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heliosKAISER The Struggler from Shadow Moses Relationship Status: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me
The Struggler
May 28th 2019 at 3:01:48 PM

KOTOR II wasn't made by Bioware. Obsidian made that.

You gotta start somewhere.
May 29th 2019 at 3:24:45 AM

[up] Good point, well presented. Also, Avellone and his Deconstructor Fleet was present.

[up][up][up] I agree - was a little bit musing on that one. I do think SOME of the emotion was at it being over; but also fueled by disappointment at HOW it was ended.

Reaper indoc fields aren't explored too heavily - there's something about it emitting vibrations that degrade mental pathways and that, apparently, it's an almost unconscious part of the Reaper - it can moderate it but never completely turn it off. Basically, the sci fi equivalent of going mad at seeing a Yuggoth.

May 29th 2019 at 2:48:33 PM

"Revealing what Tali’s Dad did isn’t the Paragon option because it has nothing to do with the mission...You aren’t there to solve a crime or win a court case, you’re there to earn Tali’s loyalty. " other words...committing perjury to hide what Tali's Dad did is putting the mission first? Between Paragon and Renegade, which one is the one that is supposed to be mission first, damn the laws and potential morality, again?

As for Zaeed (thank you for reminding me of his name, because it is so easily forgettable as he doesn't have a character), yes, yes, "his missions always end in everyone dying except him"...this is relevant to his combat experience how? Sure, if Mass Effect was a drama first story, but it was supposed to be details oriented. Some badass fueled by self-consuming vengeance and rage badassing their way across the battlefields and being the only one to come back alive is the stuff of 80s B-movies, not Mass Effect where some amount of tactical insight is all but a required secondary power for a hardened veteran merc captain to exist.

Regarding the "optimal endings" in other Bioware games, I don't think those count as "Golden Endings" in the sense that ME 2 or DA:Awakening had. KOTOR's light and dark side endings, as well as Jade Empire's Open Palm and Closed Fist endings, really ought to count as similarly "optimal" for the simple reason that you've already experienced all the content in it, there's no save state to carry over into a sequel, and your main character ends in pretty much the same place, either as hero/ruler of the galaxy or hero/ruler of the Jade Empire. Dragon Age was released at a similar point in time as ME 2, and it strikes me that the "Golden Ending" schtick seems more like a post-EA development.

As for as the point about a small number of people always dying, why not be down with it? After all, Virmire seems to be generally considered to be the high point of ME 1 and a piece of really good writing and plotting, and someone will always die there. Your "golden end" here will simply be that only the minimal number of characters died. Alternately, you can take another leaf out of that fic's book, and say that any specialist you put in a role gets "fatigued" and can't be put in another role or they'll die (they'll volunteer for it regardless, but you should have the option to tell them to take a rest). Sure, you could keep everyone alive, but now it's much harder to find the pattern, while keeping the same amount of player agency.

As for the Game of Thrones segue, I haven't been watching the show since s4, but I have been caught up on the spoilers and summaries. I'd argue it is inaccurate to posit that the issue is one of grief at impending loss and no ending would have been sufficient. The plot developments of Game of Thrones mostly make sense, but it's entirely possible for a story to make a lot of sense while still being wrecked by terrible execution in what we refer to as shorthand as "bad writing".

I mean...

"So there's this Wizard-Hitler guy who's been killing his way across the entire magical community and he can't be defeated because he's really good at using this insta-kill magic spell, and also he has seven lives because he did a magical ritual to split his soul in seven pieces, but the power of love from a mother's sacrifice resulted in his insta-kill rebounding on him when he tried to murder a baby. Eleven years later, him and his entire band of secret loyalists try to kill the kid when he's attending wizard school, and they keep failing at it year after year until finally, turns out that he couldn't kill the kid even if he wanted to without killing himself. Also, the kid willingly letting himself get killed means that the kids' friends gained a magical defense buff against all of Wizard-Hitler's allies, and they won the fight (but a couple of supporting characters died tho), the end."

Is an accurate depiction of the events of a certain popular young adult literature series, but is hardly the same thing, is it?

So no, I don't agree with the notion that no ending would have been good enough. I, for one, would literally have accepted an ending that was just "well, you didn't defeat the Reapers, but thanks to your efforts, the Reapers suffered their first significant casualties during any Reaping cycle, cue Fallout: New Vegas ending slides of all the glorious last stands of Team Milky Way, and end with cinematic of someone from a later cycles finding one of Liara's Team Milky Way beacons."

BadWolf21 The Fastest Man Alive
The Fastest Man Alive
May 29th 2019 at 2:53:47 PM

> Mass Effect

> details oriented



The idea that Mass Effect has any pretensions of being realistic sci-fi has always struck me as being hilarious. It’s space opera to its core, just with more of an understanding of science than most of its companions in that genre.

Re: Zaeed

“He should be a valid fire team leader.”

“But he’s a piss poor leader.”

“How is that relevant?”

Edited by BadWolf21 on May 29th 2019 at 4:55:13 AM

TheAirman from Congratulations! Relationship Status: Gay for Big Boss
May 29th 2019 at 2:59:04 PM

Earning her loyalty is putting the mission first, and there are four ways to do it. The Paragon option is calling out the sham trial for what it is in a more professional manner than in the Renegade option. Frankly I think that rallying the crowd is a better ending than either of them.

As for Zaeed, what [up] said. Mass Effect absolutely is a drama story first, and even if it were detail-oriented, the details presented are that the man is an objectively bad leader. And the first game basically is a love letter to sci-fi B movies.

Edited by TheAirman on May 29th 2019 at 5:10:13 AM

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Yumil Mad Archivist
Mad Archivist
May 29th 2019 at 3:50:56 PM

I dunno, the first game looks markedly more detail-oriented than the next two to me. maybe not full blown nerd science, but less drama-based than, say, 2.

Edited by Yumil on May 29th 2019 at 12:51:03 PM

"when you stare too long into the abyss, Xehanort takes advantage of the distraction to break into your house and steal all your shit."
BadWolf21 The Fastest Man Alive
The Fastest Man Alive
May 29th 2019 at 4:00:17 PM

The villain is a space cop whose mind is taken over by a talking spaceship.

Unsung it's a living from a tenement of clay
it's a living
May 29th 2019 at 4:05:53 PM

The first ME looks more detail-oriented because it has less action and melodrama, not because it actually puts any more focus on its details. There's a lot more to read in the first game's codex because it's all new, but most of it isn't really put to work in any way — in a game world as exotic as ME 1 made itself out to be, even the critical path worlds are mostly uninhabited, we don't actually get to see much of the NP Cs' cultures or anything, and it's not like we actually have any control over the technology of the Normandy.

Everybody's righteous / Some of them ain't right
InkDagger Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
May 29th 2019 at 5:18:46 PM

I would also point out that ME 1 quests are far more expository and developing the setting compared to the more action or outright ignorable side-quests in later games.

Like, the Consort quest in ME 1. We're learning about the Asari culture, the Citadel (and Counsel/Embassy/Political) Culture, and several other aspects all at once. And that quest is MOSTLY just talking to people. So many of ME 1's quests are just running around places (hence the elevator memes) and talking to people.

We... really don't get quests like that ever again in the franchise. Andromeda maybe but not ME 2 or ME 3. Admittedly, ME 2 and ME 3 don't NEED to be expository since ME 1 already did that but I think it changes the nature and pacing of the games. Those talking and environment exploration side-quests helped give a different feeling to the world and characters.

Edited by InkDagger on May 29th 2019 at 5:20:20 AM

Jun 7th 2019 at 11:11:24 AM

1. "Mass Effect is not details oriented" - you are confusing "details first" with "hard sci fi". All that "details first" means is that this setting has more demands for justification of why things happen, rather than "well our hero won because he was inspired by the Power of Self-Respect!" Your villain can absolutely be a space cop who's brainwashed by a talking spaceship, and it would still be undoubtedly a details first setting provided that the setting has both space cops and also talking spaceships with brainwashing capabilities.

2. "Zaeed should be a bad fireteam leader because he was the only one who came back from his missions alive!" - nonsense. If he were a bad fireteam leader, he wouldn't have come back from his missions at all. Zaeed, at the end of the day, is still just a baseline unaugmented human, not some Adeptus Astartes imported from the 40K setting. He can't be this action B-movie superstar who wades into gunfights with no regard for anything resembling tactics and shoots his guns and bad guys die any more than Shepard can (just so we're clear, Shepard can't; that's how you get shot to pieces by mooks and die in the actual game). Not sure why you are arguing against the fact that having tactical acumen is a Required Secondary Power even just for being a minor squad leader type of role in any organization that involves shooting people, much less being a founding member of a large mercenary company.

3. "Getting Tali's loyalty is putting the mission first" - yes, and putting the mission first is - or at least, was supposed to be - the defining trait of the Renegade, not the Paragon. Not sure why this is hard to understand. Seems like it's more of a case of Bioware writers not understanding their own material, and especially being unable to think outside of nice good/dickish evil morality axes even when they're supposed to be writing up a morality system that isn't just good/evil.

4. "We don't get Mass Effect 1 type quests in the later games" - yes, and more's the pity.

Unsung it's a living from a tenement of clay
it's a living
Jun 7th 2019 at 11:36:37 AM

The space cop had an army of tank-grown super-soldiers, broke his psychic programming through the power of a Heel Realization, and the giant mind-control squid-ship broke down when he died because Load-Bearing Boss is such a stock trope in, yes, '80s action movies. The first Mass Effect is all '80s movie, right down to the soundtrack and pastel-colored stars. Cliches have been built into this series from the beginning, and the "hard science" details you're talking about were never that important to the writers, least of all in the first game, where they barely come up in the main story — portals, zombie robots, mind-controlling robo-Cthulhu. I'll take the occasional nod to quantum entanglement and dark matter and examining the ramifications of the genophage, "soft" though the science may be, over the backgrounded pseudo-hard science of the first game.

Zaeed is a bad fire team leader because, whatever skills he might have and I'm not saying he doesn't have them, at the end of the day he doesn't give a shit about whether his people live or die. And, I mean, this is the guy who had the whole Blue Suns stolen out from under him? He's made mistakes in life. Not sure why you're so bound and determined to prop him up. It's just Caesar's Legion all over again — you don't like bad guys being portrayed as incompetent bad guys, but there's no real reason they can't be.

Tali's loyalty mission is a deliberate deconstruction of Renegade/Paragon. Lawful =/= Good, in this case. Paragon is "correct", but not necessarily pragmatic. And in other missions, Renegade is "evil", but sometimes necessary. And vice-versa. Acknowledging the limitations of a system, even knowing that it's flawed, and pushing boundaries within those limits is better than clinging to it for its own sake.

Edited by Unsung on Jun 7th 2019 at 12:55:52 PM

Everybody's righteous / Some of them ain't right
Jun 7th 2019 at 2:57:05 PM

Mass Effect 1 was my favorite of the series partially due to it's sidequests.

It's tone was also less jingoistic compared to later games.

Jun 11th 2019 at 11:33:47 AM

1. Space cop - yes, and? I said nothing about "hard science". I specifically said that hard vs soft sci fi has nothing to do with whether a work is details or drama first. If you are focusing on the hard vs soft spectrum of sci fi, that has nothing to do with what was actually said. Mass Effect 1 (as well as Jade Empire and KOTOR) were all stories that had a lot of little details sprinkled throughout the stofy that built up the final climax, not simple jumbles of tropes meant to tap into muh 80s/90s nostalgia.

2. Zaeed - because the reasons given for why he's a bad fireteam leader make zero sense and are nothing more than inferences from one or two summarized lines of dialogue, and directly clash with the details of his backstory. Furthermore, let's examine how he got the Blue Suns stolen from him - Vido paid a bunch of guys to hold him down while he shot him in the head. Clearly Zaeed is just a baseline human who can't just wade through the enemy and tank bullets with his face. Therefore, clearly his battlefield experience is based on actually knowing how to gunfight good with a team of people. Moreover, you can't even hold the coup as an example of bad leadership skills - it's not like there were needs he was ignoring, or complaints about a toxic work environment that he brushed off, it's literally Vido paid a bunch of people (who are comfortable with the idea of committing violence for money) a large amount of money to ambush him. Never mind Zaeed, Horus Lupercal would be caught just as flat-footed in this situation.

As for Caesar's Legion, the issue at hand isn't that I don't like bad guys being portrayed as incompetent - Senator Arnos from Codex Alera, Cersei and Joffery from A Song of Ice and Fire, all of Team Voldemort from the Harry Potter series - but rather that I've seen rapey baby-killers in like hundreds of different things at this point, and I'd rather something a little more sophisticated than "this is the evil faction, they kill women and rape babies, and also the other way around." Doubly so when they have potential to explore ideas that generally aren't explored in Western works.

3. "Tali's loyalty mission is a deliberate deconstruction of Renegade/Paragon. Lawful =/= Good, in this case" - er, no it's not. Renegade/Paragon weren't supposed to be good/evil to start with, yet virtually in all instances the Paragon option is better either in terms of rewards, overall readiness against the Reapers, or simply just not cutting off content. Tali's mission does nothing to deconstruct this. Even the interrupts that don't actually do anything other than try to make you feel things in 3 were a better deconstruction of the R/P system than Tali's loyalty mission. The issues with Tali's loyalty mission as well as with the R/P system have nothing to do with the supposed limitations of the system - the Terra Nova DLC (at least until ME 3 decided to make sparing him give you more war assets), the Helena Blake sidequest, and blowing up the geth "heretics", for example, are excellent examples of doing it well and making it the sliding scale of idealism vs cynicism more than anything. But they are rare exceptions, and the problems with implementing R/P has little to do with the inherent limitations to video game morality systems and much more to do with overall quality of the writers.

Unsung it's a living from a tenement of clay
it's a living
Jun 11th 2019 at 12:21:41 PM

1. If that's not what you were saying, then you're just saying "I don't like it". Which is fine.

2. Like what you like, but your reasons for why Zaeed should be a good fireteam leader at this point basically just boil down to "I don't like that he's not."

3. Starting out with "No it's not" isn't really ever gonna help your case much. Criticizing how ME 3 spread out the point value of Paragon/Renegade decisions (and there's plenty to criticize) is a whole other can of worms from whether or not Tali's loyalty mission plays with/deconstructs/otherwise examines a case of To Be Lawful or Good. If it doesn't work for you, so be it.

Edited by Unsung on Jun 11th 2019 at 1:26:53 PM

Everybody's righteous / Some of them ain't right
Jun 11th 2019 at 1:55:45 PM
Thumped: for switching the discussion from the topic to a person. Doesn't take many of this kind of thump to bring a suspension. Stay on the topic, not the people in the discussion.
Jun 11th 2019 at 3:25:49 PM

Well okay then. Since that was a step too far I'd just like to ask what the point of this conversation even is? No one's budging from the opinions they had weeks ago.

Dirtyblue929 Armchair Developer from A Very Deep Hole Relationship Status: Don't hug me; I'm scared
Armchair Developer
Jun 11th 2019 at 3:33:26 PM

[up]Arguing in circles until it devolves into personal attacks is the internet's favorite pastime

"Oh no, I'm not brave enough for politics."
Unsung it's a living from a tenement of clay
it's a living
Jun 11th 2019 at 3:37:17 PM

Always, there must be hope. But, yeah, fair enough.

Everybody's righteous / Some of them ain't right
fredhot16 from Baton Rogue, Louisiana. Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Jun 13th 2019 at 12:48:08 PM

You know, there's always the refusal to engage.

If telltale was right about one thing, saying nothing is a viable option.

I have many potential ideas to write about but only eight slots left.
Jun 14th 2019 at 4:29:14 PM

1. Does that mean we have established that "details first" is not the same thing as "hard sci fi"? Nothing to do with what I like, everything to do with basic definitions.

2. Nothing to do with what I like, everything to do with making basic sense. Can you honestly say that if a loyal Zaeed was coded as being a valid choice for fireteam leader, you would be complaining similarly hard that it makes no sense because he's the only one who survives in all his missions?

3. Well, being that I disagree with your statement, what else am I meant to say? Should I have started with something like "yes, I agree, but actually you're completely wrong" instead? I do like how you ignored the part regarding how it plays out like most of all the other Paragon/Renegade decision trees, and just zeroed in on a side point of the R/P war asset spread in ME 3. Which was only half of what I said about ME 3 to start with; I was referring to how ME 3 has an annoying recurring trait of giving you Interrupts that don't actually do anything, most notably your inability to stop Tali's suicide if you sided with the geth (you just end up reaching out fruitlessly as she takes an artistic swan dive off a cliff), and how even something as hackneyed as that was a better deconstruction of the R/P system than Tali's loyalty mission. Again, how is Tali's loyalty mission a deconstruction of To Be Lawful or Good or of the Paragon/Renegade system when Good/Paragon is clearly the superior choice, which, yet again, has nothing to do with what I like?

For the record, I like plenty of works that runs off of themes and drama (Gurren Lagann), works where the main characters are just 80s B-movie action stars that are seemingly immune to bullets and never have to reload (The Expendables, Shoot Em Up), where the main villain is this mysterious force that the mains just can't defeat (Oculus), where the setting is drama first (Star Wars), where the villains are just these brutal pure evil villains in dire need of acute externally-induced lead poisoning (pretty much every ). So let's put this idea that this is merely a matter of likes and preferences to the dustbin, and refrain from baseless assertions regarding what I actually said, shall we?

fredhot16 from Baton Rogue, Louisiana. Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Jun 14th 2019 at 4:46:06 PM


I have a better idea.

How about we put this goddamn waste of space and energy that is this conversation...

And put it away?

Because, really, is any more conversation going to change anything?

I have many potential ideas to write about but only eight slots left.
Tiamatty X-Men X-Pert from Now on Twitter Relationship Status: Brony
Jun 14th 2019 at 11:13:54 PM

I am inclined to agree with PRC on the issue of Tali's loyalty mission. The moral choice actually would've been to expose what her father had done. It wasn't something she wanted done, sure, but what he did was objectively wrong. It was a horrible thing for him to do. And horrible things deserve to be exposed. Revealing it would've been the right thing to do, even if it did put the mission at risk by hurting Tali.

Paragon is about committing to morality even when it risks the mission, Always Do The Right Thing. Exposing atrocities is the right thing to do. If it means betraying Tali's trust? It's hard, but it's still the right thing to do.

Renegade is about rejecting morals in favour of completing the mission, By Any Means Necessary. If that means covering up atrocities? Well, a Renegade's probably committed some atrocities themself, so what do they care?

There are arguments to be made for the decision to go either way. And, obviously, the correct response is to just browbeat the Admiralty into forgetting the whole thing. But I think there actually is a strong argument to be had that the Paragon decision would be to expose the truth would've been more interesting. Games with morality systems seldom include legitimately interesting decision-making. Are you a good person, or are you a total asshole? That's pretty much the choice you get. It's not very deep. But a situation where the heroic choice is also an asshole move? That stirs things up. That gets you really thinking about the situation. When is it OK to compromise on your ethics? Why is it OK to compromise here, but not there? It turns it from "be a nice guy or be an asshole" into "consider just how much you truly value your ethics."

Having the Paragon choice be to expose the experiments would be a way of demonstrating just how dedicated you are to Always Doing The Right Thing. Not just when it's easy, not just when you have all your friends behind you telling you it's the right thing, but even when it means taking a stand that your friends disagree with.

PRC is still wrong about Zaeed, though. It makes more sense for him to be a bad fireteam leader. He knows how to keep himself alive, he's shit when it comes to keeping anyone else alive.

X-Men X-Pert, my blog where I talk about X-Men comics.
Jun 15th 2019 at 8:47:58 AM

[up] I remember watching this one video that said the choice at the end of Legion's loyalty mission (kill or reprogram the heretic geth) should have both been Renegade options.

There is no "morally superior" choice in that scenario, but the game basically says brainwashing is "the right thing to do", which is ironic considering that's basically the reapers' M.O.

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BadWolf21 The Fastest Man Alive
The Fastest Man Alive
Jun 15th 2019 at 8:59:25 AM

That doesn't make any sense. At that point it's not a choice, it's just "haha, you're forced to get Renegade points at this part of the game."

That's probably why it's a morally neutral choice as far as gameplay is concerned. Because neither is a great option, but you have to do something.

CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Jun 15th 2019 at 9:02:35 AM

Zaed is famous for the fact his troops hated him enough to abandon him and take up with his second in command.

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.

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