‘Mass Effect’ Game Writer Offers Advice for Movie – Do You Agree?

Published 2 years ago by

Mass Effect Movie News Mass Effect Game Writer Offers Advice for Movie   Do You Agree?

There’s no question that a Mass Effect movie is going to become a reality at some point, since science fiction epics that manage to grab mainstream attention are few and far between. Even though Star Trek and Star Wars may be grabbing headlines, fans would argue that the Mass Effect universe has even more potential than the game trilogy could cash-in on (and others might claim that calling it ‘the next Star Trek’ would be an understatement).

As the lead writer behind the first Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, as well as the accompanying novels, Drew Karpyshyn is somewhat of an expert when it comes to BioWare’s most well-known mainstream release. Meaning, the story elements he feels should be adapted – and which should be scrapped – is advice the filmmakers would be wise to take. Even if fans won’t like the sound of it.

Speaking with Kotaku, Karpyshyn voiced his thoughts – and concerns – about any Mass Effect film that may end up being made. We don’t know if his take will have an impact on the script drafted by the new screenwriter Morgan Davis Foehl, but as fans of the series ourselves, his opinions seem more than wise.

Mass Effect 3 Shepard Wallpaper Mass Effect Game Writer Offers Advice for Movie   Do You Agree?

While admitting the issues that video games have when adapted to film (we don’t need to list examples of the failed attempts), Karpyshyn notes that what made Mass Effect such a unique hit with fans was its role-playing. And while the movie is still going to be based on the game, that aspect won’t work for a feature film:

“I think taking a video game and putting it into another form—book, movie, or whatever—is very complicated, especially a BioWare game. We have 30 hours of content! Obviously, you’re going to have to define Shepard which is going to annoy a lot of the fans. ‘Hey, my Shepard was female.’ ‘Hey, my Shepard was Paragon.’ Or ‘my Shepard was Renegade.’ ‘My Shepard didn’t have a romance.’ That is something you just can’t avoid as a film. You just have to bite the bullet and realize that’s going to happen.”

The need to remove some of the nuances that players were able to inject into their own stories goes farther than Commander Shepard. With a central cast of over half a dozen characters in Mass Effect, and just as many (if not more) in Mass Effect 2, Karpyshyn doesn’t think they could all be done justice in a film.


NEXT PAGE: How Best to Make a Mass Effect Movie

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  1. I think it needs to be a TV show that would span 6 seasons – 2 for each portion of the trilogy.

    • Thank god, someone who shares my opinion. Why fit into a 2-3 hour period what can be done in 20+ hours? A series is ideal, you have more time to introduce characters, so that fans don’t feel as if the experience has been taken away, AND you have more time to show as much of the entire plot as possible! There’s 6 seasons of success right there, and by the time that’s finished, there could be more to Shepard’s story or a chance at a spin off involving the character of Mass Effect 4 and anything that comes after

    • TV show wont be able to handle a budget this story needs. Its going to need top of the line CG, and the best make up people in the bizz.

      In a perfect world HBO would make 5 or 6 seasons w/ top of the line CG. But that wont happen. One of the most expensive TV shows of all time was Terra Nova. Im sorry that CGI just doesnt look good enough.

      Best case scenario we can hope to see two trilogies.

    • Agree in spades. But I for one would be far more comfortable with this not being live action. I would be happier with some type of animation and the original voices.

  2. Honestly, Mass Effect needs to be looked at as a three trilogy franchise. Ofcourse you don’t tell fans off the bat that you are considering nine films, just focus on the original trilogy to start off with.

    There are three clearly identifiable parts where the original trilogy can take place in.

    1st film- Original to the point where they recruit Liara, Have Jenkins survive the first film to screw with people a bit.

    2nd film- Obviously the fight with the Archachni Queen a the death of Liara’s mother. Kill Kaidan in the fight.

    3rd film- Introduce James(Bringing someone ahead) and personally would add Kasumi Goto trying to steal something from Saren. Have Kasumi die in the firefight while giving something to Shepard while dying.

    Have the franchise set up like The Walking Dead (Helps toy sales with introduction of so many characters)where deaths of main characters should be expected regularly

  3. So which squad members would get the boot? I bet it’s not the human characters. As much as Mass Effect is about the other races, bringing them to life would take a hell of a lot of makeup, or even CGI (I love Wrex, for the record). Would a studio be willing to spend to give a fledgling production the means to make everything seamless on screen?

    That’s my two cents, anyway.

  4. The mass effect universe is far too complex to be made into a movie or show, this isn’t star wars or star trek where everything is simple.

    • Through great writing, anything can be made into a film or T.V. show. But, will it be good? Possibly…
      The challenge with adapting something like the complex Mass Effect story is “how many fans will be disappointed?” and “how many fans will be impressed?”

      I personally think with enough masterful writing and editing, a Mass Effect film or T.V. series is very possible.

    • I’m a fan of Mass Effect have been since I bought the first game.
      But do not say that star trek or star wars are simple compared to Mass Effect. Sorry but I have to disagree on that statement. Your right that Mass Effect may not work as a movie or show especially if they start thinking of cutting characters but that doesn’t mean that star wars and star trek are any less complicated in comparison.

      All three a brilliant franchises all with ups and downs but none of them are simple.

    • Kind of funny to suggest that when Mass Effect is heavily inspired by Star Trek and Star Wars in many many ways

  5. I will say it again. This is nothing but a money grab. People are far to attached to their own Shepard ( I know I am ). And the game pretty much plays out like a movie.

    If any RPG has the ability to have a movie be made out of it would be Fallout. The protagonist is not named, so player of the game will not be mad about changes. They could have 2 character emerge from separate vaults, one a boy scout, the other Evil incarnate, but both having the same goal.

  6. If EA would see even once cent from my ticket purchase, I won’t pay to see it.

  7. Do not do a movie with Shepard’s story, that has already been played out; it’s over. If you do a movie with Shepard you ruin the whole point of a personalized character and the choices that each person made to make their Shepard who they wanted him/her to be.
    You need a different story, but set in the same universe, otherwise it’s no different than a remake.reboot.

    • Agreed. The Mass Effect game trilogy is already cinematic, a movie focusing on Shepard and the
      Reapers would be totally redundant. If they insist on making a Mass Effect film then their best bet
      would be to cover a completely different time period with a completely different protagonist.

  8. While there was many characters with back stories you only played with 2. Unless you chose to constantly switch & in some cases the story forced you to take along certain characters. Myself I used the same 2 throughout the game as I found them the most useful.

    I don’t see how they could possibly incorporate the entire saga into an hour 1/2 movie & make it relevant & interesting.

    1. People will judge the movie negatively because it originates from a game. They might express interest but once they learn its from a video game they’ll automatically assume its for kids or stupid. That is the commonplace reaction.

    2. By removing a large portion of the story we know & characters you’ll be pissing off the majority of fans. Who will probably go see it anyways & then complain about how much it sucked.

  9. The actual story arc of Mass Effect was great. Although with the amount of information, there is just no way to make everyone happy. I think it would be best to stick the main storyline and if made a trilogy stick to one main theme for each one with the underlying themes in the background. This will bring more cohesion rather than trying to mash it in just one movie.

  10. I’m irked by the idea of losing too many of my favorite characters in a film. And however I may feel about its sequels, I can’t be only one that thought Ocean’s 11 was NOT a ‘muddled mess’. It was quite good, actually.

    Besides, I honestly don’t see how you can tell a story of this scope with too few characters. I wish it were possible to make it a TV series…

  11. I would be up for nine films if it meant keeping every character and staying true to the entire story. However I do think this would make a much better TV Show. And it would make money. So funding it to make it a good looking show wouldnt be too far fetched. I don’t want them to just make three films based on the three games. That would mean cutting too much out. And in my opinion I think they should keep Ashely in there so that we could have the tensions between Shepard, Ashley and Liara that the third game did a good job at presenting. One of the most emotional parts in the first game was when I had Kaiden on the bomb and sacrificing himself. Again just my opinion. And I like the idea of having Jenkins survive it does throw a curveball at the audience expecting him to die. And when he does die, because lets face it he’s a red shirt…lol, It would add to the conversation Shepard has with Doctor Chakwlas in Mass effect 2 when she is talking about Jenkins and Kaiden. Epic feels.

    So yeah Mass effect in nine movies or a TV series are my vote.

  12. if they are to make a movie, i feel it would be much easier to make it a prequal to the games. such as a first contact wars movie, with david anderson and hannah shepard (shepards mother) as the main characters. this would solve many problems, such as leaving out characters, reduce the number of races they would have to show lowering reliance on CGI, and they could create a cannon story line from scratch without contradicting anyones gameplay experiance.

    and with the fact wrex is over 900 years old, and liara being 106-ish, they could easily make apperances in a prequal. maybe even a cameo from a child commander shepard, because he was 2 years old when the first contact wars started.

  13. I like the idea of a TV show called ‘Normandy’ following the events of the trilogy. All seasons could be 22+ episodes. The series premiere could follow the events on Eden Prime and the Citadel at the beginning of ME1. I personally think that with a TV show, they have so much time to follow the main storyline that they could even have extra episodes that have other storylines (for example, ‘Bring Down The Sky Part 1′ and ‘Bring Down The Sky Part 2′ could be two extra episodes, following the ME1 DLC). They could end the season with Noveria or Feros I reckon. The second season could follow the events on Virmire, Ilos and the Citadel (obviously this would only take up around 10 episodes, so they’d have plenty of time to add in extra, standalone episodes like all TV shows do). The third season could begin with the start of ME2, and end with the Collector ship mid-game. The fourth season could end with the suicide mission through the Omega 4 relay.
    The fifth season could begin with the attack on Earth, and end with the Tuchanka mission involving the Genophage. The sixth (and final) season could end with the final mission on ME3 (don’t know what it is, I’m haven’t finished the game yet).
    ‘Normandy’ would require alot of funding, if they were to pour loads of CGI into it. However, I think it’s worth the sacrifice to keep all characters and the entire plot involved. I would be satisfied if the CGI was the same as that of Stargate SG1, Atlantis or Universe.
    That’s what I think, anyway.

    • Also, this could lead to spin-off series’, such as ‘Citadel’ a Detective/Police TV show following a C-Sec officer on the Citadel. They could also do another series following the events of Mass Effect 4 and the games that follow. They couldn’t be future seasons of ‘Normandy’, as they follow a completely different set of characters.

  14. Considering the commercial aspect and the requirements of making a movie that appeals to audiences who are not familiar with the game implies a trilogy as the best option. A 9 part movie would be painful to somebody who is not a fan of the Mass Effect game; you hear people groaning for trilogies, let alone a three trilogies. The writer of the movie has a real daunting task ahead of him, but I believe the core aspects of the story is movie-material and is quite entertaining.

    For a trilogy, the first movie should introduce the concept of the Reapers and their threat with just enough information to build intrigue and keep audiences engaged (like the first game, the focus should be on Saren where he’s hiding something far more lethal). The second builds on Ceberus and some plot building for the final movie, and the third finishes it off.

    If written well, and becomes successful, then a TV series can be made that deals with characters and events that could not be covered by the film.

  15. i think they would be better off if they focused on making the sequel based on the Mass Effect Revelations novel. rather than trying to recreate/condesnce shepards story in a movie.

    • prequal sorry

  16. I hate to be “that” person but I do have to say this – not everything should – or even can – be adapted into a movie. A video game is a completely different beast than a film in its very essence alone. It is interactive and requires player participation, which is its very purpose, whereas watching a film is a more passive experience. I am not saying it is not engaging, but it has to work in a very different way to earn the investment of the spectator. The discrepancy in the amount of content of a film and a video game has been discussed to death, so I will not go there, but I am going to harp on one thing and I really hope I am not the only who sees this problem with the picture – the main character. Because there always MUST be one. There always is a Shepard.

    Emphasis on the article. How can you possibly take a property that stands on players choice and customization, lets you even pick a gender and adjust literally every facial feature known to man, then take that massive line-up, pick a finger at one of the bastards in it and go “Yup. This is the one. This is THE Shepard”. Well I am sorry, but I respectfully have to disagree and tell you to shove that sh*t right back up your ass where it came from. Player choice is so deeply ingrained and thoroughly permeating the franchise, nobody can, in good faith, say there is a canon to adapt to the big screen. Everybody who ever played Mass Effect had a unique experience, was literally the only person alive in the world to play that particular game. The freedom to interact with this amazing world was what made this property great, not how pretty you can make it with Hollywood budget-level CG. And as a result, no matter what they do, there will be a fair number of people who would hate the flick for that reason alone.

  17. First of all there is absolutely no reason to make a TV series based on the Mass Effect series. Simply recounting the same adventures of Commander Shepard from the video game would be pointless a series has cliff hangers for a reason, to have a viable series the audience would need to be engaged and surprised. That won’t happen with Mass Effect, the story is already known. As for a movie it will suffer from the same problem, the plot is already known so their won’t be the same pay off like their was the first time we played it. For this reason any movie will have to approach the game series from an original direction. The question is what do we want out of a movie. I for one do not want a recap of the video game, but rather to develop the main story arc between humanity the galaxy and the reapers, here we have lots of unexplored territory that was skimmed over to some extent with the games, they focused quite a lot of attention on the development of squad and on numerous loyalty missions. this could be skipped. There is a lot to be explored on the back story’s of the different races, the reapers and their origins, humanity and its role in the galaxy etc. That would be a better place to mine for a mass effect story.

  18. and space battles, lots of space battles

  19. There is so much potential with mass effect. I think the direction would be to place Shepard on the Normandy with a crew, but to focus on the Galaxy of the Milky way. Can you imagine what you can do with cutting edge CGI? think Avatar but with a story that isn’t utterly retarded. Don’t focus on the parts that are in the video game, instead develop whats in the codex, build up and flesh out the mass effect universe and add more drama to the bio-reaper struggle, there is so much there in terms of action, drama, philosophy, and ethics this is just begging to be made into a movie. above all else make it gorgeous, while good writing is very important, in a sci-fi theme like mass effect you want a visual experience more than anything else.

  20. that guy, Karpyshyn, is 100% wrong – because he is talking about a 2h movie. No real MAss Effect fan wants a 2h movie only. We want a TV show with at least 4 seasons, better more. something like Babylon 5 in a MAss Effect Universe.