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Default BioWare - Mass Effect 3 and Project Wombat

March 26th, 2010, 23:24
Omega points out a piece at IGN about a tweet from BioWare's Christina Norman. She teases about changes in Mass Effect 3 as she starts work on "Project Wombat":
Lead gameplay designer Christina Norman recently teased on her personal Twitter account she's starting working on something new for the third game. "Today I started work on 'Project Wombat' for Mass Effect 3," she wrote. By comparison "The ammo system in Mass Effect 2 was originally called 'Project Sasquatch,'" she added.
How about a third ammo system?
More information.
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March 26th, 2010, 23:24
Hmmm, the ammo system in ME2 definitely needs a change. Hopefully it won't turn even worse. The one in ME1 worked perfectly fine.
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March 26th, 2010, 23:33
Christina Norman real bad game designer. I am just waiting to see how much more can she destroy ME3
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March 26th, 2010, 23:39
They went from bad console gameplay to maybe the worst gameplay shooter I have ever played, how is this possible?

First they at least allowed you to crouch, don't even ask about JUMPING in a bioware game are you out of your freaking mind? Yet they forced you into cover if you got near a wall or rail, I guess everyone can make stupid mistake first time on a genre.

So what do they do, now you not only can you not Jump in a Shooter but now you can NOT even crouch (is this the only shooter game ever to hold this stupidity title?). But wait that wasn't enough, oh no, no, no, next up now your Forced into cover becasue if you Don't they RETARD your mouse AND use AI setting that allow constant hits. Thus making it Impossible to get accuracy from crouching or dodging with strafe jumps, while the AI has seemingly NO restrictions on it's aim.

While Steven Polge first jumped on to the Super AI seen way back in Quake days with Reaper Bot, he was quickly picked up by Epic for the Unreal franchise. The weakness whether intention or flawed programing is that Unreal Tournament AI are allowed to exist/play with no restrictions visually and auditorily. They can see and shoot you NO matter how far across the map or whether there is fog or music playing, to limit the gamers physiological abilities.

That's what bioware is doing/using to force you into cover.

Luckly for gamers that don't like stupid game designs, there is Quarn and his Mass Effect 2 Coalesced Compiler. This allows you to turn off Mouse Retarding and adjust almost any setting like allowing Equal Aiming whether your standing/running/gunning or behind cover. Also you can allow AI to have the same chances while in cover or out, just like the player.

The list of possible changes with Quarn's Compiler is far too long post here, but at least if you want to make the game more fun to play now you can.

Btw Quarn has done many mods like Unofficial Patches for Oblivion and Fallout 3 iirc.

The worst part is how could a game designer who spends so much money on writers and production, care so little about gameplay. Whoever the gameplay designer is should be fired, two games and it's only getting worst. How sad.

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March 27th, 2010, 00:15
I think the ammo system in ME2 was good in gameplay terms - the need to preserve ammo added a bit on the tactical side, not having to go into inventory to change it helped the smoothness aspect and, at least on insanity, taking into account various ammo properties was a must.
However, there´s barely any sense in making ammo a skill, especially the squad ammo variant, and in that sense it was definitely a step back from the first game.

Tying ammo "powers" to different weapons/weapon upgrades and making the more useful types more resource hungry and maybe harder to obtain would make more sense methinks. It should also help making the now rather anemic itemization more interesting.
Basically, I hope ME3 will retain the tactical aspect of using different ammo and tie ammo types to loot mechanics, leaving space for skills that make more sense.

What I´m probably interested the most in regards to ME3 is how the game will deal with all those story variables laid out in first two games.
I really hope Bioware will take their time with this. I didn´t mind that consequences carried from ME1 into ME2 were mostly cosmetic, ME2 being a middle part of trilogy and all, but how well this will be handled in ME3 has a potential to make or break the series, at least from story/narrative standpoint.
ME3 should be THE game of consequences and hopefully Bioware will take no prisoners in this.
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March 27th, 2010, 05:08
Originally Posted by Acleacius View Post
They went from bad console gameplay to maybe the worst gameplay shooter I have ever played, how is this possible?
A lot of this went over my head - perhaps I just don't play enough shooters - but is it that different to most "cover shooters", like Gears of War? I haven't played GoW but it isn't very different to, say, Uncharted 2 in my experience.

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March 27th, 2010, 06:58
Originally Posted by Dhruin
but is it that different to most "cover shooters", like Gears of War?
Honestly don't know, I wouldn't touch gow becasue it was forced cover system and is such an incompetent game design for a shooter, at least on PC. It's basically is equivalent to those 1990s arcade shooting gallery games like Mad Dog McCree or the Zombie game (can't recall the name atm), with some modern graphics.

Personally had no idea bioware had done something this dumb, didn't know any competent PC game designer would do something like this. Just glad waited to purchase till the price came down. Gave bioware more credit than this, they even specifically said they were listening to their fans and trying to improve the gameplay. Really, where is this MASSIVE contingent of gamers saying PLEASE, console dumb ME down more?

It's just an important topic, epic has turned PC game design into crap thanks cliffy. This guy is personally responsible putting a huge stake in the heart of PC coop. I confronted him about making UT instead of Unreal 2 (which the majority of fans wanted) on Blue's some 10 years ago. His excuse was it was impossible to do scripted sequences in Coop (bald face lie of course), so they made UT instead. Now look what he did, he made a console Coop game based on Scripted sequences.

Apologies about rambling, I don't mean to look through rose colored glasses about the past. Yet there is no better game design than Coop for almost any format, I can't think of many games where good solid Coop would make it better.

Could you imagine how much fun ME 2 would have been if it had been Coop, along the line of the original Unreal gameplay, instead of Forced Cover system? Not saying Choosing to go to cover is wrong but game design based on Forced Cover. I still remember how much fun Baldur's Gate coop was, that might have been the first Coop RPG I got to play, damn fun.

I got a feeling this is why bioware refuses to release an editor, becasue fans would make the game so much better, beyond these crappy console designs. Hell it happens everytime and editor is released, games like Oblivion and Fallout 3 were hugely improved.

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March 27th, 2010, 08:11
Actually, in GOW you need to press a button to take cover rather than in ME where you walk up to the wall and automatically take cover. I think that is what you are saying.

But, really, I don't understand why you're so passionate about the cover system. I thought ME2 had good shooter mechanics. I mean, it wasn't perfect but it was fun.
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March 27th, 2010, 09:32
Originally Posted by Acleacius View Post
Could you imagine how much fun ME 2 would have been if it had been Coop, along the line of the original Unreal gameplay, instead of Forced Cover system?
Nope, because I'm not interested in co-op. You're obviously a far more passionate shooter fan than I am but I can't see anything wrong with the idea of "forced cover'. It's different to a standard FPS, but different doesn't mean bad.

I think they could have done a number of things to make it less repetitive but I'm not seeing the same fundamentally broken combat design that you are.

@Korplem, Ah, you're right. I forgot about pressing the button. Didn't make the gameplay that much different, though.

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March 27th, 2010, 10:20
The thing is that the cover system is a trend these days. It's overdone in some games, and I'd say Gears of War and Mass Effect 2 are good examples.

I enjoyed Gears of War, actually, but mostly for the story and setting - and at that time the cover system was novel.

Mass Effect 2 suffers from being EXTREMELY predictable in terms of gameplay structure and level design. But that's because Bioware follows a rigid blueprint - and they've been doing basically the exact same thing since KoTOR. If you're the kind of person who cares about the intricacies of game design, and think like someone who would like to create a good one - then it's very apparent. You can predict when you will encounter enemies, when it'll be a story sequence, when you'll get to "hack" something - and so on.

Bioware is very, very formulaic about their games, so there are very few surprises for those of us who think about such things.

That's not so uncommon - but you'll see this often when developers get confident they have the "gameplay thing" down. If you play System Shock 2 more than once, for instance, you'll find some extremely apparent patterns in how the game is evolving - and then if you move to Bioshock, you'll see similar patterns form much sooner. Bioshock is a "formula" evolution in those terms, and while I'm sure it's great for business - it's horrible for the player who enjoys surprises.

The cover system in itself - was done with so little out-of-the-box thinking, that I consider it truly amazing that not a single Bioware dude suggested that maybe there should be a sequence with obvious cover that DIDN'T include a fight, or maybe cover didn't have to be part of a fight. That's what happens when you don't think creatively - but rather as someone making a game in a factory.
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March 27th, 2010, 13:07
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Mass Effect 2 suffers from being EXTREMELY predictable in terms of gameplay structure and level design.
I completely agree; this is ME2's greatest weakness. But it's primarily a level design issue and an unwillingness to break up the rigid formula. I don't really see this as a flaw in the basic combat system.

Just to be clear, I can see plenty of improvements. I just don't see the hate that Acleacius sees, although I admit I'm a casual shooter player at best.

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March 27th, 2010, 15:05
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I completely agree; this is ME2's greatest weakness. But it's primarily a level design issue and an unwillingness to break up the rigid formula. I don't really see this as a flaw in the basic combat system.
I agree with you. The basic shooter "feel" is quite good, but that's kinda expected using the Unreal engine. To be honest, I was always a bit confused why they messed it up so badly in the first Mass Effect - and I consider their attempt at mixing shooter/RPG in that game to be quite flawed.

ME2 is much better as a shooter.

Just to be clear, I can see plenty of improvements. I just don't see the hate that Acleacius sees, although I admit I'm a casual shooter player at best.
Hate is a strong word, and I too don't see the reason for it.

If I'm passionate about anything, it's the state of the mainstream industry - but I'm not blind to Mass Effect 2 being a quality product.
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March 27th, 2010, 18:02
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Mass Effect 2 suffers from being EXTREMELY predictable in terms of gameplay structure and level design.
Agreed.
Imo, the game has quite a lot of interesting combat scenarios (Horizon finale, Archangel sequence, whole Tali recruitment mission, to name a few) but most of the combat zones feel artificial, arcade-y and repetitive design-wise.

Speaking of predictability, there´s a reason why Thane and Samara loyalty missions belong to my favourite parts of the game .

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
The cover system in itself - was done with so little out-of-the-box thinking, that I consider it truly amazing that not a single Bioware dude suggested that maybe there should be a sequence with obvious cover that DIDN'T include a fight, or maybe cover didn't have to be part of a fight.
I think this goes quite hand-in-hand with enemy-player mechanics. Enemies who can shoot simply burn through player´s shields way too fast which makes availability of covers crucial. I´ve played the game with vanguard and infiltrator which are classes, vanguard especially, that can spend a solid chunk of game out of cover, but I doubt it´s the same with the rest four.
There are fight sequences in game that don´t include covers btw (green fog planet for example), but they´re all against non-shooting enemies.
Having this characteristic in mind, I suspect that more natural implementation of covers would result in tactically less interesting experience.

I think that the best solution for this wouldn´t be toning down enemy firepower, but giving player more powers/skills to deal with it, making him less reliant on covers. That should unbind level designers´ hands enough for making levels less predictable and more diverse and natural.

I may be wrong, but my guess is that during ME2 development player/enemy design came first, with level design conforming to it afterwards. If that´s true, then I hope these aspects will be developed in a more integral manner in ME3.
In addition to this, I rather hope that player won´t be reset to level 1 again in the last game and starts somewhere around level 25 instead, which should be a good opportunity to introduce higher level powers diminishing the importance of having a cover at hand, without having to overhaul whole character development from scratch again. There still should be done something with ammo being a skill though.
Last edited by DeepO; March 27th, 2010 at 18:21.
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March 29th, 2010, 07:43
Not really sure hate is the right word but I my feelings about the poor/cheap/low quality gameplay design associated could be loathing.

What they do instead of create quality gameplay situations like say Half-Life were the enemies work together to challenge the player. You can run, jump, hide, strafe it's an actual real shooter.

What ME2 does is turn the game into a shooting gallery. First they turn off your aiming ability by about 50% while your standing up, they remove the ability to crouch to get more accuracy, they prevent you from jumping, there is no strafe moving and they turn down your damage.

Now they do completely the opposite for the AI, as long as your standing they give them all most 100% accuracy and increased damage.

These are no minor adjustments.

I can understand people not caring about shooters, not caring about Coop is pretty shocking I have to admit.

What's happening here is every fight is just basically a shooting gallery, you forced into cover (by low quality design) where all your do is just move your mouse right, left or up or down, it becomes a 2D game.

What I am apparently doing such a poor job of explaining is that they are using 2D game design in a shooter in 2010, that's their whole damn design, that's it.

If bioware doesn't care about the quality of their gameplay or have the talent to design even basic 3D gameplay in a shooter, why the hell even bother?

Maybe I can't convey shooter design issues to RPG gamers, so how about this. Imagine all great RPG makers, Black Isle or Troika your personal favorites who ever they are. Then imagine instead of making all the really great RPGs they all made, instead they made a game like the original Diablo. They say it's Full 3D and Hardcore RPG (even though you clearly know it's not) of the future and ALL their games were going to be exactly like these from now on and forever. No quality writing, no quality story, no real stats, no real class choice.

Would you be annoyed?

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March 29th, 2010, 11:30
Maybe I can't convey shooter design issues to RPG gamers, so how about this. Imagine all great RPG makers, Black Isle or Troika your personal favorites who ever they are. Then imagine instead of making all the really great RPGs they all made, instead they made a game like the original Diablo. They say it's Full 3D and Hardcore RPG (even though you clearly know it's not) of the future and ALL their games were going to be exactly like these from now on and forever. No quality writing, no quality story, no real stats, no real class choice.
Oh, but I agree completely about the shooting gallery analogy.

The thing is, this being primarily an RPG site - most of us care more about how they completely messed up that aspect, than how it plays as a shooter.

I didn't really think much about it - as I'm not a huge shooter fan (even though I was pretty competitive in the past, with games like Quake) - but now that you mention it, you're absolutely right.

It's a pretty crappy shooter at that, but the basic "feel" is still alright. It's everything orbiting that core that sucks.
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March 29th, 2010, 12:18
Sure, I can see the shooting gallery analogy - and you're right. I guess that's the way ME worked and that's the way Gears of War works (as I understand - haven't played it but that's the way some other "cover shooters" work, like Uncharted), which is the market they clearly said they wanted to address. It seems to me you wanted Half Life and they delivered Gears of War lite.

As far as I can tell, you haven't talked about cover shooters, which is the design they're using.

I also think it's unrealistic to expect cutting-edge pure-shooter gameplay, in just the same way that Fallout 3 isn't a great shooter. Resources were spent in other areas (story, dialogue systems, cinematic facial expressions - whether we value those or not).

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March 29th, 2010, 12:23
I think he's saying he doesn't much care for cover shooters - and neither do I
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March 29th, 2010, 13:11
Originally Posted by Acleacius View Post
Then imagine instead of making all the really great RPGs they all made, instead they made a game like the original Diablo. They say it's Full 3D and Hardcore RPG (even though you clearly know it's not) of the future and ALL their games were going to be exactly like these from now on and forever. No quality writing, no quality story, no real stats, no real class choice.
Maybe I missed something, but when did Bioware indicate that all their future games were going to be exactly like Mass Effect 2?
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March 30th, 2010, 03:28
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Maybe I missed something, but when did Bioware indicate that all their future games were going to be exactly like Mass Effect 2?
Yeah. He is such a drama queen.
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