Before a game can go from idea to fully realised, it needs some concept art along the way that’ll help sell the idea. It’s one of the most under-appreciated parts of game design today, and looking at the concepts that Matt Rhodes gave to Bioware for their Mass Effect and Dragon Age games, it should be criminal to undervalue these skills. See for yourself after the jump.
Looking at the art that Matt Rhodes released, it’s clear that we almost had a very different Mass Effect that was almost released. Just look at Sheperd and those cybernetic enhancements to get an idea of how different some of those concepts were. Or as Rhodes explained on his site:
This was a very, very early idea for Shepard. In this image he has been forced to turn to Reaper technology to accomplish his goals (*cough* Saren *cough*) and he’s being confronted by the new human Specter, Ashley.
As for my favourite character from the Mass Effect universe though, Rhodes had some different ideas in mind for Tali and her gas-mask anonymity:
The debate about whether or not to reveal Tali’s face was another one that lasted a long time. Versions of her were being worked on fairly often. These were three that I thought worked in their own way. Personally, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to push players to the edge. Tali was like a pen pal, or a friend you’ve only ever known online.
Depending on how attached to her a player was, how well could they handle her appearance challenging their expectations? If she looked a little too alien, just a little too repellant, would they still feel the same way about her? Or did her personality and your history together trump appearances? It’s an interesting area to explore and I hope we can find other ways to ask that question.
To me, this has always been (and always will be) Tali. This was drawn during ME1 when she was first being designed, and when her appearance under the mask wasn’t a big deal yet.
There’s a ton more art on his site, as well as some behind the scenes insight onto everything from Cerberus troopers through to Dragon Age tattoos. If you love some good art and what goes into making these ideas go from sketch through to 3D model, it’s well worth a read.
Last Updated: July 25, 2013