Casey Hudson, executive producer of the Mass Effect series, has said the team considers itself the co-creators of the franchise alongside the fans, who have helped it create a game with better "character-based storytelling."
Speaking with VentureBeat, Hudson said fan-feedback changing how the game was developed became apparent to the team as Mass Effect 2 development continued.
"When we started the Mass Effect series, we had no way to tell how compelling our characters would be in terms of the emotions… Especially with the aliens, we didn’t know if they would be able to portray compelling human emotion," he said.
"We didn’t build the love interests into some of the alien characters like Garrus… He has the exoskeleton face and stuff like that. But because a character like Garrus just has great voice acting and animation, and a personality that’s really well-written, a lot of people wanted romances with him and with some of the other alien characters.
"So we decided to try that with Mass Effect 2 and that was very successful. They’re some of the most popular romances, people love those characters. That was a surprise to us, but we kind of had to finish Mass Effect one and then listen to some feedback before we tried incorporating that."
Continuing on the subject of fan feedback, Hudson also touched upon the controversy over the day-one DLC releasing alongside Mass Effect 3, insisting once again that it's an optional component which just adds extra "sugar on top."
"As a fan, some people fear the worst, and they put their own spin on what they think is happening," he said. "As a fan, if I believed those things I’d be worried too, because what some people are saying is that we’ve taken all of the lore of Mass Effect out of Mass Effect 3 and it’s only in the DLC, stuff like that.
"Of course that’s not true. In fact, Mass Effect 3 is all about answering all the biggest questions in the lore, learning about the mysteries and the Protheans and the Reapers, being able to decide for yourself how all of these things come to an end. The DLC, whether it’s day one or not, is always going to be sugar on top, the extra… You know, the extra little bits of content that tell side stories.
"Even though the character we’re releasing on day one is a Prothean, which is part of a race that’s important to the lore of Mass Effect, his story is still an interesting kind of side thing, and then you get this character that’s good if you want to have him for your first playthrough.
"But it’s always optional. We would never take stuff out of the core game and only have it in DLC."
Hudson said once Mass Effect 3 was submitted for certification, the team of 150 strong had many choices: move on to the next game which may not be out for several years; move on to Dragon Age or The Old Republic; or create DLC for Mass Effect 3.
"When we get towards the end of the project, we get into the certification phase, and everything that we’ve ever wanted to do with the core game is actually finished," he explained. "And now we just need to get it certified and put on the trucks and manufactured on discs and stuff. That takes three months or more. Three months or more for a team of 150 people, that equates to millions of dollars of development time.
"But we know that people really enjoyed the DLC for Mass Effect 2. So we wanted to start working on DLC [for Mass Effect 3]."
The launch trailer for the game was released yesterday, and the game is out next week on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.