Typer Listens – Andy Moor & Somna with Amy Kirkpatrick: One Thing About You

Contrary to popular belief I actually don’t think the greatest thing that has come out of Skillrex’s revival of the dubstep/electro house scene this side of the 10s is the ear-destroying high pitch sounds and the “wubs”. Don’t get me wrong, those are some…really…nice qualities that an untapped market totally appreciates. I’m not that market though, I like balanced sounds. Skrillex’s style of dubstep, for the most part, has been about mixtures of hip hop with dubstep or the complete and total annihilation of what it means to be “balanced”. And that’s not a bad thing all the time, in fact if Skrillex’s success is a metric then unbalanced highs and lows in music is in fact really cool or exactly what some people want. And if you take a look at the genres before Skrillex  it’s fair to say he inspired many people and changed the way artists approach them. I just don’t care for it and really I think people have gone head-over-heels for it because at times Skrillex has represented the “edge” for hipsters to jump on (no, you’re not a hipster, but there are hipsters for everything that’s new so face it: The person next to you MIGHT BE ONE), it’s either that or my hearing is just weirdly sensitive. The third possibility is the one that keeps me writing this stuff: People just haven’t explored what’s out there. And so I write these blogs and make Typer Tyme the show in the hopes that one day there’ll be a crowd of people looking for the stuff I look for and I’ll finally have some friends on the internet. /sarcasm

Really though I think the best things that have come out of Skrillex’s revival of the dubstep / electro house scene come 2-fold. First and foremost is…well the style of the electro-trend that built out of it. Again, Skrillex’s appeal these days is Jack U and some combinations of hip hop, jazz, lots of genres actually mixed in with his electronic skills. And I have nothing against what he does, in fact he does a really good job at what he does. His style just clashes against mine like tuna salad. Somebody likes it but I know it’s not me. It smells wrong and I think if you need to work that many extra ingredients onto the fish it just doesn’t want to be eaten. But so many artists have looked at what Skrillex did to a late 90s/early 00s breaks-based genre and have been inspired by that. That’s awesome, it’s brought out artists like Savant and Adam K and given fuel to already wildly successful people like deadmau5. In fact I’m pretty sure the entire Monstercat label just wouldn’t exist today if Skrillex didn’t do his thing. Without Skrillex you wouldn’t have today’s track either, at least it wouldn’t be the same. Speaking of today’s track…

That’s the second best thing Skrillex’s work did: It gave electro-bass REALLY GOOD FUEL. Look believe it or not electro-house was a genre that developed back in the late 90s/early 00s as well. Ferry Corsten’s trance album “L.E.F.” in 2006 featured a lot of unique electro instruments through and through and the Above & Beyond crew even considered running a daughter label “Anjuna-Electro” but they folded it after some time (probably didn’t get enough steam). The difficulty with making the music back then either came because the technology wasn’t there to play with more electro-sounds or because someone hadn’t really thought about taking the typically thuddy bass and distorting the crap out of it to the point that it felt warmer than it did impactful. Either way, the resulting sound from our “EDM” movement of the past six years is a textured one, providing a sheet rock of new sounds to build upon or morph from when working with bass. It’s proved so pliant that it works for a big club presence with tracks like iLan Bluestone’s “Spheres” or “Tesseract”, it obviously works well in the dubstep presence (see Xilent’s entire album “We Are Virutal” or deadmau5’s “4×4=12”), and it even works in trance. In fact, it works really well in trance.

And so that brings us to “One Thing About You”, a trance favorite of mine from 2015 that knocks it out of the park. Andy Moor pairs with Somna and they worked with Amy Kirkpatrick on the writing and vocals to create this track that wonderfully represents how trance tracks can use that new textured distorted style of bass as a background element, a presence, and even a piece of the mood set by the songwriting.  The lyrics speak of someone walling up feelings / creating a sense that things are not okay to the person speaking. Yet despite difficulties, the person speaking does not want the other to change. It’s a tangled bag of wanting things or confidence to change without wanting the person to actually change who they are. The drive in is strong but the track really shines as an electro-infused trance anthem as it hits the crescendo. It doesn’t rely on a multiplying time signature or a big “drop” so much as a snare and the lifting of the melodies in pure trance style. This all comes shortly after a bridge mixed with acoustic guitar, piano, and Amy’s lovely vocals in also pure trance fashion. The final chorus fades the strong club sounds and eliminates most other sounds besides a focus on the vocals and the ever present electro-wall that rides the experience through and through.

See also: Tomahawk by BT with Adam K, Keep Your Secrets by Andrew Bayer (Myon & Shane 54 Summer of Love Remix)

Sidebar: Dad’s viewing was today. It went well, many many old friends and family seen and hugged. It was a long day, I’m tired, I wrote this a week ago and I’m glad I did because I don’t to work up the effort to find another song or album to write about today.

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Mass Effect 3 – Saving the RPG (Part 4)

New posts on Wednesday! Not all Wednesdays just…when I have them ready on Wednesdays.

Leaping forward a bit in the story and we reach The Citadel, one of only a few places in the Mass Effect series that truly feels like home. I think being grounded in RPGs with a hub is a really good design to bring to the table. The “board the ship and check every character for new dialog” routine is something so done to death in space RPGs that by this point we have parodies of this process.

But the strength of being able to go to these characters that we do not bring on missions allows players to feel like all characters have some sort of a progress across the game’s story (or some don’t because their emotional attachment to the quest is…minimal). We see these ideas even taken to new expanses in games like Knights of the Old Republic 2 where character interactions don’t entirely involve the player (though they may still surround and regard the player in their character’s absence). Sometimes as you board the ship, characters are talking in secrecy to others about card games, routine maintenance, disagreements that you might settle, or stories from their past that they wish to remain hidden from you in particular. This allows the developers to show players that characters might choose to hide something from their avatar, but restrict the player’s ability to understand what those characters are doing, or what their motivations are. It’s also, altogether, a very interesting social interaction that video games don’t explore often enough in RPGs. So often the hero quest means everyone wants to get to know you, everyone opens up to you, you’re not just this action hero, you’re their developmental hero. The possibility that a person around you loathes you, wants nothing to do with you outside their own self-interest, and even conspires against you and questions you behind your back is…very un-gamey in a party-based RPG.

Regardless the “hub” remains the wonderful go-to grounding zone of the party-based RPGs that BioWare tends to make. And with space RPGs it’s the hub is your ship: The vessel by which you pursue your quest. It’s a wonderful design but I feel like this grounding in a place that’s so important feels even more rewarding when it is earned. And that’s why we talk about the Citadel today instead of the Normandy or the Ebon Hawk.

In Mass Effect 1, the Citadel was what Taris worked as in Knights of the Old Republic. The game starts with a small / short mission that gets the story in motion before you and your party join you on a more non-hostile location where the story develops further and you get to know the characters traveling with you. KotOR 1 did this by crash landing the player and 2 allies on Taris while you hid from a Sith army takeover of the planet. Many quests across Taris work towards rescuing one of your two allies, getting to know other party members that will join you, joining a bounty hunter guild, becoming a fighting champion, a podracer, and then hatching a plan to get off the planet safely. The journey involves getting to know the ins and outs of a planet that has a layered socioeconomic society. The rich live in the beautiful city while the poorer and less privileged live in the lower city and the destitute live in the undercity surrounded daily by the possibility of death, eeking out a way to survive near sewers. The end reward of your long journey is the spaceship that becomes your world hub for the rest of the game. It’s by no stretch of the imagination that BioWare developed Taris as a part of the game players would spend nearly 15-20% of their KotOR experience on. It’s developmental for the story, the characters, and the many different quests and deeper RPG encounters that players will experience across the rest of the game. The same is repeated in KotOR 2 on a mining asteroid. And with Mass Effect 1 BioWare gave players time on a peaceful super space station called “The Citadel”. It functions pretty much the same way Taris does. You uncover more of the plot of what’s going on in the main game, prove it to the Space Council so you can be granted Super Space Agent status, gather a team, meet many people who you’ll remember in years to come while learning a lot about the technology and ancient race that predated human and alien civilizations (where the Citadel comes from), and (lastly) get the awesome space ship that lets you do the rest of the game’s quests.

https://typertyme.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/1cb40-04-taris.png?w=620

For players of the series, returning to the Citadel in Mass Effect 3 and hearing its musical motifs will be reminded of the wonder and curiosity of the station while they gape in awe at just how huge this thing is. It almost feels like Taris and the Citadel are even meant to LOOK similar just to plant in the players’ mind the concept of “open” and “big”, or even “sprawling” when the core games actually consist of smaller worlds that they just spend a lot of time on doing many things. A location like this early on in the game would help players feel like the world is bigger than it is. And that’s…a wonderful thing to do to players actually. Half-Life and Half-Life 2 are these phenomenally paced corridor shooters but because of the use of vistas after long amounts of time making progress and carrying the player to new places, the games feel like they span an entire country or an entire facility in a matter of 8-12 hours.

Design decisions like this would be a fault if BioWare didn’t recognize it and support it the ways they have. In Mass Effect 3, the Citadel feels similar. We’ve escaped Earth, done a mission on Mars and now, for the first time, we explore layers/floors of small side quests, have many different conversations and get an idea of where we’ll be going in the game next without being given the urgency to go there NOW. It’s a chance to catch your breath, get your bearings for the absolutely dense stack of quests you’ll get before too long (too dense in Mass Effect 3, but that’s another entry).

The Citadel in Mass Effect 3 practically serves as a secondary hub as we return to it again and again. We watch characters overcome their losses, find ways to mingle and relax during the brief times they get shore leave, meet family members from their past for the first time, and players get to comprehend how the war is progressing. There’s entire floors dedicated to refugees where you overhear conversations about planets being entirely wiped out (poor Batarians), even some of your party members join the refugees to help their own species that have been run off planets. Meanwhile the political-based floors still have espionage and spy work ready for you to pick up. Even some missions that end on other worlds start at the Citadel as everyone knows it’ll be the last great place of defense in the galaxy, so refugees are going there first. People looking to join the war effort are leaving from there, and in many ways it is this gigantic central hub of communication.

I think this morphed hub that we return to across the game is something BioWare consciously decided to focus on in the game. We watch Kaiden as he rests up from his injury and is granted Super Space Spy status or sit next to our dying friend Thane. With Mass Effect 2 and other RPG titles of BioWare’s, the team was always small, elite, and performing a mission that wouldn’t involve an entire army. It fits with the designs of RPGs where parties and small teams are the foundation of the design (it’s an RPG, not an RTS). And so in the past players have always understood or perceived the scope of what they were doing through the lens of the small transport hub, the campfire that the whole party huddles around or the Ebon Hawk’s many comfortable and quiet rooms as it travels through the dark and silent space. Mass Effect 3 though is a mixture of the experiences. All out war is happening across the universe while Shepard continues to gather his private team of fantastic soldiers and act in the shadows of the same fight for the universe.

In simple terms: You, Shepard, and your team, are reminded of what you’re fighting for every time you return here.https://i1.wp.com/vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/masseffect/images/d/d7/MassEffect2Citadel.jpg

Typer Listens – Andy Duguid: On the Edge

New posts on Mondays! (not every Monday necessarily, just…Mondays)

Friday (September 16th) marks 3 years since this album hit shelves and spawned a few successful singles. It’s not a legendary album by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it a remarkably perfect captured image of music from a year that remains so special to me. But, On the Edge by Andy Duguid is remarkably good and worth your listen. The Scottish producer and performer spends more time building work for the club, and possibly even more time doing work in it, which only heightens the significance of when the man sits down and works on an album. The only other full length album in Duguid’s history is Believe, a release that goes back to 2008. Whether or not Believe is the same interesting collected work of artistic pieces remains irrelevant though because On the Edge remains a good album today. It’s a unique take on trance during a big crossroads for the genre as EDM exploded into new markets and producers / artists started wondering whether to join the revolutions being seen by big-room party work or to pursue the things that have made trance what it is in the past 20 years. The answer was: A little of both, but more of the later.

On the Edge is a collection of 12 trance songs Andy Duguid worked on and built from various inspirations (all of which he shared on a cool SoundCloud audio commentary of the album). The album title takes a line from something his brother once told him, Percussion Man borrows a rhythm and beautiful drum sound he once heard from a public drummer, and When You’re With Me explores darker club-based trance sounds clashing against a common emotional point in the album: The feeling that a relationship isn’t quite what it should be.

This album that uses high melodies, piano, and airy staging in its track-to-track mixing is actually using the elements at hand to its emotional advantage. The clash of feelings with anthemic, dancey hits like In this Moment and Paradise (Richard’s Theme) do at times feel like a producer just drawing lines and connecting dots. But the vision, the instruments at play, and the wonderful talent across the board end in an album that works for the most part, really well. Tiago feels like some sort of an unnecessary bridge from one high point into what’s supposed to the next, but Stars is missing something special regardless, making the tiny piece of the journey a little lackluster. But the end result is nothing short of spectacular.

7even, the ending track on the album might be the most fascinating work to come from the 2013 labor of love. The inspiration here was one Olivia Downie, a young girl from Scottland who died at age 7 to a form of cancer called neuroblastoma. The track’s leading piano tones and notes were played and built around the time her death hit the news. 7even itself, with Jaren’s achingly beautiful vocals here, is quite possibly the most emotional / transcendent high place that could end a dance album. It’s jarring as well, something so sorrowful and emotionally wrenching has blasts of noise, beats, sound that one can dance to as we experience airy sounds and vocals so bright as the sky and the sunlight that it’s hard to not be moved considering the inspiration.

On a separate but important note, the music videos are worth a look as well. Only videos exist for In this Moment and 7even but both received some really well structured storytelling. In this Moment has an air of mystery to it as an old man carries a bunch of stones out to the water. But 7even almost packs an extra emotional (albeit creepy in ways) and cinematic punch to an already visual track as it depicts a girl being presented the 5 stages of grief in horrific fashion.

Ultimately it’s a good album with some cool concepts woven through it, definitely worth your listen for the journey leading up to 7even alone. I bought the album mainly because I liked two leading singles off it and wound up considering it as one of the best albums I listened to from 2013. It’s thoughtful, well polished, and it varied itself well enough while keeping a welcome consistency, regardless of whether or not you were listening to a continuous mix or unmixed tracks.

In the Pipeline (Update on Things)

It’s all “behind-the-scenes” but things are being worked on. Last week I launched Type Tyme 08 and announced my Dad’s hospice care so obviously you can imagine how busy life has been.

Dad’s managing for now and family has visited. It’s been a good (and long) week since he made his decision 8 days ago. His eating habits have improved (go figure, take chemo out of your system and you’re officially less poisoned than before) but pain seems to be on the rise whenever my dad is out of bed. We’re working on a system to improve his pain.

When rough times like this hit I recede a bit from my hobby interests that require more work and dedication to create. That being said, here’s an update on all things Typer:

-Mass Effect 3 blog: I’ve got the idea of what Part 4 is going to be about and I’ve got all the DLC for the game now so I’m burning through it in bigger chunks. The Aria DLC is a real pain though, not enjoying it at all and finding the time to play Mass Effect with no distractions is difficult (due to dialog it’s one of the most demanding games the first time you play it).

-Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst Streams: I’ve done 2 so far and I’m happy with how they’ve gone. This takes even more time than Mass Effect in ways though. I need uninterrupted time. I should take advantage of weekends when it’s not just me in the house watching my dad. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about these though!

-Typer Tyme: Obviously my year-long resolution is going strong and plans and work on it continues to churn month-in/month-out. I’m super proud and super glad of the fact that 1. I’ve kept up on making a mix every month and 2. That it’s turning into something that has a bit of merit to it (even IF there aren’t many listeners). I’m so psyched to celebrate the 1-year mark on it that I’m already mapping out the Record Review years being plucked, the tracks I’m using for each one, and I’m churning some ideas for what I want next year to be like when it comes to this show. Needless to say: It’ll be around, and it’ll include more of what I’ve been doing so far while trying to continue doing new things and challenging myself to create in new ways.

-Project TE: I’m working on another remix at the moment. It’s a lot bigger than the Skylarking remix, and a lot more thought out this time around. I’ve got a lot of ground to cover but for now I’ll just say I’m working on it, and I’m a third of the way through the big first hurdle. I hope to have it done in time for Typer Tyme 12’s release. We’ll see though.

And that’s it, just a quick update on everything I’m up to since I haven’t released much content in the past week or four. Oh, Dark Souls 3’s DLC launches next month as well so I’m getting my NG+ character all the way through the game so they’re ready to dive in when it comes out.

Gotta enjoy some things while they happen, right?

Mass Effect 3 – Saving the RPG (Part 3)

Mars, Kaiden Alenko, and Character Talks

Earth left behind after its sudden invasion, and we get a call from everyone’s side-quest initiator: Admiral Hackett. Boy does everyone love Admiral Hackett. No complaints about him either. In Mass Effect 1 and 2 he heads up the entire Alliance fleet and doles out missions to the Normandy when necessary. Oh, and his voice is really cool.

Hackett says there’s some super important research that has been uncovered on Mars so the game immediately sends us there. Meanwhile we get all huffy and puffy with new human crew member James Vega as he throws a fit that Captain Anderson stayed behind and then we throw ourselves onto the surface of Mars with Kaiden Alenko (from ME1) or Ashley Williams (and James of course).

Okay, before I go any further I suppose I should address this:

How many people actually picked Ashley Williams to survive in Mass Effect 1?

I mean I did, on one of my Mass Effect runs, just to see if anything was any different but jeez if there’s anything anyone seems to universally agree on in Mass Effect, it’s not who is the better OTP for your commander Shepard, it’s that alien-racist-Ashley dies in Mass Effect 1. No one thinks otherwise. I almost want to see an end-of-episode statistic poll on that one.

And no I’m not defending Ashley, literally just curious if anyone has found her character has some redeeming qualities. I guess I’ll find out whenever I play that Shepard again.

Anyhoo, Mars is darn pretty.

Mars_outpost_2186.png

The game even has dialog moments in the core missions where characters talk about something and you’re prompted into pressing a button, the camera wheels out, turns, shows you what the topic at hand is referring to. It’s great, it’s this optional thing that lets you focus on what’s being discussed here and it typically points the players at something gorgeous in the game anyway.

And Mars was a wonderful test bed for this that paid off in my opinion. Sure the whole tragic Earth destruction scenes have their share of these moments too but Mars is something we as human beings today see as our current space frontier. So, seeing Mars as this established space base that deals with the storms and something that even has a built-in tram system to move from station to station, and we even walk around it and inside it, yeah the Mars mission are really where I started to get involved in the game a bit more.

Interestingly enough the beautiful Mars mission is something that leans the series more towards a semi-scripted adventure instead of an open world game. I’ll explain more but first I need to explain Kaiden Alenko a little further.

So while the world may have hated Ashley Williams from Mass Effect 1, Kaiden Alenko was one of three romance options in the first game. He’s a decent character, well written and even has enough backstory as he’s a human that has an older-style biotic implant, went to an academy where biotic kids were treated like crap, he wrestles a bit with the rules and…yeah, he’s likable enough to be someone you don’t mind talking to plenty in the first game. But in Mass Effect 2, Shepard is kinda roped into working for a shady company that does really evil twisted stuff (Cerberus), Kaiden Alenko (or Williams I guess if you saved her) finds out and doesn’t want to see you ever again or want to believe that some hero that killed a Reaper could side/work with someone so shady.

Fascinating to me is that someone can believe that their commanding officer was given visions by an antenna / beacon, and that the visions foretold the coming of a sentient race that will wipe out the galaxy every once in a while, follow that commander’s quest for the reapers to the ends of the galaxy, save the day and then immediately give up on that same person who came back from the dead and told you another sentient race is going to wipe out the galaxy. If you ask me, the sudden shift in Alenko/Williams’s loyalty in Mass Effect 2 is odd and a little misplaced.

What felt even more misplaced that Kaiden is constantly complaining about me working for Cerberus in Mass Effect 3 as well. It’s the focal argument of the Mars mission. I should inform you that at some point during Mass Effect 2 Alenko/Williams send Shepard an e-mail trying to be more rational.

“Then I saw you, and everything pulled hard to port. You were standing in front of me, but you were with Cerberus. I guess I really don’t know who either of us is anymore. Do you even remember that night before Ilos? That night meant everything to me… maybe it meant as much to you. But a lot has changed in the last two years and I can’t just put that aside.

But please be careful. I’ve watched too many people close to me die — on Eden Prime, on Virmire, on Horizon, on the Normandy. I couldn’t bear it if I lost you again. If you’re still the woman I remember I know you’ll find a way to stop these Collector attacks. But Cerberus is too dangerous to be trusted. Watch yourself.”

And yet when Kaiden and Shepard are working together in the Mars mission, he just constantly brings it up to argue with Shepard. Cerberus was right: Collectors were a problem, now they’re gone, Shepard’s left Cerberus, and yet that’s not enough from where Kaiden is siting. Weird, right?

As offputting as it is, it adds drama and tension. Less “Kaiden doesn’t understand me” drama and more “wow Kaiden’s being a real a-hle about this for no apparent reason.”

Across the mission players are reunited with Liara (yup, Liara was my first Shepard pairing and I wanted to do at least one plotline where my pairing never shifts or changes, Liara is that pairing). Some plot-things happen but every pause for talk, it’s either kinda setting the mood for Liara and Shepard (whether or not the relationship should be continued sorta thing, or plot details) and Kaiden v. Shepard’s arguments.

Then something really cool happens.

Mass Effect 3 gets a pretty decent chase sequence. It controls well, the character you’re chasing is in decent sight the whole way, explosions happen, you’re forced to take other routes, and beef-head James shows up and crashes a shuttle to stop the chase. All the parts leading up to this chase are still pretty linear by design, we’re not choosing where next to go on the galaxy map, the corridors are pretty straightforward and the fights are nice and open for tactical design. The chase is the most linear part of the Mars mission and then this cyborg lady beats the crap out of Kaiden oh no!

We manage to shoot / knock out cyborg lady (though the sequence where we’re expected to shoot her several times is awful and I had to replay it twice because the margin for error is stupid slim) and rush Kaiden off to the Citadel’s hospital.

In retrospect and thinking on the Mars mission, I realize that Telltale games released The Walking Dead, their conversation adventure game magnum opus, in the same year that Mass Effect 3 came out.

And this just throws us into the discussion of story, presentation, player agency, and this weird design:

MassEffect3Modes.png

Yeah, this post is actually about story and how EA mucked around in Mass Effect 3. See I think this design here, splitting up how players control the game was a failure. Story mode makes the combat easier apparently, action mode removes the custom characters models you can build and plays out the conversations without your input, and role playing mode gives you everything. It was a mass market appeal design that I think ultimately no one cared about. People probably were up in arms about this when ME3 launched, which is funny because people who played Mass Effect 3 still got what they wanted. What’s wrong with other people being able to play the thing? There is something wrong I’d say in taking a product that clearly has a dedicated playerbase and trying to make it appeal to so much more than that dedicated market. Growth is fine, trying to be as big as Call of Duty or Minecraft is…unrealistic. And yet with this horrible thing that EA did to BioWare in ME3’s development I feel like…Telltale and BioWare would be able to make something cool together. I think Telltale need some real lessons about writing, their writing in games is most of the time just kind of run of the mill (save for a few outstanding games) and their engine is crap by this point, but there’s something there that might be really interesting in a video game.

A non-Mass Effect BioWare / Telltale game is something that might be pretty awesome if done right. Consider the dialog wheel, having to live with consequences. I feel like one of the greatest challenges the Mass Effect games face is that players have save slots and entire wikis that tell you how not to mess up your run that is meant to save certain characters, romance others, and have X certain ending. And sure, people do this because they’re going to invest 30-60 hours in this one BioWare RPG and don’t want to waste a second of it (that’s what I do). But approaching games these ways avoids the real concepts of consequences. Jeez remember the pride people had for not killing Wrex back when Mass Effect 1 was newer? Or if you’ve been playing games for longer than me, remember how awesome it was that you could save your brother in Deus Ex if you did things right? And in the context of the Mars mission, think about the chase sequence, before that the arguments with Kaiden, it’s oh-so very Telltale done right. I was having too much difficulty arguing with Kenny to agree with me in the moments of The Walking Dead (S1) to the point that I just kinda resented the guy for it. I didn’t want to hear more from him. That’s real emotion, backed with real thinking processes that are there in that Mars mission. Kaiden was being a pain, for very little good reason from where I sat, and even my best efforts at keeping him on my good side didn’t magically change the way he thought about my character. He just kept being a jerk.

Telltale games, like Souls games, in their autosaves and constant movement, prevent players from being able to sub-play the game’s systems. It keeps them in the moments. And when it comes to narrative or story, the very thing that should be engaging the player so well into the experience, wouldn’t that be better to keep the players in the moment? Just imagine going through Mass Effect without multiple save banks…

Typer Tyme: After Hours 03

After Hours is an unscheduled “companion series” for the monthly electronic mix show Typer Tyme. Released between episodes of Typer Tyme, After Hours can be mixes of anything and everything from Typer’s library instead of the newer things Typer buys.

This episode of After Hours features a range of harder hitting club tunes including psy-trance and drum & bass.

 

Mass Effect 3 – Saving the RPG (Part 2)

Introductions are out of the way now, so let’s move on to the actual game. That opening sequence is really cool, right!?

Except for people who maybe didn’t play that DLC in Mass Effect 2 where you saved everyone by blowing up a planet and preventing an early Reaper invasion. The context of this is just barely written in for those who don’t know about it and makes for a confusing introduction to the experience. We start off with Shepard going to a hearing because planets are just going dead silent on the edge of space and his old friend and mentor Anderson wants Shepard there to tell everyone for the thirdteenth time that “IT’S THE REAPERS YO”. So the Arrival DLC that people were intended to play at the end of Mass Effect 2 lays this groundwork of Shepard supposedly buying us time to prevent the Reaper invasion but really it just lays the groundwork for Shepard to not be a Spectre and be stripped of his office as a part of the Earth Alliance. It also just makes it easier for Shepard and his gang from Mass Effect 2 to split up and not be a part of Cerberus anymore. All this groundwork is what we call plot convenience because at the meeting more outposts go dead silent and then the Reapers invade Earth making all that setup completely useless (so much for buying time) except to have Anderson put Shepard on the remodeled Normady that he gave to the Alliance, leave Captain Anderson on Earth, and fight the Reapers while Shepard goes off and finds a magical way to destroy the enemy. Here’s where this DLC logic fails: DLC introduces imminent Reaper threat that forces Shepard into sacrificing lives to delay Reapers. Shepard gets stripped of position and surrenders Normandy to Alliance but he has bought everyone time. NOT HAVNG DLC means Shepard still quits Cerberus and gets stripped of position and surrenders the Normandy to the Alliance and this need for more time just doesn’t exist from the player’s eye. And it doesn’t matter or affect the 3rd game, it just adds in a blank hole in the story for your hard earned cash. Truly it was a DLC meant to lead into the third game since the writers needed Shepard & Co. working for the good guys again but it showcases difficulties of game production, writing, and the dreaded DLC monster.

Oh, and Shepard witnesses a child get super slaughtered by the Reapers along with hundreds of millions of other people trying to escape the planet, giving the start of Earth’s destruction a poetic scale to emotionally attach players to Shepard’s long fight with the Reapers. This would actually have been a really effective scene if the entire series had given Shepard any depth beyond the player’s own perceived / custom preferences for certain party members and their potential romantic interest in the series.

There’s even a nice tutorial sequence with Anderson and Shepard shooting their way across a war-torn Earth with a brief pause talking up how exhausting this has all been: Uncovering the Reaper threat, getting people to listen to you, killing Sovereign, fighting the Collectors, and now the war is here. Later in the game this child’s death comes up again in dreams and in conversations with characters like this long struggle has been haunting Shepard. And it probably would haunt anyone who lived to see those horrors. But Mass Effect as I’ve heard it put before is a game in which you’re practically interviewing the other characters in the game as they pose for the game camera and you act as their bartender as they tell you life’s problems. No one cares about your problems, you’re the Commanding Space Hero! And maybe it’s a flaw of the series across its development and maybe it is a part of that grand question that I mentioned before, “What would Mass Effect be like if it launched in today’s video game market?” But this is a thing (so far at least) of too little, too late. Reapers are here, it’s not time for Shepard to have an emotional breakdown. It’s time to kick-ass!

Next post we talk about extended intro sequences, the MARS MISSION, and Kaiden Alenko. OOOOOOOO.