Spoiler Warning Episode 100:
Probing Questions, Part 4

By Josh Posted Friday Feb 11, 2011

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 157 comments

Link (YouTube)

And so our mailbag week comes to an end. Initially I was rather concerned at the prospect of doing an entire week of probing Q&A episodes, but in the end I think it turned out alright.

Next week we should return to our normal routine of complaining bitterly about Mass Effect 2’s plot. Provided Rutskarn’s internet troubles don’t persist through the weekend anyway. Though I hear Mumbles has a sock-puppet she named “Hipster” that would be happy to fill in for a week as a guest host…


From The Archives:

157 thoughts on “Spoiler Warning Episode 100:
Probing Questions, Part 4

  1. AbruptDemise says:

    I am completely in favor of Hipster the sock puppet being the 5th Spoiler Warning host.

    1. X2-Eliah says:

      But how will we tell when it is Rutskarn and when it’s Hipster who’s doing the talking? I mean, they are IDENTICAL!

      1. Desgardes says:

        Hipster has a deeper voice, and drinks PBR instead

        1. scowdich says:

          If you need a hipster to volunteer as a guest voice, I’d be happy to help. Don’t want to be presumptuous, but I have a headset, black glasses, and a record player. That’s hipster qualifications, right?

      2. Taellosse says:

        Better question: How do we know they haven’t been doing this ALL ALONG! It’s no accident that neither Rutskarn nor Mumbles use their real names in SW, after all! Obviously, they BOTH sock puppets, and Randy is secretly still a member of the team, but his multiple-personality disorder has become much more pronounced.

  2. Aulayan says:

    I am glad that Mumbles has quickly come up with a solution. Though this may add further proof to my theory she is the one who trashed Rutskarn’s internet connection….

  3. Adam P says:

    I betcha that Mumbles’ sock-puppet is one of Sid Meier’s dancing bears.

  4. X2-Eliah says:

    Also: Damnit Ruts, stop stealing my rants from 1st episode’s comments!

  5. Kasper says:

    Deus ex spoiler warning? If that was a foodstuff it would be chocolate. What is it’s difficulty? Because in my opinion deus ex is worth a LOT of difficulty if you guys could do a spoiler warning of it.

    1. Volatar says:

      YES! DO WANT!

    2. Robyrt says:

      The main problem I see with Deus Ex is that it would be virtually impossible to see what’s going on. The subtitles are tiny, the graphics are murky, and a single playthrough doesn’t really show off the dynamic system.

      1. Klay F. says:

        I gotta be honest, the graphics of Deus Ex are HORRIBLE. System Shock 2, which came out at about the same time, was infinitely better in that department, in my opinion anyway.

        Obviously, the depth and quality of story far outweigh the graphics, but I played Deus Ex a few months after it came out, and trying to play it now is an exercise in how to get migraines.

        I just think that a lot of people aren’t going to want to look at all the ugliness going on, even if the accompanying commentary is good.

        1. Volatar says:

          I think you are on the wrong blog.

          1. Klay F. says:

            Don’t get me wrong, I played Deus Ex and System Shock 2 basically one right after the other when they were new. I loved both of them. That being said, you cannot deny that Deus Ex is hard to look at. I don’t care how great a game is (and make no mistake, Deus Ex is awesome), if it gives me headaches just to look at it, I won’t be playing it through multiple times. I realize I’m probably alone in this, but if they do end up doing a SW of it, they might as well mod it with one of the many texture overhaul mods.

            Conversely, System Shock 2 is a game I STILL replay every now and again.

            Don’t confuse me with a graphics snob, I just think there is something to be said about playing through a game that easy to look at when you are trying to attract a larger audience.

            1. Volatar says:

              No graphics, no matter how crappy, can cause me to dislike a game.

              I play Dwarf Fortress after all :)

              1. Klay F. says:

                Like I said, I loved Deus Ex, I just never wanted to replay it because getting headaches is not my idea of entertainment.

                1. Irridium says:

                  There is a hi-rez texture mod available somewhere that helps alleviate the crappy graphics issue.

              2. Aldowyn says:

                There’s a big difference between no graphics and bad graphics.

                ASCII doesn’t make your eyes bleed – at least not if you’re used to it.

              3. MrWhales says:

                I play Noctis IV CE >.> (beat that)

  6. Chris B Chikin says:

    There really wasn’t much good to say about the Collector ship – I didn’t even like the floor pattern or really any aspect of the level design. I know I ranted a lot about that chapter earlier but I feel like doing it again.

    I mean, the Collector ship basically looks like an asteroid with engines and a gun stuck on it, and to me that doesn’t really mesh with my idea of the collector mindset. I imagine them as an efficient swarm of alien locusts, and their architecture should reflect that; functionality over aesthetics every time; somewhere between the Geth and a Borg cube.

    The Collector ship seems the antithesis of this idea. Rather and an efficiently planned starship where a person can get straight from one key point to another in the minimum possible time, they hollowed out an asteroid and built the ship piecemeal around the inside however they could fit it, and then filled in the gaps higgledy-piggledy with pods. Considering they Collectors definitely have the resources and drive to build themselves a decent ship, this idea just seemed ridiculous.

    It also just got worse when those stone outcroppings (read: chest-high walls) appeared. Chest-high walls can be justified where they’re made out of machinery or whatever, but many of these had simply, and obviously, been cut out of the rock during the process of turning the asteroid into a ship. And these outcroppings could serve no other purpose than for cover. The Collectors had deliberately built cover into their ship design, thereby impeding the efficient movement of it’s crew, all for the incredibly unlikely scenario that the ship would be boarded. Considering the ship is older than the human race, they could not have foreseen this trap being set for Shepard, so why would they go to such lengths to make preparations for a situation whereby they would need to take cover from an enemy boarder?

    Of course, we are talking about a race who thought they had a sound plan for capturing and killing Shepard, so maybe interpretation of them as efficient, intelligent and remorseless was wide of the mark.

    1. Taellosse says:

      Not that I actually disagree with you here, but let me play devil’s advocate for a minute.

      The Collectors are not a super-advanced race of highly intelligent insect-people with a centralized hive mind. They are the pitiful remnants of an extinct race, basically living sock puppets propped up by extensive genetic and technological alterations. They’re really Husks with networking. Remember the scene at the end–“Harbinger” isn’t the queen bee of the Collectors, he’s another Reaper with his hand up above the scenery, pulling their strings.

      Instead of thinking of them as a super-advanced insect-race that should be building hyper-efficient ships of elegant utility, think of them as a hive of sterile, mutant bees. Their ability to survive is hopelessly compromised by the genetic and mental degradation they’ve suffered from eons of Indoctrination, but they’re compelled to keep going anyway. They construct pathetic mockeries of a space station and a ship from materials at hand because they no longer possess the ability to create from scratch–they lack the creativity anymore. The layout of the place makes no sense because most of them are mindless, damaged drones, and the intelligence driving them barely cares at all. The only reason they’re not long dead is they’ve been kept barely alive by the control of Harbinger.

      Hell, the Collectors were probably never intended to be an army of shock troops who cull an entire species from the galaxy. Before Shepard came along and took out Sovereign, they’d apparently only ever appeared occasionally and secretively to collect small-scale, unusual samples. They were probably meant mostly to quietly keep tabs on the progress of organic civilization and gather samples of promising candidates for new Reaper raw materials. They were only ad hoc repurposed when the Protheans’ plan with the Keepers was discovered and Sovereign’s attempt to retake the Citadel failed. Since the Collectors themselves couldn’t possibly succeed directly where Sovereign had failed, they were tasked with the somewhat wild gambit of creating a new Reaper to do the job, using the source material of the race that had defeated Sovereign to make the new Reaper as dangerous as possible. Meanwhile, whether this plan succeeded or failed, the rest of the Reapers were already awakened and headed in via the long route. If the plan was successful, they could speed things up and get started with the culling that much quicker. If not, they’d arrive eventually anyway. Regardless, they didn’t need the Collectors anymore–they’d picked the species that would be culled for new Reapers already, and had already determined that the time for the next culling had arrived. So using them up on a desperate gambit was fine–they can be replaced with the remnants of humanity once the culling is done.

      Now, I’m pulling all of this out of my ass, but it makes a certain amount of sense. Of course, if I’m right, they kind of did a piss-poor job of conveying almost all of it within the context of the game.

      1. Jarenth says:

        This explanation has now replaced any and all ‘official’ Collector-lore in my mind.

        1. Retlor says:

          Seconded. I really like that explanation.

          1. Kukulza says:

            I call thirds on that idea.
            Great explanation. Now that part makes more sense.

            Not a whole lot of sense but still more.

            1. Aldowyn says:

              The first part, about them being just a shell of their former selves, doesn’t quite ring true for some reason, but the later part, where you say that they were repurposed and stuff, makes perfect sense.

              1. Taellosse says:

                Well, thank you everyone. :-) I seriously just made that up as I was writing it. I’m not sure whether that says something about my own creativity, or is an indictment of Bioware’s…

          2. MrWhales says:

            I’ve never even thought of playing this game once. And that made sense to me. This person must be cousin to that warcraft lore nerd…

    2. Avilan says:

      Funny, I think it’s the other way around. The foundation is a Prothean ship, and then the obvious organic growth, like a beehive, has slowly been covering it. You can see it where you suddenly get some shiny floor surfaces etc.

      As for the infamous chest-high walls… yes, it’s slightly stupid, and spoils the fights a bit, but I refuse to agree that they are worse than the odd placement of “containers” and “machinery” in ME1 (which just happened to behave just like… chest high walls! Weirdly enough placed to funnel opponents in specific paths…

      1. krellen says:

        Will you agree that they’re not better?

      2. Retlor says:

        I guess you have a point, but crates and containers to hide behind are such a staple trope in just about every genre of videogame that I can accept hap-hazard illogical placements to allow better gameplay.

      3. Fnord says:

        What I liked about ME1 was that it actually didn’t have that many chest high walls. It had some, but to my recollection you spent more time shooting around corners than crouching behind barriers. Yes, there was a bunch of random stuff conveniently placed, but it felt more natural than the utter proliferation of barriers of exactly the same height.

        Of course, ME1 was also less cover-based in the first place. You were tougher and biotics were better at controlling enemies. Cover was helpful, sure, but it wasn’t absolutely vital like it is in ME2 (for everyone except the Vanguard, at least).

  7. Vect says:

    Do you guys really hate the Crew that much? I mean… Kelly might be technically a hypocrite by being a xenophile and a member of Cerberus, but…

    And those engineers, erm… Yeah, those engineers! One… Has an accent!

    OK, I forsee Josh laughing like crazy as Kelly becomes a human smoothie or cheering The Collectors on as they abduct everyone save for Joker. Maybe spend a part of an episode explaining the problems you guys seem to have with the crew.

    1. Avilan says:

      I don’t get the crew-hate. Both Kelly and the engineers are characters I would have LOVED getting much more screen time.

      1. Mumbles says:

        ok let’s stop calling her kelly

        1. Deadpool says:

          But her name IS Kelly, isn’t it?

          For the record, I made the same mistake for a few seconds…

          1. krellen says:

            The only Kelly allowed around here is the one that is Batman.

          2. Aldowyn says:

            I find it interesting that no where in this thread is her last name even mentioned.

            The named crew, like the cook and stuff, that you actually talk to don’t have enough depth to be interesting – or at least, for someone you can talk to. Not to mention… a scottish engineer? Seriously?

            Now, the random people that you can overhear – those conversations are interesting. Helps you understand why people would risk their lives on a mission like this.

        2. Irridium says:

          Why don’t you want us talking about Kelly Kelly?

        3. MrWhales says:

          I’m barely grasping that they aren’t talking about someone i have never heard of. Can you please make them never do that again?

        4. Alexander The 1st says:

          Okay, so we call her Ms. Chambers, then? Or Yeoman? Or Yeoman Kelly Chambers? Oh wait…

        5. Vect says:

          Alright, Yeoman Chambers how ’bout that.

  8. Jeremiah says:

    I had a sock puppet before they were cool.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The important thing is:Is the sock puppet wearing pants or not?

    1. Specter says:

      I’m with rutskarn on this:

      pants are overrated!

      1. ehlijen says:

        Yes, Rutskarn, show off your skirt!

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          ’tis a kilt. Not a skirt. Big difference.

  10. Jekyll says:

    *sigh* I was going to complain about the lack of Uranus probing but it appears that Josh can foresee complaints from the future.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yeah,but thats not why probing uranus is fun in mass effect 2.Its edis reaction thats fun.If she had no reaction,or if she was like “OMG!WERE PROBING URANUS!LOL!”,thered be no hype about it.

      Which is why Rutskarn is perfect in this one.

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        I blame Rutskarn’s ignorance on the fact that you can barely hear EDI when she responds – and I think she only does it once, then returns to “Launching Probe”.

      2. krellen says:

        In case anyone missed it, since they talked over it, the first time you launch a probe at Uranus, EDI says “Really? Commander?”. The second time she says “*sigh* Probing Uranus.”

        After that, she goes back to standard probing announcements.

          1. Mathias says:

            …Wow, BioWare managed to out-pun Rutskarn. That’s an achievement in itself.

            1. Rutskarn says:

              Just in case this isn’t clear: yes, I got the pun. I think most people heard that one for the first time back in 3rd grade science.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                So,this is your first time hearing the joke then?

              2. Hitch says:

                I thought the humor of the unrepentant punster of the group pretending to not understand this was obvious. But apparently Spoiler Warning has a rather broad spectrum demographic. Perhaps a few fart jokes are called for.

                1. Mathias says:

                  I know, I know. Even BioWare aren’t that good trolls (even though they really, really try).

                2. Raygereio says:

                  What the heck are you talking about? BioWare are master trolls.
                  Just look at the Dragon Age 02-02-11 fiasco or the Bazaar sillyness.

              3. Jon Ericson says:

                If you have to explain the joke, it probably wasn’t all that funny in the first place. ;-)

                Edit: That’s why I make it a policy to never explain my jokes. So that they remain as hilarious as I imagine them to be.

                1. Mathias says:

                  I personally think BioWare’s greatest moment of trolling is with the ESRB’s description of Dragon Age 2. Hint for those who haven’t heard: It includes the second “F-word”.

    2. Hitch says:

      I realized when he didn’t do it right away to get it out of the way, that he must be saving it for the big finish.

      1. RTBones says:

        Yeah, this one was predictably telegraphed, but funny nonetheless.

      2. Alexander The 1st says:

        At least he didn’t troll us with it, by explicitly not doing it. I barely noticed until Rutskarn didn’t get it. EDI was too quiet there.

        Then I realised where they were, and laughed again. The joke never gets old.

    3. Irridium says:

      I found it funny that Uranus had depleted resources. Seems we’re not the only ones to probe Uranus.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Indeed,uranus was made pretty much barren by constant mining.


        One thing about it though:From the very first time Ive learned about this pun,Ive started pronouncing it with a U as in united,and with the stress on itso it sound completely different than your anus.And I sure cant be the only one.

        1. mixmastermind says:

          I pronounce it in the ancient Greek style (a habit I picked up from a classicist professor). People look at me strange now.

        2. Klay F. says:

          I watched Sailor Moon on Cartoon Network something like ten years ago and the people dubbing that series had to use the same pronunciation.

    4. eric says:

      Honestly? I found the whole “probing Uranus” thing to be gut-wrenching in its idiocy. If this is where BioWare’s games are going, I don’t know if I want to be a part of it in the future.

      1. Sagretti says:

        Eh, if you can’t laugh (or groan at least) at the obvious jokes, then you’re probably taking yourself too seriously. To quote the Big Bang Theory: “Yeah, I have to say I thought the toilet humor would get less funny … Apparently there is no law of diminishing comedic returns with space poop.”

      2. Sydney says:

        Agreed. They weren’t mature enough to bypass that one?

        EDIT: Agreed with eric, that is. Ironic “lol butts lol” humour is still “lol butts lol” humour.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Errr,how come they didnt bypass that one?Humor here doesnt come from lol-buts-lot,but from lol-are-you-so-immature-that-you-want-to-make-me-say-but-lol.Its not ironic,its “Remember all those arcade machines that had ass written all over them?Well this is what theyd tell you if they could speak”.And if you think that probing uranus line is the punchline,youre not understanding the joke.

          1. Alexander The 1st says:

            Yeah, the joke isn’t about Uranus, it’s about the immaturity of the joke about Uranus. Which is still funny, because it’s making fun of an old joke. It’s like if Shepard had found Alanis Morissette’s corpse infecting a Reaper to play Ironic when she’s captured, only to have Shepard save people on the Reaper by defeating, then responding with “Well, isn’t it ironic” as the Reaper falls and crashes in an explosion that makes Michael Bay cry.

            1. Sydney says:

              And childish garbage like that doesn’t deserve recognition. Move on and pretend nobody was ever that low.

  11. Jennifer Snow says:

    What the heck? Shamus, Teddy Roosevelt posted on your blog.

    1. Josh R says:

      He’s throwing down after shamus trash talked him last episode

  12. Alexander The 1st says:

    I think Rutskarn is too high level a punster to get the probing joke. His AC’s too high.

    Either that, or he took a level in the prestige class Hipster.

    You guys almost spoke over the “*Sigh*…probing Uranus…” line that EDI gives. Though you did talk over EDI’s “I’m not going to say it, Commander…” line.

    Also, mining would be more enjoyable if you got MORE ELEMENT ZERO! You literally are overloading with Platinum and all, but Element Zero is like…not there at all.

    Of course, a second playthrough is therefore less agonising because of that one difference, where you start off with more Element Zero. Platinum and Palladium? Iridium? Don’t really care much for them. But Element Zero is used for retrain/extra power, Biotics, Jack, and…you never seem to have enough.

    1. Vipermagi says:

      If you read the descriptions, some worlds will be described as garden worlds or something close to that. These have E-zero.

      1. ehlijen says:

        Wait what? We’re meant to waste even more time and attention on the probing game? :p

      2. Alexander The 1st says:

        Ah, thanks, I’ll keep that in mind next time.

    2. Aldowyn says:

      After the first playthrough you literally have enough Eezo for every upgrade requiring it in the entire game – from the very beginning.

  13. RTBones says:

    Can you tell how much of a NON TF2 player I am? LOL! I am sure all of the TF2 players that read d20 and watch Spoiler Warning could have garnered where Mumbles came from, and are now looking at me with that, “Hah! Newb!” tone of voice. Hey, at least I now understand, “Nice move, Mumbles!”

    On the flip side – because of all the ranting/raving about Minecraft, I am actually going to give it a shot this weekend. Sigh. More gaming crack, just what I need. You know what they say – c’mon have a good time, and get blinded out of your mind….

    Thanks for answer our questions, y’all.

    EDIT: AnswerING our questions. Stupid keyboard.

    1. Someone says:

      I’ve been playing TF2 for 3 years now and I’ve never heard that taunt.

      1. mixmastermind says:

        It’s only if you dominate a pyro.

        It’s not something that happens a lot in spy-on-pyro fighting.

        1. krellen says:

          Didn’t she say it was a Scout taunt?

          1. Vipermagi says:

            That would be why it happens so little in a spy-on-pyro fight.

    2. Cyanide says:

      I’ve been playing TF2 for years and I didn’t get the reference either. Scouts don’t do too well against Pyros, let alone manage to kill them three times in a row (especially when I’m playing as Scout). There are hundreds of response rules anyway, so I guess we shouldn’t feel bad about it.

  14. Sydney says:

    Re: Mumbles’s suggestion about simple plots with deep characters

    Y’know what did this well? Firefly. “Here are some people” was pretty much the plot, and then things happened to them. Involving other interesting people. We had an episode largely about Jayne, an episode largely about Inara, an episode largely about Kaylee, and a few “wham” episodes that mixed things up now and then.

    What do people remember about Firefly? “Did he just go crazy and fall asleep?” “I only said that so she could get behind you.” “Oh, gose!” “[shoots hostage-taker]” “Sad little king of a sad little hill.”

    And I honestly think BioWare tries for that structure. “Here are some interesting people. And Jacob.” They have adventures, each relating to one character and developing them somehow (and Jacob does some things), and occasionally something like Horizon or Collector Ship mixes it up.

    Buuuuut they executed it pretty poorly this time ’round.

    1. RTBones says:

      If only we could get so lucky as to have Joss Whedon writing for the likes of a Bioware. Shiny.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        No way!It would get canceled half way during your playthrough.

        And I still maintain that half life did the best job of having a simple plot but strong narrative and strong characters.Yeah,aliens invade earth,for a bazillionth time,and a hero with no military training is the only one who can stop them.The only way to make it more cliche is if you make those aliens be zombies as well.Oh,wait…

      2. Audacity says:

        No. No. No No. As much as I love Firefly, the more of Whedon’s work I see the more I think that it was a fluke. He just likes writing angst way to damn much.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          He is fun in big bang theory.

        2. Irridium says:

          Well he did help out on the first Toy Story.

        3. Aldowyn says:

          I’ma thinking the angst just wasn’t there yet. The first season of Buffy wasn’t that angsty (considering the fact that the main characters are high schoolers, anyway)

    2. krellen says:

      That “And Jacob” part cracked me up.

        1. Sydney says:

          That’s actually what Jacob felt like to me. A generic filler human so your team would have two.

          “Alright, guys, are we ready to ship?”
          “Yep, everything’s don–”
          “OH CRAP! Guys, we don’t have a male human for women to romance!”
          “SHIT! WRITE ONE, QUICK!”
          “Okay, uh, he’s…he’s…uh…a soldier! And he’s biotic!”
          “Perfect. Let’s roll.”

          Edit: So your team would have two humans. Miranda’s not generic, she has an interesting personality. If only it wasn’t awful.

          1. Kojiro says:

            Three humans. Jack still exists.

            Huh, all three human party members are biotics. Weird.

            1. krellen says:

              No she doesn’t.

              She got shot because I accidentally made her lead the second fire team instead of Jacob and the game didn’t let me go make a different choice.

              She’s gone, man.

              It’s sad, but we’ve got to move on.

              1. Jarenth says:

                Life is hard, and then you get shot because your ethereal commanding intelligence made a boo boo.

          2. Aldowyn says:

            I’m pretty sure Jacob and Miranda had their debut somewhere else. I just don’t know where.

        2. Roll-a-Die says:


          1. Jarenth says:

            This comment has no right to make me laugh as much as it does.

            1. krellen says:

              WOOB WOOB WOOB is always funny.

          2. Irridium says:

            And Scruffy, the janitor.


            1. ehlijen says:

              Who’s that?

              1. Irridium says:

                You know, Scruffy. The janitor.

                1. Jarenth says:


    3. Alexander The 1st says:

      As far as I’m concerned, you can have a complex plot, just be willing to unravel it when the player wants to. Bioware’s character development works because of the hub system they have, which allows you to take a break and discover characters, but it’s not neccessary.

      Consider, for example, a comparision between ME1 and ME2.

      *****************ME1 SPOILERS BELOW**************************************** – NOTE: SPOILER TAG does not seem to take effect, read at your own risk. Also, if someone could figure out why it doesn’t block out, please feel free to fix it.

      ME1 starts off with a fairly simple start; Saren’s a villain, trying to find the Conduit. Trying to bring back a doomsday race. You’re sent out to stop him.

      But then, it becomes more complicated, as you realise that he’s serving Soverign, and Soverign wants to wipe out the galaxy – he makes that clear, and he also taunts you to try and stop him, because he’s confident he’ll win. But he can’t yet, and this is resolved via the Conduit, namely that the Protheans had intercepted the Reapers’ plan from before and are aware that the only way Saren can get to the place he needs to be is via the Conduit, so he captures Rachni, who had discovered the path to Ilos, after getting more clear information about the Beacon at Feros. His plan hinges on being able to use the Conduit AT Ilos to bypass the Citadel and open the Citadel that you had started at to unleash the Reapers from dark space.

      ****END ME1 SPOILERS*********************

      Pretty complex there, and very little character development about it. But, notice that each part was revealed at points in the story that made sense. Even when Soverign had his typical “You cannot understand us, fool!” line, Soverign still explained that there were many of the Reapers, and they were all set to destroy your kind – he even explains why your society is still alive. Makes him really awesome, because he has answers that are more than “I am the chessmaster, no you can’t look at the board, you might dirty it with your hands. Besides, you don’t know chess.”

      Harbinger? Let’s look at his lines:


      Of them, only three or four lines sound like exposition (Which feels like it was cut, never saw them myself) [And TIM doesn’t let you know the villains’ motivation (“The collectors are unknowable”), so nobody gets why the Collectors are villains, they have to attack you for you to get the message – very much like FF VII’s Sephiroth – we know he is the villain, we just don’t know why for too long of the game.] and the rest is all “YAR! I IS TOO STRONG FOR YOU! I HAS INFINITE CONTINUES! YOU CAN’T STOP ME! THIS HURTS YOU!”. Would’ve been nice to have encountered the Collector General himself, pin him down, and interrogate him. I mean, we were in his base.

      tl;dr: If your character is ever uttering the line “You can’t possibly understand my plan”, read this comic’s first set of panels first:


      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Soooo,you hate harbinger because no one but him knows why he is doing the evil things,but sovereign is ok because he says you cant comprehend why he is doing the evil things?And sovereign doesnt explain why organics are still alive.”You live because we dont want you dead yet” is not an explanation.

        Also,whats so complex about me1 plot?Its basically this:
        alien supreme race wants to conquer all,they have a spy who everyone trust,so you must expose him,then you have to piece together a map to the mcguffin and stop the big bad race.

        Its been done to death in various other sci fi books,movies,series and games(deep space 9,from the top of my head).Its how you expand on that plot that is important,not the plot itself.Me1 did it well,with even a few awesome hidden things you can find between the lines.But that doesnt mean its a complex plot.Sure,more complicated than half life,but not as complicated as,for example,chronicles of amber.

        The fact that me2 expanded on its plot in a bad way,however,doesnt make collectors,or harbinger bad per se.We have another reaper,but this one seems to be far away,and he is working through an agent race,which is basically like the keepers,only its made out of protheans(hmm,reapers do love bugs.Either they were a bug race once,or they find bugs as a well made template).Thats nice,another enemy working through a pawn,just like in 1.However,while the pawn in 1 was smart,this pawn is dumb as hell.Not because its a bad concept,but because it was poorly executed.

        Plus,I understand why the reapers see humans as the next viable race to incorporate into themselves,but why all this obsession with shepard?Yeah shepard did uncover the big plan in 1,and rallied a bunch that finally stopped the reaper,but s/he is still just one person.S/he did it mostly due to a series of flukes,not skill.The galaxy does praise hir,but so what?A martyr is still as influential figure as a living messiah,so merely killing shepard would achieve nothing.

        1. Alexander The 1st says:

          The thing about Sovereign is that while he tries to pull off airs, he still reveals part of his plan – that is, to let organics find the relays, and then rely on that technology so that they don’t expand beyond the control of the Reapers when they come back for them [For, admittedly, a “unknownable reason”, but Saren immediately afterwards explains why he’s working with Sovereign and what their plans are. Saren doesn’t try and pull a “You cannot understand what my overarching plan is, but just trust me that it’ll work.” Vigil goes into even more detail as to *why* the plan has to be executed the way it is, given that Saren is already a Spectre.

          With Harbinger, while he apparently taunts your teammates in battle and gives some idea as to why they don’t choose them, there’s no real discussion. You don’t get to finish off most of a team of Collectors, then Statis field one last one before it becomes Harbinger and get to interrogate it, like you do with the Blue Sun on Junktown [The name eludes me, but it’s Grunts recruitment planet.]. Parley is the best time to discover/uncover plot.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            @daemian Pretty much any plot can be reduced to the basics like that… just saying

            Anyway, my opinion on the Sovereign/Harbinger thing is that it’s entirely possible to miss the fact that Harbinger is a reaper – you never talk to him, he doesn’t say anything important, etc. etc. ME1 had a lot of exposition, explaining what is going on (and why), and ME2 has very little of it.

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Sure,but you still discover what harbinger and the collectors are doing by other means.

            1st point:Yes,you can break down every story like this.Its because plots are limited and essentially simple.

            2nd point:Which is why I say that me2 fails in execution,even if it is good in the premise.

  15. Duoae says:

    Considering my question was rudely passed over, i suppose i could make it up to you by filling in for Rutskarn…. I *do* have podcast experience, after all!


    Great mailbag show guys, enjoyed it a lot; Even more since Mumbles seems to have improved her mic and levels now.

  16. PurePareidolia says:

    I know those HL2 reviews!
    And I know they got reuploaded.
    Links to all 3 Commentaries

  17. Avilan says:

    …For us who like the game: Mass Effect 2 Wins IAA Game of the Year



    Just wanted to tell you guys :P

    1. krellen says:

      That’s no real surprise. It hits all the right buttons to garner the award.

      EDIT: If you view it from the standpoint of Time’s “Person of the Year” (which can be bad or good), it’s actually more-or-less inevitable. None of the other nominees generated even half the discussion and fervour as did ME2.

      1. Avilan says:


        Seriously though I still don’t get the undertone of Evil Conspiracy. I fully respect someone for not liking a game, but the whole underlying current of not only “Ruined Forever” but pure Hatedom and Evil Conspiracy is… weirding me out, really.

        1. Zukhramm says:

          I don’t see what part of krellen’s comment seems to point ot some kind of conspiracy.

        2. Nidokoenig says:

          It’s not that there’s some evil conspiracy, it’s that this sort of thing is always a popularity contest, rather than the games being judged on merit. The likelihood that a game’s going to win one of these awards correlates more with their marketing budget than how much they push the industry forward.

          1. Will says:

            Considering the primary purpose of games is to make money, i would say that “Made lots of money” is a viable criteria for judging the game of the year.

            1. Zukhramm says:

              Then what’s the point of handing out awards at all? Just list the top ten best selling games.

              1. Will says:

                Because it’s only [i]one[/i] criteria.

                1. Zukhramm says:

                  Which is still too much.

              2. ehlijen says:

                The point of awards is to get consumers to know what’s good and check it out. If them already having done so is the only reason a game gets an award it becomes circular logic.

                You should buy this game because it won an award because people have bought it because it won an award because people bought it…

                Also, it has been well established that people will buy crap if it is hyped enough.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  So?We already have movies advertised as blockbusters and books advertised as bestsellers,so whats wrong with advertising a game that way?

                2. Zukhramm says:

                  And that is why sales should not be something considered when doing these awards.

                3. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  What are these awards but just another marketing campaign anyway?Say what you want about games and movies(books,music and paintings to a lesser extent),but they are product first,art second.

  18. Sethar123 says:

    Hey guys, I’d be a guest fpr you guys. I have microphone and amazing internet connection. If you’d consider me I’d appreciate it.

    1. Eroen says:

      Yes, I concur. Mr. Sethar123 should obviously be your first choice for a guest commenter.

  19. anaphysik says:

    As for the more literary review of a game, smudboy has done this for ME and ME2 (particularly for ME2): http://www.youtube.com/user/smudboy
    They’re pretty good.

    Also, Josh: why was it so important that Shamus read all of Drexer’s question (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=10560&cpage=1#comment-187115)? Was it simply the implication that talking about all the failings of a game doesn’t constitute a serious review of it? Or what? Sounded like there was supposed to be something hilarious in there, but I failed a spot check.

    1. Caldazar says:

      I don’t like him. Not everything he says is correct, which is not a huge problem, people make mistakes. But he removes comments that point the mistakes out.
      He is quite dishonest.

      1. anaphysik says:

        Good to know.

  20. Zaxares says:

    One good thing I WILL say for the Collector ship: the music. It’s that perfect combination of alien and eerie that never fails to put me on edge. Especially when combined with the ambient sound effects in the ship itself.

    1. ehlijen says:

      Music has always been Bioware’s strongest point in my opinion. It’s the one thing they’ve never disppointed me on (nor anyone I know) while being one of the few games whose music I enjoy remembering even years after.

      1. Zukhramm says:

        Wow! I am on the exact opposite end. Bioware is one of the most boring companies, musically. I can remember only one single piece of music from their games, two if a certain track from KotOR II is also in the first game.

      2. X2-Eliah says:

        Depends, really. For the DA franchise, Inon Zur has made some great tracks, and some only mediocre ones as well.. It is a bit over the place. As for Mass Effect, the first one had a neat track, second one had it’s moments, but was overall weaker. ME3 gets a new composer, so we’ll see how it works out.

        I’ll say this much, no track Bioware’s composers have done so far have matched the Elder Scrolls theme (from Oblivion, or the more mellow Morrowind one), and as far as ambient music/sound design goes, they really pale compared to Half-Life 2 and Amnesia.

        1. LurkerAbove says:

          The soundtrack for Baldur’s Gate 1 continues to be the strongest personally.

          1. Jennifer Snow says:

            Baldur’s Gate 2, Prince of Persia, and Fallout 3 are my all-time favorite soundtrack games.

        2. lurkey says:

          Hmmm, and I find both Bioware games’ and Oblivion’s music boring, and while Bio has some memorable pieces like aforementioned Collector ship theme or the Archdemon theme from DA, Oblivion is boring through and through. My personal favourites would be both Diablos and VtM:Bloodlines. But my absolute No.1 of all times would be this King of Earworms.

          P.S. Damn. How could I forget “Arcanum”? Probably the most original soundtrack from them all.

          1. krellen says:

            I’m a medieval man!

        3. Aldowyn says:

          I’m a huge fan of the Mass Effect soundtrack, just in general. The main theme in particular – the one they use for all the trailers and stuff?

          And of course KotOR had awesome music, it was a Star Wars game!

          I do really like Oblivion’s soundtrack though. Fallout 3… I just didn’t notice. Hmm.

          1. Sydney says:

            I played the first 20 minutes of ME1 with the music on, and then muted it because I couldn’t take any more repetitive faux-army droning. Then ME2 did the exact same thing despite me not being in the army.

  21. Supernaut says:

    As soon as I saw you go to the local cluster I knew Josh was heading for Uranus.

    1. ehlijen says:

      He might have been just trying to find the moon again. It’s gotta be somewhere behind Luna, right?

      1. Sydney says:

        Some of the Local Cluster planets are pretty good for resources, actually. Venus and Saturn come to mind.

    2. Alexander The 1st says:

      So, what, you could smell it coming a Mass Effect relay away?

  22. Blanko2 says:

    gotta say, you guys have really hit a groove.
    i laughed so much during this episode i felt sick afterwards :D

    its a 100% improvement over how it was during bioshock, i gotta say.
    love the show and all that jazz

  23. PurePareidolia says:

    Totally not related to any of the above, I have made for the cast an ACTION POSE.
    Use it well.
    Or not, It’s up to you.

    1. Volatar says:

      Heck yeah!

    2. Kavonde says:

      That is awesome. Regina seriously needs a bonnet, she could totally rock that.

  24. Kavonde says:

    This is completely off topic, but I noticed on The Escapist that there’s a news item about but Bjà¶rn Hurri’s steampunk reimaginings of various Star Wars characters, and, well…

    Han Solo is Reginald Cuthbert.

    1. PurePareidolia says:

      Are you sure? because I don’t really Oh my God You’re right

      1. droid says:

        His bonnet must be in the washing machine.

  25. Red Conine says:

    That review/commentary of Half-Life 2 still exists.
    I knew exactly what you were talking about when you referenced it.
    It exists as one 2-hour video on Google Video:


    Enjoy, Shamus, and anyone else who clicks it. It is by far the most fascinating review of any game I’ve ever watched.

    1. PurePareidolia says:

      I agree. I also posted links to the others in one of my earlier posts, so they’re certainly not lost forever

      1. Caldazar says:

        Which is wonderful.
        I’ve been watching them all night and I love them.

  26. Integer Man says:

    Thanks for answering my question. Yeah, was a bit of a troll question, but I really appreciate the answer and analysis on video game story, particularly Mumbles’ bit on keeping it clean.

    In the process of writing a plot for an old school adventure game. Definitely feeling a compulsion to make things complicated, but clean / clear / accessible is definitely where I need to be.

  27. Chalkbrood says:

    golden age of spoiler warning
    I mean sure the audio quality is better now
    but the cast is half gone

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