BioWare's Montreal studio was developing a competitive first-person shooter called Mass Effect Team Assault in 2010 before transforming that effort into the third-person multiplayer mode in Mass Effect 3, according to a new behind-the-scenes iPad app created by gaming journalist Geoff Keighley.
"The goal was simple," Keighley reports in The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3, "to create a standalone multiplayer experience in the Mass Effect universe that would mix the play styles of Unreal Tournament and Battlefield 1943 — and likely be released as a downloadable game."
The game was in development for four months and was presented, in March 2010, as the prototype seen in the images in this story. (Those images are captured from Keighley's app, which features video of the prototype.)
The powers-that-be at BioWare liked the idea of a multiplayer shooter, because it presented an added view of the wide-ranging war occurring during Mass Effect 3. The idea morphed into the development of a co-op mode for Mass Effect 3 itself. The main game's engine wouldn't allow gamers to play co-op in the main campaign of Mass Effect 3, but it would allow them to team up in a separate skirmish mode, which is what BioWare delivered in the sequel that finally came out earlier this month. As the BioWare developers shifted to that, Mass Effect Team Assault "was put on the back burner."
The Final Hours of Mass Effect is packed with stories like these (though maybe no others quite so juicy!). If you want to read a ton more about the making of Mass Effect 3, watch video interviews with the developers, check out deleted scenes from the game and even swipe through some panoramic photos shot inside BioWare HQ, grap the app from iTunes. It's iPad-only for now but will be released for PC in the next couple of days as well. (Look for an announcement on the app's official site.)
The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3 [iTunes, $2.99]