Original ‘Mass Effect’ Movie Writer Says Game Was Too Difficult to Adapt

Published 9 months ago by

Mass Effect Male and female Shepard Original Mass Effect Movie Writer Says Game Was Too Difficult to Adapt

Fans of the Mass Effect franchise probably shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for the much talked-about movie based on the first game in the series, given producer Avi Arad’s recent comments that it could still be a few more years away. There have been some confusing mixed messages regarding the adaptation, including Legendary Pictures radically changing their answers to some pretty fundamental question about it within the space of a couple of weeks.

Development was further complicated last year when the script by screenwriter Mark Protosevich (Thor) was thrown out and newcomer Morgan Davis Foehl stepped in to take over writing duties. As far as we’re aware the movie is still in the script-refining stages and doesn’t yet have a director or any cast members attached – and Protosevich has opened up on the subject of why Mass Effect was such a difficult movie to write, to the point that the attempt may have put him off writing video game adaptations for life.

Speaking to Badass Digest, Protosevich explained that he had admitted defeat when Legendary decided to turn his drafts away and bring Foehl onboard instead:

“I wrote a couple of drafts and then they brought on a new writer… When I was on it I was definitely adapting the first game. That story, it was very much the first game. And that was the approach.”

“It was the first game adaptation I did and it will probably be the only one. They’re hard. I will freely admit it was hard. Because – especially with ‘Mass Effect’ - there’s just so much material. Narratively, with the game, you’re talking about nine, ten hours of narrative you’re jamming into two hours.

“I hope they pull it off. I’d love to see a ‘Mass Effect’ movie. I think I did some good work, but even I’ll admit I didn’t pull it off.”

Protosevich wasn’t kidding when he talked about the length of Mass Effect. While some games only have a paper-thin plot and minimal dialogue to justify lengthy bouts of shooting, the Mass Effect series is largely built on verbal interactions with people from all over the galaxy. There is a huge amount of depth to the first game, which was tasked with establishing all the different alien races and their respective cultures, as well as galactic politics and humanity’s position within them as a species that made first contact only relatively recently.

That’s not to say that it would be impossible to turn the first Mass Effect game into a two hour movie – incredibly long novels have been boiled down to the same length in the past – but it’s understandable that Protosevich might struggle to fit the game’s story into such a short space of time whilst also managing to retain the depth of the game.

Mass Effect Legion Original Mass Effect Movie Writer Says Game Was Too Difficult to Adapt

Ubisoft’s recently-established film studio, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, also has plans laid out to extend quite a few of the game publisher’s franchises into the movie world. UMP’s plan of action involves two major factors: retaining as much creative control as possible over the properties, and making sure that each movie has its own story instead of just adapting one that was already told in a video game.

Some fans might favor this approach for a Mass Effect movie as well, not only because it would mean a new story in the Mass Effect universe instead of a recycled one, but also because Mass Effect is already a pretty cinematic game. There are plenty of interesting events referenced in the series that could make for a solid movie, such as the First Contact War between the humans and the turians, the uprising of the geth against the quarians, or Commander Shepard’s various origin stories.

Tell us in the comments if you think making a decent Mass Effect movie is possible, whether or not it should just be an adaptation of the first game’s story, and whether Foehl, who was handed script duties after Protosevich and reportedly got the job because his enthusiasm for the game series impressed the producers, has a better chance of making it happen.

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We’ll keep you updated on Mass Effect as development continues.

Source: Badass Digest

TAGS: mass effect

62 Comments

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  1. Why make it a movie series at all? Of course its going to look better than doing a tv series but as large as the stories are in each game I would say the safest route would be a tv series. 12 1hr episodes could easily tie up the first story ending it at the 3rd season?

  2. I think as a fan the best thing to do is similar to what they did with the Lord of the rings books.such as write a story in pieces. Take a long 10 hour story and make 5 movies out of it.though it all depends on how much the movie can profit on.but I think making a short story of the first contact war than explaining current times and races e.t.c than jump into it with Shepard by the time you get to the get just starting to rise with seran sho a couple details of the major plot to keep ppl interested than boom cliffhanger what happens next? Watch the next movie to find out.

  3. I say use the magazines to make the move is and make it a 5-7 part series

  4. Dont write 2h movie, make a serie like stargate,startrek,babylon it is perfect for that, may be a big pilot, many individual warrior serie, it is not only sheppard. many story, investigation, empire, privateer,diplomacy,secret mission, etc.. the univers of mass effect is very rich and need to developped in detail. and it is not a only human view.

  5. The best way for them to go I think would be a Series. This would let them get all the good stuff in while not full Movie Budget Quality it would allow them to go through the entire Story fully and not screw it up as Hollywood Movies always do to everything they turn into Movies that were once Comics, books, or Games.

  6. Movies make a ridiculous amount of money compared to TV series, and they have such awesome budgets to make things look right. So I see the appeal in making a film from both the creators and the fans perspective. However, I don’t believe you need do one or the other.

    A 1:45-2:00 film about the First Contact War (with a 5-10 min intro about events on mars and discovery of the Charon Mass Relay) would be AWESOME to all fans and to people not familiar with the franchise. You then use that as a spring board for a TV series (HBO always a good choice…).

    This TV series should only reference the FCW and the events of Sheppard. This allows for a wholly new and dynamic story, and could even involve some side characters to guest star. I mean Maranda ACTUALLY looks like her voice actor… as does Samara. They could easily be in a couple episodes, allowing fans to geek out. Maggie Baird (Samara) has been in full costume to conventions… I’m sure she’ll be down. But the best part is that the writers can be very ambiguous when they talk about Sheppard. Its the future, and there are aliens. Moreover, this is the military. People will refer to Sheppard by the missions, rank, fame, etc. NOT by the gender. Fans don’t have to get mad about the Shep vs Femshep war. The writers don’t need to talk about which back story they went with.

    As a matter of fact, the writer only have to worry about the BIG decisions! Like which character joins the council? Are the other 3 council members saved? Ashley or Kaidan? Save or Destroy the Krogan cure, etc. These won’t be all at once. Heck, make 1 be part of the season finale each season. And which decision should be put into the viewers hands. Put up a web site and say, VOTE NOW. Then reveal it when the episode is aired. OR just stay mostly Paragon, that’s the favored version by most anyway. (most, not all. I’m aware that tough guy shep is fun to play, but simply not as good for a cinematic hero).

    I hope this gets people thinking and helps to write an amazing script!!! I really want to see the galactic society unfold!

    P.S. If Seth Green doesn’t have cameos… I’ll be VERY disappointed!!!

  7. This is a no brainer…don’t try to do the first game as a movie…do it as 2 or 3. The first movie should start with the discussion to make Shepard a Spectre, and end with him becoming a Spectre. This should be a 3 hour movie. Also, don’t worry about the timeline being correct with the game. In the game Virmire was pretty much right before Ilos. I would make Virmire the Climax to movie #2. Then do some of the other side missions like Noveria as a prelude to Ilos and the Citadel battle.

    Also, the could consider making some filler straight to DVD movies with all of the little stuff, like Feros and Noveria. This can be done using most of the same sets and props. Bring down the Sky can even be one of them. Maybe do Opening scene on the Normandy to Shepard becoming a Spectre as one movie, and then 3 or 4 straight to DVD movies, Noveria (including Liara recruitment,) Feros, Bring Down the Sky, Virmire. Then Ilos to the Citadel as another Big Screen movie. Bring Down the Sky and another DVD movie or two could be before the ME2 opener. ME2 should be broken up similarly. Destruction of the Normandy, to Shepard waking up, to meeting the Illusive Man, to Freedom’s Progress, to talking to Aria T’Loak, to recriting Mordin and Garrus, and then on to Horizon, which ends the first movie. The climactic end is driving off the Collector ship, and reuniting with Ashley/Kaiden. I think Ashley is the one to keep.

    Also, I would have them bring much bigger landing parties. 2 squadmates was just to fit the game mechanics, but in a movie, it would make more sense to have squad/platoon sized landing parties. Would give you an opportunity to have more Corporal Jenkins to die on missions. Maybe make them all were royal blue…since red short always got toasted in Star Trek.

    Anyway, this needs to be done as more of a 6 to 9 movie project ME1 to ME3, with a lot of straight to DVD movies in between. Movies could be 1 to 1.5 years apart, with 2 or 3 DVD movies in between.

  8. Why not start with a movie (discovery of mass relay and the first contact war maybe?), and a movie for every major event (taking down Saren, destroying collector base, fight against the reapers, etc?) with TV series in between telling stories that happen between the major events in a bit more details? Mass Effect may even be great movie/TV show franchise without Commander Shepard alway being on the centre stage. It’s got deep storyline and rich background behind this big name. Every episode can focus on supplementary stories which will provide background information for the main storyline (recruitment of squadmates, history of squadmates, conflicts on Omega, etc). Telling the history of squad members and how they met Commander Shepard in the perspective of that squad member instead of Shepard him/herself would be nice. Not every single battle need to be made into a movie, some of them can be covered in TV series episodes. My opinion is this franchise shouldn’t be produced with every single detail of Commander Shepard as it shouldn’t be made for die hard ME fans only. IMHO, covering stories of all species would be important to make the franchise successful.

  9. Making the first movie about the first contact war would probably be the best approach with Commander Shepard making his first appearance towards the end of the movie as a earth born kid based on his childhood history within the game.

  10. I think i’ve just found the perfect one to be Shepard. Ricky is currently in The 100′s cast.

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1340638/?ref_=ttfc_fc_cl_t15

    • Whoever is to play Shepard must be no older than about 25 to 30 at this point. Preferably younger since it takes years between each movie. If this were stretched out over several movies, even 5 movies, you could be looking easily at 15 years before the series is done. This is why IMHO it is vital that they do it similar to Lord of the Rings in that they get the main actors to commit to all the movies and they do it all in one big fell swoop, releasing each movie as soon as it is ready, but even before that one is in the can, they are already working on the next one. If they did it like that, they could get 5 to 10 movies out of it. Or 5 movies with a bunch of HBO miniseries in-between.

      Also, I am going to have to disagree on Shepard being black, or even half black. It isn’t a crime for him to be white. His canon character is white, and this allows for it to be cool in my opinion, how close he and Jacob become. IMHO Jacob was one of the coolest human characters in the game. He’s black, so I see no problem making Shepard white so we can have an equally cool white person. Kaidan Alenko appeared white but I would make him the one that is sacrificed. Ashley was the better one to bring along through the story.

      If they were ready to begin filming right now, and planned an aggressive schedule for 5 or 6 movies, they could use some of the voice characters. However, I don’t think that is realistic since filming is likely 4 or 5 years away, and they would then need about 10 years for the 5 or 6 movies to be completed. So I think to be realistic, the actors at this point need to be somewhere near 38 years old. Maggie Baird appears to be in her mid to late 40s even now. She would be too old to be used all the way to the later movies. Many of the other voice actors are older. Seth green is also 40. How is he to be the young brash pilot when he’s 50 years old in the final movies?

      I think they would need an all new cast. When filming starts for the first movie, the main characters such as Shepard, Jacob, Kaidan, all need to be no older than about 30 to 33. Miranda, Ashley, Liara, Tali, Joker, and Kasumi should be no older than about 25 to 28 when filming starts. Zaeed Massani should be somewhere in late 30s to early 40s when he joins the cast. Same for the Illusive Man, unless they go with the man born to take over his father’s role, Emilio Estevez, though he would likely need to get in shape.

  11. I want Mass Effect movie action figure and vehicle toys for the movie.

  12. I hope they pull it off. A Mass Effect movie needs to happen. Currently there are two giants in Sci Fi cinema. Star Wars and Star Trek. It’d be nice thatf if our generation can sucessully take those franchises on with something orginal.

  13. Give it to lucas

  14. My opinion differs from most in that I’d make just one movie out of all three game, but I’d do it twice. Make a single 2.5 hour movie and devote 50 min to the events of each game, and you’ll have enough time to get all the critical parts in. Who really wants to watch Shepard scan 50 planets for Palladium anyway?

    But here’s where I’d throw in a twist: deliver the movie with 2 different stories. Make one movie with male Shep, making various choices and with one of the endings. At the same time film another version of the movie where Shep looks female and makes different choices and has a different ending. Deliver it so the audience knows which one they’re watching, maybe title subtext (maleshep) or (femshep). That way you could capture a lot of the greatness of ME, and get double the payback, and not alienate any fans.

    Scott

  15. If they were to do mass effect movies, then they should go all out with the budget and effects. If done right it could be an epic sic fi film (or films!) maybe they could start the story from when humans discovered the mass relay and through the first contact wars to the invasion of the reapers. Could end up being a great bunch of films.

  16. If the first movie will be based off ME1 then they should have an Easter egg after the credits of the Normandy being destroyed and death of Shepard.

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