After reading an article that popped up on ign.com, which states that details on the Mass Effect movie coming will be unvieled at Comic-Con this year, something that is going to cause some major uproar (no matter how the direction of the movie is handled, a overflow of possibilities in how this movie could be handled in a way that could appease us rabid fan-boys(girls)
So at this point one can assume that Bioware (who are 'taking direct control') is looking at recreating Commander Shepard's story, so we're likely looking at a retelling of the first game (the first of a possible trilogy). The prevailing question is how do you boil a 30+ hour game down to a 2 to 3 hour film?
Firstly, and most obviously, boiling the story down to its most basic form. People who play these games must realize that with any film adaptation of this story the fat needs to be cut loose. Look at it this way. Once can easily beat mass Effect's rather short main story within 8 to 12 hours, by skipping through all side missions and most of the dialogue. What makes up the remaining possible play time is really how much one chooses to insert into exploring this universe and what it has to offer.
This is indeed an important part, and quests such as 'Hades Dog' and to a lesser extent the missions from 'Bring Down the Sky' need to be featured somewhere within the story of the film. These two missions flesh out in a rather quick way the expansive Universe to which Mass Effect is based. Hades Dog introduces us to the Cerberus organization, an important plot point to establish in a 'first film' way due to their much larger role in a possible 'second film'. Whereas any mention to Bring Down the Sky is useful because it introduces us to the Batarians, a race of humanoid aliens who bear no love for humans, something that can easily display and possibly justify Cerebus' actions later. Of course these missions plots doesn't haven to be lifted exactly, however more than just a fleeting mention of either/or is warranted, especially to install some sense of scale to audiences who aren't familiar with the Universe.
What about the main story itself? How can you create a linear narrative from a game that allows you progress at your own pace? I don't believe Bioware and whoever is handling the script will find it difficult to re-tell the story of Saren's apparent betrayal and his attempt to open the Citadel Mass Relay. But how will they fare in handling the Feros, Noveria and the vitally important Virmire?
Each mission on each planet installs it's own need to be in the story. The Rachni being brought back from extinction on Noveria, or the deal Saren struck with the Thorian on Feros, and of course the revelation and tension of the Krogan breeding facility. These plot points would need to be boiled down to standalone set pieces, both highlighting there importance to the story as well as for character development. Regardless of the handling of these missions, the set pieces that would arise from Illos and the final section on the Citadel would make up the last hour of the film.
Secondly, and possibly more importance than how to handle the main story, including what and what not to add in, is player decisions. Obviously Mass Effect is a deeply personal game. No two persons playthroughs would be the same, with a large number of different variations in story. How does Bioware handle these player driven choices? Who dies on Virmire? Does Wrex live or die? What is the fate of the Council? Which side of the morality path does Shepard walk? Whatever decision is made will not equate to, or add up for, every person who has ever played the game.
So how do you get around something that has the potential for fan unrest? One would imagine Bioware has its own Shepard character, one they use for all standard testing and in-house situations, a "Shepard Prime" if you will. Take this Shepard Prime and mix it up by using the player data Bioware have collected (something they have been open about using in creating Mass Effect 2 & 3) and infuse some of the more popular player choices with their own stock standard Shepard. And more importantly, let Wrex live!
Of course I could go on a lot more with what Bioware should and shouldn't do with this film. I think I've covered some of the basics, and hopefully it's food for thought for some of you out there.
However I will close with one more statement; as details about this film are slowly released, please keep an open mind about the direction until we actually see it, no matter what your personal expectations won't be match to the letter.