I just got finished reading “The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3” magazine/article/whatever they call it. Technically it’s an iPad app, but it chronicles in a interactive and engaging way the development of the Mass Effect series, the final moments leading up the release of the final game, and a great look into the inner-workings of Bioware through the eyes of executive producer Casey Hudson.
After reading it, I have a new found respect for Hudson and the entire team for the blood, sweat and years they’ve put into the series. In a way, reading this has actually greatly lessened my slight disdain for the ending of ME3. The insight provided into the development process shows how difficult it is to make something that appeals to your fan base, especially when the fans are the ones ultimately calling the shots on your canvas.
One thing I hadn’t previous considered was the almost scientific approach that went into mapping out character relationships and finding ways to make the player feel the tension, sadness, or humor of a moment. It’s a hard thing to pull off in most mediums, let alone in a video game. So much work went into subtle facial animations, character personalities, and other little touches to help connect to the world they built.
I think much of Bioware’s success can be attributed to this. They emotional artists, and have truly transformed video games into a medium where your choice is what matters. And while these choices may ultimately be guided to some degree, it all still adds up to a very personal experience.
Check out this behind the scenes look at me3finalhours.com. They actually have PC/Mac version now too if you don’t happen to have an iDevice.