Let’s Speculate – ME4

I have a soft spot for sci-fi, in particular the socio-psychological stuff.  Give me Clarke and Asimov any day.  I’ve read a pile and a half of books on space exploration and the impacts on people.  There’s a fairly solid foundation of possibilities when that topic comes up, as well as a whole lot of tropes.

Space, as it is, is immense.  It would take years to reach the next star, let alone the next viable solar system.  Liu Cixin’s Three-Body Problem series tackles that issue wonderfully.  The time to reach that space would be time-locked, where you would not progress but everything around you would.  Haldeman covers that in the Forever War.  You just have to look at the past 10 years of progress, to see that we grow at a near exponential rate.  People from the 1800s would consider us magicians.

And there’s Robinson’s Mars series (Clarke’s Rama series to some extent) on the effects on sending the brightest people you have to a remote area without direct supervision.  It doesn’t ever bode well.  The reason these people are trailblazers is exactly because they don’t follow the rules.

So when I read about Mass Effect’s “space colonization” plot line… I can’t help but shake my head.  It’s like a bad Star Trek (TOS) episode.

  • The trip takes 600 years and the expectation is that nothing changed (space telescopes!)
  • Of course they land on a planet with existing humanoid aliens
  • Of course the humanoids speak a language we can understand
  • Of course they are hostile
  • Of course there’s some “magic god race”
  • Of course some massive disaster that occurred
  • Of course the lead protagonist gets thrust into a god-like role early on
  • Of course everyone accepts this fact without question and without ensuring you’re qualified to do the work
  • Of course everyone wants to sleep with you

This is pulp fiction, not science fiction.  People are up in arms that the possibilities that this concept had were wasted.  So what?

I will compare to Horizon, given that it has some similarities.  Space isn’t the factor, but time certainly is.  You start as an outcast and only gain admittance so that you can prove them wrong and get answers.  You deny that you’re any kind of savior and are generally bitter than you’ve been given that mantle.  The previous generation has a logical growth of issue, decision, action – and you live with those repercussions.  The overall lore makes logical sense, given the data at hand.  Even though the plot revolves near entirely on gods in the machine, that is not the plot device.  Every decision/action is based on human choice.  There’s a logical flow to events.  It isn’t complex, and it doesn’t take large tangents, but it is cohesive.

I’m not upset that ME4 is taking this approach, not in the least.  Pulp fiction has it’s place. The irritant here is that expectations for Bioware games are higher.  People expect some level of “great” when playing the games, and expectations are always a challenge to meet.  If the game was made by anyone other than Bioware, I’m rather certain that there’d be half the fuss going on.  Maybe it’s just time to realize that the glory days of amazing games from that studio are long gone, and that they are aiming for breadth rather than depth.  Nothing wrong with that at all.

2 thoughts on “Let’s Speculate – ME4

  1. I had a similar argument to it on the basis that I am expecting Michael Bay, not Roger Zelazny (and that is OK). Much for the same reason most people find the Avengers movie(s) enjoyable, although The Watchmen was far deeper and nuanced. As a big ME fan (read books about it, lots of wiki on history of races, etc.) there is a surprising amount of depth to a lot of what went in on ME 1-3 (And prior). It just isn’t played out in the normal game play as it would be a snails pace and bore the heck out of today’s gamer. BUT, it is there, if you are willing to look for it and read a lot.

    I am hoping that the depth is there. Without spoiling there has to be a bigger reason why they went to this galaxy, and looking at the galaxy map gives some hints. In the Mass Effect universe only 1% of the Milky Way has been fully explored and it would make sense that the “resource rich” galaxy of Andromeda could be found simply by exploring the other 99% of the Milky Way.

    I have two theories of why they really did the 600 year trip, one more obvious than the other, but yeah, spoilers, so probably not the time or space to do that in. I do believe it is not as superficial as everyone is lead to believe and I really hope that plays out.

    The Andromeda Initiative left the Milky Way in around 150 years from now, so the tech isn’t that much further ahead of what we have today based off of that. Game wise we only discover Prothean tech on Mars around 50 years from now, which actually sounds like a plausible timeline to send people there realistically =)

    Not nit-picking – but the alien planet we land on first with the humanoid aliens don’t have a language we can understand although halfway through the second planet we have fed enough raw data into the AI that we can sort through some words), and that is reflected while reading data logs that you get maybe a sentence here or there.

    Also not nit picking, but not everyone wants to sleep with you. Trust me, I have tried. /smirk


    • I am certainly curious is the lore payoff is there. Not holding my breath for the same reasons listed earlier.

      It seems to be like when an author picks up a series after the first one leaves. Sanderson after Jordan was OK, but not the same.

      Glad you’re enjoying it so far. Happy hookups


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