Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hitting on hot alien girls

Wendy is playing through Mass Effect 1.  Pretty much all of the games I have been playing recently are hard core strategy games so watching her go through Mass Effect is a bit strange.  She spends much of her time running around her ship chatting with various crewmembers about things that seem pretty secondary to, you know, saving the galaxy from destruction.  In theory she is playing Shepard, a space age warrior who is trying to prevent a maniacal villain from resurrecting an alien robot race intent on universal genocide.  In practice she is playing Shepard, a ruggedly handsome adventurer hitting on hot alien girls and inquiring about the childhood medical trauma suffered by the wisecracking pilot.

I should note in passing that even though the alien girl in question has weird tentacles instead of hair she sure looks HOT in every other respect and I would happily hop into the sack with her, tentacles and all.  The fact that she is a psychic ninja in addition to being hot is just icing on the cake.  Why exactly there are aliens that have such marked similarities to humans (including courtship rituals, it would seem) is never explained to my knowledge.

The awesome part about all of this alien lady romance is that the decidedly human ladies on the ship are bitter at Shepard for his extra-species romance and make it clear they are disappointed that he is choosing someone else over them.  This whole mess, of course, is a lot like real life.  Okay, not the hitting on hot alien girls part, but rather the continuation of regular human interactions even in the face of extreme danger and crisis.  People don't stop having crises, falling in love, hating each other or doing any of the other social things we do just because something terrible is happening.  Our lizard brains don't stop demanding we search for increased status and mating opportunities just because the universe might be destroyed next week!

In most games I have played the hero is just a collection of stats, skills and gear that is piloted through various convoluted dungeons to defeat the monster.  There is plenty of that in Mass Effect too of course but it somehow feels like Wendy is mostly playing through the combat to get to the rest of the story rather than the other way around.  In Mass Effect you get cash and XP for doing non combat quests and storyline but these are gated by stats like Charm and Intimidate so I think I would end up twinking myself out for social interactions instead of combat.  After all, I can always just play better to beat the monsters so I don't really *need* more ShootThem skill but if my Charm isn't high enough I can't get the XP from chatting up the hot alien girl!  Making numbers bigger is of course the end goal of any game so it is crucial to do every single side quest to rack up as much XP as possible.

It reminds me of the fun but very buggy Temple of Elemental Evil game for the PC.  I went around town doing every single quest every villager had for me including marrying the extremely unpleasant lady and once I was done fetching grain, chatting to people and marrying shrews to get quest XP I murdered every single one of the villagers for even more XP and loot!  A paragon of virtue I was not but I sure did make my numbers big.  I don't think you can actually fight your shipmates in Mass Effect though, which is unfortunate, because they probably are worth a lot of XP.  This is a pretty good example of how in game incentives can warp how people play.  I don't think the creators of Mass Effect necessarily saw their design as incentivizing stacking Charm nor that the ToEE was supposed to be played by first doing every quest and then committing genocide but players will do anything at all to gain levels no matter how tedious or immersion breaking.

Liara picture borrowed from:  http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Liara_T%27Soni


  1. Re: Courtship rituals.

    The Asari(ie, hot tentacle hair girl) do not really have their own courtship rituals. They are ostensibly an all female race and are exogamic on a species level. They find non-Asari partners and use the partner's genetic code to randomize part of their own when producing offspring.

  2. So somewhere in this universe there is a planet of nothing but women who all want someone not of their own species to mate with hmmm?

    Can anyone give me directions to this planet?