Mass Effect 3 EP14: Hacket Unit

By Shamus
on Sep 18, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

Let us pause for a moment of silence for poor Rutskarn. He died as he lived: Screaming puns. In the show I joked that we murdered him. Obviously that’s not true. If we’re being honest, it was more like euthanasia.

As mentioned in the show, Electronic Arts no longer develops any games as single-player experiences. So that’s a story that’s going on. And on a completely unrelated note that has nothing to do with that last story, I just wanted to point out that back in April EA closed a bunch of multiplayer servers. Again, these two news items are entirely divorced from one another. I don’t even know why I put them in the same paragraph, really.

Going back to the discussion about gaming in the 90’s:

First, we had a couple of landmark games that really hit it big because of their multiplayer: Quake / Modern Warfare 2.

Then everyone saw this success and misunderstood how it worked. They assumed that just blindly adding multiplayer to a single-player game would replicate the success of the earlier title, no matter how preposterous or thematically wrong it might be: Max Payne / Spec Ops: The Line

In the late 90’s, the circle closed with Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament, the Coke and Pepsi of the online deathmatch games. These titles were designed for multiplayer from the ground up, and the only “single player” available was playing the multiplayer map against bots. But we have this already: Team Fortress 2, and a dozen or so contenders for the TF2 crown. (Section 8, Brink, Super Monday Night Combat, etc.)

It’s not that multiplayer is an invalid thing to add, but blindly adding it to everything is single-minded and self-defeating. It’s just another indication that the people running EA don’t understand this business and are just chasing trends. You can’t lead if you’re chasing. You need to know what games would benefit from multiplayer, what games wouldn’t, and where to draw the line.

The sad thing is, they have people who can answer these questions. They’re the developers. They know their audience and their product. All you have to do is trust the people working for you to know what they’re talking about. If you do trust them, why don’t you listen to them? And if you don’t, why are you bothering to employ them?

Spec Ops: The Line is a great illustration of this problem. Yes, it was published by 2kGames and not EA, but the point stands: The developer said that multiplayer would be a waste of time and resources and would conflict with the thematic content of the single-player game. The publisher said to shut up and do it anyway, because multiplayer is the big thing now. In the end the developer was right. Nobody played the multiplayer mode. It was a waste of time and money that could have been spent making the single-player content that much better.

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A Hundred!A Hundred!17217 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?

From the Archives:

  1. The Other Matt K says:

    Honestly, it can be hard to judge when multiplayer is appropriate or not. When they mentioned it would be present as part of Mass Effect 3, I thought it was ludicrous and out of place – but it turned out to be an incredibly enjoyable experience.

    As such, I’m generally ok with companies wanting to put in multiplayer where they can, even in typically single player experiences… I just don’t want them to do so in a way that infringes on that single player experience. Make it optional, don’t force the single player game to ever have to connect online, etc. That would be perfect for me.

    How viable that is, or how many companies will actually do things in that fashion? That’s where things get tricky…

    • False Prophet says:

      Is splitting it into two games viable? Hypothetically the next high-profile bro-shooter could be sold as both a 6-hour, rail-shooter sight-seeing tour for around $20, and a multiplayer arena sharing the engine and a big chunk of the art assets and sells for $40. Or sell the multiplayer for $20 or $30 and ask for a small subscription fee, MMORPG-style, to finance maintenance on the servers.

      • mixmastermind says:

        But they don’t have servers in most bro shooters anymore, do they? I thought they went for a completely different system than dedicated server starting with MW2.

    • Thomas says:

      The real saving for me, was it appears to be self-financing. So they wouldn’t have to waste game budget on it. And it’s probably not a resource drain because the multiplayer is often done by another team in these things.

      • Naota says:

        It’s still a resource drain – they have to pay a whole other development studio to make a multiplayer mode! This is exactly what happened with Spec Ops, and it still ended ruinously because the different studios were on completely different pages about what was important. Hell, this isn’t even exclusive to the multi/singleplayer divide; just look at Deus Ex Human Revolution’s outsourced cinematics and boss battles.

        In the case of ME3, I have the sneaking suspicion that the multiplayer coop was in fact propped up by assets from a failed, “more shooter-y” Mass Effect that saw some development after ME2 but didn’t make the cut (perhaps in light of TOR or something else entirely). With a bunch of working levels and a multiplayer framework already there, it probably wasn’t too hard to add in wave-based survival gameplay with the existing ME3 enemies, weapons, and character classes.

        • anaphysik says:

          You’re suspiciously right on the mark (which almost makes me think it was intentional – damn our surplus of irony marks؟) Mass Effect Team Assault was a cancelled ME FPS worked on after ME2 before being replaced by work on the ME3 multiplayer mode.
          http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Mass_Effect_Team_Assault

          • Naota says:

            Seriously? I had heard that the multiplayer levels came in from another project, but I honestly didn’t know how close my guess actually was. I figured it was probably a shooter because from their comments after ME2, EA was pressing hard for a Mass Effect flavoured bro-shooter experience (which ME3 mostly wasn’t, despite our fears).

            Did the final areas of the game also come from this project? London felt almost jarringly out of place from the rest of the game’s locales – just miles of soulless black and grey urban rubble drudgery and throwaway military-themed objectives with no roleplaying whatsoever. Destroy an AA gun? Defend a convoy? What wit! What innovation!

            You know what really confuses me, though? Where were the mercenary factions, combat mechs, and Collectors in Mass Effect 3? The multiplayer mode in particular suffers from some pretty severe repetition fatigue, and the enemy variety isn’t exactly stellar in the campaign either. You’d think that some Collectors or space ruffians would be good to break the monotony here or there. Were the developers so hard up for disk space on the consoles that they couldn’t even store these extra models?

            …I really hope the next comment isn’t a link to a wiki page that says Collectors were dropped as enemies because of DVD format storage space concerns.

            • guy says:

              I think it might actually be multiplayer we need to blame for the lack of variety. I mean, I can actually trace a chain of logic by which multiplayer would cause those things to not be present.

              See, if they had more factions to fight, people would want them in multiplayer. That would then mean there were more options in multiplayer, meaning fewer people taking each option, meaning something other than how incredibly terrible the internet platform which must not be named is would interfere with people getting to games.

              But it is kind of a shame. Even though the Blue Suns, Eclipse, and Blood Pack of ME2 were all recognizably running the same design philosophy, if you modded them to all use the same skins people would still be able to tell which was which from how they acted in combat. Eclipse was big on using powers and mechs, the Blood Pack all regenerated and had the Krogan heavy troopers, and the Blue Suns were generically pretty good but lacked anything spectacular except more dudes with shields.

              I guess they could have used some sort of subfaction system, where all the indoctrinated forces were lumped into one catagory and tended towards swarms of terrible guys with different specialists and maybe one husk type, plopped Reapers into another catagory and given them a variant with different high-end husks supplementing the main lineup, and split the Geth into mainline and heretic tech, with the heretics using those hopping things from the first game and hunters and the mainline having some unique platforms of their own. Then the multiplayer could have given an option for which of the three factions you wanted to fight and randomly picked a subfaction when the game started.

        • Thomas says:

          That’s why my first line was ‘The real saving for me, was it appears to be self-financing. ‘ =D Because it generates money, there is a lot of hope that they were calculating all that extra money into their budget and have it pay for itself

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Well, the server thing seems like a disaster in the making. But I enjoyed the multiplayer as well and particularly after the extended cut lowered the required amount of EMS never felt like I was having to work particularly hard to get the “good” ending.

      I also enjoyed the faffing about, and was in fact a little disappointed that some of them -most even -were nothing more than scanning missions. Man, when the Elcor ambassador asked me to go rescue his people I thought “yeah, high-gravity rescue, this is gonna be awesome…” Then it was a scanning mission.

      Incidentally, I do not recall the Shepard breath in anything but the Red ending. Can someone confirm that it happened in the other ends as well? I confess, I may have skipped the credits after the first couple of playthroughs.

      • l3f4y says:

        It didn’t. It was Destroy only. BioWare wasn’t quite moronic enough to have Shepard alive after being disintegrated.

      • Corpital says:

        The goofing around was great and I, too, was really excited about the mission rescuing some Elcor. After doing everything possible before the next story mission, I wondered how I missed it. After looking through all the assets, it dawned on me it was that one scanning mission. I was really disappointed, even if it makes sense in hindsight.
        The animations of all the humanoid races are wonky enough as it is and I expect them to make non humanoids more then static object with an attached voicebox? How naive.

    • Matt K says:

      Hey Matt! The original Deus Ex (back in 2000) had Online Deathmatch added in the patch it received (and I believe the GOTY version had it out of the box). It was actually halfway decent for what it was (and also my first online shooter so I enjoyed it) but definitely not a success.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yes,I dont see the multiplayer thing in me3 like something bad.In fact I think it was tied in with the single player quite well.The only problem is that it ties in with something thats so stupid and irrelevant.

      • guy says:

        I object to it on philosophical grounds, even though the gameplay is quite nice. People who don’t want to do multiplayer should not have to in order to progress the single player properly. As I recall from what I read on the wiki, it was literally impossible to get Synthesis without multiplayer prior to the Extended Cut. The highest possible EMS in a single playthrough (given that a bunch of assets are mutually exclusive) was just shy without the multiplayer. Aside from the technical difficulties and the random packs, I don’t mind the actual gameplay. I just think people who do mind the gameplay should not need to play it.

        Granted, this point is slightly undercut by how terrible the endings you can unlock are, but assuming they were good it would be really irritating.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Actually,if I remember correctly(too lazy to check the wiki again),you couldve gotten everything but the destroy/breathe scene without multiplayer,if you played the previous two games and did everything in those.

          • SleepingDragon says:

            You are correct, I didn’t check the breath thing but it was definitely possible to get all three endings.

            Just for reference: a pure para playthrough through all three games, with most DLCs and everybody surviving and loyal at the end of 2.

  2. Ateius says:

    Personally, I was a bit more harsh on EA’s decision regarding the whole “multiplayer everything” thing, taken in context with other moves and announcements (trying to push into digital distribution, that ludicrous “We need to sell 5 million units of dead space 3”, etc). Less blindly follow-the-leader and more the desperate thrashings of a drowning man.

  3. LazerBlade says:

    I decided to look at the chest move as the final stages of rigor mortis setting in. I mean, seriously. We were on a space station when it exploded, and then we fell through the atmosphere and down onto a planet. Last time that happened it took two years and some fairly awful writing to bring us back to life.

    What kind of narrative closure does the EC provide to disagree with this? None.

  4. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    The Passion of the Christ did end with Jesus leaving the tomb, and even at the time I remember many people I saw it with being dissatisfied with that. Though in this case, it was because we thought it was too little rather than too much. Somewhat like how at the end of The Pursuit of Happiness the real person it was based on walks across the screen in a business suit and that’s your happy ending. There’s a reason most of the passion plays I’ve seen go to the Ascension.

    So I could see the ‘good’ ending going either way. Drop it entirely and Shepard simply makes the ultimate sacrifice at the end of the game. Or expand it into something meaningful. But as it is, the ending is rendered ridiculous.

    • CTrees says:

      So what you’re saying is… The Passion of the Christ should’ve had an online multiplayer mode picking up after Jesus left the tomb?

      Because I would totally play that.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “The Passion of the Christ did end with Jesus leaving the tomb, and even at the time I remember many people I saw it with being dissatisfied with that.”

      Wait,you mean someone like all the pointless torture in that movie and didnt like the canonical ending of the story of jesus?

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        My recollection was this this was the complaint: the movie over-indulged in the torture and not enough on the important point of the resurrection.

        It might be a Catholic/Protestant thing.

        • Zukhramm says:

          Guys, you’ve completely spoiled to movie for me. It’s ruined now!

          • MrWhales says:

            That movie being 3 hours long and not picking up anywhere close to the beginning spoiled the movie for me.

          • StashAugustine says:

            I can spoil the whole thing.

            Jesus dies at the end.

            Personally, I thought it did a good job of illustrating the Christian that sin doesn’t exist in a vacuum but rather hurts God and others. I’d go into more detail, but this thread is derailed enough and I don’t wanna go any more R&P.

        • False Prophet says:

          More like medieval Catholicism. There were no Grand-Guignol interpretations on the Passion at my Catholic high school. But Mel Gibson’s dad calls that “the good old days” so that probably informs some of the film’s decisions.

  5. Rasha says:

    Bah! I think you’ve all been stuck in ruts for a long time now.

  6. Thomas says:

    Wow you forgot all the bile for that episode. Shamus was being even-handed even :D

    Also I’d like to say Chris, that I personally probably would not have been satisified with a gold plated Normandy for doing the work to save the crewmates and fix all the little problems and struggles that everyone was dealing with :D I demand actual story consequences for giving the Primarch’s son an honourable death. And in many ways it does make story sense. You Shepard didn’t really do a lot, didn’t go out of her way to help and so she had more guilt in her mind and her fleet was less prepared.

    Also there are chunks of points lost/won depending on the decisions you made, I’m not sure where the line is drawn, but if it was drawn correctly, it makes sense that the people who made the bad decisions and took moral ground instead of assets or bullied someone too far, will get a worse ending for that. It’s just it’s hard to factor with all the time stuff in. I never came close to being short, despite never playing multiplayer but I also did put way too much time in it and points are much harder to earn through decisions on a default playthrough

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I’m in a middle ground here. On the one side, I liked when my actions in past games mattered. I hated that not having the past game often meant I had to miss something entirely.

      Perhaps a better approach would have been that everything within ME3 was self-contained so that you could “win” each situation if you did the ground-work, but that having crewmembers for before offered a different way to win. Sort of like Regular, Renegade/Paragon, and Import options.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I can see Chris’s argument that time played shouldn’t judge how successful you are. I think I would rather the Alpha Protocol model of each doing/not doing something would give you a different consequence. The mantra “no bad choices, just results”, should be guiding the thinking of Bioware. Yes, your actions should have consequence. But there should be equivalent consequence for not doing something. This would require an entire redo of War Assets and how they didn’t affect the ending, but they way Bioware did it was not good.

      On the other hand, I fully support him when he says that DLC or playing Multi-player should not affect the ending. That’s annoying. I’d be glad the Extended Cut reduced the EMS needed if I felt it mattered at all.

      • Matt K says:

        Man AP had a great choice system. Each choice had consequence both at the moment and down the line. I really enjoyed that there wasn’t really a false choice in the game (or obvious one) for the most part.

      • Naota says:

        I’m not so sure that there shouldn’t be bad choices at all. Sometimes it only makes sense that doing a stupid thing should have a stupid result. Trying to romance two characters at exactly the same time probably should eventually blow up in your face and force a definitive choice – or better yet allow you to foolishly keep trying to court both parties after this fight to the point where they leave your character completely.

        Sometimes freedom of choice includes the choice of being dumb – just don’t take it too far and punish players for missing a tiny hint. The stupid should be reasonably apparent to anyone paying attention.

        • Thomas says:

          I was also metagaming with the word bad there too. If I decide I’m not going to forcibly convert a bunch of orphans into war mechs, that’s the bad choice and I want the game to punish me for it and potentially give me a worse ending. I deliberately chose to make myself weaker to be morally correct and if the game doesn’t punish me for that in my ending then it makes the choice irrelevant.

          And to have players unhappy, what you do is give them the ability to save themselves from the bad ending by putting more time into sidequests.

          Of course ME3 screws this up by giving more war assets to the paragon choices in the large situations (with some good exceptions, Solarians are handled the best in this game choice wise)

          @NewDarkCloud I don’t think this would work or at least there is something wrong in the group mindest. Because a lot of the choices you make do have lots of in game small consequences (not Alpha Protocol good though) who survives what mission, what happens to character A or B, what position the Krogan, Geth etc are left at. In fact it’s fair enough to say that almost every choice you make in ME1 and ME2 has some small story/mission consequence in ME. There’s less consequences for choices in ME3 (ish) but it helps to think of ME3 being where you other choices are paid up. But all that still annoyed people because it didn’t directly tie into the ending and how the ending functions,

          • newdarkcloud says:

            They do. And they do really well, but that is all negated by the way they used War Assets in the end. Yeah, I have this united Krogan force or I have Salarian support, but what does that mean in terms of the end game. The choices you make don’t really tie together.

            The only real exception seems to be Rannoch. From what I’ve been told, re-writing/destroying the Geth actually affects spawn rates.

            And with regards to the War Mech/Orphan analogy. While not converting them should make the game more difficult, there should be some other benefit to not doing it. Say, people like you a bit better and will be more open to cooperation down the line. Direct vs. Long-Term benefits and how people treat you based on what you’ve done.

            • Thomas says:

              I guess, but I didn’t like how most Paragon options ended up paying out better in the long run. Someone should be nice and it should net you something, but I should lose out by wanting the world to be a bit better. If I don’t want Aria ruling the galaxy afterwards, or if I want to preserve some aspect of culture, I want to do that at a cost, deliberately make a sacrifice because I believe it’s worth preserving. If it turns out that it works out fine asset wise, where was the nobleness? It’s like the evil option in Bioshock is actually to save all the children, so you can use the extra Adam to create a new kingdom beneath the sea. It’s the stupid option that involves killing children

              • newdarkcloud says:

                See. I hate good vs. evil in general. I always found that to be pretty dumb. Morality isn’t like that in real life. In real life, we are all trying to do what we think is best in the long run and what we do affects the future in ways we can’t really grasp. Instead of good vs. evil or nice-nice vs. dickwad, we should have options that both seem appealing, but have different consequences.

                Something like the Rachni Queen choice in ME1 should have been. Do you gamble that the Queen will be honest and help you out, or do you exterminate her once and for all. In one of my articles about the series, the say that this choice should have given you more War Assets if you saved her, but give you more enemies to fight. If you killed her, than you should lose access to those resources, but have few to no Rachni units spawn. These are equivalent consequences for a morally gray choice.

                It means that even in later playthrough, you still have to consider if an easier time playing the game is worth having a harder time in the endgame and vice-versa.

                • Thomas says:

                  Well we try to do what we think is best at least. Whether it’s in the long run depends on personality, as well as who it’s for. And that’s before we get to things like sociopathy, psychopathy and schadenfreude. And to be fair, I would consider most of the ME choices to be well within the constrains of what an not particularly aberrant person would do. Maybe a couple of exceptions, but when you add in that Shepard is very powerful with a lot of responsibility and for several years, few people to keep hir in line.

                  And in some fictional settings good/evil works. Star Wars for instance. You don’t get many RPGs that deal with the interesting motivation, but then exploring that would be particularly restrictive as far as roleplaying goes.

                  • StashAugustine says:

                    I think that ME had a good idea, where it measured what you thought was right rather than what was right, but then kinda screwed it over by making some options obviously evil. Perhaps they should have had a handful of Paragon options be wrong?

                    • Indy says:

                      The only instance I could point to as wrong is letting the asari on Virmire live. In one of the emails, you find out she killed a bunch of people before being put down. That’s it.

                • Naota says:

                  I’d argue that “best” is a very subjective term. Do we do what’s best for the world? The nation? Our family? Our friends? Ourselves? Sometimes one of these can be at odds with the others, or all of them can conflict at once. It’s quite possible to be a self-interested mercenary and do great evil in the name of personal profit, or a zealous fundamentalist who commits murder on a large scale in the belief that it serves a higher power or ideal system.

                  Where this breaks down in games is confining these massive spectrums of motivation and intent to a simple binary system. I love playing an evil character who gets the snappy lines and moral ambiguity, but I hate having to be a petty asshole that goes out of his way to be an abrasive jerk to people. Good villains don’t do this – like Saren or The Joker, good villains are often the ones you can’t help but enjoy watching.

                  If you look at any other form of media that wants you to root for the bad guys, you’ll find they’re written as more than just petty assholes. They often do their evil deeds for understandable (but not forgivable) reasons, and frequently do them to people who you want to see hurt or don’t care about hurting. It’s not all kicking one-legged orphan children for the laughs.

                  Obviously doing evil things does not make (most) other characters happy, but how can I be expected to garner enjoyment from screwing over nice people who have done me no harm just out of spite? I don’t want to be a bully that hurts people purely for self-satisfaction. I don’t want to roleplay a narrowminded racist asshole when I pick Renegade options. I just want to be an amoral renegade. Is a little class too much to ask for? Why do I have to be pointedly rude?

                  It’s dead easy to be saintly and benign when everyone lauds and rewards you for what you’ve done. It’s hard to do so when you’re insulted, mislead, and mistreated by regular characters. What separates the truly good from the average person are those situations where sticking to your principles is the hard thing to do. There need to be more cases in games where doing something nasty to a character is the easier choice, and turning the other cheek is the difficult one. There need to be more villains you can’t help but like, and more “good” characters you can’t help but want to see fail.

                  • newdarkcloud says:

                    That’s what I mean. That’s what makes moral choice interesting. What I think of as the best thing to do may not be the same for you. That’s the essence of choice. I want to see more of that, where the choice isn’t stupidly obvious. It should make you take to think and appeal to your/your character’s moral fiber.

                    To Mass Effect’s credit, it generally does it well. But many of the payoffs and choices in ME3 fell flat. The ones that generally succeeded, like Tuchanka or Rannoch, are ones that we remember. They could be better.

                    • Naota says:

                      Well generally I think Mass Effect suffers from a bad case of “moral centricism”, where the vast majority of supporting characters you interact with are wholly good, and your foes are preposterously evil. All of the “bad guy” options you have available as Shepard tend to boil down to being a jerk for the sake of being a jerk, and usually to someone who is inherently nice.

                      To me these come off as either options designed for bullies who enjoy hurting good people as entertainment, or as morality lessons against the evils of… Renegade-ism. It’s always a choice between letting the helpless innocents die or saving the military hardware, and never one between executing the secretly vile corrupt leader versus letting him off the hook because “mankind needs hope more than they need your head”. You’re rarely forced to be frustratingly nice to people who are nothing but jerks to you for Paragon points, yet every other Renegade choice seems to involve hurting good people with good intentions entirely for your character’s personal pleasure (and my displeasure).

                      All of the best, most memorable Renegade choices are the vindicating ones. Punching Ali-Jeliani, shocking the batarian mechanic, throwing the cocky Blue Suns mook off a building, or interrupting the verbose Krogan’s platitudes with a bullet. These are dickish things to do, but they’re rewarding and entertaining because it’s not a well-meaning good guy on the receiving end.

                      If we’re going to keep putting options to be bad into our games, we need more Picaresque in our settings and less Snidely Whiplash.

    • Corpital says:

      Gold plated Normandy? How cute.
      If you got the armor upgrade in the last game, your Normandy is DIAMOND plated. Biggest space-peen in the galaxy.

      It IS a really big effort to get your war assets to a high level with singleplayer only, but I didn’t mind much because, well, you are uniting the galaxy. What I do mind is the complete arbitrariness of it. Late in the game you can get a modified and functional brain of a reaper, a thing of unheard of processing power and it is worth about the same as four of your surviving crewmembers in the last game.
      Speaking of the former crewmembers, I liked they can help you like with the mentioned Kai Leng/Salarian situation, but all the tear-jerking situations, where everything is designed to kill your friends? Hated it.

      Also did you know you get -50points if you did not play the The Arrival DLC? I can understand the bonus points for having Kazumi or Zaeed or befriending ancient space monsters, but taking points away, even if it may make sense lore-wise? No go.

      And the most ridiculous of the Your Choice Matters Choices spanning over all three games? If you didn’t punch Khalisah al-Jilani in any of the games you get 5extra points. How could anyone ever not punch her? Perplexing.

      On an unrelated note: For the most part of the game I ran around exclusively with the Mattock, a hybrid between an assault rifle and a shotgunm even though it was heavier than a suit made out of bricks. Lead bricks. And that doesn’t have to make any sense.

      • Aldowyn says:

        The mattock weight less than many shotguns and most sniper rifles, while being nearly as accurate as the latter and having DPS comparable to many ARs. Not sure how it’s at all like a shotgun. Maybe you meant sniper rifle there?

      • anaphysik says:

        I always C/I her. Felt way better, since it completely shuts her down. In ME1, Shep simply navigates the interview with calm, getting the scumbag parts of the press out of her hair for a while; in ME2, Shep just outright demolishes any argument al-Jilani has and then she walks away looking like a total badass.

        But yeah, in ME3 I headbutted her. You can never have enough headbutts.
        (Also because every option there is *terribly* written. The whole Paragon Interrupt thing is just incredibly cheesy, and not in a good way.)

  7. Thomas says:

    Also, Cerberus were so much more fun to fight than teh Reapers (Story problems aside) i really began to look forward to those silly multiplayer singleplayer missions because it’s genuinely fun to fight Cerberus. Geth were a middleground, not as annoying as the Reapers but they didn’t have the tactical variance of Cerberus

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I actually found the Geth more fun to fight, but the Reaper hoards were for sure the worst enemies to fight. I hated them.

      • IFS says:

        And I actually prefer to fight reapers over the geth. The only reaper unit I disliked was the banshee, and thne only because of its one-hit kill attack. Of course my preference might have to do with how I prefer to play biotics, and the geth are less vunerable to biotics because more of them have shields, and they tend to have stronger shields than other groups.

        • guy says:

          Funny, I feel like it goes Reapers-Geth-Cerberus. Part of that is that every time I see Cerberus I am reminded Kai Leng exists, but it’s also because the Reaper husks are varied in more ways and are new. Cerberus has Mooks, Mooks with an extra health bar, annoying Engineers, Sniper Rifle Mooks, Cloaked Sword Mooks, Mechs, and turrets. The only interesting things are Guardians, who I felt were implemented poorly because Charging behind them is virtually pointless. I mean, the Centurions do have smoke grenades, but those aren’t interesting, just annoying.

          Meanwhile the Reapers are pulling all kinds of crazy out with enhancement aura Turians, corpse-eating Batarians, area bombardment Rachni, admittedly kind of lame KroganTurians, admittedly annoying melee instakill Asari, and zombie Humans.

          The Geth are a mixed bag. Their high proportion of shielded guys means that Overload and the other AoE shield-breakers start to really matter, they can be hacked, which is always good fun, and Hunter cloaks seem to matter more than Phantom cloaks for some reason. But their total lineup is kind of lacking, since they’ve just got Mooks, Rocket Mooks, Flamer Mooks, Cloaked Shotgun Mooks, Wuss Drones, and Primes.

          Overall, Cerberus basically has the mercs from ME2 and idiots with swords who I enjoy punching to death plus guardians, while the Reapers have more difference between guys (though they could really have done with having the Asari husks be pure biotic artillery who teleport away but had much less health and have them make up the main heavy pinning bombardment instead of the Ravagers) and the Geth have a very distinct set of faction attributes but too narrow a lineup.

          • Thomas says:

            @IFS it was less that there were Reaper units I didn’t like. (Although Banshees were horrible :D), it was more that fighting their core units was just not so enjoyable. Cannibals were boring, had slightly too much health to be fun to mow down, there were never enough husks to be interesting and they also had too much health, looked stupid whilst they were trying to attack you and were most dangerous because of faults with the game, rather than unit skill, because your camera was busy focused on a far off target and you didn’t seem them.

            Most of all Reapers were all really stupid to look at, very brown and a lot of the designs looked silly (i’m looking at your Rachni thing) and were a grind. If you’re adept you’d have to spam lots of abilities to take them down and it got repetitive. The only units I actually enjoyed killing were Harvestors and Brutes.

            I agree the Geth are fun if you happen to have a character with lots of robot killing abilities. But the geth themselves? nah. Rockettroopers ended up not function particularly differently from normal troops, except you really had to take cover. And then their only other specials were Prime and the Fire things, where it was just about hitting them a lot until they fell over.

            Whereas Cerberus, they all die really quickly, so it’s fun to use biotics on them because the choice is about what best fits the situation than laying on highest DPS. A warp will kill a mook, but would it be better to get a detonation so I can take out that bunch which are grouped together? Their units, with the smokescreen and the shields encouraged a lot of movement and they died quickly enough that you could move around a lot, cover was less important. And the enemy themselves try a lot of flanking, a lot of moving when you face them.

            Their specials were a bit meh. Nemesii (=D) and Phantoms weren’t particularly fun, but they went down quickly so it was about positioning them and catching them (which was complete BS with the phantoms, my least favourite unit). But I enjoyed fighting Atlases a lot more than Geth Primes. I think it’s because there was some fun in outpositioning and Atlas and it’s main attack was more seeable and dodgable.

            • StashAugustine says:

              I do like fighting Cerberus for just those reasons, although Geth are nice because a) no one-hit kill attacks and b) way more vulnerable to a lot of abilities.
              Oh and IIRC it’s ‘nemeses’ because the ‘-i’ ending is only for words ending in ‘-us.’ Sorry, I have to pretend that knowing Latin is useful.

      • anaphysik says:

        I agree; the geth are the most fun to fight.

        Also, godDAMN have I been loving the multiplayer vorcha; Flamer+Bloodlust just tears through geth forces. It’s especially awesome to go toe-to-toe with geth pyros and melt them like gallium.

  8. Exetera says:

    I guess Rutskarn just couldn’t Hackett.

  9. Irridium says:

    Yep. Multiplayer is the future. I mean, single player games don’t sell well anymore.

    Skyrim, Witcher 2, Bastion, Deus Ex Human Revolution, L.A. Noire… all complete failures because they didn’t have multiplayer. If only we saw the signs. I mean, you’d think it would be obvious what with God of War 3, Dragon Age Origins, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and Mass Effect 2 all tanking a few years before, but alas…

    I mean, you need multiplayer games to make money. Duke Nukem Forever, Max Payne 3, Spec Ops: The Line, … all raking in the dough! It’s also why their MMO’s are so successful. Warhammer Online, APB, and The Old Republic are just making them tons of money! MULTIPLAYER VIDEOGAMES YOU GUYS!

    Alright, all snarked out. I’m fine now.

    • On the other hand, the most financially successful video game series in the world has that position entirely because of its multiplayer, and it also helps them earn money on used sales, so I don’t think it’s going anywhere, either.

      • Piflik says:

        True, but what the big publishers don’t seem to get is: this game already exists. It will continue to exist and it will continue to be bought. Why should anyone buy something, that is just LIKE that game. Don’t remember exactly who said it (I think it was Extra Credits…when it’s intelligent and about games, chances are it was them…): if you want to compete with CoD, you DON’T compete with CoD. You do something different. People who want CoD, already have CoD.

  10. Psuedocrat says:

    Oh jeez, Rutskarn is out for the week? If he goes the way of Mumbles… I don’t even want to think about it. At this rate we’ll be down to Josh and his best impression of Randy by the time we get to Thessia.

  11. Dreadjaws says:

    Hey, Shamus, did you hear Bioware cofounders have left the company?

    I stopped being interested in Bioware games after their late “efforts”, but that’s mostly (100%) because of what EA did to them. These guys seem to be leaving for completely different reasons, though.

    • Aldowyn says:

      “don’t have the passion for the company I once did”

      That was a quote (more or less exact) from Ray’s farewell blog post. You MIGHT want to rethink that last part.

      • Irridium says:

        Actually, that was from Greg’s.

        “I’ve reached an unexpected point in my life where I no longer have the passion that I once did for the company, for the games, and for the challenge of creation.”

        The start of the second paragraph.

        • Aldowyn says:

          Whoops, sorry. They were… quite similar. I probably should have checked. Hmm, I thought it was in the one without the beer :D

          Point still valid.

          • Thomas says:

            The EA PR guys must be tearing their hearts out. That was nothing like an honest and open leaving letter but even with that there’s noway to spin it as ‘Bioware sucks as a corporate drone these days and I want to get out’

            The only relief for EA is at least they implied the whole modern game industry sucks rather than just EA. And neither of them are moving into making indie games like Molyneux

  12. Jace911 says:

    At this point even if Bioware does manage to churn out a good game I’m still probably going to avoid their future titles…too many bad memories of March 2012.

    I buried Bioware a long time ago. This thing wearing their face isn’t them, not by a long shot.

  13. meyerkev says:

    So one of the nice things that the EC did is that they way, way lowered the cutoffs. You can still get only one(well, 2) ending, but a minimum of fetch quests/multiplayer is all that’s needed.

    /Also, I take it we’re not going to see Jack?

    • anaphysik says:

      Jack died in the suicide mission in the SW playthrough, but not before fragging Miranda.

      • Gruhunchously says:

        No she didn’t. The only ones who died were Thane, Grunt, Miranda, and Jacob, I’m pretty sure.

        • Ofermod (Formerly Keredis) says:

          Jack *might* have died. Her body wasn’t shown, but she also wasn’t in the cast montage at the end.

          • Gruhunchously says:

            There were four coffins at the end; those four. The ending montage only shows four or five people, regardless of how many are still alive. We didn’t see Tali there either, but we know she’s alright.

          • anaphysik says:

            Hm… by my re-reckoning, they had 5 dudes holding the line (Garrus, Legion, Samara, Jack, and Miranda). Legion, Samara, and Jack were loyal. (I had thought that Garrus was loyal too, but I can’t find the episode for his loyalty, and the numbers wouldn’t work out if he were.)

            So that puts the HtL number at 9 (3 Garrus, 2 Legion, 2 Samara, 1 Jack, 1 Miranda), and thus the average at 1.8, which means that one person dies, following the order that the game uses (which would be: starting with non-loyal Miranda, then non-loyal Garrus, loyal Jack, loyal Samara, and lastly loyal Legion). Thus Miranda died, but Jack should not have (especially since Garrus is still kicking around).

            So it seems Jack should be alive indeed!

            • Ofermod (Formerly Keredis) says:

              Garrus was loyal, but Legion wasn’t, since they sided with Tali in the disagreement. Shouldn’t change your numbers any, though.

              • anaphysik says:

                Ah, thanks. I remembered that they did Legion’s loyalty, but forgot about the fight. It does change the order they could die in (to non-loyal Miranda, non-loyal Legion, loyal Jack, loyal Samara, loyal Garrus), but since only one would die, it still doesn’t matter. And again, Jack would have to be alive, since the person on the chopping block before her also lived.

    • guy says:

      We’ll see her… one way or another.

  14. Matt K says:

    Oddly enough the original Deus Ex did have multiplayer as part of a patch it received. I played a bit of it (it was essentially free since I owned the game) since I had never played online shooters before (no internet prior to college) and it was okay but not a success under any means.

  15. Spencer Petersen says:

    The more-time=better-ending situation is self solving in a good and well designed narrative because the extra time time spent playing shnould be a reward into itself. I enjoy doing optional stuff and doing side conversations in Walking Dead and New Vegas because the actual experience of doing those things make it worth it.

    Again, this is a sign of mismanaged priorities regarding when to reward the player for choices by deciding to stuff it all into the ending. Mass Effect 1 even had this problem when stuff like the Rachi Queen and Zhu’s Hope (and the Bhatia dilemaa on a lesser note) were touted as huge moral dilemmas with far reaching consequences that we might get to see the consequences of in a future date, but never manifested in the actual game beyond paragade scores. They never really materialized past the superficial in the later games but we kept getting strung along by the promise of relevance in the future. Now that we see the end of the road and how absolutely lazy Bioware copped out, its almost a complete retroactive poisoning of all the themes of the series. I can’t even bring myself to try to even replay ME1 or ME2 anymore because it all feels so artificial.

    It goes beyond just having a bad ending. Plenty of stellar games have shitty endings. HL2 ends a bit too quick, Bioshock goes on too long, LA Noire ends on the wrong tone, Deus Ex:HR ends arbitrarily, AC games keep ending on cliffhangers, but they usually get a pass because the focus and tone of the game is about the moment by moment and chapter by chapter progress. ME3 fails so catastrophically because they simultaneously had charged the entire narrative with huge themes of small choices having huge impacts at the end, and then skimped entirely on the ending from a design perspective and left it with comically few options and outcomes.

    That’s what strikes me as so stupid about the apologist argument of “ending was bad, other 99% was good.” It’s that through the whole series we were just waiting for the payoff, the payoff to the Rachni, the payoff of the Collector base, the payoff of Anderson/Udina, the payoff of Dead/Living Council, the payoff of dead ME2 squad versus alive ME2 squad. And what did we get? Literally the most one-dimensional metric for success. A score, a number, a point on a line.

    • Raygereio says:

      The more-time=better-ending situation is self solving in a good and well designed narrative because the extra time time spent playing shnould be a reward into itself.

      That and take a look at ME2. That game did this rather well.

      Oh dear Ao, did I just say that?

      Well, anyway: In ME2 you can rush through the game and do nothing but that which is mandatory for the game to progress and you will end up doing the suicide mission unprepared and will have a bad ending.
      On the other hand if you spend more time on the game and do the sidequests (all the loyalty missions and gather resources to upgrade things), you will be more prepared and as a result get a better ending.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Of course, Mass Effect 2 was fun until Cerberus and the Collectors get involved. The side-stuff is a relief. All the recruitment and loyalty missions are at least good, if not great.

        • StashAugustine says:

          That’s actually why I liked ME2 despite the main plot. I always had the feeling that the main plot was basically just an excuse for the character development, which is easily the best part of the entire series.

  16. guy says:

    So, I actually enjoy the ME3 multiplayer, but Origin keeps cutting out whenever I try to play it, and I eventually gave up.

  17. Phantos says:

    Single-player-driven games need multiplayer modes the same way movies need 3D. Or how I’d need a third sphincter.

  18. anaphysik says:

    I like how Josh deliberately doesn’t pick up the Tempest, presumably knowing it to be crap.

    • meyerkev says:

      All the SMG’s are pretty bad. And since you’re not forced to use them like ME2, and you don’t need to lose that much weight for the good builds, nobody ever seems to use them.

      • guy says:

        Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would ever equip them on Shepard. They’re pretty light but not weightless, so if you’re going for power spam you should probably just get one gun you actually want, and if you’re going heavy on guns you should just get an assault rifle instead.

        • ehlijen says:

          Actually, with lightweight materials and the weight capacity skill upgrade you can get one biggerish gun of your choice + one smg and still have +200% recharge speed.

        • anaphysik says:

          Also, the one SMG that’s worthwhile keeping as a rarely-used backup weapon in multiplayer is the geth SMG (since it’s *still* the only one that Ultralight Materials actually works on), but the geth SMG looks *terrible* sitting on your belt. Seriously, it looks so wrong that I deliberately don’t equip it even when I could and still have 200% cooldown.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I used them and Pistols on my playthrough. With lighter parts, they added almost no weight so I could spam powers without a lot of cooldown.

        Of course, I play Adept.

        • Thomas says:

          I preferred to use the Assault Rifle as adept so I never used the pistols. SMG with ultralight materials made a good back up weapon if you run out of ammo though and even with the Assualt Rifle that’s still 200% cooldown reduction.

          To be honest though, you don’t need to worry about running out of ammo as adept because the powers are way more useful -D, so just Assault Rifle is fine and despite taking SMGs I can’t remember actually firing one

    • ehlijen says:

      I actually like the Tempest most of all the submachine guns. All submachine guns are crap, but at least this one actually functions like a diet assault rifle instead of saddling me with some silly burst only mode.

    • Khizan says:

      The SMGs are fairly amazingly awesome on several classes. Spec Incendiary ammo into the one that causes explosions on hits and unload at close range. The damage output is pretty huge and the reload/recovery times are way better than with a shotgun. Insanity Vanguard, I found I used an SMG/AR combo more than a shotgun.

    • anaphysik says:

      It’s anaphysik from THE FUTURE! And I have to say that I feel like a damn fool now. Right now in MP, I’m using the Tempest and liking it. Of course, having the stability mod and high-velocity barrel on it are necessary, but it’s actually pretty good.

  19. Greg says:

    The “Shepard lives” ending is only available with a high EMS and if you pick the Destroy ending, you can’t get it for Synthesis or Control.

  20. Deadpool says:

    Walking Dead has no real choice. Kenny and Lily railroad the story no matter what choices you make.

    Kenny driving the train was the most hilarious moment in that game…

    • Jace911 says:

      The difference is where in Mass Effect 3 it’s just laziness, in the Walking Dead it’s intentionally nihilistic. The entire story is geared towards grinding down your hope and getting you to realize that nothing will ever be ‘good’ again.

      No choice will change this; if you save Carley she still dies in the third act, if you saved Doug he still dies in the third act, if you try to save Larry in the second act Kenny kills him anyway, etc.

      Episode One you get to the motor inn, settle down and get hopeful that you can hold out, and then the lights all cut out.

      Episode Two you get to the dairy farm, get excited that you might finally have a safe place with food, and then you find out that the St. Johns are cannibals and end up destroying the whole farm.

      I haven’t finished episode three yet, but it looks to be heading in the same direction.

      • Dude says:

        Episode three breaks everybody except the little girl, man. I think the writers are going to crush her by the time the last episode comes out, and that’s going to be magnificent. She’s one of my favorite characters in video games already. Right beside Manny Calavera, Tommy Vercetti (Ray Liotta, mostly), Murray and the like.

        • Jace911 says:

          I honestly hope that the final choice is going to be something along the lines of “save Clementine or save yourself”. I don’t really care about what happens to Lee at this point (Hell, I don’t think LEE really cares), but damn I want that girl to have some sort of happy ending. :(

          • Dude says:

            The final choice might be save Clem’s parents or save yourself. Depending on whether they’re alive by this point. Clem would watch, of course. Because I think choosing between Lee and Clem would be an easy decision for a lot of people.

            It depends on how you play Lee, I’d say, as well. I played Lee as basically good the first turn, and now am going through it as Lee being a live-at-any-cost guy. He breaks Clem’s heart every time and keeps all the food for himself that he can.

  21. Eric says:

    One thing you guys did not point out RE: the multiplayer and singleplayer relationship with EMS –

    EA sells random weapon packs for Real Dollars on Origin, Xbox LIVE and PSN. It is in their vested money-making interest to get players hooked on the multiplayer because it potentially means more cash for them. This is the sole motivation behind multiplayer affecting EMS – because all those obsessive single-player fans who never touch the online game are now going to be trying it out, and potentially spending money, even sticking with it.

    So yeah, whoever says BioWare have any remaining integrity or care about the experience of their players beyond their bottom line… well, I won’t say you’re wrong, but…

  22. Johan says:

    EDI looks so much like Mission Vao from KoTOR. Her eyemask thing even looks like one of the equitable items from KotOR

    • Spammy says:

      Except Mission was a teenaged girl and EDI is a sexbot with Miranda’s body and 60s hair.

      I will agree on the stupid eye covering though. That’ show I immediately identified that someone was playing KOTOR once, was that the characters all had ridiculous holographic goggles on.

      • StashAugustine says:

        I deliberately avoid giving people masks entirely because it makes them look stupid in conversation.

        • Thomas says:

          The ‘remove hat during cutscene’ option was by far and away the biggest improvement of all in ME3 =D

          If it doesn’t become standard in all similar RPGs now, I’m going to be severely disappointed

          • newdarkcloud says:

            Yes. It ME2, I had to not use helmets. In ME3, I turned the Helmet off so fast.

          • Otters34 says:

            Ironically? Mass Effect started out as the kind of series where it made in-universe sense to wear helmets most of the time, on account of the deadly slivers of metal being shot at you all the time.

            Though I’m biased, because I love helmets and masks of all sorts.

            EDI’s was dumb beyond belief though.

            • Thomas says:

              Pssh I don’t care about logic. If you insist of obscuring the characters face during cutscenes then I’ll refuse to wear a hat during the actual missions, and we’ll see how that fits in with the setting.

  23. Jokerman says:

    Wow, reading the link. The Dev truly hates the multiplayer….

    “It sheds a negative light on all of the meaningful things we did in the single-player experience,”

    “I don’t even feel like it’s part of the overall package. It’s another game rammed onto the disk like a cancerous growth, threatening to destroy the best things about the experience that the team at Yager put their heart and souls into creating.”

    Rightly harsh….completely true. Time could of been spent on making the gameplay good to go with the story, felt like a total drag to me…but i slogged through to get some more story – if it was truly fun the point they were trying to make would of been even more valid.

    • StashAugustine says:

      That said, I was kinda disappointed that everyone jumped on the MP comments, given that 90% of the interview was praising them for taking a huge risk on Spec Ops.

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The problem with “More grindy time=better ending” is that the two arent connected.You kill a bunch of cerberus mooks,and so you get the option to control the reapers instead of destroy them.Theres a huge gap between the two.But if you look at other (better) choices you make in this game,for example quarian/geth conflict,it makes plenty of sense that if you do a bunch of stuff for both sides they get to trust you enough to think over settling their differences.Thats what bioware understood once upon a time,but they apparently forgot all about it.I still remember how if you were smart and wealthy enough,you couldve circumvented the whole end combat in hordes of the underdark,and just make the devil your maid with just asking him nicely.

  25. AJ_Wings says:

    The problem with Spec Ops The Line is that they’re trying to sell a 5-7 hour single player game for 60 dollars. So it’s kinda understandable from their point view to add multiplayer to add value even though it turned out to be an awful decision. Seriously, Triple-A developers should look at indies and the PC digital market on how to handle pricing properly.

  26. ENC says:

    Shamus, when was the last time you were privy to EA’s private financial data and can make executive decisions for them?

  27. Michael says:

    Yes, that turian did have a pick-up titled ‘junk.’ I prefer to think that someone bet you 3125 credits to fondle the dead turian’s junk. And you went ahead and fondled that dead turian without a second thought.

  28. Hal says:

    If you do trust them, why don’t you listen to them?

    “Because I didn’t go to business school and become Senior VP High Muckety-muck just to listen to some stupid developer make decisions for me. I know what the kids want, with their Quake and pokey-mans and double-step music.”

    Ahem. Anyhow, my only real problem with these trends is when the multiplayer is integrated into the single player experience. There are 20+ year old games that people still return to because they stand as testaments to quality gameplay. No one is going to be singing the praises of your game 20 years from now if half (or all) of it is simply unreachable.

    Not that that’s news to anybody here. And it’s not like these guys are thinking about the legacy these games will leave, either. These are people thinking on a timeline measured in months

    • X2Eliah says:

      Hmm. Not so sure, because I bet there are people who are still singing praises to those “last great” quake/UT multiplayer games.

      Also.. Many people are still singing praises for CS1.6, which was in itself a solely multiplayer game.

      • Dave B. says:

        True, but those games survive because they allow the fans to keep them alive. And because they still have fans.

        Now look at a game without fan-run servers. Eventually, the online servers get shut down and that multiplayer game is gone forever. Look at MMORPGs, even ones that are still running. LotRO still has fans, but some quests cannot be completed solo, and as the userbase dwindles it gets harder and harder to find groups willing to play those parts of the game.

        Someday, the ME3 multiplayer servers will be shut down. If anyone is still playing the single-player campaign, they will have to do it without the benefit of a part of the game that essentially no longer exists.

    • ehlijen says:

      But if the game can’t be played anymore in 20 years, odds are the company wouldn’t be around to sell it anymore anyway.

      A game needs a large audience now to sell well, not a loyal one later. That those two things aren’t by necessity mutually exclusive (and often actually follow one from the other) seems to be forgotten knowledge, however :(

  29. Raygereio says:

    It’s just another indication that the people running EA don’t understand this business and are just chasing trends.

    I don’t know.
    Let’s take Skyrim. This game does not have multiplayer: doesn’t need it, wouldn’t fit in it either. But I’ve read reviews of Skyrim who put the lack of multiplayer down as a negative point. I’ve also seen comments in various places from gamers who for some unfathomable reason want multiplayer in Skyrim.
    I’ve also seen this not just for Skryim, but for plenty of other games that lack multiplayer going back several years. So I think the problem is a bit deeper then the old “EA/Corporate drones don’t get it”-thing. I think they actually do get it, because from what I can tell multiplayer does appears to be something a lot of people want.

    Also on the subject of multiplayer. Random rant: I really dislike PvP style multiplayer. I always prefer co-op. Dark Souls is an excelent example of this. The PvP is that game is terrible for several reason:
    -Lot’s cheating with people using trainers to give themselves overpowered gear or just outright invincibility
    -Crappy netcode/mechanics resulting in annoying fights and lag-stabs (This basically is you getting stabbed in the back by someone who you saw being in front of you).
    -Balance issues as builds geared towards PvP are at a distinct advantage towards builds setup for PvE.
    The whole thing is basically a barely functioning, build in griefing method that is terribly unfun and I just kick the person out of my game whenever I’m invaded. Sorry, but you do not get to have fun at my expense.
    On the other hand, jolly co-operation is tons of fun. I get a warm fuzzy feeling everytime I help someone take on the Gargoyles boss and hear the bells ring a few moments later.

    • Piflik says:

      Just because players want it, it is not a good idea to put it in. Playersdon’t know what they really want. If you put everything into a game that players want to have in there, the result will be horrible.

      • Raygereio says:

        True.
        But if “This game does not have feature X” becomes a very common complaint said by many people and featured in various reviews about all kinds of games. I think a publisher/developer can be forgiven for throwing their hands up and go “Fine. We’ll give you X”.
        We can then turn around and blame them when their implementation of X sucks, but that’s a seperate issue.

        Basically, the problem I see is that people view multiplayer as the sole source of replay value and/or automatically view the absence of multiplayer as a negative point.

    • Naota says:

      I generally agree with the sentiment, but you make it so hard by mentioning Skyrim. If ever there was a game that would make for downright amazing coop play, a Bethesda-created open world roamer would be it.

    • X2Eliah says:

      There can easily be griefing in co-op as well. Borderlands 1 says a merry hello in that aspect.

  30. Zaxares says:

    8:37: To be fair, Bioware did go back and tweak the requirement so that it now IS possible to get the best ending even if you never touch multiplayer, but it requires you to basically go everywhere and do every sidequest in the game. (And sorry CHris, but I disagree with you about getting the best result being tied to have much time you’ve spent at the game. The way I see it, it’s a recognition of the time and effort that players have gone to to try and achieve the best possible result. If I did EVERYTHING possible and the game still threw it back in my face, I would throw down the game and never buy anything from the company again. It would feel too much like it was mocking my efforts. ME3’s endings actually came awfully close to this, but the EC kinda made it bearable. My main gripe with the ME3 endings is that I believe Bioware should have gone further and made it possible to get an “Ultimate” happy ending if you got a CRAZILY high EMS score.)

    9:55: Ah, no, Shamus. The breath scene only appears if you choose the Destroy ending. Shepard is obviously dead in the Synthesis ending, and for obvious reasons, he/she can’t still have a corporeal body in the Control ending.

    15:03: I thought the ME1 sex scenes were very well done. Tasteful, but tantalising at the same time. From ME2 onwards though, they tended to become “Is that it?” affairs. (Mind you, I still thought that Garrus and Tali’s sex scenes in ME2 were totally awesome, even with no actual skin shown.)

    17:19: I don’t have much to add about EA’s “we will no longer make single player games” statement apart from what everybody else has already said, but I will just make one addendum here:

    http://blog.bioware.com/2012/09/18/ray-muzyka-greg-zeschuk-retire/

    That may or may not be an indicator of struggles going on behind the scenes at Bioware. I find it rather unusual that BOTH co-founders are leaving the company at the same time. Perhaps it was a joint decision they made years ago, but it could also be a gesture of solidarity if one or the other was pushed.

    Either way, I do have misgivings about the future direction of Bioware without the leadership of the Doctors. Bioware has radically changed direction in recent years ever since they were acquired by EA. Their games are still great, don’t get me wrong, but ME2/3 and DA2 seem to be a strong indicator the experiences I came to know and love from Bioware, in the style of the Baldur’s Gate series and Dragon Age 1, will not be found there anymore.

    I think it’s time for me to find a new favourite RPG developer. It would be ArenaNET, but they don’t put the same kind of depth and complexity into their characters that Bioware does.

    18:12: I don’t remember Max Payne having multiplayer either! I DO remember Deus Ex 1 having multiplayer though; I remember going into a match and finding myself constantly spawn-camped by people with grenades and GEP guns, so I left that same day and never touched it again.

    • Thomas says:

      At least the sex scenes all displayed things about character. It was the thing that stopped them being gratuitous, it came at a story point where it fitted and pretty instantly gave a strong reminder of what sort of person Miranda, Thane, Garrus or Tali were.

      Is there a Jacob sex scene? For some reason the idea makes me shudder =D. I think I’m going to have to look it up now, because I can’t think what character point they’d convey through it. ‘I’m a nice emotionally stable guy that you can rely on’ isn’t very sexy. For some reason the only way I could see it working is if it cut to the Illusive Man smiling and looking a little embarrassed

      EDIT: Okay I think my peace of mind would be better if I’d never had to hear those two flirt with each other and the animations were about as bad as could be imagined, but generally a pleasant surprise. Some nice equality in the objectification business, and it actually does really help Jacobs character. Shows him as a lot less bland with something his personally interested in and …desires (these words are so uncomfortabele :( ) and he gets to show how he can assert himself, but it’s need to be quietly and in his own little hollow space that hes made for himself. Jacob likes thing small and comfortable because he doesn’t like drama and he’s built himself a stability that his father never had or could give him but for the things he has, he can be passionate about them

      … And now I realise that I don’t know what Jack’s does for her :(
      EDIT EDIT: Kinda disappointed with her, shows the vunerability need for attachment, but her love life has been so scarred I think Shepard should have asked her to wait till their relationship was more advanced.

      …Samara… She doesn’t have one, right? I really hope she doesn’t. That would make no sense :(

      EDIT EDIT EDIT: *phew

      • Raygereio says:

        I think I’m going to have to look it up now, because I can’t think what character point they’d convey through it.

        But the priize…
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gGShiM1Exc

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I always enjoyed Jack’s paragon romance. There is a lot going on there in such a brief scene.

        • Thomas says:

          There is a lot of good stuff, particularly when you look at the renegade comparison. I just think it would have been more mature to wait with Jack.

        • Raygereio says:

          To each their own, but disregarding my distaste for Jake as a character for a moment; I was really creeped out by the whole “Screwing the therapist”-vibe that scene had.

      • Wedge says:

        I was really disappointed when I got the Kelly Chambers stuff at the end of ME2, because it WAS just gratuitous. And I went through all the trouble of doing all my party member’s loyalty quests AND saving Kelly.

        • Thomas says:

          There was a Kelly romance scene? This thread is ruining my internet history :(

          … wow that was awful. I’m glad I never saw that, I tried to romance Kelly as femshep. I’d actually be really pissed if I got that because that completely wrecks all the character stuff, never mind not building it up. Urghh.

          Why wasn’t there a scandal about that? ‘Multi-million selling title has Sex-Minigame’ is worth a few headlines, considering the fuss over the first game.

          … it depresses me that someone actually took time to go and animate that

    • X2Eliah says:

      I do have misgivings about the future direction of Bioware without the leadership of the Doctors. Bioware has radically changed direction in recent years ever since they were acquired by EA.

      Well, yes, but here is the awkward thing – those few last games, like ME2/3 and DA2 and SWTOR, they were all made *with* “the Doctors” at the helm. And still they (allegedly) sucked. Yeah, maybe it is due to EA. But if EA has already spoiled/ruined/whatever the way Bioware makes games, what difference does the leaving of the two head-people make? On the other hand, if they both are the lone bastions against EA’s influence or whatever other malady changed bioware’s games to what we saw, well, why didn’t they, you know, use their position at Bioware to make sure ME2/3, DA2, SWTOR don’t turn out the way they did?

      All in all, I think that people are massively overdramatising the departure of those two people. Yeah, it could be an indicator of Bioware/EA’s relationship, or internal struggles, whatever. I don’t see how it is in any way a breaking point of change, how (to put the common opinion into words) all future Bioware games will suck whereas all past Bioware games rocked. Because that’s the thing – Bioware’s games have been degrading for years now.

      • Thomas says:

        Besides Obsidian have a kickstarter now. Bioware are irrelevant ;D

      • Sumanai says:

        It’s a perception thing. The fact that founders are leaving marks a definite moment where people have to admit to themselves that it is not the Bioware they fell in love years ago. That they can no longer fool themselves into thinking that Bioware will just jump back up on its feet and start shining in its old glory, and that “they just have to get rid of EA” or something.

        I have a couple of words I want to say about this, but I’ll hold my tongue.

  31. Indy says:

    After 120 comments, I’ll be the one to ask the important question:

    Josh, what was on the sandwich?

  32. Abnaxis says:

    There are actually a lot of single player games that I would dearly love to see a multiplayer option on. I think the real problem is, that any company that wants multiplayer has this attitude that it has to be something requiring a full development cycle to implement.

    That’s not generally what I want. I don’t want new maps, new modes, new skins, matchmaking, PvP, OMG INTERNETS WE HAVE TO LET 64 PEOPLE IN TEH GAME AT ONCE AND IT WILL GO VIRAL.

    I want a human being to take over for one of the bots that annoy the crap out of me. I want my wife sitting next to me to pick up a controller, press ‘Start,’ and play. This would be cheap and quick to implement–by now, I would think that split screens and LAN clients should be a solved problem from a development standpoint, something you add to the source in a handful of hours, and that’s all it takes.

    I virtually never brought a follower with me in Skyrim. They Lerroy Jenkins themselves into combat, either dying as they block my line of fire or falling after they get surrounded, and they always give away my position because they go ballistic if an enemy even has a hint that you’re around while stealthed . They were glorified mules, not adventuring partners. If a human could just jump in and control the companion, I would be absolutely ecstatic, and it would have virtually zero effect on the single player experience. Same goes for ME1, where my squadmates are utterly useless, moving to the far side of a wall I tell them to take cover behind and requiring so much micro to use their powers effectively that I gave up and let them be useless because I didn’t want to play the game paused.

    Remember the days of side-scrolling beat ’em ups, when a player just jumped in, pressed ‘Start,’ and and starting pounding stuff with you without any more ado? Or the first Diablo when PC multiplayer was exactly like single player, just with two people doing it at once over LAN/the internet? Why can’t we have that? Don’t sink a big investment in it, just toss an afternoon worth of development at it and if it takes off you can expand it more later.

    • Raygereio says:

      Erm. I’m hugely in favor of co-op over PvP, but that’s not an afternoon worth of development you’re talking about.
      Heck, I can easily see establishing a co-op mode take up far more work, then setting up a PvP arena seperate from the main game would.

      • Abnaxis says:

        Why does there need to be a separated mode?

        If there is an NPC following me around following my every beck and call (like in Skyrim, Fallout 3 and on, ME, etc., etc…), the only thing stopping that NPC from being a person who just plugs in a controller is, at worst, adding split screen and/or LAN client. Many games have done multiplayer where the second player just jumped in for an NPC, and that worked fine. It only becomes a massive amount of work when you start adding all the extra cruft like new modes, matchmaking, PvP, dedicated servers, etc., etc. You don’t have to have those.

        • Raygereio says:

          the only thing stopping that NPC from being a person who just plugs in a controller is, at worst, adding split screen and/or LAN client

          I think you’re somewhat underestimating the amount of work this would take.
          There is a very big difference in taking a game like Skyrim and making the whole thing suitable for multiplayer (co-op or PvP), or just an arena with some basic modes seperate from the main game.
          The former would take a ton of work, the latter less.

          • Abnaxis says:

            So tell me: what is there, besides adding a bit of code to render two views instead of one for split-screen, that prevents one from adding a mode whereby a second player controls my NPC follower for me by plugging in a controller and pressing “start”?

            Adding an extra view render is miniscule compared to the rest of the development cycle. It might be a bit of an exaggeration to say it could be done in a day, but not by all that much.

            • Raygereio says:

              For starters, you’d have to ensure the gameworld supports more then one player running around, interacting with stuff.
              What happens when one player transitions into a cave? What happens when one player starts a conversation? That sort of thing.

              There a certainly more issues that would need to be adressed, but the above is already a big one.

              • Abnaxis says:

                What happens when one player transitions to a cave? They don’t, unless they are the main character. The follower in Skyrim doesn’t yank you to new areas when you’re playing single player, do they? The second player doesn’t get to transition areas, and if they stray too far, they get teleported back to the main player, just like AI followers do when their path-finding is defeated by a lump in the road.

                What happens when one player starts a conversation? They don’t, unless they are the main character. The follower in Skyrim doesn’t speak on your behalf when you play single player, do they? When the main player talks, the game freezes input from the follower, just like if it were controlled by the AI.

                I spent many hours in my youth playing a Kirby game with my friend, where he would take whatever hat he was wearing and transform it into a second character (me, or the AI if I hadn’t been there). I didn’t get to open doors or loot crap or talk to NPCs. I didn’t even have a choice over what character I played. Yet it was still a ton of fun.

                Co-op can still work this way, and it takes next to nothing to implement it. The idea here is that the second player has all the powers and responsibilities as an NPC follower, without the retarded AI. Sure, it would enhance the experience to give the second player more sovereignty, but it’s not strictly necessary.

                I suspect a lot of the things you say are a lot of work are actually extra work, which may make the experience better but those things aren’t required. Adding dirt-simple co-op, on the other hand, establishes a codebase which either the developer or the modding community can improve upon if multiplayer turns out to be a popular demand, and is a cheap way to keep the door open to multiplayer content while still focusing on the single-player experience. You don’t have to focus on multiplayer to include it.

                • SleepingDragon says:

                  Interestingly enough there were attempts to mod coop into Morrowind and Oblivion, I’m not sure how successful they were since I don’t see a point in approaching these games with more people in tow so I didn’t follow the developments but there definitely were attempts.

                  Now putting aside the whole “if it’s right” the thing you’re describing is a coop thing on the mod level, where a lot of things can be excused due to technical limitations and such. An actual, official coop mode would have to be much more refined, for example, I imagine the coop person hears what the NPCs are saying, but they can’t hear what you’re saying because the character’s lines are not voiced. Again, I understand you mean just giving the control over the companion to a second player and not having them participate as a character in their own right, I’m just saying I think it wouldn’t make the cut as an official mode.

                  • Abnaxis says:

                    Never looked into it for Morrowind. The multiplayer mod for Oblivion is buggy and incomplete. It’s been a while since I last checked on the one for Skyrim, but last I checked it was in the same boat. As I understand it, the TES mod tools don’t really give access to the parts of the engine that need modified to make multiplayer work.

                    As far as whether it would/should make the cut, that’s impossible to know until someone tries it. As I said, I have played games in this manner before, but with the advent of TEH INTERNET, companies have moved en masse to a multiplayer model that relies on dedicated servers to host. So I can say that ten years ago, it was a really fun way to play games, and it’s at least worth a try in today’s market.

                    • anaphysik says:

                      It does still sound like fun to me.

                    • SleepingDragon says:

                      Just to clarify, I meant the “in corporate” cut to be let on the market. I imagine some people would still have a lot of fun with even a very simplified and featureless coop but the company would be unwilling to let something that unpolished out with their official support as it would be damaging to their image. Maybe, and that’s a maybe, as a “mod that some of our team made, which is very buggy and not officially supported but put out there as a bit of a curiosity thing.”

                      I’m pretty sure this stuff is buggy and incomplete precisely because the engine wasn’t really meant to support this kind of play so they need to make a lot of workarounds. I actually just googled it a bit and I can see stuff like “you each play a single player game but your character and actions are imported into the other game as an NPC. You can’t really interact with one another.” The fact that they need to do this kind of stuff, I think, shows just how much work would have to be done on the basic engine to make this kind of thing working.

                • Robyrt says:

                  I do think more games should have this “sidekick mode” local co-op, but it would involve a lot more teleporting and taking control away from Player 2 than a modern AAA game is really designed for. This is why it tends to show up in games with a lower level of realism: if somebody strays past the invisible level-unload trigger in Lego Star Wars they can just die and respawn next to player 1, but in Gears of War it would feel jarring.

            • Shamus says:

              Sadly, it is in fact a murderously difficult problem that would require major re-writes and revisions, perhaps even changes to the fundamentals of the game engine.

              Okay, I’m sure you’ve seen the YouTube videos of some goof spawning 10,000 watermelons and blasting them with a shout and making a huge hilarious melonspolsion. What we have here is an entire system designed around variables. Now the trick is: We need to get the game state to the other player. This isn’t so bad when the “state” of the world is a few monsters and other character running around. It’s a radically different problem if the game state involves the ludicrous numbers of physics objects you’ll see in just about any house in a Bethesda game.

              Basically, in an online game you want your game state to be made up of as few variables as possible, and only a few should change at any given time. You must make this a part of the fundamental design of the world. In a Bethsoft game, the “gamestate” is the ENTIRE WORLD and every object in it. The player can grab, move, take, drop, throw, and consume a great number of objects. The gamestate in this case is many megabytes, and large blocks of it can change very rapidly. Sure, you can DOWNLOAD that without any problem, but most home connections have horrible, laggy upstream bandwidth.

              Then there’s client-side prediction. What we all discovered in 1996 was that if you hit attack and you happen to be lagging by (say) half a second, so that it takes a half second between the time you squeeze the trigger and the time your gun goes boom, the game will feel HORRIBLE to play. So what online games do is they apply your movements NOW, send them off to the server, and then the server sends you back revisions if something happened between the time you pushed the button and the time the buttun-press hit the server. For example, if you tried to go through a door at the same instant someone closed it, then you’d see yourself walk through, then snap back inside when you catch up.

              Also, the server needs to look at WHEN you took your action and rewind a bit to see what should have happened. Imagine: You aim right at a monster head, squeeze the trigger, and then the monster moves. The server sees your message come in a half-second later and concludes that you missed. This becomes even more insane when we’re talking about simulating the parabola of arrows that need to be retroactively launched in the past. Again, we’re only talking about a half-second here, but without this stuff people will rage because “online play is bugged”. (Or hitboxes, or whatever else they blame.)

              Also, all of the AI needs to be updated. Quest giving-NPC’s need to be able to cope with multiple player-characters. What happens if you and I run off in different directions? Right now the engine only needs what’s around the current player, but the game host now needs the area around both players, which might be a larger space. Now you have a disconnect between stuff that needs to be in memory for AI pathing and collision, and stuff that needs to be DRAWN. If you don’t quarantine these concepts, then when I dash into the tombs, you the host will get all sorts of frame stuttering as your computer loads the required texture maps, even though you won’t be drawing that stuff.

              I’m sure there’s more, but that’s my best “this is an expensive idea” pitch, which I’d give to the manager who called me into his office and asked, quite innocently, “How hard would it be to…”

              • Abnaxis says:

                My original thought was to not put it on the internet. Make it available over LAN, and if someone wants more than that, they can hack something together.

                From your points, however, I can see that even that much latency will cause issues. That’s OK, just don’t make it online multiplayer. Make it literally a game where the second player plugs in a controller and sits at the same machine. This narrows your audience on the PC (I have played many a game–well, many hours at least, since hardly any game will let you do this–with my wife and the computer plugged into the TV and a couple XBox controllers, but this seems a foreign concept to many if Borderlands 2 forums are any measure), but my goal here is a cheap, minimal version of multiplayer to gauge interest in the concept and start the roots of an expanded multiplayer experience later if it takes off.

                As far as culling the game state beyond regards to network latency–a game that includes followers already requires the mechanics to manage assets like that to being with, does it not? I remember a time in Skyrim I got attacked by a dragon and my follower went on walkabout to fight it. Fifteen minutes, some moderate cursing over the general vertical slant of the topography, and hundreds of yards of hiking later, I found the two of them duking it out in a clearing. That’s impossible unless the engine was already designed to track all the state changes in the world as my follower traipses across it without me.

                The only issue left is drawing the textures, but that requires more in-depth knowledge about what textures are in memory, when they’re loaded in memory, what’s already loaded, etc., etc., that I don’t have on hand. Nonetheless, this is much more solvable than creating an entire client for managing synchronization, and shouldn’t require a full development team dedicated to it.

                I would think, in a market where everyone wants to tack the word “multiplayer” on the back of the box, and given that much of the work required for a simple multiplayer is already done, that we would see more titles where the developer would give coop players some love and add something on for people to play locally. However, the opposite is true. Virtually every multiplayer game has online play, while someone like me is lucky to find anything that lets me sit down with my friend next to me and play on the same machine.

                Developers say “we want to focus on single player” and leave the issue stand at that. It’s baffling; while on the one hand I will admit that developers have to throw significant time and effort into developing the code and the infrastructure to support online games, couch multiplayer is many orders of magnitude cheaper, and doesn’t require a complete overhaul and focus shift to work. So why not more couch multiplayer?

  33. 4th Dimension says:

    Just checked wikipedia, Max Payne was PLANNED to have multiplayer BUT devs dropped it when they were finishing the game.

  34. False Prophet says:

    Chris, I don’t think a messiah figure has to die. But to remain sympathetic, they do have to leave the narrative. Noble sacrifice is the preferred way for stories that are materialist, secular, or attempt to be grounded in reality. But if space opera or the supernatural is involved, apotheosis is another acceptable exit for the messiah character. Space opera like Star Wars, Star Trek and Babylon 5 really likes the “evolve into a higher (i.e. energy-based) form” trope, or as I like to call it, Materialist Christianity.

    Messiahs who stick around to directly influence events after accomplishing their ultimate heroic act, though, usually end up being bad news. The first Dune trilogy explores this.

    • ehlijen says:

      Arguably, even a surviving shepard might be able to qualify for the messiah role in this case. In ME1 shepard was special because of the beacon data and later the cypher: he knew about protheans and the reapers. Other than that, shepard’s a soldier, good one or not, in what’s going to be a peace time (united galaxy and all).
      Without a reaper threat, shepard has little to add to the galaxy. There might be a Krogan rebellion again, but if so, shepard will have helped cause it and thus probably not be called to make decisions for fixing it. Otherwise, what thing of galactic importance will shepard do that higher ranking officers and better trained civilians couldn’t do better?

      Similar after ME1 in the intro to ME2. Shepard, saviour of the galaxy…is doing routine patrol work.

      • Thomas says:

        You do get great figures who aren’t tarnished by having lives after greatness. Gandhi was alive whilst he was still great (although his work isn’t finished) and Nelson Mandela gives speeches in Britain nowadays (which must bemuse him). Depending how the Krogan/Rannoch thing worked out (and they probably turned out well if you’ve got sufficient assets) then Shepard is in a position pretty similar to those people. (Although naturally not a great advocator of non-violent conflict resolution)

  35. ehlijen says:

    I don’t think the current generation of multiplayer is truly about just adding it because it sells well. As Diablo 3 has shown, it is also because multiplayer allows more obtrusive DRM in the proclaimed interest of maintaining balance and stopping cheaters without drawing as much hatred as such a DRM scheme would have in single player only titles.

    It is telling that while multiplayer is added to many games, LAN support for such multiplayer seems to be phased out in favour of servers tied to online distribution platforms.

  36. Michael says:

    I don’t see having to grind more to get the “Shepard lives… maybe” scene as a flaw in the game. It’s not a different ending, it’s just a bonus for the benefit of people who loved the game so much they spent all that extra time on it.

    The problem lies not with the game, but with the way we’ve come to expect that as soon as we’ve finished a game, the logical next step is to go to GameFAQs or find a YouTube video and make sure we get all the other endings too; the pervasive idea that you haven’t really played a game to completion unless you’ve ticked off every possible endgame. Which runs entirely counter to the idea that everyone has their Shepard and their story.

    • Michael says:

      Also Josh, I don’t think that turian was called Junk.

      Look at where the reticle is pointing.

    • SleepingDragon says:

      I dunno how much this applies but in my experience as a GM players really like it when, once the campaign is finished, we make this Q&A session where I tell them what went differently from how I planned it and then answer their questions like “what would have happened if we decided to hand the stuff over to the other guy?” I think in general most of us would like to know how things would have worked out if we made different decisions and interactive storytelling kinda allows for that with stuff like watching cutscenes or loading up a save. I mean, people don’t just watch this stuff to make sure if they got “the best” ending, but to see what other endings were available in general.

  37. Barleymaster says:

    Every time a cast member leaves the show gets more dominated by old white guys.

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