Mass Effect 3 Catch-All

Luggage wrote:
MannishBoy wrote:
Luggage wrote:
If I invest a couple dozen hours, I don't want to feel cheated at the end. I am not talking about having people die or not getting the best endings. I am talking about hidden mechanics. And I mean truly hidden, not just stuff that's not tutorialized but can be found in the manual. Basically everything that would require me to play a game with a strong narrative twice to be able to take the path I actually wanted.

But those mechanics are methods for telling story. In real life, you don't have definitive things that provide you a guaranteed outcome for all life systems, otherwise we'd all be stock market rich.


As NSMike said, entertainment isn't real life. One of the core principles of a game is that all the mechanics are clear up front (and that can very well mean that it is brought to the players awareness, that there are hidden timers or random parameters). If they aren't, then there is no point of having me as an active participant or trying to get me invested into it, because for all I know, I could just be "playing a game with an unplugged controller".

Edit: To that point, it's a catch 22. Players have complained about the lack of urgency and RPG heroes going of to do the most menial tasks why the world/galaxy/universe is at stake. Problem is, this only bothers a certain percentage of the players. By hurrying them along and forcing critical decisions on them every turn they take, a developer may appeal to that group, but will in return alienate the explorers and completionists.
Again, as I said, in something like Heavy Rain, it's okay to have story changing decisions that force you down certain paths every couple minutes, because the whole game isn't that big of a time investment. But in the time it takes me to beat Mass Effect 2 once, I could play Heavy Rain 3-4 times.

If you want big expansive stories that don't feel "gamey", I think you are much better off just playing through as best you can the first time. Otherwise, as experienced gamers, it will always seem like we're trying to beat systems, and the genre will never really advance to the point where you feel involved in a story instead of a game.

I just don't see getting mad about stuff. There's no "wrong" ending. There's the ending you get for playing the way you played.

ME games seem to really be pushing the interactive story part first and foremost, to the point of ME3 where you can just play mostly the story bits. If you want to see it a different way, take the story arc and just go back through that way without all the time consuming shooty stuff.

Other mechanics like shooting, inventory, etc are secondary to the story nearly every time. They tweak and try to improve them, but the heart of why I play ME games is about seeing what my Shepherd does in the worlds they've created, and what the consequences of my choices might be.

Again, I don't think you "win" a Mass Effect game, and until we get passed feeling that there has to be a "win" condition, game devs will be limited in how they can evolve the story telling part of the game.

I'm not mad... I'm just frustrated with the whole idea.

I am kind-of looking for a "win" condition, as it were. I think back to KOTOR and there was the light-side ending and the dark-side ending. We've obviously gotten past such binaries with Mass Effect, but in KOTOR, I personally considered the light-side ending to be "winning" and the dark-side ending to be "losing." That's not really the case, especially if you deliberately played dark-side. But still, that's how I looked at it.

I feel like, if I'm not guaranteed, in some way, to get the best possible outcome (I see much multiplayer in my near future, likely until everything's at 100% before I even touch the priority missions), I'm losing the game.

It's a story. And an RPG. And all of those things. But it's still a game. And I want to win.

Don't get into a tizzy right now. I've yet to see any post the fabled "perfect ending" where you have 100% Galaxy readyness + gotten every single War asset from SP.

Also this is nothing new for RPG's. Lots of games (eg. Suikoden Series) had multiple endings. And the only way to get the "best" ending required hours and hours of work.

For Mass Effect, getting the best ending only in SP mode, will require making all the "right" decisions for ME1 & ME2 + having been a completionist in all 3 games. I've still yet to see concrete proof that you need to play MP to achieve this.

FYI, the PC Gamer article about not being able to get a good ending without multiplayer used a default Shepard. And if you didn't already know, default Shepard's history was TERRIBLE!!! At least 1 companion died at Vamire, and the he killed the Rachinni Queen.

I guess part of the problem is having endings that are considered better than other endings, rather than just alternates. Not having finished ME3 yet, I'd say you probably 'win' (beat the reapers) whatever you do, it's all the side aspects that add the flavour. Perhaps they need a Fallout-like ending, with Ron Perlman.

Luggage wrote:

Examples:
Missing the conversational cue to move in for some sexy time with Tali -> acceptable.
Missing the opportunity to prevent a race from genocide because I dared to to pick up a squad mate on my way there -> not acceptable.

When I read this a voice in my head went off: "The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world"

Scratched wrote:
I guess part of the problem is having endings that are considered better than other endings, rather than just alternates. Not having finished ME3 yet, I'd say you probably 'win' (beat the reapers) whatever you do, it's all the side aspects that add the flavour. Perhaps they need a Fallout-like ending, with Ron Perlman.

Better endings for Shepherd, but not necessarily qualitatively better endings for the story if done right. After all, lots of movies end in depressing ways. Did you "lose" the movie? People still watch those films for how they make them feel. They may feel angry, sad, or heart broken, but they still are moved to some feeling, which is the reason for consuming those movies.

Maybe a bad ending is a commentary on how you did things in the game. Sci Fi is often about looking at how modern social or technical themes might play in a different world or environment. If you always have to have the happy ending, you might miss some potential things that might provoke some thought.

Scratched wrote:
Perhaps they need a Fallout-like ending, with Ron Perlman.

Every game needs this. If peggle or bejewelled had that, they would be AMAZING.

Dammit! Now I'm not going to be able to see a Reaper attack without hearing "War... war never changes..."

Reached the save limit last night.

Why is there a save limit on PC? No idea.

Crimeny wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:
I got one of the panels stuck on my HUD until I reloaded, so it is a little buggy. The big problem is the quest description, which clearly says you're supposed to be looking for panels in the Citadel Embassies section.

I agree. The quest description in the journal updated very fluidly in the previous two games. It feels weird that that fluid progression was completely abandoned in this game.

It seems like they've moved the quest updates to the map instead of the journal.

I just noticed doing one of the Citadel fetch quests where I scan and get some artifact... the next time I returned to the Citadel, there was a "scientist" highlighted on the map that wasn't there before when I received the quest. But now that I had the item to turn in, she was marked on the map.

So instead of checking your journal to see that you can turn something in you need to make a trip back to the area and see if your map shows someone to turn it in to. More cumbersome for fetch quests, but it's probably better for quests like Hanar Diplomat that just take place on 3 areas of the Citadel. Quick check of map/floor tells you where to go and is much more precise than words in a Journal.

Still might have been better if they kept the journal and just added the map updates. Oh well.

I'm really enjoying these conversations about the timed missions and the "best" endings. I have to say that I'm torn on the missions. On the one hand, I really don't want to miss anything as I truly do enjoy the story and the characters. But on the other hand, I also like the idea that taking your sweet time can cause time sensitive missions to fail, because that's how such events would transpire in real life. I think I generally agree with MannishBoy, the first time through is about exploration and just experiencing the story. If I really want certain events to unfold or to experience alternate story paths, I can try and set those up on later play throughs.

I'm going to hate seeing the fate of some of my favorite characters later on, but considering the tone of the game so far, I think its appropriate that the ending isn't some sort supper-happy-rainbows-and-unicorns conclusion where everyone and everything has been saved without any causalities. That doesn't mean I won't be bummed when some people die, though.

Yes, I think they need to do a bit more with keeping you informed about quests, the journal is really bare-bones. Link all the things together, When I see a blip on the map/galaxy map, let me click it to read a journal entry (hopefully with more detail, plus quest stages, like a... journal) rather than just "go here to do something" and hope you remember what it was about.

I wonder how much of the hidden timer angst is a learned response. Historically, RPG quests don't have timers, no matter how much the quest text suggests they do. Hell, it's practically a meme at this point. In any other situation, be it real life or even a tabletop RPG, if you get handed a task and get told "this is URGENT", you know there will be repercussions for not doing it.

Now, ME2/3 come along, hand you a quest and say "This is URGENT", and actually hold you to that for a change. That's against everything we've been taught in the last 20 years of CRPG'in!

For me, I think that just means that we've been making games wrong this whole time. If someone says "you have to save my village, it's being attacked!", there should be repercussions for not doing that. Maybe my decision is to finish this side quest for the monetary reward, but the tradeoff is that half the village gets killed by monsters. Alternately, I can save the village, but maybe I can't deliver these widgets in time, and get no money. Player choice! I like it. Hidden timers huzzah!

Same with DEHR. Moving further away, I'm curious to see what some people will make of dynamic events - "but there was a village here a while ago when I went AFK".

Have I mentioned how I love the maps and the AI yet? Yeah, love them. Last battles were kind of blah, but otherwise..

NSMike wrote:
I'm not mad... I'm just frustrated with the whole idea.

I am kind-of looking for a "win" condition, as it were. I think back to KOTOR and there was the light-side ending and the dark-side ending. We've obviously gotten past such binaries with Mass Effect, but in KOTOR, I personally considered the light-side ending to be "winning" and the dark-side ending to be "losing." That's not really the case, especially if you deliberately played dark-side. But still, that's how I looked at it.

I feel like, if I'm not guaranteed, in some way, to get the best possible outcome (I see much multiplayer in my near future, likely until everything's at 100% before I even touch the priority missions), I'm losing the game.

It's a story. And an RPG. And all of those things. But it's still a game. And I want to win.

But if those judgements are purely your own then how is it the game's/desigers' problem? I think part of the point in the whole Mass effect thing is that there are tradeoffs and decisions at times and those acculmulate to make a final state.

I will not tell you how to play your game (and I am sure there will guides in a month or two on how to get to your desired end state), but I am trying to enjoy the journey on this one (If I can ever stop playing MP).

Haven't we spent years begging for more nuanced stories with a more natural flow that don't fall as easily into rigid definitions of morality or success? If that's what Mass Effect 3 is, then why is that a problem? Messy stories are less comfortable but that's what makes them memorable and meaningful. When there's no such thing as a perfect decision or a perfect outcome, the story is no longer about whether the hero was "right" or "wrong."

Casablanca wouldn't have been a better movie, had it a happier ending.

LobsterMobster wrote:
If that's what Mass Effect 3 is, then why is that a problem?

I think what's going on is that for decades, we serious gamers have been trained to try to "win". Now that the tech and storytelling might allow for something more, we still try to put stuff in the same old systems we've been trained to try to manipulate to get to that win condition.

I keep adding armies and mercs to my cause, yet my galaxy readiness has declined by 2%. What the...?

MannishBoy wrote:
I think what's going on is that for decades, we serious gamers have been trained to try to "win". Now that the tech and storytelling might allow for something more, we still try to put stuff in the same old systems we've been trained to try to manipulate to get to that win condition.

I think this is dead on. I'm happy to see video games evolve this way, but its a bit of a bumpy transition. It'll be interesting to see how future games will incorporate this type of player choice into their story, and the lessons that will be taken from the Mass Effect franchise in terms of what to do and what not to do.

MannishBoy wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:
If that's what Mass Effect 3 is, then why is that a problem?

I think what's going on is that for decades, we serious gamers have been trained to try to "win". Now that the tech and storytelling might allow for something more, we still try to put stuff in the same old systems we've been trained to try to manipulate to get to that win condition.

And, honestly, I don't think many game players are very savvy readers. There are games that say interesting things with their stories, but the culture still seems to regard finding a plot hole as the ultimate take-down. We want better stories, but we need to be better readers, too. Also:

Bart: I thought you came here looking for a challenge.
Lisa: Duh! A challenge I could do!

For some reason I didn't notice it quite as much during the first playthrough, but the mission journal really is very bad. I remember lamenting the lack of progress updates, but the initial descriptions are also pretty terrible. One of the overheard missions specifically mentioned where I could find what they were looking for, but it didn't receive any mention in the journal. Also, I liked having codex and journal in two completely separate windows. If only because sometimes when I re-enter the journal, it'll automatically put me in the codex pane.

Silly BioWare. Silly!

liquid wrote:
I keep adding armies and mercs to my cause, yet my galaxy readiness has declined by 2%. What the...?

It decays over time, presumably to get you in the multiplayer more often. Another bug for me, after doing a mission my galactic readiness was at 0%. I'm sure the growing collection of minor bugs are mostly cosmetic and aren't game breaking, but they really need to patch them when you can't do a gaming session without noticing something janky.

Everyone is talking about multiple playthroughs and the like, but I generally only do one playthrough, unless the game latches on to me as an exceptional experience. KOTOR was like this, as was Mass Effect 1, as was Half Life 2, and very few others.

Look, the designers can do whatever they want with their games, and I can criticize it however I want. For me, expiring missions weakens the game. If it makes your experience better, good for you, they were selling this game to you. To me, it just pisses me off as arbitrarily and needlessly taking control away from the player.

Chaz wrote:
I wonder how much of the hidden timer angst is a learned response. Historically, RPG quests don't have timers, no matter how much the quest text suggests they do. Hell, it's practically a meme at this point. In any other situation, be it real life or even a tabletop RPG, if you get handed a task and get told "this is URGENT", you know there will be repercussions for not doing it.

Now, ME2/3 come along, hand you a quest and say "This is URGENT", and actually hold you to that for a change. That's against everything we've been taught in the last 20 years of CRPG'in!

For me, I think that just means that we've been making games wrong this whole time. If someone says "you have to save my village, it's being attacked!", there should be repercussions for not doing that. Maybe my decision is to finish this side quest for the monetary reward, but the tradeoff is that half the village gets killed by monsters. Alternately, I can save the village, but maybe I can't deliver these widgets in time, and get no money. Player choice! I like it. Hidden timers huzzah! ;)

I like the hidden timers for the sense of urgency they provide, but given the conventions of the genre I think that it's important for the game to teach you early on that the "urgent" things actually are. DEHR did that well by having one of the first things you do in the game be time sensitive across a relatively small window, so if the outcome really bothered you you could reload and only lose about 10 minutes of progress. It's a bit harder to provide detailed timers within the game about how long you have to do each mission without breaking immersion, though. Probably the best you could do would be flags on the journal marking things as "must do next" or "must do before next plot mission" that can be enabled/disabled by the player.

NSMike wrote:
Everyone is talking about multiple playthroughs and the like, but I generally only do one playthrough, unless the game latches on to me as an exceptional experience. KOTOR was like this, as was Mass Effect 1, as was Half Life 2, and very few others.

Look, the designers can do whatever they want with their games, and I can criticize it however I want. For me, expiring missions weakens the game. If it makes your experience better, good for you, they were selling this game to you. To me, it just pisses me off as arbitrarily and needlessly taking control away from the player.

If the goal is to experience all the content in one playthrough then the complaint is inconsistent; that is not possible anyway, since you often have to choose between conversation and story options that lock away other options. Expiring missions is just a way to choose one mission priority over another. Ironically enough, this means that missions labeled "Priority" should receive the least priority since they never expire.

For my part, it's not that the game is so exceptional that it absolutely demands multiple playthroughs - multiple playthroughs is just a way for me to play the different tactical scenarios with different classes, since the classes modify the combat experience significantly. I'm hoping that the "Action" setting will cut down on the cutscenes significantly or allow me to skip them entirely.

True, NS, but we also get to say your reasons are silly because that's the part we like, if we feel so. It's very ouroboros.

MannishBoy wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:
If that's what Mass Effect 3 is, then why is that a problem?

I think what's going on is that for decades, we serious gamers have been trained to try to "win". Now that the tech and storytelling might allow for something more, we still try to put stuff in the same old systems we've been trained to try to manipulate to get to that win condition.

Gamers: Give us change!
Devs: OK, here you go.
Gamers: That's not what I asked for!
Devs: Yes it was.
Gamers: Nevermind then, give me what I'm used to!

Sonicator wrote:
I like the hidden timers for the sense of urgency they provide, but given the conventions of the genre I think that it's important for the game to teach you early on that the "urgent" things actually are.

You know, I think this is a really good point. If the game was a bit more transparent about what "urgent" really meant, and better at teaching the player about these missions, some of the backlash might not be quite so bad. I still think I'm ok with these missions acting out the way they do, just an interesting observation.

I'm playing this game once and I want as many people as possible to live... this is how I will get the most enjoyment out of the game. Making it so I can't tell that a stop off or something like that will cause me to lose a planet I had planned on saving would really piss me off.

I bought the game guide on amazon this week to specifically avoid that and I will have to deal with the plot spoilers. It sucks that I have to do it this way to get the ending I deem best. It's not choice if you don't know about it.