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.
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.