Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An Open Response to Dr. Ray Muzyka

The following is a response to this letter by Dr Ray Muzyka to Mass Effect 3 players.

To Dr Ray Muzyka, from a Mass Effect 3 fan

Thank you for taking the time to respond to the Mass Effect fan base regarding this controversy. You have every right to be proud of the work you and your company has done in the past. BioWare is a company that produces high quality games and has an excellent team behind it. I am sure most of the fans, even the ones presently criticizing Mass Effect would agree. I have been following the controversy regarding the ending of Mass Effect 3, and most of the criticism seems to stem from the last ten to fifteen minutes of the game. It is a testament to you and your company that you have released so many quality games over the years.

However, your comments do not address the key points brought forth by your critics, specifically the final ending of this trilogy. The final sequence seems to break some conventions of good storytelling. I would like to note a few examples:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Ending Controversy - SPOILERS

It has been less than 2 weeks since the release of Mass Effect 3, a fan favourite series where you play the hero, Command Sheppard, out to save the galaxy from the threat of extinction by intelligent machines called Reapers. The Mass Effect series is notable for allowing players the maximum choice ever seen in this type of game. The choices players made in the first two Mass Effect games carry over to Mass Effect 3 and affect the story. 

Or at least this is what players were led to believe.
Are there alternative endings depending on what you do in the game?
It's not so much that there is a fixed set of alternative endings, but all of your choices really determine how things end up in the universe. So, how you approach the end-game, for every player, you're going to have a different set of results in terms of who is alive and who is dead, and which civilisations survived and which ones were wiped out.
Facebook, twitter and the ME3 Bioware Forums have been boiling with fan dissatisfaction regarding the ending of Mass Effect 3, billed as the end of the series. There are reports that a fan has lodged a complaint to the FTC. A Bioware forum poll has 91% wanting an ending change.

Do the critics have a point? Here are a few from the "sucks" side:

Article - 5 Reasons The Fans Are Right
Angry Joe Video - 10 Reasons We Hate Mass Effect 3's Ending 

And a don't be a whiner counter opinion from IGN.

Like or hate the ending, there are huge plot holes in the last 10 minutes of the game. I mean big ones. 

Even as I was playing the ending sequence, I suspected that it was all a dream. The lack of logic, especially from the "starchild" was too obvious to miss. In fact, this would be an awesome false ending, assuming that the present ending was an indoctrination attempt and only by choosing the "red" or destroy option, you would be allowed to actually carry on the fight to the Reapers. This is being called the indoctrination theory on the forums and is the only way I can see to explain the huge plot holes and logical inconsistencies in the statements by the "starchild". 

Here is an excellent discussion of the Indoctrination Theory
Update: And this Indoctrination Theory video is even better. 
Update: Angry Joe has an Indoctrination Theory video as well. This is also good and has some aspects about indoc theory that I missed.

The only thing that makes this ending make sense is that Bioware set up this false ending and there is still a piece of the game, the real ending, that they will release as DLC. I am not sure why they would do this. There was a large outcry with the release day DLC From Ashes, I cannot imagine why they would take out the ending for the game and release it later, unless it was the biggest joke played on gamers ever, or someone lost a bet. 

The only other assumption is that the writers really suck that bad. But the writing for ME 1 &2 is good, arguably some of the best in video games. ME3 writing is also good throughout the game, until the final 10 minutes. I greatly enjoyed ME 3 The writers did a great job of building up the tension towards the ending. I wasn't sure how it was going to end but, as Sheppard, I was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice, for the good of the galaxy. 

I wasn't prepared for what I got. This tweet sums it up.

Is there more in store? Check out this tweet.

Or this rumour that came out a few days ago. Treat this with a big grain of salt.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Copy and Paste Behaviour Ruining Game Journalism?

This is an interesting article about the state of video game journalism. The author, Torrence Davis, talks about how the big game sites simply copy and paste articles and do not do any fact checking and references this recent event where major game sites were fooled by 4chan.

Now, I'm not sure an enema is required, but incidents such as that one, plus uncritical previews and questionable,"happy-happy" game reviews, call into question the impartiality of some sites.

Where do you get your game information? Do you read the big sites?

I would like to put together a list of good, small sites. Please add your comments and link to small sites with integrity. 

I will get us started with Out Of Eight

Friday, March 9, 2012

Session Report - BSG Exodus - Party in Sickbay with Anders

This 7 player game was played on 3 March 2012. From the Pegasus Expansion we used Pegasus and had one Cylon Leader but did not use New Caprica. From the Exodus Expansion, we used the Conflicted Loyalties and the Cylon Pursuit board, but not the Ionian Nebula. We played without a Cylon Sympathizer.

The players, in turn order:

Cain (Admiral) – Jeff
Starbuck (CAG) – Brandon (again)
Tori (President) – Matt
Cally – Geoff
Anders – Me
Tigh – George
Six (Cylon Leader) – Will

I am not a Cylon.

This is the first game I have played a pilot. I am really looking forward to getting out there and blasting some Cylons. Brandon, who always plays Starbuck, seems to get a kick out of blasting them, so I am keen to give it a try.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Release Day

The big day is finally here! 

Strap on the adult diaper and send the kids to Grandma, 'cause their gonna be neglected.

Mass Effect 3 is copying into the XBox HD right now (since the dog knocked over the XBox and ruined a disk, I copy all my games to the HD).

I have been looking forward to this game for some time now. So far all the previews seem to support the hype. In a way, I am a bit sad, as this is probably the end of this storyline, even if they seem to have plans for the Mass Effect Universe.

Look for my Mass Effect 3 review in the days to come.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Settlers of Catan - Impressions

When I first got back into board gaming, over a year ago, this was one of the first games I bought. Love it or hate it, Catan is one of the most well known board games of recent memory. I would even argue that Catan revived mainstream board gaming in the late 1990's and early 2000's similar to Trivial Pursuit in the 1980's.

That said, I was disappointed. I bought the game without trying it, and found it one dimensional. I like my games a bit more complicated, and Catan seemed too dependant on lucky die rolls.

However, yesterday at our FLGS gaming day, I got roped into trying it again, but this time with the Seafarers and the Cities & Knights expansions. I was pleasantly surprised.

Friday, March 2, 2012

End Of Nations - Preview and Info

World in Conflict is still my favourite game of all time (my post about WiC is here). Although WiC is still going, it is not what it used to be and most of my friends and clanmates have moved on. I have been looking for a replacement for WiC. Is End of Nations that game?

While End of Nations seems to have some of the same elements of WiC (Command Points, several different game types), it actually seems to be more similar to a game I played before WiC called Shattered Galaxy, which is still going on.