Much has been written about Mass Effect (you can read our umpteenth excitedpreviewhere). The reason? BioWare’s epic intergalactic story flagged itself up as one of the cornerstones of the 360 from the moment it was announced. Stunningly ambitious, brain-meltingly large, and market-leading in voice acting and production, it took what the Canadian development team did with Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire and pushed the model on - hard.
Frustratingly, though, while shots have steadily trickled out, actual code has been non-existent, while details beyond the basic set-up and structure have been equally shrouded in mystery. Until now. We tracked members of the development team down to their Edmonton hidey-hole and cornered them. We wanted to know everything - how the game ticks, how big it will be, what will blow us out of the water. And they obliged. In fact, they obliged so much that we’ve handed the reigns over to them:
“The original concept for Mass Effect was to build an adventure of tremendous scope, with locations and story elements of the largest possible proportions. We wanted an epic story based on the most horrific threat imaginable - to all life as we know it. The idea was to put players at the center of that story by creating an immersive RPG experience where they faced morally demanding decisions to save the galaxy. And it’s been challenging. It’s been a fine line that we’ve walked, every day of development. We’re trying to give players something special - something definitive - and at the same time we must be extremely careful to take on challenges that can not only be achieved, but achieved with the quality that players expect of a BioWare game.
“Despite the pitfalls, though, our goal has always been to create a believable sense that there is an actual galaxy out there beyond the core story locations - which is why there will be hundreds of places to visit. As in real life, not all stars have planets, and not all planets are ones that you can land on. But there is some interactivity in each location and a large number of planets that you can land on and explore - each of them with cool things to discover and interesting subplots that may span several star systems.