Mass Effect this generation's Star trek article

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by RAMA, Jul 16, 2011.

  1. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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  2. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You know that's an interesting question. (I guess it makes me realize I'm no longer 'this generation,' but I digress.) Mass Effect is one of the most popular new space operas of recent years, and it's a more conventional space opera than say, Ron Moore's Battlestar Galactica. I had wondered about comparing it to them; as if the space opera tropes I once loved on TV had all migrated into gaming for some reason.

    But what is a generation's Star Trek, exactly? Mass Effect is one of BioWare's three big RPG franchises, and it may not even be its biggest space opera title - the Knights of the Old Republic, their much liked Star Wars title, is getting an MMO later this year.

    And while I haven't played the games much (the first continues to refuse to work on my computer), what I've read of plot sypnosis and the first part of the game I did play made me think more of Straczynski than Roddenberry: A space station where different alien races meet, legendary ancient threats, and the older races not thinking all that highly of humans. B5 had a devoted fanbase and a Commander whose name began with an S, too.

    Shepard can't be compared to Kirk or Picard, though, because he/she is a faceless RPG protagonist, whose personality and appearance is selected by the player. Picard will always be bald, and his first name will always be Jean-Luc. Not so for Shepard.

    I don't know. It's easier to say that Avatar is this generation's Star Wars then it is to cast about for heirs to Gene Roddenberry's titantic TV opus.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2011
  3. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I've yet to see a video game with the character and story depth to match what I expect in a fictional story. I don't mind interactive entertainment in the least - on the contrary, I'm more fascinated with the future potential of games than traditional fiction - but maybe it's the need to clear a space for the interaction that keeps the non-interactive part (story, character, acting) from coming up to par with fiction that doesn't have the burden of needing to interact with anything. Having to "hollow out" lead characters so that players can insert themselves is what I mean - that may be necessary, but you'll never get a Kirk or a Spock doing that.

    If someone wants to make a TV series from Mass Effect, I'm up for watching it. Only when it's freed from the constraints of being a game will the comparison to Star Trek be a potentially fair one. Let's see what happens when that hollow main character is filled in by talented writers and becomes someone definitive.

    As for whether Mass Effect is any generation's Star Trek, go to the mall and ask people if they can name a character from each franchise. I wouldn't bet that most people would recognize the name Mass Effect, much less be able to name the Kirk and Spock of that franchise.

    And PS, I'll probably be very unpopular for mentioning this, but the kinds of games people play on Facebook are more likely to become truly mass-market, mass-awareness entertainment experiences. The majority of the public doesn't play "real gamer games" and never will - they take too much time to learn and become proficient enough to get enjoyment from - but Zynga and that ilk is finally bridging that gulf and pushing games into the mainstream by making them falling-off-a-log easy to get into. The quality of the games may be lacking right now, but I think it's still early days for true mass-market interactive entertainment.
     
  4. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Which is why it was doubtless apt to sugest Mass Effect is this generation's Star Trek, and not Star Wars. The latter connotes a level of broad appeal that doesn't exist for the BioWare game - it's a title better claimed by an actual movie, like, let's say, Avatar.

    Mass Effect does not have the broad market appeal of Star Trek; but who knows. Maybe the movie will increase its profile - or not.

    A Facebook game is unlikely to have the kind of story depth that would suggest a comparison to Star Trek, however. That's not a criticism, just an observation towards the style of game it is. Pac-Man would not be improved by having a story, but it's an integral part of the RPG gaming tradition. And BioWare are very good at that end - I'd go so far to say as they're very competent in making entertaining pulp narratives as games. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic had a better story than the prequel films, and Dragon Age: Origins was an excellent and involving medley of high fantasy cliches. I don't often get to play games where I must struggle through the dynastic woes of human and dwarven kingdoms in-between hacking down monsters and thieves.
     
  5. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The work based psychology behind facebook games does not require them to get more complex.
     
  6. Lonemagpie

    Lonemagpie Writer Admiral

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    It's not a generation's Trek - to get into the collective consciousness something has to be there free-to-air, that you're likely to stumble across and see regularly, not something you have to seek out and buy...
     
  7. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    No, I meant that the Facebook games will be the ones that break through to true mass market status. But the very fact that they are simple, and reflect the players (and tap into the players' social networks) rather than any vision of the creators, is what would keep them far away from being anything like literature. They'll go in the opposite direction from that - more akin to clubs than books.

    There may be a way to create interactive entertainment that is also valid literature, but I can't imagine how, not right now anyway.

    The complexity is not in the game, but in the social networks that the game taps into (which is their genius - throw all the effort onto the players, who you don't have to pay, rather than the programmers, who you do). They're complex like a social club is complex, but nothing at all like a book is complex.

    People will seek out and buy movies, so it's not the need to make a purchase that keeps something out of mass consciousness, but rather the ease by which you can get into the thing. Imagine if you had to have a certain skill level before a movie would be entertaining. Well, that does actually exist - to get into a movie that has intelligent themes or complex characters does take a certain "skill level" to appreciate and its no coincidence that those types of movies make a very small percentage of the BO take of a Michael Bay flick. Art films and gamer games are in the same boat - they make it too hard for the mass market to get into, but to change the self-limiting quality would destroy their fundamental nature.
     
  8. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Exactly... and thus not invite the comparison. It's also why I would feel a little more comfortable in calling Mass Effect this generaiton's Babylon 5, as neither have a lot of mass media traction in the sense Star Trek has sometimes enjoyed.

    I don't know what 'valid literature' even means, really, and I wouldn't call a BioWare game literature for the same reason I wouldn't call Deep Space Nine a novel. Have they made entertaining and involving media genre stories? Yes, and that's good enough for me really.
     
  9. superdeluxe

    superdeluxe Captain Captain

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    I would love a TV series in the Mass effect universe.
     
  10. FPAlpha

    FPAlpha Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Star Trek was a once in a lifetime event meaning such a thing rarely happens and it can't be designed or intended.

    With Mass Effect though there's a real contender for a big franchise and with only 2 (soon 3) games the universe is already very well developed with tons of possible story options even beside the main plot.
    I just love the designs, the games and the characters and would really hope they make a good TV show out of it.. if done right and funded properly it could become a huge hit and please both fans and make tons of money.

    However Mass Effect lacks the "heart" (for lack of a better word) that made Star Trek so unique.. its message, its hopefulness that humanity can evolve into a state we all would like and that it explores the universe and makes new contacts.

    Mass Effect currently doesn't have such a message or a unique trait but i'd settle for good story, good characters and the occasional awesome action scene. I really miss good space based shows since Trek went off air.
     
  11. Whofan

    Whofan Fleet Captain

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    Mass Effect sort of owes it's existence to Star Wars-I doubt it would be as popular/ hyped were it not for the sucesss of at least the first Knights of the Old Republic.


    Then again, KOTOR is probably the most "Trekish" of the Star Wars subfranchises. Although it has many Star Wars cliches/tropes, the story as a whole-which involved discovering an ancient civilization-seemed very much like Star Trek to me.
     
  12. PsychoPere

    PsychoPere Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Minor correction: With the release of Mass Effect 3, the franchise will be up to four games - the trilogy, and Mass Effect Galaxy for iOS.
     
  13. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, this is like the "Lady Gaga/Beatles" topic in that - huh? What does the question even mean?

    Sure, Mass Effect can be this generation's Star Trek - except that it's this generation's Mass Effect.

    Properties that grow out of a genre to dominate it for a period of time do so because they're unique - lots of things in any genre are alike in many ways (B5 and Trek are virtually indistinguishable to anyone but an aficionado - though the hardcore can and have written online tomes about the differences, which are less important that the difference between male and female fleas is to fleas).

    I saw a TV talking head making the point last night that Harry Potter is for having had millions of kids grow up with it - the changes in tone of the books over the years, the similar changes and the literal maturation of the cast of the movies. The closest thing to it, she said, was the fascination of a previous generation with Star Wars, which only went on for about six years and three movies. Okay, arguably Harry Potter is this generation's Star Wars despite being in a different subgenre of fantasy altogether - that is, depending on what criteria for similarity you privilege over others. Being of similar importance and scope may be more important than similarity of setting or even content.
     
  14. jefferiestubes8

    jefferiestubes8 Commodore Premium Member

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    Hmm this thread is a different take on RAMA's thread from 13 months ago: Is Mass Effect the next Star Wars?

    Odd RAMA how you have asked almost the same question but it is still yet different. I'd like to see some of these video games such as the Mass Effect franchise have a real crossover to a TV series not just a mindless action adventure movie like some of the Trek feature films.
     
  15. Yevetha

    Yevetha Commodore

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    I think they are talking about some sort of movie.

    We sall see what comes out of this.
     
  16. 23skidoo

    23skidoo Admiral Admiral

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    Mass Effect may be popular with a core niche audience, but it doesn't have the widespread brand recognition or appeal to be called the next Star anything (I couldn't name one character from the game). A well-made movie might change that, though the track record for video game-based movies is pretty poor, overall - Resident Evil has done fine, but no one sees it as a particularly faithful adaptation of the games - but a bad movie could sink the franchise.

    I bought a copy of Mass Effect 2 a year ago and it sits in a drawer unopened because the machine I bought it for didn't have the juice to run it, and then I changed computers and have to jump through so many hoops to get Windows to run I just said to heck with it. (Let's hear it for console games - at least you don't have to put up with that B.S.)

    I'd personally rather see a film made of the Half-Life series. Or a live-action Final Fantasy.

    Alex
     
  17. PsychoPere

    PsychoPere Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, they're not just "talking" - there's going to be more information about the movie at SDCC. There's also an animated movie in the works.
     
  18. Yminale

    Yminale Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Comparing ME with the ST franchise now is pointless. I think it's better to compare ME now with ST during the end of it's second season. In that respect they are in the same position in terms of notoriety. Let's remember ST's position as a cultural milestone took time (several runs of syndication and some well know fan conventions) unlike Star Wars which was immediate.

    Personally my money is on Firefly/Serenity being the next ST. It still has that fan momentum and Joss Wheldon just like Gene Roddenberry hasn't given up on it.

    As for fame, the Halo franchise and Master Chief are probably more widely known than Mass Effect.
     
  19. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    There's no fan momentum associated with Firefly, sadly - just a well-deserved, devoted following that's not really growing significantly over time.
     
  20. Yminale

    Yminale Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The same thing happened to ST after it was cancelled (the first time). Like I said it took several syndication runs before ST reached the popularity it's well known for.