Casey Hudson served as the project director on Mass Effect 2 and I think as you play it you'll really be able to see what he's talking about in action. Hudson's gut response to the question was that we tend to pigeonhole games based off some game to which we then compare every subsequent one of that type. To Bioware he said, "the high level idea of what an RPG is, is not rooted in a reference game." He then gave three founding elements for their definition:
- Story plays a central role, and the player's involvement as the character can change the outcome of that story.
- Combat is more considered than a pure action game and incorporates tactical concepts.
- The player's character grows over the course of the game developing skills, abilities, etc.
When I later sat down with doctors Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka, they reiterated these points and offered a little additional color on the subject. Story is, they said, "the mirror that reflects your actions." With combat they then try to create the "chill down the back of the neck" experienced as an explorer of new worlds. And character progression is the equivalent of the classic literary hero's journey. They also see a fourth defining element emerging in social interaction between players outside the traditional definition of the game space.
From my experience playing a considerable amount of Mass Effect 2 over the weekend I think it will be very interesting to see how people respond to their design approach. I'm not through the game so I won't have a review coming but I will post some in-depth impressions from the first 25 hours or so of the game.
Here's a few things from today on the Shack to tide you over until then:
- 2K scales back BioShock 2 DRM plans
- BFBC2 'Squad Rush' mode only for GameStop pre-orders in North America
- PC version of Assassin's Creed 2 dated and system requirements given
- Monster Hunter Tri coming in bundle with classic controller pro for Wii
- Next Left 4 Dead 2 update in a few weeks
- Vote for the cars you want in upcoming Forza 3 DLC packs
- EA using separate engines for single-player and multiplayer in the next Medal of Honor
Oh, and a quick update because we have stuff to give away. Want a Sacred 2 BattleMat mouse pad? Start/get in the thread to that effect and we'll pick 40 winners to send one out to.