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A severe lack of urgency, this piss anyone else off?

irishScott

Lifer
Oct 10, 2006
21,568
2
0
So recently I got the Star Wars bug and decided to re-play "Empire at War". Let me start out by saying I think it's a solid game overall, and did a decent job (at times) of capturing the "Star Wars Experience" in that it got a lot of the atmosphere right. Yeah the battles were typically simple and straightforward, but hey so were the battles in the movies. I'd give the game a 7/10 overall. My one main issue is with the plot: there is zero urgency to anything.


Granted the "Corruption" expansion fixed most of this issue, and with the Empire and Rebellion they were tied to a preset plot, but there was so little urgency despite the supposed future-of-the-galaxy nature of the missions. In fact, the game encourages you, in an in-game pop-up hint, to take your time and conquer all the unconquered, revealed planets before moving onto the next story mission. And you have to do this (on hard difficulty at least) otherwise the cheating computer (production times and costs are much less) will swarm you to death with impossible numbers. This is sorta justifiable for the Empire (they're the big bad pompous empire, makes sense they'd take their time), but the rebellion, true to form, portrays each mission as time critical and of earth-shattering proportions. From a plot standpoint this makes sense. You're supposed to be leading a relatively weak, fragile underground that can't afford serious losses. But that kinda loses its validity when I have to take over 6 planets before moving on to the next mission. By the later stages of the game it's hilarious, as I've taken over 2/3 of the galaxy, have an invincible fleet with half a dozen Mon Calamari Star Cruisers and ridiculous numbers of all other craft, and have repeatably taken out the "Empire's" most fortified worlds with ease. But the missions still talk like I'm leading some fragile underground instead of the now reigning superpower of the galaxy. There's one mission where Mon Mothma states that Mon Calamari just rebelled (even though I liberated it hours earlier) and the empire's sent a huge fleet to take it back. Never mind the fact that Mon Calamari is deep in my territory behind multiple fully fortified systems at this point, they REALLY play up how badass this fleet is. I destroyed it in 10 minutes, lost about a dozen ships (out of over 100). On hard difficulty.

I'll admit this changes when the empire gets the death star and stars blowing up planets at will, but given my fleet all I have to do is fly it to the death star, park luke skywalker in a corner so he doesn't get killed, wipe out the comparatively pitiful escort fleet and I win with a cheap cinematic.


Even completely plot-reliant RPGs like Mass Effect have this problem, especially the first one. In the 2nd and 3rd they at least tried to tie in some of the extra missions with the main plots, or else rewarded you with action and character development. In the first one I could learn about Illos and The Conduit (which, for the uninformed, is a matter of EXTREME urgency that you find it first), and dick around doing side missions for what amounts to weeks in-game.


Crap like this is part of why I contributed to Shadowrun Returns and Wasteland 2. I'm no graphics whore, but it's a sad thing that every game with modern graphics seems to have the most cut-down plot in the world. I don't mind if the big game companies reasonably dumb down the gameplay, but at least have it make sense.
 

borisvodofsky

Diamond Member
Feb 12, 2010
3,606
0
0
hey buddy. From what I can tell you're still trying to make up your mind on whether to stay a kid or become an adult.

These plots are stupid because you've outgrown them. ;)

Things are not any more dumb today than they were when we were younger. If you take a stern look at some of the older stuff we put up with, they're quite honestly full of holes too. :|
 

irishScott

Lifer
Oct 10, 2006
21,568
2
0
hey buddy. From what I can tell you're still trying to make up your mind on whether to stay a kid or become an adult.

These plots are stupid because you've outgrown them. ;)

Things are not any more dumb today than they were when we were younger. If you take a stern look at some of the older stuff we put up with, they're quite honestly full of holes too. :|
Not the games I played.

Diablo, Diablo II, System Shock 2, Star Control 2, Starcraft, Darkstone, Planet's Edge, Oregon Trail, Time Riders, Logical Journey of the fucking Zoombinis had more urgency than a lot of what I play nowadays.

And my issue isn't usually with the plots themselves, it's how they're conveyed. To got back to Empire at War, it has a decent plot for what it is (a Star Wars spin-off). But that didn't produce enough missions to give you more than 3-4 hours of gameplay. So they decided to artificially pad the game by forcing you to take over the entire sector down to the last futuristic portapoddy before advancing to the critical mission.
 

Red Hawk

Diamond Member
Jan 1, 2011
3,266
169
106
Even completely plot-reliant RPGs like Mass Effect have this problem, especially the first one. In the 2nd and 3rd they at least tried to tie in some of the extra missions with the main plots, or else rewarded you with action and character development. In the first one I could learn about Illos and The Conduit (which, for the uninformed, is a matter of EXTREME urgency that you find it first), and dick around doing side missions for what amounts to weeks in-game.
Mass Effect 1 definitely had an issue where it provided no real urgency to completing the quest, but Mass Effect 2 and 3 did some things to bring a sense of urgency. In 2, a couple time The Illusive Man will call you up and you have to drop everything and go on a mission NOW. Also, at the end after the Normandy is ambushed and your crew is abducted, if you dick around too much before going on the final mission all but one of your crew will die, but if you go immediately you can save them all. In 3 several of the side missions, such as going to help out Grissom Academy (where Jack is), if you don't respond to them quickly they'll disappear and the characters will die/be indoctrinated. Even main quests tie into this -- in particular, there's a side mission involving disarming a bomb on Tuchanka that you don't have to complete to move the plot forward, but if you forego it the bomb will go off severely reducing the amount of krogan forces available to you. Not that any of this matters in the end but hey, that's beside the point.
 

Red Storm

Lifer
Oct 2, 2005
14,207
216
106
I loved Mass Effect 1 because the sense of urgency was mine to dictate, none of this artificial/hidden timers in the background crap having more of an effect on the story than my own decisions.
 

irishScott

Lifer
Oct 10, 2006
21,568
2
0
I loved Mass Effect 1 because the sense of urgency was mine to dictate, none of this artificial/hidden timers in the background crap having more of an effect on the story than my own decisions.
So in your mind defeating a rogue training VI on the moon to save the alliance the financial cost of bombing the thing is more urgent than finding the Conduit before Saren?
 

Red Storm

Lifer
Oct 2, 2005
14,207
216
106
So in your mind defeating a rogue training VI on the moon to save the alliance the financial cost of bombing the thing is more urgent than finding the Conduit before Saren?
I'm pretty sure you didn't have to do that mission correct? That's precisely my point, you can decide how big of a rush you are in. It's your game, it's your choice. You may have wanted a rushed story where racing to beat Saren was the one and only thing to do, but I sure as hell wouldn't like that, and I really enjoyed being able to explore the universe at my leisure.
 
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irishScott

Lifer
Oct 10, 2006
21,568
2
0
I'm pretty sure you didn't have to do that mission correct? That's precisely my point, you can decide how big of a rush you are in. It's your game, it's your choice. You may have wanted a rushed story where racing to beat Saren was the one and only thing to do, but I sure as hell wouldn't like that, and I really enjoyed being able to explore the universe at my leisure.
So do I, I'm just saying it should be done in a context that makes sense. If the council just made you a specter generically and later the main plot began, or there were gaps in between missions where you had nothing else to do, that would be different. GTA IV did this nicely. Just saying if the future of the galaxy is at stake on something that is supposedly time critical and you just ignore it, that makes you a pretty sucky spectre.

Plus you kinda have to do at least a few of the side missions to get better gear and XP, at least on the first playthrough.
 

Red Storm

Lifer
Oct 2, 2005
14,207
216
106
So do I, I'm just saying it should be done in a context that makes sense. If the council just made you a specter generically and later the main plot began, or there were gaps in between missions where you had nothing else to do, that would be different. GTA IV did this nicely. Just saying if the future of the galaxy is at stake on something that is supposedly time critical and you just ignore it, that makes you a pretty sucky spectre.

Plus you kinda have to do at least a few of the side missions to get better gear and XP, at least on the first playthrough.
Again, it's a single player role playing shooter, it's up to you to decide whether you want to be a "sucky spectre" or not. The game doesn't force a pace on you, and that's a very good thing.
 

irishScott

Lifer
Oct 10, 2006
21,568
2
0
Again, it's a single player role playing shooter, it's up to you to decide whether you want to be a "sucky spectre" or not. The game doesn't force a pace on you, and that's a very good thing.
But there aren't any consequences one way or the other. I'm just of the opinion that in a game like Mass Effect if you fuck around for too long close to a critical mission the reapers should invade and you lose the game, with the game shoving all the time you just wasted in your face. You want to be a sucky spectre fine, but the galaxy should suffer as a result. That's not a forced plot, that's just a remote sense of reality.

Star Control 2 did it. You learn that the Kor-ah are taking over the galaxy, you see their sphere consuming other races as they go, and the game tells you that in 2-3 years (in-game time) they're going to have killed everything unless you stop them. You still have plenty of time to explore the galaxy as you see fit, and there are side quests, but the ultimate goal remains fixed, and there are consequences for doing it wrong.

Mass Effect tried to combine the freedom of a sandbox game with the driving plot of a traditional linear RPG. As Bioware discovered, they didn't mesh that well.
 

BFG10K

Lifer
Aug 14, 2000
21,862
946
126
I don’t like any sense of urgency. The game should be mine to play at the pace I want, especially sand-box games. If I want to postpone the main quest indefinitely, that’s my business.
 

IEC

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Jun 10, 2004
14,015
3,815
136
I had to read the title twice. "A severe lack of urgency" reads like a bad performance review. Guess I had a rough week at work writing something similar (but less harsh) for an employee. :D
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,548
345
126
And I read the title as 'taking their time putting out bug fixes'.

There's a reason they make twitch games and turn-based, why they make basic chess and speed chess.

Some people like to have 10 seconds to play great and beat a boss before the bomb goes off, and some like to spend 20 minutes deciding on just the right plan for the next turn.

I think the OP's point both has some merit and some flaw. A flaw is, it's not for everyone, and can detract from gameplay by removing non-urgent gameplay.

Some merit is that one thing people look for in some entertainment is a fast sense of pacing.

There's the Jason Stratholm or Jason Bourne movie like a techno song fast paced, and there's the Jackie Chan movie with action but taking its time to make jokes.

If the game is a story about a threat to your army, it can reduce immersion to have slow paced gameplay not too consistent with the urgency he mentions.

Imagine if Frodo had decided to spend a month to relax in Rivendell just to chat with Bilbo. It's not too consistent with the story or the pacing some readers would like.

This is probably the result of the game designers just not caring much about the issue and giving the players who just want RTS gameplay that, and those players might not mind.

This is a game design choice, how much to worry about 'integrating story and gameplay'.

There are a lot of odd uncles who have mansions they decided to put puzzles in.

On the low end you might get a game that is 'Command Conquer with Star Wars units' having nothing more to do with Star Wars.

Other games care more to make the gameplay fit a pace and plot. This comes up a lot in adventure game puzzles.

Myst is a good example of integrated puzzles and game - there was a reason for the puzzles, and the puzzle pacing fit the story.

Even MMO's address this having the raid for the 'action player' where you might have seconds to play just right, and crafting with no time pressure or urgency for other players.

Dramatic series have to ask similar questions. Star Trek needed a certain amount of action and not too much for its formula whether the story needed more or less; a lot of fans were please to have the series take the 'Organian Peace Treaty' (sp?) from one episode then affect the plots for the rest of the series.

One problem is that the Star Wars story is a thin one IMO to try to put a lot on. Empire versus rebels, typical kid SF hero fires the key shot to save the war. Add Ewoks and stir.

So, sure, it's more likely going to get treated as little more than the cash cow license, by turning units into Star Wars named units, sell a lot more games.

It's up to customers to communicate to developers they'd like something else.

What some players want is like what they did with Battlestar Galactica, improving on the original in many ways (and they didn't forget the plot, really, from season to season).

The point I think is reasonable by the OP is that a game sold on this sort of story and plot should try to have the gameplay keep the sense of urgency.

Those little things can help the enjoyment of the game. A lot of players are pretty picky about wanting things like consistency.

My own annoyance was when they were highly gratuitous in throwing things together, like a 'fantasy' veneer for a basic 'click 3 crystals' game - or one where they actually combined the ubiquitous 3 crystal gameplay with texas poker. It was just annoying - 'the king wants you to go that map now, and defeat the knight by clicking crystals'.

But I have to say, when they do it better, even that can work ok for a 'casual game'. Having a decent quality game made me begrudgingly admit I enjoyed Puzzle Quest more with the fantasy trappings than without - I just didn't want to, I wanted to yell at them for being lazy developers.
 

Soundmanred

Lifer
Oct 26, 2006
10,784
5
81
While swimming in the zero world (as I usually am), the princess awaits impatiently.
The bitch can wait.
 

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