With the announcement of Mass Effect Legendary Edition and later confirmation of its release date, a lot of news about the original games is surfacing, like the romance options for Jake and Jacob.
Now, TheGamer website has published an article where it was possible to chat with several developers involved in the production of the original 3 games in the franchise. According to them, something that certainly drove Mass Effect 2 was the project’s good management and virtually no crunch. With an average of 96 on Metacritic, the game was already fully playable 1 year before launch, and the developers were only concerned with polishing and improving the project more and more.
Something that helped that a lot was defining several characteristics of the game right at the beginning of the project that Casey Hudson managed. For example, an inventory management system was removed from scope early on, giving the team more time to focus and refine other gameplay areas.
That was a big leap compared to Mass Effect production, where the team suffered a lot from crunch in the last year before launch. Also different from the second title, Mass Effect 3 did not have such a smooth development since there was a lot of pressure from EA with questions of deadlines and budget and had a much more accelerated production. Despite this, the developers comment that ME3 still had a good production period, even with minor problems.
An example of the lack of planning in the third game comes from the script and dubbing sessions for Aria T’Loak and other Citadel lines. Screenwriter Neil Pollner said he needed to create all of the character’s dialogues in just 2 weeks. If since Carrie-Ann Moss would only have the date set for recording the lines and the playable part of Citadel hadn’t been created yet, it was, therefore, necessary to write part of the text generically.
Still on ME3, during the beginning of production, the Montreal studio from BioWare had been created, and they were working on a prototype of a multiplayer fps for the game. This project was canceled and later became the cooperative multiplayer component present in the title, which even received good reception. However, during this period, there was a certain dispute with the Edmonton studio, the developer’s headquarters. Much has been said that Montreal “newbies” would not be trusted to work in the franchise. This raid also had a geographical and cultural issue, mainly due to Anglo-Canadians and Franco-Canadians’ divisions.
Something often commented on is how the studio’s culture execution could guarantee this good working environment in ME2 and ME3. The idea was always to “deliver the best story in a game in a context of humility and integrity.” The team has always had a clear mission of the studio and the main values to follow and, with that, they were able to make the development of Mass Effect 2 the best possible.