Mass Effect 3.5: The Crowd Buster

Shown here? The WORST THING TO EVER HAPPEN TO VIDEO GAMES! At least, according to players.

March 16, 2012

I don’t really play video games. The last video game console I owned was a Super Nintendo. That doesn’t mean I don’t play Wii or Xbox games when possible, and don’t think I won’t snipe you from across the map if I get the chance. It’s just not something I invest a lot of time on these days.

Others, however, do, and that’s fine. I have my entertainment, they have theirs. Nothing wrong with that. I do, however, have a few questions for people who are furiously up in arms about the Mass Effect 3 ending.

I haven’t played Mass Effect. In any way shape or form. The last modern game I played was Arkham Asylum almost a year and a half ago. I’m asking this as a storyteller and a writer.

Was the ending so bad that players needed to start a campaign to change the ending?

I’m no stranger to franchises that have spiraled into the crapper. Star Trek Nemesis and the Star Wars prequels left me feeling hollow, like their writers had abandoned me for a round of masturbatory filmmaking that left me feeling sticky and alone. Sliders left such a foul taste in my mouth that I almost gave up on science fiction television. I almost wanted to pretend the first season and a half contained the only episodes. I know what its’ like to have something you’ve cared for turned into crap.

Mass Effect 3 Reactions *non-spoilery* by *ghostfire on deviantART

I understand all that, but is there really any point to having the designers and writer change the ending?

Think about it. What would that accomplish? They made an ending you didn’t like and you’ve made your anger known. To keep going, just stop buying games from the company. They’ll be forced to listen. That’s the standard procedure whenever someone makes a bad product, right? Of course, I understand games have changed. It’s not a matter of looking for your princess in this castle or just getting to the end. Today’s games have a story. They are immersive in a way my generation couldn’t have seen twenty years ago. That changes things. You’re part of the story now. You have a personal interest in things.

Unlike watching a show, you’re knee-deep in alien guts… but are there really that many different options available to you? How many possible endings can there be in a game? This is one reason I love tabletop games more than video games. Last night’s game, for instance, I could make things up on the fly to keep the story going and still keep my players happy. A game designer, whether in print or a video game, has to come up with as many combinations as possible to keep the players interested. There’s no improvisation.

Mass Effect 3 WLiiA? by ~soren7550 on deviantART

Like I said, I haven’t played the game. Based on some of the reviews, I’m sure players feel cheated. It’s entirely possible. You should be angry. But a call to change the ending? That means you would have to return your games and wait for new ones and play the whole thing again and see the new ending. Or you would have to watch the new ending on YouTube or elsewhere anytime you finished the game and wanted the “better” ending. Maybe you could download it, but going from complaining to demanding a better ending from the designers seems like a waste of time.

If Super Mario Brothers had ended badly, I would have just not bought future games. But maybe that’s me. I wasn’t invested in the gripping story of a plumber and his lost love as much as gamers today are invested in stories of alien invasion.

And now, let’s cringe at another bad idea: Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows.

Frank Miller is Dead to Me

I should have known when I saw 300...

November 14, 2011

I love Frank Miller’s work. The man created some of the most iconic images and stories in comic books. He made Daredevil gritty. He created Sin City and gave us Marv, Nancy, and Dwight. Because of him, we know what would happen if Superman ever grew the balls to fight Batman.

Surprise! Batman wins.

I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time, but I think I may now have to distance myself from the author and look back on his older works with nostalgia. Frank Miller recently espoused his views on the Occupy Wall Street movement. This, ladies, and gentlemen, is proof that your heroes should always be looked at as people, not gods.

Today, one of my gods fell.

Frank Miller’s Batman by *JonFreeman on deviantART

Everybody’s been too damn polite about this nonsense:

The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

Yes, these protestors are clearly louts and thieves…

Frank, did you know that half of them have full time jobs? Twenty percent have part-time jobs. Another ten percent are students. The protestors do not have “false righteousness.” There is a laundry list of grievances.

Unemployed has spiked, and while more and more Americans are out of a job, the top earners are making more and more. That money has to come from somewhere, right?  A CEO will make 350% what their average worker will make. That’s up from 50% just a few decades ago. Do the people who manage everything really work that much harder than the people who do the grunt work?

Basically, if the companies are making billions upon billions, why aren’t they creating jobs? The tax breaks on the rich have been in place for almost ten years. We’re waiting for them to start creating jobs still? I thought this was the conservative plan? Give the rich more money and they’ll make more jobs. Well…

They’ve had ten years. What happened?

RoboCop Hates Frank Miller by ~Anicomicgeek on deviantART

“Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached – is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.

This is no popular uprising. This is garbage. And goodness knows they’re spewing their garbage – both politically and physically – every which way they can find.

The regulations were put in place after the Great Depression. We softened them under Reagan. Since then, we’ve have twenty years of fluctuating markets, Enron collapsing, and then, just as Bush was about to exit office, all those unregulated gambles and power plays came crashing down with our economy.

The 99% doesn’t want anarchy. We want capitalism to come back, but the right kind of capitalism. The kind of free market libertarians like the Koch brothers and the Tea Party want is nice if you’re a millionaire, but we don’t have that luxury. Maybe it’s the age divide that’s making you blind to the whole thing?

I Am Not A Terrorist by ~Myiesha on deviantART

Wake up, pond scum. America is at war against a ruthless enemy.

Maybe, between bouts of self-pity and all the other tasty tidbits of narcissism you’ve been served up in your sheltered, comfy little worlds, you’ve heard terms like al-Qaeda and Islamicism.

And this enemy of mine — not of yours, apparently – must be getting a dark chuckle, if not an outright horselaugh – out of your vain, childish, self-destructive spectacle.

…Frank, when did Islam become the enemy? Seriously! I’ve written plenty on this, so just read here if you want the lowdown.

In the name of decency, go home to your parents, you losers. Go back to your mommas’ basements and play with your Lords Of Warcraft.

Or better yet, enlist for the real thing. Maybe our military could whip some of you into shape.

Okay, did you miss the part where there are actual veterans at the protests? Shouldn’t be hard to find out about this since a Marine and an Army Ranger have both been injured by police. In fact, the police used flash-bang grenades on protestors trying to help said Marine. If we had ANY sense of honor and respect for our armed forces, the police involved would be fired and charged with… well, something! These men fought for us, for the right to say as we wish, speak our minds, and they came back home only to be hospitalized and brutally injured by our own police.

And, if you follow the second link in this article, you’ll find that a good percentage of the protestors are a bit older than the media makes them seem.

They might not let you babies keep your iPhones, though. Try to soldier on.



The Last Laugh by ~Zombiique on deviantART

As I understand the term “schmuck,” it means an obnoxious person who is stupid or foolish. Frank, I hope you like being pushed to the edge of fandom. I hope you like being remembered for your older works. Fans have stayed with you through Batman All-Stars and a few other stumbles, but this letter is about to help you drop the last of those few annoying fans you still had for your current work. Yes, you are entitled to your opinion. You made that opinion quite clear in Holy Terror.

But thank you for showing us that you either don’t know jack about the movement or you actually believe people who have been screwed by the system, work hard, and want equal pay are somehow anarchists. You write about superheroes who go outside the system to achieve their goals and these guys protesting on the streets are somehow the villains?!

Please, Bruce Wayne would join the protests if he had the time.

Young Bruce Wayne by *ErikVonLehmann on deviantART

Our country has been bought for a long time. I and millions of others have no illusions about it, but this is perhaps the time where our democracy, where our right to free speech and the right to pursue happiness, is the most threatened.

We are no longer citizens. We are consumers in the great United States of Corporations. We used to think people were property. Now we think companies are people. Politicians are to blame for the mess they created, but they were merely the puppets of the banks and the corporate interests. We can keep voting out people who are bought, but until we get rid of the mechanism that allows for what amounts to legal bribery, nothing is going to change. Our government will not belong to the people, but to those who give the most money. Who needs votes when you’ve got billionaire sponsors? Most millionaires, in fact, support an additional tax on their wealth. It’s the VERY few rich who wish to keep things the way they are.

The “hippies” won the culture war. Get over it. The liberal victory is the reason you even have a job.

Frank, given the plot of Dark Knight Strikes Back, you’d think you’d know better. Power corrupts. When the system can no longer deal with that corruption, when the people are powerless to do anything, revolution is inevitable.

We’re not there yet, but it’s getting close.

I can still take pleasure in your older works, take them individually for what they are, but as of right now, Frank, you are gone. Good bye.

Now, I’ll go back to one of the remaining gods in my personal pantheon: George Carlin.