by Joseph Leray
BioWare took to PAX East over the weekend to host a celebratory panel on "Mass Effect," the culmination of a sprawling space-opera that first started six years ago. Much of the proceedings were devoted to a retrospective video (embedded below) that features the writers, designers, programmers, artists, and voice actors that made the game possible.
Panels like these are often great sneak peeks into a game's development, full of funny stories and what-if scenarios. One such tidbit is that everyone's favorite engineer, Tali'Zorah vas Normandy (née nar Rayya), almost didn't make the cut as a "Mass Effect 3" squad mate. "We talked about not putting Tali in as a full squadmate and passionate people on the team were like 'oh, you gotta put Tali in. Tali's got to be there!'" explained executive producer Casey Hudson. "So thank Patrick Weekes and some of our writers for that. We figured if he was passionate about it then there were other people passionate about it, so we put her in there."
I guess I'd count myself as one of those "other people" -- Tali was one of my favorites and if there's any argument for playing Shepard as a male, it might be that Tali isn't romance-able by FemShep (who is otherwise superior in every way). If "Mass Effect" were a Stephanie Meyer novel, I'd happily be the captain of Team Tali.
I've written briefly before on how much I love videogame stats, so I'm pretty delighted that BioWare released a huge infographic that explains, for example, that 3.8% of all players shot Mordin in the back. What kind of monster would shoot the scientist Salarian? (He's studied species turian, asari, and batarian.) Another 8% of players refused to cure the genophage, and a whopping 64% let Wrex die on Virmire in "Mass Effect 1." Eighty-two percent of people played as a male, with another 43.7% picking the soldier class, even though female Vanguard is the objectively superior experience.
I don't mean to be the bearer of bad news, but it's weird that so many fans played "Mass Effect" wrong.
I'm kidding, mostly, but it speaks to the strength of the franchise and structure that so many different options are available for players to customize relationship to the worlds and characters "Mass Effect."
In any case, a bit of news before I get carried away on my soap box: Casey Hudson will serve as the executive producer of the next "Mass Effect" game, being developed by BioWare Montreal, but he and the other leads from "Mass Effect 1," "2," and "3" are primarily working on a new game. "We are developing a whole new fictional universe at BioWare ... That's kind of our next thing," Husdon said. "We're focusing on building something new the way we did at the very beginning on Mass Effect."
There aren't any details on the new project from BioWare Montreal, Hudson's description of the next "Mass Effect" title echoes previous sentiments expressed by the team: "We want to be able to give fans an opportunity to get back into the world with these things you've come to know and love about the Mass Effect experience but start something fresh and new—a new way for you to explore the whole universe in Mass Effect." In other words, Shepard's trilogy is finished, which is why "Mass Effect 4" is a misnomer for the next game.