Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spackle Effect

My esteemed associate in video games here came up with an excellent analogy a while back during our fit with Mass Effect 3 (the brouhaha seems so stupid in retrospect). To briefly recap, this was the game that desperately wanted us to enjoy its company, but failed to deliver and also sabotaged itself at almost every turn. Ladies and gentlemen, the spackle:

Imagine, if you will, hiring a contractor to repair tile in your kitchen. The contractor does an excellent job meticulously laying down each new tile and carefully sealing it. Toward the end of the day, with time running short, he realizes that he won't have enough material to finish the rest of the tiles. In a stroke of brilliant insanity, he defecates into the spackle. The feces and remaining putty mixes enough together to finish laying the tiles by the time you come home for dinner.

The smell of poop permeates your new kitchen and brown streaks stain the tiles on half the floor. The contractor is beaming like an idiot at you and then politely demands full price for his hard work. As any sane person would, you refuse, pointing out that he defecated on your floor. He counters that he delivered a finished product on a deadline as requested. But it's crap, you tell him, as you shell out the money. Still smiling, he shrugs and pockets your cash.

My associate's point is that the game plays and feels like the design team ran out of spackle and filled the cracks with shit and garbage. It's a finished product, but nobody in their right mind would pay full price for it. All the plot holes, all the off-key dialogue, all the erroneous and contradictory characterizations, missing parallels and all the garbage that makes no sense... it all carries that whiff of shit-spackle. There wasn't enough time or money, and they had to plop out the rest and mix it together with the good stuff to create a finished product. And then we paid for it. Well, some of us paid for it. I'll wait until the price point matches the level of quality so I can say, "Yeah, it's crap, but I got a good deal."

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