Video Exclusive: The “Mass Effect” Scene That Had E3 Buzzing

In July, several gaming outlets reported on a demo of BioWare and Microsoft’s epic sci-fi role-playing-game “Mass Effect” that left onlookers stunned.

It was an interactive story sequence featuring a major supporting character and the game’s hero. IGN wrote:

Wrex is a Krogan, a powerful race on the verge of extinction. A few hours after joining up with your party, Wrex and our hero, Commander Shepard, have a disagreement. The potential results of this conflict left everyone in the room stunned. If we ever had doubt about Mass Effect, it was wiped away at E3.

To illustrate a piece I just did for MTV about how BioWare gave such scenes their cinematic punch — which basically involves the Canadian studio’s clever decision to hire some of the world’s best machinima-makers — Microsoft is allowing me to be the first to air that scene.

Watched it once? Good. Now read on to sea how BioWare lead cinematic director Ken Thain explain his thinking behind the scene’s key shots.Notes on the Wrex scene from BioWare’s Ken Thain:In the first dialog with Captain Kirrahe we began building tension for the upcoming confrontation by having Wrex step into the conversation when the Krogans are mentioned. We brought the tension to a head with an extreme side-angle shot of Wrex facing off with Captain Kirrahe. The shot is unlike any other in the dialog; its composition really screams conflict.After Wrex storms off, we focused on the digital acting by holding a single shot while the squad discusses how to diffuse the situation. By switching the player’s focus to the relationship of the characters, we allow some of the tension to fade away so we can start ramping it up again with the next conversation. For the confrontation with Wrex, we wanted to slowly build the tension to the extreme over the duration of the conversation. Shepard initiates the dialog from a distance as Wrex is staring angrily into the distance. As the conversation heats up, the actors move closer, and low angle cameras visually represent the struggle for dominance. Just when the two can’t get any closer, they pull weapons on each other, sending the tension through the roof. The player is now dramatically engaged and has a tough choice to make. Wrex is a very strong and useful party member, but he has a shotgun in your face. What would you do?For more “Mass Effect,” check out our earlier coverage.