Mass Effect 3 marked the first time BioWare's sci-fi role-playing game franchise included a multiplayer component, but it almost wasn't so. As part of the "making of"-style iPad app The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3, BioWare confirmed that the multiplayer component actually started out as a stand-alone downloadable game set in the Mass Effect franchise.
The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3 app includes insider commentary from various BioWare staff, ranging from group head Ray Muzyka to executive producer Casey Hudson. It details how, following the completion of Mass Effect 2, a team led by Yannick Roy formed a new BioWare studio in Montreal. Over the course of four months, that team prototyped the multiplayer Mass Effect Team Assault game.
"The goal was simple: to create a standalone multiplayer experience in the Mass Effect universe that would mix the play styles of Unreal Tournament and Battlefield 1943--and likely be released as a downloadable game," the app reads. "Played from the first-person perspective, players would battle on foot and drive vehicles like the Mako and Hammerhead hovercraft."
The app includes prototype footage of that game, revealing a multiplayer FPS experience resembling Microsoft's Halo franchise. This prototype apparently caught the eye of Hudson, who felt that the multiplayer component could be a way to convey the "galactic war" sentiment of the main game.
"The stand-alone META was put on the back burner, and the Montreal team began working on a co-op multiplayer game that would use the same engine, characters, and gameplay style as the single-player game," the article notes.
For more information on Mass Effect 3, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.