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Artist of the month Andrew Rian
We're proud to announce a brand new concept, in collaboration with MassEffectSaga : the "Artist of the month". Twice a month, we'll meet some artist of our community who are known over the web for their beautiful fanart on Bioware's sagas.
The first of them is Andrew Ryan, creator of the famous "Concepts Reapers", "Dragon Effect" and more recently "Mass Age". Don't hesitate to go and see all his work on DeviantArt (https://andrewryanart.deviantart.com/) or his official website (www.andrewryanillustration.com).
What is your experience with the Mass Effect saga?
I first got into the series when ME1 was released in 2007, I'd heard about the choice system in the game and was excited to finally have something that felt more interactive than games I'd played in the past. I also credit the game with really turning me over to science fiction, before that I was mainly a fantasy guy.
What kind of Shepard did you play? Do you have a main Shepard?
My main Shepard was a paragon adept that I carried over from game to game.
I think I can safely say that your favourite romance is the Kaidan and Male Shepard one.
Can you tell us a bit more about your feelings towards this romance?
It's no secret that I'm a huge dork for them and I'll do my best not to gush endlessly about their romance in these responses. Anyway, I'd played Dragon Age games before which featured same sex characters but there was something about the dynamic between these two that made them seem perfect for one another and the fact that they took a chance on a relationship despite knowing that the galaxy was about to be destroyed made for an incredibly moving story that impacted me in a really big way.
How did you feel about Kaidan finally becoming bisexual in Mass Effect 3? (he was originally planned to be bisexual in ME1 but the developers scratched the homosexual romance shortly before the game's release)
It's actually never been confirmed that he was supposed to be bisexual in ME1 but even if he hadn't been from the start it doesn't bother me. The fact is a character like Kaidan is defined by his reserved personality, he's quiet, keeps to himself and doesn't let many people get close so it made perfect sense to me that he'd hold off on heating things up between himself and Shepard (his commanding officer). Waiting until the third game actually feels more natural because by then they've become a lot closer so the military protocol thing wouldn't really be as much of an issue. I would have liked a little more diversion in his dialogue depending on whether you're playing femshep or maleshep but I can see why Bioware didn't do this to save time/money.
Do you have a favourite character or race?
My favorite character aside from the obvious choice of Kaidan would be Jack, I'm a big fan of her look from a design point of view and I really admire how much of a badass she can be. My favorite race in Mass Effect would probably be the Elcor, I was really hoping we'd get to see their home world in ME3 so we could learn more about their culture.
Is there a moment in the saga that you deemed unforgettable?
Again I'd have to bring up Shepard and Kaidan, the evac scene from the extended cut was easily the most emotional moment I've ever had while playing a video game. Growing up as a gay kid I never really had characters I could relate to on a personal level so finally getting the chance to see these two awesome guys say the words "I love you" had a powerful effect on me and I'll never forget how I felt in that moment. Not to mention that scene is just incredibly sad because it's possibly the final time they get to see one another if Shepard chooses control or synthesis, resulting in his death.
Now that we've talked about Mass Effect, let's talk about another big license of Bioware: Dragon Age. What has been your experience with this saga?
My main warden was an elven circle mage, I never really connected with the character though, probably because his default face never really looked right and I prefer my characters to have a voice actor (usually). I had a main Hawk in Dragon Age 2 that I was really proud of, he was also a mage (I'm a big magic person) and I like playing mages in the dragon age games because so much of the lore for that world revolves around the difficult moral choices involved with being connected to the fade and possible possession.
Which is the best romance in DAO and DAII, according to you?
I wouldn't say I have a favorite romance from Origins as the only character I ever romanced was Zevran and I was never particularly fond of him. My only alternative options were bisexual females and I just don't get as much enjoyment out of the heterosexual partnerships. It's not that I don't enjoy stories with straight relationships but in a game that revolves around player choice I feel awkward choosing to enter into a relationship with a woman when I'm not required to.
In Dragon Age 2 I first romanced Anders but couldn't forgive him when he blew up the chantry so on my second play through I gave Fenris a shot. I found the romance with him to be a lot more rewarding and once I got past his emo haircut I started to like him a lot more as a character.
Who is your favourite character and what is your favourite race?
My favorite character would probably be Hawk, since each gamer basically shapes Hawk into their own version I chose the middle response for most instances (the humor/comedy response) and a lot of his dialogue was pretty hilarious so by the end of the game I'd really enjoyed my experience. As for the companions I never really bonded with the crew like I did in Mass Effect but I'm still a big fan with some of my favorites being Aveline and Shale. My favorite race isn't really a race but rather just anyone who happens to be a mage.
What particularly caught your attention in the saga?
I was referred to Dragon Age shortly after having played Mass Effect 2 by a friend, I figured I should give it a chance given that it was done by Bioware and I'm glad I did because it's easily one of my favorite gaming series. I'm just really a huge fan of these choice based games and I love that each player has their own personalized saga.
Let's talk about your beautiful fanarts now. Can you tell us a bit more about your creations, like your concepts of reaped races and Dragon Effect, in which Mass Effect characters were shown in the heroic fantasy universe of Dragon Age ?
Honestly the main reason I started doing fan art was because I was really upset with the way Mass Effect 3 concluded, I felt let down and didn't feel any of the closure I was hoping to experience from the ending so I started doing tribute art to try and release some of the pent up emotion I was feeling at the time. As I simmered down I turned to more creative projects like the reaper concepts and Dragon effect just to have some fun creative expression, as well as improve my painting skills. I find that I'm a lot more motivated to finish something when it's a project I really care about which is why I love doing fan art so much.
You are currently working on Mass Age, which this time, Dragon Age characters will be redesigned in the futuristic universe of Mass Effect. We were already lucky to see Zevran, Fenris and Merrill, what character are you planning to do next?
Isabella and Aveline are in the works currently.
Do you think you'll draw all the companions of the Grey Warden and Hawke, or will there be missing people like in Dragon Effect - such as Ash and Jacob?
Unlike Mass Effect there are no characters in Dragon Age that I truly despise so I plan to do as many of the main crew as I can, though I wont be doing characters from the downloadable content. (Awakening for instance).
Finally, who will be the main character of Mass Age: will it be the Grey Warden or Hawke? Will it be both?
I'm still not sure who the main character will be since I played with a custom Hawke and Warden and other people wont identify with him, I might not actually have one like I did with Dragon effect or it could be someone unexpected like Flemeth :)
This interview is almost over, do you have anything else to add?
The only other thing I want to add is how appreciative I am of the comments people leave on my work. Whether it be a compliment or constructive criticism I really appreciate it and love discussing Bioware games with other fans.
Thanks a lot for being with us!
More fanarts on https://dragoneffectsaga.deviantart.com