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Default Mass Effect - Where The First Mass Effect Failed And Succeeded

April 10th, 2013, 12:32
Drew Karpyshyn was one of main writers in the beginning of Mass Effect. As we all know he left before he could finish the trilogy. In this interview from Kotaku he shares what the story should of been like. I found it informative, and I hope others here do also.
“When we started planning out Mass Effect, before we started development on the game, we had a very small core team,” remembers Karpyshyn. “I was one of the people. Casey Hudson, Preston Watamaniuk, Derek Watts, David Falkner, were the key leads on the project. We spent about a year trying to find out exactly what kind of science fiction universe we wanted to make. We were all about the same age and all kind of grew up with those classic ‘80s what we call the Golden Age of sci-fi movies. Things like Alien and Aliens, and Terminator. A lot of us were big Star Trek and Star Wars fans too.”

“We were very familiar with the archetypes of science fiction or the standard stories that get told over and over again,” Karpyshyn told me. “We got together and took our favourite ideas and thought how do we combine these into something that will capture the spirit of that Golden Age of science fiction but still maintain a fresh look to it?”

“If I’m going to play 30 hours of a game and invest my time and effort, I want to make sure that the payoff is worth it. Now it doesn’t necessarily have to be saving the entire galaxy, but I want the end to feel like the time I invested makes me feel like I accomplished something worthwhile,” he observed.

”Whether I’m good or evil, Paragon or Renegade, or whatever I’m trying to do, I want to feel like, ‘Yes, that was worth spending hours and hours and hours of time to get there to the end.’ Not that it wasn’t a great game, but the days of Mario lets the princess in the castle [in Super Mario Bros.] probably are done in some way, because it doesn’t necessarily feel like that’s enough of a payoff for the kind of time and effort you would put into playing a game.

"You don’t want to do a bait and switch on the fans. If they’re expecting one thing, you don’t want to give them something completely different. It’s OK to have surprises, or even twists, or things that go in different directions, but you still have to fulfil those basic needs that they’re looking for. If they’re looking to be the epic hero, you better make sure that they’re an epic hero by the time everything is said and done.”
More information.
Last edited by Couchpotato; April 11th, 2013 at 07:49.
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April 10th, 2013, 12:32
"We had no idea that Cerberus is going to be as big as they were until after the first game. People kind of gravitated to them, so we kind of expanded their role."

It was fairly obvious based on how much the organization changed, but it's nice to see a confirmation. I still think it's a bit of an odd choice to not plan the story/characters of a trilogy before starting development, as it would make it easier to leave hints and what not (for example of the Illusive Man in ME1), but I suppose they always have to keep player feedback in mind due share holders and what not.
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April 10th, 2013, 13:14
I was surprised that Tali was going to be axed, but they changed there mind due to her popularity. The whole Rachni and Geth story wasn't fully fleshed out either.

Something had to give during production. I'm going to say lack of time and money forced them to streamline. It all makes sense with the third game then.

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April 10th, 2013, 13:47
Yes, it's the kind of compromise we've seen a lot over the years. Hardly unexpected, but still a bit of a shame. There's no doubt there's quite a bit of potential in the Mass Effect setting that will never make it into any game.
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April 10th, 2013, 14:11
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
I still think it's a bit of an odd choice to not plan the story/characters of a trilogy before starting development, as it would make it easier to leave hints and what not (for example of the Illusive Man in ME1), but I suppose they always have to keep player feedback in mind due share holders and what not.
You'd be surprised at how many authors and writers don't have their entire series in the head when writing their books/television series/video games. They'll have a general idea, but certainly not all the details. I'd say that most TV series are written this way, since they really don't know how successful it will be.
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April 10th, 2013, 15:29
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
You'd be surprised at how many authors and writers don't have their entire series in the head when writing their books/television series/video games. They'll have a general idea, but certainly not all the details. I'd say that most TV series are written this way, since they really don't know how successful it will be.
And also in TV shows (and episodic series with central recurring voice-acted characters) the actors end up deciding how things go with characters to some degree. This isn't nescessarily from direct feedback as it is often due to their particular performance giving the writers ideas they might not have had before watching the actor breathe life into the character. In this way a particularly strong actor with perhaps a more fleshed out idea of the character they are playing than the writer ever had can turn what was intended to be a minor character into a major one because the audience AND the writers end up liking them (or hating them - but in a good way) so much.

I'd point to some of the character development of Londo and G'kar in Babylon 5 and Garak and Odo in Deep Space 9 as examples of this. While none of those characters were necessarily intended as disposable, their roles and eventual development was greatly effected by how just damn good the actors portraying them were. In particular, the way those actors so effectively played off each other in scenes meant that the writers were motivated to put them in more scenes together as often as could make sense. Thus plots that may not have ever been imagined before were crafted with this notion in mind.
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April 10th, 2013, 17:13
I think the ME franchise is my favorite… ever, despite the flaws. That said, I'm so tired of the Cerberus schtick, which sucks since I'm guessing the new stories will revolve around it probably much more than we've seen.

And Karpyshyn's ME novels were pretty craptastic even though his game writing was decent.
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April 10th, 2013, 19:06
I'm in the minority, because I think the first one was the best one. It was a RPG first and a shooter second, which was reversed starting with the second one. It did have some issues, like performance issues and a cumbersome inventory, but it felt like you were playing an RPG. The player character's skill stats were more important then your own which is the essence of an RPG. This is in contrast to an action adventure game (mass effect 2 and onward) where player skill counts for more.

Somewhere people changed the definition of an RPG to a game with dialog trees, which imho is ridiculous.

Also, I don't know who anyone sees planet scanning as an improvement over the mako.
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April 10th, 2013, 19:39
The first one I played and liked. The second I played and didn't like. The third, I didn't bother with, since the way they were trending with the franchise was obvious.

I'm a bit baffled by the way he drones on about the massive time investment and how they felt they had to have a big payoff at the end. First off, Mass Effect was a very short game. The devs knew it was a short game, and that's why they decided to work so hard at encouraging people to replay it numerous times. Secondly, what the hell kind of RPG fan is looking for "epic heroism" in the storytelling? The "epic heroism" should be coming from the player (or at least the player should feel that's the case), not from chinese-menu dialog choices and cutscene sequences. And lastly, it's the journey that matters, not arrival at the destination. Any fan of roleplaying games understands that. And I think that last one is the problem: he's not an RPG fan, and it sounds like nobody else on the team was either. All that talk of movies and television shows that inspired them. Not one word about gaming, even though the 1980s were probably the golden age for both PnP/Tabletop games and PC games. They literally set out to make an interactive movie. On purpose. And that's just what they did.
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April 10th, 2013, 20:30
There we go again with telling me what a "good" RPG fan is supposed to like in an RPG and it only took 9 comments.
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April 10th, 2013, 21:04
I don't know if you're talking to me, Thaurin, but I don't even consider Mass Effect an RPG. I consider it an interactive movie with action game elements. I couldn't care less what you consider it to be, but if you're calling it an RPG and suggesting that means you're a "good" RPG fan then I'd dispute your qualifications to call yourself an RPG fan, at all. Good, bad or indifferent. But I acknowledge there's nothing anyone can do about people like you. Just like if I wanted to call Game of Thrones a historical drama and claim to be a fan of historical dramas, nobody could tell me I'm wrong. Especially when 200 million idiots chimed in on my behalf to vouch for the fact Game of Thrones is in fact a historical drama.
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April 11th, 2013, 09:36
But I acknowledge there's nothing anyone can do about people like you. Just like if I wanted to call Game of Thrones a historical drama and claim to be a fan of historical dramas, nobody could tell me I'm wrong. Especially when 200 million idiots chimed in on my behalf to vouch for the fact Game of Thrones is in fact a historical drama.
Maybe. But that is a mere episode of magical thinking. A wrong perception does not change the nature of things. It leads to take decisions based on that wrong perception.
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April 11th, 2013, 12:35
Originally Posted by CraigCWB View Post
I don't know if you're talking to me, Thaurin, but I don't even consider Mass Effect an RPG. I consider it an interactive movie with action game elements. I couldn't care less what you consider it to be, but if you're calling it an RPG and suggesting that means you're a "good" RPG fan then I'd dispute your qualifications to call yourself an RPG fan, at all. Good, bad or indifferent. But I acknowledge there's nothing anyone can do about people like you. Just like if I wanted to call Game of Thrones a historical drama and claim to be a fan of historical dramas, nobody could tell me I'm wrong. Especially when 200 million idiots chimed in on my behalf to vouch for the fact Game of Thrones is in fact a historical drama.
Why would considering Mass Effect an RPG exclude someone from being an RPG fan? What if he considers Baldur's Gate an RPG as well?

You're not making any sense.

As for your opinion that Mass Effect is not an RPG - that's interesting.

It's full of traditional RPG elements, like character development, C&C, loot progression, inventory, and so on.

In any case, I think your arguments are weak and they seem to rely on putting people who disagree with you down - without explaining why.

That's not very impressive.
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April 11th, 2013, 13:19
I'm with DArtagnan on this one. There are very few actual arguments in what's being said, as most of it is simply poorly hidden bashing.
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April 11th, 2013, 14:25
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Why would considering Mass Effect an RPG exclude someone from being an RPG fan? What if he considers Baldur's Gate an RPG as well?

You're not making any sense.
It only shows that someone might be a fan of labels over content.

Two bottles of wines: one is a great wine, the other is plonk.

Both bottles exhibit a great wine label.

Two tasters:
Both declare themselves to be fans of great wines.
One pours a glass from the bottle with the great wine in it and tells that is great wine. He tastes the other bottle with plonk in it. He spits it already.

The other tastes the great wine bottle and that it is great wine. He tells that is great wine. He tastes the other bottle with plonk in it. He tells that is great wine.

The latter shows that he is a fan of the great wine label.

When somebody declares to be a fan of RPGs and expand the thing to games that are not RPGs, that someone simply shows that he is a fan of playing games labelled RPGs.
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April 11th, 2013, 17:47
Luckily we have you to determine for us what an RPG is.

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April 11th, 2013, 18:41
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
It only shows that someone might be a fan of labels over content.

Two bottles of wines: one is a great wine, the other is plonk.

Both bottles exhibit a great wine label.

Two tasters:
Both declare themselves to be fans of great wines.
One pours a glass from the bottle with the great wine in it and tells that is great wine. He tastes the other bottle with plonk in it. He spits it already.

The other tastes the great wine bottle and that it is great wine. He tells that is great wine. He tastes the other bottle with plonk in it. He tells that is great wine.

The latter shows that he is a fan of the great wine label.

When somebody declares to be a fan of RPGs and expand the thing to games that are not RPGs, that someone simply shows that he is a fan of playing games labelled RPGs.
No, the latter shows that he possibly has lower standards. An entirely different matter. There's no reason to conclude that he doesn't still like great wines.

Repeat the experiment by adding two bottles with great wine and plonk that exhibit a plonk label plus two unlabeled bottles for more appropriate results.

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April 11th, 2013, 18:53
Even with these highly private and irrational attempts to define what makes an RPG - there's no logic behind the claim being made.

If we pretend Mass Effect is not an RPG - and I'm willing to entertain that questionable suggestion - Thaurin could easily be a fan of other RPGs that DO qualify for the genre even in the eyes of deluded spambot Chien and cranky unfair Craig.

If they want to whine about people not agreeing with them (essentially, that's their excessively small-minded problem with Thaurin here), they can probably do better than to accuse Thaurin of not being a fan of a genre that he's obviously a fan of.
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