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Default Mass Effect 2 - Scrambled @ The Brainy Gamer

February 8th, 2010, 23:41
Guhndahb sends in this excellent article at The Brainy Gamer that doesn't so much look at Mass Effect 2 or even the critical praise but some of the commentary that has accompanied the game - in particular, the assertion that ME2 represents the refined future of RPGs. Genre classification is a related topic covered. A bit of a lengthy clip as introduction:
I've been reading lots of reviews and blog posts certifying Mass Effect 2 as the future of RPGs. It fixes what's wrong with the genre and sends designers of backward-looking games scrambling to the drawing board. It represents, as several notable outlets have noted, the future of storytelling in games and a lesson in how to do narrative games right.
I'm going to play contrarian here, but first let me say I think Mass Effect 2 largely earns the lavish praise heaped upon it. It's an exceptionally fine game with fabulous production values, and I've enjoyed just about every minute I've spent playing it. I'm not quibbling with the hype. Not much anyway.
I'm troubled by the mentality that games exist to invalidate other games; that the most effective measure of a game's value is its ability to surpass or trump other games that preceded it. Among its many praiseworthy aspects, Mass Effect 2's success as a kind of refutation of other games is considered an especially noteworthy achievement.
More information.
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February 8th, 2010, 23:41
IMO if ME2 is the future of "RPG" games then it is a sad day indeed. Certainly if Bioware continues this cinematic narrative trend I will stop buying from them. I use to be their biggest fanboi but lately I am seeing so many changes, small to be sure but added up are large, that has me pretty disillusioned with them.

Still I loved DAO so will have to see what happens. I just hope ME2 isn't the path of the future.

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February 8th, 2010, 23:57
I'm troubled by the mentality that games exist to invalidate other games; that the most effective measure of a game's value is its ability to surpass or trump other games that preceded it.
Priceless.

“ 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)
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February 9th, 2010, 01:18
Good to hear some measured and reasonable assessment. ME2 is a AAA hybrid of gameplay types with RPG in many ways (IMO at least) often being simply nominal. Very good game but certainly (or at least hopefully) not the future of rpgs
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February 9th, 2010, 01:48
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Priceless.
In what regard?
This is genuine interest, mate, as I can appreciate the logic on which both sides of his apparent conundrum are based.
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February 9th, 2010, 02:13
Agreed, Alrik. That was a nice summary of his assertion. I additionally liked the simple but fitting analogy:
…while ME2 is unquestionably a high peak, there are plenty of other mountains worth climbing.
While I don't know the source information for his statement that it "sends designers of backward-looking games scrambling to the drawing board", it bothers me quite a bit. I really hope this is not the case. I loved ME2, but I'd hate to see other developers trying to copy the formula if that wasn't the route their game was taking in the first place.
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February 9th, 2010, 02:17
I liked the quote, too. The measure of a game is not that it invalidates previous games. The measure of a game is that it is FUN. (And maybe educational.)

Personally, I'm starting to get a little tired of the genres. Adventure games are about puzzles, not adventure. Role playing games are about character progression, not about playing a role. The only difference between a first person shooter and a third person shooter is where the camera is located. An action RPG is an RPG with… what? More action? Hybrids are very common, too. The whole point of a genre is to tell us roughly what kind of game we are going to be playing in just a few words and, at least for me, they aren't getting the job done.
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February 9th, 2010, 02:20
Originally Posted by dagoo7 View Post
Good to hear some measured and reasonable assessment. ME2 is a AAA hybrid of gameplay types with RPG in many ways (IMO at least) often being simply nominal. Very good game but certainly (or at least hopefully) not the future of rpgs
Explain why it is nominal….they exchanged inventory for upgrades…(same thing really different name) you have combat, and choices to make.
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February 9th, 2010, 03:19
Choises that have 0 consequences in ME2 itself.
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February 9th, 2010, 03:44
Originally Posted by Davion View Post
Choises that have 0 consequences in ME2 itself.
Do you mean choices?

There are quite a few choices that effect how you are perceived…good or bad…alot really. Which choices had 0 consequences?
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February 9th, 2010, 04:03
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
Explain why it is nominal….they exchanged inventory for upgrades…(same thing really different name) you have combat, and choices to make.
You are effectively on rails throughout the game, there is no real variance. You get the exact same experience, exact same upgrades as everyone else who plays the game. No meaningful character development choices beyond initial class choice. The story experience is experienced exactly the same way also just take your pick of good vs. mean cutscenes.

Once again its a good game and it works and is satisfying because it gives sense of character getting stronger and feeling of making character choice, but it in reality its would pretty hard to argue that any choices in this game are meaningful. You can choose to play the game again with a different class and watch the good vs. mean cutscenes but thats about all. I enjoy the game, I am just not buying into the illusion that any choices are meaningful. I need and want more from an rpg, but its great to have these superficial/nominal features in a shooter.
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February 9th, 2010, 04:51
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
There are quite a few choices that effect how you are perceived…good or bad…alot really. Which choices had 0 consequences?
Yet it doesn't matter in the end weither you choose the good or bad option. People will nearly always react exactly the same at the start of a conversation regardless of your previous actions/current alignment.

Spoiler

Then again, we can start arguing about when we can actually concider a choice as a choice, in a game.
Last edited by Davion; February 9th, 2010 at 06:53.
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February 9th, 2010, 05:27
I just played a scene where I had two choices…two different people…and it would change the way the game played forward…unless I am playing a different game then you two?
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February 9th, 2010, 05:40
I hardly call something a real choice in a game if the end result is a character with identical looks, identical VO and identical interaction with the rest of the game.

Safety nets, they're everywhere!

Spoiler
Last edited by Davion; February 9th, 2010 at 06:54.
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February 9th, 2010, 08:27
Feel free to offer some great examples of games in which choices matter, if ME2 doesn't cut it for you.

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February 9th, 2010, 08:41
Let me take a moment and officially declare two completely different kinds of RPG's.

Free-Roaming RPG
Examples: Gothic, Two Worlds, Divine Divinity, Fallout, Arcanum, Baldur's Gate, Elder Scrolls, Avernum
While there are isolated cities in theese games, most of the time you travel on an overland map. This game style awards exploration and is driven by curiosity, it's also an excellent game for beefing up a character and try different character concepts just to see what to do with them. However, it rarely offers a deep storyline. If there is a story it's usually laid back so you have time to explore, knowing that there's a villain somewhere that when dead ends the game. They have a kind of sandbox/experimentation joy to them. Good games in this category really rewards exploration and they have a good character building system.

Jump Between Hubs
Examples: Baldur's Gate II, Jade Empire, KOTOR, Deus Ex, Vampire: Bloodlines
This game design is a series of isolated "hubs" in which you dustbust each hub to progress to the next one. It's design fits the cinematic storytelling better than the former and it's no wonder theese kind of games usually win "best stories" awards. But character development is extremely fixed and there's little room for customization, exploring other character concepts and it never rewards curiosity. Of course, if you just rush past each hub you miss out most of the experience and finish the game prematurely. Good games in this category offers a deep and well crafted interactive story.


I enjoy ME2 as well, but it's a different kind of game, a different kind of experience. Just like Vampire: Bloodlines and Deus Ex, I would hope to be the future of shooters, not the future of rpg's.

I would sooner compare ME2 to a game like Wolfenstein than I would compare ME2 to a game like Avernum.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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February 9th, 2010, 08:44
Choices and consequences in story-driven games will always be minor things - nice little "addons" to add a personal touch to the big picture. If you think about it for just a second you'll see that the game design and production would spin completely out of control otherwise.

People often refer to Fallout 2 for a great example of c&c in a game - but in my opinion it's handled exactly like I described it above in that game as well…
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February 9th, 2010, 09:45
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
Feel free to offer some great examples of games in which choices matter, if ME2 doesn't cut it for you.
I think I did?

But anyway, like I said, the discussion between when a choice is a choice in a game is another debate. This is about ME1 and ME2.
Last edited by Davion; February 9th, 2010 at 10:01.
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February 9th, 2010, 09:58
IMO:

Whether ME2 is a shooter or something else, it's still an extremely commercial product with little or no creative skill on display in terms of original thinking, or game design.

It's based on a seemingly rigid formula that Bioware has been developing as a design blueprint for ages, and them simplifying and removing what they consider superfluous mechanics won't really make the game have a creative soul.

Every single character in the game seems based on some kind of hollow one-sided template that Bioware think they can keep doing, and I guess they're right. It'll take 2-3 more games before the fans of the series start recognizing the patterns and get tired of them. Non-fans, like myself, see them because we don't really get "taken in" by the cinematic experience.

It's a fine formulaic movie that you either get caught up in, or not. But a rich compelling game-experience? Certainly not to me. I don't play games to watch a movie and interact a bit and exhaust dialogue trees during emergencies. Such is the way in which players differ.
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February 9th, 2010, 10:18
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Every single character in the game seems based on some kind of hollow one-sided template that Bioware think they can keep doing, and I guess they're right.
Every single character in the western civilization is based on some kind of hollow one-sided template, as long as your criteria is abstract enough.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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