|
Your continuous donations keep RPGWatch running!
RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Mass Effect 3 - Other Gamers' Underpants

Default Mass Effect 3 - Other Gamers' Underpants

March 10th, 2012, 01:26
There's an excellent piece at Rock, Paper, Shotgun with Richard Cobbett discussing his lack of connection with Shepard after he couldn't import his ME2 saves and instead used BioWare's defaults. Along the way there are some good observations about choices in games and ceating characters. On the latter:
It’s notable that of the last few major single-player RPGs, only Skyrim and Kingdoms of Amalur: Chinny Reckoning have embraced the idea of creating your own character. Fable 3 gives you moral choices, but is essentially locked down unless you want to put on silly trousers and fart around the kingdom instead of saving it. The Witcher 2 was built around Geralt and his existing story. Mass Effect has a very specific canonical Shepard, even if he is the wrong gender. Dragon Age 2 picked up on this with Hawke, which also subtly pushed players towards the character Bioware wanted them to play as by offering a higher-fidelity look than you can create by playing with the sliders, as well as heavily pushing a consistent vibe in marketing and advertising.
This part is increasingly important. Characters are, at least, one of the most important parts of any narrative driven IP. They’re the face of the game, and typically the most instantly recognisable thing about it – even if they’re not the specific hero. Bioshock for instance has a cool city and premise, but it’s the Big Daddies and Little Sisters rather than Jack and Ryan who provide its most iconic elements. In Crysis 2, the character isn’t the guy you play, Alcatraz, but the Nanosuit he wears. Still, the same rules apply, even with an inhuman face.
This is a lot of both creative control and marketing power for any company to give up, even discounting the additional effort it takes to offer character creation tools and heavy customisation. Without a big license or established lore, it’s easier to sell an experience as “This could be you!” than “You could meet this guy!”, as well as dodging issues of why you’re not playing as whoever it was who drew you to the franchise in the first place.
More information.
Dhruin is offline

Dhruin

Dhruin's Avatar
Watcher
Super Moderator
RPGWatch Team

#1

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 11,964

Default 

March 10th, 2012, 01:26
Dragon Age 2 picked up on this with Hawke, which also subtly pushed players towards the character Bioware wanted them to play as by offering a higher-fidelity look than you can create by playing with the sliders, as well as heavily pushing a consistent vibe in marketing and advertising.
!?!? Huh? Say what you want about DA2 but it does let you make your own character just as much as Skyrim does.
Zloth is offline

Zloth

Zloth's Avatar
I smell a… wumpus!?

#2

Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Kansas City
Posts: 2,538

Default 

March 10th, 2012, 02:44
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
!?!? Huh? Say what you want about DA2 but it does let you make your own character just as much as Skyrim does.
How so? Ignoring that DA2 limits you to a single playable race with a persistent family(till you know Bioware decides to arbitrarily kill them off) you could make the argument that you are playing the character/game both Bioware and Bethesda intended you, the player, to experience… But doesn't that go without saying?

BW no longer even gives you the illusion that you are playing a character of your own creation. Sure, you can play Doctor Jekyll or Mr. Hyde with BW's current offerings, but it's still two sides of the same face(Hawke/Shepard). In both DA2 and ME2(3?) the role of your selected Shephawke only affects gameplay via combat. Not that Skyrim is much better, since you are not class/race restricted in any sense. But you do have skill trees to pick from that can affect more than merely combat.

-EDIT- Clarification

Tangential discussion aside… Default male Hawke and Shepard are/were a big part of both franchises marketing appeal. The default faces did have a "higher fidelity look" than anything you could create. Whether that was to encourage people to play as default or a chargen limitation is up for interpretation(I lean towards chargen limitation - rather than subtle attempt to encourage/coerce players into using the default).
Last edited by MasterKromm; March 10th, 2012 at 04:10.
MasterKromm is offline

MasterKromm

Sentinel

#3

Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 375

Default 

March 10th, 2012, 19:06
How so? Ignoring that DA2 limits you to a single playable race with a persistent family(till you know Bioware decides to arbitrarily kill them off) you could make the argument that you are playing the character/game both Bioware and Bethesda intended you, the player, to experience… But doesn't that go without saying?
Well you can make the same argument with DAO really. I mean sure you can choose a race/origin, but each of these origins are set, and give the character a very specific background that is followed through the game. I mean if you play a non-mage human… you'll aways be the heir of the Cousland family. Period. Same with KOTOR or Jade Empire, you're the character they want you to play.

The only difference about DAO is that it offers different Origins you can choose from which is good for replayability but in essence this is hardly different in term of how you experience the story, that what Mass Effect or Dragon Age II offers.

But I think this is true for any game who create a set and finite background for the main characters - that's what makes a game like TES different, because the character has no background or personality whatsoever beyond "You're a prisoner". So you can imagine and put whatever you want within, and not just how he/she looks.

I think what set apparts Mass Effect and Dragon Age II compared to previouses Bioware titles in that respect… it's that the character is fully voiced which can create a distance and makes you feel like you're watching the advendure of some character rather than playing "yourself".

-Sergorn
Sergorn is offline

Sergorn

Watchdog

#4

Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 205

Default 

March 10th, 2012, 19:19
There's a huge difference between DAO and DA2 though: In DAO you can affect the world around you. In DA2, most major choices lead to the exact same result.

That's the problem in ME3 too - you're playing BioWare's story, not your own, and it ends the way they want it to end. Whether you're a good or evil makes no difference to the outcome.

I believe this is what they refer to, not character creation.
Maylander is offline

Maylander

SasqWatch

#5

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Bergen
Posts: 5,182
Send a message via MSN to Maylander

Default 

March 10th, 2012, 20:43
Originally Posted by Sergorn View Post
Well you can make the same argument with DAO really. I mean sure you can choose a race/origin, but each of these origins are set, and give the character a very specific background that is followed through the game. I mean if you play a non-mage human… you'll aways be the heir of the Cousland family. Period. Same with KOTOR or Jade Empire, you're the character they want you to play.

The only difference about DAO is that it offers different Origins you can choose from which is good for replayability but in essence this is hardly different in term of how you experience the story, that what Mass Effect or Dragon Age II offers.

But I think this is true for any game who create a set and finite background for the main characters -
That was, to an extent, my point. You will always experience the character(or game) the designers intend you to play. However, it is my opinion that a good RPG will allow for ownership of one's character through gameplay. That includes the obvious, say story/plot related C&C but also other less obvious qualities like multiple solutions to combat and non-combat scenarios that open up or even evolve as a result of the players race, class, attributes, skill level, ect.

that's what makes a game like TES different, because the character has no background or personality whatsoever beyond "You're a prisoner". So you can imagine and put whatever you want within, and not just how he/she looks.
True… I dream up various alternative scenarios(stories - for just about everything IE not just games) all the time, but I know I'm not playing a game either. Using your imagination is not a valid replacement for actual gameplay.

I think what set apparts Mass Effect and Dragon Age II compared to previouses Bioware titles in that respect… it's that the character is fully voiced which can create a distance and makes you feel like you're watching the advendure of some character rather than playing "yourself".

-Sergorn
Yes, a voiced protagonist is intrinsically limiting and potentially alienating(from design and RP perspectives).

The big difference between DA2 and DAO, as well as with ME's progression(as a series) is that the illusion of ownership of one's in game character is no longer there. Sure you can make believe, but again, pretending should not be confused with gameplay. DA2 was so contrived so incredibly set on rails that it was painful. Not that DA:O was perfect, far from it. However, there were more meaningful choices and more scenarios to flesh out your chosen character through his actions…

It's the same thing with The Witcher, sure you have more C&C than DA2 but it's limiting because everything you do is through the lens of Geralt. His perspectives, motivations, baggage, ect are lumped on the player. The game felt at odds with itself, as Geralt the witcher(role) and Geralt the person/character were in conflict. I completely understand that was their goal and if you're a fan of twitchy combat, big production values and QTEs it was a good or great game. But (IMO) it wasn't a great roleplaying game. Then again, maybe I'm still a little bitter since I picked Shani in TW1 yet found myself retconned into Triss's bed to start TW2.

Originally Posted by Maylander
That's the problem in ME3 too - you're playing BioWare's story, not your own, and it ends the way they want it to end. Whether you're a good or evil makes no difference to the outcome.
Exactly, the question is why kill the illusion that it is your story? Easier to produce or giving the majority of consumers what they desire?
MasterKromm is offline

MasterKromm

Sentinel

#6

Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 375

Default 

March 10th, 2012, 22:56
IMO there is a sublte but very big difference between the character creation in DAO and DA2. While you are a warden in DAO and have some more defined backgrounds it is still more open then DA2.

In DAO you can pick gender and race as well as a variety of backgrounds. In DA2 you can pick gender.

In DAO some stories are more defined - Cousland, Dwarf, etc. however you can always do the very generic mage origin which was the most blank slate of them all. In DA2 you are Hawke, with a somewhat more pre-defined background and look.

DAO had a an iconic warden but it was less of a sales point then DA2 since, if I recall correctly, you couldn't even pick the PR version in DAO. I recall mods coming to fix that.

DAO had a variety of origins and the story had a lot more [illusion] of choice then DA2 as far as paths and what to do. DA2 was centered around Kirkwall and had a fairly linear path through it.

DAO had no voice over, which I know is highly subjective, but to me that made me own the character far more than in DA2 where my voice, and dialogue, was more controlled by Bioware.

So for me I see a major difference in the more open RP options and choices in DAO then I ever would in DA2. Games like ME and Witcher take that limitation even further as Shephard and Geralt (sp?) are a lot more defined then your Warden, the Dragonborn or the fateless hero of KoA.

Character is centrality, the impossibility of being displaced or overset. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
wolfgrimdark is offline

wolfgrimdark

wolfgrimdark's Avatar
Keeper of the Watch

#7

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: NH
Posts: 819

Default 

March 12th, 2012, 12:00
Aren't you *always* playing the game the developers intended you to play? Some games just offer you more possible ways to play them, but they are *always* finite—unless you use your imagination like in Bethesda games, but apparently then you're not playing a game anymore. I don't care, since I'm having enough problems finishing games, let alone replaying them. As long as the experience is good, I enjoy the game. In the end, you're always following a fixed path, but sometimes they give you more than one in the same game.
Thaurin is offline

Thaurin

SasqWatch

#8

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 2,375

Default 

March 12th, 2012, 12:19
Of course, but being able to affect the outcome makes a huge difference - it allows people to feel closer to the character and story.
Maylander is offline

Maylander

SasqWatch

#9

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Bergen
Posts: 5,182
Send a message via MSN to Maylander

Default 

March 12th, 2012, 18:27
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
Aren't you *always* playing the game the developers intended you to play?
Sandbox games give me the better possibilities to play the game I want.

It's as if I was asking whether playing with sand will result in the sand castles being built as the deliverers of the sand had intended them to be ?

There are pre-defined/pre-formed Lego stones, yes (and someone already wrote in a magazine how pre-formed Lego stones already limit our brains/our creativity), but they are still allowing us to literally "build our own dreams".

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
Alrik Fassbauer is offline

Alrik Fassbauer

Alrik Fassbauer's Avatar
TL;DR

#10

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Old Europe
Posts: 15,628
RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Mass Effect 3 - Other Gamers' Underpants
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT +2. The time now is 10:12.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright by RPGWatch