll do a follow up blog post about what is was like showing Mass Effect 2 at E3.
Also hi to everyone who will be at the Destructoid KarE3oke party! I'll see you there ;)