Let's Make It Better: Mass Effect 2

Posted by eloj (488 posts) -

I've been meaning to write about this since I first completed Mass Effect 2 early this year, but with the new Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood video demo (which basically showcases the idea, though probably a bit less ambitious) out I'll cut my own ambition about a larger article short and settle for this blog post.

CENTRAL ARGUMENT: Mass Effect 3 need to have a team away-mission management component.
 

No more hang arounds

 
I found it quite ridiculous that while you and two members were out fighting the good fight, the rest of the team, which is quite large, just sat around isolated to their own chambers.

Being able to send members, the ones you're not personally taking on a mission, on side missions would resolve many issues and open up a whole new dynamic to the game. This is how you could weave in more of the choices you did earlier into the game. Instead of just emails, missions!
 

Core mechanics

 
Here's how I picture it working. From your ship (base) you have a team management terminal. Here you can see the status of your whole party; their stats, weapons, skills and fighting status. You'll also have a mission list. These missions would be the sort of side missions you had in  ME1 where you were driving around the MAKO. Shorter missions, in and out. You should get a set of missions which expand and contract dynamically as you play through the game. You should have a pick, but also the option to skip.

A mission briefing will explain the setting and purpose of the mission. This includes intel, like enemies and dangers, and rewards (money, equipment, resources). A risk analysis might be provided, but the player must also think about this. It's up to the player to compose a mission team of one to three companions, selected such that the mission success probability is maximised. The right team for the right job.
 
The core mechanic is this: Sending people on these missions could level them up, provide income, items and even create allies or enemies. The trade-off is that missions will take time, so whoever you send will not be available to you for missions you take on. I think time here would be counted in some measure of main mission time, so maybe assign mission time units to the regular missions, and have the side missions take up a number of those (example: a side mission may complete after you play one long mission or after two shorter ones. In essence player missions are driving the side mission clock).
 
I would initially not consider it possible for you to actually go yourself on these missions. This for the obvious development resource reasons, but on the surface, because it's time for your team to shine.
 

Risk vs Reward


The most important thing here is in the dynamics of reward versus risk. Let's talk risks.

There'll certainly be the possibility of missions failing to some degree or another, which could impact you because now you have team members who are injured and will need time to recouperate (invest in the medic bay!). I do not however believe it would be in the best interest of gameplay to make it possible for team members to die on these missions. Not unless the game is very explicit and basically telling you that, for this particular mission, sending this group makes it all but a suicide mission.

You could feed mission outcome back into team morale. Now you'll have to consider if the side mission is worth a possible hit to your 'rep' with a certain character. Certain members might oppose some missions, even though they'd be the best ones to do them. Do you push or give in? On the other hand, we could have bonding between team members because they had mission successes together.

With side missions, why would you need mining? The way I see it, mining is the cop-out placeholder for a proper resource management system, and here is one that I can't see failing.

On a more meta-level I like this idea because the uncertainy of the side mission outcome overlaps your regular missions. This means that if a side mission fails you'll have to really consider if it's worth to reload, because you haven't been sitting around waiting for the outcome, you've been out accomplishing things yourself.
 

The Final Piece

 
I readily admit I'm in love with this idea. I see if in my mind, and it fits so perfectly. This sort of mechanism opens so many doors, and it's just the thing ME3 need to be the kind of leap from ME2 that ME2 is from ME1.
 
I really hope it's a central piece of ME3 already. It's likely too late to add it now if it isn't!
#1 Edited by eloj (488 posts) -

I've been meaning to write about this since I first completed Mass Effect 2 early this year, but with the new Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood video demo (which basically showcases the idea, though probably a bit less ambitious) out I'll cut my own ambition about a larger article short and settle for this blog post.

CENTRAL ARGUMENT: Mass Effect 3 need to have a team away-mission management component.
 

No more hang arounds

 
I found it quite ridiculous that while you and two members were out fighting the good fight, the rest of the team, which is quite large, just sat around isolated to their own chambers.

Being able to send members, the ones you're not personally taking on a mission, on side missions would resolve many issues and open up a whole new dynamic to the game. This is how you could weave in more of the choices you did earlier into the game. Instead of just emails, missions!
 

Core mechanics

 
Here's how I picture it working. From your ship (base) you have a team management terminal. Here you can see the status of your whole party; their stats, weapons, skills and fighting status. You'll also have a mission list. These missions would be the sort of side missions you had in  ME1 where you were driving around the MAKO. Shorter missions, in and out. You should get a set of missions which expand and contract dynamically as you play through the game. You should have a pick, but also the option to skip.

A mission briefing will explain the setting and purpose of the mission. This includes intel, like enemies and dangers, and rewards (money, equipment, resources). A risk analysis might be provided, but the player must also think about this. It's up to the player to compose a mission team of one to three companions, selected such that the mission success probability is maximised. The right team for the right job.
 
The core mechanic is this: Sending people on these missions could level them up, provide income, items and even create allies or enemies. The trade-off is that missions will take time, so whoever you send will not be available to you for missions you take on. I think time here would be counted in some measure of main mission time, so maybe assign mission time units to the regular missions, and have the side missions take up a number of those (example: a side mission may complete after you play one long mission or after two shorter ones. In essence player missions are driving the side mission clock).
 
I would initially not consider it possible for you to actually go yourself on these missions. This for the obvious development resource reasons, but on the surface, because it's time for your team to shine.
 

Risk vs Reward


The most important thing here is in the dynamics of reward versus risk. Let's talk risks.

There'll certainly be the possibility of missions failing to some degree or another, which could impact you because now you have team members who are injured and will need time to recouperate (invest in the medic bay!). I do not however believe it would be in the best interest of gameplay to make it possible for team members to die on these missions. Not unless the game is very explicit and basically telling you that, for this particular mission, sending this group makes it all but a suicide mission.

You could feed mission outcome back into team morale. Now you'll have to consider if the side mission is worth a possible hit to your 'rep' with a certain character. Certain members might oppose some missions, even though they'd be the best ones to do them. Do you push or give in? On the other hand, we could have bonding between team members because they had mission successes together.

With side missions, why would you need mining? The way I see it, mining is the cop-out placeholder for a proper resource management system, and here is one that I can't see failing.

On a more meta-level I like this idea because the uncertainy of the side mission outcome overlaps your regular missions. This means that if a side mission fails you'll have to really consider if it's worth to reload, because you haven't been sitting around waiting for the outcome, you've been out accomplishing things yourself.
 

The Final Piece

 
I readily admit I'm in love with this idea. I see if in my mind, and it fits so perfectly. This sort of mechanism opens so many doors, and it's just the thing ME3 need to be the kind of leap from ME2 that ME2 is from ME1.
 
I really hope it's a central piece of ME3 already. It's likely too late to add it now if it isn't!
#2 Posted by Finscher (145 posts) -

While I definitely agree that something more should be done with your allies, I'm not entirely sure if this is the way to go about doing things. The argument that comes up in my mind is as follows: if the side-missions are important or interesting enough to prompt a fleshed-out team member to be deployed, why wouldn't the dev team get the player go through the mission with Shepard? Conversely, if the missions aren't important enough to warrant a main character's attention, then why wouldn't Cerberus/the Alliance/whoever just send a stock team of scientists/commandos to do it in the background?
 
Your idea isn't a bad one by any stretch. Heck, you've already pointed out that Ubisoft is doing exactly that with AC:B anyway. But the assassins being sent off on their various tasks seem to be nameless and relatively unimportant to the story as a whole; Mass Effect's characters are far more developed, and Bioware probably doesn't want to treat them as though they're disposable enough to simply go do your bidding behind the scenes.  Perhaps Shepard would have enough standing with the Illusive Man or Alliance brass that would allow him to deploy small, nameless strike teams to deal with those situations. It'd stand to reason that they'd be taking his recommendations seriously by that point as the premier thorn in the Reapers' sides.
 
Here ends my counter-point to your central argument.  Here begins non-essential rambling on possible game mechanics.
 
A while back, I was coming up with alternative options to the whole "squad of badasses rotting on a ship" issue, and the most interesting one to me was built off the final mission of ME2, where certain squad mates had to be picked out to do certain tasks. When going through a mission, let's say that Shepard decides to bring eight members (or as many as are estimated to be required) for the mission. At the beginning, Shepard decides two squad mates to go along with him (let's say Garrus and Samara, to start.) But then there are elements added to the mission details. Maybe there's a group of mercs or freedom fighters who've been imprisoned, so two squad members are deployed to try and free them to get them as temporary allies (let's say the player sends off Zaeed and Jack for that task.) Maybe there's a security grid of some sort that needs to be disabled at some point that will take some time to be disabled (and so the player sends off Kasumi and Thane to deal with it, as both can be stealthy enough to get in unnoticed. One can work, one can watch the other's back.) And of course, there's a heavily-guarded fuel depot on the other side of the mission map which is valuable to the enemy but isn't too important for the mission as a whole, so the player sends off Grunt and Legion to go provide a distraction. 
 
So there's now four small teams doing their own thing. As the events in the overall mission proceed, Shepard meets up with each team in some order or another. By the time the player gets to Zaeed and Jack, maybe he likes how Samara has been doing against the prominent enemy types, so he swaps out Garrus for Jack to get another biotic on his side. Shepard's team moves ahead, with Zaeed and Garrus holding down the fort with the liberated mercs at that position. After a while, the most common type of enemy is stronger against biotics, so by the time the player gets to the security grid, they're happy to swap out Samara with Kasumi. Thane and Samara withdraw back to help out Zaeed and Garrus; Shep's team keeps moving forward. Then, through whatever twist the story takes, they cross paths with Grunt and Legion. For whatever reason, maybe the player is anticipating a fight with a bunch of YMIR mechs, so he sends Jack and Grunt back to help out the mercs while Shepard, Legion and Kasumi deal with the last major battle.  
 
A few twists and turns later, everyone gets back to the ship. Overall, the mission briefing got the player thinking on who to send where, several characters were used by the player to adapt to the situation at hand, and in the end it makes it feel like the recruited members are doing more than just playing chess with one another while Shepard does all the dirty work with the two team members who were unlucky enough to be dragged along with him. 
 
Just my overly-verbose two cents.

#3 Posted by WatanabeKazuma (989 posts) -

Its a concession of the fact that its a game, in most situations you would take all the help you could get but in most scenario's in games it boils down to a small group or in many cases a single person to bring an entire organization/army down.
 
I'll be damned if video game protagonists are nothing but efficient!
 
I like the idea of the whole crew being involved more, but I find it hard to imagine without the game feeling significantly different as a result.

#4 Posted by BraveToaster (12590 posts) -

Your idea sounds good, but I don't feel that it's necessary. I think more team members should be allowed to join you on missions. Shit's going to hit the fan in ME3, so they might as well pit the player against armies of enemies in each mission.

#5 Posted by Azteck (7449 posts) -
@Axxol said:
" Your idea sounds good, but I don't feel that it's necessary. I think more team members should be allowed to join you on missions. Shit's going to hit the fan in ME3, so they might as well pit the player against armies of enemies in each mission. "
The issue with that idea, and I think this is what the devs thought as well, is that it would get very confusing when you dish out the orders for the different party members. It's certainly doable, but even so. It's probably a lot easier to do on PC's where you can have a million hotkeys and such but consoles don't have that.
#6 Edited by eloj (488 posts) -
@Bentjacket: I agree that the assassins you send out in AC:B seems to be more like cookie-cutter henchmen than what we're talking about here, but it''s been accounted for (hence calling it less ambitious, no deaths during these side missions, etc). It's just something you must consider in the design, but I also think it'd make the design stronger; If the AC:B assassins truly are just throwaways (limited only by how many you can recruit perhaps), you'll likely lose in the important risk-reward department. If you don't care about the people you're sending out, failure won't have the emotional impact that a game like ME looks for. For me, the anonymous hencemen design wouldn't work in ME at all, especially not when you look at the whole series of games (it'd be a "Oh, NOW we can do this?" moment).
 
if the side-missions are important or interesting enough to prompt a fleshed-out team member to be deployed, why wouldn't the dev team get the player go through the mission with Shepard?
 
Because that could never happen, these missions exists only as internal "spreadsheets" or scripts. The game resources needed would be tiny compared to those of a real level. In short; if they didn't exist this way, they wouldn't exist at all. I see Shepherd growing into more of a leader in each game. The true test for a leader is; can he delegate? Let the team to do what they do best, without you looking over their shoulders. I see this as the final step on that path from soldier to general.
 
> Conversely, if the missions aren't important enough to warrant a main character's attention, then why wouldn't Cerberus/the Alliance/whoever just send a stock team of scientists/commandos to do it in the background?

Again, these missions would be important. Important to the characters involved, and to the player. They're just not AS imporant as the main missions. Time is of the essence, you can do this OR that. Why would Cerberus send anonymous operatives when they have the best and the brightest and the deadliest under their star general's control, and they're just hanging out idle? I can concoct any number of story reasons (mission too difficult for normal operatives, mission too secret, mission time/place critical, mission is personal, etc)
 
We might also say "Because it would sidestep the whole design and all it'd bring to the game". Let's be honest, the MEs have you doing a lot of mundane shit considering the pressing nature of the situation. Collecting packages left and right, policing gallerias, fetching cooking ingredients, etc. Is this what the man/woman tasked with saving humanity should be spening time with? Probably not, but it's a game, we make consessions in order to bring other things to the front, like the moment with the doctor after you fetch her a stiff drink. If the existing side missions are important enough that Shepherd may select to do them, then certainly one can design side missions where it makes sense to send members of the team.
 
Shepherd has been the face of humanity, now (s)he need to show the face of a general, and win this war.
#7 Posted by SpiralStairs (1020 posts) -

I actually really like that idea, it's similar to how you handled sidequests in FFTA, and it could add a ton of depth to the gameplay.

#8 Edited by eloj (488 posts) -
@Bentjacket:  I must ponder your design idea some more. The last mission of ME2 worked fine, and I could certainly see ME3 expanding on that for more missions. It's not on the surface entirely parallel to the solution I propose, because I see side-missions as a way to grow Shepherd as a strategist and do away with mining in one fell swoop :-)
 
I can say that if I get nothing else, I'd like a party-of-four (one extra member). Being able to take just two with me always felt limiting, but there are UI limitations, especially on consoles. And there's no denying three splits nicely into the "left middle right" setup.

(Also, in the department of "why doesn't just Cerberus...", I'd like to add "If they can build a trillion credit state-of-the-art starship, why must I empty my pockets over in order to buy some heavy weave?" :-)
#9 Posted by haggis (1677 posts) -

There's simply no solution to this problem that really works with how the gameplay is set up. The most laughable moment in ME2 was when Shepard was all, "Oh, I'll take everyone down in the shuttle and decide who's going with me." Gah! Stupid. But what else were they going to do? They wrote themselves into a corner with that one.
 
I'm not opposed to this idea, but unless we get to actually play the side missions (even playing as someone other than Shepard, which is fine with me), there's simply no point in having them. I'd be in favor of having missions that require multiple teams of three, each chosen to leverage specific skills. So, say, a mission that requires a team of three to infiltrate with stealth, while having another team cause a diversion. The player would switch back and forth between them. I'd also be in favor of having the team split up to tackle different problems simultaneously. Say, in the middle of a space battle between the Geth and Quarians, have one team doing one thing on one ship while another team does something completely different on another. Or send a few people off on a diplomatic mission while the other team investigates something else. I can imagine a Return of the Jedi-esque final sequence where we have Sheppard facing off against the big enemy while Tali leads the Quarians on an assault on their homeworld against the Geth (if that's what you choose to do) while occasionally switching to Grunt and Wrex fighting their own battle along side the Rachni. Now, I'm making this all up as I go along, but that would be an absolutely epic finale to the series.
 
But yeah, we need to see the rest of the crew doing more than sitting on their asses. And more complex situations (where some crewmembers are off doing something else and are unavailable) makes team choices critical. Not to mention what would happen if you didn't pick up all the available crew members and were --**gasp**-- unable to take on a serious mission, resulting in a drastic change in the end of the game. And I'm all for more substantial missions and less run-and-fetch stuff.

#10 Edited by eloj (488 posts) -
@haggis:  Having several teams and switching between them probably wouldn't work on consoles unless you severly limit the design to force all teams to be on the same part of the same level. This due to memory restrictions. On the PC you could easily have three different levels going, on the consoles not so much. I like this idea, but I fear it's a no go on technical grounds.
 
I strongly disagree with the idea that  ''unless we get to actually play the side missions [...] there's simply no point in having them''. You ARE, in a way, playing these missions, just on a more abstract level. Your ability to manage and lead your team will be the major deciding factor in the success or failure of these missions.  I don't see why that kind of play is of lesser worth than the finger-on-the-trigger reflexes kind.
 
There's a scale from almost pure strategy play (my design) to almost pure action (simultaneous action, switching). For me, ME2 already had more than enough action for a CRPG so I'd personally appreciate something more on the strategic side for balance, over adding something which requires quick reflexes.
 
Thanks everyone for your input.
#11 Edited by Cornman89 (1579 posts) -

I like this idea. A lot. Would it just be sending your own party of badasses around the galaxy, or could we extrapolate this to commanding entire Alliance/Citadel/Quarian/non-Heretic Geth armadas?

#12 Posted by haggis (1677 posts) -
@eloj: Throw in a cinematic during the load time. ME2 load times weren't that long, and (to be honest) I wouldn't mind the brief wait. I'm not talking constant switches between the two, but if we're talking a two-hour mission, I don't think three or for switches would be that bad. My idea is only simultaneous in the narrative sense. They're still 20-30 minute missions in my mind between switches, only that because they're happening simultaneously in the narrative, it forces us to use all the people on our teams and take more care in team choices.
 
Sending teams out on missions without actually getting to play through them myself sounds more like a board game to me than an action-RPG. ME has always had strategy, but it's never been the kind of game you are describing. It might be fun at some level, but while it fits in the AC world, I can't imagine the devs going in that direction for Mass Effect.
#13 Posted by hedfone (1750 posts) -

tldr

#14 Edited by bhhawks78 (1203 posts) -

Not making sizable changes to my favorite game of the generation.  Too risky/easy to fuck it up.
 
Only changes I'd make
- More Wrex
-....more Wrex...CMON I helped him out just make up some bad ass long lost cousin that can hold the fort for a few weeks while we reunite and make the universe our bitch.

#15 Posted by jorbear (2517 posts) -

I don't know about that. It would be a great thing in other games, but Mass Effect is about Commander Shepard. It needs to be focused on the player and it needs to have you being a bamf at all times. 
Not that your idea is a bad idea, I actually love it, but I don't think it would work in ME3.

#16 Edited by eloj (488 posts) -
@Cornman89:  Let's speculate.
 
I think we all agree that while ME1 and ME2 were about building personal allegiances, ME3 will be about securing entire fleets for a final showdown? You'll do one or more missions to convince Wrex's court to aid you, and again for the Migrant Fleet and so on and then one of them will turn to the enemy in betrayal, but the Thorian will show up at the last minute if you let'er live and save the day, etc, etc. I'd love if they could give us a curveball that's better than the obvious path forward (hey, didn't we just do this in DA:O?), but I'm sure it'll be good either way. I don't see managing armadas as a big part of the game, if at all. That will probably just be the end-game and will play out in a certain way depending on choices you've commited to earlier, exactly like when you take the Omega-4 relay in ME2.
 
Sending armadas around doesn't sound like side missions either, they'll be far to valuable to play any such games with.
 
So no, I see this as strictly limited to your own party of badassess.
#17 Posted by eloj (488 posts) -
@bhhawks78 said:
" Not making sizable changes to my favorite game of the generation.  Too risky/easy to fuck it up.  Only changes I'd make - More Wrex -....more Wrex...CMON I helped him out just make up some bad ass long lost cousin that can hold the fort for a few weeks while we reunite and make the universe our bitch. "
Did you play both games? Because they changed rather significantly for the better from ME1 to ME2. I'm sure many many people will be happy with "just more ME2", but I'd like to see them push some more, make each game sort of unique. Imagine if they could make as significant progress as from ME1 to ME2 (and maybe put back some things there were lost). That'd be a true masterpiece of a trilogy.
 
I understand your reluctance, I just don't share it.
#18 Edited by ZeroCast (1869 posts) -
@hedfone said:

" tldr "

You know what a perfect replacement for "tl;dr" would be? "I am a twat whose lazy ass can't read long blogs because my time is more precious than yours". 
 
It's a good piece of writing that the guy actually put some effort in it. If you don't care, don't comment.
 
 

@eloj:


I think the main reason why they are actually "hangin' around" is because you are a team, and a team shouldn't be separated from their leader. At least that is what I get when I see Mordin working on some kind of research or Miranda doing her papers report.  You continuously see these characters doing their jobs in the ship as they are responsible for providing you with the latest news, tech, or weaponry.    I am not saying there shouldn't be some kind of a system that can utilize their power while you are shooting "alien aliens" on some kind of a planet, but if the two Bio.Doctors can think about something I would happily accept it. 


#19 Posted by eloj (488 posts) -
@haggis said:

" @eloj: Throw in a cinematic during the load time. ME2 load times weren't that long, and (to be honest) I wouldn't mind the brief wait. I'm not talking constant switches between the two, but if we're talking a two-hour mission, I don't think three or for switches would be that bad. My idea is only simultaneous in the narrative sense. They're still 20-30 minute missions in my mind between switches, only that because they're happening simultaneously in the narrative, it forces us to use all the people on our teams and take more care in team choices. 

 That'd work, but I find it even less likely that you'd get to play as another character than that you'd get to send people on missions you don't attend. Also, telling the same story from different POVs can be over used, so I don't see how you could reasonably do it more than once or twice in the game. For say a final mission, I'd love it. You can push harder too; tell part of the story out of order. Flash-forward to the end play one section, then when you come back, you play another that's concurrent to the one you played earlier and have elements depend on what you did there?
 
Anyhow, if you think my idea.. proposed design (I don't know what to call it, all sounds so pretentious) sound more like a board game, I think you're over-thinking it. It's still Mass Effect. It wouldn't be much more than chose a mission, chose people. Done. You're not moving people around on hexes, it's not menues five level deep. You can even map much of it onto dialogue so the interface is familiar.
 
It'd just be the third leg to the table currently held up by action and RPG. Those two choices, where and who, quick as they can be, could pack a hell of a punch though.
#20 Posted by eloj (488 posts) -
@ZeroCast said:
I think the main reason why they are actually "hangin' around" is because you are a team, and a team shouldn't be separated from their leader. At least that is what I get when I see Mordin working on some kind of research or Miranda doing her papers report.  You continuously see these characters doing their jobs in the ship as they are responsible for providing you with the latest news, tech, or weaponry.    I am not saying there shouldn't be some kind of a system that can utilize their power while you are shooting "alien aliens" on some kind of a planet, but if the two Bio.Doctors can think about something I would happily accept it. 
This is true enough for ME2 (though of course the "work" you watch them do is all illusion, it all still gets done if you take the character with you all the time), but ME3 will likely have a larger scope, everything will have to step up a notch.
 
I'd just incorporate what you said about people doing their job on the ship into the design, which is easy to do. For every Mordin and Miranda there's a Jack and Zaeed.
#21 Posted by Grilledcheez (3943 posts) -

It's simple...ADD RPG elements like more than 3 weapons in the game and more stats to upgrade.  Also add more content after you gather your crew.  You know, make it more like the first game, but keep the basic improvements that are present in the 2nd.

#22 Posted by Finscher (145 posts) -
@eloj:  
 
 > If you don't care about the people you're sending out, failure won't have the emotional impact that a game like ME looks for. For me, the anonymous hencemen design wouldn't work in ME at all, especially not when you look at the whole series of games (it'd be a "Oh, NOW we can do this?" moment).
   
I can see this point being endlessly debatable, though I'll concede that you're right on a large number of areas. Having to send off characters that you're emotionally attached to will always have a greater impact than sending off a bunch of drones, though there would naturally have to be some limitations to this function so that those characters aren't always deployed (and therefore impossible to get attached to in the first place.) That being said, we'd have another "Oh, NOW we can do this?" moment regardless of who the player is able to send away--whether or not we're intimately familiar with them--just as we had "Oh, NOW this has changed?" moments when we found out about the new reloading mechanics in ME2 and the lack of Mako expeditions. 
 
> Because that could never happen, these missions exist only as internal "spreadsheets" or scripts. The game resources needed would be tiny compared to those of a real level. In short; if they didn't exist this way, they wouldn't exist at all. I see Shepherd growing into more of a leader in each game. The true test for a leader is; can he delegate? Let the team to do what they do best, without you looking over their shoulders. I see this as the final step on that path from soldier to general. 
 
I know what you mean mechanically; I was referring to it from a narrative perspective. Shepard's team has always been a cohesive unit, despite any in-fighting. Any division of the team has never spanned for more than the length of a single mission. I could perhaps see him dropping off team mates to help rally forces if there are no other options (i.e. "Tali, go co-ordinate with the Flotilla," "Legion, let the rest of the Geth know what we intend," "Zaeed, go pull some strings and get those mercs in order," etc.) but those would be long-term, plot-related elements. And while he has great potential to be a general, if that transition occurs within the span of one game, I'll be surprised. That sort of thing takes years, and besides which, he's the best front-line fighter/tactician the Alliance or Cerberus could ever have at their disposal. Why would they pull him away from the fighting? Why would he allow himself to be pulled away like that?
 
Why would Cerberus send anonymous operatives when they have the best and the brightest and the deadliest under their star general's control, and they're just hanging out idle?
  
Because they've already established themselves canonically as an entity that operates in a series of cells. Everybody on the SR-2 Normandy was a member of the Lazarus cell whether they considered themselves so or not, and that cell was used only for the most dangerous tasks, or to clean up what had proven impossible for other cells to accomplish (as seen with the dead Reaper, Overlord and Firewalker.) As Lazarus is their trump cell, why would they want to over-use it and risk exhausting its operatives when they are being entrusted with the most significant tasks of the entire organization when they have other cells to draw upon? 

> We might also say "Because it would sidestep the whole design and all it'd bring to the game". Let's be honest, the MEs have you doing a lot of mundane shit considering the pressing nature of the situation. Collecting packages left and right, policing gallerias, fetching cooking ingredients, etc. Is this what the man/woman tasked with saving humanity should be spening time with? Probably not, but it's a game, we make consessions in order to bring other things to the front, like the moment with the doctor after you fetch her a stiff drink. If the existing side missions are important enough that Shepherd may select to do them, then certainly one can design side missions where it makes sense to send members of the team. Shepherd has been the face of humanity, now (s)he need to show the face of a general, and win this war. "     
 
"Grunt, we're gonna go tear this Reaper a new one. Go to the Citadel on a shuttle and buy us some better provisions, would you?" 
As ludicrous as it is to have the face of humanity doing this sort of thing, it seems even more ridiculous to me to imagine him sending off his own team mates to do them right before he does a mission of his own. Zipping around the galaxy takes days, regardless of what the galaxy map implies, and so not having them ready-to-go at all times would be problematic if something came up all of a sudden. That's probably the biggest issue I have against splitting up the team right there.
#23 Edited by WatanabeKazuma (989 posts) -
@ZeroCast said:

" @hedfone said:

" tldr "

You know what a perfect replacement for "tl;dr" would be? "I am a twat whose lazy ass can't read long blogs because my time is more precious than yours". 
 
It's a good piece of writing that the guy actually put some effort in it. If you don't care, don't comment.
 
 

@eloj:


I think the main reason why they are actually "hangin' around" is because you are a team, and a team shouldn't be separated from their leader. At least that is what I get when I see Mordin working on some kind of research or Miranda doing her papers report.  You continuously see these characters doing their jobs in the ship as they are responsible for providing you with the latest news, tech, or weaponry.    I am not saying there shouldn't be some kind of a system that can utilize their power while you are shooting "alien aliens" on some kind of a planet, but if the two Bio.Doctors can think about something I would happily accept it. 


"
 

Maybe, but then you get to squad members like Zaeed who in the context of the way I played the game had no role in the main conflict and essentially was paid by Cerberus to sit in a corner of my ship and reminisce about times past. He was basically an intergalactic storyteller.
 
Good idea for a series of blogs, look forward to more.

#24 Posted by haggis (1677 posts) -
@eloj: "Also, telling the same story from different POVs can be over used..." 
 
I think this attitude is why video game stories tend to be pretty lousy compared to what you get in books. While some sci-fi is done in first-person perspective, most is not. The unwillingness of developers to embrace a more diverse approach to narrative (they are stubborn about moving out of the "main character" perspective) is holding them back. If telling a story from different POVs is an "over used" technique, why has that approach been predominate in novels for a century and a half? One of the reasons why some games fail at feeling truly "epic" is this fixation on playing as only one character. For silent protagonists in FPS games like Gordon Freeman, that may be fine to stick to his and only his perspective. But for a story like ME, where the main character is pretty well defined and played in third-person, I think it would be a benefit to play as more than one character. Gamers have long been ready for a more complicated narrative that focuses on more than one character. ME seemed from the beginning to be begging for this given the large cast of characters. ME2 toyed with this idea (by sending off characters in the final mission), and the next logical step is to let us actually play those missions. I would have loved a break from the fighting in ME2's final mission by taking control of Tali (or whoever you chose) to go through the tunnels. Or to lead the other characters back to the ship. More narrative opportunities, more gameplay diversity running up to the finale. More time to get to know secondary characters.
 
I can't help but think the reason why we have so many seemingly pointless side-quests is that there's just not enough compelling action for the main character to fill a twenty-hour-plus game without feeling like he (or she) is doing everything, and everyone else is just tagging along for kicks.
 
I certainly wouldn't mind them implementing your suggestion. Anything at this point would help get all the characters involved. But I can't help that it would feel secondary. The idea of a more tactical Mass Effect with less action certainly appeals to me at some level.
#25 Posted by eloj (488 posts) -

Happy to hear (on a pure ego-note) that the bombcast crew seemed to think this would have been a great idea for ME3. Ref: Giantbomb Podcast 2011-03-13. Sad it didn't make it.

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