Issue 99's out tomorrow, and it should be of particular interest to you Shepard fans. Nestled between pages 46 and 51 is an enormous Mass Effect retrospective contributed entirely by BioWare's Casey Hudson, Mac Walters, Dusty Everman, Mike Gamble and Preston Watamaniuk - a poignant, fascinating tour of one of gaming's best-loved galaxies.
From the folds of the feature, I pluck the following thoughts about unimplemented DLC concepts and canned ideas for playable characters. "In Mass Effect 3 we had a moment where the player took on the role of Joker during the Normandy assault," Everman recalled.
"Similarly, we'd planned on having the player take on the role of a Quarian scientist before Tali's loyalty quest, and a colonist on Horizon during the Collector attack. It was a bit controversial to not be Shepard, and we thought it better to put the development energy into other places."
"Yeah, we always start with some fairly radical ideas when we're putting together a level or gameplay sequence," Gamble elaborated. "For many of these, what you see in the end product is a result of constant iteration and transformation of these ideas.
"In certain circumstances, we like to explore some of these ideas more in DLC. The car chase mission, in Lair of the Shadow Brokers, was something new that we'd wanted to try for some time, and found a perfect venue for it in that DLC."
BioWare once gave serious thought to adding a non-humanoid squadmate, but eventually decided that the effort involved would detract from the rest of the game. "We knew some races would figure prominently in the storyline," Hudson explained. "So they had to function like the human characters, be able to carry a gun, etc. But we also wanted a sense of "other aliens" around the periphery - species that may eventually play a major role but are really there to suggest that there's an exotic universe out there.
"For Mass Effect we developed a set of additional aliens, that would mainly be featured in the Citadel. Each developed a bit of a following, so over the series we found ways to make them play more important roles."
"All party members needed to use a humanoid skeleton," Everman added. "If we'd ever tried to use a non-humanoid, the cost would have been huge. Instead, we took all the development effort that we could have put towards an odd squad mate and made a larger, more polished game."
BioWare's next Mass Effect game will offer "new ways to explore the Mass Effect universe", and is thought to be a prequel. Don't know about you, but I'd be delighted to see playable races that aren't of the two-armed, two-legged and two-eyed variety.
Don't forget, issue 99 hits shelves tomorrow. Besides the Mass Effect stuff, it contains a whopping Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 hands-on, an equally sizeable FIFA 14 preview and what we fondly consider to be the ultimate guide to Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition. You'll be able to buy the mag online with free postage, download a copy for iPad from Apple Newsstand, or nab an Android-friendly version from Zinio.
Frontpage image copyrighted to and courtesy of Dark Horse Comics..