Mark Meer Interview Round 2


RPGSite: Hi there Mark, good to talk to you again. How have you been since we last spoke?
Mark Meer: Good, thanks. I'm back home in Canada and rehearsing for a play.

RPGSite: When we first met, you were about to star in the London Improvathon, a 50 hour improvisation show. How did that go in the end?
Mark: Fantastic! It was a really great time. If you're at all familiar with the 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes, you may be interested to know that the actors who played Holmes and Watson (Nicolas Rowe and Alan Cox) reunited onstage during our Victorian-themed weekend to play the adult versions of their characters... and (my character) Timburton Hemlocke got to essentially fill the"Moriarty" role. My character and I were both thrilled.


RPGSite: I love that film and am gutted to have missed them. I was in the audience for the first two hours, though, and everyone seemed to have a lot of energy – was it difficult to maintain that level for the full 50 hours?
Mark: Well... maybe during the wee hours. But during prime time, whenever the house was full, it was pretty easy to feed off the audience's energy. Y'know, like a vampire, or a tick.

RPGSite: How many people were there during the night, for example the 3am to 5am block?
Mark: It always seemed like there were at least a couple of dozen die-hard audience members, some of whom brought their toothbrushes and sleeping bags and stayed for the entire thing. The shift you mentioned was usually quite well attended, actually. It was the 5am-11am shifts that were the real "graveyard hours", but that's when we had some of the most fun.

RPGSite: Because you tell such a strong story, there are some that claim your improv shows must be scripted. How do you and the other actors respond to those claims?
Mark: We generally take it as a compliment, but seriously - how do you rehearse a 50 hour-long show with actors from two separate sides of the Atlantic? Waaaay easier to make it up as we go along.

Mark in action at the Improvathon

RPGSite: For how long were you out of it when you finally hit the hay?
Mark: I slept for about 12 hours on the Sunday night, though that was after we hit the pub for some self-congratulatory drinking, of course. I think I was awake for about 66 hours, all told.

RPGSite: The Improvathon was just one thing we spoke about the first time around; the other, of course, was Mass Effect 2. It has since been released and during its first week it sold two million copies. You must be pleased with its success.
Mark: To say the least - but as I mentioned in our first interview, I'm not too surprised. Everyone at Bioware's really outdone themselves with this one.

RPGSite: Have you had a chance to play it yourself? If so, which of your Commander Shepard’s did you carry over from the first game and how has s/he evolved?
Mark: I got my free copy a couple of weeks ago, but as I said, I'm in full-time rehearsal for a play right now, plus I'm doing ADR for a TV sketch show and writing/recording a radio sketch show for CBC. I really like to be able to do all-day marathon sessions when I play RPG's - it's less satisfying for me, personally, to play an in-depth RPG for just hour here or there  (that's what Left 4 Dead 2 is for). So I plan to plant myself in front of the XBox with ME2 as soon as I have some downtime.

RPGSite: When you were recording, were there any scenes, missions or characters that that you thought would stand out for you as a gamer?
Mark: We shall see when I play... Friends have already been sending me YouTube links, though. There's a scene where I encounter myself as the Volus pretending to be Fade that was fun to watch. The two sides of that conversation were recorded weeks apart, so it was nice to watch it all put together.

RPGSite: What do you think will be considered the single biggest improvement made on the original?
Mark: Again, I haven't played it yet myself, but I gather most people aren't going to miss the Mako... or the elevators.

RPGSite: Given the success of Mass Effect 2 – not only sales wise, but in terms of critical acclaim – do you think the pressure is on for the third in the series?
Mark: Well, to be frank, the pressure was on for the second, and everyone stepped up to the plate. But it's true - the bar's been raised even higher for the third one, to mix a metaphor.

Mark plays Shepard in the critically acclaimed Mass Effect Series

RPGSite: According to EA boss John Schappert, “something far-reaching coming from Mass Effect” will be arriving in 2011. One of many rumours is a full expansion for Mass Effect 2, so do you expect to be called back in the next couple of months?
Mark: I'm already doing some DLC, so I'm already back in. As for that announcement from EA? Hmm. Maybe Bioware discovered a cache of Prothean technology on Mars? Come 2011, it'll be biotics for everybody!

RPGSite: Another rumour is the possibility of a movie. Given the history of video game movies, is that something that you think could be done successfully or is it better left alone?
Mark: Most games don't take place in such a fully-realized universe, so I think that's something Mass Effect has going for it. I'm reading Mass Effect: Redemption from Dark Horse Comics right now, and there are already the novels, of course - I think a movie could be great. Maybe no Saturday morning cartoon, though. On the other hand...

RPGSite: If a movie did go ahead, who do you think would make a good male Commander Shepard and who would be your choice if they went for a female Shepard?
Mark: Well, I tend to recommend my old pal Nathan Fillion for this sort of thing - he'd do a great job, no question - he's got experience commanding a crew in space, and a past relationship with Bioware. Plus, he's a good egg.

His former Firefly/Serenity castmate Adam Baldwin would be a good choice, too. Since I'm on a roll with Joss Whedon alumni, I think Gina Torres would be very interesting for FemShep... though Katee Sackhoff would be at the top of the list, too. Hmm... I think the fan in me just wants to see all of those actors back on a spaceship.

Come to think of it, maybe Jennifer Hale should play the female Shepard - she's great in her stuff I've seen from the game. I'd put myself forward as male Shepard, but I think my body type (i.e. scrawny) would be better suited to a Salarian.

RPGSite: We can certainly expect Mass Effect games to continue beyond the main trilogy, so what type of game would you be most interested seeing taking place in that universe?
Mark: Lego Mass Effect would be all kinds of awesome.

RPGSite: I asked last time about whether you are good or evil when playing Mass Effect, but how about Dragon Age: Origins - what type of character did you create and were they to be trusted?
Mark: I've done one and a half playthroughs thus far - the first time I completed it was as a Human Mage. I was thoroughly wicked, and even became a Blood Mage, but I lied a lot, had high persuasion ability, was generally polite, and made sure not to act evil in front of good characters, so none of the NPCs left my party. My second time through, I'm trying a City Elf Rogue who's much less of a bastard.

More Improvathon Action

RPGSite: According to BioWare’s 2010 earnings report, we can expect ‘Dragon Age Title TBA’ sometime in 2011 as well. We can only assume that is going to be Dragon Age 2 as revealed by BioWare VP Greg Zeschuk, but have you heard anything more?
Mark: Please don't ask me that. BioWare has my family... 

RPGSite: Do you think a sequel to Dragon Age: Origins will be a standalone game or is the plan for you to carry over elements from the first one, as with the Mass Effect games?
Mark: See my last response.

RPGSite: You provided many Additional Voices for Dragon Age: Origins, but would you be interested in taking on a larger role in any future games in the franchise?
Mark: Definitely. As the owner of many a d20 and lead miniature, I enjoy the fantasy setting. I'm doing a fair bit of DLC for Dragon Age - more than I did for the main game, actually - mostly as antagonists, thus far. I did one of the male Elf PC voices in the main game, and I'm doing an NPC companion character for the DLC... but I can say no more at this point.

RPGSite: Another title that BioWare is currently working on is the much anticipated Star Wars MMO, The Old Republic. Were you a fan of the Knights of the Old Republic games that the MMO is a spiritual successor to?
Mark: Oh, yes. I really enjoyed KotOR, and did a fair bit of demo work for it during development.

RPGSite: Given your strong working relationship with BioWare, can we expect to bump into anyone that sounds like Mark Meer when we return to a galaxy far, far away?
Mark: Mass Effect and Dragon Age stuff is keeping me and the recording studios I work at pretty busy... but you never know.

RPGSite: The eight class options in the game are Bounty Hunter, Sith Warrior, Imperial Agent, and Sith Inquisitor for the Sith Empire; and the Trooper, Smuggler, Jedi Knight, and Jedi Consular for the Galactic Republic. Which would be the most fun to voice and which do you see yourself playing as when it is released?
Mark: I'd pick the Sith, everytime. Evil trumps even Lego for awesome.

RPGSite: It seems our time is almost up, but I have one last question. Last time you were here you mentioned having no particular attachment to Sonic the Hedgehog – does that mean you are a Mario guy?
Mark: That's-a-me, Mario!

RPGSite: Haha, and that is that. Thanks once again for your time, Mark. It’s been a lot of fun.