Mark Meer:“Expanding The End Of The Game Wouldn’t Be Unprecedent"

Mark Meer is a Canadian-based actor, writer and improviser. He is a proud member of the Rapid Fire Theatre group and founded the sketch comedy/improv group, Gordon's Big Bald Head. Mark is most known for voicing Commander Shepard in Bioware's "Mass Effect" series. With the franchise wrapping up, I got a chance to ask Mark a few questions and had him reflect on the series, including what the future holds for Commander Shepard.

GamerLive.TV: Did you play games growing up?

Mark Meer: I did, but I'm pretty old. I remember when World of Warcraft was just "Warcraft." I loved Myth, the original Fallout, and Diablo, too.

Do you you ever play any of the games you’ve voiced?

I do. I've done two full playthroughs of Mass Effect 1 and 2, for example. Just got my free copy of ME3, so I'm looking forward to having free time to sit down with that.

From my knowledge, this is the first "Bioware" series you have worked on. What's the story behind you getting cast as Commander Shepard?

I've actually worked on quite a few Bioware games, but Commander Shepard is my first starring role. I first auditioned for Bioware back in 1999, for a single line as an evil cleric in the final cutscene of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Anm. Bioware liked my work and called me back to play Cyric, the God of Murder in Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. Since then, I've voiced characters in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, Jade Empire, Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age: Awakenings, and Dragon Age II - plus the Mass Effect trilogy, of course. Besides the male Commander Shepard, I play several other characters in the series, including random aliens, the Biotic God Niftu Cal, Prazza, all of the Vorcha, and all of the Hanar (including Blasto).

What is it like to voice one of the most recognizable characters of this generation?

It's an honor - one I share with the talented Ms. Jennifer Hale, of course. Getting cast alongside one of the top voice actors in North America was a real thrill. I was a fan of her voice work in other games and cartoons like Justice League Unlimited even before we worked together. I'm a geek myself, so having my own action figure and seeing people at conventions dressed up like Commander Shepard is a dream come true.

What are your thoughts on how the “Mass Effect” franchise has evolved over the years?

It's been interesting to see the leaps forward in technology - even in the recording process. When we recorded the first Mass Effect, we were still working with paper scripts. Since then, we've saved a lot of trees by moving to a system called VADA, where the actor's lines are displayed on a screen in the booth, and the other characters' dialogue plays in real time in your headset during recording.

What's a favorite memory from working on the franchise? Do you have a favorite dialogue line?

I think my favorite memory is getting to meet Martin Sheen during his recording session in Los Angeles. My favorite line of dialogue is Shepard's catchphrase, "I should go." I must have said that hundreds of times over the course of recording the games.

Do you ever run into fellow Mass Effect voice actors?

As I mentioned, I got to meet Martin Sheen recently, he's great and kept us all entertained during his session. I've also had the pleasure of meeting Lance Henriksen, I've been a big fan of his for many years. I had spoken to Jennifer Hale on the phone before, but we met face-to-face for the first time at EXPCon last October. Since then, we've met up a few times in Los Angeles. I know most of the Canadian members of the cast personally - April Banigan (who plays Khalisa Al Jilani) and Jeff Page (who plays Conrad Verner) are both good friends of mine. My wife, Belinda Cornish, is also in the game. She plays Rana Thanoptis and is the very first voice you hear in the original Mass Effect, the Alliance Computer. I tend to run into her a lot.

Recently "Mass Effect 3" has been in the news because of its controversial ending. Longtime fans of the franchise are asking "Bioware" to remake the ending and provide a satisfying resolution to the series. What's your take on the subject and would you be open in returning to the role?

Bioware has said recently that they are considering all fan feedback, positive and negative. I don't actually know anything about their actual plans (and I couldn't say anything if I did), but I do know that there will be upcoming DLC. Changing or expanding the end of the game wouldn't be unprecedented. The gaming community saw it a few years ago with Fallout 3 from Bethesda and the Broken Steel DLC. I really enjoyed Fallout 3, and didn't really have a problem with its ending, but was thrilled to get the Broken Steel disc. Obviously, if Bioware wants to record more dialogue, I'd be there. I'm definitely scheduled to record more dialogue for DLC, but at this stage, I don't know what that will entail.

Currently we are seeing games such as "L.A Noire" and "Uncharted," using facial capturing software. Do you see a future in this system?

Those games were pretty successful, so I think we'll see more of that in the future.

What do you think of the hot button topics this franchise has pushed such as same-sex relationships?

I think Bioware wanted to be as inclusive as possible, and that included offering romance options to all gamers, regardless of their sexual preference. I'm not sure it should even be an issue - obviously, no one is forcing players to pursue those options if they don't want to.

If you were Commander Shepard, which side would you pick, Paragon or Renegade?

On my Mass Effect playthroughs, I tend to do Renegade first. Then when I do my Paragon playthrough, I feel like I'm redeeming myself for being such a jerk to everybody the first time through.

Writer for GamerLive.TV

Article at the link below

http://www.gamerlive.tv/article/mark-meer-changing-or-expanding-end-game-wouldnt-be-unprecedented

Follow me on Twitter to read my latest articles !

https://twitter.com/#!/LightForceJedi

21 Comments
22 Comments
Posted by LightForceJedi

Mark Meer is a Canadian-based actor, writer and improviser. He is a proud member of the Rapid Fire Theatre group and founded the sketch comedy/improv group, Gordon's Big Bald Head. Mark is most known for voicing Commander Shepard in Bioware's "Mass Effect" series. With the franchise wrapping up, I got a chance to ask Mark a few questions and had him reflect on the series, including what the future holds for Commander Shepard.

GamerLive.TV: Did you play games growing up?

Mark Meer: I did, but I'm pretty old. I remember when World of Warcraft was just "Warcraft." I loved Myth, the original Fallout, and Diablo, too.

Do you you ever play any of the games you’ve voiced?

I do. I've done two full playthroughs of Mass Effect 1 and 2, for example. Just got my free copy of ME3, so I'm looking forward to having free time to sit down with that.

From my knowledge, this is the first "Bioware" series you have worked on. What's the story behind you getting cast as Commander Shepard?

I've actually worked on quite a few Bioware games, but Commander Shepard is my first starring role. I first auditioned for Bioware back in 1999, for a single line as an evil cleric in the final cutscene of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Anm. Bioware liked my work and called me back to play Cyric, the God of Murder in Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. Since then, I've voiced characters in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, Jade Empire, Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age: Awakenings, and Dragon Age II - plus the Mass Effect trilogy, of course. Besides the male Commander Shepard, I play several other characters in the series, including random aliens, the Biotic God Niftu Cal, Prazza, all of the Vorcha, and all of the Hanar (including Blasto).

What is it like to voice one of the most recognizable characters of this generation?

It's an honor - one I share with the talented Ms. Jennifer Hale, of course. Getting cast alongside one of the top voice actors in North America was a real thrill. I was a fan of her voice work in other games and cartoons like Justice League Unlimited even before we worked together. I'm a geek myself, so having my own action figure and seeing people at conventions dressed up like Commander Shepard is a dream come true.

What are your thoughts on how the “Mass Effect” franchise has evolved over the years?

It's been interesting to see the leaps forward in technology - even in the recording process. When we recorded the first Mass Effect, we were still working with paper scripts. Since then, we've saved a lot of trees by moving to a system called VADA, where the actor's lines are displayed on a screen in the booth, and the other characters' dialogue plays in real time in your headset during recording.

What's a favorite memory from working on the franchise? Do you have a favorite dialogue line?

I think my favorite memory is getting to meet Martin Sheen during his recording session in Los Angeles. My favorite line of dialogue is Shepard's catchphrase, "I should go." I must have said that hundreds of times over the course of recording the games.

Do you ever run into fellow Mass Effect voice actors?

As I mentioned, I got to meet Martin Sheen recently, he's great and kept us all entertained during his session. I've also had the pleasure of meeting Lance Henriksen, I've been a big fan of his for many years. I had spoken to Jennifer Hale on the phone before, but we met face-to-face for the first time at EXPCon last October. Since then, we've met up a few times in Los Angeles. I know most of the Canadian members of the cast personally - April Banigan (who plays Khalisa Al Jilani) and Jeff Page (who plays Conrad Verner) are both good friends of mine. My wife, Belinda Cornish, is also in the game. She plays Rana Thanoptis and is the very first voice you hear in the original Mass Effect, the Alliance Computer. I tend to run into her a lot.

Recently "Mass Effect 3" has been in the news because of its controversial ending. Longtime fans of the franchise are asking "Bioware" to remake the ending and provide a satisfying resolution to the series. What's your take on the subject and would you be open in returning to the role?

Bioware has said recently that they are considering all fan feedback, positive and negative. I don't actually know anything about their actual plans (and I couldn't say anything if I did), but I do know that there will be upcoming DLC. Changing or expanding the end of the game wouldn't be unprecedented. The gaming community saw it a few years ago with Fallout 3 from Bethesda and the Broken Steel DLC. I really enjoyed Fallout 3, and didn't really have a problem with its ending, but was thrilled to get the Broken Steel disc. Obviously, if Bioware wants to record more dialogue, I'd be there. I'm definitely scheduled to record more dialogue for DLC, but at this stage, I don't know what that will entail.

Currently we are seeing games such as "L.A Noire" and "Uncharted," using facial capturing software. Do you see a future in this system?

Those games were pretty successful, so I think we'll see more of that in the future.

What do you think of the hot button topics this franchise has pushed such as same-sex relationships?

I think Bioware wanted to be as inclusive as possible, and that included offering romance options to all gamers, regardless of their sexual preference. I'm not sure it should even be an issue - obviously, no one is forcing players to pursue those options if they don't want to.

If you were Commander Shepard, which side would you pick, Paragon or Renegade?

On my Mass Effect playthroughs, I tend to do Renegade first. Then when I do my Paragon playthrough, I feel like I'm redeeming myself for being such a jerk to everybody the first time through.

Writer for GamerLive.TV

Article at the link below

http://www.gamerlive.tv/article/mark-meer-changing-or-expanding-end-game-wouldnt-be-unprecedented

Follow me on Twitter to read my latest articles !

https://twitter.com/#!/LightForceJedi

Posted by CL60
Posted by Irvandus

You Journalistized the hell out of your forum title.

Posted by falcos_abortive_rainbow

Wow, the dude played the Hanaar. +1000 respect.(Although, I already respected him for stepping up his Shepard in 3.)

Posted by LightForceJedi

@falcos_abortive_rainbow said:

Wow, the dude played the Hanaar. +1000 respect.(Although, I already respected him for stepping up his Shepard in 3.)

" I should go"

Posted by CL60

@falcos_abortive_rainbow said:

Wow, the dude played the Hanaar. +1000 respect.(Although, I already respected him for stepping up his Shepard in 3.)

He also played that volus adept in ME2.

Edited by MooseyMcMan

Knowing that Mr. Meer was the Vorcha and other alien voices raises my respect for him considerable. And this is from someone who always plays male Shepard. He should do more ridiculous/silly voice acting like that.

Also, I'm impressed that he thought of Fallout 3. It's true, this has been done before (though I would argue that Fallout 3's original ending is better than ME3's, but I don't want to get into an argument with anyone or anything).

Moderator
Posted by rjayb89

Mark Meer reminds me of John Stamos, but sexier.

Posted by Yummylee

@CL60 said:

@falcos_abortive_rainbow said:

Wow, the dude played the Hanaar. +1000 respect.(Although, I already respected him for stepping up his Shepard in 3.)

He also played that volus adept in ME2.

Plus he could also potentially be the voice of The Warden for Dragon Age too if you select the ''violent'' voice for male human/elf. Oh, and he voiced all of the Disciples (talking darkspawn) in Awakening. x) Guy definitely gets around a lot more than most people except in the BioWare-Verse.

Edited by CL60

@Abyssfull said:

@CL60 said:

@falcos_abortive_rainbow said:

Wow, the dude played the Hanaar. +1000 respect.(Although, I already respected him for stepping up his Shepard in 3.)

He also played that volus adept in ME2.

Plus he could also potentially be the voice of The Warden for Dragon Age too if you select the ''violent'' voice for male human/elf. Oh, and he voiced all of the Disciples (talking darkspawn) in Awakening. x) Guy definitely gets around a lot more than most people except in the BioWare-Verse.

It's why I always laugh when people say Mark Meer is a bad voice actor. He's terrible, but he's playing all of these characters in Bioware games and the majority of people don't even know. Same with people who think Nolan North only has 1 voice.

Posted by Brodehouse

A dude came into my work a couple years ago, and heard the Bombcast guys talking about Mass Effect 2. And he said he had a friend in out west who voices some character, Shepard or something. And I asked if his friend was Mark Meer and he said yeah.

The dude was also super sketchy, so now I just have these weird ideas of Commander Shepard hanging around with Weird Sketchy Guy.

Posted by RollingZeppelin

Shouldn't this be in the ME3 forums?

Posted by LightForceJedi

I don't mean to be "that person"

but, follow for follow?

Posted by scnj

I'm disappointed that they didn't think to ask if he plays Male or FemShep.

Posted by clumsyninja1

No told me David Tenannt had a twin brother...still love his voice

Posted by N7

Dude played Blasto and Niftu Cal? Holy fuck. Holy fuck.
 
Next you'll be telling me he played Marauder Shields.

Posted by LightForceJedi
@scnj

I'm disappointed that they didn't think to ask if he plays Male or FemShep.

Did the interview over email, didn't Skype it this time. Would have been a funny question
Posted by Skald

He seems like a cool, knowledgable guy. I had no idea he voiced so many characters.

Posted by Dany

Cool to see the knows this stuff more than Hale, I enjoy his performance, he is a better renegade than paragon but Hale still is my favorite.

Edited by TheHT

@Abyssfull said:

@CL60 said:

@falcos_abortive_rainbow said:

Wow, the dude played the Hanaar. +1000 respect.(Although, I already respected him for stepping up his Shepard in 3.)

He also played that volus adept in ME2.

Plus he could also potentially be the voice of The Warden for Dragon Age too if you select the ''violent'' voice for male human/elf. Oh, and he voiced all of the Disciples (talking darkspawn) in Awakening. x) Guy definitely gets around a lot more than most people except in the BioWare-Verse.

Holy crap. My Shepard is my Warden too? Would you like a ladder, to get off of my favourite spot on the Citadel.

Sounds like a down-to-Earth duder.

Edit: also, Portal had its ending expanded, like 3 years after it came out, which was awesome.

Posted by Tim_the_Corsair

Nice piece, much more professional in tone and presentation.

Should have done your research on his other work before asking that question though lol

Posted by LightForceJedi

@Tim_the_Corsair said:

Nice piece, much more professional in tone and presentation. Should have done your research on his other work before asking that question though lol

to be far, I think most see Mark Meer as Commander Shepard, but only as Commander Shepard. Sometimes walking into a interview naked is the best way to deliver or get info to your audience.