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The future of Mass Effect should be in the cloud

Posted on 22nd Dec 2009 at 10:49 by Richard Swinburne with 11 comments

Richard Swinburne
Firstly, I have to apologise. I've succumbed to the marketing gimmick that is “the cloud”. However, there is a point to this so don't worry - you’re not reading a press release.

After reading and getting excited about Mass Effect 2 – how it will be possible to carry on your player profile, and the in third release sometime in the future – the player will apparently be open to “wildly different conclusions” leading to massive diversity of story.

What gets me, in the traditional model of selling one game, then another, then another, why Bioware didn’t opt for the more “MMO”-esq model of having things tied in extensively online. The limitations of adding these epic, whole game updates is that users lose save games and profiles after a year or so between releases, or, you still have to pander to those who didn’t buy the earlier releases to some extent because your publisher wants every successive release of the franchise to sell more. In a model that requires you to buy previous games, the opposite is true – you’re more likely to lose people that fall out of gaming, forget about it or lose love for it, than attain more.

The online model will always introduce new users at the beginning, and add-on packs to the vastly epic universe of Mass Effect can be dropped in on a whim to continue the story as and when. It also means your save games and profiles are kept with your online login, preventing you from losing your character. Oh, and it gets us away from the continual travesty to PC gaming that is Games for Windows Live.

Creating the online FPS universe would also allow Bioware to drop the paid-for DLC bomb much easier – you pay for the basic story, but if you want to investigate all those extra star systems then it’s a few more quid, please kthx. Hopefully that would allow a cheaper initial investment in the basic game and mean rolling out extra systems feels a lot more natural. That’s also not to mention the possibility of co-operative campaigns with friends? Forget the AI – take along two real-world team mates to break an army of Psi-capable brick *hithouse Krogans. For the quality of story and involvement that Mass Effect offers – personally I’d be happy to pick and choose a few those campaigns.

It just seems more logical to me that updates to the story could be thrown in as they are developed, and the potential diversity that Bioware is aiming for falls into this model rather than the traditional big launch of game on a disc. To me, Bioware feels like its limiting itself to a triology of games – honestly, that doesn’t feel like enough given the rare potential of Mass Effect.

11 Comments

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licenced 22nd December 2009, 13:48 Quote
Unlike most I wasn't awed by the first game. Sure I played it ... all the way to the end. It was mostly enjoyable. After I finished it I uninstalled it and sold it on.

I won't be waiting with baited breath for the sequel like many, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't have given it a chance if the reviews are good.

However, all this nonsense about a continued story line using your old save games is only any good if you have your old save games, so for me, and possibly others who are in the same boat, this is a turn off.
D-Cyph3r 22nd December 2009, 13:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by licenced
Unlike most I wasn't awed by the first game. Sure I played it ... all the way to the end.


I didn't even get to the end. The voice acting and characters were great, the overall look and sci-fi feel was superb and there was plenty of RPG-like elements with all the weapons and mods but for some reason it just never engaged with me.... maybe it was all those horrible/comical driving sections or Seth Green's voice I dunno, either way I could only do a couple of planet raids before losing all interest.

The sequel does have a great looking cast and from the trailers some great action but unless they change some of the (awfully repetitive imo) gameplay mechanics I wont be buying it.
Gunsmith 22nd December 2009, 13:58 Quote
I smell the hype machine running at 11.

I never got on with the art direction of the first...a little too round edged for my tastes.
skunkmunkey 22nd December 2009, 14:24 Quote
hmm... I thoroughly enjoyed the first one, I also saved my save game as I do with all games. If the sequel bulids on the first I will be more than happy. The driving sections were a bit crap, seemed like they were trying to take on halo but they were excusable considering the quality of the story.

I must say i agree with the mmo idea. An mmo with a quality storyline would be great, almost like a sci fi tv series.
WildThing 22nd December 2009, 18:35 Quote
Interesting blog Bindi. I think you're on to something there. I especially love the idea of playing ME with 2 human players! I guess it would have to be some sort of hybrid MMO, one where you pay for the original game and for bits of DLC, but without the subscription. However, you still have a big world which loads of people can all connect to at once and meet before they take on a mission. It could be like the raids on WOW but on a much smaller scale, say, only 3-4 friends exploring sections of the ME world together. Sounds like fun to me! ;)
Skiddywinks 23rd December 2009, 09:50 Quote
While everything you say makes some sense (and that which doesn't is just a matter of opinion), the main reason I don't like the idea of such a system, especially for ME (a game I love), is that it is far too open to abuse. And with EA holding any sway at all, I find it very likely it would be abused.
Xir 23rd December 2009, 10:09 Quote
more of a "could" then a must.

You should be able to take your character onwards...if you want to, or start anew with each game.
The idea behind releasing content as it's ready is nice, but content tends to be buggy in this world, so you'd get update after update, soon nobody's on the same level (update wise) and there goes coop-gameplay.
Unless you make updates obligatory and I can here the whining (Version 2.6 mechanics are cooler than 2.7, vou've ruinedit!) now.

So I prefer stand alone games, where I can (if I choose to) take my character and difficulty setting.
Bindibadgi 23rd December 2009, 10:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiddywinks
While everything you say makes some sense (and that which doesn't is just a matter of opinion), the main reason I don't like the idea of such a system, especially for ME (a game I love), is that it is far too open to abuse. And with EA holding any sway at all, I find it very likely it would be abused.

Yes, I do agree completely. EA/Bioware would probably rinse the **** out of the DLC and online aspects and make you pay through the nose if it was popular.
Aragon Speed 23rd December 2009, 18:48 Quote
"What gets me, in the traditional model of selling one game, then another, then another, why Bioware didn’t opt for the more “MMO”-esq model of having things tied in extensively online. The limitations of adding these epic, whole game updates is that users lose save games and profiles after a year or so between releases, or, you still have to pander to those who didn’t buy the earlier releases to some extent because your publisher wants every successive release of the franchise to sell more. In a model that requires you to buy previous games, the opposite is true – you’re more likely to lose people that fall out of gaming, forget about it or lose love for it, than attain more."
Perhaps Bioware decided against an MMO because a large chunk of the gaming community won't play MMO's. The modding team I am in has 19 members, and out of those 19, 8 of us won't touch MMO's with someone else's barge pole.
stoff3r 24th December 2009, 02:30 Quote
Haven't steam allready had a system like this up and running for ages? Ever since Mirrors edge atleast, on some games the savegames and player profiles etc etc have been saved in this "steam cloud" or whatever. So it's not excactly rocket science. Just have a server up and running that people can save stuff on, or atleast save their endgame caracter, I don't really recon it would need a whole "cloud" going on.

I haven't really run into this sort of publishing yet, episodically I mean. The only "episode" of sort I have played was "Command and Conquer 3: uprising" and while lots of content, haven't got ANY support in the form of patches, multiplayer, compitabillity etc etc. Good job EA. All in all It could work, but i still prefer big proper games that gets patched for an extensive period and a growing community and mod, and also multiplayer with people on the servers. Waiting for Stalker now :)

Oh noes, i'm a steam fanboy ://
fatty beef 8th January 2010, 15:00 Quote
I think that with the console focus on the first game that they didnt think it would be needed becuase who deletes their game progress on a 360 hard drive?

With the fact that the PC version kind of blew up when it came out and people demanded a better product there has created a situation they didnt expect.

I know biowares new site saves all your achievements and what not for Dragon Age. Not sure how that will work interms of game saves, Mass Effect 2 or their future products.

They do have a Star Wars MMO coming out shortly and I think based on the success or faliure of that they may or may not start developing more in the online universe.

I hate not being able to pause an RPG though so itll be interesting to see how it works.
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