Mass Effect Dev Reveals Most Players Refused To Be The Bad Guy
Even with no one watching, we're compelled to do good.
If you played through any of the Mass Effect trilogy, there's a high probability you played Shepherd as a Paragon opposed to a Renegade--at least on the first playthrough. And the stats back it up.
According to former Bioware cinematic designer John Ebenger, around 92% of players opted to be the good guy in their Mass Effect playthrough. "Something like 92% of Mass Effect players were Paragon. And we put a lot of work in to the Renegade content too :(," Ebenger wrote in a tweet.
Yup. Something like 92% of Mass Effect players were Paragon.— John Ebenger (@EbengerJohn) February 19, 2020
And we put a lot of work in to the Renegade content too :( https://t.co/lywwx7n4Hy
Paragon and Renegade occupied opposite sides of Mass Effect's binary morality system. Players could choose different lines of dialogue and actions that fit one of the two sides, with each decision adding points to their character's score as a either a Paragon or Renegade. Filling up one side would open up more choices down that path, so you were incentivised to pick one and stick with it instead of mixing and matching according to the situation.
Paragon was the typical goody two shoes path, encompassing compassion and acts of heroism. Renegade, meanwhile, focused on selfishness and just generally being a piece of work--like when punching a reporter in the face--but an argument can also be made for the ends justifying the means in some instances.
One Twitter user replied to Ebenger, criticising the morality system's tendency to incentivise sticking to one path over the other. "Yup, that's why it was changed for [Mass Effect 3]," wrote Ebenger in response.
Bioware experimented with the system throughout the trilogy, beginning with a total points score that then morphed into a percentage-based system in Mass Effect 2. Significant changes were introduced in Mass Effect 3, boiling it down to a single reputation meter which Paragon and Renegade points both contributed to. On the flip side, Mass Effect: Andromeda abandoned the morality system altogether.