Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

One thing I did this weekend...

I just want to mention that I decided to set Mass Effect on the easiest setting, and play the gimpiest character (Soldier specializing in Assault Rifles) to pound through the game and check out the story.

Bioware does exceptional work on main characters, and major NPC dialogue.

I find myself oddly disappointed, again, in the way they write the characters that only appear for a few moments. Some of them, like the Salarian Infiltration Unit, get some good lines! Most of them, like the cannon fodder Krogans and the various merchants and random people you meet in the universe for various random quests really, really don't get good dialog.

Having met one of the lead writers of Bioware's often very well-written titles (except for this consistent hiccup), I know their attitude is that not every character gets to be a perfect little snowflake. Time and production schedules and the realities of video game production make it so.

But, that's really the wrong attitude ot have game after game after game. Every character is *supposed* to be a perfect, little snowflake. That's our job as writers. We know there's a craft breakdown in the system, that repeats itself game after game after game.

Instead of accepting this, why aren't we trying to find a solution that works?

Hm. We'll see how I feel about this in a couple months.

Mass Effect has some design quirks I don't care for, but all-in-all, it was lots of fun. I suspect video games - as they become more cinematic and more ubiquitious - will grow to dominate the field of adventure stories. Soon they'll out-movie movies, and out-epic epic novels.

When it comes to books, I prefer the kind of books that can only be books. Because Bioware's games are only getting better, among many others, and they're only going to get bigger and more popular.

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