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Forums > Submission Feedback > [News] Admiral Hackett, EDI, Kaidan return for Mass Effect 3's Extended Cut DLC

This thread is in response to an article about Mass Effect 3 on the Xbox 360. You are encouraged to view the article in a new window before reading this thread.

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Author: holdthephone
Posted: May 23, 2012 (01:02 PM)
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I don't see how anything they add could fix an ending like that, but it's nice to know they're trying to make up for it.


Mobius 1, engage...


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: May 23, 2012 (01:40 PM)
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Wow. By responding to the fan clamor around this, it's almost like they've proven that the ending sucked. I'm torn between respect for their desire to please the fans and disrespect for them not having enough faith in their original writing to stick by it.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: May 23, 2012 (02:08 PM)
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Increasingly, gamers demand stories that approach the level of artistry we see in other mediums, but don't believe for a second that most of those gamers will allow the artists and writers responsible to exercise actual artistic integrity. Instead, they'll organize petitions and threaten lawsuits.

That's just one of several reasons that video game stories are unlikely to ever rival the stuff you can find if you just crack open a novel. Practically any novel. Even a fairly bad one.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: holdthephone
Posted: May 23, 2012 (02:44 PM)
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Ehh I don't like cross medium comparisons like that, and I don't think gamers are that unrealistic. Movies have their own ways of telling great tales in a 2 hour span of visuals and sound, games have their own ways, and some poems have to be written in haiku format. Saying a game's story will never rival a book's is just a weird statement.

Mass Effect 3 simply ended with a huge middle finger to fans. I don't like the idea of going back to fix an ending either, Bioware should at least stick by their decision. But if what they say is true, they are just fleshing out some details and aren't changing the actual ending. I don't think anyone is expecting the problem to be fixed, but it will be amusing to see how Bioware connects the dots here.

I don't agree with lawsuits or anything crazy like that, it being false advertising seems to be a bit of a stretch. It's just a bad ending to a cool franchise, and some people are understandably taking it to heart.


Mobius 1, engage...


This message was deleted at the request of holdthephone, the person who originally posted it.

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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: May 23, 2012 (03:26 PM)
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Saying a game's story will never rival a book's is just a weird statement.

I'm not sure how it's a weird statement. Whatever the format, a good story needs strong characters and a good setting/environment. The two elements need to fit together to form unity. That notion dates back to the days of ancient Greece, when storytelling was starting to become a formalized process beyond oral tradition (though obviously things developed from there).

Games tend to demolish any potential for unity by featuring gameplay. The best a game can hope to do is provide interactive fiction, but video games need play mechanics to fit the standard definition of a game. And when you have those play mechanics, you get all sorts of disruption. Your character dies 50 times trying to climb a series of tricky ledges, but finally you succeed. Your investment in the character--in most games--is an investment not in solid writing or good dialog or any of that stuff. It's an investment in your own ability to press buttons and scale cliffs, or skewer polygons with a fat sword, or blast soldiers or aliens with a gun so that the story can briefly resume. There's a disconnect between the story and the gameplay and the victim is any possibility that a meaningful story was ever going to be told.

Games are making progress all the time, certainly, but some of the games that best bridge those gaps have a tough time selling enough units to justify the expense. Games like Heavy Rain made huge strides in that department, but there still had to be game mechanics and those again got in the way of narrative (because the player could accidentally fail to knock on a door or brush his teeth properly, which went against character credibility).

The video game medium is simply not built to tell stories. That's what books and movies and television are for. Video games are meant to let you play games. Developers have found that players respond well to narrative as a hook, but mostly it's just bait and switch. In games, story is just a means to lure you to the gameplay... which you then hope will be good enough that you don't mind the narrative failings.

Edit: By the way, I neglected to mention structure and pacing. They are part of the unity package, as well. A linear story can focus on such things because the writers know every point along the process. They can tailor the story to a specific series of events, and thus each scene that contributes to the overall narrative can have more impact. When you throw in the possibility of multiple outcomes in one or more scenes, then the impact that each scene can have is lessened to a certain degree. The best games manage to diminish that impact and compensate with characters that can be more easily customized and personalized, but the overall story is still taking a hit. That's true even in the "choose your own adventure" books, which are full of weak scenes because the writer has to factor in multiple possibilities and can't as easily throw in some of the literary tricks of the trade. What use is there in foreshadowing a key event, for instance, if that key event only happens in one out of three trips through the game? There are so, so many unique challenges that video games present when it comes to producing a compelling story.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: May 23, 2012 (04:07 PM)
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I disagree with you on this, Venter. I actually think there are some stories that only work in the medium of the game. For instance, I love Chrono Trigger's story. But those characters would never work in a film or a novel: they work because you connect with them through endless battles and from watching the sprites perform their own limited forms of emotion. Sprite emotions are actually highly reminiscent of Kabuki theatre, in over-exaggerating emotion to augment a story.

And the only reason we all cared so much about Aeris dying was because we'd had TWENTY HOURS to get to know her by that point. TWENTY HOURS. That's the length of ten films. And we didn't get to know her just through dialogue, actions, or her connection to the a-story, as we would in a novel. We got to know her because we played as her; we leveled her up; we used potions on her; we had her heal the party from near death. You can't recreate that in another medium and some games use it well.

And returning to the discussion of Journey and Flower, those are stories that couldn't work in anything but an interactive visual medium. Same with something like Shadow of the Colossus, or Ico, where the emotional connection to the story is contained within the interactivity.

What I do think is that games should stop trying to tell CINEMATIC and NOVELA stories. Video games should tell INTERACTIVE stories. It's what they've always been best at.

You can tell great stories in any medium. But you have to adjust your structure and development for that medium.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: holdthephone
Posted: May 23, 2012 (04:20 PM)
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@Jason

I feel the exact opposite, really. Interactivity has its own unique way of conveying characters, worlds, and stories. I suppose I just have a more abstract look at what makes gaming enjoyable to me. Something along the lines of those cheesy, "a painting says a thousand words", kind of sayings, I don't know =p


Mobius 1, engage...


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: May 23, 2012 (04:30 PM)
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Wait... exact opposite of me or of Jason's argument? The internet can be confusing.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: holdthephone
Posted: May 23, 2012 (04:31 PM)
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lol sorry we posted at nearly the same time it seems. we need quote functionality!


Mobius 1, engage...


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: May 23, 2012 (04:26 PM)
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Zipp, the characters from Chrono Trigger wouldn't work on television, or in a movie or in a book as presented in the game. Because of the limitations of a video game and technology at the time, they were presented poorly (though like you, I do find the expressive 16-bit sprites a treat).

In a novel, instead of creating an artificial connection by having you level up the characters and equip armor and such, a writer would further explore their actual character elements. Drama that a sprite reveals with a '!' or '...' in a text bubble would actually be explored in a more meaningful way. There's a lot of room with the basic templates to develop truly interesting characters that could easily carry a novel or manga or movie (and some people do precisely that with fan fiction). Which only goes to prove my point.

As for the moment when Aeris died in Final Fantasy VII, it didn't impact me because I hadn't been using her in my active party and therefore had only seen a few forgettable lines of dialog from her. In a book, her role would have been fleshed out with proper scenes and such and they would have fit into the story in a way that wasn't so skippable, because every thing that happens in a novel is connected, not optional. The loss would also have been explored in the aftermath by the other characters as they grieved, and their emotions would have felt more tangible and personal.

I'm not saying that games can't tell a story that leaves gamers feeling satisfied, but the medium's storytelling capabilities--at least for now and the near future--remain inferior.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: Suskie
Posted: May 23, 2012 (04:24 PM)
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Jason, you seem rather dismissive of the very idea of interactive fiction working. I agree that games were not built to tell stories, and I'd much rather play a game that's fun than one that's well-written. But ideally, I'd like to have both.

My favorite example of interactive storytelling is the Half-Life series. The entire saga, from beginning to end, is shown from Gordon Freeman's perspective. The series has no traditional cutscenes because there's never a moment when you're not in control of Freeman. He never talks, and if not for the cover art, you wouldn't even know what he looks like. And have you wondered why he's so iconic even though he's not even really a "character"? Because Valve's extreme first-person storytelling is so effective that players just feel that connected to his struggles, the world he's in, and the people that surround him. It was groundbreaking in 1998, it was groundbreaking again in 2004, and it's still awe-inspiring today.

On a broader scale, Half-Life also represents the kind of storytelling that wouldn't work in any other medium. A Half-Life movie without any significant narrative reworking would just be two hours of a quiet guy running around shooting aliens. You mentioned in a tweet recently that you don't care about anything Half-Life. If you're a serious gamer making serious arguments about the state of interactive fiction, you really ought to change that.

I agree that games being interactive poses a handicap right out of the gate. I still say Heavy Rain was a massive step back for the medium, because removing the interactivity is the last thing we should be doing. However, the games that have embraced interactivity as a means to open new doors for storytelling are often the ones that have stuck with me the most.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: May 23, 2012 (05:29 PM)
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Zipp, the characters from Chrono Trigger wouldn't work on television, or in a movie or in a book as presented in the game.

This is a non-argument. That's like saying "the characters from Jurassic Park wouldn't have worked in the movie if they'd been presented the way they had been in the book." Of course not; because you're jumping mediums. What I'm saying is that you couldn't carry those same in-game characters over to a film or book. They would have to change as would the story. But those characters and story worked in the game.

I mean, there's SO MUCH PROOF that games can tell good stories that there's no way to logically argue against it being possible. Anytime a wide audience has responded favorably to a game's story is proof. It's just that video games can't tell film stories or novel stories. Not without first changing those stories to fit the medium.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: May 23, 2012 (06:46 PM)
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Zipp, I had a massive post typed up, but let's keep it simple(r) to avoid TL;DR syndrome.

Stories need five elements to qualify as "good" by most people's standards: characters, a setting, tension, proper pacing and structure. It doesn't matter what medium you're using to tell a story. Those things are a requirement.

Movies, novels, plays, television shows and so forth are designed in a way that enhances the presentation of those things. Video games, however, are designed so that you can play a game. That is their sole purpose, and a good story is added just to make that game more enjoyable for people who desire that element. Video games are basically digital board games. So when a story is told in a video game, it is told using a modified version of other mediums. Between bits where we fight a bunch of killer spiders or aliens by mashing a button, we're basically watching a movie or a play, or reading a novel with pictures. Then it's back to mashing buttons for awhile until the game decides to tell us a story again.

This leads to problems when it comes time to tell a good story. How do you mix a good story and great gameplay? It's like dumping water and oil in a jar and expecting them to mix perfectly. That's not going to happen. The video game medium was not designed to tell stories. It was designed so that people could play games and the demand for stories eventually followed. There's nothing wrong with games including story elements to meet that demand. However, the result is a bit like reading through a book where every few pages, you suddenly jump to a different book that has the same characters but is telling a different story.

My point wasn't that games can never tell a good story. I believe that they can. However, they don't succeed by the same comfortable margin that you'll find with the best movies, books, television shows and so forth. It's not because those mediums are better overall, though. It's because they're better storytelling mediums.

And they should be, since (unlike with video games) that's the main reason they even exist.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: Suskie
Posted: May 23, 2012 (08:48 PM)
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Jason, did you read my post? Because I already tried to address the argument that you're making.

If you don't want to listen to me, though... well, here's something you said in your Witcher 2 review:

I thought until now that I hated games that rely on plot to compel the player to keep playing. There’s a reason for that, though: I was playing the wrong games. Most experienced gamers have too many times run into titles that try to capture us in some fantasy world or another and nothing ever quite gels. There are the occasional exceptions every few years, but mostly I’ve come to regard plot as the stuff that happens when you’re not being allowed to play a game.

In that paragraph, you admit that (a) games have far more storytelling potential when you attempt to remove the wall between story and gameplay, and (b) you, personally, haven't been playing the right stuff to realize this. When I think of my favorite examples of innovative interactive storytelling -- Deus Ex, the Half-Life series, a whole bunch of WRPGs -- they're all games that I'm fairly certain you've never played. On the other hand, I've seen you cite JRPGs as your favorite genre, and they're the most consistently guilty of falling into the trap you describe of treating story and gameplay as separate devices.

You say that games can't mix story and gameplay. I say plenty of games are already doing that, and with promising effect.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: May 23, 2012 (08:58 PM)
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I'll point out another example, since there's plenty to go around. Metal Gear Solid 3. There is a game whose story benefited greatly from interactivity. Spoilers coming, so duck.

That game's story was literally about Snake learning to kill people and the way that you experience that coming to life is YOU KILL PEOPLE. Especially in the last scene, when you are fighting The Boss, the interactivity adds an entirely unique layer to the story that couldn't occur in film or a novel. You're not just experiencing Snake's dilemma at being put in a position to kill someone he loves or be killed by someone he loves; you are making that situation happen.

I mean, c'mon... the fact that the scene ends with you standing over her body and the final cutscenes don't begin until you hit the trigger button... that wasn't just a fluke, man. That is someone (Hideo Kojima, in this case) being acutely aware of how interactivity can enhance a story and how this particular story was crafted to be specifically told by a video game.

So I still don't agree with the argument, Jason (though I appreciate everything you've said about story structure). A video game story does not have to occur in the spaces between gameplay. It can be embedded in the gameplay itself and be an entirely different experience than something deliverable by a novel or film.

I would agree that games which shove their story in the cracks between gameplay do tend to have sucky stories, though. It was my major problem with Max Payne 3. Which someday I'll get around to reviewing >_>


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: May 23, 2012 (09:09 PM)
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I hadn't read your post, Suskie. It slipped through while I was typing my novels.

To address the Half-Life thing, it sounds like one of the most valid approaches a game takes--one I would encourage--which is to not tell a great story, but instead to provide the sort of framework where a great story might take place and then let the gamer fill that in with a story built around a few necessary events that take place in-game.

That approach is something that a number of games do well, and I agree that it can be awesome. Gamers develop a connection with those characters... but that connection doesn't mean fantastic storytelling just took place. It's more like a fancier version of Dungeons & Dragons, and the player is a participant that makes an okay dungeon master's scenario become something entertaining. "That was a great story!" the player tells the dungeon master, but the unacknowledged secret is that the story wouldn't have been anything especially memorable without the player.

There's a lot more to say about The Witcher 2 and why it bucked the trend, but I actually have a lot of things on my plate right now. The gist is that The Witcher 2 merged a variety of stories, which allowed it both to have the linear structure that good stories need (but that games almost never provide) while also giving the player control. The writers were able to write several different stories based around one setting, then let the player choose what path to take through those stories in a manner that allowed for the elements inherent to a good story. It probably doesn't hurt that the games are based on stories and novels...


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: May 23, 2012 (10:23 PM)
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To address the Half-Life thing, it sounds like one of the most valid approaches a game takes--one I would encourage--which is to not tell a great story, but instead to provide the sort of framework where a great story might take place and then let the gamer fill that in with a story built around a few necessary events that take place in-game.

Which is exactly what Journey does and why we were saying it would hold up in ages to come, for those that are looking for a story based experience.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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