5 Feb 2014

Mass Effect Journal - Prologue

It's Saturday the first of February. I've got some time to work on some posts and I've decided to start my big project. You see a few months back when I first left my stable job, I was in the midst of another run in Mass Effect. Once I lost my job I stop playing and that run came to a halt.


I wasn't working. A person who works earns the time and ability to not work. As I was not earning my coin, I had not yet earned my time with Commander Shepard. Mass Effect, as in the whole trilogy not just one game, is the best RPG I've ever played. It beats out Fallout 3, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 6 (I played it as 3 when it came out on my SNES), Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. Those are my Top 5 RPG's and Bioware's masterpiece beats out its siblings (Jade Empire, Knights of the Old Republic, Baldur's Gate) that come in along side Final Fantasy 8 and SaGa Frontier taking those spots between number 6 and number 10 on my expanded list. You also need to ignore my call in making Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 a single entry.

It is my favorite RPG of all time. Come to terms with it.

I have finished the whole thing, all three games, only once and that was before the whole mess of the ending. By the by, I didn't mind the ending, some more depth would be have been nicer... I'll go into that after the break.

So what's my dumb plan. Well semi-quoting Spider Jerusalem but instead of TV I'm going about Mass Effect "Today I am going to journal a full run of Mass Effect in order to bring back shinning insights into our lives."

All three games, with all the DLC. I have somewhere a Shepard in me that needs to show himself to the world and I will share his exploits to you. To get an idea of the end, hitch a ride of the video below and I'll go over my plan after some comments.

Before I got into my run of the game I need to kill the fucking elephant in the room.

The end of Mass Effect 3 is considered by many to be a kick to the balls. I am not one of them but I can understand how quite a few folks could feel that they wasted their time. Some said that the final choices had little to do with the choices they made through the three games.

Here is my stance.

Bioware had made such an epic event that few ending could have satisfied fans. It was simply too big of a ending and too many times the size of that end can leave a mean bitter aftertaste in the mouth of fans no matter what ending is provided. Outside of this feeling I don't mind the ending as Bioware seemed to have followed the Shepherd Book's (no pun intended) idea that "the Journey is the worthier part." In life too many times those of us make many choices and live with those same choices and sometimes at the end we only have a limited number of choices to make.

What I would have wanted to see was a few more choices involving the Normandy and her crew leading up to the end. Picking my last team, who comes with me into hell and who stays behind on the boat or fights on the planet? When things go south do I call on my ship and loyal crew to help at the cost of their own lives or do I tell them to get clear as I finish the fight? Do I pick my lover to fight by my side to only see her die saving me or do I leave her on the ship so she can escape? Those were some of the choice trees I was hoping to see but Bioware can't read my mind. I do think those would have added a layer to the end but supposedly the new ending DLC that was released as a result of the comments by customers makes the pill a bit more easy to swallow.

I would not be surprised that the whole fiasco probably helped Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk make that last mental leap toward getting out of the gaming business. Which is too bad since they had such a great run.

I can't find any word on the lead for Mass Effect Casey Hudson but his Twitter feed did drop this in Dec.

So I'm glad that this didn't ruin things for this guy who is a major player for my favorite video game RPG of all time.

This was a crazy time for the folks who made this game and those in the community really took things way too far with legal and government action against the game. That's silly as it's a game and the level of entitlement is pretty high on the parts of those who moved forward as such. If you don't like it, don't buy it. Vote with your dollar, don't bully artists and corporations to change their what could be easily considered artistic efforts.

Final Word of the Ending - Play the game and come up with your own opinion before the DLC 'correction'. I have yet to see any of my completed runs go through the new 'improved' ending. This run will have that new DLC ending for the first time.

Mass Effect Project 

The idea is to journal the journey of one Commander Shepard of the Mass Effect games. I will play once a week at a minimum and report here on this blog in his own words. I hope this will be: 1. fun for folks to read on one of my runs and compare it to one of their own. 2. Educational for those who are still on the fence about playing Mass Effect (that should be a relatively small number). I will have a post up each week on Friday. I hope I can keep this up it sounds like fun for me.

Who is Commander Shepard

In my previous playthroughs I always had a character built up in my head outside of the game.

One example is on Magnus Shepard, a xeno-hating adept who is tailored in the same vain as Magneto and a Warhammer 40k Imperial loyalist. Hate the alien and pick Biotics over base humans. Magnus hated Ash due to her family history and allowed her to clean her family failings through self sacrifice with nuclear fire. Unless the Xeno had something Shepard needed they only got Magnus' distain. It made for an interesting experience as sometimes Shepard made a 'good' choice or 'evil' choice based on how it would help humans or hinder aliens not because Shepard was a principled person or a vile human.

So with that in mind I need to round out the Shepard for this journal project.

I'm thinking of a Dirty Job Shepard. That guy who the Earth Alliance calls in to get things do when it's bad. Someone who values those who prove themselves and someone who hates those that waste his time. He spends his days getting dirty and for folks that don't understand they get once chance to get 'it' before he goes over their head. He will make the worst choices if it means no one else will have to get that dirty again. He knows he's the bad guy and he's ok with that but Shepard does it for a reason.

Make things better. Now that's not the same as the greater good. For him it's the affect it will have on others. Will someone else suffer because of him, maybe but others will avoid suffering. Does he do it without conscience? No. This Shepard cares and as such, he will make those tough choices but when it goes too far he will weigh it not against the greater good but the least amount of suffering. If it means he needs to lose then Shepard will lose. If someone needs to suffer allow him to martyr himself for the cause.

Nice start - what's next? Name, backgrounds, psych profile, class, and face.

Name: Virgil Shepard

Named after a favorite Poet and character of Dante's Divine comedy. Virgil in Dante's story is tasked by Brigit (Dante's love) to guide Dante through hell and most of purgatory so she can finally rejoin Dante. Virgil can never enter Heaven and he suffers but he does so in order to make things better.

So far so good...

Background is Colonist. I've decided that Shepard is from the future. He is not from the degs of Earth and he is no military brat. He was there at the front when the things that roam the dark first came for Shepard. It shapes his life to take on the challenges on behalf of those who can't.

Psychological Profile is War Hero. Shepard would have tried to save everyone around him and pushed himself even farther. His need to save those around him at his own personal cost is what drives him to make the tough choices or carry out the dirty jobs. It's not that he thinks he is the only one who can make that choice but he should or someone else will have to suffer for doing so instead.

This is where we are so far...
You were raised on Mindoir on the fringes of the Attican Traverse. When you were sixteen, the colony was raided by slavers. The entire settlement was razed and your friends and family were slaughtered. A passingAlliance patrol rescued you, but all you loved was destroyed.
You enlisted with the Alliance military and were posted at Elysium. You were there during the Skyllian Blitz, an attack on the colony by a massive coalition force of slavers, crime syndicates, and batarian warlords.
You rallied the civilian inhabitants, leading them in their desperate fight to hold off the invaders. When enemy troops broke through the colony's defenses, you single-handedly held them off and sealed the breach.
After hours of brutal fighting, reinforcements finally arrived and the enemy broke ranks and fled. Because of your actions, Elysium was saved, and you are regarded throughout the Alliance as a true hero.

Not bad.

So what is Shepard. I'm thinking Vanguard. He goes in and get's her done. As a biotic he's also had to suffer with the implants that most human Biotics have suffered in order to control their powers. As a Vanguard Shepard will fight up close in his opponent's face. He'll crash their abilities while guarding himself for a beating. It's a real masochistic way of fighting and I think Shepard fits well with that style of play.

As a member of the N7 level training graduates. Shepard also gets a bonus skill. For this game I've picked Electronics. One, this is a key skill for exploring and if I have it it will free up party options. Also Electronics also passively boosts Shepard shields and that with Barrier is a bonus for surviving the hell I expect to put Shepard through.

Last but not least his face. Shepard is a man who has lived through hell and keeps going back in. That cost him his modeling career so he should not be pretty. Yet he is to be inspiring and folks follow Shepard when he needs them and that demands some strong features in his face.

He keeps the hair short and manageable. The scruff is just part of the job. His eyes look tired and on the right side he sports a few scars. Add in a bright green eyes as a feature to notice and contras the tan one would expect from all the radiation one takes from tromping about in space and you have one handsome but rugged Shepard.


So lets get this on the road.

Shepard is ready and the galaxy needs some saving. Lets see how this goes for one Virgil Shepard on Friday.