May 13, 2009

How to have fun in Mass Effect?

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Simon Ferrari said...

The whole concept of this piece is totally bizarre to me! Because it is exactly what it claims to be - an explanation of how to maximize your enjoyment with the artifact on one playthrough. Yet, by taking away the player's self-determination to play the game how they want to play it, maybe you're taking away a big part of the fun?

What this piece should be called is: "So you've just beaten Mass Effect and hated it. Please, before you run off, try playing it like this?" It basically relies on the player having played through once and wasted their time to really grab their attention and make them say, "Yeah, maybe I should try it like that!"

In any case, in almost total agreement (except for the sex stuff, I found the conversations with Ashley really engaging despite her xenophobia--it made her a more complex, less idealized person).

What you said about the Feros fetch quests totally makes sense, and makes me really afraid of the prospect of being a level designer (pretty sure I'm going for a professorship, but who knows?). The idea of working on a complex labyrinth for a week just to turn it in and have somebody down-size it to one room with some wolf rats in it sickens me.

Krystian Majewski said...

Of course you are completely right. The caption is just an excuse for me to rant about my experience of playing the game for so long. A major part of this experience was of course the learning process and the frustration of trying the less polished bits of the game. So in a way, your caption is more sincere. But it is less catchy. ;-)

I agree that the Ashley script was better written. I just couldn't get over her character traits. She's this hardcore right-wing traditionalist. Plus, her face is really ugly. Some modeler made a mistake or two there. But it's certainly a matter of taste. But we do agree that Kaiden doesn't work, right?

The Feros thing is just an example among many. If you read the Art Book they will actually admit that they planned Therum to be a much bigger mission - the size of Noveria or Feros. But they had to cut it down. I think it clearly shows. They even built some parts of that bigger Therum and recycled them in the DLC. And here I was thinking it was new content.

Also, I think Ilos suffered from the same problem. That mission goes really downhill once you get into that long straight tunnel. You literally can see them running out of resources to create more geometry.

Simon Ferrari said...

Oh I definitely agree that yours is more catchy! I'm really, really, really bad at naming things.

And Kaidan is really boring! I'm pretty sure the only way to write a decent romance for a female avatar talking to a male NPC would be to have a team of female writers melding their minds to write dialogue that would actually appeal to them in real life, and I doubt that was done here.

Thanks for the insights on the level design!

steffenj said...

Thank god there's another sane person out there who also was disappointed with Mass Effect (or at least can point out the obvious flaws).

I've written about it in the past and i've added another post on my blog as a response:

Scott Juster said...

It's weird, but I'm kind of a fan of these "this is how to play the game" type posts. It's kind of like when someone first introduces you to different kinds of beers and explains how to best enjoy them, if that makes any sense.

I'm assuming "insanity" was the hardest difficulty option? Your description makes it seem like even though it wasn't the default, it may have been how the designers meant to play the game. I always assume the default difficulty is the intended one, but perhaps not?

Krystian Majewski said...

Thanks Scott.

You are probably be right, that thought also somewhat crossed my mind. It makes sense. As a developer, you spend so much time with it and get so good at it that in oder to enjoy it yourself, you will automatically set the initial difficulty way too high. It could very well be that they developed the game with "Insanity" set as default and then tuned the other difficulty levels later... not quite considering how it undermines all the game mechanics they have set up.

And yeah, Mass Effect is one of those games where I wished somebody would tell me how to play. No tutorials, no nothing. You are lost at the beginning. And not the Fallout 3 kind of lost.