Mass Effect 3’s art director has a lot of problems on his plate, from the game’s sleek and shiny environments to the issue of what’s behind Tali’s mask.
“Art-wise the original Mass Effect’s levels worked really well but for gameplay they weren’t so good,” art director Derek Watts told CVG.
“We had a lot of raised platforms and areas you could get caught up in – stuff we should have fixed right from the beginning.”
Watts said BioWare felt at the time it had done a good job, because it was the studio’s first game of the current hardware generation.
“Getting used to the technology made it difficult for us, he said. “We wanted those wide open areas, those swooping curves, the grand vistas and stuff, but it was hard to do with that engine.”
Some aspects of Mass Effect’s design have proved difficult, too, especially the clean, slick look of the space age.
“Videogames look a lot better if you clutter up hallways. It usually looks more realistic. It’s hard to do with clean, plastic, white hallways with the reflective floors you see in some of the movies,” the artist said.
“… That’s hard for us to do. You rely heavily on the lighting and the materials and can you get those reflective surfaces? Can you do it real time or is it all faked? Do you have to flip the level upside down and make part of it transparent? You have to end up faking it and making it as good as you can.”
Watts also commented on some specific difficulties the team had encountered, including fitting the Mass Effect logo’s arc into everything, and the troubling question of Tali’s face.
“A lot of people want to have her face revealed and obviously people are going to be pissed off either way,” he predicted.
“Like ‘I thought she was going to look beautiful!’ or ‘I thought she was going to be the most hideous thing ever!’ So we’ve had a lot of debate over Tali’s face, but that’s the one we kind of dread a lot.
“We’re always ‘well, let’s talk about something else for a while!’ That’s something we’re going to have to decide.”
Mass Effect 3 is due on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in March next year.