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March 21, 2014

Welcome to another edition of the mailbag! I'm currently still busy with Dark Souls II but I've also started up Final Fantasy X-2 for the the Mailbag Challenge. It's amazing how an open mind and years of more varied game playing can give you a completely different perspective on a game. While I'm still not in love with the mission based structure, I am absolutely being sucked in by the infectious goofiness of the whole affair. Even the soundtrack, which I didn't like at the time (maybe just because it wasn't Uematsu) is clicking with me a lot more. I've got a good feeling about this run! Hopefully I'm still having a blast by the game's end.

Anyway, let's jump right into it!

- Michael "Wheels" Apps

This Edition's Contents:

Hot Topic (not the store)

Hey Wheels,
You mentioned that a hot topic you saw on the internet was What Should Bioware Do in the next Mass Effect.

Wheels' Comment

Well, it was more something that I wanted to hear people talk about than an actual hot topic, but carry on!

Well this is what I think she be done in the next game. Before I really get into it I honestly think the next game story should not involve the Reapers or the Geth or be about saving the galaxy.
That is not to say that they could not be in it, they just would not be the main focus of the game.

Wheels' Comment

I can agree with that. Especially considering if it's a game taking place after the previous Mass Effects picking one canon ending or making it ambiguous would make it very difficult to include them. Of course a prequel could work, which would by its very nature then not be able to strongly involve the Reapers.

For me the next Mass Effect game should focus on the underworld that we caught a glimpse of in ME1-ME3  especially in ME2 and the ME3 DLC that took place on Omega.
Think if they did that we could get a better glimpse  of what life is like in the Mass Effect universe as a whole if you are not a soldier.
First off I think the game should be set about 4-5 years before the first game maybe a few years after the First Contact War.  Want it set after the First Contact War because the game
could bring into play the bias felt towards humans in the years after the war.

Wheels' Comment

I think there's tremendous potential here. The first three games created a very interesting universe with plenty of room of stories to go back to without having to worry about how future sequels will handle the multiple endings just yet.

In terms of the story  personally want it to be a scifi noir game, where you play a private detective or something like that and the story is all about the cases you take that seem not to be related
but on subtle levels they all tie into the overall story of the game. Say Mass Effect meets the Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep.  Want it to be a more personal story.

Wheels' Comment

Holy cow, now I want a Mass Effect Noir that will probably never happen, damn it!

One idea I had for the story is you before you became a detective you served under Ashley's Williams grandfather but because of how he was treated you left the military.
In order to tie into that when creating your character, you would choose what you did under his command, like one was you where an officer in charge of information warfare,
another option would be say you where a soldier in charge of one of his commando squads not sure what a third option would be but depending what you picked would help determine your detective skills.   If the game went another route choose you could choose from say being a c-sec officer, mob-enforcer, or a thief and like the original ME games quests would unfold depending on what you picked.

Wheels' Comment

That would certainly allow for many different replays. Not only that, but the smaller scale nature of the story would mean there would be very few restrictions on the variety of endings. There's a lot of untapped potential here I think. You could even do dlc bonus cases to do more fun detective stuff.

Will not go into any more depth but with the Mass Effect games Bioware created a fantastic scifi universe and they have barely scratched the surface of it, whatever the next game entails,
hope they take us deeper into the looking glass.


Wheels' Comment

I agree wholeheartedly. The ending to the trilogy left many of us with mixed feelings, but a lot of that is because of how much we all loved the journey through the incredible universe leading up to that. The choices we made, though they may not have effected the final story much, change the road up to it, even resulting in the life or death of entire races. There's so much more they could do with the universe, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

Grumpy Old Men

Is the level of negativity in the gaming community something new, or just something more focused on now?

Wheels' Comment

I was hoping someone would tackle this...

It's not new, but I don't think it's more focused on either. The negativity of the gaming community stands in direct relation to the great-to-crap ratio of game releases.

Wheels' Comment

I suppose? But how is that determined? While in earlier 3D gaming days it was easier to agree on awful games, it's not so cut and dry anymore. That's not even getting into the fact that some of the publishers and developers notorious for shovelware aren't around any more. While there never was a time where everyone could agree on the quality of any given game, it seems worse so now, or at least opinions seem more extreme.

I honestly can't think of too many games that I would consider must-plays in the past year. The best games of 2013 were all sequels of game series that I don't see as having done much to bring a lot of new things to the table (like Fire Emblem), or... spiritual successor series that... didn't bring a lot of new things to the table (in my humble and uninformed opinion).

Wheels' Comment

To each their own I suppose, because I actually found a lot of these sequels actually did bring a lot new to the table (Fire Emblem) or in some cases were just fantastic and solid entries in established series ( Shin Megami Tensei IV). I'm not sure why everything has to "bring something new to the table" to have any sort of value. Gaming history is filled with revered titles that tweaked and solidified existing ideas to a sharp point, without necessarily being completely new or fresh. I see nothing with iterating so long as it results in fun games (I have no complaints about all the versions of Street Fighter IV for example).

There isn't a lot of new stuff out that feels fresh. Everything feels like a rehash of a rehash and to be quite fair, anything I forgave pre-PS2 era I can no longer forgive. And let's not even begin with Square Enix releasing all those pay to play monstrosities that mock the franchises we so loved once. No

Wheels' Comment

Why exactly? The PS1 and PS2 era are filled with games that couldn't quite get past technical limitations. This newer era is filled with games where that is largely no longer an issue, save for games that go too far and create an unstable environment (I'm looking at you Skyrim). Of course, despite better technology where are getting plenty of rehashes like the Call of Duty series. Of course these games that reach for the stars have created many challengers to the throne that clearly didn't have the technical know-how or budget to pull of (hi ArcaniA) so I suppose it's a double edged sword. Still, there's been plenty of fresh titles on portable systems that often go unnoticed. It's not a perfect environment, but are we forgetting the days when the likes of Summoner and King's Field where the representative of your average RPG?

Also your mocking of the MMOs is odd considering how much of a lover letter to past games Final Fantasy XIV often feels like.

The last RPG I bought was The Last Story (quite fittingly) and I can't remember when the last time before that was when I bought a new game. I honestly can't. But I have to be honest with myself and accept that I fall Squarely (sorry) into the grumpy old grognard category of gamers. I am no authority on the matter.

Wheels' Comment

It's OK to be in that category, so long as you realize that you are. Getting older largely sucks in this regard. It's hard to be excited for new games when we now have a better idea of what any new game will be. There's less room to be surprised, and enchanted. The games to provide this are out there though. I'm always on the lookout for the next game to do what Resonance of Fate and Dark Souls have done in providing that exact excitement and surprise I thought were impossible. Don't give up! The games you're looking for are out there somewhere.

ps. I do like the new mailbag set up.

Wheels' Comment

Thanks! I'm glad people are enjoying it. I can tell you from my perspective it is a million times easier to work with.

Top Tweets

Wheels' Comment

Kyle I couldn't agree more on the need for an HD version of Final Fantasy XII on Vita. That game is incredible, and another case of an international version we never saw released in the West. Having that international version with the new license grids and fast forward feature in glorious HD, with a Vita version is a dream that needs to become a reality. Make it so Square Enix! More Final Fantasy on Vita!

Jeff I wanted to disagree but playing the game now and getting things fresh in my mind it's hard to argue that a lot of the music in Final Fantasy X isn't forgettable. I don't think it's bad, and the notable themes are still quite good, but comparing it to the soundtrack that preceded it in Final Fantasy IX does it no favors. Seems to me it was past time at that point for some new composers to takeover the series soundtracks. IX would have made a fitting cap on his Final Fantasy career. Still, it did give us the delightful otherworld.

Ken I think you're right. We're now well past X-2, the VII sequels, and The After Years so X-2 really does look much better in retrospect. I'm certainly enjoying it now. Perhaps just coming out relatively close to X when we were all still very serious about it, made the story particularly harmless to the immediate reactions? Certainly the battle system seems to mostly get praised. After XIII-2 got positive reception from many, and Crisis Core continues to be a favorite of many fans, I have no doubt that we'll probably see more direct sequels in the future. I'm perfectly OK with this, especially if they dare to be as different as X-2 was.

Hot Topics

Here are some hot topics I've seen around the net:

  • Is the level of negativity in the gaming community something new, or just something more focused on now?
  • No seriously, where are your Dragon Quest VII thoughts and opinions?
  • What should BioWare do in the next Mass Effect?

See you next week!

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