Which is my rather more exciting way of saying I’ve forgotten to post a BioWare summary article for a week or two now, and so have a hell of a lot of relevant articles clogging my inbox.
I’ve already made my own thoughts known where the demo for Mass Effect 3 is concerned. But if you’re looking for what actual gaming press websites had to say about it, RPGWatch and GameBanshee have aggregated a few lists of notable commentary.
The basic gist of the Legacy System in The Old Republic is that you can create what is essentially a family of characters whom the game will label and treat as related. If you create alternate characters (“alts”) on the same server once your Legacy has been established, they’ll automatically be treated as Legacy characters.
When you first gain access to the Legacy System (which happens once you complete the first chapter of the single-player campaign for any one character), a second experience bar appears on the game’s interface, which tracks your “Legacy Experience” points; you gain Legacy XP at a reduced rate compared to base XP. But (and here’s the kicker) all your alt characters, even freshly-created ones, all feed into a common Legacy XP pool.
To this point, there have been no rewards granted for gaining Legacy levels, but that is evidently set to change in future SWTOR updates.
And hey…in addition to Legacy rewards, the upcoming 1.2 patch for SWTOR will add companion dances and endgame crafting. Both of which I am sure I will use. To death. Yeah.
Four more countries — Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore — will get access to BioWare’s hit MMORPG this week.
Or at least check out a brief interview with her on the BioWare blog.
Razer naturally had something Mass Effect 3-related to announce:
Award-winning developer BioWare, a label of Electronic Arts Inc. along with Razer, the world leader in high performance gaming hardware, reveal today peripherals and gear created for the highly anticipated Action RPG Mass Effect 3. Fans of the Mass Effect series can arm themselves for the all-out galactic war with the Razer Mass Effect 3 Edition peripheral line which includes a Razer Imperator gaming mouse, Razer Vespula dual-sided gaming mouse mat, Razer BlackWidow Ultimate gaming keyboard, Razer Onza Tournament Edition Xbox 360 controller, and Razer Chimaera Xbox 360 gaming headset. The cutting-edge peripherals will give fans of the series a competitive advantage in the epic battle to save the galaxy from the ancient alien race known only as the Reapers.
I intend to play the game with a cheap little half-sized wireless mouse I picked up at a Wal*Mart in Wyoming, myself.
Fare thee well, Drew Karpyshyn:
I just got back from Vegas. Now, I don’t really need an excuse to go to Vegas, but this time I had a good reason. You see, I was celebrating a major life milestone. As of last week, I have officially retired from BioWare. (I’ll give all you gamers a second to let that sink in. Just to be clear, the parting was completely amicable, and 100% my decision.)
For the past twelve years I’ve had the privilege to work at one of the best companies in the video game industry, side by side with the most talented and incredible group of people I’ve ever had the good fortune to know. I’ve enjoyed my time at BioWare immensely, but it’s time for me to move on.
I’m leaving to focus more time and energy on my novels and other non-video game related projects. But even though I’ll no longer be working on games for BioWare, I’m not going to be severing all ties with them. Many of my closest friends still work at the company, and I’m also in the process of writing the next Star Wars: The Old Republic novel, though I can’t say too much about it yet.
Karpyshyn has worked on numerous BioWare titles, from Neverwinter Nights onward, and is by any measure a very talented writer who rightly deserves to enjoy success telling his own stories.
Here was Joystiq’s take on it when it was first announced:
EA really wants you to know that Mass Effect 3 exists. Like, so bad. The publisher’s fervor for raising awareness about ME3 is so great that it’s strapping six copies of the game to six high-altitude weather balloons spread across the globe, and launching them into the literal stratosphere, which is effectively space when spoken in the same sentence as “balloons” and “video games.”
Paris, London, Berlin, New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas will all play host to one of these advertising airships, which are set to launch next week. Eventually though, these puppies are coming back down.
Each copy of the game is equipped with a GPS tracking device, and crazy people will be able to monitor the games’ positions on the official Mass Effect website. Once they land, whoever scrambles to a crash site first will get to keep the copy and play the game a week early, assuming the damn thing is still somehow intact.
No word on whether they’re actually calling it the “Space Edition” of Mass Effect 3, but that’s a label I’ve seen used in a few places.
Anyhow, as I said, these were all lanuched this week, and in at least one case the result was rather hilarious. Leave it to a strong wind and a tall tree to mess everything up, eh?
Over 5,000 pieces of software powered by this actually quite surprisingly old engine are now in various stages of planning and/or development.
Actually, in the Gameranx editorial that RPGWatch links to, the author uses the outdated phrase “jump the shark” instead. But the question posed (and answered in the affirmative) is the same.
What say you, Dragons and Dragonettes?
Hudson, of course, is the executive producer for the Mass Effect series, and CVG scored a big chunk of his time to ask him questions about a whole slough of topics.
Buskell is the game’s associate producer, and Gaspur is the senior combat designer. As you can well imagine, the interview mostly focuses on topics like the addition of multiplayer, and changes to combat and class powers.
Especially when it reaches a stalemate:
Ilum stands in PvP limbo. Camping hasn’t exactly vanished, it’s just shifted to immediately outside a faction’s base. Rather than an overwhelming bombardment of Force powers and missiles over the spawn point, there’s an almost-constant, uneasy standoff just on the border of the instant-kill line. It’s an improvement, certainly, but it’s still not fun. Ilum as it stands currently discourages aggression, because pushing the enemy into their base means you will get fewer kills. So instead of an all-out war, players tend to wait in specific locations, kill each other until one side has been pushed back a certain distance, then stop the advancement and let them regroup. It’s functionally not so different from Ilum’s original iteration.
Ilum, by the way, is one of the planets in The Old Republic, and then one for fairly high-level players as I recall. And, evidently, PvP there isn’t so much fun as it is tedious and stalemated. Which is rather like war, I suppose…and which is why players don’t like it.
Which certainly doesn’t set any records for total number of copies sold or total number of players in-game. It would, however, seem to cement the game’s record for rapid growth.
And if you thought Reckoning’s “Houses of Valor” at-launch DLC was shameless marketeering, consider the fact that at least the Houses of Valor (and the seven or so associated quests) were just a minor side element in that game’s plot (and then one which, after a cumulative day of play, I have yet to encounter).
What has been removed for the “From Ashes” DLC is just…I’m glad I pre-ordered the edition of the game I did, and so will have unfettered access to it. Had I not done so, there is a possibility I’d be furious. I think it will depend on what they do with the new squad member who is central to the DLC. If they turn out not to use him well, I might be more upset at having the DLC than I would have been not having it.
On the other hand, if he’s as critical as reason suggests he should be…
RPS reports on the findings of Destructoid’s Chris Carter. Carter some numbers, adding up what it would cost to obtain all currently-announced DLC for the game. This includes things like hardware purchases for various hardware+DLC tie-in deals.
The number he arrived at: $870 USD
I will love to hear what everyone has to say about that number.
With Mass Effect 3 now just two weeks from launch, the previews have begun to roll in.
As have the early reviews.
Here’s another early review.
And don’t miss this one: one of BioWare’s Doctors offers his “hands on” impression of the game.
Such reviews as these will be moderately spoilery, although not egregiously so since they are from mainline gaming sites, who are likely subject to NDAs. What details have emerged, however, suggest that the main campaign of Mass Effect 3 will run about 20 hours, with another 20 or so hours of side missions which will add to your in-game ability to effectively combat the Reapers.
Which means I’ll be able to put down Reckoning‘s 200-300 hour-length story for a week to finish ME3, and then dive right back in before I forget anything about my charater’s progress.
And my main character is a FemShep.
BioWare community manager Jessica Merizan waded into the swamps of Reddit just recently, subjecting herself to the vissictitudes of an “Ask Me Anything” thread. Naturally, “From Ashes” was front and center:
What is your personal opinion on the day 1 DLC situation- do you believe it is acceptable?
If that isn’t really a question you can answer, then what do Bioware think about the reaction in the community to the announcement of the day 1 DLC?
I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there and I wish the guy who made the initial video about it would have had an open mind before jumping to conclusions based on a leak we weren’t ready to address. Since I’m a BioWare employee, I know people won’t automatically trust me, but I hope people will consider that it wasn’t cut content from the larger game. I was in Edmonton when we were finishing the game in November/December and I was in Edmonton again last month when they were working on the Day 1 DLC. It definitely was only possible to do because the main game was in certification (which means we had to wait for people to test it and make sure everything was good etc before we could get the greenlight to sell it). I also played the game WITHOUT the DLC in my first playthrough and honestly, it’s an awesome addition but I was more than happy with what I was given in the game. It’s bigger and more expansive than ever. Of course, I understand the concern but I hope we can all have an intelligent conversation about it and cover what the facts are in this situation.
Hope that helps a little bit. This is an awkward format to answer this question, but I know I could explain it if you were sitting next to me on a couch with some coffee/tea
Hit up GameBanshee’s post for the complete list, and excerpts from each. BioWare has a lot of people out in the field talking about the game with a lot of different media outlets.
The Silent Grove, the latest Dragon Age comic series published by Dark Horse, launched last week.
IO9 doesn’t so much pose the question (actually echoing Pop Bioethics), as beg it and answer strongly in the affirmative. And in some ways, I agree with them. Consider:
In nearly great popular science fiction universe, there is a flaw. Born of systemic bias, the flaw is one that fundamentally undermines the narrative that carves its way through the characters, species, technologies and worlds that populate any given sci-fi story. Our greatest stories set in space often reference the flaw with oblique references to a long forgotten species, cataclysmic events, or godlike entities. Something is wrong with the universe, but we cannot place it.
Consider the canon of epic science fiction universes. Like a black hole one can see the flaw by observing the light cast in those moments that confront it at its edges: the series finale of BSG, Q’s tests of Picard, the Butlerian Jihad, the Buggers, the Borg, the obliteration of Alderan by the Death Star. Yet ultimately each of these narratives turns away, unable or unwilling to withstand the abysmal gaze emanating from the depths of the universe. The flaw in every science fiction series is that they shy from the deep horror of the existence of intelligent life in infinite spacetime – save for two: the one that brought first brought it to our attention and the one that sees this horror as the framework for reality.
The flaw is a simple one: the assumption that life has meaning, that intelligent life has a purpose, and that humanity contributes anything to the universe. H.P. Lovecraft, a man “against the world, against life,” refused to assume the universe was good.
Underneath it all, there is the Cosmic Horror of Sovereign, The Collectors, Saren’s indoctrination, and the Keepers. Mass Effect has not one but two entire species — the Keepers and the Collectors — that exist as mindless drones at the beck-and-call of the Reapers. It is herein that the great flaw of the universe so often unaddressed by science fiction is elevated and exposed by the narrative of Mass Effect. The Reapers are biomechanical equivalents of the Elder Gods of H.P. Lovecraft. If the xenomorphs in Alien had a deity, it would be a Reaper. Inconceivable, immortal, uninvolved super-beings that are not divinities per se, but so far beyond our realm of existence as to drive insane those who encounter and worship them. The seat of being, the mind, becomes rent apart and irredeemably misshapen to bend to the whims of a malevolent ancient life form.
The resulting slaves, the Keepers and Collectors, act without thought, remorse, or concern. And they become all the more horrible once they are fully revealed. The Keepers are thought to be beneficent until it is revealed they serve not the inhabitants of the Citadel, or even the Citadel itself, but the purpose of ensuring the Citadel will serve the cyclical apocalypse. The Collectors are revealed to be the remnants of the Protheans – the foundation species that was thought to be the galactic civilization in the wake of which Citadel Space had formed. Instead, Mass Effect exposes the very basis of intelligent exchange in the universe, the Mass Relays, to be a Trojan Horse. Reality is a ruse. Progress a lockstep, well-treaded path to oblivion.
The Reapers and their cyclical destruction of civilization represent one of the most nihilistic interpretation of intelligence in the universe ever presented. Mass Effect answers Fermi’s famous question, “Where is everyone?” with a matter-of-fact, “They have been consumed.”
Now, at the same time as it tells a mostly Cosmicistic tale, Mass Effect does flip the script somewhat. The Protheans figured out, too late, how to avert the main trap that the Reapers had set, and despite the seemingly hopeless disparity in technology, there exists a threadbare reason to hope that this time around, the combined might of the various galactic races might just be enough to drive the Reapers back (albeit at staggeringly high cost).
And lowly humanity will be at the forefront of that fight; in fact, they are central thereto. We do not get the option, after all, to have a Turian Shepard.
This trailer includes some footage from the E3 trailer for the game, and given the way its release was staged over the course of a couple of weeks — with bits of footage being added with each iteration — one suspects that in the end it was all prepared as one massive trailer and chopped up for later release.
IGN has an interview with The Doctors BioWare, Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka. Nothing incredible, but there are a few interesting comments on the challenges of building games that offer meaningful choices to players.
In case you were curious about the “making of” that live action trailer up there: