How do you ensure, when there are so many narrative threads and possibilities, that what comes out of every player's choices is a story that's worth telling?
Without sounding facetious, it's just a really talented team. We have an amazing group of writers who have to conceptualise all of the myriad possibilities of relationships and who might still be alive at certain points and come up with amazing story arcs based on these permutations.
The first ME was very much an RPG that looked at its world down the barrel of a gun, and by now it feels like a shooter with the RPG elements receding - the morality and the levelling seems to be in the background. Has it been a battle of genres?
We just want to tell the best story within the context of an amazing shooter. I think in ME3 we've actually brought back a lot of the customisation elements that were missing in ME2: Weapons, armour, powers, each power now has nine possible ways of evolution. We brought back all that customisation. Like any transition between games, we want to polish everything. I wouldn't say one genre is winning out over another.
This game seems to be a lot more gymnastic than the previous games? Do you still spend a lot of time on things like aiming and traversal and cover?
Absolutley. That stuff is important. How the player interacts with the gameplay space is one of the most important things, as players spend most of their time doing that. We've added a lot of new melee stuff, and it's all part of making combat seem more dynamic. Enemy behaviour is also different as enemies will now try and flank and come up close. There's definitely been an emphasis on making combat spaces into open battlefields in this game. We're trying to get away from corridor shooters.
Has part of that come from trying to find a multiplayer approach that suited ME?
Multiplayer, when we decided to do it, we wanted to make it tie in seamlessly to the singleplayer and that story of the Reapers attacking. That idea of locking down an area and holding a position, it just fit well. I wouldn't necessarily say that we took multiplayer design strategies and moved them into single-player, but at the same time, we wanted to make a lot of single-player missions filled with options. That happens to translate, but we didn't want to replicate them.
What's next for Mass Effect? You've spent so long building this world, it would be weird to end it with this story arc?
Basically, in terms of what you've just said, we've spent a lot of time building the IP and building this amazing world. We don't have anything to announce, and ME3 is the end of Shepard's story of course, but who knows? We may tell additional stories in the future.