Mass Effect was too big for the 'big screen,' but director says it's just right for TV

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,160   +872
Staff member
Why it matters: There has been much interest lately in turning video games into television shows. The Witcher was well-received, as was the Castlevania animated series. Additionally, Hollywood is working on or considering Resident Evil, The Last of Us, and other video game IPs. Is there room for Mass Effect? Director Mac Walters thinks so.

In 2010, Legendary Pictures announced it had acquired the license to make a Mass Effect film adaptation. The studio tapped "I Am Legend" screenwriter Mark Protosevich to write the screenplay and Marvel Studios CEO Avi Arad to produce. However, aside from the initial announcement, that was all we heard about the project, and it appeared to slip away into the universe of lost projects.

Recently, Business Insider had a sit down with Mass Effect: Legendary Edition director Mac Walters. During the interview, Walters explained why Legendary Pictures eventually dropped the project.

"It felt like we were always fighting the IP," Walters told BI. "What story are we going to tell in 90 to 120 minutes? Are we going to do it justice?"

"Long-form storytelling is a great place for game franchises."

Despite some attempts to rework the script, the scope of the game's story proved too big for a two-hour movie. However, Walters holds out hope that Mass Effect will make it to the big or small screen. In fact, he believes it is inevitable.

"It's such an expansive world, and so many people I know in the TV and film industry have reached out to ask me when we're going to do it and saying we've got to do it," Walters said. He suggested that a television series would be a better medium for Mass Effect's story. "If you're going to tell a story that's as fleshed out as 'Mass Effect,' TV is the way to do it. There's a natural way it fits well with episodic content."

Indeed, Walters explained that Bioware approached Mass Effect's story in a very episodic fashion during development. The team had a full story arc that served as a "backbone," but it was very much "write as you go" when writing the missions.

"When we build out a 'Mass Effect' game, we have a backbone, or an overall story that we want to tell, but each level or mission is like its own TV episode," Walters said. "It doesn't get written ahead of time. It gets written at the time that we get to it. So it gets added to the main story, and sometimes the main story gets adjusted because we did something really cool in that 'episode.' So long-form storytelling is a great place for game franchises."

Currently, there are no takers to pick up the story. Although, the recent surge in interest and success in video-game/TV-series adaptations like The Witcher, Castlevania, and Resident Evil (not yet released), indicates that the time may be ripe for pitching such a project. Walters only hopes that it doesn't end up as a "choose your own adventure" like Bandersnatch.

"[Bandersnatch] was cool as an experiment, but I don't know if that's the thing we should be taking away from games in terms of storytelling," Walters said. "There are plenty of rich worlds with amazing characters, and that's something we share in any of the mediums (movies, TV, and video games), so we should leverage that and lean into it."

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dnous

Posts: 39   +40
Considering how bad the last Mass Effect games were (Andromeda and ME3), it's better if it just dies. It already lost all it's space opera magic.
 

Setnom

Posts: 15   +18
Considering how bad the last Mass Effect games were (Andromeda and ME3), it's better if it just dies. It already lost all it's space opera magic.

I've been replaying Mass Effect 3 (legendary edition). My previous (and only, at the time) playthrough was when the original came out. I've still yet to reach the terrible 3-choice ending, but so far the game is incredible. I'm gonna be fair, that ending totally made me forget how awesome the game was up until that point. Which is a shame considering the badassness that comes before.

You should give Mass Effect 3 a second chance. See if the ending doesn't impact your overall opinion of the game like it did to me before.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,160   +872
Staff member
I've been replaying Mass Effect 3 (legendary edition). My previous (and only, at the time) playthrough was when the original came out. I've still yet to reach the terrible 3-choice ending, but so far the game is incredible. I'm gonna be fair, that ending totally made me forget how awesome the game was up until that point. Which is a shame considering the badassness that comes before.

You should give Mass Effect 3 a second chance. See if the ending doesn't impact your overall opinion of the game like it did to me before.
I'm trying to play through Legendary myself (huge lack of free time ATM), I won't swear on it, but I thought I read somewhere that they reworked the crappy ending. Could be wrong though.
 

Setnom

Posts: 15   +18
I'm trying to play through Legendary myself (huge lack of free time ATM), I won't swear on it, but I thought I read somewhere that they reworked the crappy ending. Could be wrong though.
They didn't. There's that "epilogue" Bioware added after the enormous backlash years ago, but the Legendary Edition didn't change a thing regarding a new, true ending for the 2021 remaster. They just limited themselves to cleaning up, re-upping textures and whatnot.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,160   +872
Staff member
They didn't. There's that "epilogue" Bioware added after the enormous backlash years ago, but the Legendary Edition didn't change a thing regarding a new, true ending for the 2021 remaster. They just limited themselves to cleaning up, re-upping textures and whatnot.
Ah, thanks for that. Not sure where I read about that. It might have just been an article that was speculating that they might do that.
 

dnous

Posts: 39   +40
I've been replaying Mass Effect 3 (legendary edition). My previous (and only, at the time) playthrough was when the original came out. I've still yet to reach the terrible 3-choice ending, but so far the game is incredible. I'm gonna be fair, that ending totally made me forget how awesome the game was up until that point. Which is a shame considering the badassness that comes before.

You should give Mass Effect 3 a second chance. See if the ending doesn't impact your overall opinion of the game like it did to me before.
I played the hell out of Mass Effect 1. I think I replayed that game more than a dozen times. I was hyped for ME2 when they announced they'd fix some of the criticisms of ME1. They ended up dumbing down the game and it became more of a third person shooter than ME1. Bioware made the ME universe feel a lot smaller with ME2 and at some points just stupid (thermal clips), but it shined with the Tali mission (star dying to early due to dark energy) introduction of Legion, visiting the Migrant Fleet. It was enough to keep me invested in the franchise to see the final installment. But after it pretty much retconning everything mildly interesting from ME2, and Cerberus becoming suddenly massive, Shephard suddenly having PTSD because of some dumb kid, the introduction of the deus ex machina called the crucible, too many fetch quests. This on it's own was terrible enough, but I still had hope they would finish the trilogy properly. I dont think the ending needs any explanation.

So no, I won't give ME3 another chance. Why the hell should I waste more time on a game that will 100% piss me off because it will once again remind me of what could have been, how they straight up lied about the game and then there is what they actually did.
 

havok585

Posts: 268   +120
Considering how bad the last Mass Effect games were (Andromeda and ME3), it's better if it just dies. It already lost all it's space opera magic.
Maybe for you, but ME universe is cool. Good thing your opinion doesnt hold ground.