From the visual mastery of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic to the unique vision of the Mass Effect franchise, BioWare has remained a prominent fixture in the video game industry since its inception 21 years ago. With Mass Effect: Andromeda fast approaching its 2017 release date, Complex decided to get the full Magnum Opus Games story on how BioWare came to be the undeniable force it is today.
"BioWare storytelling is all about making you feel emotions in situations where you thought you might not," producer Ben Irving told Complex of the brand's often emulated approach to the RPG medium. But what's the creative spark that unites the entire BioWare team? As with any great slice of history, the BioWare tale begins with some likely inspiration: Star Wars.
"My first exposure to Star Wars was when I was a little kid," Senior Designer Mike Ammer said. The rest of the team shared similar Star Wars memories (i.e. watching A New Hope 38 times in a row), pointing to the George Lucas universe's eventual impact on the future and viability of BioWare. The 2003 RPG title Knights of the Old Republic, published by LucasArts, followed the company's success with the Baldur's Gate series. The title was widely praised, ultimately scoring BioWare top honors at the Game Developers Choice Awards.
Though they would later revisit Star Wars with The Old Republic in 2011, BioWare then shifted its focus to further developing its voice through its own original stories. Mass Effect officially launched in 2007, setting the stage for an impressive decade-long run that also included Dragon Age: Origins and Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood.
For those hoping to follow in BioWare's footsteps, the first step to success is surprisingly simple: Don't just believe in your abilities, know their value. "Video games have been a hobby of mine ever since I was a kid," Ammer told Complex. "I started working in map editors and mods when I was very young. One day my dad said to me, 'This is what you're doing when you're not working, have you ever thought about doing this for work?'"
For additional inspiration, revisit our Magnum Opus Games deep dive into the history of Remedy Entertainment: