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9:35 PM on 03.22.2012

Mass Effect 3 - Response to Journalist Comments

[Beware: minor spoilers in the comment section below the blog post]

Over the past few days I have seen quite a few journalist comments damning the gamers who are complaining about the ME3 endings. These journalists have also come out with some pretty sweeping generalisations and statements so I've chosen a few of them to address below.

-The change is a blow to videogames as art

I feel an artist who chooses to take on board feedback and then makes changes to their art is not diminishing their artistic medium or creative vision in the slightest. This is because ultimately it is the artist's decision to evaluate their work and consider whether there is some truth to it and then they can consider whether they should change it.

This situation is not new, it has already happened in other mediums. We had past great writers such as Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle being persuaded to change their work and without this fan persuasion we would not have the revised and loved ending of Great Expectations and we wouldn't have The Hound of the Baskervilles.

If the developers out there truly have no doubts then they can take the feedback and criticism on the chin and not change anything. Nobody has a gun to their head. The worst that can happen is people do not buy another game, and if you are preserving your art then this is a non-issue.

The real threat here is not fan persuasion, it's the higher powers who can put a gun to the artists head and say change it.

-Fans need to respect artistic integrity

Am I the only one that raised an eyebrow at this? blockbuster videogames preserving artistic integrity? I'm sure a cameo by Jessica Chobot was part of the original creative vision, and also cutting the unfinished From Ashes content from the core, then finishing it and then charging for the DLC first day of release reinforces their artistic integrity as well.

The truth is It's all good business until someone complains and then it's about the art. Honestly and seriously I believe the artistic integrity card does not work here. If it was all about the art like I went into detail above then sure play that card all day, but what I am seeing from these major games is that primarily they are products and then secondly art. For games like Mass Effect artistic vision takes a backseat to the bottom line.

I think a fitting analogy for all this is that the game is a delicious and tasty burger. First the onions are taken out because the Head Chef thinks the customers don't like onions and of course the tomatoes are then taken out to sell on the side, and yet when a customer complains that they don't like the taste and would like it to be different the Chef throws up his hands and says you do not respect his creative vision. You mean the creative vision that was just compromised and changed so you could make it appeal to the customer and also make a stack of cash?

This is why I feel artistic integrity is an inadequate defence of products.

-Only a small vocal minority are complaining

The above statement about these fans being a minority group is one made with zero evidence backing it up.

While I can't disprove it entirely I think what little evidence available shows that at least online and looking at the numbers available online this is not the case. For instance the largest poll I have seen addressing the issue is currently on Gamefaqs at the moment. The total user votes are 51,014.

The question posed is "Do you think BioWare should change the ending of Mass Effect 3?" and from the top the results are: 38.1% say yes if that's what users want, 12.57% say probably as a lot of players seem angry, 14.87% say maybe if it is best for the story, 7.24% say no they shouldn't cave in to fan demands, and 27.22% say absolutely not. Even if you disregard the probably and maybe options the yes voters are in the majority here.

But what about the open and user based review sites like Amazon and Metacritic?

(stars out of 5/number of votes)

Amazon UK: ME3 360 (** * /123), ME3 PS3 (***/31), ME3 PC (**Ĺ/99)
Amazon US: ME3 360 (**/781), ME3 PS3 (***/80), ME3 PC (**/243)

(scores out of 10/ number of ratings)

Metacritic: ME3 360 (4.8/2044), ME3 PS3 (3.6/776), ME3 PC (3.7/2395)

Not that it would affect the results but I have not voted on any of these. This is hardly conclusive but from what evidence can be gathered it paints a picture that there is a substantial amount of players in the community who have a problem with the game, and I think this is further backed up by the fact Bioware are actually doing something about it. What developer would really move mountains for a minority?

In the end though, even these polls overall do not reflect everyone who bought the game, so while I cannot prove a majority were dissatisfied neither can the opposition prove that a majority were satisfied.

-This is unprecedented/This will set a dangerous precedent

This one was mostly from IGN, specifically a vid made by Colin Moriarty and Collin Campbell lamenting Biowares choice of expanding the current endings. Here's a quote from Mark Meer the voice of male Shep to set them straight: " Changing or expanding the end of the game wouldn't be unprecedented. The gaming community saw it a few years ago with Fallout 3 from Bethesda and the Broken Steel DLC."

Unbelievably Mark Meer isn't even a journalist and yet he knew more about what is going on than two senior staff members at one of the biggest videogame websites around.

Mark is absolutely correct, due to fan feedback the ending was changed. What is the situation now after the change? well the earth didn't explode due to the change, the games industry didn't riot, journalists rarely mention it anymore as well, and what happened to the fans? well I assume they are all still playing Fallout 3 and the open ended adventure that they fought for and won for the community.

It seems in the recent few days IGN have been coming out more and more with these deliberately controversial vids that take every opportunity to mock the fans. Despite this the fan base have been pretty reserved about the whole thing. Probably because it's hard to take these guys seriously when they talk about integrity.

Luckily Erik Kain, a contributor to Forbes, has already highlighted Colin Moriarty's hypocrisy so I don't need to look far for Mr. Moriarty's quote about how much he cares about artistic integrity:

" Obviously, the fact that Cole has been reverted back to his old self (somewhat) is great news. After all, Greg and I did our fair share of whining on Podcast Beyond after the new Cole was first shown on the cover of Game Informer some months back. Of course, Iíd love for Sucker Punch to bring back Coleís old voice, too, but hey Ė beggars canít be choosers.

But beyond (BEYOND!) the excitement I feel to have old Cole back in Infamous 2, I think the sudden change in character model says a lot more. Indeed, it says a great deal about Sucker Punch itself. This is a studio that listens to its fans, cares what they want, and attempts to cater to as many of them as possible. Thereís no doubt that fans of a franchise canít be trusted with every little thing (after all, look at how many people were completely and utterly wrong when they predicted Wind Waker would suck based solely on its graphics Ė I still laugh at those people today), but it still delivers a rather important point.

But with the new Cole design, Sucker Punch heard loud and clear what fans of Infamous wanted, and they delivered. Infinite amounts of kudos to them for doing right by their community. Fans of Infamous wonít soon forget it. Sucker Punch is one of Sonyís most valuable developers. They are tuned-in with the PS3 faithful, and itís things like this that prove it. "


-The people complaining are demanding a happy sunshine and rainbows ending

Not everyone does want a happy sunshine and rainbows ending, but I guess it is easier to label everyone within a group as having the same opinion than taking the time to find out what the feelings are within it. I will however admit there is part of the group of dissatisfied gamers who do want this, so I would be lying if I said none of the gamers or Retake ME3 members want a happy ending but it's certainly not everyone.

Just from my own viewpoint I personally expected Shep would die. What I was really disappointed by was the lack of choice, plotholes, meagre epilogue, and unbelievably bad writing. It felt as if the very last part of the games was rushed. That's my issue with it.

So that is the last of the statements. I am still surprised how many people have come out and said there should be absolutely no change, and even more irritating are the ones I have seen who have said "I don't like ME3 but here is why it shouldn't change". There is a lot of bias against fans going around so all I can say is just remember the people complaining are just doing it because they love the series so much.   read

8:11 PM on 03.14.2012

Mass Effect 3 - fan disappointment and ending thoughts

[This article contains spoilers and rambling, you have been warned!]

Iíd like to begin by stating I donít consider myself a blogger or even a decent writer, but I felt the need to say something in regard to Mass Effect 3 and its ending controversy as it is an issue I have a strong opinion of and a series of games I have a love for and can write passionately about. So Iíll start off with a statement of my general feeling walking away from ME3:

In my honest opinion Mass Effect 3 and the ending was decent at best and next to the first game it is a disappointment.

Donít misunderstand me though, Iím not saying the game is bad but I canít help but feel Mass Effect has lost a lot of its spirit; it has lost a lot of what made it special to begin with and made it a magical universe to explore. I concede it is a slick shooter with impressive graphics and deep interaction, but thatís not the entirety of what makes Mass Effect so great.

So what makes Mass Effect special to me? I pretty much summed it up a while ago on a fan forum when talking about the Mass Effect 1, the entire game gives you a ďhell yeah!Ē feeling from start to finish. Essentially Mass Effect 1 gives you a deep feeling of personal involvement and immersion that I have found in very few games. It is an incredible experience where you can journey from planet to planet being the hero and creating your own legendary story.

I can remember so many enjoyable ME1 moments that can make me gush like a fanboy, like the conversation at the start where Anderson, Hackett and Udina decide Shepard is the only one they can depend on and then the Mass Effect theme plays as Shepard strides through the Normandy to the bridge, the landing on Eden Prime and the race against time to save the colony, exploring the length of the Citadel and meeting the different races, the induction of Shepard as the first human Spectre, saving the Feros colony, unravelling what happened at Noveria and deciding on the fate of a species, going to Virmire and storming Sarenís facility where you first meet the sinister Reaper Sovereign, making the hard choice of sacrificing one of your team, travelling to Ilos and speaking to Vigil the only link to the ancient Prothean race, talking with the squad and getting to know them and romancing an LI, and finally the epic conclusion where you walk up the side of the council tower and defeat Saren and Sovereign, the game finishes up with Shepard defying death and talking with the council and then finally striding off heroicly stating it isnít over yet...

Someone give Drew Karpyshyn a fucking medal for being a credit to the games industry and for writing one of the best plots in Sci-Fi, when I finished the game I felt like I should be standing and clapping. Thatís the reason itís special, it was an incredible experience and unique.

If youíve played Mass Effect 3 you might read that and say to me but Mass Effect 3 has all that, but ask yourself does it really? did you feel any heroism about being sent to save a colony to fight Cerberus, fighting with a few waves in an arena and then getting a reward of a thanks email and some war assets? did you get that personal feeling of involvement with squadmates without a personal quest and many following conversations? Did you feel elated when they reinstated your spectre status when they said oh youíre a spectre again nonchalantly? did you feel like you were on a planet and not a small spit of land following an arrow? did you honestly feel like your decisions mattered? Did you feel like you were discovering a whole new universe?

To me these are important questions and I have to say no to all of them, but Iím not so blinded by my personal feelings to suggest nobody had fun playing the game but Iíd be fairly certain in my assumption quite a few fans had significantly less fun this time around.

Then we have the game interspersed with fetch quests which are hollow and meaningless: go to this system and scan this planet and get them their goddamn relic. Shepard is supposed to be the hero not the city handyman like DA2ís Hawke for crying out loud!

Then we have combat. Now the combat is great most of the time and you do feel powerful but consider how long the game is, people are clocking in at 20-50 hours. At about the halfway point through the game you are going to see it, you are going to see through the illusion and realise you are being lead from one killing room to the other fighting the same enemies and the game tries to make it more fresh by...adding more enemies youíve already seen. This is the problem when a game is more shooter oriented and you stretch out the gameplay, at 20+ hours itís like playing through CoD 4 four times, you begin to see the repetition and when you are told to visit this objective you know you will reach it fight a wave of enemies, reach the next objective to allow you to do the first objective and then fight off a wave of enemies and then youíre done.

Now the ending/s, I can forgive everything but this. I played through the game and thought finally! Finally I am going to find out the amazing story behind the Reapers and why they harvest people, ever since Sovereign and even Harbinger my curiosity and interest has escalated. Then we find out they harvest organic life to protect it? really? really? I thought the Reapers were supposed to be intelligent but their solution to eliminating conflict is to create the biggest goddamn conflict imaginable and eliminate every fucking thing? seriously wow...

Then we get absolutely no epilogue on what happened after, to the races or your team, and also thereís no explanation about how you choices affected anything after, this is the conclusion of Shepards story right? Then where is the conclusion? except for a brief cutscene and a text box which still tells us nothing except ďyou got rid of the Reapers, good job!Ē

You know truthfully I didn't find the synthesis ending (the best ending apparently) too bleak, I fully expected Shepard to die but I expected the catalyst being so unique and able to direct the crucibles power that it could only be an organic which would be the catalyst. To save the universe it would be necessary to pay that ultimate price of self-sacrifice and the Reapers would once and for all be destroyed. So a mixture of the synthesis ending and the destroy the reaper ending, and then maybe after show the survivors returning to normal life and what happened to your team and maybe a baby Shep on the way if you romanced someone, oh and another statue obviously, this is Shepard saviour of the goddamn universe we are talking about.

Sadly it wasnít the case and the best ending was sacrifice yourself to turn everyone into walking circuit boards and suddenly organics and synthetics will stop seeing each other differently and be the same group... yup, because itís not like organics fight organics or synthetics fight synthetics...sigh...

Despite my rant and heavy criticism I still love this series and Iím thankful to Bioware for bringing us these great games but itís difficult to stifle disappointment and part of me does feel concerned for Bioware as it looks like both in Dragon Age and Mass Effect they have started to go on the downhill and started trying to distil the essence of the franchises to their basic elements while losing the spirit of what made those originals great.

So in conclusion, Itís a simple fix, we just need more ďhell yeah!Ē in future.

( If you have read this far all I can say is thanks for enduring my rambling and let me know if you agree or disagree with the points Iíve made.)   read

6:03 PM on 10.05.2011

Gears of War 3 Q&A - 5th October

(Apologies for the formatting will sharpen it up later)

This is the major details and announcements from the Epic Games livestream ( hosted by Rod aka GearsViking (EPIC Director of Production) and Flak(Epic Community manager).

I tried to highlight the main details of the livestream and it was typed hastily so forgive me if I switch randomly from a description in my own words to Rod's own words from livestream.

Gears of War 3 Q&A - 5th October


-The most popular Horde map is Overpass

-The most popular map in development was Drydock

-1% of players have beat Campaign on Insane

-56.5% of players have beat the first ten waves of Horde

-89 million waves of Horde played

-6 million Horde matches played


-Torque bow tag is a possible upcoming event

-EPIC have more control than Gears 2 in what weapons are where, they can replace pick up weapons and starter weapons in case of events like Torque bow tag

-Shotgun only event is a possible upcoming event

-More Gears 2 XP events are likely in future

-Halloween even is a possibility

Jack in the Box Liquid Green Skins Promo:

-The original plan was to have the skins as a Microsoft employee only skin

-EPIC had planned for a promo with Jack in the Box and they had wanted to do something in-game

-Microsoft volunteered the green skins for a marketing promo

-Rod meant before when he said the skins would be accessible by everybody that they could walk into a store and pick them up easily

-Details are still being figured out for international access to the green skins

-The exclusivity of the green skins ends on January 1st and EPIC could possibly make a new giveaway for the skins

-The first pack is tailored for Horde

-There is a new fortification called command center which will act like a panic button for quick support

-It has three levels: Sniper->Mortar->Hammer of Dawn

-Players can call in each of these to kill enemies

-New sentry is called the Flame Sentry and slows down enemies

-Added another level to decoy, they can now become bots and run and fight as an ally

-Another layer added to the silverback, where you can upgrade it and it now fires rockets and becomes white in colour

-Rustlung - Originally designed to be a medical facility morgue, the buttons that raised cover used to raise slabs for bodies

-Rustlung is now a ship map with storms outside

-Blood Drive - It was the number 1 Horde map on Gears 2 so it will be brought back

-Rod believes it was popular on Gears 2 for Horde because of defendable rooms

-EPIC wanted a darker feel and darker maps for Gears 3 which is the reason why the new Blood Drive takes place at night

-Azura is the third new map

-The new maps can't be played in Quick Match or Ranked they are only available in Private Versus, Horde and Beast

-To play the new Horde maps only the Host needs the DLC

-The DLC pack contains all new maps, fortifications and characters

-The characters are Onyx Guard, Big Rig Dizzy and Bernadette Mataki (Bernie)

-The characters will be available in all modes

-Once purchased they are automatically unlocked you do not need to work to unlock them

-New weapon skins are Team Plasma and Jungle Camo

-Any weapon labelled "Team" means the colour changes on who uses it, so for COG it is blue and for Locust it is red

-The DLC pack will release on November 1st


-250 Gamerscore added

-All in Horde except for one which is a beast mode achievement, there are five in total

-Host with the most - Host a private horde match 25 GS

-Places to see things to destroy - Host a private beast match 25 GS

-What does this button do? - 500 kills with rocket upgrade silverback 50 GS

-Hammertime - Level 4 Command Center 50 GS

-Kill Locust like a boss - Complete a hardcore or above boss wave with five Onyx Guards 100 GS

Other Questions:

-Latin American Gears complained there was no option to play in Spanish on the US disc. EPIC are considering a language pack for this.

-Vengeful medal was designed as a leg up for new palyer

-In beta Nemesis was killed 3 times by an enemy which was changed to killed 5 times by an enemy

-Vengeful requires Nemesis and for good players it is difficult to get since they die less so requirements will be softened for Vengeful

-Skins for weapons besides the five starter weapons? not possible

-Adding Shriekers to Beast? it was difficult to add flying characters and resulted in glitches and players getting out of map, so no

-Difficulty choice for Horde and Beast on public? for matchmaking you need the biggest pool of people, EPIC however can change the default matchmaking difficulty to make everyone play it

-Possibly hardcore Beast or Horde event in future

-Quick match Horde? The problem is new people joining might join in progress even at wave 50, again the problem is segmentation of the pool of gamers. It would mean people don't get to choose map or wave if they join in progress

-Season Pass Confusion - It is like a preorder for the DLC, you purchase Season pass and you get the DLC packs for free as they are released. If you plan on getting 4 DLCs you get a 33% discount if you buy Season Pass over purchasing them separately.

-At some point it will not make sense for the Season Pass to still be there so possibly after all 4 DLC packs are released it will be removed

-Sawed-off - We hear you and we are looking into it. We want to see if the shotguns are meeting their roles

-EPIC will continue to make changes and experiment on maps, pick up weapons and damage values. They did not want to respond to the knee jerk reaction and wanted to make changes after testing and make sure changes are deliberate

-Australian and New Zealanders have had their ping area expanded so it is easier to find dedicated servers


-The time stamp requirement for Domination weapon skin unlocks will be removed

-Beta unlock fix patch is on the way

Team Epic Gamers:

-These gamers got early access to the game

-You can be an a team epic gamer by helping the community, being a valued member and having a high level of interaction

-Rods words: don't be an asshat   read

8:44 AM on 03.25.2011

3DS Get!

Just got my Cosmos Black 3DS delivered and I'm nerdgasming over how cool it is! (In case you couldn't tell this is more of an excitement blog post than an in-depth analysis of the 3DS).

So far I've played around with it a bit and made my Mii in the Mii Maker, then had a bit of play with SFIV 3D Edition and in a minute I'm going to have a go at playing Ghost Recon Shadow Wars.

You really have to see the 3D for yourself, it's amazing. I found it slightly disorientating at first because it just activates the 3D on full bar but I turned it down slightly and it's looking pretty sweet.

Nintendo handheld fans are in for a treat.

I don't plan on writing any reviews up for the 3DS or the games but I might review Dead or Alive 3DS for a laugh, cause of dat 3D jiggle physics.

(If anyone wants to add me my friend code is 0430-8261-0632)   read

5:13 PM on 02.03.2011

Maximum Awesome - Crysis 2 Multiplayer Demo Review

yay kids! with the release of the highly anticipated Crysis 2 right around the corner Crytek have gifted us with their shiny new multiplayer experience in an Xbox exclusive demo, lets jump right in with the details!

Letís begin with the handling and controls. I know what people want to know most of all is how does a hardcore PC shooter handle when you bring it to a console? fairly well actually in the case of Crysis.
If youíre a Call of Duty fan you will find familiarity with the controls: reloading, jumping, ADSing, shooting itís near enough the same layout, the differences lie in the additional control that Crysis allows you.

Your mighty nanosuit powers are mapped to the shoulder buttons allowing you to hit RB for Stealth and LB for Armour. Stealth allows you to become partially invisible with a slight shimmer Halo-style and Armour just allows you to soak up a bit more damage. In the full multiplayer you will be able to swap these out for different powers but at the moment the demo restricts these features.

A great part of the multiplayer is how Crysis 2 gives you freedom to move about the map. When you sprint you move like lightning, you can moon jump like Halo and ground pound in mid air with a tap of B, if you jump and youíre facing a high wall you will smoothly mantle over it, and if you tap B while sprinting forward you can execute a cool ground slide during which you can fire your gun making pew pew pew noises (pew pew noises are optional).

Itís a really satisfying way to move around the map and really suits the hard and fast gameplay of the multiplayer but itís definitely not on the level of smoothness as Brinkís SMART movement system.

The next thing on the fps checklist is progression. In the demo there is a couple things to progress through and unlock: ranks, 4 classes + 1 custom class, extra weapons, add-ons for your weapons like silencers (pussy), extra skills called nanosuit modules similar to Call of Duty perks which either effect armour, stealth or your power (damage and accuracy), so Crytek have given players a fair bit of customization and choice of options to augment their playstyle. To top it off you also got your tag background which is like CoD tags and a nice little clan tag feature.

So I heard you like game modes? So does Crytek. You got 6 game modes in the full game but only Team Instant Action and Crash Site are enabled in the demo. Team Instant Action is team deathmatch till you reach a kill score and Crash Site is CoD headquarters where an alien drops some sort of radioactive alien device, so of course the objective is to run in there and rub yourself all over it, just be careful because after a time it will explode.

If youíre a bit of an fps fan you might wonder about balance. In terms of guns the shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle and machine gun are all fairly balanced and have their pros and cons, I canít really judge the level 50 unlocks as these are the only guns available to you in the demo.

One major flaw I can talk about is melee damage, in Crysis 2 you can smack your enemy with a melee attack and it will kill them in one hit, I kid you not. The melee damage works like this: one hit kill without armour on and two hit kill with armour on, except in the case of if you are already damaged or they melee you from behind initiating a Halo-style assassination which will kill you regardless of whether you have armour on. I have no idea if Crytek intended this but at lower levels if youíre close enough you might as well just run around using melee.

Another problem is the spawn points, on occasions you will spawn within spitting distance of the enemy which needs to be fixed so you donít spawn and get a bullet in the back of the head. One game of Crash Site a guy spawned right in front of me in the green house allowing me to take him out within a few seconds into the game

The last thing I can say, which isnít a huge deal to be fair, is the demo gun sounds are kind of weak as the assault rifle has a pathetic rattle and the shotgun sounds like youíre kicking a coke can, of course the following unlockable guns maybe a bit more boomstick for player tastes but for futuristic weapons they leave a bit to be desired.

All in all itís a solid and enjoyable multiplayer experience, a few tweaks and fixes might be in order to maintain a bit of balance but if youíre a fan of shooters like Call of Duty or Halo you might find Crysis 2 offers you something new from both worlds.

I donít really like rating things on numerical scales but here goes. I give the multiplayer a 4/5.   read

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