Mass Effect 3's Lead Writer Reveals Location Detail and Writing "Hurdles"

Mass Effect 3's Lead Writer Reveals Location Detail and Writing "Hurdles"

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BioWare's Mac Walters has described how he's "happy" to be able to tell new stories in familiar places. (WARNING! Minor location spoilers below. Retreat now if you're hiding from details.)

I'm still pleased that the Citadel made it from Mass Effect through to Mass Effect 2 with all of its bewildering staircases and fish-based charm intact. While it'd be pointless to speculate about its condition in the trilogy's final chapter, one thing is now certain: it will be there, and it'll be home to stories carried over all the way from the first game.

"There was a Mass Effect 2 plot that was a kind of callback to the first Mass Effect that was going to be on the Citadel, and we cut it," said Mac Walters, the lead writer behind Mass Effect 3, to OXM UK. "But now it's made a resurrection in Mass Effect 3, so I'm happy, but I can't say what it is. That's the nice thing about trilogies, sometimes you get a second chance."

Walters also talked about some of the technical problems associated with writing such an open-ended story. Speaking about writing themselves into corners, he said that, "Sometimes [the open ends are] hurdles that we've given ourselves, so we kind of smack ourselves in the head and say 'What the hell were we thinking? Why did we do that?'"

"The classic example is 'Hey, let's make the ending of Mass Effect 2 a suicide mission where all your henchmen can possibly die, and Shepard can even die!' Oh right... and then we're gonna do another game after that. What the hell are we gonna do with all those guys?" he continued.

I've been trying to think of what or who Walters could mean when he refers to a plot point from the first iteration of the Citadel reappearing in Act 3. Has that "panhandling" Hanar found his way? Is the Asari Consort going to explain her pet prophecy for Shepard? Suffice to say, I'm glad it's someone else's job to decide these things and circumvent the "hurdles" Walters mentioned.

Mass Effect 3 will be released on 6 March 2012.

Source: OXM UK

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Glad the original Citadel is coming back. Now the Council will be able to ignore my warnings in person!

Am I the only one who thought they might have got the Consort pregnant?

DVS BSTrD:
Glad the original Citadel is coming back.
Am I the only one who thought they might have got the Consort pregnant?

Shepard is the biggest threat to the Reapers.

The solution?

Get everyone pregnant and raise an army of mini Shepards.

Well, unless you're FemShep.

Sorry FemShep, your universe it doomed.

I SO wanted to finger-quote the Turian councilman.

Daystar Clarion:

DVS BSTrD:
Glad the original Citadel is coming back.
Am I the only one who thought they might have got the Consort pregnant?

Shepard is the biggest threat to the Reapers.

The solution?

Get everyone pregnant and raise an army of mini Shepards.

Well, unless you're FemShep.

Sorry FemShep, your universe it doomed.

I've been joking with my friends about the worse way they could determine victory against the Reapers in ME3. My best one so far was that it was dependent on what you did with the side quest involving the marine's corpse. This is my new favorite worst guess.

You know, generally when you plan for these games to be a trilogy from the start (they said as much when ME1 was released, that it's meant to be a trilogy), you'd think you would have these kinds of things planned out in advance. So you wouldn't have to deal with these issues.

j0frenzy:
I've been joking with my friends about the worse way they could determine victory against the Reapers in ME3. My best one so far was that it was dependent on what you did with the side quest involving the marine's corpse. This is my new favorite worst guess.

That would actually be a really interesting side quest to continue, seeing the affects of your decision. It was one of those times where I felt like the renegade option was the right way to go.

What about scanning the Keepers? That also had direct association with the Reapers.

Irridium:
You know, generally when you plan for these games to be a trilogy from the start (they said as much when ME1 was released, that it's meant to be a trilogy), you'd think you would have these kinds of things planned out in advance. So you wouldn't have to deal with these issues.

Not really, in fact it's kinda ridiculous to think they have every quest and side quest planned for an entire trilogy of games ahead of time.

the spud:

j0frenzy:
I've been joking with my friends about the worse way they could determine victory against the Reapers in ME3. My best one so far was that it was dependent on what you did with the side quest involving the marine's corpse. This is my new favorite worst guess.

That would actually be a really interesting side quest to continue, seeing the affects of your decision. It was one of those times where I felt like the renegade option was the right way to go.

Wasn't there technically a paragon and renegade option for each result? I recall having a game where I couldn't solve it for a long time because I didn't have the points in charm or intimidate. I believe that you charm or intimidate your way to either result.
I do actually expect that quest to come up at least a little, along with scanning the keepers. Who knows, maybe if you didn't deal with the AI, it sides with the Reapers and brings down the Citadel.

Daystar Clarion:

DVS BSTrD:
Glad the original Citadel is coming back.
Am I the only one who thought they might have got the Consort pregnant?

Shepard is the biggest threat to the Reapers.

The solution?

Get everyone pregnant and raise an army of mini Shepards.

Well, unless you're FemShep.

Sorry FemShep, your universe it doomed.

There IS one option: Get to Thessia as quickly as possible and pick-up some slutty dresses on the way.

the spud:

j0frenzy:
I've been joking with my friends about the worse way they could determine victory against the Reapers in ME3. My best one so far was that it was dependent on what you did with the side quest involving the marine's corpse. This is my new favorite worst guess.

That would actually be a really interesting side quest to continue, seeing the affects of your decision. It was one of those times where I felt like the renegade option was the right way to go.

The deciding factor for me was the fact that I obviously wasn't going to be seeing the results of that research before the game was over. Besides my M-98 Widow decommissions those toasters just fine.

Irridium:
You know, generally when you plan for these games to be a trilogy from the start (they said as much when ME1 was released, that it's meant to be a trilogy), you'd think you would have these kinds of things planned out in advance. So you wouldn't have to deal with these issues.

If they actually had the bulk of the ideas of the trilogy, they would have planned out bigger things earlier. Like building up the Illusive Man before he appeared in the second game. Or try to characterize Cerberus as anything less than truly evil before you join them.

animehermit:

Irridium:
You know, generally when you plan for these games to be a trilogy from the start (they said as much when ME1 was released, that it's meant to be a trilogy), you'd think you would have these kinds of things planned out in advance. So you wouldn't have to deal with these issues.

Not really, in fact it's kinda ridiculous to think they have every quest and side quest planned for an entire trilogy of games ahead of time.

Ridiculous for them to plan out every side-quest? Yeah, probably.

Ridiculous for them to plan out the main story and characters? No. In fact, it's ridiculous to not plan out such a huge thing. Because when they do that, you get disappointing ends to character arcs, and the story usually ends by a massive ass-pull deus ex machina and/or mcguffin or something similar. And while that could still happen in stories that are planned from the beginning, it could be handled far better. The writer could drop hints, reference people that might be important later, plan things out so they have the best impact possible.

It's the difference between big revelations being truly great (Vigil), and being just stupid and silly (human Reaper).

Trishbot:
I SO wanted to finger-quote the Turian councilman.

this. if they do this i could be a COD clone for all i care i just want to finger quote the little bastard and say "SEE I TOLD YOU SO!"

Irridium:

animehermit:

Irridium:
You know, generally when you plan for these games to be a trilogy from the start (they said as much when ME1 was released, that it's meant to be a trilogy), you'd think you would have these kinds of things planned out in advance. So you wouldn't have to deal with these issues.

Not really, in fact it's kinda ridiculous to think they have every quest and side quest planned for an entire trilogy of games ahead of time.

Ridiculous for them to plan out every side-quest? Yeah, probably.

Ridiculous for them to plan out the main story and characters? No. In fact, it's ridiculous to not plan out such a huge thing. Because when they do that, you get disappointing ends to character arcs, and the story usually ends by a massive ass-pull deus ex machina and/or mcguffin or something similar. And while that could still happen in stories that are planned from the beginning, it could be handled far better. The writer could drop hints, reference people that might be important later, plan things out so they have the best impact possible.

It's the difference between big revelations being truly great (Vigil), and being just stupid and silly (human Reaper).

yes, but remember they not only have to write each story, but they have to write 2-4 versions of each story and character arc. Even with planning that's going to be cumbersome as they have to write a plethora of plausible outcomes that both show the importance of the outcomes as well as being simple enough to fit on one game disc.

as much as bioware is criticized for not being true to their rpg roots by taking out their d6's and halving their inventory screens. They are one of the few companies that have taken the spirit of rpgs to heart: to make the player choices matter in the game's environment

wammnebu:

Irridium:

animehermit:

Not really, in fact it's kinda ridiculous to think they have every quest and side quest planned for an entire trilogy of games ahead of time.

Ridiculous for them to plan out every side-quest? Yeah, probably.

Ridiculous for them to plan out the main story and characters? No. In fact, it's ridiculous to not plan out such a huge thing. Because when they do that, you get disappointing ends to character arcs, and the story usually ends by a massive ass-pull deus ex machina and/or mcguffin or something similar. And while that could still happen in stories that are planned from the beginning, it could be handled far better. The writer could drop hints, reference people that might be important later, plan things out so they have the best impact possible.

It's the difference between big revelations being truly great (Vigil), and being just stupid and silly (human Reaper).

yes, but remember they not only have to write each story, but they have to write 2-4 versions of each story and character arc. Even with planning that's going to be cumbersome as they have to write a plethora of plausible outcomes that both show the importance of the outcomes as well as being simple enough to fit on one game disc.

as much as bioware is criticized for not being true to their rpg roots by taking out their d6's and halving their inventory screens. They are one of the few companies that have taken the spirit of rpgs to heart: to make the player choices matter in the game's environment

Which is why they should have it all planned out instead of writing it all as they go along. They could plan what choices they want the player to make, what the outcomes are, and how they effect things, and wouldn't have this problem now. It would have been all handled if they planned it before-hand.

And your choices don't matter in the Mass Effect series. None of them. Killing/saving the council does nothing to affect ME2. Killing/sparing Wrex does nothing to affect the storyline on Tuchanka, whether you save Kaiden or Ashley, you get pretty much the exact same scene on Freedom's Progress, and almost all side missions are resolved through emails. And I won't be surprised if you saving/destroying the collector base will have much impact on ME3.

I'm not asking for EVERY mission in the game to have a meaningful impact, but none of your choices in ME1 greatly effected ME2. At all. I'm hoping they effect ME3, but I'm doubtful.

"The classic example is 'Hey, let's make the ending of Mass Effect 2 a suicide mission where all your henchmen can possibly die, and Shepard can even die!' Oh right... and then we're gonna do another game after that. What the hell are we gonna do with all those guys?" he continued.

Honestly to me it looks like bad planning. If you know from the start you're going to write a trilogy (as they claimed they did), write the whole damn story arch(es) you want to have and stick to it (them).

Now it looks like the story line and "suicide mission" aspect of the second was more like a marketing plot to make the game look good/better (which it did). But then you have to be very creative to catch up. This is why marketing should never the last word over creativity in video games. But that's a dream, long are gone the days where you published* games to be in a cool industry. Now it's a money machine. Which is fine, really, as long as you're honest about it.

* Note: I do mean "publish" because I'm quite certain that the people who *make* games don't do it for the money.

Honestly, they could have given up the following quote

"you know that thing about how apparently Monkeys write shit down if you have enough monkeys and enough time? Well, we thought we'd give it a go..."

And I'd still be buying this game day 1 and taking a couple of days off.

Come to think of it, how ARE they going get around Shepard being dead from ME2?. They can't just resurrect him again, that would take to long and be pretty Deus Ex Machina.

Irridium:
And your choices don't matter in the Mass Effect series. None of them. Killing/saving the council does nothing to affect ME2. Killing/sparing Wrex does nothing to affect the storyline on Tuchanka, whether you save Kaiden or Ashley, you get pretty much the exact same scene on Freedom's Progress, and almost all side missions are resolved through emails. And I won't be surprised if you saving/destroying the collector base will have much impact on ME3.

I'm not asking for EVERY mission in the game to have a meaningful impact, but none of your choices in ME1 greatly effected ME2. At all. I'm hoping they effect ME3, but I'm doubtful.

Well, nothing you did in ME2 really mattered either. You went and did the suicide mission for what? To learn that the Reapers were coming? You already knew that from ME1. To prove to the Citadel members that the Reapers were coming? But they fought one in ME1. It nearly wiped out their civilization by itself. It should have been the duty of the Council to make sure there weren't any more, or prepare if there were, but of course, plot-enforced stupidity prevented that. To discover that the Reapers were growing a human-Reaper hybrid? Why did they even need to do that in the first place? A single existing Reaper nearly wiped out the Citadel. Surely the dozens more Reapers you see at the end of ME2 could pull off a galactic genocide without the help of some hybrid hatchling. And at the end, you have the choice of giving the Reaper tech to the evil, deceptive terrorist organization that's been jerking your chain all game, or destroying it. No third option to broadcast the ship's location to the Citadel or your own government. More plot-enforced stupidity.

The best part of ME2 were the recruitment and loyalty missions, because most of the characters were great, if not downright awesome. But the main plot was really pointless.

I suspect they'll just take the Dragon Age 2 route and just handwave the death of important characters they use regardless of their status in your playthrough (cough--Leiliana--cough, cough).

Really cool, I am totally ready to play this game, it still trips me up to think a game I played in 2007 could have an impact on a game I'll be playing in 2012, whoa.

"Damn you me from five years ago! Why'd you do this to me!!!"

animehermit:

Irridium:
You know, generally when you plan for these games to be a trilogy from the start (they said as much when ME1 was released, that it's meant to be a trilogy), you'd think you would have these kinds of things planned out in advance. So you wouldn't have to deal with these issues.

Not really, in fact it's kinda ridiculous to think they have every quest and side quest planned for an entire trilogy of games ahead of time.

I make games and assure you there's quite a bit of content that you'll make without first planning it out (at least not fully).

sumanoskae:
Come to think of it, how ARE they going get around Shepard being dead from ME2?. They can't just resurrect him again, that would take to long and be pretty Deus Ex Machina.

Hopefully they make it so that you can only import data if you survived the mission, with the dead crew members staying dead. Otherwise they'll be just phoning it in like they did with DA2...

sumanoskae:
Come to think of it, how ARE they going get around Shepard being dead from ME2?. They can't just resurrect him again, that would take to long and be pretty Deus Ex Machina.

If Shepard is dead you can't import your save. That was said not too long after Mass Effect 2 came out.

I just hope that if you saved the Rachni in the first game you get a rachni "dog" in the 3rd game. That is, a character like the mabari from Dragon Age.

But speaking of characters, what of all the characters that survived the suicide mission? Some like Jack, Zaaed, Kasumi, Samara/Morinth, and Grunt would have likely excuses to leave. But what about Johnson, Miranda, Garrus, Tali, Mordin Solis (thought I read somewhere that he's already been confirmed as a returning character), and Legion (he had better return, you only get to use him for like, 2 missions before the game ends and if you downloaded Kasumi the only way to have everyone survive is to not activate him until after you've completed the main quest)? Everyone in the first game abandons Shepard because Shepard done gone went and got spaced. Will they have another such excuse for Shepard to crew up from scratch? Or will we have a full load of characters from ME 2 as playable characters in ME 3 along with a fresh batch of characters to recruit?

im more wondering how much of your choices you have made out through the 2 games will effect in the part 3.
but first, they should get rid of this stupid spyware origin. as long this crap is required, i will not get this game.

Raithious:
I just hope that if you saved the Rachni in the first game you get a rachni "dog" in the 3rd game. That is, a character like the mabari from Dragon Age.

But speaking of characters, what of all the characters that survived the suicide mission? Some like Jack, Zaaed, Kasumi, Samara/Morinth, and Grunt would have likely excuses to leave. But what about Johnson, Miranda, Garrus, Tali, Mordin Solis (thought I read somewhere that he's already been confirmed as a returning character), and Legion (he had better return, you only get to use him for like, 2 missions before the game ends and if you downloaded Kasumi the only way to have everyone survive is to not activate him until after you've completed the main quest)? Everyone in the first game abandons Shepard because Shepard done gone went and got spaced. Will they have another such excuse for Shepard to crew up from scratch? Or will we have a full load of characters from ME 2 as playable characters in ME 3 along with a fresh batch of characters to recruit?

all romance characters are returning and most if not all others will make camos at least.

Al lalalala NOT LISTENING...OR READING EVEN LALALALALA

Hevva:

"The classic example is 'Hey, let's make the ending of Mass Effect 2 a suicide mission where all your henchmen can possibly die, and Shepard can even die!' Oh right... and then we're gonna do another game after that. What the hell are we gonna do with all those guys?" he continued.

Considering that Bioware has been claiming from the first installment that Mass Effect will be a trilogy, this quote just rings of "DERP DERP"!

There's only one trilogy that managed to pull off the 'making it up as we go along' approach, and that was the original Star Wars trilogy. And even that had a whole bucketload of continuity problems when you sit down and watch the films one after the other.

Apart from that, trilogies need to be planned out as one big story with a beginning, middle, and an end. Look at Lord Of The Rings. Tolkien wrote the trilogy as one big story, and always considered it to be one novel split into three books. And because of this, he was able to write a story that has watertight storytelling right the whole way through, with no ass pulls or deus ex machina to try and resolve things. Indeed, there are events in Fellowship that foreshadow other events all the way up until the end of Return Of The King. That's an example of good 'trilogy' storytelling.

I'm not saying that Bioware should have had every aspect of the main quest and all the side quests planned from the outset. But considering how much they were banging on about how much they wanted Mass Effect to be a consisten, three-part story, they should have at least worked out where they wanted to go for the middle and end of their story, and given themselves a rough map to follow. As it stands, they're quite blatantly making it up as they go along- Mass Effect 1 set the scene, then Mass Effect 2 came along where bucketloads of nothing happened, and now in Mass Effect 3, everything seems to have all happened at once in one big rush.

That is not how you do story pacing.

 

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