Sunday, January 17, 2016

Why Writing?

How many writers wrote the story for Mass Effect 1? Including the lead writer, 5.

How many writers wrote the story for Mass Effect 2? Including the lead writers, 10.

How many writers wrote the story for Mass Effect 3? Including the lead writer, 9.

Much has been written about the Mass Effect series'  stories. I will not reiterate them here. What I will focus on is the fact that there are stories in these games at all. When EA acquired Bioware, the intention was to make money off their intellectual properties and their reputation. This is understandable (from their point of view) but it has resulted in the loss of some of Bioware's reputation. Only the future knows if Mass Effect: Andromeda can save Bioware's reputation. Part of this reputation was built on the strength of their writing. Jade Empire, Mass Effect 1, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Baldur's Gate, Dragon Age. All great stories. All these games speak to their mastery of storytelling. Still, when failures like the ending to Mass Effect 3 is brought up, defenders say that the story doesn't matter. Those people don't think that argument through, however. If the story doesn't matter to gamers, then writers don't matter to EA, and the writers at Bioware would have been fired a long time ago. EA could hire a bunch of hacks to bang out a generic storyline for these games for one-third the salaries of the Bioware writers. But they didn't. Ea apparantly believes there's still value in good storytelling, at least from Bioware, and if a greedy corporation knows this, then surely gamers should know this too.

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