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Guns in Mass Effect 2, because guns need ammo to be guns right?

So apparently Bioware didn’t feel guns were gun like enough in Mass Effect without “ammo”, so they endeavored to add “ammo” to Mass Effect 2. Their in the universe explanation has something to do more efficient sinking of heat, and blah blah blah. In short, the guns now eject “thermal clips”, their term not mine, to manage heat.

Okay so the gripe isn’t that they need ammo, or that the guns have heat. Heat is a believable issue, even with current technology. Moreover, Mass Effect does a good enough job explaining all that in a believable way in their universe’s back story. What gets me is that in a distant human future with miniature mass drivers as assault rifles they would be able to hack up a better concept than manually ejecting their “thermal clips”.

I know it looks cool having your avatar do a reload animation, but seriously this is suppose to be the future. How is that even remotely futuristic. I mean seriously, a semi-auto rifle as it exists now ejects spent cartridges just fine without user intervention. Why can’t your future guns do something similar. It’s the future for heavens sake.

But wait, you say, the thermal clip isn’t a cartage it’s a magazine. Oh contrare! The designers may have thinly disguised as having a function similar to a magazine but it’s really just a imaginary chunk of imaginary metal being flung from the gun when it’s hot. They’re cartridges with a different name, function, and feel.

Game designers, your future weapons don’t have to follow current day design limitations just because they are guns. Current technology means that each bullet needs to be bundled with it’s propellent. Hence the cartridge, as it exists today. In the “future”, especially one where you change the fundamentals of how a gun works, there’s no reason to continue to stick to the same mechanic as we have to use today.

A “thermal cartridge” could very well hold the waste heat from multiple “bullets”, while still being on a fraction of the total capacity of the weapon’s “magazine”.  When the “propellent” or in this case waste capacity of a given “cartridge” is reached, the gun should just eject it (unless there’s a good reason not to, say you have the equivalent of a bolt action receiver) .

Futuristic weapons in games have to be thought through completely. Rigging a system so there are “reload” animations–don’t even get me started on those–because they’re cool or make the guns feel more like guns, is fine, but there should be a good reason why my character is doing it manually. In this case, so far as I can tell, there isn’t one.

This bit of babbling was brought to you by the letter A, N, R and T, and the number 3.

Published inDesign FailGames