Mass Evolution - A Mass Effect 3 Interview with Michael Gamble

Updated Tue, Aug 30, 2011 by B. de la Durantaye

The Mass Effect franchise has set the bar high for sci-fi RPGs of our era. With Mass Effect 3 just around the corner we wanted to get some more info on the game while we had the chance. We caught up with Michael Gamble of BioWare who is the Associate Producer of the game.

TTH: Is Mass Effect 3 a continuation of the Mass Effect story, and how does it present itself to new players?

Michael Gamble: It is a continuation of the story, but it is a piece that could be easily compartmentalized. After playing through the first two games, you know that we’ve been alluding to the Reapers and to the question of whether they exist or not. Obviously, Shepard has been a lightning rod for the Reaper attention. Coming forward, the first thing that happens in Mass Effect 3 is that the Reapers arrive and all the naysayers learn pretty quickly that the Reapers exist. So, Shepard spends the entire game rallying the troops, rallying the forces of the galaxy behind him to more or less defeat the Reapers. That’s how it’s basically set up to be compartmentalized. It’s basically a war story. You have a really bad enemy, a really evil enemy to defeat and you go out to try and defeat them.

In terms of creating a character and stuff like that, you can create a brand-new character and how the plot points are set in terms of what you’ve done before, we’re still kind of working out what is the best mechanism to set those. We had some experience in the past with the PS3 with an interactive comic. Those kinds of things definitely help us, although we don’t have anything solid right now. Once we have that, it’s more or less along the line of take your character and then play through Mass Effect 3 and then you can replay Mass Effect 3 with that same character as well.

TTH: The interactive comic for Mass Effect 2 allowed players to generate a new character based on the critical choices of the first Mass Effect, without having to play through the full first game. So that's something you're going to be doing with ME3 too then?

Michael Gamble: We’re looking at something. I don’t know if it’s going to be comic based or what, but we definitely understand that a lot of people haven’t played the first two.

TTH: When I was watching the demo yesterday I liked the fact that it looks familiar. There’s nothing that’s so new there that it would be like learning a whole new game for people who’ve played it before. Some things have changed though.  Can we talk a little bit about what’s changed for the new game?

Michael Gamble: On the system level, Mass Effect 3 is all about quick iteration and polished pass to the combat maneuverability. In combat now, you can go back and forth, do cover switches, and that kind of stuff. It’s a lot more fluid. In Mass Effect 2, you could take cover, and the way you took cover was an evolution itself from Mass Effect 1. Now we want to make it so that you can move around the battlefield a lot more smoothly. I believe that the demo also showed ladders and things like that. It just changes the layer of the battlefield, and that’s kind of the combat stuff.

RPG systems and progressions, we’ve deepened that. Every power has a lot more customizability. You have multiple evolution options; six instead of two. And the weapons mods stuff obviously. Now all classes can use all weaponry, which is great. We’re expecting to see a lot more even usage of classes rather than everybody using Soldier because he has the coolest weapons. What you can do is customize your weapon based upon the mods that you pick up throughout the galaxy.

TTH: One of the things that I found challenging was trying to figure out which weapons were actually an upgrade in the previous games. Is that system sort of the same in ME3 as it is in ME2?

Michael Gamble: Well, if you look at the weapon mod bench, you can actually see the kind of bar graph, very mathematical, academic breakdown of how weapons are and compare them based on that. Really, at the end of it, you can compare by numbers and you can compare by feel and you can compare by trying it out. I know that there are a lot of weapons in Mass Effect that behave differently and they’re actually, by design, supposed to be different so you can learn to feel and pick up on how one works. Then, almost like a real gun, you can say that actually feels good. For example, the SMG. It has a small clip and traditionally, a really, really quick burst of fire. Some people like to play that. Other people like to play a just really heavy hitting gun, something like a semi-automatic. So, it’s less about the stats and more about how it feels to you and how it feels in gameplay.


Today is N7 Day and BioWare put the band back together to thank Mass Effect fans for a trilogy of fun.

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