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BioWare has a lot of explaining to do, and it knows it.
The developer’s Mass Effect 3 team sat with fans during PAX East game conference yesterday to talk about the title, which has been the target of copious Internet fan rage in the last month. First, there were grumblings over the use of a stock Getty image as an in-game picture of character Tali. Fans were also upset they had to pay for downloadable content (DLC) available on the day the game shipped. Then, of course, there was the major backlash over the game’s endings, which many felt failed to provide closure or meaningful choices for what had been, up until then, a stellar series.
“I know there’s a lot of fan love and affection for Mass Effect right now,” joked BioWare community manager Chris Priestly during a session at PAX East.
Yet, not a chair nor a cupcake was thrown as Priestly, Mass Effect producer Mike Gamble, Mass Effect senior combat designer Corey Gaspur, senior writers Patrick Weekes and John Dombrow, and quality assurance associate team lead Reid Buckmaster took to the dais to talk about all of that and more with what was, surprisingly, an enthusiastic and cheerful crowd. (SPOILER WARNING!)
On the ending and downloadable content:
“We’re going to be able to offer a lot in the next year,” said Mike Gamble.
BioWare, a division of Electronic Arts, showed off the trailer for the Resurgence Pack. This multiplayer add-on will feature new races (including the Geth and Krogan), new maps, and new weapons. It will be available for free on April 10.
More importantly, BioWare spoke about Mass Effect: Extended Cut, which will address the game’s lackluster ending. Despite Internet speculation to the contrary, the developer assures fans the DLC will not be a re-imagining of the ending or an entirely new one. “The dev team stands by what we released with the core product. We’re very proud of it,” said Gamble. The statement drew a big round of applause from the crowd.
However, Gamble added that BioWare wants to clarify a number of things for players. “We want to make sure we actually answer some of the questions that we’re seeing,” he said. “[We want to] fill some of the unknowns, and in general, we really wanted to give players a sense of personalization with the ending.”
“We want to make sure that when you see the ending of Mass Effect, you now have the information in context and can be satisfied.”
Mass Effect: Extended Cut will be available to download free of charge. BioWare is tentatively aiming for a summer release date.
On the indoctrination theory:
Born out of the confusion players felt after completing Mass Effect 3, the indoctrination theory is a popular bit of speculation amongst fans. It claims the game’s protagonist, Commander Shepard, is actually “indoctrinated” under Reaper control, and everything that occurs after being beamed up to the Citadel in the final minutes is a hallucination.
BioWare’s response? “We don’t want to comment either way. We want the content to speak for itself, and we’ll let it do so.”
On Tali’s face:
“In terms of what Tali’s face looked like and why it looked the way it was, we often use source art for many things within our game. In the case of Tali’s face, we wanted something to be photorealistic. We wanted the level of fidelity to be there. We wanted the color to be right,” Gamble said.
He says the team poured through thousands and thousands of pieces of source art to come up with what would become Tali’s face. Shepard, Liara, Miranda, and Samara’s faces were all based on real-life women, and BioWare says everyone’s favorite Quarian deserved the same treatment.
On how BioWare feels about fan response to ME3:
“Any time we receive constructive criticism, we always welcome it. There are always a few that are not as constructive as possible, but we honestly don’t let it make us jaded. We still understand that there’s a lot of valuable feedback to be provided. We still welcome it,” said Gamble.
“Whether it’s support or whether it’s anger — whether it’s love or rage — whatever it is — we get it from you fans because you care about the game,” Priestly added.