Mass Effect 2 was brilliant. So brilliant that we awarded it a ten out of ten review score. But, as we all know, no game is perfect. Here, in a special retrospective, BioWare lead producer Casey Hudson looks back at the game that redefined the action role-playing genre, discussing with VideoGamer.com what went right and what went wrong with the studio's epic science fiction adventure.
Q: Thanks for talking with us Casey. Mass Effect 2 received pretty much universal acclaim. It's even managed some ten out of ten review scores. Did the team know it would be received so well?
Casey Hudson: I think it's tied for the second highest Metacritic of all time.
Q: Did you think it had a chance at that? How did you feel about that?
CH: Well you can never really predict how a game is going to be reviewed but we knew that… I mean the first Mass Effect was really well received. We knew this one was a lot better. We thought it was. So, that's really the best we could do, is improve in every way that we are aware of based on our feedback and what we want to do.
Q: Were there any aspects of the game or specific features that could have ended up better?
CH: Well, really when we release a game… we won't release a game unless we're happy with everything. It doesn't mean we wait until everything is perfect. But we wait until we know that we're comfortable with everything. But there's a difference though in that than when you turn it over to millions of people who play it and come to a consensus about different aspects of it. That's where you learn a lot about how the game plays from fresh eyes. So with the benefit of feedback and hindsight there are things we would change which will therefore become part of the design for the next game.
Q: Any areas you have identified?
CH: Yeah. Obviously there's a lot of great, really positive feedback. But the stuff I think people have commented on that we'll take to the future are things like the amount of emphasis we had on mini-games, the mining mini-game. Obviously the game being really well received I think reinforces the decisions we made in terms of the way the interface works and the inventory, stuff like that. But there are a lot of people that were happy with the amount of depth that was there, but people that wanted to see it as an RPG versus an action RPG or whatever, I think felt that it needed more depth in terms of your choices for inventory and stuff like that. That's certainly something we can do in the future. We can only create a balance that we believe makes sense.
Q: You can't please everyone of course. If you make Mass Effect a more accessible cover based shooter, the hardcore RPG fans start moaning. But then if you hadn't done that, others would moan about something else. Does it do your head in trying to cope with everyone's demands?
CH: What it means is we have to really think about how we interpret feedback. Quite often feedback that appears to be conflicted is, if you think about it, quite often both sides are right, and there's a way to resolve those things in a way that both sides can be right. So in terms of the inventory issue, for example, I don't think anyone's arguing that the changes to the interface and whatnot were not good. It comes down to kind of a separate thing which is, it's always good to have a better interface that's easier and more intuitive and whatnot. But a separate question is how much depth is in there once you do that. We had a lot of depth there, but there's more that we can do.