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Adventures in Mass Effect

 
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Voss
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 1:24 am    Post subject: Adventures in Mass Effect Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So, excessive advertising for Andromeda got me to pick up ME2 (which I had briefly played but never finished), largely on the basis of it being free.

This followed closely by ME3, on the basis that it wasn't even five whole dollars.

This made me think of what Bioware did right and what they did wrong. Sadly, this was sometimes very different between the two games, in ways both minor and not so minor. Sometimes the sameness was very sad indeed, and they should have made major changes.

Case in point, the dialogue system. Partly the Full Voice Acting which... I read faster, so tend to skip halfway through a lot of sentences by the weird combination of clicking then hitting the space bar. This is actually pretty important, because the only time clicking matters is if a dialogue choice is coming up, in which case it takes you tend the UI without any chance of accidentally selecting something. Space bar almost always works (though sometimes it doesn't, especially when the characters are wandering around the scene for no reason), but it often selects a dialogue choice if it is the next bit...

Which is terrible, because after a game and a half it still vexes me. Which is why the quarian species suddenly died. Not because I made a reasoned moral choice, but because I hit the damn space bar. Oops.
But since ME3 has no effect on Andromeda, I honestly don't care, and the geth are probably more stable then the batshit insane quarians anyway. Hey the galaxy is being invaded by things that want to destroy all life! Woohoo! Time for a private war!

But ME3 does do emotion a bit better. Sometimes they're really anvillicious about it, and ham handed, especially if it involves dialogue, but there are some really nice let touches in the background and little animations (a wave farewell, for example) that really sell scenes.

However... relationships in 2 were largely handled better. Of particular note was that I didn't 'accidently a romance' at any point. I was aware I could have chased one or more, but it never fit, and the game didn't pester me to get in on one (especially not the way 1 or the dragon ages do).

3 has the unfortunate tendency to want to dictate how my character reacts to things. Number 1 are the stupid dream sequences, which are like no dream I've ever had, and they fucked the symbolism up wholeheartedly. Creepy kid, slowmo running through woods, and the game wants you to tell Liara that you're thinking about Ashley Williams (or Kaiden I suppose) who died in game 1. Fuck no. That bitch was annoying and the dream had nothing at all to do with it!

Kaiden is still boring, but more annoying. After bitching about having trust issues constantly, the game wants to convince me that I should care about him in some fashion, and after he gets out the hospital, there is yet another trust based confrontation that he barely passes, and then is all like 'so, can I come along?' Fuck no, asshole! Wait why is my character at all conflicted about this? He's been acting like a shitstain in every goddamn scene. Throw him back out onto the dock like the dog he is.


So that's what I've been thinking about in regards to Andromeda. Hoping they've made a good fucking UI for the PC version (especially the dialogue), and hoping they stop trying to write the character for me. Because it's super annoying. Also, the dialogue choices need to be much more clear. When I'm talking with a character who's talking about how she feels guilty, the prompt 'No' suggests I'm going to tell her... not to feel guilty. Not refuse to help.


These games could be pretty damn amazing if it weren't for their shitty UI and their presumptuous-as-fuck writers. With a new one on the horizon, I hope they made some good choices beyond 'let's ape the Witcher 3's side missions'

Though, I actually my biggest hope is they don't start a new setting and then immediately start shitting all over with overwhelming mega-disasters. Let people explore and learn about the place without an overwhelming amount of grimderp and constant suffering.


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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mass Effect 3's biggest problem is that eventually their promise of power fantasy and Shep being "yours" conflicted with their desire to have indelible consequences and a personality beyond being an avatar for the player. There were other big issues, of course, but it's fair to say that they paled in comparison given that those things weren't causing people to squeal about treachery like a troop of scalded apes. Personally, I wasn't among those people, mostly because I was already a bit disenchanted with the power fantasy and blank avatar aspects of the story anyway. It took Garrus to really seal it for me. See, I had played through ME1 as a Paragon Shep and thought that Garrus was pretty dull--it's fundamentally hard for a "renegade" character to stand out very much when the fucker is stuck following your orders. So I actually rather liked it when Garrus shrugged off my input from the 1st game and ran off to become a fucking gun-toting vigilante. A cynical person would say that it was a lazy writing move-- and hell, they're probably right--but whatever, it was way more interesting than if I had successfully brainwashed him into fucking Dudley Do-Right. I guess it actually sorta breaks my immersion a bit when you really can convince everyone to change their lives and polish your knob then thank you for the opportunity afterwards.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The thing is, their character consequences are pretty meaningless, which is part of the problem. ME3 has really big decisions that doom or save entire species...but that isn't part of the end game. The end game matters so little that Bioware entirely wrote it out of the franchise sequel. (The Andromeda group already left before the events of ME3, and get to the new place 600 years later)

The thing for Garrus is his act of rebellion is leaving C-Sec and touring around as an independent operator for someone who has very little restrictions, by turian standards, it's apparently a big deal in its own right, and a step on the road to becoming a full on vigilante- he's witnessed the power of getting shit done, even on a paragon path.

But for most NPCs, I can't think of much that really changed them- most of their character arcs made a fair amount of sense, except the ones where they neglected to fill in the details (or the details are in the novels). Like Miranda leaving Cerebus- there isn't any explanation of why in the actual game (unless I missed it, which is possible since I told her no, I wouldn't divert military assets to find a random teenager in the middle of a galactic war). And Liara changed completely from a mouse to a hardcase, because of her own shit, very little of it had much to do with the influence of Shep. Even Jack's transition to bitchy evil teen to reluctant hardcase instructor made sense with the characters presented. But the most of the humans are still boring by the book idiots, Wrex is still an hyper-aggressive ass (though not by Krogan standards), and Tali is amazingly consistent through all three games. Well, she was in mine until the unfortunate spacebar incident.


The big problem with the personality beyond a player avatar is they were really terrible and inconsistent about it. Witcher3 does it well, to the point that I don't particularly enjoy it, because Geralt is Sapkowski's character, not mine, and it bleeds through everywhere. With Shephard, one moment you're moralizing to an absurd degree, the next you shoot someone in the head because fuck you thats why, and sometimes... the game forces the character to react as if neither of those could possibly be true. And 3 was much worse about it than the prior two. While there was the framing lens of 'military hardcase stereotype, and gets shit done' the reactions are pretty open, until 3 simply starts dictating what your (the player's) reactions should be. It jumps out of the screen and tells you that you must be feeling sads now. And that's pretty out of line, especially since mostly what you should be feeling is logical outrage about how terrible a case various people and things are making for their decisions.

The ending was amazingly stupid, but it turned stupid long before the part everyone complains about. For one thing the horrible, horrible slog, but actually turning around and having the ship land to take <NPC> to safety. No, landing there was not an option ever (apparently), and it was Mission Do-or-die-stop-at-nothing. Yet everyone fucking stopped for because a tank flipped about 10 feet away. All to set up more terribly written bullshit that made no sense. To make it worse, it was inconsistent with most of the game's choices (which are predominantly some form of 'suck-it-up, buttercup') but also the Bioware version of Shepherd they kept trying to intrude with. It was pretty clear that the head writer had a Vision, and everyone was gone to spend 30 odd minutes suffering the full weight of that hackneyed bullshit, regardless of how stupid and inconsistent with fucking everything it was.

It wasn't such much about indelible consequences as it was 'here is the setting's enigma revealed, and these are the only philosophical options (that the writer could imagine).' The Bioware version of the character's answer should consistently be 'I blow it the fuck up.' And the real answer is 'That's stupid, stop being stupid.' Nothing about anything <antagonists> have done addresses the actual solution to an amazingly nonexistent problem.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Shamus Young has written what I consider to be the definitive response to the Mass Effect series and its problems. It's definitely true that people who try to lean on "inevitability" or similar arguments don't really have a leg to stand on, because Mass Effect has consistently been about the player's ability to resolve generational enmity, avert planet-spanning apocalypses, and run a suicide mission with no fatalities, provided they play their cards right. Even if they wanted to tell a story about inevitability, the last few hours of a 60+ hour trilogy was not nearly enough time to walk back their strong and persistent theme of "choices have consequences" (which was itself undercut by the desire to have both Paragon and Renegade be a correct choice in all circumstances). Mass Effect wasn't about the inevitable and unstoppable advance of the Reapers for all of Mass Effect 2 and everything but the finale of Mass Effect 3 (although the original game could've gone with that direction had they actually gone with that direction in the sequels).
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:
Mass Effect has consistently been about the player's ability to resolve generational enmity, avert planet-spanning apocalypses, and run a suicide mission with no fatalities, provided they play their cards right.


I suspect that the problem is that's how people play ME but not necessarily how it was outlined by the people with final say. In theory you could leave many things unaddressed and lose a bunch of people you cared about if you didn't eat your vegetables and finish your sidequests in the first two games. Now, mind you, that doesn't fucking matter because the actual player base went through the game as a sexy shining Space Jesus, an invincible being who spread the good word about shopping on the Citadel and arose from the dead in the second game to save humanity. I don't think Bioware was secretly more successful at presenting themes than people are giving them credit for or anything, I'm merely saying it would make sense to me if the head honchos fucked up because they lost sight of how much time is spent being a golden god versus time spent being afraid of the off-screen big bads.

Quote:
Even if they wanted to tell a story about inevitability, the last few hours of a 60+ hour trilogy was not nearly enough time to walk back their strong and persistent theme of "choices have consequences" (which was itself undercut by the desire to have both Paragon and Renegade be a correct choice in all circumstances).

On this we're in total agreement. I had little sympathy for Bioware's surprise at how people reacted. With vision and the right execution you can make a good story out of damn near any relatable idea, but "right execution" generally doesn't include changing horses midstream.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
Shamus Young has written what I consider to be the definitive response to the Mass Effect series and its problems


Eh. Thats very plodding and almost embarrassingly naive. He puts ME1 on a huge pedestal, but it was just as much a shooty action game as the sequels, its just the ratio of gunplay to dialogue was adjusted.

And for a reason he completely misses: he complains about the lack of the side characters you can chat with and get world building along with sidequests. But those were cut for practical reasons- all those animations and full voice acting cost absurd amounts of time and money.

The 'a series should never switch writers' is just flat out crazy. Big games are huge multi year projects- the odds the you're going to keep a person for a decade. Real life, careers, illnesses, accidents, whatever. The very nature of the industry undermines the very possibility that you're going to keep someone all the way through.

And honestly, he sort of admits it at one point, but forgets about it all the time: 'the writer' is not a single person but a team.

I agree with a lot of his points on ME3, but he overlooks quite a bit about 2 and 1 when griping about 2. Cerberus was a throw away organization for a couple sidequests in 1 (same with Eclipse, actually). 2 fleshed out basically a formless, thumbnail sketch. The level of 'retconning' he thinks is going on is mostly in his own head. Now they took it to absurd levels, especially in 3, but... eh. Just don't care about his indignation here.

But the big thing is Bioware is actually consistently _really bad_ at main stories. This goes back all the way to Neverwinter Nights (woo, really bad) and even Baldurs Gate (the Bhaalspawn aspect was amazingly stupid special chosen one nonsense that has no payoff, and overruns the 'Iron Throne has evil schemes' which actually frames the narrative). That ME1 had a tight narrative was a matter of luck (and individual taste), not a result of different practices or intent. And honestly a lot of it is a direct result of their 'epic story' bullshit. Immediately introducing an apocalypse level event really limits the ability to tell further stories: not focusing on the apocalypse at the expense of everything else is gibberish and nonsensical.

Which is probably why my favorite Dragon Age (and probably mass effect) is the second. It has severe problems (bossfights and the end game), but most of it is a tightly focused and coherent character level story, which is the (only) strength of the studio. If they want consistently good games, they need to ditch the epic quest and apocalypse bullshit. Focus on local regions and problems the characters can actually engage. No more 'build an army to save the entire fucking setting' while still going out and personally picking flowers and shit.
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Blade
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I had fun with ME, and about the same level with all three episodes.

I don't consider them extraordinary, I'd say they're solid games with a few exceptional pieces. Which might be why some people feel so strongly about them: they sometimes hint at how much better they could have been instead of staying 7/10 all the time.

I appreciated the emphasis on characters and relationships (especially since the rest of the story is bland standard space-op stuff), and ME3 was really good at feeling like a reunion of old pals.

I didn't really have a problem with the game forcing my Shephard to be/say something I wouldn't want. I have it much more in KOTOR, but I guess my Shephard was closer to the concepts of the designers than my character in KOTOR.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:
it was just as much a shooty action game as the sequels, its just the ratio of gunplay to dialogue was adjusted.


"It's just as much a shooty action game as the sequels, except in that it has less shooty action."

Quote:
Big games are huge multi year projects- the odds the you're going to keep a person for a decade. Real life, careers, illnesses, accidents, whatever.


It is very strange to believe that retaining an employee for 6 years is some impossible feat. This used to be the norm and it only changed because companies no longer care to do so.

Quote:
Cerberus was a throw away organization for a couple sidequests in 1 (same with Eclipse, actually). 2 fleshed out basically a formless, thumbnail sketch. The level of 'retconning' he thinks is going on is mostly in his own head.


That is neither how organizations work in-universe nor how setting building works out of universe. If Cerberus is actually a vast and capable spy network, then violently opposing them should've come with far more consequences than it did in the original. If Cerberus is supposed to be a vast and capable spy network, the initial interactions with them should not portray them as a throwaway organization. The meeting with the Illusive Man is treated like it's a big deal, but it isn't, because we've met Cerberus before and they were inconsequential. Things like this need build-up and asking us to take seriously as vital to our success an organization that was previously a trivial threat is not good storytelling.

Mass Effect is enamored with the Illusive Man and Cerberus, and they constantly skip over the build-up of their power to rush to the part where they show it off. Cerberus is building ships superior to state-of-the-art projects collaborated upon by two different national governments, the player character is railroaded into being tricked into an ambush by the Illusive Man, the reasons given for the Illusive Man sending the player character into an ambush are vague and mostly nonsense, and the player is not given any choice but to continue following his orders even after he just stabbed you in the back. Miranda alone amongst all the other companions in the game requires a very specific set of circumstances to kill in the Suicide Mission, as opposed to a specific set of circumstances to save her.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:
Voss wrote:
it was just as much a shooty action game as the sequels, its just the ratio of gunplay to dialogue was adjusted.
"It's just as much a shooty action game as the sequels, except in that it has less shooty action."

No, it doesn't have less shooty action at all. It has more voiced dialogue with bystanders. The game is bang bang bang just as much as the sequels. Strangely, to adjust a ratio, you don't have to add the same amount you subtract from the other. You can just subtract, and that changes the ratio.


Quote:
It is very strange to believe that retaining an employee for 6 years is some impossible feat. This used to be the norm and it only changed because companies no longer care to do so.

A decade is 6 years now? Neat. But it isn't an 'impossible feat,' it is simply something that company can't ensure, and refusing to do sequels if a company can't keep a head writer (of a team of writers) is simply absurd.


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Quote:
Cerberus was a throw away organization for a couple sidequests in 1 (same with Eclipse, actually). 2 fleshed out basically a formless, thumbnail sketch. The level of 'retconning' he thinks is going on is mostly in his own head.


That is neither how organizations work in-universe nor how setting building works out of universe.

Actually it is how setting building works. Companies often start with a range of references and build them up in more detail later. Fleshing out every single detail before product #1 simply isn't viable. Did they masturbate too heavily too Cerebus? Oh, yeah, especially in 3. Was the beginning of 2 too heavy handed, with the 'death' and destruction then rebuilding of the Normandy? Yeah, it was. It was a ham-handed way to try to make the player take the Collectors seriously despite stepping down from 'face god-machine.' But like I said, Bioware rather sucks at the main story for all their games.

But building them up into something more and giving them a named leader isn't a retcon (which is his stance). It's adding detail. That the leader is a shit character and a writer sock puppet is a different problem.


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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:

No, it doesn't have less shooty action at all. It has more voiced dialogue with bystanders.


So you're saying that having a much lower density of shooty action doesn't make Mass Effect 1 less of a shooty action game. I presume that it would be less of a shooty action game if you removed all of the game except the gun battles, but then also removed one gun battle?

Not that any of this actually addresses the main point of Shamus' objection, which is the lack of attention to detail, not the overall decrease in details at all. He does mention the lack of dialogue from locals in one post, but he also references the problem with finances in the same post and makes the case that sacrificing detail for a larger number of locations sowed the seeds of problems that culminated in the infamously reviled ending. He didn't completely miss the reason, he explicitly discussed it.

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A decade is 6 years now? Neat.


I mean, I wasn't going to draw attention to how you'd applied some extremely generous rounding to the length of the Mass Effect development cycle, but okay.

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But it isn't an 'impossible feat,' it is simply something that company can't ensure,


Are you alleging that companies will regularly find themselves unable to retain one or a small handful of employees over this period of time if they actually try? That people finding career opportunities that drastically overshadow what the company could reasonably afford or becoming unable to continue their career due to illness or injury is typical?

Quote:
Actually it is how setting building works. Companies often start with a range of references and build them up in more detail later.


"Video games use this storytelling technique, therefore it is effective" is true only if video games consistently have good stories. Do you want to try and make that argument?

Quote:
But building them up into something more and giving them a named leader isn't a retcon


You can make a semantic quibble about whether or not taking an inconsequential threat and asking us to take them seriously as a powerful and capable organization is technically a retcon, and it would even fit in perfectly with your semantic argument about how Mass Effect 1 is technically just as much a shooty action game as 2 and 3 if you have a sufficiently stupid metric for what makes a game shooty and action, but in both cases you would be an idiot trying to substitute failure to communicate for actual argument.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:

So you're saying that having a much lower density of shooty action doesn't make Mass Effect 1 less of a shooty action game. I presume that it would be less of a shooty action game if you removed all of the game except the gun battles, but then also removed one gun battle?

I always forget how fucking stupid you are before I try to interact with you. I am indeed saying that layering on extra voice acting and animations does not change the nature of the game. You still spend most of your time running around shooting fools. With, indeed, even more empty sidequests, that are nothing but shooting fools and a few lines of dialogue tacked on either end.

Ah, the joys of planetary exploration. Drive around a lumpy undetailed landscape, then get out, invade a short dungeon and shoot everyone inside.


Quote:
Not that any of this actually addresses the main point of Shamus' objection, which is the lack of attention to detail, not the overall decrease in details at all. He does mention the lack of dialogue from locals in one post, but he also references the problem with finances in the same post and makes the case that sacrificing detail for a larger number of locations sowed the seeds of problems that culminated in the infamously reviled ending. He didn't completely miss the reason, he explicitly discussed it.

Yes he did, and made a mountain out of what are actually really shitty and shallow interactions. He's got his nostalgia goggles on full power.

So it actually does address his point. The details he's yammering on about are fairly shit. He masturbates at length about the colonists at the evil plant planet. Go back and actually play that section. The amazing details he's waxing poetic about are 'go fix the water' (hit <interact> at 3 low-detail boxes), 'fetch quest us some meat,' and very overwhelmingly repeats of some variation of 'I'm busy, go talk to Fai-Dan (the leader).' And he just sends you off to kill geth. For almost all of those people, there is ONE dialogue 'choice' other than goodbye, and this repeats pretty consistently throughout the game. They spent a lot of time and money on essentially nothing, and not on 'amazing' details.

Quality means a lot more than quantity.
Quote:

I mean, I wasn't going to draw attention to how you'd applied some extremely generous rounding to the length of the Mass Effect development cycle, but okay.

Because of course Mass Effect is the only game with sequels, and the short dev cycle of the trilogy is normal. But fair enough. The mass effect trilogy was done in a rush.

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Quote:
But it isn't an 'impossible feat,' it is simply something that company can't ensure,


Are you alleging that companies will regularly find themselves unable to retain one or a small handful of employees over this period of time if they actually try? That people finding career opportunities that drastically overshadow what the company could reasonably afford or becoming unable to continue their career due to illness or injury is typical?

No, I'm stating that his absolute statement that companies should not do sequels without the original writer (forgetting yet again that writing is done by teams and not individuals) is absurd. I can explain that again if you like.


Quote:
Quote:
you wrote:
nor how setting building works out of universe.
Actually it is how setting building works. Companies often start with a range of references and build them up in more detail later.


"Video games use this storytelling technique, therefore it is effective" is true only if video games consistently have good stories. Do you want to try and make that argument?

No, I'm refuting your VERY SPECIFIC claim that it isn't how setting building is done.

Quote:
You can make a semantic quibble about whether or not taking an inconsequential threat and asking us to take them seriously as a powerful and capable organization is technically a retcon,

No. I'm saying that developing more details for something undetailed is NOT a retcon. The scope of Cerebus in ME1 is unknown. You fight some goons a couple times on random planets that have nothing to do with much of anything.

How is that a semantic quibble? It's a random organization you bump into in the _numerous_ shitty side quests that have nearly zero development or detail in the original. In 2 it has more. They went overboard in a lot of ways, but OMG the Evils of Retcons isn't the issue, which is one of the claims put forth.

Quote:
and it would even fit in perfectly with your semantic argument about how Mass Effect 1 is technically just as much a shooty action game as 2 and 3 if you have a sufficiently stupid metric for what makes a game shooty and action,


But then you apparently can't understand that the actual gameplay is...shooting people. That isn't a technicality either.


Quote:
but in both cases you would be an idiot trying to substitute failure to communicate for actual argument.

Yes, I suspect the idiocy and failure is on the other foot.


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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:
I always forget how fucking stupid you are before I try to interact with you.


I guess I should be flattered, considering I don't remember my previous interactions with you at all. Could you maybe give me some keywords to Google? I'm curious, now.

Quote:
I am indeed saying that layering on extra voice acting and animations does not change the nature of the game. You still spend most of your time running around shooting fools.


This is a level of stupidity that I hadn't anticipated. You are either making the argument that Shamus Young was claiming the entire genre of shooter games is incapable of good worldbuilding and intelligent storytelling, or else you believe that yourself. Either way, your claims are completely baseless.

Quote:
Go back and actually play that section. The amazing details he's waxing poetic about are 'go fix the water' (hit <interact> at 3 low-detail boxes), 'fetch quest us some meat,' and very overwhelmingly repeats of some variation of 'I'm busy, go talk to Fai-Dan (the leader).' And he just sends you off to kill geth. For almost all of those people, there is ONE dialogue 'choice' other than goodbye, and this repeats pretty consistently throughout the game. They spent a lot of time and money on essentially nothing, and not on 'amazing' details.


Your argument is that Shamus is wrong about the differences between Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2. Pointing to ways in which Mass Effect 1 theoretically could have been better does not support your argument at all. You need to be able to demonstrate that Mass Effect 2 is in some way better at worldbuilding and storytelling, and completely giving up on worldbuilding does not make you successful at worldbuilding.

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Because of course Mass Effect is the only game with sequels, and the short dev cycle of the trilogy is normal.


Uncharted 1 entered development in 2005 and Uncharted 3 was released in 2011. Borderlands entered development somewhere in the neighborhood of 2006 or 2007 and the Pre-Sequel (the series' third installment) was released in 2014. You want an example of rushed development? Assassin's Creed II entered development in 2008, and Assassin's Creed Revelations was released in 2011.

A trilogy of video games taking 6-8 years is completely typical, and when they take longer it is usually because of a long technology development stage for the first game with the game's writer only being brought on in the late stages of the game. Tomb Raider 2013, for example, began development in 2008, but it was basically done by the time Rhianna Pratchett was involved, and even Tomb Raider will barely reach a decade-long span for three games if they manage to release their third installment in 2018, and will still come in one year shy of a decade if they get it out sometime this year. Speaking of Rhianna Pratchett, she was the writer for all five of the Overlord games, the first of which entered development in 2005-ish and the last was released in 2015. There was a huge gap between the 2009 release of Overlord II and the follow-up of Overlord: Fellowship of Evil during which no game was under development because that series just isn't very healthy, and three of the five games are spin-off titles rather than main installments, so that doesn't really tell us anything about the development time of major trilogies, but Codemasters had no trouble retaining Rhianna Pratchett for all five games in their (just barely) decade-spanning franchise.

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No, I'm stating that his absolute statement that companies should not do sequels without the original writer (forgetting yet again that writing is done by teams and not individuals) is absurd.


Okay, let me explain to you basic English idioms to you. When someone says "you should never do X," they don't mean literally never under any conceivable circumstances. They mean that it's a bad idea that should be strongly avoided. Obviously if the lead writer gets in a car wreck and dies, you are going to have to figure something out, but modern game studios make no effort at all to retain their talent across an entire series, even when that series has a definite endpoint.

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No, I'm refuting your VERY SPECIFIC claim that it isn't how setting building is done.


More fun with explaining basic English idioms: When someone says "that isn't how setting building works," what is meant is that this is not how you do setting building well, not that nobody ever attempts to do setting building in that manner.

You may also be surprised to know that nobody on the Den has ever literally wanted another poster to suck on a barrel full of either male chickens or dismembered male genitalia. You may additionally be surprised to know that the previous statement does not literally mean I have examined every single usage of the statement "go suck a barrel of cocks" to guarantee that exactly zero of them were intended literally.

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How is that a semantic quibble?


Because you're applying stricter limits on what amount of revision of what came before is required before something qualifies as a "retcon." Retcon is improvised language. It's not technical jargon. There is no official cutoff point nor even any significant guidelines. You have already admitted that Cerberus is a random throwaway organization that could be mown down without consequence or comment in the first game, so the full extent of your bitching is where exactly the limits of a "retcon" are, and whether or not a drastic overhaul of an organization's scope qualifies. Shamus' position that Cerberus having previously been inconsequential makes the Illusive Man's sudden Gary Stu pre-eminence in the plot harder to swallow is not even slightly hard to understand, and bitching about how it's not technically a retcon according to the exact limits of your own personal definition for that word is not only semantics, it's semantics over a slang term.
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