why is everyone complaining that Mass Effect Andromeda is "big"? how is that a problem when there's more game to play?
The size is not a problem in itself. The problem is that bioware doesn’t know how to work with “Big”. Hear me out.
So bioware obviously tries to move into the open world direction, with DAI and now comparing MEA to DAI in terms of “BIGGER!!!1”, and I think it’s such a shame, because bioware sucks at open world\sandboxes. I don’t even mean it as an insult, it’s just a plain fact - bioware are it’s best at contained, story-driven, linear structure. Their best games have distinctly different locations each with a gimmick and with a linear plotline that starts at the entry point, motivates your exploration of the location so you can pick up the side quests, ideally has a theme and involves one of your companions and culminates in the final decision. After that, the location is finished. You report the side quests and that’s it, you’ve exhausted all your options, you leave the location and never look back. Well, maybe you return once for plot reasons for 5 minutes, but you don’t engage with it meaningfully. And it’s not a bad thing! This is “40 min TV show episode” kind of structure that can work great and it does in the entire Mass Effect series. The story is simple, usually with one or two twists, but it keeps you engaged because it’s tightly knit and clearly presented, the involvement of your crew members gives you emotional stakes, the distinctly ~weird~ location and NPCs there make you feel like you’re actually seeing different places and seeing different cultures. It’s *fun* and that’s what matters.
But if you take out the location-based plotline and add a lot of empty space\padding to the mix, it all starts falling apart. Because bioware only writes superficial weirdness, this weirdness becomes bland real quick, the gimmick wears off and becomes annoying, NPCs blend in into the endless background, and you go “oh thank GOD it’s over” when you leave the location. Imagine if in ME3 Tuchanka had the size and structure of Hinterlands. The hardcore severe planet would turn into a boring wasteland, instead of epic badasses that represent the spirit of a planet Thresher Maws would turn into a boss fight grind (like dragons in DAI), without your friendship with Wrex the stakes are low, without the linear plot creating AND keeping up dramatic tension, you’d just wander around and randomly stumble onto the cut-scenes.
Bioware thinks that you can just make locations big and take out linear structure and boom, you’ve got yourself a sandbox. But it’s wrong. You can’t just take away the scripted plot-line and NOT replace it with anything. Good open world RPG requires you to make locations not just distinct, but layered, interesting to explore, it adds ties between locations that are meaningful, the quests start in one location and run through multiple of others organically, so you have to travel back and forth and when you revisit them, it doesn’t feel like backtracking. Not everything is played out at the moment you enter the location, some NPCs only become important when you get new quests in other places, so the exploration is dynamic, layered in time. You keep re-discovering things, adding new layers to the context. Bioware just cannot write things like that. They can’t make differences between locations subtle, but meaningful, which is why I literally cannot tell any forest locations in DAI apart, they don’t know how to make quest-lines span between places and be layered in time, they don’t know how to keep players’ attention without a strict narrative tunnel. The only distinct thing between locations is visual design, but even that can’t take you far. There’s a location in DAI that is very visually striking - white snow, red lyrium, black rocks. Beautiful, unusual, interesting. But I wouldn’t be able to remember what happened there with a gun to my head. What was my quest? Idk. There was a dragon I think? And for other locations that don’t have such striking visuals, the situation is even worse.
Take the location with Civil War in DAI (I think it’s Dales? But not sure) I literally cannot remember what were the differences between the sides there. Hell, I can barely remember the sides! It’s the Orlesians and… other Orlesians? But they are called “Free”-something. Why, idk. And there are also the Dalish clan hanging out nearby, but they don’t have anything to do with the Orlesians. Why was I in this location in the first place? I have no idea. To be clear, it’s not because I have shit memory. I have great memory, I can remember meaningful details from the games I played once ten years ago. It’s just DAI didn’t give me anything meaningful to remember. The conflict is not set up, they just let you wander around aimlessly, the sides are both boring and bland, the location is just kind of an open field littered with undead and wolves. When you let players discover different factions just by stumbling onto them without a straightforward narrative, you better fucking make sure they are a) very distinct b)very clear about what their deal is. Show me anyone who can mix up the Legion, NCR and House in FN:V.
Imagine the same location done in a traditional for bioware linear structure. You enter the location and immediately see two groups arguing. Each side has a charismatic leader and these guys are yelling at each other, which gives you exposition. One of them is, like, a well-groomed Orlesian noble and the other one is a rude peasant Robin Hood. You enter a conversation and get more exposition, what their deal is and how they are in conflict. One of your companions support one faction and the other one - another. (idk, Vivienne and Dorian vs Blackwall and Sera, frex) Then both of them invite you to their camps and leave. You have a narrative already. You visit their camps, get to know them. Get some sidequests from both sides. While exploring you meet the Dalish, who are bitter because the Dales were THEIR land and now shems are fighting over it. You do some quests for Dalish. At the mid-point the game makes you choose a side and the last plot-arc is about breaking the resistance of the other side and deciding what to do with them. If you do some side quest for Dalish and pass a Paragon speech check, you can find some holy scripture that Andraste made about Dalish owning the land and you can grant the place to Dalish. That’s it. Yeah, it’s cliched and yeah, it’s cheesy, but it’s clear and it has narrative and stakes. It gives you basic framework for roleplay. Bioware never could write complicated plots, but they don’t need to. The plot doesn’t need to be complicated, it needs to function in the chosen form. If it doesn’t function, then big locations turn into empty spaces with fetch-quests.
Also, being “BIG” was never Mass Effect’s appeal in the first place. People loved it for the tight Star Trek-episode structure with a new planet every hour, weird gimmicky aliens and meaningful interactions with the crew. Not for LotR-style of “3 hours of walking through an empty field”.
Distant Requested by Anonymous 10 songs that are good for laying on the floor and listening to
Sonsick x San Fermin // Cough Syrup x Young the Giant // Put Your Records On x Corrine Bailey // Oh Ms Believer x Twenty One Pilots // Float On x Modest Mouse // Chasing Cars x Snow Patrol // You and Me x Lifehouse // When the Day Met the Night by Panic! At The Disco // Island in the Sun x Weezer // Snow (Hey Oh) x Red Hot Chili Pepers
Concept: We are in the city, walking through crowds of
people and drinking coffee. I’m wearing the pearl earrings you gave me, the
ones that are made from memories and broken images. The evening air is crisp
and cruel and smells faintly of hyacinths. By the river, we find the body of a
sailor. I place my pearl earrings over his closed eyes, and you take out a card
from your pocket, white as snow, and a pile of dust, red as rock. This is
the wheel, you say. I no longer fear
the future I can’t see.
I Made A Playlist For All The Types: Extraverts Edition
<b><p></b> <b><p></b> <b><p></b> <b><p></b> <b>ENFJ:</b> Night Visions by Imagine Dragons (alt pop)<p/><b>Fe:</b> Say Something by A Great Big World (singer-songwriter)<p/><b></b> "And I will swallow my pride; you're the one that I love, and I'm saying goodbye"<p/><b>Ni:</b> No Rain by Blind Melon (70s classic rock)<p/><b></b> "All I can do is just pour some tea for two and speak my point of view, but it's not sane"<p/><b>Se:</b> Land Of Confusion by Genesis (70s fusion rock)<p/><b></b> "This is the world we live in and these are the hands we're given; stand up and let's start showing just where our plans are going to"<p/><b>Ti:</b> Titanium by David Guetta (remix)<p/><b></b> "I'm criticized, but all your bullets ricochet; you shoot my down but I get up"<p/><b>ENFP:</b> Ocean Eyes by Owl City<p/><b>Ne:</b> Counting Stars by OneRepublic (indie pop)<p/><b></b> "Take that money, watch it burn; sink in the river, the lessons are learnt"<p/><b>Fi:</b> Cool Kids by Echosmith (indie pop)<p/><b></b> "She sees them walking in a straight line, but that's not really her style; and they all got the same heartbeat, but hers is falling behind"<p/><b>Te:</b> Judas by Cage The Elephant (alt rock)<p/><b></b> "As far as I'm concerned you hung your shadow on the wall; and though your fingers never really pulled the trigger, your hands are just as guilty, you're the one who brought the blood"<p/><b>Si:</b> The Ghosts Of Beverly Drive by Death Cab for Cutie(rock)<p/><b></b> "I don't know why I return to the scenes of these crimes, where the gestures slowly wind through the ghosts of Beverly drive"<p/><b>ENTJ:</b> Bad Blood by Bastille (alt pop)<p/><b>Te:</b> Ex's And Oh's by Elle King (rock?)<p/><b></b> "The hearts keep breakin' and the heads just roll; you know, that's how the story goes"<p/><b>Ni:</b> Arabella by Arctic Monkeys (alt rock)<p/><b></b> "It's an exploration; she's made of outer space, and her lips are like the galaxy's edge, and a kiss the color of a constellation falling into place"<p/><b>Se:</b> Gold On The Ceiling by Black Keys (rock)<p/><b></b> "They want to get my gold on the ceiling; I ain't blind, just a matter of time before you steal it"<p/><b>Fi:</b> Cecilia And The Satellite by Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness (indie?)<p/><b></b> "Crashed my car, I was 17, my mother in the seat riding next to me; the things I learned from a broken mirror, how a face can change when a heart knows fear"<p/><b>ENTP:</b> Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf (hard rock)<p/><b>Ne:</b> Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen (70s rock ballad)<p/><b></b> "The entire freaking song are you kidding me"<p/><b>Ti:</b> Goodbye Blue Sky by Pink Floyd (70s psychedelic rock)<p/><b></b> "Did-did-did-did you see the frightened ones? The planes are all long gone but the pain lingers on"<p/><b>Fe:</b> Watching You by Rodney Atkins (country)<p/><b></b> "We got cowboy boots and camo pants; yeah we're just alike. Hey, ain't we dad?"<p/><b>Si:</b> My Head by Rozwell Kid (indie rock)<p/><b></b> "When I'm all out of sorts and I wake up in my biz-cazh instead of my shorts I know I need a little trapdoor under my bed to shake this feeling that's sticking in my head"<p/><b>ESFJ:</b> In A Tidal Wave of Mystery by Capital Cities (indie pop)<p/><b>Fe:</b> 22 by Taylor Swift (pop)<p/><b></b> "It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters and make fun of our exes, oh oh"<p/><b>Si:</b> Carousel Ride by Rubblebucket (indie dance)<p/><b></b> "I think I was a bird in another life, maybe that's why I'm prone to flight; and I do like heights"<p/><b>Ne:</b> A Hard Rain by Bob Dylan (60s folk rock)<p/><b></b> "Then I'll stand in the ocean until I start sinking; but I'll know my song well before I start singing"<p/><b>Ti:</b> Trip Switch by Nothing But Thieves (alt rock)<p/><b></b> "Sending signals is a dirty trick; I get my love in a digital packet"<p/><b>ESFP:</b> Lockjaw by Flume and Chet Faker<p/><b>Se:</b> Paper Planes by M.I.A. (alt pop?)<p/><b></b> "Everyone's a winner now we're making that fame; bona fide hustler making my name"<p/><b>Fi:</b> Don't by Ed Sheeran (pop)<p/><b></b> "That heart is so cold all over my own, I don't wanna know that babe; don't fuck with my love"<p/><b>Te:</b> Love Is Greed by Passion Pit (electric pop)<p/><b></b> "Love is not a veil to hide your voice; all this talk of love just turns to noise"<p/><b>Ni:</b> Snow (Hey Oh) by Red Hot Chili Peppers (90s classic rock)<p/><b></b> "The things that I tried were in my life just to get high on; when I sit alone, come, get a little known, but I need more than myself this time"<p/><b>ESTJ:</b> The Outsiders by The Outsiders (country rock)<p/><b>Te:</b> Way Too Much by Wavves (rock)<p/><b></b> "By replacing what I'm feeling am I sinking? To much; always thinking too much"<p/><b>Si:</b> Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes (rock)<p/><b></b> "Don't wanna hear about it, every single one's got a story to tell; everyone knows about it, from the queen of England to the hounds of hell"<p/><b>Ne:</b> Shut Up And Dance by Walk The Moon (pop)<p/><b></b> "We were victims of the night, the chemical, physical kryptonite; helpless to the bass and the fading light, oh we were bound to get together!"<p/><b>Fi:</b> All The Other Girls by Avid Dancer (rock)<p/><b></b> "She hangs by a razor's edge. Makeup dressed around, her lips are purple like the dress that she wears."<p/><b>ESTP:</b> American Beauty/American Psycho by Fall Out Boy (rock)<p/><b>Se:</b> I Can't Feel My Face by The Weeknd (R&B?)<p/><b></b> "And I know she'll be the death of me, at least we'll both be numb; and she'll always get the best of me, the worst is yet to come"<p/><b>Ti:</b> Breezeblocks by Alt-J (indie rock)<p/><b></b> "She may contain the urge to run away, but hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocks; germolene, disinfect the scene my love"<p/><b>Fe:</b> New Americana by Halsey (indie)<p/><b></b> "We are the new Americana, high on legal marijuana, raised on Biggie and Nirvana"<p/><b>Ni:</b> Overdose by Maudlin Strangers (alt rock?)<p/></p><p/></p>"I see a girl in black and white, sitting alone out of sight, with a colorful mind; but I don't know why she doesn't let it out"<p/></p><p/></p><p/></p>