How Mass Effect Challenges Sci Fi's Greatest Achievements

In this new editorial that features quite a bit of commentary from lead writer Mac Walters, IGN argues that the Mass Effect series "challenges science fiction's greater achievements" by introducing to a mixture of both "hard" and "soft" sci-fi that goes through something of a qualification procedure behind the scenes at BioWare. Mr. Walters explains:
And 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."

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.