Commander Shepard’s story in Mass Effect could have seen our stalwart hero disguised as an alien….who just didn’t know it yet……I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
That’s the reality that we might have had to deal with in the Mass Effect series, that and many other possible futures were left on the cutting room floor so says former Bioware writer Drew Karypshyn.
He joined the show this week to discuss his tireless work on the creation of the Mass Effect series. Last week it was all about KOTOR and his roots, today it’s all about Mass Effect, the endings, the controversy and what the series means to him.
Here are some highlights from our show this week: Show starts at 21:03
What is the Mass Effect series to you?
Mass Effect is very special to me because I was so closely involved with creating it, I was part of the original team that came up with the themes and outlines of what this universe was going to be- we helped map out how everything was going to fit together. I was there for almost the entirety of the first two games, I left near the end of the second game to work on SWTOR. I was not involved in Mass effect 3, so I don’t want to talk to much about it.
For the first two Mass Effect games, we created an amazing universe- then just kept building on it and building on it. I was always amazed at how much depth the game took on, we knew we had some fantastic ideas, but even we didn’t realize how big it was going to become or how much detail we were going to add to it. There were things in there that surprised even me.
Like Cerberus…from the first game, we really didn’t think Cerberus was that important. They were sort of a generic pro human terrorist group that we could call on when we needed a bad guy, but there was something there that resonated with fans so we expanded their role and obviously they became integral to the story.
For me Mass Effect is something I am very proud of helping to create, and also really excited about how it’s grown. The same goes for Commander Shepard’s story initially it was a pretty simple story…just the cop in space, fish out of water, trying to find his way. It’s a pretty common idea but once it developed into something more I think we took it into a lot interesting directions and it allowed players to explore a lot of deeper issues; of good evil, do the ends justify the means, segregation versus integration.
Looking at the forums, it also fun to see peoples comments and reactions to our hard-work.
What are some of the original design ideas that were left on the cutting room floor?
Some of the ideas are a little bit wacky and crazy. At one point we thought that maybe Shepard could be an alien but didn’t know it! But we then thought that might be a little too close to Revan. There was some ideas, that maybe Shepard’s soul get’s transfer into a machine, becoming a cyborg and becoming a bridge between synthetics and organics- which is a theme that does play up in the game.
At one point we thought, maybe that’s how he survives into Mass Effect 2. He or She- I don’t want to disrespect the femsheps out there, they’re a passionate group.
The ideas that do get left behind are usually very vague and not really fleshed out.
Set the record straight on the Dark Energy Ending idea first suggested in Mass Effect 2?
That was something, that wasn’t super flushed out, just sort of an idea. We had considered that maybe, Dark Energy was something that only organics could access because of various techno-science magic reasons we hadn’t decided on yet. Maybe using this Dark Energy was having a ripple affect in the space time continuum.
Maybe the Reapers kept wiping out organic life because, organics keep evolving to the state where they would use biotics and dark energy and that causing an entropic effect that will hasten the end of the universe. Being immortal beings, that’s something they wouldn’t want to see!
Then we thought, let’s take it to the next level! Maybe there’s an inevitable descent into the opposite of the Big Bang (the Big Crunch) and the Reapers realize that the only way they can stop it is by using biotics, but since they can’t use biotics they have to keep rebuilding society- as they try and find the perfect group to use biotics for this purpose….The Asari were close but they weren’t quite right, the Prothens were close as well.
Again it’s very vague and not flushed it, it was something we considered but we ended up going in a different direction.
I find it funny that fans end up hearing a couple things they like about it and in there minds they add in all the details they specifically want. Vaporware is always perfect, anytime someone talks about the new greatest game….it’s perfect until it comes out…and I think that’s because people are hopeful.
Retakers started to almost hold your sigil into battle against Bioware after hearing some concepts of this idea- fearing that, Bioware just through out your work!
Well that’s not the case at all…That would have been soul crushing if we did all that work and it was thrown away.
I always look at it (Retake movement) as sort of a strange compliment, that’s a great example of saying they’re using me as a symbol of what they want- but on the other hand, I kind of look at it as…Retakers are saying they like what I did, I may not necessarily agree with all of them- but it’s part of the internet? You can’t get mad at that, or you’ll never go online.
I think of it as, someone likes my work enough to see me as a representative of something they stand for. Plus in my column.