VideoGamer.com: Have you decided how the game will acknowledge players who reached the level cap in Mass Effect 1?
AC: I asked my lead designer before I left, I was like, I want to make sure I know exactly what… because I was like, ah I'm going to get ambushed! I'm an artist, right, so I was like, I'm going to get a whole bunch of designer/writer questions [laughs]. She said, if you max out at 60, which is the highest level, you will have, paraphrasing my lead game system designer, Christina Norman, you will have a distinct advantage over those who don't import their characters, or if you start afresh. She described this mapping process. Me as an artist didn't understand. I said, well, is it going to have an impact? She said, yes. It'll have a big impact on hardcore players. They'll notice the advantage we give them. Which is, of course, great. It's a good service. It's not a disservice. We want to reward those who played the first game, who went through 60 hours, 80 hours to level up their character. They're going to notice there's a little bonus for them.
VideoGamer.com: But you can't tell me what it is?
AC: No [laughs]. You've got tons of hardcore questions!
VideoGamer.com: I noticed the loyalty system relates to your relationship with your party members. Does that work similarly to the way the relationship system worked in Dragon Age: Origins?
AC: I didn't play Dragon Age! I've been so busy working on Mass Effect! From my understanding it's very similar. Loyalty plays a big role with your squad mates. You'll go on side quests and if you gain their loyalty, it will have an impact on the game, it will dramatically change how the endgame plays out. It's worth it to make them loyal. It's also worth it to not make them loyal, to see what happens.
VideoGamer.com: Casey Hudson told me you'll come back to the Normandy after a mission and have to break up fights…
AC: It's really cool. The neat thing is also, if they gain your trust they'll do favours for you. You might get items. It also opens up… actually, I don't know for sure! I won't say it.
VideoGamer.com: Can you talk about how on planet driving will be improved?
AC: I can't say. All I can say is, one of my first tasks on Mass Effect 2 was to prototype the new handling for the vehicle. We haven't released how you're going to travel exactly with specifics, but there's stuff in there.
VideoGamer.com: The personal assistant…
AC: She's cute!
AC: From a functional point of view, she offers really another mechanism in the game to get the player involved to know what to do. We wanted to make sure the players understood all of the different things that they could do. She's just one element of getting people into the game. If they have questions like, which floor do I go to, to get to the armoury, or what is the engine room and why do I have to go there for whatever reason?
VideoGamer.com: Is she a romance option, or is it limited to squad members?
AC: I'm going to leave that as a pleasant surprise for players.