Mass Effect 3: That(Those) Ending(s)

When I finished Mass Effect 3 for the first time, I felt sad. Shephard had sacrified herself for the greater good and although I got the ‘win’ ending where she’s apparently survived, she’s still somewhere in a far-flung corner of the universe with no clear way back to her loved ones, and her decision has resulted in the destruction of EDI and all the Geth, who in my playthrough were loyal allies. What I didn’t feel for one second was cheated. It never occurred to me that I was somehow entitled to a different ending. I replayed and tried the alternative of controlling the Reaper forces and decided that although that meant EDI and the Geth survived, I liked it even less, as it was still ambiguous to me as to whether Shephard had truly reached that decision herself or if, like Saren and the Illusive Man before her, had merely been indoctrinated.

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Mass Effect 3’s DLC and Its Relationship to the Main Storyline (Or Lack Of)

The five DLC packs associated with ME3 (for the purposes of this post, I’m focussing purely on the story-based additions, not those that provide additional multiplayer maps, weapons and character costumes) From Ashes, Extended Cut, Leviathan, Omega and Citadel can be divided into three approximate categories: Lore, Fan Service and Add-On. Lore pertains to additions that deepen or expand on the main game’s mythology, back story and wider universe leading to a greater understanding of species or events central to the main plot. Fan Service are those that were primarily released to soothe or bolster player responses, directly or indirectly protecting commercial concerns, but adding little in terms of significant character or story development. Add-Ons are those that expand on the main game’s story and wider universe but are largely superfluous to the game’s main plot. Continue reading

Seeing Stories Everywhere

I thought for a long time that I was going to be a psychiatrist, because I’m fascinated by the way people think (and was massively influenced by KPax.) I even did the first term of a degree in psychology, because I loved the subject so much but then I realised you have to do a lot of statistical stuff and cutting up brains and it really wasn’t for me. But I’m still fascinated by the way the human brain works and what makes it tick, particularly where that intersects with writing, games and creativity. Continue reading

Story Problem-Solving in Mass Effect

This week I’ve been re-reading Ernest Adam’s excellent ‘Resolutions to Some Problems in Interactive Storytelling’ and thinking some more about the opening to ME3. At first glance, it seems like Bioware have stumbled into what Adams describes as ‘Violations of… internal consistency’ – that is, drawing attention to the game’s party member limitations by having party members arrive and leave under fairly arbitrary circumstances. But, the more I thought about this, the more it seemed like what had actually happened was what happens a lot when it comes to interactive storytelling – Bioware had been forced to choose the lesser of multiple evils.

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When is Using ‘You’ the Right Thing to Do?

So, I’m still thinking a lot about POV, character voice and how the reader/player responds and engages with that. As I’ve started replaying Mass Effect 3, I’m now thinking about this more in relation to games than books as I was in my last post. Second person tends to be the go to choice for text or story-based games. There’s an assumptionĀ  that the more details you leave out about the protagonist, the more the reader/player will fill in the gaps and thereby feel a greater sense of association with the character and therefore the game. Continue reading

Second Person

I’m not sure how relevant this will ultimately turn out to be, but it’s something I think about a lot as someone with a foot in both the ‘literary’ and ‘games writing’ camps. Second person. You. Why are prose writers so afraid of second person? I was going to write all this in second person, and then decided that would be pretentious tripe, so perhaps that’s part of the reason. Continue reading