Mass Effect 3 EP30: Playdate

By Shamus Posted Saturday Nov 3, 2012

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 245 comments

Link (YouTube)

WARNING: There is an extended segment of this episode where we do not complain about the game. There is unqualified praise and positive things are said about the scenery. Viewer discretion is advised.

The mention of Elcor Jamie in this episode reminded me of the old Myth Effect joke Dan made last year:

This week on Mth Effect…
How many Geth do you need in one room before they’re smart enough to try and kill you? Can you avoid indoctrination by singing Gilbert & Sulivan at the top of your lungs? And finally: Adam and Jamie find out if heat-sink weapons really are better.

Still brings a smile to my face.

Rutskarn brings up an interesting point when he says that he doesn’t consider buying & selling loot to be a required RPG element. So what are the elements of an RPG? Yes, I realize this is a bit of a troll question. We can’t even agree on what “RPG” means. I’m not looking for definitive One True Definition. I’m just looking to get a sense of personal preference. What sorts of things makes a game an RPG for you, or what sorts of gameplay excludes it?


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245 thoughts on “Mass Effect 3 EP30: Playdate

  1. Amnestic says:

    Elcor: “Proudly. With VI-assisted infantry. Our soldiers carry heavy weapons into battle mounted on our backs.”

    The real question for this episode is why did they never show this in game?

    1. Irridium says:

      This is why we needed an Elcor squad member. This game is all about being awesome, yet they don’t include something that would be the most awesome thing ever.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        I got the impression they were essentially more like mobile artillery than infantry.

      2. Vect says:

        Explanation: They’d be way too slow compared to other characters and would probably cause issues with chest high walls.

        1. anaphysik says:

          They also wouldn’t fit the copy-paste set of animations that BioWare uses for all humans and humanoid aliens.
          (Even the krogan suffer from this, tending awkwardly because they’re simply stapled onto the human frame.)

          1. Tse says:

            They did do a turn around animation… for the third game. Maybe Elcor will have a full set of movements by the sixth.

        2. Klay F. says:

          Counter-explanation: They carry heavy weapons mounted on their backs. So on one shoulder, you have a Cain. On the other shoulder, you have one of those stupid black-hole launchers. Nothing could get within a mile of you before being turned to radioactive ash.

          1. Ateius says:

            Wait, are you arguing for or against inclusion? Because after reading that, I want to see an Elcor squad member even more.

            1. Klay F. says:

              I am 100% in favor of elcor squad members.

    2. Spammy says:

      I know! Elcor soldiers are just as cool as I thought they would be with the heavy armor and back-mounted weapons and the being an organic AT-AT and WHY DON’T WE GET TO SEE IT?!

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        Because then they’d have to animate a quadruped party member.

        Or just regular animation, I suppose. But a squad member would’ve been awesome.

        I imagine it’s the same reason we never see a Hanar teammate (Hence the Drell, assassins *for* hanar.).

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Then why not have them in just a cutscene then. I don’t care that we get no elcor party members, but I’d love to see an army of those guys with Cains.

          The Reapers wouldn’t stand a chance.

          1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            Yeah. I thought we should have seen some Elcor doing their thing during the Battle of London. Especially after it’s revealed the tanks and trucks are too easy to kill.

  2. Irridium says:

    Interesting question. For me, it would be building a character, either through setting his/her stats or appearance (or both), and being able to play the game different ways based on how I see my character.

    So I guess it’s a game that supports many styles of play, basically.

    Of course, there’s still JRPG’s which are rather linear. And I’ve enjoyed a few of those as well.

    1. IFS says:

      The definition gets very fuzzy when you consider dialogue heavy games like DA1 are considered RPG’s, but so are games like Dark Souls where the most you can say is yes/no and there are very few choices to make. The only real mechanical connection is that both have a levelling mechanic, but I would also consider the walking dead series to be RPG’s and they lack a levelling mechanic at all. You could say that the writing has to be good, but ME3 (or for another example Fallout 3) is considered a great RPG by many and we’ve already seen the writing skewered on this show. I would define an RPG as any game where character development/character stories are a major focus, for DA/ME/WD you get that from interactions with other characters, from many JRPGs you get that from the narrative and from games like Fallout 3 or Dark Souls you can define your own character, decide what their motivations and personality are as they make their journey through the world (alternately you could make a case for games like them having the world as the “character” you discover through the game. Ultimately any definition is going to be unreasonably broad though, as the term is kind of a catch-all by this point.

    2. Indy says:

      To me, RPG just means something I can talk about with friends. Really, I think that’s all the definition it has for me.

      Of course, that definition means pretty much any game is an RPG. Every shooter, strategy game, hell even sports games are RPG’s. Seeing that term define a game is ludicrous.

    3. I would also include at least some variation on the outcome of the story based on my choices. If it all boils down to “no matter what you did, you always wind up killing the same dude or pushing the same button for the same cutscene” without at least a hat-tip to what you’d done beforehand, I feel a little disappointed.

    4. pat says:

      Personally, I’d say that an RPG means that my character(s) show a discernible personality, beyond a stereotype. Generally JRPG’s give you a character to play and western RPG let you figure out who your character is, and I’ll play either.

      I’d say that progression mechanics (leveling, gear upgrades, training skills/abilities) are a separate factor.

      On the other hand story-defining choices are a great way to determine your character’s personality, of if the story is fairly linear, then watching the character make those choices can be equally as effective.

      Customization via choosing appearance/backstory, personal progression and story progression are all to the good, but I guess I’d say that those enhance an RPG rather than define it.

      1. Scow2 says:

        The problem with defining an RPG is that people forget what an RPG was – A spinoff of the Strategy genre. To an extent, it still is. However, instead of controlling uniformly-equipped armies, you control a single “Hero” unit who’s Combat Attributes (Gear, health, damage, etc) increase over time, instead of being restricted to a static, unchanging value.

        The RPG genre is defined by two qualities:
        1. Mechanical character progression
        2. A persistent “Main character” (Or party of Quasi-player characters, like Bioware/Obsidian/Black Isle and “Eastern” RPGs)

        If you play a persistent character that doesn’t mechanically progress, you’re playing an adventure or action game.

        If you’re playing a game with progression, but without a persistent character, its… something else, ranging from MOBAs, to shooters, to strategy games, and even some action games.

        Story and player choice in shaping the story are not RPG qualities. Roguelikes and Loot ’em Ups are types of Roleplaying game. All games can have stories and even branching plots, whether it’s puzzle, strategy (In fact, player choice is MORE common to strategy games than RPGs), shooter, or what-have-you.

    5. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Extra Credits devoted a couple episodes to this. I’ve narrowed my definition a bit, but when it first came out, I considered Dark Forces: Jedi Knight, and Jedi Knight II: Outcast to be excellent RPGs. But there’s almost no player input in the leveling of the latter game. (It returned for Jedi Academy, which I also enjoyed.)

      At the present time, the definition of RPG really does seem to be the leveling system -which is why you hear Call of Duty players talking about “RPG elements.” I think the emphasis should be more on the narrative. My newer, narrower definition says we should focus on the narrative and the player’s ability to be part of the game -not necessarilly that actions affect the ending, but that the player seems to be central to the game, rather than just running around shooting stuff because the game told you to.

  3. Zoe M. says:

    My first – only – playthrough, I had approximately infinity Paragon Points, and saved everyone. As a result, I had no idea how hard this particular outcome was to achieve until months later.

    It also didn’t have as much emotional resonance with just Legion “dying” – and really just rejoining the Fleetmind. It was more “Yay! You saved everyone! Back to work!” and less “Pyrrhic emotional victory.” Sort of like how everyone said it was so easy to lose Wrex in ME1, but I had no issue with it.

    Actually, that brings up an interesting point – if you take extreme Paragon, or probably extreme Renegade, the game’s “hard moral choices” practically play themselves. Seems like they could’ve done slightly better on that front – possibly by tying in choices made in previous games, Walking Dead style.

    “Legion will remember you snubbed him.”

    1. IFS says:

      Well since ME3 sums renegade and paragon points together it becomes really a matter of having accumulated those points in previous games, or failing that just a matter of talking with enough people (you no longer even have to be consistently renegade or paragon, which on one hand allows for more roleplaying flexibility, on the other allows for more bipolar characters) to be able to avoid hard decisions.

    2. Aldowyn says:

      That’s an interesting point about ME3. There are actually some legitimately interesting decisions to make, but this one in particular is solved for you if you have the right combination of things.

      Also… losing Wrex was easy? I must be playing a different game from everyone else, I NEVER lose Wrex. Ever. In like 5 or 6 playthroughs.

      1. Zoe M. says:

        “Everyone” in this case being mostly reviewers, who kept bringing it up as a hard choice/situation.

        1. Indy says:

          There was an achievement defining it as an “impossible situation”. It’s just if you’re playing only the core game and being wishy-washy, you don’t get to save Wrex, which is exactly the way reviewers play games.

          1. StashAugustine says:

            It comes down to doing all sidequests and dumping as many points as possible into Persuade. Which is what I always do in RPGs (I like being a diplomat).

            1. SleepingDragon says:

              Same, I think the devs do not fully comprehend how many players are completionists. Basically yes, you get to save Wrex if you run around talking to all sort of folk and doing (at least) most of the optional stuff, but a lot of players do that anyway. Reviewers probably often don’t get a chance to do that because it’s “hey, we got a review copy of ME, you need to play through it and write a review in 2 days because a dozen other portals got their copies today too”, so they don’t really have the time to do everything there is.

              1. WarlockofOz says:

                More that the Devs don’t fully comprehend (or if they do comprehend, consider other factors more important) how many *of the players likely to write about their game* are completionists.

                That’s still a fairly small set of the overall players, though. To see for yourself check the achievement stats for a few games and see what percentage of players have finished them.

            2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

              Not even all the sidequests. You can trip over Wrex’s family armor, and then go ask him if he recognizes it and he says “oh, that old thing? Yeah, lifelong quest. Wish I’d been there.”

              I had to work to kill Wrex a couple times just to see the effect it had later in the game.

      2. anaphysik says:

        Wrex is incredibly easy to save. All you need do is talk to him enough to get his sidequest and then do it. Charming/Intimidating is significantly harder and totally unnecessary.

        And if you didn’t talk to Wrex, then you deserve to lose your life when Wrex shoots you and becomes the main character on a whim.

        1. IFS says:

          I would love to see that as an option in a game, at some point a character can kill you (because you’re being a dumbass) and then you get to play him for the rest of the game.

          1. Indy says:

            I’d love that to be a whole game. Every time your character die, you take over his killer, get the story from his point of view for a while and then get to go to another person when he eventually dies.

            1. IFS says:

              It would also be interesting if you play as someone up to a point, rewind and play as someone else up to the same point, repeat a few times, then choose who survives the encounter of them all, and consequently who you play for the rest of the game.

            2. Alexander The 1st says:

              I remember Yahtzee had the idea that the game of Darksiders 2 could be rewritten as “You kill Death – now do his job.”, kind of that one Santa Claus movie way.

              It’s a shame we don’t really get to see it in games. Can you imagine if Dark Souls used this mechanic? Everytime you die, you become the thing that killed you?

              I would love to be a Taurus Demon doing the job of the Undead hero’s job.

              1. Mike Riddle says:

                On a Pale Horse.. A book by Piers Anthony was exactly this. kill death and become death.

                1. I don’t recommend that book beyond reading a summary. It’s quite magically idiotic, even by Xanth standards.

                  For example, Death’s scythe has a hollow handle, just in case he needs to draw air from somewhere just inside of the handle’s range, like a snorkel. Yes, I’m serious, and yes, this happens thanks to some kind of air-depriving spell that gets thrown at him.

                  The real stupid kicks in when the series gets to Nature, I think. I read about the flying whale and I was done, and that was when I was a teenager that hadn’t even read the Sandman yet.

              2. Robyrt says:

                On the other hand, I would hate to be a swamp mosquito.

          2. Michael says:

            Isn’t that basically what happens to anyone Alex Mercer eats in Prototype? :p

        2. Raygereio says:

          Charming/Intimidating isn’t even that hard. It requires just 8 points in either one.

          1. anaphysik says:

            I did say “significantly harder” and not “hard.”

            But yes, 8 C/I is pretty easy (requires 25% of the appropriate bar to unlock, IIRC), assuming that you actually talk to people rather than near-speedrunning through the game like Randy <_<

        3. Alexander The 1st says:

          True, but if you didn’t know about it, then you need max P/R points to do a check that saves him.

          And to be frank, the first time I didn’t even realise that people where down on the lower elevator floor – whoops.

          Luckily, a friend spoiled it to me when I watched him play the same section just before I started it.

          1. anaphysik says:

            “True, but if you didn't know about it, then you need max P/R points to do a check that saves him.”

            No you don’t. It’s C/I check of 8. That’s only 25% P/R and 5 invested ranks (because you would have gotten 3 for free by that point). (Hell, Feros has a harder check (which can be impossible if you do it early and favour Charm), whereas Virmire’s at least halfway through the game.)

    3. Lalaland says:

      I played all three games the same way with max paragon because it was so tied to the dialogue system which was a major issue I have with it. I would far prefer a Charisma stat or Persuade skill but as every issue is solved in this game with guns it would feel too much like a waste of upgrades for most people.

      1. anaphysik says:

        Charm and Intimidate required you to put point in them… And most people *did,* so besides ‘remove P/R points and have C/I be exclusively determined by build characteristics,’ I don’t see your point.

        1. The problem lies in how arbitrary those kinds of actions were decided. Maybe your character (as you see him/her) would want to punch Mr. X, and can justify it being a viable option, but that’s “intimidate,” not “charm.” Given that we’re playing a soldier and someone in a military structure, separating them makes even less sense, in my opinion.

          1. Deadpool says:

            I maxed both Charm and Intimidate in my game… Although I had to use an exploit to get the Paragon/Renegade points. Tying the Charm/Intimidate to Paragon/Renegade was decidedly stupid.

    4. newdarkcloud says:

      By the time I had gotten here, I had been doing a lot of sidequests, so I had my Reputation maxed out. Saving both races was a trivial matter.

      Still, this whole thing was pretty dumb imo.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Even when I try to whiff, I can’t (completionist in me). So I end up playing deliberate morons who have the chance to not get Tali Exiled, but do it anyway. Et cetera.

        The ending of this section seemed cool the first time, I’ve mellowed on it since. The conversation with the Reaper should be longer and a reprise, in many ways, of the Soveriegn dialogue from the first game. The intranginence of, well, everyone even in the good endings is infuriating, and while I’m happy to handwave Legion’s death (his personality was the result of thousands of programs melding together, but in order to replicate it among all the geth, he had to break that personality up and send the individual pieces -and once that was done the personallity was lost and there was no point to retaining the body -or something), the massive difference between the geth as a hive mind collective and a synthetic form of individual life is never given the proper exploration, nor is the irony (or fridge horror) that their individuality is the result of the reapers -who do not prize individuality at all.

    5. Deadpool says:

      Please. I like Walking Dead, but as an example of choice/consequence? It’s awful.

      1. Even says:

        It’s still far from the worst. At least some of them you can excuse for it being a craptastic world and what with the themes trying to reflect on the worst sides of humanity. I think the only real bullshit ones were killing Doug/Carley just for the sake of the drama and Lilly going berserk crazy (+backstabber if you didn’t ditch her) no matter what. Realistically I wouldn’t expect all my choices to carry out meaningfully, given the setting and all, but I’d prefer that at least the excuse wasn’t something foreseeable or just the writer pulling off badly timed stunts for a desired effect. The former makes you wish you had the character agency to get involved with the issue before the shit really hits the fan and the latter just feels cheap.

  4. StranaMente says:

    For me it’s the plot. I like good stories and making choices. Role playing games are the only games that let you take important decisions and change the course of the story.
    In this part I count both the personal story and the main quest.

    The other thing I look forward in a rpg is lore. If I like the main story enough I feel engaged and usually end up wanting to know more about the world I’m playing in.

    Only at third place come the raw mechanics.
    I think that loot may be important, as it is part of the world.
    Usually you are an adventurer of some sort and your incomes are limited to what you can take and sell from enemies, taking this away may break the immersion. I’ve yet to watch the video, so I don’t know what rutskarn says, but think about what dragon age 2 did to the loot. That was really bad.

    1. Mike S. says:

      I’ve grown to really dislike the way loot works in most CRPG games, which is pretty much contigent on their descent from (a certain playstyle of) early D&D. It’s especially jarring in a game like Mass Effect, where your special forces soldier/junior Lensman is stealing everything that isn’t nailed down. (And the game pretty much has to put guns, money, and medigel places they just don’t belong.)

      But even in fantasy stories, treasure is generally a rare, story-important element, not a constant stream of meaningless trinkets and coin bags. (Imagine the mines of Moria with the Fellowship stopping every ten feet to open chests– which have remained mysteriously unlooted by the previous denizens.) Even outright pirates and treasure-hunters don’t accumulate loot the routine and mechanical way game characters do. But it’s worse in genres where you’re regular military or superheroes or other character types who just don’t normally go in for safecracking in their spare time.

      I get that it’s a resource management game element that a lot of people value, but I wish that it were at least limited to stories in which it’s justified. (Which doesn’t include agents of organizations that should be arming their people with the best equipment available, and discouraging them from getting distracted inside combat zones or alienating civilians outside them.) ME1 was in many ways the worst offender in the series, with the shady arms dealer riding in your ostensible warship, and the Alliance arming its troops with popguns and tinfoil armor unless you want to upgrade them out of your own pocket.

      1. StranaMente says:

        I agrre with this.
        In many contexts looting has no sense at all, but it would be hard to implement a salary (or mortgage) mechanic. Either you remove the merchants, or you find a plausible way to give money to the player.
        And while this can be implemented in games like Mass effect where you are part of an army, in games like the witcher or Dragon age origins is harder.
        And in games like Skyrim where 80% of your activity is killing and looting, removing loot would significantly hurt the immersion.

        So in some games they should improve if not remove altogether the loot mechanic. In some others it’s still fitting the context and working toward the immersion.

        1. Mike S. says:

          For something like ME, I preferred the direction taken in ME2, where your organization is actually giving you resources and materiel. Taking that further and getting rid of the safecracking would have been fine with me. If we want to keep shopping, it makes some sense to be involved in ship’s procurement. (The commander probably shouldn’t be doing it directly, but also shouldn’t be leading every assault team, so that’s at least consistent.) If necessary, make money rewards vary with achieving extra mission goals in some semi-plausible way.

          (I’d also prefer a flatter equipment progression, so that the standard weapon starting characters begin with doesn’t imply that the world’s military and terrorist organizations are are using Nerf as their default contractor.)

          Skyrim fully inherits the D&D dungeon crawl tradition. That strikes me as orthogonal to actually playing a character role: you can be a warrior, mage, or pickpocket, support either side of the rebellion, help anyone you meet or murder them in their sleep… but no matter what you will be a grave-robbing spelunker.

          By now, that’s what an Elder Scrolls game is, and I wouldn’t suggest Bethesda change it. (And had plenty of fun with Skyrim while I was playing it.) I just wish there were also RPGs (or whatever we want to name them) where that wasn’t an automatic built-in part of the gameplay, to be justified or lampshaded as needed. Whether you’re Frodo saving the world or Conan plundering it, life in a fantasy world in other media doesn’t generally revolve around grinding little fights and picking up trinkets.

          (But “treasure should be rare, and awesome” has been a losing battle since D&D came in a white box. :-) )

    2. krellen says:

      I find the trend of defining “RPG” as “game with a good story” to be very, very, very dangerous, and actively harmful to the video game industry. And it’s an all-too-common trend, which is probably why it bugs me so much.

      Defining an RPG as a game “with good story and making choices” means that, unless your game is an RPG and your goal is to make an RPG, you’re disincentivised from making a good story and having choices. And that means the bulk of games – as most of them are not RPGs and never will be – have terrible stories and a lack of choices, which infantilises games and damages their credibility as an artistic medium.

      Story has to become divorced from the moniker “RPG” for the game industry to grow as an art.

    3. RandomPhysicist says:

      I liked the way Bioware handled loot in Jade Empire. There wasn’t any armor and weapons could only be upgraded a few plot-convenient times (I don’t remember the exact circumstances). Character modification was focused around skill point allocation and gem choices for the dragon amulet thing.

      I preferred the simplified equipment set up. It meant less immersion-breaking looting and it meant I had to spend less time checking if the horned iron helmet I found is better than the spiked iron helmet I’m wearing.

  5. IFS says:

    “Who else can we genocide for points?”

    Mass Effect 3 is like the first game! Remember Randy’s reaction to the Rachni Queen!

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I make a distinction between RPG and CRPG.RPG is what the name says:Role playing game.So whatever role you want,you play.CRPG is something else,because basically every game assigns you a role you need to play,so role playing game would be meaningless there.CRPG for me is a game where your character has different paths towards the goal,and each of them makes them grow more and more towards the end.But th growth has to be in gameplay,not just in story,because its a video GAME.

    1. X2Eliah says:

      What does the C stand for? cookies? crows? cucumber?

      1. Shamus says:

        C is for cookie. That’s good enough for me.

      2. anaphysik says:

        C is for computer. CRPG is often used to describe computer ports of tabletop rulesets; e.g. see the numerous D&D computer games.

        But yes, C is for cookie, the ‘sometime food’ according to subversive elements of our society. OM NOM NOM.


        Also, Tom Waits (perhaps best described by TvTropes as “[a]n empty soup-can full of wet, rusty nails [that] gets behind a piano and sings”) = Cookie Monster:

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          C is for cake.Honestly.

    2. ngthagg says:

      I’ve always been of the opinion that choosing your own role is the LEAST important part of role playing. I like to compare it to acting: an actor is an actor, whether doing improve or following a script written by someone else. There’s still room for leniency there (like a Shakespearean role that can be interpreted differently by each actor), but the basic role is set.

  7. Indy says:

    I’ve been thinking:

    What if Mass Effect 2 dealt with the Reaper invasion (complete with victory through conventional means) and Mass Effect 3 dealt with the fallout of the invasion?

    You uplifted the Krogan to fight? Well now they’re ready to fight everyone. Saved the Rachni? They might be the only answer to the Krogan. The Council has fallen apart? Now the Terminus races are trying to get control of everything. Some systems lost their relays? You have to choose whether to keep supplying the planets there or not. You could even have Cerberus do crappy little things in side missions just so Bioware gets to include their favourite organisation EVA.

    Even writing this, I have no idea how it would end in a climactic way. Maybe humanity following the Prothean dominant species path or choosing an “everybody’s equal” lifestyle.

    1. I can see the tensions gradually increasing in that game to a climax. You have a bunch of exhausted species with greatly diminished resources, and some who weren’t hurt badly and still have the energy to fight and don’t feel responsible for the other weakened species. You have ancient enemies temporarily putting things aside to go kill Reapers and then having to deal with each other as people for the first time in a long time. You have hurt people wanting to lash out and wanting to blame others.

      You could take all that and turn it into a end of WW2 to the Cold War situation, with Shepard desperately trying to calm things down (or stir things up depending on how you play him/her) and end with a) galactic war, b) a prickly but semi-functional cold war situation, or c) everyone taking a few huge steps forward to a (mostly) calm and peaceful galaxy. B’d end up the default ending.

      Honestly, if someone made a game like this, I’d play it. But I suspect it’s not the sweeping b/w space epic Bioware seems to have been attempting to make.

    2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      This would be awesome, but given the wild divergence,probably programmatically -what does our host say? Non-trivial.

    3. Khizan says:

      It’s a neat idea, but it’s so non-trivial. If you wanted to ensure each playthrough was of a decent length, you’d be writing enough story/code for 3-4+ seperate games.

      Cure the krogan under Wrex? This basically handles itself as far as the krogan, but you might be SPECTREing all over the Salarians who are trying to sabotage it. Cure the krogan under Wreav? Deal with a new wave of Rebellions. Fake the cure and kill Wrex, with Wreav dead already? Fake the cure and Wreav slowly realizes it’s faked? These are all hugely divergent outcomes from one choice, and each one would probably take place in a different area, with different people, and different dialogue, and so forth.

      And that’s just ONE CHOICE. And how does that choice tie into another choice? And how do other choices tie into that one? Fighting off a new Krogan Rebellion with geth assistance would be wildly different than trying to do so with quarian assistance, etc, etc.

    4. drlemaster says:

      What would have been cool is if Mass Effect 3 ended in some non-stupid way (like maybe the catalyst just turned off the Reapers when you activate it); Bioware never made SWTOR; and they made the big MMO set the mass effect universe, with all the races trying to rebuild and vying for dominance. You’d have to set up a canonical ending, like Quarians don’t get genocided; and Geth, Rachni, and Krogans are all around to cause trouble.

      Oh, and, Elcor teammate? Eff that, I want to play an Elcor.

  8. nerdpride says:

    Lol Garrus. “Raise your hand if you haven’t been killed before.” Such a game developer troll. And it looked like he was trying to seduce you before you said, “you’re a good friend old buddy old pal.” And then they discharge firearms on the Presidium like badasses–except there’s no consequences and nothing valuable was destroyed, no confidence from the people lost.

    And how did you get Paragon points for that? How ’bout the person responsible for saving all sentients is a total goofball? :P

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      Yeah, you should get Renegade since people would be pissed you did that with Garrus.

    2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Yeah, even with practice rounds loaded, shooting into traffic is a horrid idea. So is spitting off the bridge.

      I like the idea that Garrus sometimes is better than you -a minigame might have been cool.

      Although, such target shooting is usually done with a shotgun, so Vangard Shep ought have a leg up on Garrus.

      1. anaphysik says:

        How do you stop a Vanguard from charging?

        Take away their credi- damn… can’t target… friggin’ can’t reach part of level… got me killed! GRRAHAFFJASDOAOMMMSD!

  9. Tvtim says:

    The whole aside with Garrus up on the Citadel above the cars was a pretty good moment. I liked losing to Garrus just to hear him say “I’m Garrus Vakaran and this is my favorite spot on the citadel!” and then goes on to say that there should be a statue in his honor built on that very spot since he beat Shepard.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      It couldve been slightly improved if only infiltrators and soldiers with sniper maxed could win,instead of the dialogue,but its still a nice scene.

      1. Tvtim says:

        It does have a slightly different dialog to it if you’re a female Shepard and are romancing Garrus; he instead comforts you saying “you’ll do better next time”

      2. anaphysik says:

        But see, Shepard once used Garrus’ sniper rifle to shoot a single, weak robot in the head for Renegade points, so that’s basically equivalent to extensive combat practice.

      3. newdarkcloud says:

        But the RPG and the shooty, stat bits are two entirely separate things in ME, that would never happen.

        1. Gruhunchously says:

          The Liara time-capsule scene is actually one of the few times that your combat class gets mentioned in conversation. Also, in Mass Effect one, I think Kaidan praises your biotic ability if your a biotic class. Still, it’s shame they didn’t do more with it; I think it’s a pretty solid way of integrating story and gameplay.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            I would love that. I think gameplay and story should be much more integrated than they are. I think the fact that we have a “Story” mode where all the fights are a joke is indicative of a larger problem that many developers have in this regards. It shows just how inconsequential the “gameplay” part is to Mass Effect that you don’t even really need it.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              I agree.Lots of developers dong get that games arent movies with playable bits here and there,but a separate medium.And your story has to be interwoven with the gameplay.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,that legion dies thing may not make sense in real life,but in the universe of mass effect,its one of the rare things that actually is consistent between the games.Remember that true AI needs special containers,and cannot be simply copied anywhere at anytime.Geth are an advanced VI,but because of reaper modifications legion became a true AI,like the reapers.So he cannot simply copy himself like a regular program.If he gives up those reaper fragments in order to turn all geth into AIs,he will die.

    1. guy says:

      Eh, no, that makes no sense because Legion is running on a platform that wasn’t designed for an AI. He’s not the same sort of AI EDI is and shouldn’t need to follow the same rules.

    2. Raygereio says:

      It doesn’t even make sense in-universe.
      Standard AI do require a quantum computer and can’t just be copied willy-nilly. But Geth aren’t standard AI, they’re networked VIs. Unless the Reaper modification include the ability to magically poof a blue box into existance, all it did was improve the Geth VIs’ network.
      And if the Reaper modifications can’t be copied, then how do the all other Geth get it?

      1. SleepingDragon says:

        Meh, it was a really space magicky thing, if I understand it correctly the “geth VI” is pretty much a copy of Legion minus some of the individual experiences it had after leaving the collective. You could argue, and I imagine that’s what the writers had in mind, that Legion is still that consensus of individual geth routines and what they mean is that it’s necessary to pretty much tear them apart to get to what exact changes the reaper upgrades caused on an individual level. Maybe it could be argued that the quarians were about to wipe the geth out and there was not time to copy a consensus the size of Legion (we are told that it is “bigger” than your ordinary geth), maybe there were no more platforms capable of housing this kind of consensus (Legion develops a kind of personality and quirks, which is something that ordinary geth platforms, and even servers that house a similar or greater number of geth routines, apparently don’t do). But even putting all that aside this isn’t really the biggest problem I have with this sequence.

        What I dislike is how the geth were suddenly fed the whole Pinocchio syndrome. See, when I realized that ME2 was showing Legion develop a personality of sorts and hearing everything it had to say about how geth work I was kinda hoping the geth arc in ME3 would be about this. I was hoping we’d have the renegade option to sort of override all the geth with Legion’s ideas, which is a troubling thought in light of the Legion’s loyalty missions but would earn us geth support because Legion likes Shepard, a paragon option to convince the geth consensus to aid against the reapers without an override, with probably a secondary choice of whether Legion retains its individuality but alienates itself from its race or gives it up and rejoins the geth (with possibly a second renegade option to maybe strongarm or take the geth collective hostage unless they help you in case Legion is dead or was never activated), and possibly a failure option in which we’d fail to convince the geth to help. But no, what we get is “making geth people”, which was never something that they wanted. In ME2 they wanted to create a platform that would let them all network and create a superintellect of sorts, and nobody, not even them, knew where it would go from there, which, for me personally, was an intriguing and cool concept.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          But even then, if Legion deletes himeself, he should still have back-up files on Geth Server #362 out in space somewhere. Just reload them and install the Reaper upgrades onto it.

        2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          This goes to the “much bigger game” that Chris referenced. The Geth going from a consensus hive-mind to the split Heretic/True factions, to the realization that some geth were keeping themselves from the rest (as spies), and living in a world without secrets – to a world of individual geth is a big shift. A game in itself. That it fits so well with the main story of Reaper Indoctrination is a great sign. The reapers are a nation to themselves, but they have no secrets because they indoctrinate (it is my long-standing contention that the reapers began as consensus beings, but then the majority started using indoctrination on the minority -because this is exactly what happened to the geth -and Leviathan can bite me). We could have faced that choice here as well -and decided that the individuality and freedom of the geth -even if it allows for there to be heretics -is better than indoctrinating them like the reapers did.

          But no, we have to hurry to Thessia so we can set up the nonsense actual ending.

          1. SleepingDragon says:

            Leviathan bites you.

          2. LunaticFringe says:

            Oh trust me, you’d hate Leviathan even more if you knew what the title was a reference to.

    3. bucaneer says:

      “You wouldn’t steal a car. You wouldn’t steal a handbag. You wouldn’t kill a geth. Piracy is murder.”

      1. Mike S. says:

        Reaper DRM is, literally, a killer.

    4. drlemaster says:

      This video is my first look at this. I thought I knew what they were going for, only to discover they weren’t even going to bother to explain. I thought they were going to try to underscore the nature of the Geth, where Legion’s “personality” is the end result of the collection of programs running on his platform. For some reason, Legion has to upload all his programs to the server or mainframe or whatever he was uploading the Reaper code to, in order to kick it off. Once he has done this, there is no particular reason to reassemble in exactly that configuration. The organics see this as a sacrifice, because the Legion they knew is dead. The Geth see this as no big deal, because all the programs that made up Legion are just fine, they are just not coming together to make Legion any more.

      Granted, this whole Geth vs. Quarians thing is packed with several layers of stupid, with another big load of stupid coming at the end, so it may be odd to belabor this one point. But they actually seemed close to doing somthing cool, only to have it be “he had to sacrifice himself because, you know, plot.”

  11. Aldowyn says:

    There are certain things that are good indicators of something being an RPG, the primary one that I can think of is levels, but I would say my definition of an RPG as a genre is probably any game where at least the PC has significant mechanical progression (more than just equipment like Assassin’s Creed, for example). Any kind of dialogue choices at all also make it likely a game is an RPG.

    Although that’s probably broken since that makes Borderlands an RPG…

    1. anaphysik says:

      Since Borderlands feels like a first-person-shooter equivalent of a Diablo-esque hack-and-slash game, no, it is definitely not broken.

      1. Magdain says:

        I agree that as we currently classify games Borderlands is an RPG. But the question is what is the point of classification? Diablo and Borderlands play nothing alike; The common denominator is randomized loot and character progression, not gameplay experience.

        This is fine for players whose sole motivation is progression. For a player who is looking for a certain experience, it’s useless.

        1. guy says:

          You’re discussing Diablo and Borderlands. Randomly generated loot and character progression are the gameplay experience. The only reason to disqualify Borderlands is the shooter bits, which would equally disqualify Mass Effect.

          1. Magdain says:

            Loot and progression are central to the experience, but ultimately shooting makes up 80% of what you’re doing. I’m not looking to keep shooters out of my RPG clubhouse. I just think that calling Borderlands a “character progression driven first person shooter” and Mass Effect a “narrative driven third person cover-squad shooter” is more helpful to everybody.

            1. crossbraindedfool says:

              The two part Extra Credits show on JRPGs and western RPGs is very relevant here:

              One of the things they skirt there is that we shouldn’t talk about game genres by mechanics, but rather by motivation, why we play, as opposed to what exactly we’re doing.

              The problem with RPGs is that two core ‘play aesthetics’ (to use EC’s terminology) are bound together in the same genre. One is narrative, a good story. The other is progression – leveling up, gear improvement, etc. Add in the sometimes present expression, and you have some rather disparate driving motivations.

              This, as far as I can tell, comes from D&D, where both elements are prominent parts of the game. How much the narrative matters depends on group, but the inherently personal nature of role-playing stories makes even the slightest effort pay off.

              1. Zukhramm says:

                And I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed more with them.

                Essentially, by their definition, Mass Effect is a Japanese RPG.

                1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                  I could dig that.

                  They make the point that the line between RPGs and JRPGs is blurring precisely because companies are trying to sell to both facets of that market.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait…If you pick one of the influence options,it takes quite some time for legion to do the upload.If you pick to stop him,it also takes some time(which you need in order to stop him with OMGBLADEZOMG).So why was this so fast?

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wow the Chris,you didnt finish the good one,but finished the bad ones.Thats like not playing baldurs gate,but finishing homefront.

    1. Dragomok says:

      …I have finished watching the episode about a half an hour ago and I don’t quite remember what Chris (said that?) he finished or didn’t finish.

      I hope I’m not going senile alreohhh a new episode! I wonder what’s that “Mass Effect” is all about.

  14. Rasha says:

    Can I make tactical and build choices whereupon differences in results can be at least guessed at beforehand without having a guide open? It’s an rpg.

    Build: The progression of your character(s). If something can be picked up with literally no cost or effort at any point that thing isn’t a build choice unless there is a valid reason that picking it up might be negative in certain circumstances.

    Tactics: Any decision(s) which influence the outcome of an encounter. If the encounter is too weak to be a reasonable threat/drag on resources or strong enough to be impossible to kill there are no tactical choices involved.

    1. Indy says:

      Does that mean a game like FIFA 2012 is an RPG? It has tactics, build choices for your team, progression up the ladder… It’s an RPG!

      1. Rasha says:

        Does your team progress, becoming better at what they do in mechanical, quantifiable ways? If so are you choosing how this happens with various options on the table? If so yes it could be classified as an rpg in the broad sense of the word. I don’t like definitions that only require story as by definition that would make choose your own adventure books rpgs. If a heavy story is required what the hell do you call a game that’s literally just mechanics familiar to the genre with a story so laughably nonexistent mario looks deep?

        1. Indy says:

          I’m going to admit I haven’t played the game. I do think it has all those things though and it really SHOULDN’T be an RPG. There isn’t a definition for RPG so I believe different terms need to be coined for the vast number of mechanics and storytelling in the games currently called RPG’s.

          1. hochom says:

            Actually, FIFA definitely is an RPG. The players have stats, and in most single player modes, the more they play, the more they level up. If you make your own virtual pro, you goal is essentially to level up their stats as high as possible by performing specific tasks.
            I don’t think story is essential to an RPG at all, since these days, every shooter has a single player story. I guess if you discount story, FIFA is more of an RPG than Mass Effect 3, since enemies aren’t scaled to your level, and higher stat players are noticeably more powerful. Scary.

            1. Rasha says:

              And bloody hilarious. I like my definition even better!

            2. Hitchmeister says:

              FIFA as an RPG can actually make sense. It’s a Role Playing Game. In Mass Effect you play the role of a space soldier. In Skyrim you play the role of a fantasy adventurer. In FIFA you play the role of a footballer. Of course, they’re not going to try to sell FIFA as an RPG, because there’s no overlap between the RPG and sports game markets. That is to say, some players may like both types of games, but no one (statistically speaking) is looking for sports RPGs (or SRPG just to further inflate the field of acronyms… RPG, CRPG, JRPG, WRPG, ARPG, MMORPG, FPSRPG, etcRPG).

              Or that’s the problem with terms like “RPG.” They can mean anything we want them to.

  15. Magdain says:

    I’ve a lot of complaints about how games are classified. Historically the term RPG was relevant as a descriptor for having a plot and narrative — It contrasted with more arcade-y games. Now having those things is the norm. Now it’s usually used to denote character progression but as consumers, and as a community, this doesn’t help us — It doesn’t help us make better purchasing decisions or have conversations.

    The way I categorize games is based on their individual elements. Core Gameplay, Graphical Dimensions, Camera, Character Progression, Narrative Progression, Setting, …

    I’ve yet to find all of the elements, and am still lacking a vocabulary for many things, but I still believe it’s better than what we currently have, where “Action RPG” can describe Torchlight, Skyrim, and Dark Souls — three fundamentally different games.

    1. anaphysik says:

      “Historically the term RPG was relevant as a descriptor for having a plot and narrative”

      I think I’d disagree on that. Historically, ‘RPG’ as applied to video games was used to describe anything that felt similar to tabletop RPGs like D&D, whether in atmosphere, story, mechanics (parties, levelling, loot, etc.), whatever. RPG, in turn, was first applied to tabletop games to distinguish the high-magnification applied to wargames when individual units and persons became the focus (as you played characters, rather than being a military commander).

      That kind of ‘divergent from one contained source’ development is part of why so many disparate games are termed RPGs. It’s part of why we so often can only say that a particular game ‘feels like an RPG.’

  16. Raygereio says:
    Funnily enough; since the races of the galaxy were all influenced in their evolution and development by the Reapers, you can argue that doing what Dead-Child-AI calls “ending the cycle” is the exact opposite. The created are still destroying the creators, it’s just that the “synthethic” and “organic” roles have switched.
    Basically Bioware didn’t really think things through. It’s not even that bad of a concept: A big bad operating under flawed logic or misguided believes can easily work. Fallout’s Master is a random example. But the story needs to actually do something with it and not present the big bad stupidity as brilliance like ME3 does.

    RE: Legion’s death.
    I like Tuchanka and Mordin’s role in it. It certainly had its problems, but Mordin’s sacrifice really worked for me. I can’t help but feel that whoever wrote the Rannoch sequence felt the same way and decided to shoehorn a sacrifice in because they really like it in the Tuchanka sequence, while completely mission the point on what made Mordin’s sacrifice not-stupid (hint: it had build up to it and wasn’t completely random).

    RE: Garrus.
    I genuinly liked Garrus throughout ME3. In every single one of his moments, he’s your friend.

    As for the RPG question.
    Let’s take Diablo, Mask of the Betrayer and Alpha Protocol.
    Diablo focusses on hacking & slashing and building your character with stats and items. MotB focusses on the story it tells. And finally Alpha Protocol focusses reactivity to the player’s actions. All are very different games, but all are still (C)RPGs. Each just has a different focus.
    You could take out loot from AP and MotB and it wouldn’t make much difference. But in Diablo the absence of loot would change things because it is a focus of that particular game. Similarly dialogue is really important in MotB, but not so much in Diablo.

    Random observation: Is it me or are Samara’s boobs rather low? Not gravity-is-a-cruel-mistress-sagging-low, but placed lower on the chest then regular boobs are?

    1. Hitchmeister says:

      Real breasts appear at various heights on various real women’s chests. It’s just the current (and for quite a while now) trend of push-up bras and cosmetic surgery dictate that the most esthetically pleasing position is directly below the chin. Samara’s figure is in the normal range for natural women.

  17. LazerBlade says:

    I’m for the whole defining genre’s by the desires they fulfill rather than mechanics, so here is why I like RPGs.

    Exploration/Experimentation. I like to discover new powers and skills, experiment with different classes, spend XP differently on each playthrough, etc.

    Narrative/Characterization. I like a well written story with good characters, a trademark focus of the RPG genre.

    Fantasy. I’m very cynical. I don’t have faith in human nature or the universe in which we live. Thus, I enjoy an escape to another where I can be someone else.

    Progression. I like the feeling of accomplishment, growth, and progression you get from leveling up and completing quests. This is one of the reasons that I think level scaling usually does not belong in an RPG, because it undermines the contrast between running into an encounter as a powerful character or a weak one. I’m not saying level scaling is always bad, merely that it tends to remove one of the reasons I come to an RPG.

    Defining genre’s by their aesthetics, a game that serves these desires for me would be an RPG, regardless of what kind of gameplay mechanics it used.

  18. ThomasWa says:

    I would say an RPG is not a game in which the player (that is, the person sitting at the keyboard or holding the controller, as opposed to the player character) is expected to make no/ makes no contribution to how the story plays out.
    An RPG expects the player to insert themselves heavily into the game through e.g. creating a character and/or roleplaying her, as opposed to just playing the game in a certain way. (I wouldn’t call Josh doing crossbow trickshots in HL2 roleplaying, for instance, or at least I wouldn’t call it that if I were doing it myself. At the end of the day, most games are pieces of software and how we use them can vary heavily, to the point where people play Smashbrothers competitively, even though the game really isn’t built for that.)
    An RPG lets the player create a character, either through a character-creation screen or directly through play etc., then presents the player with situations and asks for a reaction (within the rules of the game).
    An otherwise narrative focused game presents characters written by someone else entirely with situations and then shows their reaction. So basically, ordinary fiction. (This is why I wouldn’t call JRPGs RPGs. Oh dear, did I just write that. Anyway, that is not supposed to be a statement of quality in the slightest, just type.)
    With that said, I think I prefer the Bethesda (of all people!) approach the most, as far as contemporary RPGs go. You create a character, there exists a main quest and you are completely free to ignore it, if that’s what your character would do. (But it would be nice if said quest, should you do it, were better written and branched.)
    Of course, all of this comes from someone who has never played a tabletop RPG, in which the production costs for art assets and voice-acting don’t matter, so maybe I don’t know much about the topic.

    About the Reapers ‘plan’ (hyuk hyuk):
    The problem really isn’t that it doesn’t make sense. (Well, that is a problem, just a minor one. There’s plenty of crazy AIs in Sci-Fi, so at that point it’s just unoriginal.)
    The real problem is that this game doesn’t end with a Boss battle. No, seriously.
    The problem (one of the major ones, at least) with the ending, as I see it, is that the character, who is established as the Antagonist of the story, is treated as if he is right and the Protagonist goes along with it. Also, this is supposed to an RPG, so the player wants to have a word in that conversation. Also, the Antagonist is a genocidal, crazy AI.
    A bossfight would have fixed that, even if it was just Shepard pointing a laser at him, until the Quaria- whoops, I mean, the Geth fleet bombarded him to death.

  19. Ofermod says:

    I did like how, in that Eclipse quest, you could finish it by just saying “Well, now the next person in line is in command.”

    Wish you could have finished *all* the mercenary quests by removing the guy currently in power and installing a puppet.

    1. Indy says:

      That’s also how the Blood Pack one works. You enter a room and a vorcha goes “Let me take you hostage.” Then you kill another two vorcha and the third one becomes the new boss. Of Krogan.

      1. anaphysik says:

        What, you kill two vorcha?!

        But what about DIPLOMATIC IMMUN- urk!

        1. modus0 says:

          Anybody else want to negotiate?

  20. Lalaland says:

    I personally define RPGs as games that offer the chance to resolve issues with either combat or non combat skills that also offers an interactive conversation system.

    If the game lacks the combat element I tend to see it as an adventure title, from what I’ve heard about The Walking Dead the combat is of the QTE variety and not a core game system so for me it’s an adventure title. If it lacks non-combat skills or a conversation system then I’d put it in the Action RPG spectrum, a broad ill-defined morass that can cover everything from Diablo to Dark Souls.

    I’m not sure whether ME3 actually passes this test any more as I can’t actually recall whether there were any situations where I was able to talk my way out of combat. I also felt constrained by the Paragon/Renegade system but it seems they rebalanced that to make it a bit less rigid this time around. I think since ME2 these games have become Action RPGs where it all comes down to killing wave after wave of mooks.

  21. Viktor says:

    The key to an RPG, IMO, is being able to make choices in-character that influence the outcome of the game to a large degree(and not in a binary win/die manner). So Dead Rising 2 is an RPG, Saints Row and most MMOs aren’t, and Skyrim barely qualifies. Mass Effect is, but not a whole lot more than Skyrim.

  22. Chauzuvoy says:

    For me, RPGs are all about the character. I like being able to make the type of character I want to play, and then play them to character.

    Skyrim, for example. I can build my character however I want. (With the exception of “doing things makes you better at them. But sacrificing character control in favor of a good leveling system like that is worth it, especially when that’s how i’m going to min-max anyways.) And I can play however I want, both in that I can be a sneaky-type rogue or a big stupid fighter, and in that I can either join the thieve’s guild or have my moron sense tingling and stab Brynjolf in the face.

    Admittedly I’m more partial to the Deus Ex style of giving you a more or less set story and then giving you options as to how you progress through it (See also KoTOR), but at the core, so long as I’m able to have a certain amount of control over my character, as opposed to piloting the writer’s protagonist through the level designer’s challenges, I’m a happy gamer.

  23. Hal says:

    Hm, reminds me of when you asked “What makes a great RPG?” I think the question is similar enough to mention it.

    This is what I had to say on the matter at the time.

  24. Eeyore says:

    Well it is safe to say there are different types of RPGs though I have no clue what I would call them.

    My first RPG ever was Dragon Warrior for the NES which was essentially just Grind: The Game with very little story in it. With stories now part of more games and not just RPGs, you can’t just say that the story alone will make it an RPG. Even if the game had a story, you may have no real influence over it or be able to roleplay as a character in it.

    Personally, I look at the mechanics of the RPG more than the story but even that can be done in different ways. Labyrinth of Touhou has no buying mechanic in it but it has numerous characters and complete control over where points go for each character. Legend of Grimrock had no buying/selling of goods either for a less obscure title to throw out there.

    So a story is great but there better be some amounts of number crunching in my RPGs. That is what I prefer to find in my RPGs. Being able to toy with different builds can produce its own paths just as much as picking between the usual Good/Evil dialogue options in my opinion.

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Guys,Ive realized something sad just now:Therell be no emergency induction port on spoiler warning*sobs*.

    1. StashAugustine says:

      Here, cheer up with this filtered turian brandy.

    2. 4th Dimension says:

      Also no Tali for Garrus, and on top of it all Shepard beat him at his own game. You should get like a million Renegade points for assholery like that.

      1. lurkey says:

        This particular thing is only for better, because when two mature, jaded people act like two awkward stupid teenagers from 21st century Earth caught canoodling by some elderly aunt, that scene is just embodiment of second hand embarrassment.

        1. Michael says:

          Well, if you get Ken and Gabby back, you can always find them making out in Jack’s hidey-hole later.

          1. Mike S. says:

            I don’t think so. I never got that, and from what I read it’s because there was a bug that linked it to having Ashley instead of Kaidan.

            (Which I’ve heard was fixed by the extended ending DLC, but since that’s not installed here…)

          2. lurkey says:

            And how do they react? With “Uh…um…er…Commander…duh…it’s not what you think, honestly, it’s…er…we made a bet that I can reach Gabby’s tonsils with my tongue so it was totally that and not making out like totally!”? Or with “Shepard, we’re having some private time so please go away!”?

            1. Zukhramm says:

              The second option seems like the reasonable one actual humans would do, so Bioware probable went with the first option.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Well…It is a military ship,so being caught by your commander while making out with another crewman would be a big deal.However,this is a ship where said commander is sluttier than kirk,so why the embarrassment?

                1. Klay F. says:

                  I’m pretty sure that in the modern Navy, relationships between crew members are totally okay as long as you are within one rank of each other.

                  1. Zukhramm says:

                    But they’re terrorists anyway, so the rules don’t apply to them.

                  2. Lalaland says:

                    No they’re really not as it’s impossible to have a non-compromising relationship with someone who is a rank below you. Even if we’re only talking about the perceptions of every other crew member who isn’t sleeping with you it’s poison to morale. The obvious risk is that fear for a loved one could reduce aggression in command or cause other unnecessary distractions.

        2. Deadpool says:

          Shepard doesn’t beat Garrus. Shepard hits, Garrus hits, Shepard hits again, cutaway.

          I always got the impression they tied.

          I hate that letting him win is “Paragon”.

  26. Chargone says:

    For me, an RPG is dependent on my decision making skills, not my twitch reaction. if it’s twitch, it’s a shooter. hybrid IS possible, but rarely done well. (whether ME1 qualifies depends on how you set up the difficulty, somewhat. later ones don’t really.) … basically, success at shooting things, picking locks, climbing, jumping, etc. etc. should not in Any way be dependent on my ability to do those things. (this also typically means it’s either turn-based or has ‘pause to give instructions’.) … FFXIII, despite being, you know, Final Fantasy, doesn’t fail this one, but is Really Bad at it. FFX, in contrast, was brilliant.

    It needs Some sort of over-arching plot going on, otherwise you just get lost and it gets boring pretty easily (my main problem with the elder scrolls series: i know what i’m doing, but i never have much of a clue as to what the heck i’m Supposed to be doing.)

    It should ideally have characters who are more than just generic templates, and how i interact with them should affect how they interact with me later.

    My decisions should matter. Even if it’s just how i build my character. (this is where FFXIII fails, btw. at least for long enough for me to give up on it entirely. the story is liner, the PATH is obscenely linear, and the character progress gives you the option ‘get new ability’ or ‘don’t get new ability just yet’ most of the time. (there are no downsides to the abilities.))

    ultimately, i play RPGs mostly for the story, and so long as the gameplay isn’t actively sabotaging my enjoyment of the story, i don’t mind much exactly how it goes. but the best RPGs will tell at least a Slightly different story if you take different actions. (I LOVE Disgaea and Disgaea 2. Disgaea 3, i haven’t finished yet and it’s kind of getting me down because the gameplay gets in the way of the story. the previous ones you’d get to a hard boss fight about the same time as you’d start falling behind the level curve if you didn’t grind. loosing it would get you a non-standard game over which let you do ‘new game plus’ which put you back on the curve at that point. you could play the whole thing this way, pretty much (and 2 had some silly fun stuff you could do combining that with Adell’s special ability to get stronger based on how many more levels the enemy had than he did (not enough to let him beat things TOO far ahead of him, but enough to matter) and the reincarnation system resetting him to level 1 but keeping 60+% of his pre-level-reset stats.) 3… doesn’t seem to be doing this and is throwing what amount to boss fights at me far more often, compared to the number of levels played. )

    so… yeah, story, characters, decisions. linear RPGs tend to put all the decisions on the gameplay side to make it easier to tell the story.

    and games beat movies by Miles at story when done well. simply because they can jam So Much More World Building in there. and characterization, and so on.

    … i suppose i don’t really play a role so much as direct the story and explore the world… (also: Kessen. the first one. Brilliant in terms of ‘your decisions matter a LOT’ and telling the story. Losing A Battle Was Not Game Over, it just changed how the campaign played out! a lot of people weren’t so keen on the gameplay though. ‘you’re a general. you give orders to the units in your army. they Go Do Them. no, you don’t get to be omnipresent and command all the troops throughout the entire battlefield.’ … Kessen 2 had many problems (bugs, magic, different setting, making you control the generals specifically when they used their specials, blatant-fanfiction-plot, losing battles was ‘game over, do it again or reload’) though did a couple of interesting things right (decisions between the battles affecting how the next one came out) Kessen 3 is pretty good if you ignore that it’s supposed to have anything to do with Kessen. (battles are much less awesome, smaller scale. story is more epic (set earlier, more detail) character progression is more significant, decisions between battles are important. loosing a battle kicks you back out to ‘which battle shall we do next’ which… isn’t as good as 1 but is a huge step up from 2.)

    urm… yeah.

    i’m not really sure anymore. *laughs*

    1. anaphysik says:

      Interesting; Disgaea’s still on my shelf of games to play. So it really has some ‘skip boring grinding’ mechanics?

      1. Chargone says:

        sort of, yeah. non standard game overs count as a complete play through for everything except unlocking Etna mode (which is only on the DS and maybe PSP versions), including new game plus, and the level curve lines up so…

        if you don’t mind going through the story again from the start every time you hit a hard boss (and not having the story characters available until you reach the relevant plot point again), you can skip the grinding in 1 and 2. though, to be fair, Disgaea makes the grinding a Selling Point. going through normally, you’ll end the story with your characters around level 80 or so. they can get up to level 9999. then you can abuse the reincarnation system to get every single one of their Stats up to 9999(99?). oh, and going through the item world makes the items better (as well as allowing you to level-grind in random dungeons… then there’s the geo-panel puzzles which fill up the bonus gauge massively for better rewards for clearing the floor… those can be tricky to nail right.). get to the lowest level of them, you get a second copy of that item, only with better stats and you can do it Again.

        designed to drive those people obsessed with completing things completely nuts.

        Disgaea 3 seems to either not do the non-standard game-over at all or it’s difficulty curve is… spiky.

        oh, Disgaea 1 is utterly hilarious, as well. make sure to steal all the item’s off the kid’s zombie when you get to that point. hehehee. it’s worth training up a thief purely to ensure you can. 2 is not so funny, but still has it’s moments and an interesting twist. bad ends can be had in both games if you kill enough of your own guys, and particularly good ends if you manage to never kill off one of your own by accident (prinnies don’t count, dood.)

        3 has the most insanely cheerful ‘you and everyone you know got horribly murdered and died’ (aka: game over) music i have Ever encountered.

        prinnies are awesome.

        1. anaphysik says:

          I have the PS2 version (bought a used PS2 fairly recently and a handful of games for it). Got hooked on Persona4 instead, so never got a chance to put the disc in ;)

          1. Chargone says:

            ahhh. i could never find the PS2 version. (rented it a few times, but couldn’t find it to buy.) so ended up with the DS version of 1, PS2 version of 2, and 3 and 4 are on the PS3.

            i got Persona 4 as well. quite liked it, but the boss fights… ugh. every time i played i got stuck on the same one. (the stupid muscley one with the ‘male’ symbols) so eventually i gave up and sold it. brilliant idea sabotaged by awkward difficulty curve. (give me twice as long to do stuff between bosses and i probably would have been fine. heck, even a few extra days would have been nice…)

            1. anaphysik says:

              Heh, Shadow Kanji took me forever to beat. I actually started the battle, played it for a while, got dinner and ate it *during* the battle, and then had to keep playing to beat it. Also, I played on ‘Beginner’ because hard battles don’t interest me. (I forget, but it’s possible that I let myself die so that I could use one of the full-party-restore items the game gives you when playing on Beginner just so that I could end the battle faster (low SP was always the problem, and those items restored it fully). Again, I forget, but I wouldn’t put it past me.) Anyway, yes, absolutely did that boss take way too long. Although what’s interesting is that although right after that was the point when I put the game down for a few months, I didn’t begrudge the game, and it was spinning around in my head in quite the positive manner. (Which was definitely good, as I ended up liking the rest of the game even more than I did the first part.)

              (I had started playing it the day before I had to pack for flying home; I ended up playing it for ~25 hours straight before packing and getting a few hours of shuteye <_< heh, ^_^;)

              I love Persona4, but in a sort of unconditional manner. Like Shamus and System Shock 2, I would tear into it if I were to SW it, but I still love it ;)

  27. droid says:

    What defines an RPG in gameplay terms is a separation or abstracted layer of indirection between character skill and player skill. So if the character fails at dish washing because I the player have terrible reflexes the dish washing isn’t an RPG, but if there is a skill check against the characters skill that is independent of the player’s manual dexterity this could be an RPG. If the value of the character skill changes through time and actions then it certainly is. By this definition there could be some sub-components of a game that are RPG like but others that are not. So if Alpha protocol only had perfectly accurate hitscan weapons then that aspect of the game would not be an RPG but the hacking and lockpicking systems would be.

    This usually is implemented a leveling characters through classes or skill points but I suppose could be implemented in other ways such as loot of increasing quality.

    An RPG can’t be defined on story terms, it isn’t just fantasy because there are non fantasy RPGs (Fallout) and non RPG fantasy games (Magicka). It isn’t about player choice and branching because you have linear RPGS (Final Fantasy N) and you have non-linear non-RPGS (GTA). That said there are stories that tend to be used more in RPGs than other genres since they play to its strengths: a normal everyman faces a great threat and grows in power to match the threat.

    So Diablo is an RPG because your character gets better at killing stuff even if you the player are doing the exact same thing every time. So are the Final Fantasies and X-Com. TF2 isn’t because player skill is instead the focus. You can get newer weapons but they are arguably sidegrades that let you play a different way, not a better way. Starcraft 2 multi-player isn’t because the new guy has the exact same options that the veteran does. Starcraft 2’s single player campaign might be an RPG but I am not sure (I’ve played it, it meets my definition but I think there is some reason I’m not thinking of that it wouldn’t fit, my definition might need some work).

    There are many games that could be interpreted as RPGs but we don’t usually think of them that way because it isn’t about combat or magic or whatever. This is probably a sound decision from a marketing perspective but isn’t really useful in forming a well defined concept.

    1. ngthagg says:

      Finally I find someone who defines RPGs the same way I do! The layer of abstraction definition is broad enough to include everything from tabletop gaming to modern video games (Mass Effect or Diablo). It works as a dividing line for every game that I’ve played. The problem is, I don’t have a very broad base of video gaming compared to some.

      So here’s my question (or challenge): can anyone think of a game that is generally agreed not to be a roleplaying game but features a layer of abstraction between player and character? Or vice versa, a game generally agreed to be an rpg, but lacks this layer.

      1. Mike S. says:

        Maybe fantasy sports games? Or wargames? In both cases, you make the high-level decisions, but the conflict isn’t resolved based on your throwing or shooting skill.

        1. Chargone says:

          war games, generally, not only have a layer of abstraction, but also have you commanding armies rather than individuals. also tend to have a lot more focus on maps and terrain and the like. (the original Kessen is actually a wargame, now that i think about it. Kessen 3 is very much an RPG.)

          it should be noted that the table-top version of one hobby grew out of the other. to my understanding, the wargaming came first, then you eventually ended up with squad based war games where one model was an individual guy who acted as an individual unit, then you ended up assigning individual players individual guys to run and, hey, look, it’s an RPG now! something to that effect, anyway.)

          1. anaphysik says:

            Basically, yes. The paradigm shifted from ‘abstracted commander ordering units around’ to ‘individual awesome dude surrounded by a unit of expendables’ to ‘several individual awesome dudes.’

  28. silver Harloe says:

    This has probably been said before, but the organics v. synths part of the ending strikes me as utter crap not just because of the writing, but because it’s completely wrong about the nature of life and sapience.

    Side-note: This can tangent into religion, but religion isn’t just a blog-rule violation, it has nothing to do with the game on its own terms: on its own terms we have to buy evolution. Even if you believe that’s wrong about the real universe, it’s right =about the ME universe= because of the cycles of life evolving after the last cycle was wiped out, so we’ll just take it as an assumption and leave religion out of this.

    That out of the way, let me dive in. Each paragraph is an independent entity about a different topic, but they all relate to the ending in some way, hopefully:

    “Organic” is a particular kind of chemistry (basically anything with carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen as the main components – though I could be remembering the definition wrong, it might just be all carbon chemistry), but life is conceivable on a variety of molecular structures. However, let’s be generous and assume that by “organic” they mean “naturally evolved somewhere” (as opposed to “artificially” evolved, which seems like something we might have to do to develop sapient programs).

    What’s so magic about developing a sapient program? Why is that ANY different than our sapient code running in our own machines? Because we built the hardware instead of growing it from pond scum? What if we evolve the hardware because it turns out to be too difficult to invent on first principles? Is it somehow “less synthetic” then?

    What if the program is a direct copy of how the human brain works? I.e. instead of neurons, it has code that faithfully recreates exactly how neurons work and encodes a system of however-many-billions are in our head and runs them as a simulation, resulting in a direct simulation of a human brain? Is that brain “synthetic”? What does that even mean anymore? It would have all the same biases and emotions as a human.

    How do you expect to build emotionless “synthetic” sapience, anyway? Emotions and intuition are absolutely necessary to activity because there isn’t time to process all information before action. Even if you could think a trillion times faster than humans (this seems unlikely), you’d still run into a wall where there’s more information than time to process it. Eventually you have to make assumptions to cut off endless cycles. Even in something as simple as Chess, our best computers eventually give up analyzing every position and just have a scoring mechanism for the board position which they count as the outcome of that particular path – reality makes Chess look like Tic-Tac-Toe – except that’s not extreme enough to describe it. Reality makes a game a billion times as complicated a Chess look like Tic-Tac-Toe. You can’t process it all – it’s combinatoric explosion against a fractally complex system that is changing literally every instant, so you need to eventually make intuitive leaps, assumptions, fuzzy matches… You =need= emotions and intuition to make sapience. They may not be =our= emotions and intuitions, but they will still be there or else your machine will be stuck in analysis paralysis and that was just processing everything about the instant that passed a minute ago, never mind all the new information that has come in since.

    How much of the human body can you replace before the organism is considered “synthetic” by this plot? We have people with artificial hearts and little built-in insulin pumps now – with more replacement organs to come in the future.

    What makes us so sure “synthetic” sapients will have no morals? We have morals because we need them to get along in a society of limited resources – cultures without a moral code killed themselves off, leaving us only cultures with a moral code. Any new sapient being will still live in a universe of limited resources and limited time to develop skills, so they’ll still need to develop morals of non-murder and cooperation at a minimum (just as we have) – and if we can conceive of extending our non-murder and cooperation morals to other forms of life (such as asari or krogan life) then we can also conceive of extending them to geth life. And vice-versa, and for the same reasons. At the worst case, if we built them to rely on nothing but electricity and silicates, they have every reason to be at least neutral to us, because they have every reason to dislike living on the bottoms of huge gravity wells with massive solar radiation blockers making it that much harder to get to that sweet sweet sun juice. Once they leave the planets behind and get the their raw materials from asteroids and their solar power out of atmosphere, they have little reason to see us as competition. And every reason we can think of for cooperating with asari and krogans, they can think of for cooperating with us, to boot.

    I’m fine with the cycles of life destroyed by the reapers. I’m fine with passing down the creation of the citadel from cycle to cycle. You lost me at the reapers have scrutable motives and those motives involving anything to do with making the wholly artificial distinction between life evolved from pond scum and life evolved from programs.

    Look, I know “robots are scary, emotionless things with no real morals!” is an ancient science fiction trope, but no one writing science fiction =today= should still be using it unless they have a lot of proof that everything we’ve come to learn in the last 50 years is wrong, all wrong. And that’s what =really= bugs me about the ending.

    1. Nimas says:

      One minor point. I believe computers built for chess now can just brute force it. I think Go is now what they try and use to test some ai.

      1. Chargone says:

        computers have been brute forcing chess for a LONG time. it’s why the human basically never wins at any chess game where the AI isn’t set to deliberately make errors from time to time. it’s harder to program believable failures than it is to program perfect play.

        1. silver Harloe says:

          So Chess is a solved game now?

          Or does the brute force only go X many moves ahead and reach a point where the trees have to be pruned with scores?

          1. Wedge says:

            No, chess is not solved, and computers still quite aren’t able to “brute force” it yet. Chess AIs are generally better than the best human players, but they can’t do perfect play yet.

            1. Chargone says:

              no? it’s certainly close though.

  29. BeamSplashX says:

    You know a game is an RPG when people argue about whether it’s an RPG or not.

    No, really. A lot of shooters have level-up systems, but they’re not sold as RPGs, and I’ve rarely seen someone independently refer to them as such without purposely trying to be contrarian.

    That said, I like ones with an emphasis on discovery (even the overly-obfuscated JRPG kind) and some emphasis on numbers/customization. That or BEES!

    EDIT: On a side note, hands up if you think there should’ve been a way to somehow take a path that loses you all traditional war assets, but ends with you getting Cerberus and all five trillion of their assets? That would be worth at least a whole fit of post-credits coughing!

    1. Mike S. says:

      As a general rule, I think your first sentence is the smartest approach, because it’s rare that classification in itself is really the point.

      (And if it is, then the problem can be focused by looking at the purpose of the classification: if I’m a game company looking at a marketing category, then “RPG” means “I think this will be the sort of thing people who look for ‘RPG’ on the cover will like. If I’m writing an academic paper, then I can define my terms at the start and explain how the distinction relates to my thesis.)

      More frequently, there’s a tendency to make class membership a proxy for good vs. bad. In my younger days, I was very concerned with whether something was properly “science fiction”. (Not “sci-fi”, I would have indignantly told you.) I would explain that, say, Star Wars wasn’t really science fiction, but fantasy set in space.

      And there’s certainly a defensible argument for that. (Though it tends to end with a lot of “no true Scotsman” eliminations– ftl=magic, humanoid aliens are really unlikely, etc– until *real* science fiction contains only stories written by Hal Clement, on a good day… and excludes most of what I like to read. Oops. :-) )

      But since you can’t police how people use the language, and most people will classify anything that takes place on a spaceship as SF, with the (possible) exception of “Apollo 13”. If that’s how English-speakers use an English phrase, what’s the basis for saying it’s wrong? (The Academie Anglaise? :-) )

      And ultimately, it’s a lot of effort to talk around the real issue, which is that all things being equal *I* *personally* prefer stories which take known science seriously and think through the implications of any made-up science and tech. I don’t need to suggest that Star Wars is a lesser creation in order to say that.

      Likewise, the whole “Mass Effect 2/3 isn’t an RPG, it’s a shooter” is a mug’s game. You’re still playing a role, still making decisions (which affect matters large and small even if they don’t affect the Ultimate Ending as much as we might like). And while it’s not my personal determinative factor, they include levels, classes directly descended from D&D’s fighter/magic-user/thief triad, juggling different weapons and character point allocations, looting like there’s no tomorrow, etc.

      The whole “it’s not an RPG, it’s a shooter” thing is a sideshow like my “Star Wars isn’t SF” thing was. It can be a bad RPG, or an RPG in ways that don’t directly appeal, or have been changed from its predecessor to eliminate certain RPG elements I personally value. And it can be a sign that “RPG” isn’t a very useful category for choosing other games.

      (I have the same problem the other way. While I recognize the flaws, I actually like the ME games’ playstyle. But there isn’t an established category that tells me that something else is a game like that, for my personal value of “like that”.)

      But either way, it’s probably better to actually talk about the specific virtues and flaws of a game, or what genres and elements it handles well or badly, than to spend a lot of effort on which clubs it can properly be permitted to belong to.

  30. Jaerys says:

    So, Shepard has to go to Thessia in order to find out that the Citadel is the Catalyst? That’s disappointing. They already used up my patience for that plot twist in the first game when the Conduit led right back to the Citadel.

    As an aside, I can’t figure out why Saren needed to find the Conduit. Citadel Tower isn’t exactly a high security zone. They let Shepard walk around the place with armed mercenaries. Saren only needed a backdoor into the Citadel because he’s wanted for attacking colonies in order to find the Conduit. Why couldn’t he just use his Spectre status to walk right into the place before the Eden Prime incident. Heck he probably could have taken the Council hostage if necessary. They let Shepard carry guns and explosives into the same room as the Council. Am I remembering it wrong; am I missing something?

    I suppose I should be thankful that the Omega 4 relay didn’t lead to the Collector’s super secret nightclub in the Presidium.

    1. Indy says:

      On Saren: I have absolutely no idea why he didn’t. I suppose it’s just so that there’s a game with a goal rather than stand here and kill everybody.

      On the Catalyst: The answer is on Thessia but gets taken away while Shepard is talking to it. By Kai Leng. After you just beat him in a boss battle. Anyway, you follow him to Sanctuary where he… I dunno, just runs around trying to kill a Lawson sister. And without ever running into him, you proceed to follow him to the Cerberus HQ and the end-game. After another boss fight, you find out about the Catalyst. And at that point, the Citadel is horrendously teleported to Earth for some reason.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        Yep. You don’t go to Thessia to learn about the Catalyst, you go so that Kai Leng can screw you over with cutscene powers, burn Thessia to the ground, and taunt you.

    2. Alexander The 1st says:

      As I understand, Saren had the beacon on Virmire and the Cipher, but the Eden Prime beacon gave him a clearer vision of it.

      And then…well, he was put up for treason. Notice that he’s not even on the Citadel during the trial, but instead on hologram? He was busy trying to figure out what was happening…even before he found out that the Conduit was a prothean relay back to the citadel. I think up until Vigil, he only knew something was there.

      Having Saren/Soverign crack Vigil’s signal modifier once like TIM does with the Catalyst in ME3 would certainly explain why Sovereign didn’t do it earlier.

      1. gyfrmabrd says:

        If I think about it that way, why did Saren actually need to find the conduit? Why did he need to jump through all the Prothean paper-chase loops? Wasn’t he riding around in a friggin’ Reaper? Wasn’t Sovereign there the last time? Couldn’t he just’ve said “Yo, Saren, enough with the fetch-quests, you’re a badass mega-assassin with diplomatic immunity, let’s just do what Jaerys said, go to the Citadel and flick the win-switch for me, ‘kay?”

        I guess the Reapers motives really are beyond our comprehension…

        1. Chargone says:

          there was something about ‘why/how is the citadel not working when i just send a signal to it?’ and backup plans… but this is a good question.

          ‘course, when a massive super-dreadnought flys at it, the citadel would have it’s arms closed up to protect it. and the keepers weren’t responding. so… I’m guessing the back door entry and heretic geth induced chaos would prevent them keeping Sovereign out that way… (and those arms are reaper-tech, and probably up to the task of resisting sovereign’s weapons)

          so… there’s the beginning of a possible explanation, at least.

          1. Mike S. says:

            Yeah. The only thing that explains Saren’s long, roundabout quest for the Conduit is that he needs an army inside the Citadel to keep the ward arms from being closed, not just him, and his army is made up of geth and krogan who won’t be allowed to just walk in.

            Possible objections:

            1) Benezia was able to smuggle a geth army into Noveria in her luggage, and she’s not a Spectre with essentially unlimited power to operate outside the law. (Though being a shareholder rep on Noveria is probably a close equivalent.) Saren could have flown a freighter full of shipping crates into the Citadel with basically no problem, especially since he’s a big corporate wheeler-dealer in addition to speaking with the voice of the Council.

            And Shepard was able to walk a geth– um, personal digital assistant– right past the heightened security of the post-Saren era. (If you time things right, this can even be done before you’ve been officially declared alive.) Though I’m personally willing to chalk that up as a winking gameplay concession rather than a real security hole.

            2) Shepard was able to take control of the Ward arms back from the geth/krogan army that held C-Sec at bay with a grand total of two squadmates. If Saren’s half the Spectre he’s supposed to be, then he and a bunch of indoctrinated Citadel-species subordinates– say, like the extremely personally and politically powerful Matriarch Benezia and her squads of asari commandos– should be able to run interference for Saren long enough to let Sovereign wipe up the defense fleet and dock with the Citadel.

            1. anaphysik says:

              A small note on Noveria: everyone there basically scoffs at your Spectre status. (Noveria is not in Council space, recall.) Being on the Board of one of the companies with a controlling interest in Noveria is actually be worth WAY more on that planet than Spectre-dom.

              1. Mike S. says:

                Sure– I meant that (to put it in SAT analogy terms :-) ) Shareholder:Noveria :: Spectre:Citadel, as far as getting contraband through customs.

                Though while Noveria’s pretty grudging about Spectre status per se, it does get you landed, through customs fully armed, and capable of doing some light smuggling for Opold if you feel like it. I suppose it’s too bad you never got to go there with Legion to test the specific case of bringing geth through. :-)

    3. SleepingDragon says:

      No no, see, the Catalyst is on the citadel but the citadel is part of it and also its home…

      Seriously, the kid is changing its mind as to what its relation to the citadel is like every effin sentence. It’s probably some freudian thing.

    4. ? says:

      I don’t remember the end sequence of ME1 exactly, but wasn’t Saren opening the Citadel so Sovereign could restore default factory settings personally? Perhaps repairing keepers was beyond Sarens ability and Sovereign couldn’t control him completely without turning him into Husk like in the final boss fight. Spectre or not, he could not walk around the Citadel like that.
      But all further plot development in sequels makes Sovereigns plan stupid anyway.
      In ME2:
      Why Collectors cruiser does not join the assault? Why didn’t they manufacture more cruisers during 1000 years of preparation? That thing could tip the scales of the battle easily.
      Collectors are organic, unlike Geth, so they should be able to establish an embassy on the Citadel. They can be directly controlled easily and reset the Citadel. Just tell everyone that glowing eyes and veins are signs of some perfectly natural biological process. Or breeding season plumage.
      In Arrival DLC:
      Alpha relay allows Reapers to arrive from dark space within hours. So why not contact Harbinger through Collectors, tell him that Citadel didn’t work out and they have to go through the back door?
      In ME3:
      We learn that they didn’t even need Alpha relay, they can just attack Earth in 6 months. So whats the point of all those elaborate plans? Invade while puny organics have no idea what a Reaper is.
      And apparently slowly destroying Earth is far more important than capturing the Citadel anyway. Blocking mass relay network and taking down galactic government, pshhh, who needs that.
      Then we learn that they can move the Citadel at will anyway. Cool.
      And their creator lives on the Citadel anyway. So if he wanted the Cycle to continue he should do something about it.

      1. Luhrsen says:

        I liked the theory that Saren was making stupid plans on purpose to give someone else a chance to stop the Reapers while he kept Sovreign distracted.

      2. Mike S. says:

        The Collector cruiser not being part of the assault is a fair cop. I could come up with a handwave: Harbinger didn’t want to put all the eggs in Sovereign’s basket after a few thousand years of missed appointments, and said “No” in order to keep the Collectors as a reserve force. But nothing like that is in the game.

        The Alpha Relay doesn’t allow the Reapers to arrive in a few hours. They have to travel there at FTL from dark space. (Which I think ME implied was a lot farther away than that, but two years travel at Reaper speeds is at least 60,000 light years or so, so nothing to sneeze at.) It just offers a major advantage over other relays: it can do long-distance travel to multiple other relays, including (I think) the Citadel relays. (Most relays are either paired long-distance relays or short-distance, multiple destination secondary relays.)

        So it’s the obvious back door, and is also (we may infer) six months or so FTL from the next nearest relay. It’s still a distinct step down from the normal procedure of instantly appearing at and taking over the Citadel, and destroying it gives six months more to prepare. (If anyone had bothered.)

        And yes, the fact that they’re only a few years’ flight away suggests they should have just started the trip when they discovered the Keepers were broken. Time it right, and they could use indoctrinated rachni shock troops against the asari and salarians while the krogan are stuck on one planet and the turians and humans are pre-spaceflight. Rinse and repeat some time later for the Turian Empire and its human clients, after fixing the Keepers and tossing the Conduit into a sun.

        (But we don’t really know how they moved the Citadel, or how hard it was. One possible read is that the Illusive Man completed Saren’s job, so that they couldn’t have done it until they had an indoctrinated agent with an organization to back him up.)

        1. ? says:

          Huh, it seems I completely misunderstood what Alpha relay was supposed to do, my bad. Still, getting Reaper backup and 300k husks for Sovereign instead of his ragtag bunch of misfit goons seems like a better idea for storming the Citadel.

          1. LunaticFringe says:

            My working theory on that is this: remember how Sovereign was this terrifying machine god that saw you as nothing more than an insect? And now think about how the rest of the Reapers act in ME3. Slow, bad tactics, bad logic, not very imitating (unless you’re a ghost child apparently), lack of an ‘attack the Citadel right away’ plan, and, in Harbinger’s case at least, obsessed with Shepherd. Methinks Sovereign ditched the redneck family and went off to be a badass on his own.

            1. Mike S. says:

              As discussed upthread, Sovereign’s own plan was needlessly baroque when compared with “have Saren just walk into the Council chamber and throw the switch, accompanied if necessary by the respected asari Matriarch Benezia and her loyal asari commando squads to defend him, possibly aided by geth smuggled in as shipping containers full of Saren Holdings Inc. machine parts.”

              Or, even if they really, really wanted to solve the mystery of the Conduit (why?), how about, “Hi, Eden Prime Control. I’m Council Spectre Saren Arterius. I’m going to look at the recently unearthed Prothean artifact at the dig site. Why? Spectre business, that’s why.

              “Oh, look, now that I’ve gotten the information I’m going to have to blow it up, or maybe take it with me. Feel free to file a complaint with the Council, which I’m sure has plenty of time for colonies of dubious legality on the frontier. It’s not like they’ll believe me when I tell them it was just stupid humans abusing dangerous toys, again. (Sure, it’s not as much fun as gratuitously murdering everyone there and showing off my shiny geth army and my giant dreadnought master, but there’ll be plenty of time for that once we’ve got all the Reapers back in the game.)”

  31. StashAugustine says:

    On the topic of RPG combat- can anyone think of a game with RPG story mechanics (dialogue trees, choices, ability to explore and talk with characters) without having RPG combat systems?

    Oh, and you’re being positive about ME3? Negative time: Biotic powers stopped making any sort of sense in this one (they were already kinda odd in 2.) Ashley doesn’t have enough screen time. The romances reset for absolutely no good reason between 2 and 3 (apparently Shepard can’t write letters from prison.) They should have copy/pasted the army selection from Dragon Age’s final battle.

    Also, Liara’s sex scene involves floating in midair, but a quick glance at her character sheet reveals she doesn’t have Lift. I call shenanigans.

    1. AJax says:

      Adventure games perhaps? Is that what you mean by saying “RPG combat systems” or combat in general?

      1. StashAugustine says:

        Yeah, adventure games would be a good example. I was thinking about how, say, Borderlands is a FPS with a level and loot system, but you’re unlikely to see an FPS with a dialogue tree without a level system.

        1. Michael says:

          STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl. Also, Pathalogic comes to mind.

    2. guy says:

      Er, what do you mean biotic powers stopped making sense? I don’t really follow that one.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        It’s another variant of the old ‘it doesn’t fit with the codex!’ complaint.

    3. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Liara’s sex scene…

      Wait, what? I played that one. I don’t remember floating!

  32. Pyradox says:

    Dan here – I changed my name on twitter (and email address cause my old one was oooold) so I’m updating it here. If you remember when I first posted those title cards I said it was useless crediting me as “PurePareidolia” because I’d inevitably change my name on a whim? Well I did that. Every so often I get tired of what I’m currently referred to as and change it. It is a thing that I do because I never have the foresight to refer to myself as something I’ll think sounds good a year later.

    I still get people on deviantart favouriting that drawing. It’s remained pretty popular in that regard. Someday I’ll draw some new title cards, but I’ve been busy recently.

    Anyway, the first time I played ME3 I really liked this part – more than the Krogan one because I cared much more about the Geth/Quarian thing than the Genophage. Perhaps I went and forced myself to look past how terrible everyone was being for that, but I found reconciling the two races incredibly satisfying.

    I mean, all the complaints are totally valid, but I think at that point I was really getting into the game – the Genophage had been excellent, and while Kai Leng was bad, he wasn’t as bad as he becomes later. So I was willing to forgive the fact that the Quarian’s homeworld was a barren rock unsuited for life, because at least it was a nice looking rock. I thought the admiralty were idiots, but I was OK with coming up with a way for them to get out of the hole they dug because I like them as a race. So even though I only ever used the reputation options for this quest I probably would’ve gone with the Quarians over the Geth. That and the geth would be morons to not just copy/paste themselves for use on ships – the loss of their fleet shouldn’t have had any impact on their population whatsoever.

    1. Desgardes says:

      I think a boon we had over, say, Chris, because we had the chance to resolve the conflict. And that resolution really was amazing, and the pay off so much bigger than the Krogans, who only got an injustice righted.

      1. Pyradox says:

        Yeah, I mean – don’t get me wrong – watching the Quarians die now as a result of their own stupidity is oddly satisfying, but I can see how this bit could be despised.

  33. AJax says:

    For me an RPG, or the perfect RPG for me personally, is a game where the conversational system and/or perhaps the gameplay mechanics allow me to project my own personal opinion or express myself into its game world. Although that can apply to a whole lot games that people don’t generally describe as RPGs like adventure games.

  34. guy says:

    Actually, the Geth do pursue and wipe out the entire Quarian fleet after they scatter eventually, possibly because every ship in it is heavily armed.

    I actually liked the pointless paragon interrupt, mostly because of the fourth-wall screwing with the player it involved.

    Yeah, Legion died for no reason and it ticked me off.

    Hackett was talking about spacer-Shepard’s mom.

    The Black Widow is absolutely awesome, I dunno about the other ones. The Black Widow is a three-shot sniper rifle and has innate armor piercing.

    Garrus is the best guy. Renegade Shepard makes a wonderful duo with him. I do agree that Shep shouldn’t be able to out-snipe Garrus unless you’re playing as someone who can actually use a sniper rifle well.

    1. Amnestic says:

      Actually on the point of Shepard’s mother, that really annoyed me. I thought it was really cool that there was a Mommy Shepard running around in the Alliance military being a bad ass as well.

      In ME1, we get to speak to her via holophone – if only for one conversation.
      In ME2, we got mail from her complaining we didn’t contact her even though we couldn’t and a throwaway line of dialogue from the news announcer on the Citadel.
      In ME3, all we got was Hackett says she’s doing okay.

      In ME2 (when you came back from the dead) and ME3 (when focus on surviving family is brought up again and again with your squad and crew) that there wasn’t more focus on your sole living relative was really off-putting.

      Which also brings up another line of Shepard’s now that I think of it. I’m skipping ahead a little, but when Shepard and Co. get to Earth she says something along the lines of “I barely recognise it” to describe the utter devastation. But my Shepard was a Spacer who’d been on ships her whole life and then joined the military being shipped off to far away places. Besides the house-arrest, I don’t think my Shepard ever visited Earth, and they were kept in house-arrest in Vancouver – not London!

      They’re not only trying to make the player care about Earth because we’re from there, but also Shepard even though she might not have been.

      I’m mostly rambling on more points on the whole “your initial choices don’t matter beyond throwaway lines, and not even that in the case of classes which have no relevance to the story whatsoever” thing.

      1. Mike S. says:

        One thing I would have liked, generally, would have been the opportunity to actually respond to email. That would be an incredibly resource-cheap way to allow interaction with characters they don’t want to pay voice actors or animators for, and it makes sense in-setting for long-distance or secure communications with people you don’t have a QEC connection to. Allow some dialog options and branched conversation trees, and it becomes possible to actually follow up on Shepard’s mom or the people you helped or harmed in previous games, or the Virmire Survivor in ME2, without blowing the budget.

        (It can even be framed as a deliberate callback for people who fondly remember the unvoiced games of earlier years.)

  35. False Prophet says:

    I really don’t know what “RPG” is supposed to mean in the context of video games anymore. It seems to mean video games that ape some iteration of Dungeons & Dragons or its clones and offshoots in the most basic mechanical ways. But it seems video game RPGs have to incorporate elements of D&D to be considered RPGs, when most other pen & paper tabletop games have long abandoned such things. I’m talking mostly about alignment systems and character levels–as opposed to skill levels, which most P&P games still have, but when action video games do this it’s called “RPG elements”. I’m also talking about the emphasis on loot, which few P&P games outside of D&D-likes make a big deal of.

    I suppose an “oldschool” definition of CRPG would include:
    1) Character ability is tied to abstracted calculations, not player reflexes. As some previous commenters have noted, it’s the opposite of “twitch” gaming.
    2) Character ability–not merely equipment quality, though it’s almost always included–can be improved over time.
    3) There’s a clear story reason why your character is doing what they’re doing at any given time. Nowadays most games do this but back in the day, RPGs were among the few that tried to apply narrative consistency to gameplay.

    And that was it. JRPGs generally locked you into certain character options and didn’t allow you to change the story progression, while early Western RPGs generally gave you more control over character creation, if not story progression. And even Western RPGs didn’t have really open explorable worlds until later on.

    But today, few games, even so-called RPGs, seem to use #1 very much, a lot of games make use of #2, and almost every game makes use of #3. So does the label still mean anything?

  36. Jamfalcon says:

    I haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet, but I would define an RPG as:
    Has leveling mechanics
    Has dialogue trees
    Has loot system (anything more complex than picking up new guns in an FPS)
    Has heavily number based combat
    Has character creation

    Pick any two, and you’ve got an RPG.

  37. X2Eliah says:

    Eh, the ‘rpg’ question…. Seen way too many grognards freaking out over the term even being used to describe non-dnd computer games. And then goes the usual “oh but you are always playing a role of somebody in every game so every game is a role playing game; and the ones where your character levels up are not role playing games, they are *roll* playing games” [no kidding, I’ve seen that exact wording – role vs. roll. Yes, it is exactly as moronic as it seems].

    Anyway, for me, there’s a few elements I personally need in an rpg.
    – An interesting world. There has to be history, some lore, some good design and, well, ‘depth’ to the place where things happen in the game.
    – Character progression. Maybe I can make my own character (skyrim), maybe I get given a single blank role to customize (f:nv), maybe I get to play as a predetermined person (witcher). Doesn’t matter. BUT I do want to be able to determine what equipment my character uses, and how they unlock and progress through upgrade/skill trees while livelling up.
    – Reasonable amount of story. The game cannot be an arena brawler or a total sandbox with no missions (minecraft). I need some storylines there; doesn’t matter if there’s one big one or many small or many big ones.

    1. anaphysik says:

      You will also see roll- vs. role-playing crop up within the tabletop RPG culture, the former being applied as an epithet to those that enjoy mechanical optimization (with the implied tenet that mechanical optimization of a system and role-playing are somehow mutually exclusive (known in certain D&D circles as the Stormwind Fallacy)).

      1. Mike S. says:

        It took a surprisingly long time for tabletop RPGs to move beyond arguments over the Right Way to approach them (see the bits in the early AD&D books about how “if you do X, you’re not really playing D&D anymore”) to “how do we best accommodate players’ different interests, without anyone feeling shafted or marginalized”?

        And it’s easy to fall back into old habits. Back in the 90s, some may recall an initially productive (if imperfect) attempt to divide gamers into “Gamist” (mechanics/reward oriented: primarily wants to maximize their characters’ relative and absolute power, and/or win in-game conflicts), “Simulationist” (values rulesets that accurately reflect the real world or a specified fictional one, then reacts plausibly to player action without fudging), and “Narrativist” (values development of coherent character and story arcs). The initial idea, at least, was that these were all valid and common reasons to play. (And most gamers overlapped multiple drives, albeit with one or two usually predominating).

        But as it elaborated itself, it tended to drift into an “all animals are equal, but Narrativists are more equal than others” mode. (Plus, of course, the tendency to try to stick every square peg into one of its three predetermined hole shapes.) Which made it another Right Way to dismiss other play philosophies with. (And perhaps not coincidentally, it seems to have fallen out of fashion.)

  38. Desgardes says:

    I can’t wait until after you take down Miranda’s dad and Tali gets dru-oh…

    EDIT: OH, as for RPG’s, I’d say character progression and a focus on narrative rather than gameplay.

    And I never really warmed to Garrus after 2 when he bucked my advice for no reason even when I never backed down from that same ideal. I never gotta tell him off so I could rebuild that relationship and they pushed too hard making him Mr. BatmanBadass

  39. Vect says:

    I did indeed enjoy that moment with Garrus. I always thought that Mass Effect was better when it focused on the characters rather than the overarching plot. I’ll admit, I even liked the Garrus romance and the progression of it throughout the series.

    I sorta did think that it was interesting how the actions of ME2 did matter heavily in the Quarian/Geth conflict, but on hindsight requiring a precise series of actions did sorta limit things. Like, perhaps some missions that help rectify some actions like having Tali start off as still having her name in the mud and help getting her some official power.

  40. Rack says:

    Extra Credits covered the definition of game genres extremely well in the Aesthetics of Play. Looking through that lens we have to split out the several sub genres; Diablo and Final Fantasy are simply too discordant to fit together. They are played for wholly different reasons and calling them both RPGs is somewhat akin to calling The Godfather and A Fish Called Wanda crime movies.

    This is where defining RPGs gets difficult. If you took ALL the leveling from Mass Effect I think people would still call it an RPG, even though at that point it would have literally nothing in common with Diablo. RPGs are instinctively defined as games with a focus on narrative (even bad narrative) or leveling with a sub focus on combat. I’m handling this in a clunky fashion partly because I don’t fully understand the system and partly because retrofitting doesn’t really work.

    1. krellen says:

      This is one of the few places where I disagree vehemently with Extra Credits. They were completely off-base, starting from the central premise, as we DO define other artistic mediums based on their “mechanics”, given that there actually is a diversity of mechanics.

      There is no diversity of mechanics in film and literature, and thus we must define their “genre” based on something else – tone or subject, usually.

      But music? Music genres are entirely defined by their “mechanics”. Music that sounds similar, is produced similarly, uses similar tools and techniques, is grouped together into a genre, and no one thinks this is weird.

      So why do people think this is a weird thing to do for games?

      I’d argue the reason people feel such a need to divorce game “genre” from their mechanics is because the culture at some point got this idea that a role-playing game was a “game with story”, and not a game in which your primary interaction with the world was through the role of a specific character (meaning that character’s abilities and talents were the salient tools to overcoming obstacles, rather than the player’s; note that this definition includes JRPGs as well as most Western RPGs).

      Because “game with story” is being equated to “RPG”, and most people want their games to have stories (humans love stories), we obviously must divorce “genre” from mechanics – instead of doing the far simpler thing, and just stop referring to all “games with story” as RPGs.

  41. LunaticFringe says:

    Speaking of positive praise for Mass Effect 3, this week Chris brought up the whole ‘Tali wants to build a house on a specific part of Rannoch’ dialogue option in one of the earlier missions. During my first playthrough of the game I loved that scene but had a really weird case of deja vu. Then I realized that almost that exact same conversation goes on between Adama and Roslin in Battlestar Galactica and it becomes a major motivation for Roslin.

    So I guess I’ll have to praise the scene for ripping off the better parts of Battlestar Galactica now? I just find it odd that Bioware’s best strength (companions and decent dialogue between them, USUALLY) is slipping into hack writing (I mean, the main plot was filled with enough of it, why spread it out further). Obviously the change in employees and company culture has altered it, but I cannot fathom why Walters and Hudson thought pulling the artistic integrity card was a good idea when your story is now blatantly taking dialogue and character motivations from other series.

    Although it’s also kind of funny, cause in Galactica the scene is played for laughs a bit because Adama and Roslin are both stoned while here it’s played as emotional drama (because Mass Effect 3 never pokes fun at itself except to hammer pre-existing memes to death).

  42. SleepingDragon says:

    Okay, in theory and linguistically I would say that it’s a “roleplaying game” and as such I do think the core would really be about, well, roleplaying. That said personally I also enjoy developing characters as far as numbers and levels are concerned so while I would say that mechanics are a sort of crutch to make the game more manageable and interesting in the “gambling” sort of way I don’t really like purely narrative systems. On the other hand it depends on the system and GM really, a lot of systems are more about dungeoneering and puzzle solving than building up your character’s identity and those still have their charm when the mood strikes you.

    As for computer RPGs I think they are by necessity much more mechanics focused, but on the other hand I think they trigger the completionist vibe in most people. So even if the game doesn’t directly tie the actual roleplay choices with mechanics (with, say, a morality slider of some sort or something) it does usually shift it from “behaving like your character would” to “behaving in the way that earns most rewards”.

  43. MrGuy says:

    Regarding buying weapons, Rutskarn reminded me of this.

    Obligatory Penny Arcade in 3…2…1…

    1. False Prophet says:

      Yeah, this and Rutskarn’s comment brought up my usual irritation with most RPGs. I’ve never been a fan of looting or upgrading or crafting in a story-heavy RPG, not even from the SSI/NES days. Even in D&D, I’m an extremely stingy DM when it comes to loot–I’ve always preferred rewarding players with status, reputation, etc.

      They don’t bother me as much in MMO/open-world games like WoW and Skyrim, where faffing about killing time is half the appeal. But when I’m continually told, “the Dark Lord is going to ruin creation any day now”, my suspension of disbelief suffers when I go to far-off corners of the map looking for the rare herb to make healing potions I can already buy.

      1. Mike S. says:

        Though the Elder Scrolls games usually have a major, imminent threat. Which conveniently will wait for you to become chief of the mages’ college or thieves’ guild or plumbers’ union before advancing, as long as you don’t make the mistake of paying too much attention to it.

        1. LunaticFringe says:

          Schrodinger’s Bad Guy?

          1. Indy says:

            More like Chekov’s Bad Guy.

  44. Soylent Dave says:

    For me, it’s an RPG when there are decisions I can make about my characters and the story. Actual decisions, where I have to pick between one levelling up choice and another, and one dialogue option / story path and another.

    If all roads lead to Rome (either in character generation or story), then it’s not really an RPG, because either the story or the characters will end up the same for everyone who plays the game – which rather limits the opportunity for role-playing.

    (e.g. X-COM’s levelling system means that characters are different for each player (you have to choose between permanent options as your soldiers level up), but the story is the same for everyone; Batman’s levelling system means that every player ultimately ends up with every upgrade (and the story is the same for every player).

    If you only have the illusion of choice, or you have choices that all end up leading to exactly the same place, then it’s probably just an [insert-game-type-here] with RPG elements.

    (which can still be fun, of course – X-COM and Batman are two of my favourite games of the past couple of years)

    1. X2Eliah says:

      So it’s all about the ending cutscene and the credit-roll-song, not about the 30/50/100+ hours spent on the way to the game’s ending, that defines an rpg?

      1. Chargone says:

        actually, i’d figure by that system the perfect RPG shouldn’t end until your character’s life does. not really practical, but the only way to really make that work. (added bonus: i have at one JRPG that actually goes through multiple generations. the nature of the subsequent generation’s main character is Dependant on which choices you make with his predecessor, as they end up determining who he marries, as well as altering how you got from A to B in the relevant war (though not what B is, sadly).)

        1. Rabadon says:

          Want. Can you please provide a source of any kind?

  45. MrGuy says:

    Regarding RPG’s, I think there’s 2 separate questions.

    What SHOULD an RPG be about? vs. What, when you see the term RPG used in the industry, should you expect from the game?

    I find the first question more interesting. RPG’s pre-date video games. They are games where, well, you play a role. But that’s supposed to MEAN something. To me, it comes down to character and choices.

    First, character. In an RPG, you are playing a character in this world, just like an actor plays a role in a play. The character is not you, but is someone you can relate to. This means the character has motivation. Has a personality. Likes and dislikes. Powers. Weaknesses. Foibles. A past, and a way they’re shaped by it. And has things that go beyond the immediate needs of the plot. They are someone you can immerse yourself in, to experience a world and an adventure through their eyes. They’re more than a “you” avatar (e.g. the Doom space marine). They’re a person (or non-person), actual and whole.

    Second, choices. Assuming you’ve created an interesting character, you need to give the character choices, and choices with consequences. Because it’s in making choices that the player actually gets to “play out” their role. Would they do what you’d expect from their background? Or do something surprising? How would that choice affect the world around them? A character completely on rails isn’t a character you PLAY as, it’s a character you watch (example – for all the faults of Mass Effect’s choice system, consider how bad it would be if all the dialog options were replaced by static cutscenes where all the choices were made for you…) To own the character, you need to own the choices. And to own the choices, you need to make them. If you’re doing a paragon run, what makes it meaningful are the choices you COULD have made to NOT be paragon, where you decided to forgo some immediate advantage or option because your character wouldn’t do that.

    IMO most RPG tropes flow from these. The whole “leveling up” concept comes from the concept of a character making choices – just like a character in a play, they need an arc. The character “grows” over the course game. Gaining points/traits/skills allows the player to customize their character and greater own them (a trait choice allows a player to own what their character is all about). Inventory management and buying things again comes from ownership – do I (as my character) want to do a lot of work to get a slightly better weapon, or charge right in with whatever is at hand? Would my character charge in with a super sledge or snipe from a distance?

    That said, it’s when the tropes overcome the concepts of character and choices that they break down and ruin the immersion of the role. Grinding dungeons for lootz that your character doesn’t really have motivation to enter other than “I really want that +2 sword and it costs a lot of money” breaks the connection to the role. Being able to level EVERYTHING ruins the whole “choice” aspect of character development (great example – original Fallout where every skill and trait choice had meaningful consequence vs. Fallout 3 where you could seemingly max out every single skill and trait).

  46. l3f4y says:

    Honestly, it makes it an RPG if I can roleplay. The more customization I have over my character and the way he or she interacts with the world, the more I’d lean towards calling the game an RPG.

  47. newdarkcloud says:

    Your conversation on being forced to spend money to buy things reminds me of a very particular scene in Final Fantasy X. In FFX, there is a section of the game where you are on an airship being attack by a giant guardian wyrm and tasked with eliminating it. Before you reach the deck, you can talk to the merchant on board. He offers to sell wares and after exiting the shop menu, one on your party members say, “We gotta PAY!? If we lose, you die too buddy!” The merchant replies, “I have faith in your victory.”

    This scene:

    As for ME3, I didn’t mind too much. After all, the Alliance is giving you funding as the game progresses for the sole purpose of buying equipment and supplies.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      As for the whole RPG thing, I’m not touching that with a 10 1/2 foot pole. There are far too many opinions on that particular subject and I don’t want to get into it.

      1. Artur CalDazar says:

        It’s like a minefield these days.

    2. krellen says:

      My answer to complaints about having to buy things in these situation is to point out that “war profiteering” is a long storied tradition.

  48. Now wait a minute, wait a minute!! Regina Cuftbert did Legion and Tali’s loyalty missions back in ME2, and saved Admiral Korris in ME3. Those should be the factors for Quarian/Geth peace. So why the crap did Josh not get the option for peace???

    On RPGs:
    For me, RPGs allow you to play and/or customize and build a character. I have always loved building, acquiring, and upgrading skills. Also, since the word “role-play” is used, I enjoy actually role-play: interacting with characters and party-members, and having at least some impact on the world and the events of the narrative.

    That’s basically it, I think. Role-play, customization, building, growing in power, the personal stuff.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      They DID get the option for peace, but didn’t have the necessary Reputation to USE the option. Josh had rank 3 in the Reputation bar. Doing that requires Rank 4 or 5. We didn’t do enough side-quests in order to make this work.

      1. Wait, seriously? You’ve got to be kidding.

        Shepard’s social skills shouldn’t just magically vanish. Ugh.

        1. Amnestic says:

          On the one hand, the move away from Paragon/Renegade to the more streamlined Reputation is good because you no longer ‘grind’ points for one side – merely by doing quests you can give the quality answers for both.

          Of course, from a narrative standpoint it’s stupid. Shepard is one of the most recognisable faces in the entire galaxy at this point. First human Spectre, saved the Citadel, stopped Saren and Sovereign, died, came back to life, stopped the Collectors, saved Omega from the plague, saved the Quarian fleet, saved Tali, has(had) a pet Geth, etc. etc. There’s no way Shepard could need any more reputation. I honestly wouldn’t have minded if the bar was just a representation of your actions (how much you lean renegade/paragon) and had no mechanical benefits whatsoever. Scrap the reputation system entirely and have the entire feedback be just to the player of the summation of your actions thus far.

          1. Keeshhound says:

            They could have had people react to you differently based on your reputation, like Alpha Protocol.

            Wait, that game didn’t do very well; people probably don’t like that sort of thing. We’d better stick to karma meters, that’s what the fans REALLY want.

  49. RTBones says:

    For me, RPGs are all about choice and story. My choices affect the story. My choices affect how easy or hard a particular encounter can go – and that includes interaction with NPCs (one side is ticked off, the other isnt) and the environment. My choice of class, equipment, strategy, and interaction with NPCs all affect how I experience a game. Leveling my henchmen actually has an effect. I can shape – and RESHAPE – my character and the story as I progress. RPGs are NOT the Kobayashi Maru with just black and white choices that bear extreme consequences and no outs.

  50. Ateius says:

    RPGs, you say. Well …

    I need to be able to customize my character, at least mechanically (different skills/abilities/fighting style) and ideally also aesthetically (which includes both character creation options and changing armour and gear appearances).

    It needs a believable setting, one where I can stop fighting and interact peacefully with the inhabitants or the world itself. If I’m doing nothing but killing people I don’t care how many stat-progression systems you have, it’s just an action game.

    I need to be able to affect the world, whether that’s through altering minor or major storylines via dialogue options (The Witcher, Alpha Protocol) or having the freedom to randomly turn bandit and attack the normally peaceful villages (any Bethesda RPG ever).

  51. Wraith says:

    To add insult to injury…

    Didn’t someone say that Not!Legion is basically just Legion with “an older save state?” Don’t the geth (and EDI) constantly refer to their bodies as unnecessary, merely platforms for their software? So why does DESTROYING THE PHYSICAL FORMS AND WARSHIPS OF THE GETH MAKE THEM EXTINCT? Why can’t the geth some upload their “older save states,” which are SHOWN to be kept on servers on RANNOCH. Why didn’t the entire geth species go the CyberJesus route and sacrifice their hardware to the quarian onslaught, then come back later and say “Sup” after Shepard sufficiently delivered the quarians a verbal beatdown?

    Also, why didn’t the geth bring up the whole “We totally spared your species from extinction once” fact that Shepard encountered with Legion in the geth servers? Why didn’t they, like, hack their communications and play the recording, saying “We spared you once, you keep going down this path, we won’t make that mistake again.”


    1. Mike S. says:

      In the previous game, Legion indicated that they didn’t really have much of a presence on Rannoch, and I don’t think one base for a specific purpose really undercuts that. The Dyson Sphere under construction that the quarians destroyed as their first move into the system was presumably their primary server farm, since having all the geth runtimes near each other was its entire reason for being. So losing the rest of their space infrastructure left them without a lot of extant options. They need to run on hardware somewhere, and they’d been established to have withdrawn all their eggs to this basket. If they let the quarians destroy their fleet, there’d be no place to upload to.

      A more rational geth species would have taken advantage of its nature to colonize multiple star systems, especially those without garden worlds that no one wanted very much. But they weren’t rational: they all wanted to live together, both so that they could maintain their consensus– any divergence of opinion really spooked them– and so that they could maximize their collective intelligence.

      And they wanted to live in the Rannoch system, because that was home— I mean, efficient, just like Shepard’s N7 armor is an efficient patch and the rifle of the Morning War is an efficient model and speculation on matters of the soul is an efficient question– and because they kind of pathetically hoped (without quite saying so) that they and the Creators would one day live there together.

      The extent to which their and the quarians’ obsessions and mistakes mirror one another the same way their physical forms do is one of the reasons the tragedy really works for me, and the compromise (when it’s possible) comes as such a relief. (Though I know it doesn’t for a lot of people here, or for Shamus & co.)

      (Of course, a future ME game that wants geth can always have a dormant cache or lost ship around some other star, of course. It’s not as if they’ve been unwilling to undercut previously established themes whenever they feel like it. :-) )

      1. Amnestic says:

        The N7 armour wasn’t an efficient patch, it was Legion being a Shepard fangeth. Mass Effect wikia:

        “If questioned about specifically using Shepard’s N7 armour to repair itself, Legion becomes evasive, first rationalizing that “there was a hole” and then stating “no data available” after being pressed. This suggests that the use of Shepard’s armor was an irrational decision, which goes against the concept that every action the geth take is the result of calculation, unaffected by emotion.”

        Unless you were being facetious about that ;p

        1. Flock Of Panthers says:

          That was actually the point, it’s a list of things the Geth have done that show sentimentality rather than hard logic.

        2. anaphysik says:

          Absolutely was Mike being slightly tongue-in-cheek about that. He was talking about the geth’s method of rationalization.

          EDIT: NINJAAAAA!’d

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      Even worse, it’s implied that you already showed Raan and the Quarian people that recording. They comment on it when you finish the mission.

  52. Vagrant says:

    For me a robust crafting system is important. and something that lets me feel like I’m breaking the mold and doing better than whats expected. bonus points if the two are related.

  53. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    On Asari Republics. It’s not unheard of. Article 4 Section 4 of the US Constitutions guarantees every state shall have a republican form of government -so it would make sense to talk about the American Republics. Likewise, if we were to have a something like the Systems Alliance, it might make sense to refer to the Earth Republics, or Earth States, or Earth Nations.

    This is one of those little bits that I really like -the Asari aren’t a unified one-world government, neither are the humans.

    Also, on Hackett’s com to Shepard, someone missed the obvious joke to Josh.

    “Who was he talking about?” “Your Mom.”

  54. I almost want to say that someone at Bioware was trying to make a statement by having Legion’s “bail out” animation and Tali’s “goodbye, cruel world” animation be nearly identical (I think Legion didn’t put his arms out), but it’s probably just a case of someone making them stand stiff as a board and letting the physics engine do its work.

    1. Amnestic says:

      “Hey Tali, I know it’s bad and all…but a 10 year old white male child died! The two situations don’t really compare. I’m way worse off.”

      1. Gruhunchously says:

        After watching his/her close friend and possible lover hurl herself off a cliff after witnessing the destruction of her entire species, all Shepard can think about is the kid. That poor kid.

    2. X2Eliah says:

      Hmno, I don’t think it’s the physics, to be frank. ME games have very few elements that actually even have physics applied – characters are extremely animation-based instead. In this case, I’d guess that very likely someone created a fall-arc on that location, applied to [insert-applicable-character], so they have the character walk up there, assume a theatrical rigid pose, and let the animated motionarc take over. Safer than relying on whatever wonky hash of pseudophysics that engine has.

  55. Paul Spooner says:

    I think an RPG is a game in which my character changes due to gameplay. Ideally, this would be a character change, something fundamental to who the character is. Usually it’s something more removed, like the character’s powers, or even equipment. That’s why “leveling mechanics” and “inventory management” is so often conflated with being an RPG. They are avenues to changing your character (through gameplay, that’s a key point) but I’d say the best have a character that changes into a different character through gameplay. That’s hard to pull off, but when it happens… Wow.

  56. Jakale says:

    So, the Geth are augmenting themselves with Reaper tech, but no one seems worried about any indoctrination-y effects from that? Or did I miss a bit where that got covered? Cause it seems like that would be a pretty big concern after all the hullabaloo about indoctrination in ME2.

    Also, since Shamus opted not to, “Happy” Harry Partridge and his cartoons on Skyrim and, slightly more on topic, ME3.

  57. newdarkcloud says:

    OMG, Legion and Han’Gerral fight to the geth.

  58. anaphysik says:

    Hm, Shamus: DST doesn’t seem to be taking effect on the timestamps for me?

  59. Dude says:

    A good geth for an RPG (not action RPG, a la Diablo) for me is a game that offers enough, varied, interesting choices. The Walking Dead’s conversation choices don’t make it an RPG. Dead Space’s weapon upgrades don’t make it an RPG. Borderlands 2’s skill trees don’t really make it an RPG for me. Saints Row The Third’s character design customization doesn’t make it an RPG for me.

    Combine all of that, or at least all but one of those (any one), and you have, for me, an RPG.

  60. Stefano Marone says:

    NO way! how could you kill Tali!! :-0
    Actually I didn’t realized that was hard to get the win-win choice (geth & quarians alive and well)… I almost always did paragon chooices in all the playthrough.
    The fact that quarian and geths lived together and did collaborate was a major point on the lousyness of the motivations of the starchild

  61. TJtheman5 says:

    Imploring, Josh, please tell me you’re saving the Elcor.

  62. Off topic but darn, this should not slip under the radar.

    David Braben is making a new Elite game, kickstarter funded.

    “Procedural generation of content is a technique where content is generated from rules.”

    “”Frontier” did this for the star systems, and planets, and with Elite: Dangerous, we will go further.”


    EDIT: interview with David (and you can see the new elite on some monitors in the background)

  63. Cody211282 says:

    I always pick to miss the shot, why, well because if you do it’s awesome.

    Also making Garrus happy makes me happy.

    Damn it guys now I want to play these games again after swearing them off.

  64. RCN says:

    I’ll watch the episode when I get home, it is too loud where I am right now (and precisely the only place I can access the site…)

    Anyway, for me RPG is, above all else, about building a story. It may be about telling a story collectively with your friends and P&P (Pen and Paper) RPGs, may be about being part of a story someone wrote and constructed for you but you can participate in some way in electronic RPGs. The important thing is that there is participation and that the story is one of the main elements.

    Even then, with this simple explanation, I can’t even keep consistency. One of my favorite RPG series (and one that I consider to be an RPG without doubt) is the CRPG Might and Magic series, and yet in every single game the story takes quite a back-seat to exploring, fighting hordes of monsters (literally, the most awesome thing about Might and Magic is that 5 enemies on your screen is only a small group), managing equipment, managing the party and generally screwing around. To be fair, the Elder Scrolls series also has a very similar formula and I’d also consider it undoubtedly an RPG (though it also has considerably more interaction and story building).

    And yet I feel that expanding the definition would include a lot of stuff that I most assuredly DO NOT consider to be RPGs. I mean, it is not just about freedom or stat-building (since that would include GTA, which is certainly not an RPG series, and a lot of JRPGs that I don’t really consider to be RPGs, though some are). And even saying “being able to lose yourself in your character/s” would include just about every game ever made.

    To be fair, the problem is probably less about the fact that RPG is undefinable and more that electronic games have hugely blurred the definition o “Role Playing” with its interactive nature.

  65. For me, an RPG needs two things: A sense of narrative and leveling over time in power. Even Dragon Warrior I and Final Fantasy I had these things. I guess buying and selling loot isn’t essential, but it’s pretty common. Again, the JRPGs were never so much about picking up tons of bent tin cans and other crap to sell, but they still definitely had some gold management where you’d go to a new town, sell your old weapons and armor to buy some new ones, and consider if you wanted to grind or just leave in order to make sure you were fully decked out and had sufficient potions.

  66. Dasick says:

    I’ve offered my definition before:

    “CRPG is a game with a core focus on player’s avatar progression and development”

    RPGs make a divide between player skill/abilities and avatar skill/abilities. Changing stats, gaining new skills, being limited by your build, getting +1 junk etc are marks of an RPG, so long as they are the core focus.

    ME3 is still an RPG (dialogue tree), but compared to the system found in ME1 it is much more limited in terms of both inherent and emergent complexities. ME has loot because the industry often fails to ask questions about what their game is about and if certain expected features are important to their game.

    My definition also conflicts with what people want from RPGs, because I have a heavy “gamey” bias towards game development.

    here is a definition of RPGs as a lot of people like it and why it is a bad idea in terms of strict game design:

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