283: Breaking the Genre Contract

Breaking the Genre Contract

When a developer shapes a game into a particular genre, it's signing a contract of expectations with the player. But how do we react when the game breaks that contract?

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Spanner Spencer:
And yet anyone who's seen Pan's Labyrinth will know this is, in fact, a historical war drama. Did anyone get a period war movie vibe from that trailer? Half an hour into the film and the audience fidgets in its seat, wanting to enjoy the admittedly high-quality drama, yet devoid of attention as they wait for the promised dark fantasy and world of strange creatures to appear. They never do, and the tangibility of their absence is enough to spoil what would otherwise have been a great movie, had it honored the contract set by its promotion.

How is Pan's Labyrinth spoiled by that? It's made better, as far as I am concerned. Yes, I got the fantasy vibe from the trailer, but was pleasantly surprised that it was far more than just a good looking fantasy epic.

*grumble, grumble*

Mass Effect 2 is great, but not an RPG.

*grumble, grumble*

When I play an RPG, I expect certain things. I expect statistics management to be an important part of combat. Mass Effect 2 had a handful of skills with a mere 4 ranks each as it's only real "RPG element". You have minimal weapons choice, and inventory management was totally removed. I loved Mass Effect 1, with it's nice mix of action and RPG, as it was still able to balance itself out as an RPG. Not skilled at shooters? Overheat instead of ammo. Regenerating shields, with regenerating health only available through armor mods.

Mass Effect 2 is a bloody shooter with minimal amounts of team customization and shallow-as-a-toilet combat. And now it looks like they're doing to Dragon Age 2 what they did with Mass Effect 2, trimming too much fat off, and leaving it bare-bones.

Inventory management was a pain in Mass Effect 1, yes, but only because everything you killed dropped something, and you had a relatively low item capacity, with shops few and far between, generally one per world. A little tweaking would have made it an non-issue. Trim the fat, Bioware, don't melt it down to the bone.

I enjoyed Mass Effect 2 for a action-blockbuster that it was, but I hated how damn shallow it was. And how it got PRAISED for dumbing itself down.

Thank god I had Dragon Age...

But the part the really gets me, is that an non-RPG is likely to sweep the "RPG of the Year" awards.

I actually enjoyed Mass Effect 2, as I enjoyed Fable 3, but they are both leaps and bounds away from being RPGs.

Huh. So that's why I didn't like pan's labyrinth and wasn't able to get through the skin to get to the meat. I was never able to understand why I couldn't get into it and now I know. Thanks.

unwesen:

Spanner Spencer:
And yet anyone who's seen Pan's Labyrinth will know this is, in fact, a historical war drama. Did anyone get a period war movie vibe from that trailer? Half an hour into the film and the audience fidgets in its seat, wanting to enjoy the admittedly high-quality drama, yet devoid of attention as they wait for the promised dark fantasy and world of strange creatures to appear. They never do, and the tangibility of their absence is enough to spoil what would otherwise have been a great movie, had it honored the contract set by its promotion.

How is Pan's Labyrinth spoiled by that? It's made better, as far as I am concerned. Yes, I got the fantasy vibe from the trailer, but was pleasantly surprised that it was far more than just a good looking fantasy epic.

Pan's Labyrinth fell victim to two of the neediest women in Hollywood: Bait and Switch. Bait needs attention, and does whatever it takes to get that attention. If that means framing a movie as an action movie, then that's what she does. She's soulless and sometimes cruel, but such is her nature. In getting attention, she gains admiration, which leads to people wanting to spend time with her, and more importantly spend money on her, which is really all she wants.

Meanwhile, Switch is the older sister, less interested in fame and money and more interested in making art (or at least, what she thinks is art). She doesn't really care what Bait does, when it's time to shine, Switch is the one that steps up on the stage and does her thing. If that happens to differ from what Bait had promised, well, tough luck: Switch is giving what Switch always meant to give, and she can't be held responsible for the actions of her precocious younger sister.

Bait is the advertising wing of the movie studio. Her job is to put together whatever pieces from the movie will entice the most people to come see it in theatres, and she doesn't care what effect or relationship it has to the movie itself. If you've ever wondered why the trailers sometimes give so much away, that's why: in showing you all the good parts, she's hoping you'll come see the rest of it. In the end, Bait's ultimate goal is to get as many people to give her money as possible, by any means necessary.

Switch is the team actually making the movie. Her job is to make the best movie she can (given what she's got), and her work begins long before Bait has even heard about what Switch is doing. She continues plugging along, oblivious to what Bait is doing until the finished product actually reaches the theatre, at which point it really doesn't matter what Bait did or said, because what Switch has done is the way it is, and that's how it was always going to be.

The problem is if Bait isn't sure the audience will care about what Switch is doing on its own merits, in order to get the attention she feels she deserves Bait will pick and choose which parts of the movie to show people. If that means rebranding a drama as an action movie to better meet the expectations of today's society, then that's what she's going to do. And if it means showing the good parts up front, then so be it.

This is why we get situations like what happened with Jarhead. The trailer cast the movie as an epic action film, full of explosions and huge balls of fire, with Jamie Foxx leading the charge against Iraq, and Jake Gyllenhaal as the eager young soldier looking for his first real wartime experience. But Jarhead wasn't an action film: in fact, the closest thing to an explosion that could be put in the trailer was actually fireworks being set off. Jarhead was a movie about what it was like to go to Iraq and do nothing, and then come home.

Pan's Labyrinth suffered from a similar dilemma: not only was it actually a period war movie, it was a foreign period war movie, with subtitles. Showing anything from the war part of the movie would have classed the movie as a period war piece, which would have significantly reduced its potential viewership, and classed it as a foreign film with subtitles, which would have reduced the potential viewership even more. So, in the interests of getting bodies into seats, Bait took the most widely appealing aspect of the movie, which is fantastical creatures and monsters, and put them together in one of the best trailers of recent years, even if it was only advertising a small part of the movie's plot. Between that and the movie being good enough to get an Oscar nod, people were drawn to the seats and Bait got her money.

The other problem with Bait and Switch having different interests is that if it takes giving away the plot of the entire movie to get people interested, that's what Bait's going to do, and she really doesn't care what Switch has to say about it. Have you seen the trailer for the new Mark Wahlberg movie The Fighter? If you have, I'm guessing you don't need to see the movie any more. I saw the trailer recently, and it looks like it literally walks you through the entire plot, from start to finish, ending with Wahlberg's character throwing a massive hook before the screen goes dark. And because it's a feel-good movie, you know that hook's going to land. And thus you know the entire plot of the movie, even if you're vague on some of the specifics.

But hey, at least with The Fighter you have to actually see the trailer to have the movie potentially spoiled for you. Remember that teen horror flick I Know What You Did Last Summer? I never had to see it in theatres, because a radio ad included this great line (or one similar to it): "You know that guy we hit on the road and dumped in the water? What if he wasn't dead?" So all the work Bait had done to build mystery and suspense in the trailers by showing an ominous man in a raincoat with a hook for a hand was undone by having to make another ad for a different medium, and the whole point of the movie, which was "who could possibly know what we did?" was spoiled.

And so Bait and Switch continue their dance, with the older sister making movies and the younger one trying to make money off them. Sometimes they agree, and sometimes they don't, but in the end, Bait is taking your money, and Switch has already moved on.

Onyx Oblivion:
*grumble, grumble*

Yeah Mass Effect 2 (the first one had at least some decent stat manipulation and freedom) is hardly an RPG or even a stat heavy action game. It is a TPS with a ton of dialouge tree navigation. That doesn't defin its genre more than MGS is defined by its cutscenes.

Spanner Spencer:
Breaking the Genre Contract

When a developer shapes a game into a particular genre, it's signing a contract of expectations with the player. But how do we react when the game breaks that contract?

Read Full Article

Mixed bag, on all accounts.

Genre can give you a tool to encapsulate the feeling of your game in an easily-communicated blurb. It can also be a label that hooks tons of baggage to it that you weren't aware of when you assigned that label. But the most problematic way in which genre is used is when it isn't. When we allow the marketing to imply the genre, that's when we fall into Shyamalan Syndrome. Yep. That guy.

It started with Signs. Marketed as a creepy, mysterious movie about an ominous (and imminent) alien invasion with hints shrouded in this crop circle code. Well, spoiler alert, you see the aliens--in all their Black Lagoon-esque stupidity--like half an hour into the movie. The crop circle mystery? Forgotten. Certainly not as prevalent as it was in the trailers. And what do we find? This isn't a creep-fest about invading aliens. It's a story about a former preacher dealing with the loss of his wife and his faith and finding it again.

It's a touching tale, and I'd have enjoyed it... had I not been promised creepy, mysterious alien action. Then you had Village and Happening that basically did the whole, "Oh, you thought it was a thriller? Well here's some social commentary instead, my bad!" thing. It's like buying a burger that, when you bite into it, tastes like chocolate cake. I like burgers. I like chocolate cake. But when you've prepared my pallet for a juicy, savory burger, and I get a sweet, spongy chocolate cake? My first reaction is to gag in revulsion.

If you don't make yourself aware of the current popular definition of the genre, not just your individual "high concept" of the genre, you may find yourself in trouble. Your marketing folks may just pick the bits that push boxes, but you get to take credit for the fallout. Heavily research your intended genre, make a note of your game's departures from that genre's norms, and apply the label with great care.

Going Beyond the Label

Of course, isn't anticipating the audience's reactions and expectations part of good story and game design anyhow? How can you know if you're creating mystery, tension, drama, or even fun if you're not aware of the target audience's state of mind (and subsequently how to manipulate it most effectively)? Assigning a genre isn't just about your knowledge of game mechanics, but also your knowledge of the audience.

Yes, a game can be said to have "RPG elements" if you have selectable upgrades in branching trees earned through gameplay... but what about the RPG audience? What are they expecting from the game? By using those key letters, you've gotten their attention--what is it that you're trying to do with it?

Basically, an "action gamer" playing a "strategy game" is going to have a different reaction. We should expect, then, that an "action designer" is going to think differently from a "strategy designer." And if the game you're working on crosses into unfamiliar territory, you can't just rely on a few superficial mechanics to give you "genre cred." You've got to learn how that audience thinks, because it's those expectations that will color the perception of your game.

Newbies

Too many games assume the player is not just familiar, but intimately familiar with basics of gameplay, like UI widgets and control schemes viewed as "standard" by the core gamer. Good games provide tutorials that don't just inform the player, but provide the opportunity to practice these basics--you teach the player's mind, then allow the player to teach his/her body.

Lazy games don't do this. They basically tell the player, "You should have learned this stuff elsewhere." Sometimes genre does this, too. A designer is resting on the work of earlier entries in the genre to do all the groundwork of setting up expectations, familiarizing the character with the settings and puzzles and story elements commonly associated with it. The problem with these games is that they leave the audience's expectations to chance--if you're not setting them up, you're not in control. And if too many games are using this same approach, then no one is at the helm.

Like it or not, your game will serve as someone's "genre tutorial." You're introducing someone to this particular genre. This means you must be even more familiar with that genres various tropes, so that you can strike an effective balance between playing to those tropes and intentionally challenging them. Tension is best created by delaying the satisfaction of a particular expectation... but if you haven't bothered to set up that expectation, why should your audience feel a thing?

Choosing a genre isn't like moving into a pre-built house. You don't just walk in and find the plumbing and electrical work done, infrastructure laid out, and you just furnish it and call it yours. Choosing a genre is deciding what type of house you want to build. It gives you a framework, but you're still building from scratch. You've got to lay the foundation, connect the pipes and wires, and set things in order. Otherwise, you've just got a shell that happens to have some genre-appropriate furniture, and the guests are eventually going to notice.

First, I disagree with your characterization of Pan's Labyrinth. While I agree that the ad is deceptive, first, the ad is full of men walking around in military uniforms, and as such strongly hints at a military plot element; second, the "dark fantasy" does appear and delivered 100% on my expectations (and those of a number of people I know); and third, I believe that it WAS a great movie.

I saw the trailer for this movie exactly once, then saw the movie the day it came out, so all the info I had came from the trailer. Except, very significantly, I had seen another movie by del Toro which was very similar in a lot of ways... but as mentioned, I have friends who know nothing of his work and also loved the movie.

On the other hand, the God of War promo piece that you so appreciate was IMO utter garbage because it omits the most critical element: actual gameplay. Aside from maybe 3 seconds at the end, the whole bloody trailer is cut scenes. Hell, based on that trailer GoW could be a rhythm game, or a FPS, or even a full-on JRPG - because it doesn't show us any gameplay! There could be constant engine slowdown, or serious clipping issues. You might fight an endless stream of enemies one-at-a-time ala Double Dragon or swarms that simultaneously mob you and rip you to pieces. It could have vicious, unforgiving platform sections with bad camera angles. The trailer tells you NOTHING - so OF COURSE it successfully delivers on it.

Bah.

DiMono:

unwesen:

Spanner Spencer:
And yet anyone who's seen Pan's Labyrinth will know this is, in fact, a historical war drama. Did anyone get a period war movie vibe from that trailer? Half an hour into the film and the audience fidgets in its seat, wanting to enjoy the admittedly high-quality drama, yet devoid of attention as they wait for the promised dark fantasy and world of strange creatures to appear. They never do, and the tangibility of their absence is enough to spoil what would otherwise have been a great movie, had it honored the contract set by its promotion.

How is Pan's Labyrinth spoiled by that? It's made better, as far as I am concerned. Yes, I got the fantasy vibe from the trailer, but was pleasantly surprised that it was far more than just a good looking fantasy epic.

Pan's Labyrinth fell victim to (...)

... and nothing in the many paragraphs you've posted referenced anything I said above. Amazing.

Stop judging movies by their trailer if this "bait and switch" pisses you off.

unwesen:

DiMono:

unwesen:

How is Pan's Labyrinth spoiled by that? It's made better, as far as I am concerned. Yes, I got the fantasy vibe from the trailer, but was pleasantly surprised that it was far more than just a good looking fantasy epic.

Pan's Labyrinth fell victim to (...)

... and nothing in the many paragraphs you've posted referenced anything I said above. Amazing.

Stop judging movies by their trailer if this "bait and switch" pisses you off.

I never said I was maddened by it, I was just explaining (remarkably accurately, despite the whole "sisters" couching) why trailers sometimes don't match up with the movie.

unwesen:

Spanner Spencer:
And yet anyone who's seen Pan's Labyrinth will know this is, in fact, a historical war drama. Did anyone get a period war movie vibe from that trailer? Half an hour into the film and the audience fidgets in its seat, wanting to enjoy the admittedly high-quality drama, yet devoid of attention as they wait for the promised dark fantasy and world of strange creatures to appear. They never do, and the tangibility of their absence is enough to spoil what would otherwise have been a great movie, had it honored the contract set by its promotion.

How is Pan's Labyrinth spoiled by that? It's made better, as far as I am concerned. Yes, I got the fantasy vibe from the trailer, but was pleasantly surprised that it was far more than just a good looking fantasy epic.

So the strange creatures never appear do they? Then who the heck is this guy?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNPjXnHNDNQ

Also, defying genre expectations can be a GOOD thing for film or games. Brutal Legend is a great example . . . a third person brawler suddenly becomes an RTS . . . HECK YES!

A trailer should not be to convince someone to watch something - at least, not by misdirection. Instead, it should be about showing the best, and MOST REPRESENTATIVE parts of the movie, in order to convince people that would actually like the movie that, hey, you'll like this movie!

It is possible to "break the genre contract" in a good way, but it is very difficult. You have to set it up properly and transition smoothly. Admittedly... I have no clue how you would actually do this. If I go into a movie expecting Avatar or Star Wars and get A Space Odyssey instead, I wouldn't be too happy. The same applies to a game - for example, if a WoW commercial showed nothing but some hero fighting Arthas (or Deathwing, since Cataclysm came out today) one-on-one, and I had no prior knowledge (impossible I know), I would be rather annoyed when I got to the game itself. Sure, that does happen, but not in that fashion and certainly not without an entire game worth of lead-in.

Damn Inception making me think it was an accurate representation of nightmares and dreams in the trailer.
The entire thing could be changed to a bank within a bank within a hotel and it would make more sense.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus was better at showing people the oddness of the subconcious more than Inception.
/mini-rant

EDIT: On topic trailers don't bother me. A well done trailer will influence me slightly to go and see that movie, but whether or not that movie is any good is another discussion.

Question isn't genre for me, it's quality.

good article.
- I really did hate Pan's Labrynth because of the trailer (I went in expecting Labrynth2, and then felt robbed).

If they'd advertised a WW2 drama with sick torturing sadist, and then blindsided me with the fantasy, I'd probably own a copy right now.

- I've stopped watching trailers for big movies that will surely be worth experiencing virgin (Because I trust the director). It is incredibly frustrating to try and avoid spoilers (so you can simply enjoy something fully!) when marketing teams are so hell bent on overexposing their big ticket items. (i.e.: Avatar, Inception).
However, avoiding these big trailers has reliably proven a good idea, so far. (i doubt the mercenary fleet rising from the launchpad to blow up home tree, or Arthur floating around in the hotel hallway, would have had nearly the same impact if i'd glimpsed it in the &*#%@!ing trailer.)

* random thought/question: If auteur theory is dead, what is there to replace it nowadays?
(I mean: that idea from 70s directors, that a director can imbue all of his work with a specific style. So you could see any of his movies, and trust that it'd be as great as the others. and uniquely "him". I'm describing this poorly, probably...)

I still latch onto directors and will see anything they do (fincher, snyder, wright, tarantino, rodriguez, del toro, etc.). So, maybe auteur theory is alive and well?
Well, I feel like, whatever you call it, this trust in the talents of the creator is a phenomenon that trumps the genre card.
Curious if this could work for video games. And why it isn't better pursued by marketing.

I find it interesting how many genre lines are starting to get blurred with video games. Mass Effect 2 is an example of a genre getting pulled away from its source. An example of something that doesn't really define a genre, but doesn't easily get classified is Portal. Things like this happen all of the time though, and you can't really do much about it.

I think you got your definitions mixed up there, champ. This article doesn't talk about genres at all.

Yes, sometimes trailers will pretend to be of other genre to capture more people. This doesn't have anything to do with genre, because the way you put it you're implying that the people who went to do ME2 set out to do a shooter and failed so hard that they ended up with an RPG instead. Or that Del Toro wanted to make a fantasy epic and accidentally made a dark historical drama when a bunch of people in military uniforms marched in his set and he winged it.

As DiMono explained so brilliantly a few posts above, it is a case of Bait and Switch. Hollywood does this all the time. And the gaming industry has learned. But the key thing about his post is, Bait doesn't know, or care, about what Switch is doing and how she wants you to experience her work. Bait is all business. She's all about the bottom line. If you watch the movie and hate it than Bait has done her job, which is to make you pay for the movie. Same goes for the game. And Bait uses the genre contract to trick you. Switch doesn't - she plays straight. So my problem with this article is that it's blaming Switch for Bait's screw-ups. You're saying, 'Mass Effect 2 promised action and delivered only talking!' To which I reply, 'Wrong. A bunch of people who made a trailer for Mass Effect 2 promised action. Mass Effect 2 promised an experience similar to Mass Effect and delivered.'

(Incidentally I didn't play ME2 yet, but I considered the first an excellent talking simulator with dumb shooty bits in the middle, so if ME2 has more talking I consider it great. In fact I think my perfect ME game would be a text adventure.)

Then you go in defense of genres as setting up the contract, which is... problematic. Does every word that describe a game constitute a genre? For instance, Bioshock. If I describe it as a 'steampunk story-driven FPS', are all those things genres? FPS is a genre, sure. Steampunk? It's a genre, but in a completely different way. There can be a steampunk novel, or a steampunk movie, but not an FPS novel. How about story-driven? Is that really a genre? I think it could be argued that it is not, but it is certainly just as important in a purchase as genre, if not more.

In the end, what you call 'genres' are actually shorthands that represent a complex idea so that they can be properly conveyed to an audience without needless explanation. I have a different name for these: 'words'.

I'm sorry, I just think this article didn't make any point, when a lot could be discussed on topic, since so many people are adamant that Zelda is indeed an RPG (fortunately the Escapist new genre grouping saved us by firmly entrenching Zelda on the Action hemisphere while most RPGs are deep in the Strategy one) and we call GTA a sandbox game when Wikipedia insists it's actually Civilization.

talkstogod:
First, I disagree with your characterization of Pan's Labyrinth. While I agree that the ad is deceptive, first, the ad is full of men walking around in military uniforms, and as such strongly hints at a military plot element; second, the "dark fantasy" does appear and delivered 100% on my expectations (and those of a number of people I know); and third, I believe that it WAS a great movie.

Bang on. It definitely wasn't as egregious as Bridge to Terabithia, which took a similar but completely deceptive approach in its marketing. (The original book is closer to Stand By Me: a poignant and somewhat traumatic story of children forced to deal with the harsh and unfair realities of life. This trailer intentionally tried to make it look like the Chronicles of Narnia.)

And don't get me started about BioWare trailers. I've ranted at length on these forums at how much I hated the "Sacred Ashes" trailer for Dragon Age (a game which I now count among my favourites) for:

talkstogod:
the God of War promo piece that you so appreciate was IMO utter garbage because it omits the most critical element: actual gameplay.

This same crime, as well as portraying a bunch of overconfident, braggart superheroes barely breaking a sweat as they trounce a dragon, and not the vulnerable, multi-dimensional characters from the game who struggled to survive as they tried to save a world slowly sliding towards hell.

Never Trust a Trailer indeed.

To those who didn't like Mass Effect 1: how could you want less than you got?

Jacob.pederson:

unwesen:

Spanner Spencer:
And yet anyone who's seen Pan's Labyrinth will know this is, in fact, a historical war drama. Did anyone get a period war movie vibe from that trailer? Half an hour into the film and the audience fidgets in its seat, wanting to enjoy the admittedly high-quality drama, yet devoid of attention as they wait for the promised dark fantasy and world of strange creatures to appear. They never do, and the tangibility of their absence is enough to spoil what would otherwise have been a great movie, had it honored the contract set by its promotion.

How is Pan's Labyrinth spoiled by that? It's made better, as far as I am concerned. Yes, I got the fantasy vibe from the trailer, but was pleasantly surprised that it was far more than just a good looking fantasy epic.

So the strange creatures never appear do they? Then who the heck is this guy?

No, they do appear. But it's not all about them being there and waving swords at each other, there's other stuff going on that you wouldn't immediately expect when you see this guy.

DiMono:

unwesen:

DiMono:

Pan's Labyrinth fell victim to (...)

... and nothing in the many paragraphs you've posted referenced anything I said above. Amazing.

Stop judging movies by their trailer if this "bait and switch" pisses you off.

I never said I was maddened by it, I was just explaining (remarkably accurately, despite the whole "sisters" couching) why trailers sometimes don't match up with the movie.

I stand corrected, you didn't say you were maddened. I assumed some emotional turmoil on your part since you apparently were motivated to grace me with quite a bit of text by quoting me, and that text happens to be entirely unrelated to anything I wrote previously. Your motivations may have been quite different.

I like it when games break Genre rules. I want RPGs that challenge the notion that RPGs have to be boring and more stat-based than fun-based to be considered RPGs. I want shooters to challenge the notion that they have to be realistic cover-based online deathmatch/team deathmach doom clones. I want racing games to challenge the notion that they have to be photorealistic, and I want MMOs to challenge the notion that they have to be grind-tastic to be an MMO!

In short, rules are for losers. Devs should make the game how they want and damn the genres.

unwesen:

DiMono:

unwesen:

... and nothing in the many paragraphs you've posted referenced anything I said above. Amazing.

Stop judging movies by their trailer if this "bait and switch" pisses you off.

I never said I was maddened by it, I was just explaining (remarkably accurately, despite the whole "sisters" couching) why trailers sometimes don't match up with the movie.

I stand corrected, you didn't say you were maddened. I assumed some emotional turmoil on your part since you apparently were motivated to grace me with quite a bit of text by quoting me, and that text happens to be entirely unrelated to anything I wrote previously. Your motivations may have been quite different.

Yeah, I kind of meant for your post to be more about providing context for my comments, and obviously failed to mention that. Sorry about that.

And here I thought the article would be about gaming genres, not about trailers, which I hardly ever pay attention to nowadays. Irony?

Onyx Oblivion:
*grumble, grumble*

Mass Effect 2 is great, but not an RPG.

*grumble, grumble*

When I play an RPG, I expect certain things. I expect statistics management to be an important part of combat. Mass Effect 2 had a handful of skills with a mere 4 ranks each as it's only real "RPG element". You have minimal weapons choice, and inventory management was totally removed. I loved Mass Effect 1, with it's nice mix of action and RPG, as it was still able to balance itself out as an RPG. Not skilled at shooters? Overheat instead of ammo. Regenerating shields, with regenerating health only available through armor mods.

Mass Effect 2 is a bloody shooter with minimal amounts of team customization and shallow-as-a-toilet combat. And now it looks like they're doing to Dragon Age 2 what they did with Mass Effect 2, trimming too much fat off, and leaving it bare-bones.

Inventory management was a pain in Mass Effect 1, yes, but only because everything you killed dropped something, and you had a relatively low item capacity, with shops few and far between, generally one per world. A little tweaking would have made it an non-issue. Trim the fat, Bioware, don't melt it down to the bone.

I enjoyed Mass Effect 2 for a action-blockbuster that it was, but I hated how damn shallow it was. And how it got PRAISED for dumbing itself down.

Thank god I had Dragon Age...

But the part the really gets me, is that an non-RPG is likely to sweep the "RPG of the Year" awards.

I actually enjoyed Mass Effect 2, as I enjoyed Fable 3, but they are both leaps and bounds away from being RPGs.

I pretty much agree with most of this. Minus thank god for Dragon Age, and enjoying ME2. Id be lying if I said it was painful, but it was just.... meh. The game is an on rails trundle from cover to cover, headshooting enemies once their petty defenses are worn down. Even biotics are now "shot" from behind cover. Gone are the days of waiting for your moment to strike and unleashing a team based biotic whirlwind. In are the days of being a defenceless pussy hiding behind cover picking off enemies one by one until the game deigns to force a "big mans gun" into your hand. (read: the developers were so stupid and focused on making a shooter, instead of upgrading the RPG classes powers, they just force a shooter weapon into your hand and say "use this").

Im really not happy with ME2.

From what I hear, contrary to Biowares bullshit claims that they listen to fans, and want "deeper RPG elements" for ME3, ME3 might be getting even worse. Im now praying the coming weekend reveals a multiplayer shooter SPINOFF, rather than ME3s dying breath for me, and consequently Biowares as well.

I found the God of War promo even more deceptive than the Mass Effect one. I mean God of War 1-3 plus Chains of Olympus plotline can be wholly described down to the minutae in three words "Kratos is pissed". Three minutes of action would describe it far better. But then action gamers probably already know about it so the promo is targeting a section that in reality probably won't enjoy the game, but hey, a sale is a sale.

DiMono:
Yeah, I kind of meant for your post to be more about providing context for my comments, and obviously failed to mention that. Sorry about that.

No problems. It was a good read, for what it's worth :)

That's sorta ridiculous. Pan's Labyrinth was great as a Dark Fantasy, and it had a whole range of weird and twisted creatures. I don't see how it could have disappointed in that respect at all. I mean, it's a basic aspect of a good movie that you shouldn't just throw your best point at people right away. Holding it back builds suspense and anticipation, and introducing the great drama gives depth to the film, instead of just bringing up a gimmick.
Pan's Labyrinth was subtle, unexpected and clever. Honestly, I think everything that was said about it here was kinda unfair, and all I've heard from critics and friends who went to see it is that it was great, dark, twisted, imaginative, and clever.

I know opinions can differ, but it seemed like he was trying to make a point here on something that most people agreed upon, but the criticisms he made all seemed to be strong points.

Seems illegal

Also the Pan's labyrinth I remember actually was full of dark fantasy creatures and ending with some sort of showdown with a David Bowie kind of guy. No war theme in it whatsoever and this film trailer is trying to get the same audience through really suspicious trickery.

Getting your money back is a good way to react.
ME3 had you get to the very end of the game before failing to deliver, but some consumer watchdog or another did state that doing so had very questionable legality.

 

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