Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Passionario » Wed May 09, 2012 7:04 am

I don't mind fatalism and vagueness as such. However, I do take offense at the bait-and-switch manner in which they have been introduced in ME3 and DA2.

For an example at how such things should be done properly, look no further than Witcher and Witcher 2. Both of these AAA titles are full of fatalism and vagueness. No matter what choices Geralt makes, many innocent people will die, many loathsome villains will walk away unpunished, and many tantalising mysteries will remain unresolved. And yet, both games received overwhelming praise from both the gaming press and the general public! How did the developers manage to pull it off? By being honest with the players and staying true to their vision. The crapsack nature of Witcher's world is established right in the prologue of the first game, and is consistently maintained all the way to the ending of the second one.

Some people like fatalistic tragedies, some like lighthearted comedies, some prefer epic sagas of heroism - but nobody likes a liar. If you want to recruit a Holy paladin healer for your raiding guild, don't offer a Ret paladin from another server a DPS spot and demand him to respec once he transfers over. If you want an open sexual relationship, don't get married and then cheat on your spouse. And if you want to experiment with fatalism and vagueness, for Shakespeare's sake, don't do it in the last twenty minutes of the final installment of a beloved Hero's Journey franchise.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Flex » Wed May 09, 2012 8:27 am

Sagara wrote:Soooo, you done Flex?


Yup, didn't really have a problem with the three choices as it was pretty much what everyone has tried doing with the reapers all along. I have my own pet theory for everything which I'll be sad if the "official" work makes everything mundane, like a trade dispute.

So the thing is: bleak is OK, tabula rasa is not. Pulverise the Earth if need be, but at least let us see the consequences


I guess where we differ and will be a huge sticking point in any discussion is that I don't need those answers for closure to the game series.

A friend had an interesting question, would the original Star Wars trilogy be as loved if it was made today with how few answers were provided in Episode 6. Sure the Sith are gone but there is an entire militaristic, xenophobic Empire in place, things aren't magically better but it is treated as such.

Regarding The Witcher, no one blinked, it drove me insane so I couldn't play it. Plus the combat and UI made me hurt, so I can't really comment on how things work in that game.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby sahiel » Wed May 09, 2012 9:44 am

Flex wrote:A friend had an interesting question, would the original Star Wars trilogy be as loved if it was made today with how few answers were provided in Episode 6. Sure the Sith are gone but there is an entire militaristic, xenophobic Empire in place, things aren't magically better but it is treated as such.

Except that Star Wars goes on to provide more information and story after the Empire is defeated. A better example would be if Star Wars ended the instant the second Death Star blew up, BOOM!, credits roll. No Han & Leia in love, no force ghosts, no celebration on Endor, no Luke at peace, forget all that, brief as it is. I think people would have been pretty pissed at that and expected some sort of actual conclusion for the other characters.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Sagara » Wed May 09, 2012 9:50 am

Flex wrote:A friend had an interesting question, would the original Star Wars trilogy be as loved if it was made today with how few answers were provided in Episode 6. Sure the Sith are gone but there is an entire militaristic, xenophobic Empire in place, things aren't magically better but it is treated as such.


I think it would. We would be wondering if the Empire fall like that, but there has been victory, and we saw how much things changed from Episode 4.

A more proper comparaison would be to see Darth Vador throw the Emperor down the shaft, cue the Death Star exploding, and then see Han Solo and the gang crash-land on Dagobah.

THE END.

And even then, still not equal.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Klaudandus » Wed May 09, 2012 10:07 am

Flex, dont take it as an ad hominem, but seriously... It feels you're dissenting just to be hip (or troll).

The narrative structure collapsed at the end, no two ways about it. University teachers have said that, business journals have said that, a sizeable chunk have said that.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby aureon » Wed May 09, 2012 11:24 am

There is no way around it, really.
The ending is BOTH underdeveloped and badly done. The list of what's wrong with it is so long that debating point-for-point would be ridicolous. (Let's start: Genre change, SpaceFleaFromNowhere, impotency for the sake of it, lack of critical information, deus ex machina, character's will and history randomly overriden, and.. could go on)
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Fivelives » Wed May 09, 2012 12:19 pm

Klaudandus wrote:Flex, dont take it as an ad hominem, but seriously... It feels you're dissenting just to be hip (or troll).


^ This.

I don't get people saying that "vague" endings are okay. They are most definitely NOT okay - especially when someone can put the words "vague" and "closure" in the same thought. Sure, small questions are fine; I understand that it's impossible to close every single little hole. BIG questions, though? That's most definitely not alright.

Plot holes that a cat can squeeze through = okay.
Plot holes that I can takeoff and land a superjumbo jet through = NOT okay.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Arnock » Wed May 09, 2012 4:49 pm

Well, there's a difference between a 'vague' or 'open' ending and having massive plot holes.

For example, someone earlier in the thread mentioned Inception's ending, where the director let the audience wonder whether or not Dicaprio's character was still stuck in the dream. I thought it was an excellent way to end the movie, it didn't really offer closure, but it did make you think, and it fit with the film's themes about the nature of reality.

Up until the ending of ME3, I would have easily said that it was one of, if not the best game I had ever played. But the ending just messed it up THAT much for me.



Throwing out a spoiler warning just for safety's sake.


If the game had ended the instant before the magic elevator appeared. I would have been happy, even if Bioware chose not to include an ending montage showing what happened with your choices, I could have accepted that I wouldn't know where my in-game choices would take me, and assumed, or hoped rather, that my intended outcomes would have been achieved. It wouldn't have been the best ending, and I would probably have been bothered, but it would not have angered me to the degree that the included ending managed to.


First of all, the ending managed to flip around and give a mighty, "Fuck you!" to the series' existing themes. Primarily in the ideas of self-determination and the synthetics vs. organics. Even if Shepard just managed to broker a peaceful existence between the Quarian and Geth, "Nope, if us synthetics don't wipe out all inteligent life, synthetics will wipe out all life."
"But, wait Mr. Star-child, look at the quarian and geth, they're all friends now!"
"Nope, you're all gonna die. It is known."
"Oh, well, if you're gonna give me a choice, can't I just ask you guys to leave us alone and let us try for ourselves? I mean, don't you control the reapers? Can't you just leave and then try to purge us if the synthetics actually decide to wipe out the annoying meatbags?"
"Nope, just 3 different colors of civilization-ending explosions."

And, no matter what you do in the single player campaign, those are your three choices. Period. I don't mind games without multiple endings, but when you have a series who's primary selling point is based on story and how your choices affect the ending, and when the games developers specifically said that your choices in ME3 would have an even greater affect on the outcome than either ME1 or ME2, and then they don't, that's a problem.

And then, on top of that, there's the plot hole of your magical, teleporting squadmates and joker abandoning you, but that's a whole different issue.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Torquemada » Wed May 09, 2012 7:47 pm

My righteous indignation comes not only from the lack of quality in the ending compared to the rest of the game, but the fact that in comes in the face of outright promises that the ending would not be the way it was, squashing the choices you made during all three installments and giving you with Red, Blue, or Green depending on how many points you racked up during play.

http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2012/076/d/3/mass_effect_fail_by_akael-d4t0nrx.png (Intentionally linked rather than embedded to avoid the spoiler police)

While the majority of my playthroughs of the games have been as default male Shepard, my own resolution to the ending is coming in the form of SWTOR, where one of my alts is a recreation of my FemShep, complete with similar face, hairstyle, and Jennifer Hale voice. I am content for now to know that after defeating Marauder Shields she is now off saving a galaxy far, far away.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby sahiel » Wed May 09, 2012 8:20 pm

Spooooooooooooilers! (As if anyone who has read this far could be more spoiled ;) )




I lol'd :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy0kAfzKA8I


"You have 3 choices, you blow up all the relays..."
"I don't like that choice!"
"I haven't gotten to the choice part yet."

Also, if you've not seen any of the Gamer Poop machinima videos they can be amusing, though not always ME related, this episode is.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpeRk1YFn8s
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Passionario » Fri May 11, 2012 3:04 am

Arnock wrote:Even if Shepard just managed to broker a peaceful existence between the Quarian and Geth, "Nope, if us synthetics don't wipe out all inteligent life, synthetics will wipe out all life."
"But, wait Mr. Star-child, look at the quarian and geth, they're all friends now!"
"Nope, you're all gonna die. It is known."


To be fair, they are probably gonna die. Even I don't expect peace on Rannoch to last, and I don't have Catalyst's archived data assembled over millions of years to back up my cynicism.

All it takes is just one unstable individual in a position of power on the organic side of things - in other words, another Han'Gerrel, Udina, TIM, Urdnot Wreav or Saren - and/or another floating point error that results in a genocidal heresy among the synthetics, and Rannoch will burn again.

It would be extremely easy for the Catalyst to dismiss that particular claim, so the fact that it didn't even bother to do so is just sloppy/rushed writing.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Sagara » Fri May 11, 2012 3:20 am

The interesting part is that this is the freaking point.

One can say "it will always fail, in the long run", but the other can say "it will always be mended, in the long run". The Catalyst represent cynicism, but then again, idealism is just as valid in the long run. It all boils down to beliefs.

By mending conflicts (if you choose to), you try and prove that for every Han'gerrel, there is a Tali'sora, and every TIM has his Anderson. Both sides are shown as equally valid, and up to the choice of the player and his ability to make the choices work (or not).

Which makes it jarring because an idealist would argue it COULD work, and that should be enough to keep trying. Or, for a WoW analogy, the Catalyst is the annoying raider pleading "But we caaaaaaaan't beat him, we need to kick those 2 players to succeed!" when you're yourself convinced it takes only a couple tweaks to get the kill.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Passionario » Fri May 11, 2012 4:39 am

Sagara wrote:The interesting part is that this is the freaking point.

One can say "it will always fail, in the long run", but the other can say "it will always be mended, in the long run". The Catalyst represent cynicism, but then again, idealism is just as valid in the long run. It all boils down to beliefs.


And that's where Catalyst has a definite advantage over Shepard and other idealists. He's the only known being in the universe who has actually seen the proverbial long run (all those 50K-year cycles, plus G-d knows how many millions of years before he created the Reapers). Or, to use WoW analogy, he's a veteran hardcore raider, and Shepard is a level 4 newbie who is convinced that he can solo endgame raids in vendor trash gear (it worked on starting zone mobs, didn't it?)

This could be solved the introduction of a second immortal entity made of pure energy - one standing on the side of idealism. An Oracle to Catalyst's Architect, so to say.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Sagara » Fri May 11, 2012 4:43 am

Yeah, I think it's more the one-side debate that was grating.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby sahiel » Fri May 11, 2012 10:14 am

Passionario wrote:And that's where Catalyst has a definite advantage over Shepard and other idealists. He's the only known being in the universe who has actually seen the proverbial long run (all those 50K-year cycles, plus G-d knows how many millions of years before he created the Reapers). Or, to use WoW analogy, he's a veteran hardcore raider, and Shepard is a level 4 newbie who is convinced that he can solo endgame raids in vendor trash gear (it worked on starting zone mobs, didn't it?)

But that's the thing, he hasn't. It happened once to the Reapers original civilisation, and then they turned themselves into Reapers and came back every 50k years to ensure it could never happen again, so he really only has one data point, the exact same as Shepard does.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Flex » Fri May 11, 2012 12:02 pm

Passionario wrote:All it takes is just one unstable individual in a position of power on the organic side of things - in other words, another Han'Gerrel, Udina, TIM, Urdnot Wreav or Saren - and/or another floating point error that results in a genocidal heresy among the synthetics, and Rannoch will burn again.


My impression was that the Geth are true individuals now, with the help from the reaper code Legion sacrificed himself to upload. I mean Legion did use "I" before uploading the code. So they are less machines and much closer to having the unstable individual in power thing going on.

sahiel wrote:But that's the thing, he hasn't. It happened once to the Reapers original civilisation, and then they turned themselves into Reapers and came back every 50k years to ensure it could never happen again, so he really only has one data point, the exact same as Shepard does.


Except at the time of the Reapers return in the Prothean era they were engaged in a long war with machine AI.

Additionally with Javik's dialog it is stated that this current cycle is vastly behind where the Protheans were when they were harvested. They created a mass relay themselves, something the current races are seemingly nowhere close to being technology wise.

http://galacticpillow.com/2012/04/02/ed ... -3-ending/
http://galacticpillow.com/2012/03/13/ed ... -analysis/

#7 was what I thought was the purpose of the Crucible.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Klaudandus » Fri May 11, 2012 12:30 pm

Flex wrote:Except at the time of the Reapers return in the Prothean era they were engaged in a long war with machine AI.


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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Flex » Fri May 11, 2012 12:39 pm

Klaudandus wrote:
Flex wrote:Except at the time of the Reapers return in the Prothean era they were engaged in a long war with machine AI.


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That was addressed in one or maybe even both of the linked articles.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby sahiel » Fri May 11, 2012 1:46 pm



Lots of well, written, smart and accurate science which is a pleasure to read. Just a shame it manages to pretty much entirely miss why most people are upset, to my mind at least.

You leave your companions fighting, possibly about to die and for the vast majority, you NEVER see them again. Are they alive? Are they dead? These are companions who in some cases can have been with you from the very start, for 100 hours or more of gameplay, who you have romanced, fought to save, bled alongside, they are in a very real sense people we care deeply about, let alone the npc's you have grown attached to.

The game does a decent job of tying up most of the plot threads, Geth vs Taurian, Alliance vs Cerberus, etc and yet then goes on to totally leave you clueless to all but 3 of your companions fates and those 3 you have no idea what happened to get them there or if they will live, in fact in many cases some of those survivors will be dextro-protein based races (Taurians & Quarians) mixed in with levo-amino acid based races (Humans, Salarians, Asari), whose foods according to Mass Effects own science is stated (multiple times) to at best provide no nutrition to the other, at worst cause allergic reactions possibly leading to death. So one group of those is going to die on random dextro/amino world, shame (as opposed to the 'Real World' where we don't entirely know what effects dextro-protein food sources would have as a full time food source though many bacteria appear to be able to break them down without harm, so that at worst it would probably provide no value).

I apparently can't say it enough but bleak, dark ending was not a problem, (ignoring the space magic normandy scene) no information at all about the survival/death of your companions who you spent 100+ hours alongside was a problem.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Klaudandus » Fri May 11, 2012 2:55 pm

The articles makes me wanna play my tiny violin when the author starts talking about the integrity of the game. It might be a piece of art, but it's also a product -- this is specially poignant when right after the credits end they tell you to buy more DLC.

I'm complaining about my product being bad. Like any other product, I can go to the manufacturer and tell them what I don't like about their product and the likelihood of me not buying their products.

The manufacturer has all the right to either revise and improve forward or ignore and stick to their guns, but at no point they're entitled to my money.

I didn't buy a PS3 because no backward compatibility. I had a huge PS1 and PS2 library, I still play those games, but I chose to tell Sony I'd not buy their products anymore because they would be a step backwards for me. Same with truck tires, they lasted barely 3/5 of their expected life, I chose to tell the manufacturer what I did not like about it and that I'd be choosing another product in the future.

The difference is that this product got overhyped and fell flat on its face in delivering all that was promised... I'm sorry, but that IS a bad product, and as a consumer, I got the right to make the manufacturer know what I didn't like about it and that I'll be moving to other companies instead.

I just think the bioware people really have no right to claim "artistic integrity" when, like i said before, the big message I get after the credits is "buy more dlc".

Again, for the record, it's not the ending per se, but rather the narrative structure (or lack thereof) on which the ending was built

If somehow the ending had Sheperd becoming a transgendered stripper in singapore, I'd have taken it, as long as the narrative structure upon it was built was cohesive.

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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Arnock » Fri May 11, 2012 4:44 pm

Even if there is a high statistical probability that civilization would be wiped out by synthetics, how exactly does that justify the 50k year extinction though? If the reapers have the power to wipe out galactic civilizations, why couldn't they just let things play out and wait to commit the genocide until the synthetics do start taking over?

And if they have the ability to hybridize everyone, and this is presented as the "best" option by the little starchild, why haven't they done that to begin with? Make the cyborgs at year zero of a cycle, and then let them develop as cyborgs.


The way the ending was presented, it almost seemed to me like if the U.S. looked at the middle east or sub-saharan Africa and say, "Hey guys, we're sick of all of this fighting and wars, eventually one of you is going to get a nuke, and then start killing everyone. Therefore, we're just going to nuke everyone in your region to prevent the eventual death of all humanity."


And then, after this revelation, as a player we must accept it as absolute truth. All organic life will die at the hands of synthetics, period. And then, as a solution, we get three different flavors of ending galactic civilization ourselves, potentially dooming millions.

It's even more grating when one of the game's central themes centers around the idea of self-determination. "The quarians tried to wipe out the geth? Shouldn't they have the chance to make it themselves?" "The krogan have been genetically modified by an outside source beyond their control, so that they can barely even reproduce? Should other races have the right to play God like that?" "Should Humans have to dance on the strings and act at the mercy of a council of alien races?" Or, depending on how one's choices played out, "Should one species have that much control over an entire galaxy?"

The entire series was based on the idea of your choices having a meaningful affect on the in-game universe, and then it got flipped around when, at the end, all we got was, "Red, green, or blue?"
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby aureon » Fri May 11, 2012 5:18 pm


Very nice read.
Although:
If that doesn’t make the ending awesome, I don’t know what would.

Referring to the Kardashev thing.
None of it is actually carried in the ending. We fully know all the races in play and their interactions (save for the Catalyst), we know that reapers come every 50k years ciclically, and stuff. Nothing of it is in the ending.
Also, the whole "Type I civilizations build a type III weapon" is erratic at best.
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Passionario » Sat May 12, 2012 1:10 am

Arnock wrote:Even if there is a high statistical probability that civilization would be wiped out by synthetics, how exactly does that justify the 50k year extinction though? If the reapers have the power to wipe out galactic civilizations, why couldn't they just let things play out and wait to commit the genocide until the synthetics do start taking over?

And if they have the ability to hybridize everyone, and this is presented as the "best" option by the little starchild, why haven't they done that to begin with? Make the cyborgs at year zero of a cycle, and then let them develop as cyborgs.


My personal interpretation of this:

The universe is like a slightly buggy server running on outdated software. Leave it up for too long, and stack overflow errors will accrue at an exponential rate, eventually resulting in a crash (synthetic apocalypse scenario).

The 50K year extinction cycle is the cosmic equivalent of the weekly maintenance that resets the "Time to Doomsday" counter to 0 and archives all spacefaring organic civilizations to external hard drives (Reaper ships).

Synthesis option was not available from day zero because it required a completed Crucible, and no organic race (or coalition thereof) managed to complete the Crucible in prior cycles. In terms of this analogy, the Crucible is a patch that, once installed (via Synthesis option), upgrades the server's software and makes it more stable, removing the need for weekly downtime.

The Star Child is a pop-up window that says: "Weekly maintenance failed. New updates detected. Abort, Debug, Download Patch?"
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Fivelives » Sat May 12, 2012 1:44 am

Passionario wrote:The Star Child is a pop-up window that says: "Weekly maintenance failed. New updates detected. Abort, Debug, Download Patch?"


LOL
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Re: Mass Effect - Best RPG series of all time?

Postby Klaudandus » Sat May 12, 2012 5:08 am

Fivelives wrote:
Passionario wrote:The Star Child is a pop-up window that says: "Weekly maintenance failed. New updates detected. Abort, Debug, Download Patch?"


LOL


LOL'd as well.
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Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:08 am
Location: Texas' Armpit

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