How ME3's lead writer writes

Mac Walters who is the lead writer for Mass Effect three has given a pretty sweet interview to the Wall Street Journal on the writing effort that goes into a game like Mass Effect. I liked his answer to the followin question about balancing all the tricks and treats the game has to offer. 

WSJ: One of the things that’s interesting about Mass Effect 2 is that your gameplay choices affect how many of the characters survive during the final battle—how well you prepare the ship, whether you complete certain character quests, things like that. How do you balance the completionist tendency of a gamer who wants to complete every quest, collect every treasure, fill every bar up 100 percent—with the need for drama and tension in the story itself?

Mac Walters: Part of what you have to start to do as a writer in those instances—and it’s not just with the big choices, it happens with the smaller choices that you encounter on a mission—is that you want a certain dramatic tension in it. With multiple outcomes, we know the drama isn’t going to be as high or as peaked in certain instances of that, but that’s the joy and the curse of giving player agency.

You have to come around to the side of the player. So, I would love it if you played it this way and experienced it this way, but you are choosing to pursue this path. And that’s your choice—clearly that’s what you want your game experience to be. And so we want to craft that player experience to be as whole-heartedly appropriate to the choices that you’ve made. So in those cases maybe the tension does come down, but maybe there’s more of a sense of heroism in it, the sense that, “Wow, I really did pull out all the stops and made this work perfectly.


You might have seen Walters talk about the decision you took regarding the fate of the Rachni Queen in the original ME game....

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