A pretty interesting tidbit finally put the debate between which Commander Shepard is the canon Shepard to rest. M-Shep or FemShep. Coming by way of developer Jonathan Cooper over Twitter revealed that the first animation test for Commander Shepard was in fact a female wireframe.
Cooper was with Bioware at the time and made the Tweet in commemoration of a decade passing since that original animation’s creation. He worked as the animation lead for both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, animation director at UbiSoft for Assassin’s Creed III and is currently at Naughty Dog serving as an animator for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
I joke about FemShep being the definitive Commander Shepard, but she remains one of my favorite characters in the past decade of gaming. Nothing quite like Jennifer Hale’s voice as a Paragon Shepard with that little bit of snark that I always gave to Udina.
Cooper followed up the initial Tweet by elaborating that the animation was repurposed from Bioware’s Jade Empire as a building block and that Shepard’s was always designed to be chosen by the player. That is unsurprising given Bioware’s track record with allowing users to create their own characters.
Just seeing that wireframe run back and forth is enough to bring back memories of the original Mass Effect, a game that despite its rough shooting and crazy inventory system, I consider my favorite in the series. Cooper and his teams have done some fantastic work on the Mass Effects and even Assassin’s Creed III’s animation was spectacular. I can only expect his pedigree will be an asset to the already stellar team at Naughty Dog.