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Where No Game Has Gone Before: How Mass Effect Challenges Sci Fi's Greatest Achievements

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Where No Game Has Gone Before: How Mass Effect Challenges Sci Fi's Greatest Achievements

Editorial - posted by Crooked Bee on Thu 1 March 2012, 18:50:51

Tags: BioWare; Mass Effect; Mass Effect 3

Do you want your Mass Effect hard or soft? Why not have both? Ask IGN, allied with Lead writer on the Mass Effect series Mac Walters, in an editorial entitled "How Mass Effect Challenges Sci Fi's Greatest Achievements: Where No Game Has Gone Before".

...that stringent scientific outlook, which gives the Mass Effect universe its Hard SF backbone, was there from the very beginning. A lot of research was done during the development of the original Mass Effect. "The entire writing team was constantly reading and researching and reviewing anything we could," remembers Walters. "Everyone was thoroughly immersing themselves in science at the time, and where these things could really go." After all, they had an entire universe to create.

It's even got to the point where a procedure has evolved at Bioware to deal with those niggling situations when the science is at odds with story. "Say we want to introduce something new – be it a new type of ship or a new ability – and it doesn't quite fit into the IP: we have someone who is our IP science guy. We'll often pass off the idea to him and say, 'How would you explain this in 'our science'?' He goes away and comes back usually a day later, scratching his head, with a few ideas, and we make sure it's in there."​

Mass Effect is science!

But that is just one awesome side of it. Mass Effect is also its story and characters! Obviously.

While this exacting scientific aspect appeals to some, from personal experience Walters knows that the series also connects with those who have no interested in the special relativity whatsoever. "I have friends and what they love about it is the characters that they meet. They might be blue and have tendrils, some of them might be reptiles – and that's definitely in keeping with the Sci-Fi genre – but what's more interesting to them is the characters and what they're experiencing. For them Sci-Fi is context, a background; they're really in it for the characters and their relationships.

"Essentially, Mass Effect is a Hard Sci-Fi experience at the boundaries, and what's in between is more of a lite Sci-Fi experience for people who want it to be that as well. And that's the kind of fun of the Mass Effect Universe – it can be what you want it to be."​

Mass Effect is... a sci-fi sandwich?

Mass Effect blends together disparate SF traditions with consummate ease. Utopian and dystopian, hard and soft, it demonstrates that video games, at their very best, can also be about ideas.​

Hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi: shaken, not stirred. Read on! Or don't.

On that note, there are only 5 days left! How are YOU preparing for the Reaper invasion?

There are 76 comments on Where No Game Has Gone Before: How Mass Effect Challenges Sci Fi's Greatest Achievements

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