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Spoilers for the ‘movie night’ storyline in Mass Effect: Andromeda

Butch:

Ok, so I got nothing, still haven’t had a chance to start HZD: Frozen Wilds, but it’s the nothing that has me thinking of something.

I’m truly bummed that I’m not playing something right now.

Like, not just “Oh, man, can’t wait for the next thing,” but irritated that there’s nothing to turn over in my head, to think about, or to have there at the end of the day if I want it.

I shouldn’t say to “think about,” as I have about 12 million things to think about. And it’s not like I play every night, but I like knowing it’s there.

I dunno, man. I guess games, or even just knowing there’s a game there in the disc drive, is kinda stress relief. If I don’t have that rather unimportant thing to think about, my brain starts going over all the other crap that’s going to give me an ulcer (if it hasn’t already).

But is that normal? Is that ok? Do people who watch TV get antsy when the season of their show is over?

I am troubled.

Feminina:

I don’t watch TV these days, but I feel like yeah, they do? I mean, back when I was watching TV shows in real time, like Breaking Bad or Mad Men, after a season ended I would definitely get that kind of “man, NOW what do I do with this mental energy until the next season starts?”

Because as you say, it’s not as if you don’t have plenty of other things to think about, and it’s not as if you DON’T think about those other things, but there’s been this part of your attention that’s been dedicated to following a particular story and waiting for updates, and pondering how new information fits into the previous understanding of the story/characters, so definitely once you no longer have a regular update to look forward to, there’s a kind of gap while you figure out what you’re going to be doing with that portion of your brain.

So I wouldn’t worry about it. I think it’s just a normal result of spending a fair amount of time thinking about something, and then not having that thing to think about.

I mean, it’s the same with anything that takes up a significant part of your attention for a period of time, isn’t it? Moving, wedding planning, writing a book…there’s this project you’re engaged in, and then when it’s done there’s a sense of completion, but also of being slightly at loose ends because you’re used to having that thing to think about, and now you don’t.

We moved! We’re married! The book is written! So…now what?

Now we start a new game.

Hey, at least that’s much less expensive and traumatic than having to plan another move or go marry someone else just to keep the energy going. Writing another book, that’s probably pretty normal for people who write books.

Butch:

And the thing that’s really key is the down time. This school year is kicking my ass. Always on the go. My parents are complex these days, and you’re my only friend who isn’t going through eight pounds of shit right now, so I can’t even hang out with dudes and just shoot the shit about gossip or hockey or anything like I could six months ago. I’m always ON, you know? Except when I’m fighting kett or PLAYING AS CHLOE.

Or Aloy, the minute I get the opportunity to load it. Gonna love me some ROBOT DINOSAURS.

Wait, you wrote a book? That you finished? Jeez. Who knew you were so verbose?

Feminina:

No, no, I was just using “writing a book” as an example of a big thing people might work on, not something I specifically am involved in. I did National Novel Writing Month a few times (write a 50,000 word story in the month of November), but that was long ago, before blogging and, critically, before children.

Although I suppose it’s still a good example of a project that takes up a lot of time and mental energy for a while, and then after it’s over you’re briefly at a loss because you don’t have to think about it anymore.

I may already be enjoying some ROBOT DINOSAURS. I waited as long as I could!

Butch:

You tried. I’ll get there soon.

50,000 words? Pfft. We do that in a day. Feels that way, anyway.

Feminina:

Feels that way!–but actually it’s usually more like 1,500-3,000. They’re just SO GOOD that most people would take 50,000 to cover that much awesomeness.

That’s my spin.

Butch:

True, true. Though if you tally all the words we’ve done over the course of this blog, we’ve probably out done Shakespeare five times over.

And really, we’re far superior. Did he talk about nudity? No. Did he talk about booze? Ok, some, I’ll give him that. He sure as shit never talked up his T SHIRT line.

Why do people read him anyway, when he’s lacking all that?

Feminina:

Probably for the themes. People do enjoy themes. Which we’re happy to provide, with add-ons!

Butch:

Themes. Pfft.

The only thing people enjoy more than booze is nudity.

T SHIRT!!!!

Look at that! Trifecta!

Also, thinking of what I’m not playing reminded me of something:

I was SO looking forward to the inevitable, wonderful, funny cutscene that was going to be the movie night. It was set up so beautifully! I was absolutely convinced that we’d have a scene where they’re all together, like the war council, or PB’s profession of friendship and….nothing. When the quest ended, I really felt “That’s it? Aren’t you…forgetting something? a cutscene perhaps? Another ‘start the movie’ part of the quest?”

Very disappointing.

Feminina:

Yes! I also keenly felt the lack of a movie night scene after all that buildup. I expected something like that drinking/card playing scene in DAI, but come on, even just a pan over the crew’s faces would have been SOMETHING if they ran out of steam and couldn’t come up with an actual scene.

Instead we spent all this time on the quest, did something related to it for pretty much every person in the crew, it was this big team-wide exercise that I enjoyed because it was kind of a fun idea, and then…nothing. I don’t even know if they HAD movie night.

Disappointing, indeed.

Butch:

It felt just like the card game scene (or that it wanted to be that). Shit, the reason I bothered doing it was for the payoff of a scene like that…which never came. Especially as it had all sorts of chances for hilarity: Liam’s taste in movies, Jaal’s weird…gadget…Suvi’s awful snacks..

Awesomeness that never happened.

Feminina:

Right! So many funny bits, highlighting so many weird little aspects of different peoples’ characters, all of them really getting into this activity in a way that was fun to see, and then…who knows what happened then. Nothing, something, it was a big success, it was a terrible failure, it was a boring ‘whatever,’ there’s no way to tell.

There was too much buildup for that nothing payoff!

Butch:

Yet another instance of Frankengame.

Man. I think I will forever remember MEA not for what it was, but what it could have and should have been.

Feminina:

Unfortunate, but perhaps fair.

Butch:

Indeed. And I don’t think that it’s because I’m holding it to a higher standard than I should because it’s a Mass Effect game. I’m not going to be all “Well, it’s not as good as ME2 so it sucks” like the rest of the internet. I think these criticisms can exist on their own.

Or am I being judgy?

Feminina:

No, I think it’s fair. While there’s plenty of comparison with other games we’ve played, because other games we’ve played are what lets us have an idea of things that work and don’t work (for us and in general), I don’t think there’s an underlying component of “this thing we’re complaining about wouldn’t really have bugged me, but it’s a Mass Effect game so they should know better.”

I mean, we did kind of just say “we know BioWare can do a good party scene because DAI, so they should know better here,” so there is a bit of a sense that BioWare is not entirely living up to its best stuff, but I think that the criticism would have been equally relevant if this were some other company. We could just as well have said, “we know good party scenes can be done because BioWare did it, so they should have learned from that,” and, crucially, I think we WOULD have said something like that, because I think we would have found all that buildup and no payoff as frustrating in any other game as it was here.

With this, and all the things we’ve been less enthusiastic about, I don’t think we’re saying “I expect better from Mass Effect,” as much as we’re saying “I would like this to be different in whatever game I’m playing.”

You’re off the hook. Although of course BioWare folks might feel differently, and as soon as they read our awesome blog I’m sure they’ll let us know because as Buttons would be happy to verify, game companies totally love it when their employees wander around talking about their games all over the internet. Chime right in, folks!

Butch:

True. It is all rather interconnected. The build up did not make much sense without the payout.

And we ARE tough critics. I’m still mad that I got no nudity.

Feminina:

Also, we talk a lot about wanting more group hugs, and movie night was a missed opportunity for that! Imagine if there’d been a moving scene of everyone coming together to share a group activity, and maybe there’d be some disagreements about the film and the snacks, some laughter, some tears, and then…group hug! Team bonding! Let’s do this again soon/never!

So much wasted potential.

Butch:

All this being said, I still liked the game. I did. I wish I had liked it more, but I did like it.

Feminina:

Oh yes, absolutely–we shouldn’t close on a down note. I did enjoy it. I spent many mostly happy hours on it, and I don’t regret them. There was fun banter and cool scenery and lively action and some thoughtful story.

I liked it. Didn’t LOVE it, but it was a solid like.