On November 20, 2007, Mass Effect hit shelves. It was the beginning of something new for the video game developer BioWare, a Canadian company that had already released a number of memorable role-playing games such as Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights.
The game would be the start of a trilogy that would end in 2012 and help change the way people thought about video games. Mass Effect introduced gamers to a player character that was completely customizable to the player, and even had their own voice. You could make different decisions throughout the game to impact the story and develop relationships with non-player characters that could range from friendship to romance. While aspects of this universe would change as future games were released, the possibilities of this new world became clear in the original installment and sparked a passionate fanbase that felt so invested they would voice their praise and criticism in equal measure.
Ten years later, SYFY WIRE looks back at the game that started it all, to explore how it got made and examine its lasting impact. We spoke to cast and crew in separate phone interviews and delved into the world of mass relays, biotics, and reapers.
In 2003, BioWare released the Star Wars roleplaying game Knights of the Old Republic.
Greg Zeschuk (BioWare cofounder): After we finished Knights of the Old Republic, we weren't doing the sequel. Casey Hudson [Mass Effect's director] and Ray [Muzyka, BioWare co-founder] and I sat down and we talked about "well, what's next?" It was very high level at that point. It was like "well, let's do our own space opera." I think that's what that team was very passionate about doing, some kind of sci-fi character driven game. We just started out very vaguely that we're going to do something in that vein. It was quite definitive and we knew we could pursue it based on how the industry was at that time in terms of our stature and ability. We started pursuing it. It took a while for what would become Mass Effect to take shape. It was probably a six to eight-month pre-production period where we kind of narrowed it to what we were actually going to make. It took lots of meetings and all kinds of conversations…
It was pitched initially as a trilogy. I think Casey and I went to X05 in Amsterdam and we pitched it right then and there as a trilogy, to which everyone said "oh, that's quite daring" and I think our vision was to try to get the entire trilogy on to a single platform, like a single iteration of the Xbox. We made that our goal right from the outset so that kind of helped the development in a lot of ways because you knew you were going to be continuing on. And again BioWare had a lot of experience in sort of maintaining game save stats and a lot of the unique complexities in what we do in terms of vision trees and that sort of thing.
A team was assembled to tackle this new space opera.
Ginny McSwain (voice director): I had done a couple of smaller jobs with BioWare. I want to give a big shout out to Chris Borders who was a casting director and came out of Orange County [with his company TikiMan Productions.] There was a time he was throwing me a lot of work, because he was in Orange County he wanted L.A. voice directors. That's how I met him and he's the one who brought BioWare to me.
Jack Wall (composer): I had a relationship with BioWare already. We worked on a game called Jade Empire before that. I think they called it SFX. It was the codename for the game at the time because they were being secretive about it, but they asked me to audition for their next game which was going to be Mass Effect eventually. They put out a call and they were trying to find the right composer and I auditioned and I won the audition.
Sam Hulick (composer): I met Jack Wall at the Game Developers Conference. I think it was 2005, and I participated in the demo derby where basically composers can bring a demo CD and you go to a room and there's a panel of professional composers. They basically listen to people's demo CDs, evaluate them, and give you feedback. I participated in that and Jack was on the panel. He listened to my stuff and gave some feedback on it. He liked it and we spoke later on and just kind of chit chatted a little bit casually and turns out later on we kept in touch and he recommended me for an opportunity with BioWare. He told me that he was busy and couldn't do it and he passed my name along so BioWare reached out one day and said "hey man this is a top-secret project. We'd like you to demo" and I was floored because I didn't have a ton of experience at that time and did not expect that at all. I did it and that was I think summer 2005.
I gave it my all and at some point, during the process, Jack wrote me and he said "by the way my schedule freed up and now we are competing for the same project." So now I'm pitching on this major gig and competing against Jack Wall which at the time was very daunting, but it was very gentlemanly. May the best man win and good luck and all that.
In the end, I didn't get the gig actually. I don't know if I a lot of people realize that. I did not get it and Jack did, but shortly after that Jack was on board with BioWare working on Mass Effect and he got a chance to listen to the demos that people had sent in and he heard mine and asked BioWare "why didn't you hire this guy?" Ultimately, they had a chat internally and decided to bring me on board to co-compose with Jack on Mass Effect one.
Wall: They sent me artwork and a brief about the game and what it was going to be about and also the type of music that Casey Hudson, the director, was looking for. The reference material was Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, and Blade Runner and that kind of stuff. '80s synth music sort of used as an orchestra, which was kind of a big musical direction for certain sci-fi back in the '80s so they sort of wanted to return to that idea in some way and what they kept saying was imagine you're in an orchestra and somebody's playing a synthesizer onstage with the orchestra.
Hulick: The process was pretty much kind of like divide and conquer. I think my first task was to actually work on the main theme and that was a lot of work. It took several revisions to get what we wanted because Casey Hudson knew exactly what he wanted, which is good. You want that in a director, and he kept guiding us to the right direction for the main theme. That was my first task when I got on board and Jack helped mix that and finish up the last half of it and from then on we just kind of tackled things by whatever BioWare would send over.
Zeschuk: I had more of an editorial role and then Casey and the team largely would go off and they'd come back, pitch ideas, and we'd bounce ideas back and forth so I would say for actual active designing the world, my role was limited. It was more being a sounding board for the folks that were working on it and represent the consumer and that perspective for the most part, because we were mounting multiple projects at the time.
Wall: I wasn't known as a synthesizer guy. I was more of an orchestral composer and a guy who looks for sounds that are interesting to put into the games I was working on…When it came to Mass Effect, I sort of had to learn how to use synthesizers in the way that they were used back in the day. I sort of just brought my own aesthetic to synth music and really spent time trying to create a vibe rather than scoring a picture.
Hulick: In a way, the whole thing was challenging because it was my first really massive project and I was glad to have Jack there with me, because if it were just me, I probably would have bombed it! But the toughest part for me I think was in 2006 or 2007. It was E3 and they needed music for a trailer. I think this was the launching trailer for Mass Effect one and they asked me to write it. The first pass I totally bombed it. It was not good at all and they came back with feedback of course and they were like "this misses the mark and we have a two day deadline to wrap the thing up and get it right." I was nervous. I didn't sleep at all. I just worked around the clock for two days after that and eventually pulled through and did the trailer for them, but that was probably one of the most challenging parts. Mostly because I hadn't worked on such a tight deadline.
Bringing the characters to life for this new universe would be a group of voice actors from a range of backgrounds and locations. The process would have them spending hours recording for the game.
McSwain: What was so great and challenging was that at the top of the sessions, maybe the first week of the game, they would come down from Edmonton and monitor and be my power in the room to get me on the right track. But then they were back home in Canada and they would listen in sometimes to the sessions, but I was on my own for a bulk of it both on Mass Effect one and two. It was going in and seeing who the talent was, Chris Borders would coordinate and cast, I would see who was on the daily schedule, I would talk with them briefly in Canada and they'd say here's what we need for this session or with this character and then I took it from there.
Many of them had multiple sessions where they would come back, but working with these brilliant actors, many of which I knew, several I didn't, and watching them for these two rounds of this game, I really got into it. Out of all the things I worked on in all these many years, whether it be animation or interactive, I think Mass Effect was one of the best highlights of my career.
Mark Meer (voice of male Commander Shepard): I'd already been working for BioWare in a number of capacities since the late '90s. When Mass Effect came along, I was actually working on the game before I was cast as Commander Shepard. Since I had mostly been playing monsters and creatures and villains in previous releases, they brought me in at the concept art stage to sort of do a presentation on what I thought the various alien races might sound like. I got to look at concept art. The game itself had not been written, but I looked at all this concept art and background on alien cultures and their biology…
During all of this process, I was coming in and doing demos for aliens and whatnot and I was asked if I wouldn't mind auditioning for Shepard because I did some scratch dialogue. I didn't think I would get it in a million years, but I was subsequently told I had a call back and went through the normal process and at no point during this process did I ever think that I would end up playing the lead. until I was told it was down to me and a couple of other guys from Los Angeles. I immediately assumed that one of the guys from L.A. would get it and I would play a bunch of aliens, but instead I was told I was cast as the lead and I got to play a bunch of aliens.
Raphael Sbarge (voice of Kaidan Alenko): I'd done a few video games. I'd done Star Wars games and something called Grim Fandango. Then this came along. I auditioned for it and I got the part. I had no idea what that meant. I had no idea how big a game it would be. I had no idea that we'd be talking about it 10 years later. I had no idea that it would take me around the world literally to conventions to meet people and it would connect me via social media to thousands and thousands of people. Had I known that I probably would have been a little more nervous walking in front of the mic, but it was one of those weird things that just kind of came my way.
Ali Hillis (voice of Liara T'Soni): I got an audition through my agent for Mass Effect and I'm sure at the time I was probably given a few different characters to read. I read for Liara. it was probably about four lines or something like that. At the time, I don't even know if we had a sketch or drawing of her because it was a brand-new game. I'm not sure if we even had any kind of visual to go by, but their description was so great. The writing at BioWare is so incredible that it was very easy for me to picture my interpretation of her in my mind and the voice I auditioned with originally I think was very close to what we ended up with. I think we tweaked it a little bit in the booth with Ginny McSwain who was directing. I ended up booking the role just off probably four lines.
Brandon Keener (voice of Garrus Vakarian): It was the same process for auditioning for any video game. You go in and you read whatever sides they provide and you get a quick character description. At that point, the game didn't exist so it was just one of many that you audition for. I believe I'd done a couple of games because I just got into the voice acting side of the business. I'd been working on camera for a while. That's usually the process and I was cast and I think it was maybe my second or third [game] and certainly one of the first times I'd done a main character in a game. I think I'd played a tagger in a game that was set in a world of graffiti artists and maybe a soldier in some things. This was the first sort of main character that I'd played in a video game.
Sbarge: BioWare said they wanted it real and more like an episode of 24 as opposed to what so many of the games of the time, and there are still some of them, but they're basically all about screaming or just "get down, get down, run, run!" That kind of thing where everything is kind of inflated and fueled with a lot of volume and intensity. In this case, what you had were actual scenes where there were relationships. There were sort of levels and subtext and just stuff that made it more actable certainly, but I think it also was part of what made it so successful as a game because it wasn't just a testosterone based computer game. It had all these other aspects.
Keener: It was a lot of fun. With a smaller character, you sort of have lines you're throwing out. Just random shouted comments. You're not really engaged in conversation so that was sort of the first time I got a chance to do that. I remember I enjoyed it quite a bit because it moves quickly as opposed to shooting something like TV which is a very slow process. I enjoyed how quickly it moved, the material, and I remember all the vocal directors were great.
Hillis: I got to the recording studio and I met Ginny and Chris and we walked into the booth and just started talking about her. Kind of started hashing her out, who she was, where she came from, her history. The traits of her kind being that she wasn't human. We talked a lot about the Asari and the history that was built around them. If we didn't have all the background that they had come up with just to give us a basis to build from, it would have been just a shot in the dark who the character was but they gave us so much to work with that it wasn't very hard to come up with something pretty specific, which is I think what Ginny and I did.
Meer: The character of Commander Shepard is something of a unique challenge because unlike a character in a movie or a television show or even a NPC in a video game, there's no solid hard and fast rules about who the character is because this is a character that's going to be created by the player. They are going to determine their background, their personality, and so what you're essentially doing is recording all the pieces of a character that they'll be able to assemble as they see fit.
Commander Shepard was kind of a test case for that, for both Jennifer Hale [voice of female Shepard] and myself, because up to that point in these styles of games you tended to have the player character represented by blocks of text and you wouldn't actually have a voiced PC, so the first Mass Effect was one of the first times that you had a fully voiced player character in a game with that much dialogue.
Mass Effect offered players the chance to not only make multiple decisions in the game, but to choose different dialogue choices that could also be impacted by choosing a moral path of paragon or renegade. This meant that there were a number of variations in the dialogue that had to be recorded as well.
Meer: It is something of a challenge. We relied heavily on our directors, in my case Shauna Perry and Caroline Livingstone. They're the ones that give us context and let us know where we are in the story and which path we're following now. We would tend to in a given scene, cover the renegade path and the paragon path separately so at least you had a run through the scene in renegade and a run through the scene in paragon, but of course there was some dialogue that was shared between both paths.
To a certain extent, you couldn't take your emotion too far in any direction because some people might play a pure renegade play through, some might play paragon, but there are others who will bounce back and forth and even if you're playing purely as paragon and renegade there's some dialogue choices that will be shared by both paths. You have to temper your emotional response or it sounds like the character's having these extreme mood swings bouncing back between lines of dialogue. We relied heavily on our directors and we would be lost without them.
McSwain: I think of things as theater and making sure it's consistent, that it sounds the same tone with different options and that we're not coming out of left field and making them sound like different people in different scenes, that's the technical process of this. I think I have a really good ear for that and I think the majority of actors that came in had the same skill. When you look at what they're asked to do in a four-hour session or two-hour session, it's not like we can sit there and discuss options. They have to immediately go into these different segues and I can only do it in maybe two or three possible takes. If I have 250 lines with Jennifer Hale, I know I've got to get those done in a four-hour session, but she is the best. She is the queen of this technical [process] and acting interactive leads for female leads.
Sbarge: It was hours and hours of recording because you had so many alternatives. What I did was obviously not nearly as intense as what the Shepards had to do. It used to be they would give us pages. They would give you an enormous stack and you would stand there in front of a microphone all by yourself with the engineer and director behind double plated glass and for four hours, which doesn't sound like much but I can tell you every time I would get to the end of it I was exhausted.
It's such concentrated work. You would kind of work through the stack and sometimes in the beginning for a while, they would stop and try to explain every eventuality and then eventually even if we hadn't played that section or didn't know the story line, all the explaining seemed to become less necessary and we all sort of had a shorthand to find our way in.
Zeschuk: The challenge was trying to make sure you had the right responses. That was actually lots of prototypes and testing and we kind of played around with that with Jade Empire so we had a bit of experience in that already and also trying to create the dialogue wheel and create the process, the standardized placement of responses and making all the decisions make sense. There's one half, the front half of it, which is "ok the response is good" and then the second half which was huge, "are there enough adequate story changes based on what you do?"
Hillis: Each way to play was so hashed out and so specific that it was really easy to switch from one to the other to be quite honest and the voice directors were so great. It was really cool to get to react and act against both Shepards. It makes it exciting when you're doing a character but also getting redirected and it just sort of becomes a game in itself. In the booth, we get to hear each other in the booth, because they worked with a system where I get to actually hear Jen. If I'm reading against Jen, I actually get to hear her talking in my headset which is unusual. Most games we don't get to do that. We're just reacting off whatever the director is giving us, but that's another reason that the Mass Effect games were so specific: we really were acting with each other and creating relationships with each other.
I come from a TV and film background and the most important thing for me in voicing video games isn't the voice. It's the character and the relationships that I'm having and I think they chose actors that felt similarly to me in their acting style for this game and I think that it showed in the final product. I feel like the players really related to the characters just as we related to each other.
Keener: It's a bit of an adjustment at first because you throw out the one reaction and then you give the polar opposite, but it's fun. It's a challenge as an actor and you don't really get to do that otherwise. Anything else, you work through the scene and it's established, but this was fun because you got to sort of jump all over the place.
Story, Characters, and Relationships
The decisions stood out because they were part of a compelling story with characters that fans would grow to care about. Those characters would develop relationships with each other and with the player character on a deep level.
Hillis: I feel like they set a precedent of the relationships between the characters and the relationship between the player and the characters and the storyline. To me it was sort of an elevated experience in the way that it was almost like you were directing your own movie and yet you were in it at the same time.
Wall: I usually write music to a picture and try to tell the story that's on screen. This was a more languid experience. You were going to spend a lot of time in conversations. You were going to spend a lot of time exploring which really are my favorite types of games to work on because you can stretch out a little bit musically and let it happen in a way that as you're exploring, this music becomes part of the world that is more inseparable from it than a more scored picture where things are happening all the time.
A lot of games I work on are so action heavy, you can't really have that experience. It's more just to drive the action and the music has a different purpose. For this game, it was going to be very story driven, very RPG, very exploratory, very conversational, so the incidental music could just be playing in the background. You didn't have to follow anything that was happening on screen really. That was a really unique part of the Mass Effect universe. We could actually stretch out a little bit and let the music play rather than have the music tell the story. It was just the music is part of the story really.
McSwain: I think it was one of the first times the characters actually had full dimensional personalities. They had every side, sometimes the romantic or a more intimate relationship into the action, versus one line here and there. These were fully developed characters. I think that the gaming world was ready for that. They were ready for actors. I also think more importantly it was a time when the games were about acting as well as action. I think Mass Effect really stepped it up and that's where my talent was. My credibility has always been with directing the actors. You can't be responsible for the products. You never know. You work so hard and then you see the product later and it is crappy animation or crappy writing in the series, but this was big. Not only did the writing lend itself to what the actors could really sink their teeth into, but when we talk about voice over acting forget about the voiceover part. That's great, but it's about the acting.
Every voice comes out of from what they can do as skilled actors. Therein lies the rub and a lot of these things, there are contrived voices but in Mass Effect and a lot of the action adventure games now, it's all people using their own voice so it really is all about what you do with the material as an actor. I think it was one of the first games that really stepped up the voice acting.
Hillis: One thing that both confused me and intrigued me was when we got to the "relationship scene." I was a little confused. I didn't realize we had these kinds of intimate relationships in video games and maybe we didn't before Mass Effect. I'm not sure. When we got to one of those love scenes, I usually read with Jen just because she recorded in the same booth I did before me so it was very easy for them to pull up her recordings and plus I know Jen and I feel my own close relationship with her. Her acting is so phenomenal that I did all the intimate scenes with Jen on my headset. I could hear her voice, so if you guys out there ever play through those scenes again, if you play FemShep and male Shep, you might notice a little bit different kind of scene because you might be able to tell that I was actually reading with Jen and off of Jen. I'm not sure. Mark's great too I just happened to not be reading off of him.
When we got to those intimate scenes, we didn't have any playback. The director Ginny just had to walk me through these scenes and tell me what I was doing and then of course I just had to create the sounds. I had to have an intimate relationship all by myself in a dark booth! That was kind of funny and then of course I'm listening my friend Jen on the other side emoting through the love scenes, making the appropriate love making sounds and I'm sure they have clips somewhere of those moments and it would probably really make me laugh and turn deep red in the face listening back to some of those, but by the goddess we did it!
Mass Effect was released in November 2007 and according to Microsoft, sold one million copies in just three weeks after its launch.
Sbarge: It hit like an explosion and two and then three. It just grew with each incarnation and the worldwide audience just grew. I've been on panels and I haven't said this but there's been people who know a lot more about gaming then I do that have said this game that is Mass Effect, this series, was essentially what Star Wars was to movies. It was that big. It was that much of a game changer. It had that much of an impact in terms of really shifting the space and changing everyone's imagination of what's possible and really creating this enormous worldwide audience.
Keener: I don't think people in the entertainment industry even understand how popular these games are. I've worked for years in film and television, and I do commercials and other things and honestly if anyone ever actually recognizes me by name it's because of the game, which is pretty amazing. Or even recognizes me on the street, which is strange because I'm not physically in the game. It's just they're passionate about the game and they look up who the actors are and they follow them and it's really cool. I probably wouldn't even have a social media presence at all if it wasn't for the fans of the game because they seemed to express so much interest in what I was doing I sort of felt compelled to do something, so it was certainly eye opening to me even how strongly and how passionate the fans are about the game. It's amazing.
Meer: I was unprepared for how big a success it was and seeing someone dressed as my character walk by me at a comic book convention for example. The first time that happened that was thrilling and made me realize 'oh yea, it's a hit' and not only a hit but something that people have really invested in because I'm sure that guy didn't create that excellent looking suit of armor in an afternoon and again all the things Mass Effect fans bring to conventions, the costumes, the props. You can tell a lot of love and dedication went into them.
Looking back at Mass Effect's legacy and impact
Since the first game's initial release, two sequels have followed along with another game set in the universe, Mass Effect: Andromeda, which was released earlier this year along with other media tied to the series. Its reach has extended beyond this though to have true meaning to fans of the game.
Wall: It's funny because when I go back to it, I feel like the production value of the music is not as high as I produce now. A lot has advanced in terms of what I do as a composer, yet people still really like the music because I think it speaks to that experience and the character development of what was going on in those games. I think about the Citadel a lot. I spent a lot of time just kind of imagining what it would be like to be there and the music that came out from that sort of meditation was something I'm really proud of because it may not be the best produced music I've ever done, but it certainly captured something that people really enjoyed. It enabled them to be a little bit more immersed in the story and the characters. It wasn't in your face. I think about the themes like the Presidium and the Wards and things like that. I still remember those pieces because they really invoked a certain feeling that when you were there, you felt that. I really liked that part of the score. It's just different.
Sbarge: There's something about being in these life or death trajectories in this game with these complex relationships and then this intimacy that they've created that it kind of shattered the sound barrier and it just really went so far and I've met people who literally walk up to a table where I'm sitting there to meet them, shaking and crying. It's not me, it's the character, but that character means so much to them. That experience was so important to them. I just feel incredibly grateful to have been a part of this experience. I'm honored and humbled and so grateful to be a part of it. I love the character. He's a good man and a good soldier and it was fun to play him, but more than anything to be a part of this energy, this experience, BioWare's triple A game, and then all the aligned energy that came together. It kind of felt like lightening in a bottle.
Hulick: It had a large impact on people. It isn't just the music on its own, it's what the music means to them and how it ties into the story. It's all together, this one cohesive piece…It's amazing to see how much the music impacts people and moves them and has meaning in their lives and also influences composers who are aspiring composers to get into this industry as well.
McSwain I really want to just say how challenging and rewarding it was to direct those two games. I met new people, there was a diverse cast, BioWare was great to me. They believed in me in those two big games and I will always take it with me as one of the highlights of my career.
Hulick: It's been a crazy ride for sure working on the trilogy and it's been probably one of the greatest experiences in my career.
Wall: I'm just proud to be a part of it. It was a really tough couple of games that I worked on. The first two were really challenging for me to compose and I think for the development team. They worked really hard on it. Scheduling was a little tough because things would come up last minute and had to be scored quickly, but when I look back on it, I think the first initial idea and how it came out was really groundbreaking in a way.
My biggest complaint about video games is the story is often subsumed with ok now we have to go collect things. Now we have to get to point a to b but you're spending more time as a player on the mechanics of how the game is working and less about the story and Mass Effect really I think is a shining example of storytelling in a game. I think that's what the legacy of Mass Effect is. It shows us with the conversation wheel, you're really a part of how the story is going forward and I think that's a rarity in games. When I play games now, I'm often disappointed with how I have to get from point a to point b or I have to just go collect a bunch of stuff and I'm just less interested in collecting things. That's not really that interesting to me, whereas Mass Effect you had these beautiful environments to explore and you wanted to. You wanted to walk around the world and the music helped you do that and you didn't care that you had to get from point a to point b because it was so amazing getting there.
Meer: BioWare did a fantastic job of bringing this fully realized fictional universe to the table so when it showed up there was such deep lore in the codex and everything else that fans were really able to dive deep and get into it. I've read a lot of the ancillary material like the comics and the books as well. I participated in a Mass Effect fan film that students from the University of Advancing Technology in Arizona put together as their class project. That was based on the books and I play character from one of the books.
It's just been an amazing thing just seeing how the fans have in some ways picked up the ball and run with it and created their own stuff based in the Mass Effect universe. It certainly sparked a lot of creativity. As far as its legacy, I still see today at conventions fans come up to me and tell me that Mass Effect really got them through difficult periods in their lives and that's why it's really special to them. You think about video games, especially long RPGs like Mass Effect, and the players spend a lot more time with those characters than they spend with the characters of a movie they go to see or a TV show. They'll spend a lot more time with the characters in a video game and because it's interactive and they're able to control the story, they invest in it more as well so I think that's one of the reasons behind its success.
Zeschuk: I'm happy to see that it's sort of a progressive and ambitious [game]. I think the reality of what we accomplished is not lost in the sense that we tried to do a lot of things in terms of character interactions and roles of different characters and it's really funny when we discovered we inadvertently created all kinds of unexpected alien romances and just sort of the mission and the vision of the game, the positive and also challenging decisions involved. I think the legacy is one of ambition and trying to do the right thing even if it's unusual I guess, if you choose to be a renegade, but I think it's a positive game for the industry in a sense.
Meer: This is more Jennifer's legacy than mine, but because Commander Shepard could be anyone, male or female and of any race, it really opened up the potential for who is the hero and the protagonist in this kind of story, in a science fiction action big space opera. What the protagonist looked like and who they were was completely up to the player and female Shepard specifically is often pointed to as a real breakthrough in terms of sci-fi heroines and I think that's again more Jennifer's legacy, but I think that's an important thing. Also in terms of love interest and things like that. Bioware's always been quite inclusive and progressive in those terms and you saw that with Mass Effect as well. That pretty much anybody could see their life expressed through the game.