Over the weekend at PAX East a fan managed to get some face time with Bioware writer Patrick Weekes in order to talk about ME3's characters, endings, and the little things some fans might have caught while going through ME3.
Here is the interviewer's original post.
"Okay, here is what I asked Patrick Weekes, and his answers as best as I can remember them. I've paraphrased but I'm doing my best to stick to what he said rather than introduce any interpretation.
THESE ARE NOT DIRECT QUOTES.
-Is there still a setting to explore after the ending? Is everything ruined?
The setting is definitely not ruined. We still have a big, lively galaxy.
-Will long-distance superluminal travel still be possible post-Ending? (will Tali or Wrex or Garrus see their homeworlds again? Will everyone starve?)
Galactic civilization will rebuild. The mass relays were not necessary for interstellar flight. Remember, what does it say in the Codex about the speed of ships? That's right, 12 lightyears per (day? hour? minute?). And that's only the cruising speed, not the maximum speed.
People have never needed to research basic FTL improvements before because they have mass relays. With the relays gone, new technology will increase that speed. Additionally, the element zero cores of the dead/controlled Reapers can be used to improve FTL drives. Starflight will continue using conventional FTL.
-Why did Joker leave Shep behind?
Joker would never abandon Shep without a good reason. Hopefully this will be clear in the Expanded Cut.
-Why can EDI survive the Destroy ending?
We argued a lot about this, I said that she was made of Reapertech and should therefore be destroyed, but (unclear, don't remember - wish I'd been able to ask a followup as his response doesn't make much sense)
-Did anyone on the Citadel survive?
Yes. We would never, ever do anything that made the player feel, on replay, that it would be better for everyone on the Citadel if they just died. The Citadel has emergency shelters and kinetic barriers - even if it blows up, millions might survive. You should assume that everyone plot-important on the Citadel survived.
-Is it better for Kelly Chambers if we talk her into suicide?
No, see above.
-Who wrote the death of Joker's sister?
I did! We intentionally did not connect the dots. We were very interested to see how fast gamers figured it out.
-Whose idea was it to make the Rayya fall out of the sky if you destroy the Quarian fleet?
Someone in the audio department, it was brilliant.
-Did the mass relays pull an Arrival and go supernova?
No, they didn't. (i'm paraphrasing here, please don't interpret this too hard) They overloaded, they didn't rupture. We really didn't mean to imply that the whole galaxy had been destroyed. People interpreted the ending in ways we really didn't expect.
(Mr. Weekes dropped a lot of hints that he really didn't like the ending. He also said something that was almost 100% verbatim from the Penny Arcade Forum post often attributed to him)
-Why did Legion pull a 180 from his Mass Effect 2 philosophy?
He and the Geth were backed into a corner. They'd been made a lot dumber by the attack on the Dyson swarm. There was no other choice for Geth survival.
-What was up with the Rachni story? Why did we get railroaded?
Welcome to game development. In some games (Alpha Protocol) they make a bold choice where some decisions can knock entire missions out of the story. At BioWare, we never want people to be locked out of content due to a decision several games ago. We just didn't have the resources to do an alternate for the Rachni mission, so we decided that the Rachni mission could occur whether or not players saved the Queen.
-Why didn't (X squadmate from ME2) return?
There was a very ugly month of development where we fought out who would return. We knew we had to have a smaller cast so we could fit in more squad banter. Eventually we decided to bring Garrus and Tali back, so they could be squadmates in all three games. We also knew we'd have Vega in order for new players to have someone dumber than they were.
I was very resentful of Vega at first because I thought he was taking a slot that could've gone to a ME2 character, but he grew on me.
-Why did EDI have cameltoe?
We don't get a lot of feedback from the art department but (unclear, wish I remembered this better
Lots of discussion about how he was uncomfortable doing Pinocchio stories for both Legion and EDI because 'EDI was fine, she was an AI, she was cool - do we really need her to turn into Commander Data? We had seven seasons of Data, that was enough.'
-Why did you write Pinocchio stories for all the synthetic characters?
-What was up with the Human Reaper in ME2? Why did it look so dumb?
We wanted to use the Suicide Mission to show several steps of the Reaper development process, from human reaper embryo all the way to cuttlefish. But the mission grew too complicated so it was cut for time.
Do the Reapers really only generate one capital ship per cycle? How do they ever break even?
Well, we never totally pinned that down. But this cycle was really anomalous. They don't normally take any capital-size Reaper losses at all.
-What was up with Kai Leng? How do you feel about him?
We really wanted to have a recurring antagonist for Shep, a 'Darth Maul' (his words). But I feel like there was some definite conflict between cutscene and gameplay there, and I think it's something we have to work on.
'He was a great antagonist in the books' fi.somethingawful.com/images/s…
-Why did we only get top and bottom dialogue choices, no middle?
Part of it was resources. Part of it is that Mass Effect 3 is a war story and it's really hard for Shep to feel middling about the Reapers.
-How did YOU feel about the ending?
(I didn't ask this, but he seems to have gone to GREAT lengths to think ways around a lot of stuff the ending implied.)
Why no female (alien X?)
Resource limitations. They have a very strict budget for how many different characters they can use in a given area. Some are basically free - if you have human males you have Batarians because they're humans with funny heads, if you have human females you have asari, etc.
Where was Harbinger? Can we ASSUME DIRECT CONTROL of him?
I definitely want more closure on Harbinger. That'd be hilarious. Stop punching yourself, Harbinger.
How did the Reapers storm the Citadel? Why didn't they shut down the relays as per their original plan once they had control?
Originally we planned to have a cutscene of Reapers taking over, Reaper monsters punching buttons, et cetera. But we cut it, partially for resource reasons and partly because it disrupted the pacing.
The Reapers didn't shut down the mass relays because the Keepers interfered with that. (I wish I could've asked a follow-up here, it doesn't make much sense.)
Why don't Ken and Gabby have more dialogue?
They actually have a bunch more on disk, but we somehow introduced a bug where their dialogue is tied to your approval level with Ash. If Ash has low approval, or isn't present, most of Ken and Gabby's dialogue won't play.
Why do you guys do Star Wars style space battles instead of the battles described in the codex?
We want to provide a familiar, compelling visual experience for people who grew up on Star Wars and stuff like that. These are some of our favorite parts of the game.
Things I wish I'd asked:
Why the drat Starchild?
What was up with the Stargazer? (He touched on the Stargazer once and pretty much said 'oh, yeah, the Stargazer.'
Again: NOT DIRECT QUOTES. These are NOT OFFICIAL BIOWARE STATEMENTS. Please don't gently caress Patrick Weekes over by posting these as 'official BioWare PR' or whatever. Please feel free to ask me follow-up questions, as I definitely didn't cover the whole conversation with him.
My takeaway was: the epilogue DLC is probably going to do a lot of good and be pretty well written, and Patrick Weekes should've been lead writer on ME3. "
And have it be specified that Weekes tweeted, "Those are paraphrases, some with a very negative spin, which is unfortunate, because they were great questions."
"James isn't there to be dumb. He's often used as a voice for people new to series. That was one joking aside presented as my response. "
"Also doesn't include second half of my response in re EDI: I WAS nervous, but I thought Chris Hepler aced her continuing character arc."
"And second half of James was that I expected a basic marine and was blown away by what FPJ brought to the character. "
"Thanks, @sethjdickinson, no harm done. They were great questions. Just didn't want anyone to think I was slamming EDI/James."