OXM recently conducted an interview with BioWare's Casey Hudson about the Mass Effect trilogy, particularly about the darker themes present in Mass Effect 2 and what we might expect from Mass Effect 3.
So, Mass Effect 2 was obviously much darker than Mass Effect 1, with not only the combined angst of your crew but the extra emphasis on romance and the emotional consequence of your suicide mission. With gamers getting older, do you think adult themes need to feature in RPGs more prominently?
Well, I think that as well is also a tricky balance. Ultimately our highest level goal is to make a game that's really fun, both to people who have and haven't played our games before. It's something we're always trying to figure out.
But Mass Effect 2 got such an incredibly positive response. I don't remember reading anyone saying that Mass Effect 2 got too heavy at any point- gamers respond well when they're treated as adults. Doesn't "figuring out" come to an end here?
I think there's a difference between a game feeling grown-up and it having to go to a dark place, because you can go too far with the darkness and troubles in your subject matter. But there is a certain amount of fun that comes from the realism of a story, if it resembles a mature movie or TV show and resembles real adults interacting.
That's part of what we're always trying to pursue - how do we bring on the realism and the humanity of the experience? Because it makes you care more. Having a realistic reason to upgrading a weapon can put the entire game in the right context and make it seem more real.
So should we be expecting something even more mature for Mass Effect 3?
[Laughs] Well, we're not talking too much about Mass Effect 3 right now, but the second story in a trilogy is where you traditionally end up in a fairly dark place. The third story is where you try and bring some fun and lightness back into it. One thing we tried to do with Mass Effect 2 was as well as bringing in the more mature stuff, we also tried to bring in a lot more humour so that we can go to these places without making it an overbearing experience. I think we have a lot more fun this time through characters like Joker and EDI. Mass Effect 3 is going to be the epic conclusion... so, a lot more darkness but also a lot more humour.