Eurogamer: Why did you choose this console-first way of doing things after having been so PC-focused in the past?
Matt Atwood: It's dependent on the game. Mass Effect works well on a console; the team did a really good job with the controls and by offering two levels [of play style]. The hardcore fan who wants to level-up, do weapon mods, look at all the codecs, and explore everywhere can do that. But the game is still very approachable for the more mainstream or less hardcore gamer who can play the main story and not do all the other things.
When you build the game you don't say "this is for this system". We went through talks with Microsoft who were great partners, and we thought we could make something really special for the 360. We were excited about the exclusivity. And it was good for the holiday time, too. It was a crazy holiday time, for sure; great for gamers.
We started working on the PC version of Mass Effect right at the tail end of 360 development. And the PC team worked directly with the console team to make sure every vision was met. Really it's fairly quick in comparison to something like Jade [Empire], and we would like to get quicker and quicker. But we're not going to rush it out, because the single most important thing is to make it feel like a natural PC experience. If BioWare delivers a game that feels anything like a port, then we're in trouble and we'll hear about it.
We get questions about if we're going to do new content [for the PC version], but what's the real value there? The game is so robust with this content. What makes the most sense is to focus on making the keyboard customisable, increasing the visuals, making the controls very natural and add things like squad commands and hot-keys for Shepard's biotic powers and weapons; make those things that, honestly, when people make ports they just don't do. They just get it going and that's it. And that's not what BioWare's about.
Eurogamer: Downloadable content is obviously a big deal judging by the in-game menu for it. We've seen one pack, Bring Down the Sky, but what else have you got planned?
Matt Atwood: We obviously know more than we're ready to talk about, just to be completely honest with you. But I think you'll see more planets, I think you'll potentially see more races - you're going to see really great content. We're very pleased with the reaction we've had for Bring Down the Sky. In our data, 90 per cent of the reactions on forums throughout the net have been positive, because of price and value. And that's been great. We do have - for 360 - certainly one more pack planned. What that's going to be, we're not ready to tell, but we will always do our best to make it very valuable for consumers.
We're asked if we're going to do Bring Down the Sky for PC, and it's a consideration. We're looking in to exactly what we want to do; maybe we'll do something different, because the PC offers some different potentials. We've got some good stuff, and the team's very focused on it. You'll see it pretty soon for 360 - I don't think very long after the PC version ships [sometime in May].
Eurogamer: So, in summary: downloadable content is a big deal and it's going to continue for some time?
Matt Atwood: Yeah. Downloadable content is a big deal now; online content of many forms is a big deal. And I'm not necessarily talking about multiplayer. I'm talking about delivering things to the fans. I think Rock Band has done such a stunning job with the content that they've delivered. I mean, it's very intuitive there, but weekly you're getting new songs.
Imagine if you've got this really active community, could you bring things in to the game from the community, or in to the community from the game? What that means specifically, I'm not totally sure. But I know it's an area we're looking to explore. Because the more active and the more you offer your community then the more you expand it and the more you embrace them.
Eurogamer: Going back a few years, Neverwinter Nights had an enormous community because of the tool-set you released with it. Even KOTOR had mods, despite having no editor. Is a tool set for something like Mass Effect an option?
Matt Atwood: I'm not aware of any plans right now, which doesn't mean we won't do it. In general, as a company, we've already proven that we're very interested in it, whether it's Mass Effect or not. We've got Dragon Age on the horizon and there's big potential there. As a company, yes we will be doing it. With Mass Effect specifically? I just don't know the answer yet.