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More Mass Effect tie-in comics, Illusive Man stories could happen

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BioWare may continue to create comic book tie-ins for the Mass Effect universe for the currently in-development fourth game in the series, according to writer Mac Walters — as well as more stories focused on a certain Cerberus leader.

"I could write stories about the Illusive Man forever," Walters told Polygon in an interview. "I love his character and his moral ambiguity. You kind of want to root for him, and yet, you kind of want him dead. That's a character I could always write for.

"Aria's another one. She's fascinating — she's tough and ruthless, and you want to route for her despite all the bad things," he added. "We could do like an Aria-Breaking Bad mashup, or something like that."

Walters said he's currently focused on the Foundation series of Mass Effect comics, but as BioWare moves deeper into development on the yet untitled next Mass Effect game, more tie-in comics are not being ruled out.

"We've seen that [the comics do] add a lot to the universe, and to me it's an excellent way to have a bridge of some sort, say, to establish where certain stories are going to take place and introduce new characters," Walters said. "The comics are a better way to introduce some themes or ideas, or using them to tie into DLC and flesh out new characters even more.

"While we have no firm plans at this point, it's something that fans love — and as long as we have the energy and ability to do it, and Dark Horse is on board, I imagine we'll keep doing it," he added.

Walters said that Dark Horse initially approached BioWare after Mass Effect 2 about creating the Mass Effect comic books. From the beginning, he said, it was important that whatever stories were established in the books would tie in with the universe but also be independently enjoyable away from the games.

"The big thing that we realized earlier on and stuck to all the way through is, we didn't want the comics to just be something we did on the side," Walters said. "It had to fit in with the game. A lot of times the DLCs that we put out afterwards are tied to the comics somehow, or vice versa. To me, I think that you should always be able to pick up a comic and read it without playing the game, and vice versa, but there's still that sense that if you have both, it's better."

Walters feels that the best stories come from deep, well-realized characters, and sometimes video games limit how much time you can spend developing an individual in the middle of a grand, spread-out story. Comics can touch on characters that gamers don't get to play as and present new stories. Individuals are the backbone of the Mass Effect universe. He added that players can relate more to a futuristic worlds of aliens and massive (fictional) threats to humankind if a universe is populated with believable characters — good ones and bad ones, triumphs, flaws and all.

"Characters transcend the medium; if you have great characters in TV, in a book or comic or game, it's still a great character and you can tell an interesting story about them," he explained. "That's really what we focus on in our games: interesting, dynamic characters that change and have lives of their own. And that more than anything lends itself to telling all these stories.

"There's obviously lots of cool places and interesting sci-fi concepts, but that's only to a degree," he added. "In my mind, it's only interesting if it's wrapped around somebody I care about."

"Honestly, when we started working on Mass Effect, I had no idea it would get this big," he said. "I just couldn't fathom it. And it's been awesome and humbling and amazing seeing [the fandom] grow from con to con. Fans have their own stories, their own favorite characters — it's always rejuvenating to hear."