Mass Effect 4 and World Building

If there’s one modern franchise I love, it’s Mass Effect. Several years ago, when only the first title was out, I was searching for something on a rainy day to amuse me. I needed an instant fix, something downloadable, and I hopped onto EA, did a search and found this title called Mass Effect. I hummed and hawed for quite some time about whether to spend £10 on it – yep, it was only a tenner. A few minutes later, it was downloaded and I was cast into a new world of raging wars, alien races, the threat of extinction and incredible characters, species and storylines. I’ve played all the trilogy constantly ever since, have several figurines (including a Shepherd signed by Mark Meer) and keep a watch out for the latest reports on upcoming titles.

Of course, as E3 opens, we now know that Mass Effect 4 is most definitely coming – albeit under that name or something a little less obvious. The trailer (if it can be called that; it’s more of a production piece) outlined some interesting concepts. Firstly, that the instalment is likely to have new characters and reveal parts of galaxy never seen in the original trilogy. It’s long been believed that Shepherd’s story has ended, and though there was no definite agreement, the video suggests that we’re moving onto fresher pastures in ME4. It was implied that world maps are likely to be far more extensive too, possibly something more akin to MMO territory rather than territories based around specific routes characters have to traverse. In addition, it seems weather, seasonal and time-of-day factors have been brought in too, so that as you play, the world around you changes.

One fact I especially liked was when Casey Hudson (executive producer) talking about world-building. It’s what us writers do to; develop a story and create a compelling world. Mostly, for me, it’s the character that comes to mind first. The world-building aspect comes later as my cast comes to life and starts needing a place to live. The Mass Effect crew seem to have stripped everything right back to the beginning, and as well as considering their characters, are thinking about how cities looks and how worlds appear. It’s a slightly different angle; develop an alien world and city, and THEN think about who’d live there.

Of course, my world for CRYO is pretty much created – it’s Earth after all, just slightly different. However, as John and the crew start to traverse the stars in a bid to find answers, particularly from other alien races which have had only a mere mention in the books, I might take a new approach. Create a world, create a city and then think about the complex characters who might be found within. This, of course, will be alongside scouring the Internet for every conceivable piece of info on Mass Effect 4! I better get writing because as soon as this new game hits, I’ll be disappearing into its incredible and involving universe.

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