Spoiler Warning Episode 100:
Probing Questions, Part 1

By Shamus
on Feb 8, 2011
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

A few of you guessed it already – this is the long-awaited “probing” episode, where we show off the probe minigame of Mass Effect 2, which can only be called a game under the broadest possible use of the word. It’s a game in the same way that coloring in an entire sheet of graph paper with pencil might be called arts & crafts. The idea is that you scan the surface of the world, launch mining probes, and then take the resulting resources and buy upgrades. Note that the speed at which the cursor can scroll over the planet is limited, and at launch it was much slower than what you see in the video.


Link (YouTube)

Our intent was to make a single mailbag episode, and we got together on Sunday with that goal in mind. Five hours later it became clear that questions and the answering thereof is a time-consuming endeavor. So this is what we’re doing this week. Probing and answering questions.

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From the Archives:

  1. X2-Eliah says:

    A whole week of Q&A?

    Wow. You must really be on a mineral binge there.

    I demand two!!

  2. Irridium says:

    I’m Commander Shepard, and private video’s are not my favorite videos on the citadel.

  3. Gale says:

    I’m just going to say, the probing’s pretty bad here, but it looks indescribably better than if you were doing it with an analogue stick. It’s slow and tedious, with the mouse, sure but at least you can swing the bugger around a little. Trying to pull the cursor around the planet with a stick was torture.

    • Jekyll says:

      My word yes. Also, as bad as pipe dream was try it with an analog stick and a slow as hell move speed.

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        I… I actually always assumed that we got this as some leftover idea from the consoles, or more specifically console controllers, something like “well, it’s probably smoother with a stick where you don’t have to actually move it all over the pad but just bump the stick slightly”.

        I’ll take your word that it’s even worse, which begs the question, whose bright idea was this anyway? It’s not like they couldn’t have just increased the amount of resources we get during missions… I can understand they didn’t want all these planets to go to waste by why inflict this upon the players?!

  4. Nyctef says:

    I would have enjoyed this episode, but I’m sorry to say I died of laughter at 2 minutes in.

    Thanks a lot, Rutskarn >:(

  5. Factoid says:

    Not sure about the PC version, but on console most people didn’t know that you could double the speed of the cursor by using both analog sticks. One stick rotated the planet and the other stick moved the cursor itself. So if you counter-rotated it went faster. Also you really only need to “pulse” the scanner every so often. It moves faster when you’re not holding the scan button down.

    Still…that “minigame” is probably the single worst part of the entire game…even including the end-game boss fight.

    • Raygereio says:

      Meanwhile on the PC – once more proving it’s superiority to consoles * – you can set the speed with which you scan to anything you like with one simple edit to a textfile.

      * Not being serious.

      • Haddron says:

        You could also alter how many minerals were present on planets. On my second playthrough I set the scroll speed way up and also quadrupled the amount of minerals on each planet. Saves a ton of time.

        It’s also fun because the line graph also increases, so for big mineral deposits it goes off the top of the screen.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Spiderman?Pffft!Hes nothing!Spiderpig,now thats a real hero.

    Oh,and how come your best video game moment wasnt the time you got stuck with that generator in fallout 3?I mean that mind blowing reveal that you can go through electricity in some places was epic.

    Oh,and why no custom titles?Like the prober of uranus,for example.

  7. Deadpool says:

    Btw, if you’re AT ALL interested in Deadpool, don’t pick up his current run. Every comic he’s been in the past like 5 years has pretty much sucked.

    Pick up Joe Kelly’s run instead. Brilliant mix of comedy, drama and action. Just a quick FYI…

  8. Mari says:

    Thanks for making me feel old as dinosaurs. Nine years old when you played Baldur’s Gate? Yeah, I was 21 when it came out. I had a kid and another on the way while I was playing that game. I think I’ll go shake my cane at some kids on my lawn now while you kids play with your newfangled eeelectric games.

    Also, I’m disappointed that Mumbles is the only DC fan on SW :-( Not surprised, but kind of let down anyway. All three of you guys need to get your hands on a copy of “Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia.” You’ll be DC converts in no time.

    • Deadpool says:

      Funny thing is, we’re not even sure if the game was new then or not…

      Damn these young whipper snappers!

    • krellen says:

      I don’t read comics, so my exposure to our superheroes is largely through cartoons. It’s always been a toss-up. Early youth had Superfriends vs. Spider-Man and friends. Later youth had X-Men vs. Spider-Man. Then DC really takes over the scene, with Batman: the Animated Series, Justice League (and Unlimited), Batman Beyond and my most recent favourite, The Brave and The Bold. I used to consider myself a Marvelite (because I loved X-Men growing up), but nowadays I’m definitely in the DC camp; I just think DC has done a better job of evolving the super-hero mythos.

      Plus, they have Joker, my absolute favourite villain of all time.

      • krellen says:

        (I can’t edit.)

        I was also 21 when Baldur’s Gate came out. I didn’t realise it was that … new. Wow.

      • Deadpool says:

        I’d say, right now, DC probably superior to Marvel, especially with the cancellation of Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy. Secret Six, Action Comics, Birds of Prey, Unwritten (btw, if you have not read Unwritten you are doing yourself a diservice) are all prime quality comics.

        Problem is that, in general, this crew isn’t big on comics. The big, relatable characters are Marvel. The most popular DC characters are Silver Age, larger than life, unrelatable characters. We got the Big Three (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) and beyond that people only have a cursory knowledge of the characters. Everyone knows Flash, Green Lantern and Green Arrow. No one knows Wally, Hal or Ollie though…

      • Daimbert says:

        Teen Titans … GO!

        Sorry, I just bought the entire series on DVD, watched the first disk last night, and remembered why when it was on it was one of my favourites. It even got me into reading the “Teen Titans, Go!” comic for a while.

        My mother’d gotten a couple of boxes of comics from a friend’s mother cheap when I was a kid, and some of the original Teen Titans comics were in there. I liked them. But in general, I liked the Marvel stuff — X-Men, Avengers, Hulk, Spider-man, Fantastic Four — better than the DC ones. Thus, I was and remain a Marvel fan, although I don’t buy comics much anymore at all.

    • Taellosse says:

      I think a lot of it has to do with what decade a person started collecting comics. In the 80s, DC was the better of the two, in general. They were doing interesting things like Crisis on Infinite Earths, and so forth. In the 90s, it was Marvel doing things like Carnage and the clone saga on Spider-Man (even if it got out of hand in the end there), giving Magneto some real character depth in X-Men, instead of him just being cartoonishly evil, and big events like the Infinity Gauntlet and its sequels. Then the last 10 years belonged more to DC again, especially recently, with their development of the Green Lantern mythos, and the whole Contagion/Cataclysm/No Man’s Land saga in Batman.

      Which isn’t to say that the stuff the other big house was doing in any given decade sucked, but the preponderance of creatively interesting stories tends to gravitate to one or the other for a period before shifting back again.

      For what it’s worth, I collected comics in the 90s. After I quit (Onslaught is what finally killed it for me), I started reading more DC in graphic novel format (especially Batman).

      • Mari says:

        That’s probably true. I was an 80s comics kid. I started out with Crisis and all of the attendant awesome, including the Perez reboot of my second-favorite comic character, Wonder Woman. Going into the 90s I started getting into Marvel largely due to the cartoon but reading the books was, I dunno, I just couldn’t keep up a consistent level of interest. It probably hurts that I just can’t make myself care about Spidey so my Marvel reading is more limited. But the mid-to-late-90s “comic mania” actually put me of of comics quite a bit and I didn’t get back into them until ’05 or so when exciting things were starting to happen for the Green Lantern Corps. All of that is probably why I’m a DC girl.

        • Deadpool says:

          The 90s were awful for all companies.

          I’ve always been a floater. I read what I like at the time. Rescently, it was Marvel. Annihilation and the subsequent series of comics were amazing, while DC’s Final Crisis mayhem was mostly underwhelming (I hate Morrison’s writting. I know, everyone loves it, but he writes depth without face value, like getting a deep bucket and filling it with two inches of water), but nowadays things seem to have turned.

          I find myself following writers more than companies or characters nowadays anyways…

      • Bret says:

        DC better in the 80s?

        The Simonson-on-Thor, ROM Spaceknight, Power Pack, good John Byrne, Dark Phoenix 80s? (Okay, the last one was at the very beginning of the decade, but still.)

        I mean, DC had Alan Moore, Suicide Squad, lot of ace stuff, but for basic cape and tights brawling, in that decade?

        Make mine Marvel. Still, 80s were an ace decade for comics.

        Meanwhile, DC weathered the 90 with a tiny bit of Morrison induced dignity and class. Marvel just kinda sucked. Hard.

        But hey. Opinions vary, ect.

        But if you try to defend Carnage, I will stab you through the internet. Like Carnage did.

  9. X2-Eliah says:

    Also.. Hands up everyone who is sick to death with all the “Lolprobing URANUS ololol” stuff.

    I mean, really, it’s just so.. stupid and childish.

  10. Aldowyn says:

    I’m always a lot more methodical in my mineral scanning. I don’t scan many planets, but I go over every inch of them making DARN sure I don’t miss any big deposits.

    Although I always have a TON of Palladium. So annoying…

    I’m not sure about my big video game moment. I don’t actually remember how I reacted to the big twist in KotOR the first time, it was a long time ago, but meeting Sovereign in ME1 was really cool. I knew about the Reapers already, but… it made an impression, I guess.

  11. eri says:

    I’m just happy Ruts is playing through Fallout 2. ^_^

    And yes, the whole sequence with Scarecrow (well, multiple sequences really) in Arkham Asylum is just extremely clever. Not only is it a really clever subversion of existing game mechanics that the player has grown to know over the course of the game, but the developers are able to break the fourth wall in a way that doesn’t break immersion; rather, the player’s confusion at being asked to press a button that doesn’t exist on the controller perfectly mirrors the confusion of Batman at that point in the story. Arkham Asylum is as a whole excellent, but it wasn’t until that point in the game that I really gained a true appreciation of Rocksteady’s talents.

    • Desgardes says:

      I agree. I mean, we knew Bebop as the face of the duo, so we got most of his talent right up front. But, like with that part, there was just a break in the clouds and he shone.

      But, in actuality, that section was amazing. All of them, actually, and you’d think that you’d feel less tense as you went through the scarecrow every time, but it was always always engaging. Probably because even the instant death stabs happened by such a pattern you’d have to be exceptionally thick to keep dying, which ups “perceived danger” (copyright 2010 Shamus Young)

    • X2-Eliah says:

      I still think the ‘videocard corruption/artifacting’ bit was a bit too cruel. I mean, I saw it through an LP, if that would have happened on my computer, I’d have panicked.

      • eri says:

        Which makes it all the more impressive that the trick actually worked. The unfortunate thing? Nobody else can ever do that in a game again, unless they are somehow able to turn it into a gameplay mechanic rather than, effectively, a story gimmick.

        • Gale says:

          Eternal Darkness is, of course, the obvious reference to make, but I suppose the difference is that Arkham was significantly higher profile. It’s an interesting effect, especially for conveying insanity.

          • eri says:

            I think the difference is that in Eternal Darkness, it was kind of expected that the game would start doing “crazy” things at random intervals. In Arkham Asylum it really does come out of left field and is truly off-putting.

            • Gale says:

              Sure, you expected weird stuff to happen, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of an earlier example of a game breaking the fourth wall in such a videogame-specific manner, and doing it specifically to freak the player out. We expected a game to scare us, but to follow certain rules in doing so – that things would happen to scare and endanger the player character, with the audience sharing in the protagonist’s experience. To bypass the player’s avatar and target the player, in ways that would be legitimately alarming to players, was entirely unexpected, even for a game designed to frighten its audience. It was expected that strange things would happen when your sanity meter got too low, but nobody expected it to fake deleting all your data.

              Hell, even when the player was aware of what the game would do to players at low sanity levels, and understood that the game would be happy to continue to play those kinds of tricks, it still managed to repeatedly unnerve its audience because the things at risk were things that were honestly at risk – a gamebreaking glitch, lost data, a broken machine. It was playing off things that any experienced gamer has learned to nervously anticipate, rational fears with sound foundations. Even when we expected the game to do it, the unpredictable nature of Eternal Darkness’ sanity system and the relative novelty of the shocks it used made it highly memorable to those who experienced it, and more recognisable than it could have been otherwise.

              So I suppose I’d disagree that Eternal Darkness’ tricks were less startling simply because it was a horror game.

        • Veloxyll says:

          I dunno for sure, not having played that part (I didn’t feel like replaying the first level of Arkham Asylum to get to where I was); the section sound somewhat similar to Psycho Mantis in MGS somewhere.

      • Jarenth says:

        Man, I played Arkham Asylum on a borrowed Xbox, and when that bit rolled around, I was terrified that it had Red-Ringed.

        Operative words here: ‘I was terrified’. So mission accomplished, Scarecrow.

    • acronix says:

      I played Arkham Asylum on the PC, and the false prompt was a bit misleading because the direction they gave (or at least, the one I recall) was perfectly doable, which only made me think there was some extra cinematic or something if you did it right. Of course, I never tried again after the third time.

      • Fnord says:

        I think I must be the only person who didn’t like the Scarecrow sections of Arkham Asylum.

        OK, the first one worked well, when you don’t know it’s coming, and you get the wham moment with Gordon. After that, it felt overdone and telegraphed. Oh gee, Scarecrow, now for some more weird hallucinations followed by an annoying shift to fixed camera. Even the 4th-wall breaking stuff didn’t make an impression, though having played Eternal Darkness may have hardened me.

        I really enjoyed Eternal Darkness; I think there are a few important differences. The Arkham Asylum hallucination parts were very much cordoned off from the rest of the game: you get gassed (cough, cough), have some hallucinations, have a quick shift to side-scroller, and then you’re done. In Eternal Darkness, the effects could strike at any time (well, any time you’re at low sanity, but that’s hard to control and inevitable). You never know if you’re going to open a door and go crazy.

        It also helped that there were enough actual weird events in Eternal Darkness that the hallucinations weren’t immediately obvious. The most effective hallucination in Arkham Asylum was finding Inspector Gordon, because you can just about believe the game would really do that. The later ones failed at that; I KNOW batman isn’t actually regressing into a young Bruce Wayne, etc.

  12. Kojiro says:

    Transmetropolitan would totally make an awesome game. “Spider Jerusalem’s Puppy-Kicking something something”… Okay, I’m not good with titles, but it would still be totally awesome. Him showing up in Sam & Max or whatever Shamus said (if that’s what he was referring to) would be great too, though. Or maybe in DCUO, he runs through the city, drugged out of his mind and blasting heroes and villains alike with his bowel disruptor. Best event ever.

    On a more serious note, I regret not asking a better question, and due to how I phrased my last (terrible) one, I’m worried that I came off the wrong way as well. Darn it.

  13. Dante says:

    So I’m sure what we’re all wondering is….what kind of speedo does Ruts have? I’m guessing its something like older, cheesy sci-fi shows, bright reflective silver.

    Now the really big question: can you unsee what I just described?

  14. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

    Yay! My question!

  15. mixmastermind says:

    My big gaming moment was Jade Empire.

    You know what I’m talking about.

    • krellen says:

      I’m really not sure what my “big gaming moment” is. It might be more or less the entirely of KotOR2 (that game did a lot to expand my thoughts on morality, right, wrong, emotion, reason, and many other things.)

      If you want just one single thing in a game, though, it’s probably got to be the reveal of the nature of endurium in Starflight. The thought that my ship’s fuel were living, feeling creatures – that other life was a virus preying upon these species for their own survival, was pretty deep to begin with. Then I was forced (and I would have been 9 or 10 at the time) to come to grips with the fact that this knowledge wouldn’t solve anything. Regardless of knowing that our fuel was alive and we were killing it, we could not stop killing it – it was literally impossible for humans, or any other species, to continue living without burning endurium. And with the endurium hatching a plot to cause our suns to flare (having already destroyed Earth in this way), it really did come down to us or them – negotiation wasn’t possible. We thwarted their plan and used them as fuel, or we died.

      Pretty deep realisation for a kid.

    • Nyctef says:

      I was pretty surprised Shamus didn’t pick that, actually.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      I don’t think I actually have a ‘big gaming moment’…

      Well, okay, the best bit it ‘Hell Yeah, I did it!’ was capturing a Kha’ak Fighter in X2:The Threat with 2 beta kyons on board.. Sweet.

      Er, right. As for story/moving/touching stuff, yeah. I don’t think I have had anything properly big – lot of stuff was spoiled by using guides etc…

      Oh, no, wait. The Citadel level in Half-Life 2. That was pure candy, I absolutely loved the design and change of pace. It was Epic for me.

      • Deadpool says:

        I feel like the only one whose big moment was a console game. I’m thinking either the end of Phantasy Star 2 (finding out the invading army is Earth? Your party going out in a blaze of glory charging thousands of soldiers on their own? Awesomeness). On a personal level… Longer story.

        I’m playing Chrono Trigger, message setting is on high, I’m grossly underleveled and I couldn’t figure out the pattern to Magus’ defense. The result? My most damaging attack is Spincut, doing a whopping 20 dmg per hit while Frog does Heal every turn and Lucca sits there ready to use an item when the shit hits the fan. Now Magus has about 6,666 life, so this was a LONG, DRAWN OUT fight.

        Finally he shuts off his defense in order to cast a powerful spell. I hit him with everything I got (finally doing damage above double digits) he counts down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Dark Matter. Lucca dies, Frog dies, Crono is on critical. Crap. Heal, revive, heal some more, by the time I get to attacking again he’s in ANOTHEr countdown, and at 3 already. Dark Matter again, BAM, Crono only man standing on critical. Heal, revivie, heal some more, attack and BAM Dark Matter a THIRD time.

        No revive items, no healing items. Crono stands (kneels) alone against the most powerful mage of all time. 5, Spincut, Spincut, 4, Spincut, run out of MP just Attack, 3, Attack, Attack, 2, Critical. Magus dies.

        Coolest boss fight ever. Large part my stupidity, but still damned awesome… Epilogue to this, when he asks if I want to fight him again much later I, who had never backed down from a fight before, have a flashback and go “HELL NO” which nets me a brand new, awesome party member. Yay.

        • krellen says:

          You’re not alone. You just reminded me how deeply and personally touched I was by the opera in FF6. It remains one of my all-time high points for gaming (and hardly ever fails to bring tears to my eyes.)

          The desert island part of the same game elicits similar reactions.

          I just needed a little jolt to pull the memory back up.

          • Kavonde says:

            Right there with you on the opera scene. I’d also like to nominate Kefka’s sudden yet inevitable betrayal in Thamascas, followed by the entire floating continent segment. “Run, run, or you’ll be well done,” indeed.

          • Alexander The 1st says:

            Well, mine was a portable game, and one of my first games I owned/played.

            Pokemon Red, Elite Four.

            So I beat Lance, down to very low health, very low PP, and a few Full Restores/Max Revives left over. No Ethers, no elixers.

            Then Lance tells me that I’m not quite the Champion yet, because oddly enough, someone got here first. So, to be the Champion, I have to beat him too.

            So I heal up, and then decide to see who’s trying to steal my thunder.

            …It’s Blue ************** OAK!

            Finally beating him one last time, and savouring the fact that Blue can, in fact, Smell the dust I leave him in.

            ~~~~

            That, or the time I got to Celadon, and picked up the Ice Beam TM. With Blaistoise, then running back to Lavender Town to own Blue again.

            ~~~

            For me and my sister, first time we got Super Sonic in Sonic 2, Mystic Cave Zone, Act 1. My sister was Sonic, I was Tails.

            “Huh, so the game says to double jump with 50 rings…Okay – WHOAH! AWESOME! I can’t control Sonic though anymore! He’s too fast!”

        • swimon says:

          ICARUS HAS FOUND YOU!!!!!
          >ICARUS HAS FOUND YOU!!!!!
          >>ICARUS HAS FOUND YOU!!!!!
          >>>ICARUS HAS FOUND YOU!!!!!
          >>>>ICARUS HAS FOUND YOU!!!!!
          >>>>>ICARUS HAS FOUND YOU!!!!!
          >>>>>>ICARUS HAS FOUND YOU!!!!!
          >>>>>>>ICARUS HAS FOUND YOU!!!!!
          >>>>>>>>ICARUS HAS FOUND YOU!!!!!
          >>>>>>>>>ICARUS HAS FOUND YOU!!!!!
          >>>>>>>>>RUN WHILE YOU CAN!!!!!!!!!!!
          >>>>>>>>RUN WHILE YOU CAN!!!!!!!!!!!
          >>>>>>>RUN WHILE YOU CAN!!!!!!!!!!!
          >>>>>>RUN WHILE YOU CAN!!!!!!!!!!!
          >>>>>RUN WHILE YOU CAN!!!!!!!!!!!
          >>>>RUN WHILE YOU CAN!!!!!!!!!!!
          >>>RUN WHILE YOU CAN!!!!!!!!!!!
          >>RUN WHILE YOU CAN!!!!!!!!!!!
          >RUN WHILE YOU CAN!!!!!!!!!!!
          RUN WHILE YOU CAN!!!!!!!!!!!

          It worked so great in that game because you spend the entire game trying to hide from things (at least I did) so the thought that someone knows where you are is terrifying.

    • zob says:

      I think my gaming moment happened while I was playing Freespace 2 end mission second time. I knew the result, I knew the time to escape, I knew my wingman are all AIs, I knew it was just a game and even if it wasn’t I knew it was all useless I wouldn’t be able to save anybody else beyond that point. And yet I couldn’t convince myself to escape and leave behind those transports and fighters to shivan mercy. I don’t think I ever felt that level of immersion with any other game.

      • Aldowyn says:

        That’s the one where if you don’t escape you die and then they’re like “He was a hero, staying back to defend the escaping transports”, right? For some reaso… wait, yeah that was the second one.

        As I recall, I was like “I didn’t stay on PURPOSE! I was running for my life and just couldn’t make it! Ah well, better that they remember me this way instead of as a coward, I guess”

    • Jarenth says:

      If I had to pick, I’d go for a combination of the mid-point and the ending sequence of Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The revelation of what exactly the deal was with the island was unsettling enough in it’s own right; it certainly paints the boss ‘monsters’ in a whole new light. But when the game told me (lil’ Jarenth — around 10 at the time) in no uncertain terms what it would mean if I were to achieve my goal and leave the island, and I realized that I would be doing that regardless; that I really had no choice in the matter… that actually really upset me. I distinctly remember crying* about it the night after I ‘won’.

      (Yes, lil’ Jarenth was kind of emotional.)

      • SpammyV says:

        Jarenth, you are one of the only people I’ve met on the internet that’s played Link’s Awakening and knows as I do that LA ends incredibly darkly. Do you also get depressed when you hear the Ballad of the Wind Fish?

        So for my moment(s), there’s that and two others. Mega long and mega spoilers:

        Infinite Space: Infinite Space is a damned good JRPG. My friend who never met a DS JRPG he could say no to will back me up when I say it’s one of the best on the system, if not ever. I love the storytelling approach they took, which was to really follow the main character through ten years of war and hell and watch him mature. The first half ends with the big bad invaders winning, the areas you’ve been playing in for the last 20 hours captured, the main character unable to return home to his friends or his sister, and his love interest killed.

        So about halfway through the second act of the game, they start following two of the officers on the villain side, who want to be together but are separated by birth and class. By leading part of the invasion that you’re fighting now, he can have enough status to be able to publicly court her.

        And you kill him. He and the main character don’t even talk. They just fight. And he dies. When the woman he loved comes to get revenge, you kill her, just as bluntly. I stopped, put the DS down, realized that I(the main character) was no less of a monster than the invaders. There were more plot points later that confirmed that, but that was where I realized it.

        No More Heroes 2: Battles 4-2. Hands down. NMH2 has a strong theme of developer/player interaction, and nowhere is that point stronger than the battles with Margaret, Yuri, and Alice, and how their stories reflect utterly depressing stories about people who have lost themselves in their quest to be Number 1. It can apply to gamers, game franchises, or anybody trying to be the best.

        Margaret associates more with death than life, Yuri can’t tell what is reality, and Alice gave up everything to be the best… and found out that it’s not worth it. When you reach her, she’s throwing sentimental pictures into a fire, before finally dropping a diary inside. And after you kill her, her last request is simply to be remembered.

        And after you win, I’m never going to forget Travis’s outburst to Sylvia, that this isn’t a game, that these are people, and that the way the UAA(developers) treat the assassins(players) is wrong. It’s cruel, it’s inhuman, and it can’t go on. To see Travis Touchdown, who spent the last game trying nothing but to be the top-ranked assassin in the world declare that he is going to destroy the UAA, the organization that made him Number 1, was a powerful moment.

        Oh wait was I supposed to put an RPG here? Oops.

        • Jarenth says:

          Spammy, whenever I hear or hum the Ballad to myself, I invariably think of the ending sequence. You know the one: you’ve done what you set out to do, and now you’re floating in the water, setting so eerily and deliberately similar to the opening sequence that you can’t help but wonder “Did all of this even actually happen?”

          And then the Ballad plays.

          For me, that incredibly simple song evokes a mix of both sadness — on account of, well, you know why — and nostalgic happiness: both because of the single optimistic note that the ending carries, and because it makes me remember how lucky I was to have played Link’s Awakening as a little kid and how much it’s influenced me.

    • Kanodin says:

      I could never pick just one. The big ones for me were Bioshock, Jade Empire, and Kotor2. The first knights of the old Republic probably had the bigger twist, but the villain in 2, when they were finally revealed, is probably one of my all time favorites.

    • Irridium says:

      Hm… whats mine…

      Its a toss up I guess, between quite a few things.

      -Taking down my first Colossus in Shadow of the Colossus.
      -KOTOR 2 and its whole points on morality, right/wrong, and making me question if I’m really doing what I think I am, and all that.
      -Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid 1
      -Halo 1 where you emerged from the drop pod, and saw a giant, gorgeous, open world right in front of you.
      -Halo Reach, the epilogue mission.
      -Mass Effect, when you first talk to Sovereign. That entire scene sent chills down my spine.

      So yeah, quite a few moments. I guess the biggest for me would be Psycho Mantis. Because holy crap was that intense. He wasn’t talking to Snake, he was talking to you.

      • Fnord says:

        Though it’s fairly recent, I’d say the escaping from the GlaDOS’s trap in the incinerator is my favorite moment. Making the leap from treating the Portal Gun as a tool for running an obstacle course to defeating and escaping an intelligent adversary was huge.

        On my first playthrough, I lined up the portal and made the jump on my first try. I haven’t been able to do that on any subsequent playthrough.

    • Avilan says:

      I have several. The first one when I got my very own Commodore 64. It didn’t really matter what games, just that it was my own…! I think I played Ghostbusters (the first game, obviously) so much the tape got screwed up*. Not to mention Commando, Ghosts & Goblins…

      Later moments was Eye Of The Beholder for the Amiga 500 (My first cRPG! Running around in corridors, killing things with swords and magic… It was a dream come true!), Sim City 2000, Civ 2…

      *For you young people… C64 operated with a cassette player** as a medium for storage.

      **http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_Cassette for those WAY too young :D

  16. random_physicist says:

    For some reason I find the mining minigame therapeutic. I try to mine periodically so that I’m never strapped for minerals when I want to get an upgrade. I can see why feeling like one has to mine a ton to get some upgrade one wants can break up a flow of the game and be frustrating.

    If there was a higher ratio of minable planets with random encounters on them to total minable planets I think the process would be a bit more interesting.

    • ehlijen says:

      I too rather liked the mining mini game. But I think you’re meant to do a bit too much of it. And it’s not really what should have been in a game that’s basically Space Captain Laser Justice vs The Robo-Reapers. It would have fitted in much better with a game like Galaxy Prospector – The Element 0 Rush.

      I mean ‘we have to save the galaxy! Let’s go scan unrelated planets!’…? And why do so many planets in well established trading systems still have so many minerals lying around? (No, please don’t change that, the last thing the probing game needs is for the player to have to spend fuel money to get to planets. But it doesn’t make much sense.)

    • Avilan says:

      The problem is that you do it too much during your first playthrough* (unless you import a lvl 50+ character from ME1). You get 10000 (I think it is) of each mineral as a starting bonus every other playthrough, and then it becomes much more bearable.

      *…And it’s STILL better than the Mako.

      • krellen says:

        No it’s not.

        • Avilan says:

          Are you telling me that you have a different taste than me? The horror! It is also incredible unexpected :D

          Just like doing dishes, I find the mining quite meditating. However too much is just too much.

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        It’s also really horrible if you’re a hoarder and you go after every significant resource deposit you can find. Doubly so if you’re like me and you explore every possible system before in search for sidequests before doing plotquests, and while you’re at it there are dozens of planets to probe… I know my first playthrough was like that but I don’t even have that save anymore and if it turns out that resources carry over directly into ME3 I’ll edit the save for just this one thing.

  17. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Otakusphere, Kelly. Kelly said: we're answering questions all week. listen to me stumble over reading out loud!! http://bit.ly/h7pEEn […]

  18. Specktre says:

    Waah!

    Sorry, couldn’t think of anything more intelligent to say off the top of my head.

    Can’t wait for part 2. :)

    EDIT: Btw Josh, if you intend to the get the upgraded shields and canon for the Normandy, you’ll need to talk to Garrus and Tali for those upgrades. Just in case you didn’t know or remember.

    • Robyrt says:

      I rather hoped the Spoiler Warning team would fail to make some of the upgrades, actually. I haven’t seen what happens when you do that, and the more dead crew members at the end of the game, the more awkward the situation becomes. “Miranda, you are my only hope now.”

      • Kale says:

        I’m pretty sure they fully plan to give a go at murdering the two humans. From what Josh was picking to upgrade so far, it looked mostly like stuff he bothered using. We’ll see what else gets upgraded through the week, but I will be surprised if that biotic upgrade gets very far.

        • daveNYC says:

          Easy enough to kill Miranda. Need the upgrades, otherwise I think it’s Grunt, Tali, and Jack who can bite it.

        • Kojiro says:

          There are three humans. Unless you think that Miranda’s an ogre. I’m assuming that it was Jack that you forgot, though.

          They can also kill the non-party crew members too, actually. Almost everyone on the ship, in fact. There’s just one or two guaranteed survivors, I believe.

      • Specktre says:

        I looked up alternate deaths and suicide mission playthroughs on youtube. They’re kinda depressing. By not upgrading the ship’s armor, shields, and or canon, you can potentially kill a favorite party member if you are not careful. That can be solved by taking that party member into the hanger to fight the Collector Eyebot thing, but then someone else dies in their place.

  19. zob says:

    This was the point where my immersion broke and it broke hard.

    I was playing the game while a friend was hanging with me. I did couple of probings and planet status changed to “Depleted”. It was a habited planet, we both read the story of the place. After that my friend turned to me and said this immortal words to me:
    “Forget Racnhi, Krogan, Geth or Reapers you are the real bane of this galaxy. This was the 50th planet you devoured, Galactus.”

    • Robyrt says:

      Weirdly, some of the planets you probe already have thriving mining interests, or were abandoned due to resource depletion, in the description. Yet you can still probe and snatch their valuable resources as normal.

      • Miral says:

        This is what irritated me the most about the whole probing thing, actually. (Well, the speed did at first, too, but then I learned the tricks and researched the upgrade that speeds it up.)

        Although the flavour text did seem to be reasonably on target regarding element zero — that tended to appear only on planets for which the flavour text reported crashed ships or eezero concentrations.

    • Avilan says:

      The point is that the message is wrong; the planets are not actually depleted; you have removed all easily collected minerals, so the probes don’t work anymore on that planet.

  20. Neil Polenske says:

    Unfortunately, after the word ‘speedo’ was uttered, I couldn’t hear the rest of the show over the sound of my own tormented screams of anguish.

  21. Raynooo says:

    Quick question to all comics fan here : I’m quite new to reading comics (only have like Civil War and a couple Punishers yay over the top violence) and I was wondering :

    Would you call Hellboy a real superhero comics ? Because I LOOOVE Hellboy (both the drawing and mythos) but it doesn’t feel like the few comics I’ve read.

    If yes any advice on what to read next ? (Except for Walking Dead because I already do and that’s quite nice too)

    • krellen says:

      I know Hellboy only from movies, but there’s nothing about its mythos, as I know it, that makes it not “superhero”. It’s steeped in mythology and superstition, but that doesn’t hurt its stance; it helps it, in fact. You have to remember one central thing:

      Superheroes are our mythology.

      When future civilisations look back at ours, they’re going to see our tales of Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Hellboy, and all the rest the same way we currently view the ancient Greek stores of Achilles, Heracles, Zues, Aries, and all the rest. Superheroes fill the exact same niche in our society that the Gods and Heroes filled in Hellenistic Greece’s.

      So the son of a demon found and raised by a secret society to combat demons fits right in.

    • Mumbles says:

      Yeessss. I remember being in a comic book shop once and overheard this:

      “I….I think Hellboy might be more important to me than the alphabet.”

      “Same, dude. Same.”

      • Raynooo says:

        I should also have asked if any of you ever read European comics.
        Ever tried reading some Moebius (don’t know if this was translated but his latest -Arzak- is awesome, guy is insane, so much details in some drawings) or Hugo Pratt ?

        On more recent comics, Blacksad (might be Argentinian though not sure) are great too.
        I also wonder how much influence Belgium-French “Classics” like Asterix or Tintin (though Tintin didn’t age well IMO) have had (I know Smurfs are a big thing enough to have a -most likely- shitty reboot).

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          Well, living in Europe I at least had access to some nice stuff that is perhaps not as widely known in the US. I actually missed on the Tintin somehow, it was never very popular in my country I guess, but Asterix has aged really well far as I’ve seen and the quotes from the series are fairly popular in the geek subculture around here.

          As for some more serious tones, my personal favourites are “Rork” and “Cromwell Stone” by Andreas, and Van Hamme’s Chninkel (google tells me the original title is “Le grand pouvoir du Chninkel”)which is absolutely mind blowing and I would imagine left some pretty deep impressions on my fairly young mind regarding religion, the value of sacrifice and such. There is also a fairly cool series Thorgal which still spits up an album on occasion though myself I’ve found the new albums to be less to my liking than the ones from the 80s.

          • Avilan says:

            I am Swedish, collected Asterix and Lucky Luke when I was a kid.I love them both.

          • Raynooo says:

            Oh yeah forgot about Van Hamme (the early “XIII”s and “Largo Winch”s are cool too). Never heard of Chninkel I’ll look for it.

            Out of curiosity do you have different words for superhero comics and other comics ?
            For example in france we wouldn’t call “Maus” a comics we’d call it uh… Drawn strips ?

            Anyway yes Asterix aged nicely, still funny !

            • Sleeping Dragon says:

              I don’t think we do, I mean, we will sometimes refer to stuff as “superhero comics” I guess, and possibly a “non-superhero comics” or “a gangster comics” or a “zombie apocalypse comic”etc. Some of us do try to incorporate the English term “strips” for stuff like Garfield, Dilbert and such but I don’t think it’s really working for the broader populace and a descriptive “a short comics published daily in a newspaper” is used regardless of the inefficiency of it. I guess this may stem from our language not being overly elastic when it comes to new word formation.

              Personally I’m more for comics with at least some element of the supernatural or the mystic. Chninkel is possibly the best comics I’ve seen, it was originally published in black and white but they reprinted it in colour a few years back (at least around here). I would recommend hunting down a B&W copy as I found the colours distracting but whatever you can get your hands on you should definitely read it.

    • GiantRaven says:

      This isn’t a superhero comic but…

      Chew. The following image pretty much sums up it’s glorious nature.

      http://forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/chew01_p2.jpg

  22. Fat Tony says:

    Guys epic plan to get any…ANY geust, see thoose (hopefully plump) things on Mumbles chest? send pictures, with promises of more, or even video, of them to whom ever you want and BAM instant guest

    : Rofl.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Im torn about what my best video game moment was.Either planescape:torments story about the guy sitting in the road without memory,and hag asking him to make his third wish,or barely surviving the last terran mission in starcraft for the first time.Actually,both games are pretty epic and full of great stuff,its really hard to choose.

    And,of course,there were numerous amazing survivals in x-com,as well as extremely frustrating deaths.

  24. Bret says:

    Well, if we’re all discussing gaming moments?

    Older one is having my Pokemon game with over 100 hours wiped out, pfft, like that. And then having it happen again. And a third time. I was a pretty miserable kid. Ah, youth.

    Wait, we’re talking best.

    Hmm. Had a couple nice ones a few years back. Minerva. The little twist at the end of act 3. Just saw it coming down from the heavens and thought “Yeah. This? I can live with this.”

    Other one was the midpoint in Marathon 2, where you have to mercy kill Durandal. Sure. He’s an asshole. But he’s also the closest thing you have to a friend in the whole game. And it isn’t even nice and quick. Slow agonizing lobotomy.

    Of course, the bastard comes back in the end none the worse for the wear and with the smuggest expression on his non-existent face, but hey. He brought the calvary. Earned a little smug.

  25. Josh R says:

    Am I the only one to have “My best gaming moment” be in a multiplayer game?

    Back when the only game I owned for pc was counterstrike, and I just constantly rocked the zombie mod, I ended up fighting off about 7 of my close friends on an open map, and in an epic ten minute battle, killing all of them, one by one. Only time I’ve rocked a leaderboard, and I was consistantly number 1 on it. (overall server stats)

    Biggest reveal for me was probably bioshock, saw Jade Empire, KoTOR and KoTOR 2’s big reveals from the ways they were foreshadowed (I don’t know why bioware always feel the need to hint at coming plot twists)

  26. Nighty says:

    I don’t think you’d have a hard time getting anyone who comments on this site to fill in for someone.

    Just run a contest or something.

  27. Dude says:

    Without a doubt that moment in System Shock 2. You know the one. Insect.

  28. Vect says:

    Well, since Shamus and Josh are both guys from The Escapist, I guess someone could suggest that you invite someone from that site short of Mr. Croshaw himself. Not me, but someone’s going to make that suggestion at some point.

  29. Zah says:

    On comic book heroes and games: While not my favourite Wondie’s enemies usually consist of nazis or mythological creatures make it a God of War clone and it would be hard to fail.

  30. PurePareidolia says:

    Favourite comic: Sandman, and MAN would that make an awesome game – I have no clue how half the stuff would even be rendered – I’m talking the majority of the game resembling the g-man sequences from HL2, but you could do so many awesome things with it and it has such a rich mythology to choose from. The only problem would be trying to put the character of Dream into playable form. The story could follow the comic’s early parts pretty well – Dream going to Hell after being released and having to retrieve his symbols, culminating in the Dr Destiny fight and Dream regaining his full power. It could do interludes through cinematics really well and the shapeshifting fight could be a really good puzzle.
    DO WANT SO MUCH.
    Oh and I’d have said Hellboy but it’s already a game. It’s not a good game.

    Best gaming moment though? Well obviously things like the end of HL2:Ep2, but one I really liked was the end of the original Fallout – that pitch perfect expulsion from the vault while the ink spots played softly in the background – I knew how it ended, but it was just so sublime after all that had happened.
    Or the opening vista of Rapture – the entire first 10 minutes or so up until you get the wrench was amazingly atmospheric and beautiful followed by immediate horror and that precious “oh man I hope the game doesn’t just kill me while I’m unarmed” feeling that’s so dreadfully elusive.

    There’s probably a lot more, but that’s some that I remember immediately.

  31. Raynooo says:

    Best Gaming moment : finding the Nord tomb in Morrowind, you know the one, an old drunk Viking gives you a key in a random tavern with really REALLY poor directions and the entrance is actually at the bottom of a Dunmer tomb.
    Then through a labyrinth filled with skeletons and there it is, a small Drakkar with the corpse in the middle, jewels in eyes, sculptured weapons by its side and miscellaneous presents for his afterlife in the boat. So much work for a place most people probably never find…

    As the crew said while playing Fallout, Bethesda knows how to fill places so that they tell stories without words. Unfortunately that’s ALL they know… But Fallout 3 had similar places (ridiculously small shelter where a father and his daughter have hidden and died, father’s message on the radio and a hundred year after you finally turn it of) as well as New Vegas (though that was not Bethesda’s work but the abandoned settlements with logs or diaries, such as the burned barn next to searchlight).

  32. Kdansky says:

    I do have to complain:

    Is there anything else on this blog except for Spoiler Warning anymore? I am not too much fond of it, and I’d rather read a decent essay now and again. You’re a great writer, Shamus, but you’re not doing any writing. I am sad.

    True, the last three entries were something else (for a change), but SW is still a clear majority of all content right now.

    • Avilan says:

      As far as I can tell that has more to do with the Christmas break and the backlog of SW videos.
      Other than that it looks like 1 spoiler warning per two other articles.

    • Shamus says:

      I have a post every Monday. More if I can squeeze them in.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      And every time its like this “Oh now Shamus is all about X,he never does anything but X anymore”.It was like this when he did champions,it was like this when he started stolen pixels,and when he had “too much breen” in there,it was like this with minecraft,….If you look carefully,youll see that Shamus does things in arcs.

      I,personally,am looking forward to fable 3 arc.I love it how the last one was broken down,and this one should provide even more bad,as it seems.

  33. Sekundaari says:

    I’m supposed to share a gaming moment here? Well… I’ll have to go with something from Operation Flashpoint, of course. But there are many choices for me, because I took a long, long time to finish that game. Maybe the first time I finished After Montignac. It took me numerous tries, but finally making it was worth it. Many of the Black Ops missions were like that too… And finishing the campaign was great too, obviously.

  34. Joe Cool says:

    Woohoo! You answered my question first! Thanks, guys!

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