Femshep

By Shamus
on Jul 27, 2011
Filed under:
Video Games

femshep.jpg

BioWare recently put up a selection of possible faces for female Commander Shepard and let the community vote on which one would be the new “official” Femshep. I haven’t seen anything detailing how this is going to work. Is this a new default preset for the in-game face modeler? Or is this a fixed model to mirror the un-editable face of default male Shepard? Or or they just asking which face they should be using on the promotional materials? Beats me.

The community voted, and chose Shepard #5. Sigh. I’m sure the vote boiled down to “which of these images does the predominantly-male userbase think is the hottest?” I’d like to see the breakdown in votes. How many people voted for “1992 Winona Ryder” Shepard #1? How many went for Janet Jackson Shepard #4? And how many preferred “Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction” Shepard #6?

Like a lot of things BioWare does, this was a really crafty effort to give players the illusion of choice. The faces are basically the same, so all we’re really choosing is the skin pigmentation and haircut. The face model was set in stone before the vote began, but this process lets them make it seem like we chose her. They gave us options for “African” and “Asian” skin coloring, but the base face shape is obviously a Caucasian woman with no variations to hint at these other possible racial backgrounds. It’s not surprising that the community chose the skin color to match the already-established face shape they were given.

BioWare gets to have their the blond-haired, blue-eyed Femshep, and if anyone complains they can just point out that Shepard #5 was “the people’s choice”.

To be fair, they’re not taking any choices away from the player or restricting the freedom they’ve given us in the past with regards to how our protagonist will look. And I’m glad to see Femshep appearing in the marketing, even if she doesn’t end up on the box. I just wanted to point out that I see what they did there, and that like most of the in-game conversation trees, we never had as much freedom it appeared at first glance.

Femshep is the least om my concerns with the game. Just about everything I’ve heard from marketing has been hammering home about how this is more “badass shooter” and less “exploration space opera”. This is less a mystery about a strange universe and more a story about a phenomonal ass-kicker and her quest to save the galaxy from its own willful stupidity. Less “Star Wars” and more “Starship Troopers”. This wouldn’t be such a bitter turn if every press release didn’t get a bunch of gushing from shooter fans (who already have a lot of titles) who can’t wait to shoot all the new guns at all the new aliens, and who don’t give a Krogen testicle about big-concept sci-fi.

The numbers are against us. As studios dump more money into graphics they have to aim their releases wider and wider to have a shot at breaking even. Since the “action shooter” fans vastly outnumber the character & lore buffs, this is simply a matter of attrition through demographics. I’ve been raging against the ridiculous race to make more, shinier pixels for years now, and this is why. This is exactly why.

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  1. Paul Spooner says:

    I agree Shamus, but only to a point. That developers are chasing the largest audience is just common sense. It wouldn’t make much money to court the “destitute hobo” niche (which is relatively what us “character and lore buffs” are). Giving players choices is really expensive. You may have an option that few people choose (or lore that only a few care about), and that’s essentially wasted money. However, I think there’s another factor, one that has little to do with money or demographics.

    Anyone who makes something wants to be able to say “I made this up, and people loved it!” It’s the “super-star” fantasy. If I come up with a character, or a story, I want everyone to see MY character, to hear MY story. It’s why there are Mary-sue characters, and why the Fable games have never really given you any real choices. The creators are too proud of their creation to allow you to mess with their “perfect” story/game/character design.

    I think this is also a reason why procedural generation is a minor technology. It’s real power rush to know that you can command a thousand coders, artists, and designers to do your bidding. Having a computer doing that work (and freeing your game-slaves for other more creative tasks) just doesn’t taste as sweet. It’s complicated of course, but a significant motivation is simply selfish “pride of life”.

    So, yes, money and demographics play into it. But I also think it has to do with personal hubris. Of course we all do the same kind of thing (All the way down lore fans who defend bad gameplay because it’s “my favorite story”) but it’s more visible when someone (like a lead game designer) has a lot of power.

    Yeah yeah, tldr and such. Now if you want to have a valid opinion you have to read MY comment! Hah!

    • Klay F. says:

      Thats all well and good except when you take a look at Bioware publication history. Their history is filled with games that offer huge amounts of choice. The thing is, all those games came when they were small and (some would say) ill-prepared to take those risks. You can bark all day long about how niche games present more risk, but Bioware got to where they are today because of those niche games. Common sense states that when you earn more money, you SHOULD be able to take more risks, but modern developers do the opposite because they insist on spending more money, when in reality money isn’t required to offer a superior product. As it is, it seems to me that at present, they are subsisting entire on the goodwill they’ve earned during the past (nearly) two decades. That goodwill won’t last forever though.

      I predict in a few years, Bioware’s original audience, the audience that gave them financial success in the first place, will tire of this competition to create the most generic, throw-away game.

      Obviously, my opinion. Very doom-and-gloomy, sorry about that.
      Someone will eventually replace Bioware, as it is the cyclical nature of the industry.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        The only Bioware game I’ve ever played is SW:KOTOR (which I admit was pretty fun, and had a really decent story), so I can’t really comment on their publication history.

        I agree with you, but I don’t understand why “the goodwill” lasts beyond a single product. Why subscribe to a publisher? You’re buying a game; Not an allegiance; Not nostalgia; Not hope. We should buy games we enjoy from people we enjoy. If one of those is missing, why bother?

        I think we both share a fundamental cynicism, of which is appears Shamus also partakes. Come and drink deep of bitter truth!

        • krellen says:

          I buy Obsidian games because they have yet to disappoint me. Similarly, the small catalogue of Troika games are all excellent, and I have found two titles I still love based solely off the idea of buying a Troika game.

          However, this is loyalty to developers, not publishers. I know the work these people do, and it’s good work. I can make a fair bet that any future titles I buy from these people will be of similar taste and quality.

          Unfortunately, Bioware let themselves be bought by EA, so they are now little more than a name with good reputation that can be plastered on EA games; following Bioware is no longer following the team that makes things I enjoy.

          • Paul Spooner says:

            I buy Obsidian games because they have yet to disappoint me… I know the work these people do, and it’s good work.

            I essentially agree with this stance. If you bought their latest game and it spit in your face, I’d expect you would reconsider your loyalty. It’s reasonable to give developers a chance, based on past successes. I find it completely unreasonable to give publishers a chance, especially given past failures.

            A publisher’s job is to pass along the product with as little tampering as possible. This is where DRM gets nasty. Publishers are like supermarkets. If the local FoodFast market started opening all the cookies and putting poison in them (to discourage shoplifting) and then selling both the cookies and the antidote… I’d probably just shop at a different market.

      • Raygereio says:

        Their history is filled with games that offer huge amounts of choice.

        BioWare’s gimmick is offering the illusion of choice, not actual choice. In that they haven’t changed.

        Their fault is going from “mediocre with the occasional awesome scene” level of writing, to the “depressingly bad with the occasional hilariously aweful scene” level.

  2. Ross Mills says:

    Honestly, of the in-game hairstyles, the standard hair but blonde looks the least false-wig-like, and I think a lot of people chose that as their base Shep. That’s what I chose in this competition for that reason.

    I have no solid data to prove that, but I’d love Bioware to correct me if I’m wrong!

  3. Jeff says:

    In the Video Game Industry of the far future, there is only one genre – Brown Shooter.

  4. ccesarano says:

    I actually liked 4 and 6 the best, which is one of the reasons I’m incredibly disappointed 5 won. They already have the most bland, boring and generic Male Shepard they could craft, but now they’re about to do the same to the female?

    I saw the “Facebook Likes”, which I think is how they were counting the votes. Yesterday afternoon (around this time) it was about 9,000 for variants 4 and 6 each, the same or less for 1-3, and then 24,000 for variant 5. If you didn’t have the Mass Effect/Bioware/EA page liked, then you couldn’t like ANY of the photos. Nonetheless, with those numbers, I didn’t even bother to count my vote.

    I really don’t understand how blue eyes blonde hair, the most generic female appearance (especially after dying your hair become a huge thing), is still attractive to people.

    • ccesarano says:

      Off topic, considering your rant towards the end, I’m actually curious what you think of EA Boss saying the traditional development cycle is gone, putting an emphasis on stuff like mobile gaming and digital download.

      • Klay F. says:

        In his defense, he was speaking to investors, which means you have to have a Ph. D. in talking out of your ass. Investors are the logical opposite of customers, as they don’t want to know or care about games. Investors don’t care how revenue is obtained. Just one of the reasons the Wall Street types are worse than lawyers.

    • Taellosse says:

      I voted for 6, myself, for similar reasons, though I knew it was doomed even as I clicked the mouse.

      I’m so deeply tired of buff white guys with a day’s growth of beard and a crew cut and svelte, big-chested blonde chicks with feathered hairstyles as the protagonists/love interests in bloody everything.

      For me, it was a toss-up between 4 and 6, and I liked the look of 6 slightly better. Though honestly, I’m mostly annoyed that they didn’t just use the existing, red-haired Jane Shepard. This whole “contest” seemed wholly unnecessary to me.

    • Bryan Bridges says:

      As Shamus pointed out, white skin simply happens to match a white face. They simply took a caucasian face and gave it other races skin tones to create the other looks. It is not surprising that people chose skin color and tone to match facial structure.

      • ccesarano says:

        Maybe I’m just bad with facial structure, but I honestly didn’t even notice that until Shamus pointed it out. Even then, I had to squint my eyes at #4 in order to see it.

        The miracle of Photoshop.

  5. Marlowe says:

    Do blonds have more fun? Choices & consequences people, choices & consequences.
    Also: 82% of persons who didn’t buy the previous games said space settings with aliens you don’t have to shoot are stupid. 67% said it was frustrating to have to select dialog responses.

    • Elilupe says:

      Where did you get those statistics? If they are true, I will be very, very sad.

    • James says:

      67% of people found clicking a button frustrating?, sure there’s the is this the best option for me moments some times and the, i must see everything completionist thing, but i find that part of the charm it makes you think about what to do. and regret and past mistakes and/or rash choices. for example for me in Fallout: New Vegas. i tried my best to be nice or at least civil to everyone. Dean i don’t like for some reason but i let him be, after all were both trapped here by an asshole who met the white hot lead of my Automatic Rifle. but because i rushed into first the DLC a bit, and definatly into the Dog/God save him kill him quest i didn’t have the skill to save him and as i felt terrible about it seriously i liked the character he was a poor nightkin suffering from multiple personality syndrome, he was trapped and enslaved here by a asshole, part of him followed it as he was enslaved, and part of him raged against it, and both sides fought each other. i wanted to help them get out of here and maby help him resolve his issues with himself wow this is spoiler heavy. soooo, anyway choice for me is good, defiantly if it has repercussions, The Witcher 2 will kills you if your a dick, ME2 kills you if your and idiot (at the end of the suicide mission). and for me even the illusion of choice is better then walk down brown corridor B till you reach door x which you go through to reach brown corridor c, all while mowing down 5481681684918189 faceless nameless mooks, which for all intents have no agenda and no cause, cus were the good guys and there the bad guys.

      even the collector mooks had a reason, they where working for a race trying to wipe you and humanity out and they…… wanted to build a reaper out of dead humans. that looks like the terminator (thats fucking stupid bioware) the Merc well their mercs, they fight for money. and zombies are zombies every game needs zombies right?

      sooooo TL:DR, and rant over

      97% of people are lazy retards and need to get our of my RPG. and 82% of people have never seen Star Trek, you dont need to kill everything to make space operas awesome, all you need is Patrick Stuart and Micheal Dorn

  6. Tacoman says:

    If you really did allow for more facial shapes (and more stereotypical face shapes for the skin tone used [racism issue much]), you’d just end up with a tyranny of choice. They narrowed it down between 6 options which they all found acceptable. They just took that final decision to the consumer, instead of making it themselves.

    You may want to rant about it, but really, it *is* more choice than the consumer has had in the past regarding box art.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      There is a saying/movie quoute where I come from, a character, when asked why he doesn’t enjoy the music replied “I only like the songs I already know.” If musicians followed this reasoning all we’d ever get is covers, most of us like a good cover now and then, and we keep listening to our favourite tracks of our favourite bands, but it is the rumour of a new album that gets our blood rushing.

      The problem is the larger the industry becomes the more production costs grow, the more these grow the less willing the devs are to take risks. Ultimately they fall to the “tried and sold” formula and we don’t really get that many “new” games, we get covers of other games, made by other bands, sung in different voice but ultimately covers.

      I admit that this femshep popularity contest is some choice but, as Shamus pointed out when comparing it to the ME dialogue, it is largely inconsequential and probably has more to do with keeping the word about the game circulating than it does with any actual nod to the players. I may be growing old and bitter though.

      • James says:

        you are right this is really a PR stunt a good PR stunt, but this will effect only 2 things. The Collectors Edition box art (not normal thats male sheps (sigh)) and the base model for fem shep for NEW games, use chumps who will transfer over saves will have to use what we move over, unless we died again and can inexplicably change our appearance again.

        • Alexander The 1st says:

          unless we died again and can inexplicably change our appearance again.

          You act like they wouldn’t.

          Although for added variety, they might do it to Joker this time around*. Then it’s different!

          *And when he gets re-spawned, he STILL has brittle bone disease. “You’re the best pilot this side of dark space. We needed you back EXACTLY as you were before.”

      • Dragomok says:

        There is a saying/movie quoute where I come from, a character, when asked why he doesn’t enjoy the music replied “I only like the songs I already know.” […]

        Isn’t that from a 1970 Polish film “Rejs” (“The Cruise” or “Trip Down the River”, according to Wikipedia)? I thought it’s completely obscure outside Poland (note: I haven’t seen it but some qoutes are still present in overall Polish culture).

  7. MichaelG says:

    Hey Shamus, if you don’t like what the studios put out, perhaps you should write your own game…

    • Hush says:

      Because, perhaps, he shouldn’t have to make the games he wants? Because the videogames the industry makes are categorized into genres, which by definition appeal to completely different demographics and, whether as a cause or an effect, the games themselves feature radically different gameplay mechanics and different narrative foci? Because the industry has only a few ideas of what constitutes a game(every game must have top-of-the-line graphics, voice acting and an orchestra providing the soundtrack), all of which eat up a large chunk of the not-insubstantial budget, thus forcing the industry to market said games to as large a demographic as possible to break even, much less make a profit, thus destroying the very idea of genres out of ignorance?

      I’m angry and bitter with the implications of your comment here, even if it was made in jest, because even if Shamus were inclined to make his own games, he actually could since he has some programmer’s expertise behind him. But I barely have a basic idea of HTML,let alone any programming language or programs you’d actually write a game with, so I have to settle with what the market makes, and I’m sure many other people would as well. If we don’t like what the studios make, we’re shit out of luck.

      …Ok, I’m going to go lie down now.

      (EDIT: I realize now I neglected to explain my emphasis on genres-it implies that the videogames industry is a niche market, like magazines and even television. Yet the industry isn’t acting like it with it’s blatant favoritism, and it hurts people who prefer the neglected genres. It’s one thing for certain flagship titles to have mass appeal, but the industry doesn’t seem to feel that there’s room to include niche appeal for supplemental income, and a possibly not-insubstantial amount of income at that.)

      • Phill says:

        I figured the comment was intended as a joke since Shamus is already posting regularly about the progress on his game…

      • Shamus says:

        I think he was just just encouraging me to keep going with Project Frontier. :)

        • Hush says:

          …Oh, no. I’ve become the internet.

          I’m sorry, I never meant to seem antagonistic with this.

        • MichaelG says:

          Yes, I am. And I don’t think I’m the only one to have offered to work with you on it.

        • Eathanu says:

          Really, you should be thinking about it this way. Take a decent game that flopped absolutely. Not a good game, a decent one. Mace Griffin, for the sake of argument. Now try to find information on it. Really goddamn hard, isn’t it? It’s because the press just did not cover it. Last I checked half of the sites that bother listing it (like Gamespot, IGN and the like) don’t even have any screenshots, let alone a review or basic information on the game.

          If the press would just stop covering the games they know they won’t like or which have terrible DRM (and yes, everyone with a blog who talks about the games are guilty too) then people would be far less likely to so much as look at them.

          I’m not saying it will happen, I’m saying that you have to try.

        • I have to second that – I’d love to see it put to a full game. have you contacted James Portnow yet? You could put that extra credits money to good use.

          I also think you could put this blog to good use when it comes to some of the less procedural stuff – writing and whatnot, because I can see that being a huge barrier to getting it done. Specifically for things like quest lines – This is the kind of comittee I’d trust to design an awesome campaign. Think about it.

  8. Jabrwock says:

    This is present in every media. Look at movies. For every movie that uses CGI to help tell an already good story with good acting and good directing, there are 10 movies dumping all their money into CGI because paying for flashier CGI is cheaper in the long run than paying for good writers, actors, and directors.

    Fortunately, as graphics get better, it means that the slightly lower than ultimate graphics engines get cheaper, because they’re not such cutting edge. Which means that companies that want to spend more money on writing can actually afford decent graphics. Look at Amnesia.

    As for Femshep, had I cared enough, I would have voted for #6 for looks, although considering long hair is murder in helmets… #1,2,3 had the most practical hair.

    • Aldowyn says:

      Not to mention Shepard has a military background, and I doubt space exploration would change deeply entrenched military traditions.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      That’s how it is.
      Movies have Michael Bay Blockbusters and those who don’t like those (which includes me) will have to wait for the next Cohen Brothers film.

      I think what we see here is Games going mainstream, which brings along a new target demographic, and what used to be one of the main genres is now a niche product. But hope is not lost, since in response to this development, many people worried about quality are starting to work on games that are completely different. Once that movement has come up to speed (which it is picking up quite rapidly), I expect there will be a much broader spectrum of games, AAA, AA, A, B … not just the current AAA/indie choice. And in that market, anyone will find something that is to their tastes, although the shallow mainstream will remain the shallow mainstream. You won’t persuade Michael Bay to make Citizen Kane, and you won’t persuade the cinema-going crowd to like it more than Transformers. Which I’m not happy about, but that’s how things go. As games go mainstream, so will their contents.

      Oh, and Femshep #1 for me. Or #2. All the others are just chicks in space armor. Also, I didn’t understand which one was supposed to be the Asian one …

  9. Bentusi16 says:

    I’d be OK with Starship Troopers style stuff if it was based on the BOOKS, maybe.

    Thank god for skyrim at this point because I’m not seeing my RPG Jonse getting solved by anything else at this point, Mass Effect 3 included.

    Also I’d go with Uma Therman, personally.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Man, if someone would make a game of the Starship Troopers book, I’d have to buy it. Of course, I’m not sure how you’d do that. You’d essentially have to make a game of all of life! Hmm…

      • Aldowyn says:

        Every time someone talks about Starship Troopers, it’s almost always in a derogatory sense, and ALWAYS about the friggin’ movie! Thank you for talking about the book…

        I wonder how many people don’t know that it, I Robot, and a Space Odyssey were originally books? Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke, Grand Masters of Science Fiction!

        (how do you turn a book of short stories into a film? Oh, I know! Make a kind of sort of related plot (at least the explanation for the haywire AI was Asimovian), shoehorn in a few characters while completely changing their style, and make up a main character to be played by Will Smith)

        • SolkaTruesilver says:

          On the other hand, there is SOME good elements about the movies, if you take them as themselves and not as something that should be faithful to the book.

          The newsreel were hilarious, and I have a soft spot for “It’s a good day to die”

          • pinchy says:

            I have to agree- I still love the Starship Troopers movies for some completely unfathomable reason. Having said that I did see the first movie before I read the book, if it was the other way round I’d probably see the movie as desecration of the worst kind.

        • Nathon says:

          Seconded on the book thing for Starship Troopers.

          2001 was actually a book/movie combo though. From what I’ve been told, Kubrick and Clarke worked on them together. It makes sense too, since neither really holds together well without the other.

          Oh, and the other one that always bothers me is war of the worlds. A friend actually saw that and told me about the twist ending. The twist ending from the (at the time) 107-year-old book.

        • Dragomok says:

          Actually, I have only heard that the book is bad (human fascism(?) based on the principle of “if it doesn’t look like human, better kill it, because surely it’s bad and evil”) and the movie is actually a quite good parody of the book (even though it satirizes mostly by making humans cruel idiots).

          On the other hand, I agree that turning “I, Robot” (again, I haven’t read the book, even though I know Asimov is one of the most revered fathers of sci-fi and the mind who came up with the Three Rules of Robotics) into a mediocre and shallow action film and making the main character partial clone of Beverly Hills Cop really is outrageous.

          • SolkaTruesilver says:

            Nop. Nada. You better read the book, because that’s not the point of the story at all.

            The humans are desperately trying to find a way to make the Bugs tick in other ways than shooting and killing them. Problem is, how do you negociate/deal with a hive entity? What can you do when the Bugs don’t even understand how you can even have a society?

            It’s the same kind of conflict as depicted in Ender’s Game.

            Only a third party (the “skinnies”) serve as a in-between, for they seem to be able to communicate with both Humans and Bugs. But they have their own agenda.

            • decius says:

              The sequels Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the mind explore the question of “What is ethical when discussing alien physiology?” in much more depth. How do you treat a Sentient spacefaring microorganism that doesn’t comprehend of intelligence on your scale? Even sharing a language, how do you create shared customs with creatures who don’t die the same way.

              • SolkaTruesilver says:

                It’s more deeply explored in the Ender’s Game serie. In StarShip Trooper, you see the whole story from the pointview of Random Human Soldier #4524853.

                People see the (limited) facist elements of Starship Trooper’s book (among other, the slightly collectivist political system) and then draw conclusions out of this world in order to further their own political ends.

                • Zak McKracken says:

                  Disclaimer: I Have not read the book.
                  To my senses, the movie was about a fascistoid government more or less just turning their own people into killing machines and using them to kill an alien race and conquer their planets.
                  They sold this as defending their own people, but actually it was them who started it all. The propaganda snippets nicely sell this.
                  I also thought that probably 90% of the viewers will never get this because it was worked into the movie on a layer that most won’t even recognize because of the big asplosions and awesome FX. And Chicks, too!

            • Alexander The 1st says:

              I suspect part of the book -> movie translation problem is that the aliens are depicted as *giant bugs*.

              It’s like Tolkien trying to make a book about the humans trying to communicate with the Balrog.

          • Johann Weissgerber says:

            There is discussion later in the book about the downsides of democracy, which is often interpreted as a pro-fascist sentiment. Their society requires you to earn the right to vote through community service (like joining the military). It was good food for thought even if you disagree with it. Plus you’ve got to remember that Heinlein had some pretty unorthodox ideas, all across the spectrum.

            • Aldowyn says:

              Yeah, I was always interested in that. I particularly like how he uses (exaggerated) examples from the common era and says “how can life be this terrible”, or something to that effect.

              Of course, that’s a FAR cry from saying that the government system in that world was actually feasible, let alone that it would work as well as it supposedly did in the book.

      • decius says:

        They did make a starship troopers game. It wasn’t so much “sociology in space” as it was “2-d tactical combat in space”.

        What we really need is a multiplayer FPS game based off of Orson Scott Card’s ‘Battle Room’ in Ender’s Game. Once you’ve got that game out the door, use the same engine for ‘Space Marine’ and ‘Codex’, a game based on the WH40K roleplay series.

        • Klay F. says:

          Interestingly, the game “Shattered Horizons” has your basic zero-gee combat like in the Battle Room. The difference is it is in open space centered around various forms of debris, and you have jet packs.

          • Aldowyn says:

            actually, the Battle Room idea would make a really good flash game, where you tell your dudes what to do and make certain rules and things. It wouldn’t have to be 3D, which I’m pretty sure is a pain to do in flash, and 2D would still keep the spirit of it.

  10. nerdpride says:

    Starship Troopers!!!

    I would totally play Mass Effect if it were like the book. Like, with jetpacks. And 15 minute sabotage missions. And, if it’s from the right perspective, vicious interstellar diplomacy.

    Screw the movies.

    • Jabrwock says:

      The squad-based video game for Starship Troopers wasn’t bad. Terran Ascendency or something like that. It was based off the CGI cartoon, which tried to use the more interesting tech from the books like jet packs.

    • Aldowyn says:

      Actually, Mass Effect probably owes as much to proper sci-fi books as it does Star Trek (well, maybe). The science that’s actually (albeit badly) explained, the political machinations, the ridiculously asimovian AI-related subplots…

      ME2 is Starship Troopers movie minus the comedy plus bond one liners.

  11. acronix says:

    Wait, which one is the asian-skin-color Shepard?

    I would have voted 1 or 2, though I admit I find 5 to be better as eye-candy, which is exactly what they were looking for.

  12. Infinitron says:

    If I had to pick the reason why Bioware has decided to embrace the action genre, “shinier graphics” wouldn’t be my first choice.
    To me, it seems like working on TOR has just burnt them out on making traditional epic single player RPGs.
    DA:O was the last.

    • The Naked Emperor says:

      Which is a shame considering that TOR looks like it’s not going to be very good. Honestly I would not be surprised if that’s the end of Bioware, not as a developer per se but as a maker of good games.

      • Aldowyn says:

        I heard from someone that it’s like playing Mass Effect, except it’s an MMO. I don’t really care if it’s like ME2, that’s a step up, but a lot of what I heard isn’t very promising either.

        Not that that’s going to stop me from playing it as soon as possible. Or loving it and obsessing over it, for that matter.

      • Eric says:

        I’ve been quietly beating the “TOR looks like crap” drum for quite some time now. Nothing about it has in any way made me look forward to it.

        Considering the last game of BioWare’s that I really enjoyed was Mass Effect, I think my love affair with them is over. And, frankly, I’m not sure where to look for my RPG fix anymore. Bethesda’s marketing for Skyrim has been hitting the right buttons, enough to make me pre-order it at least, but I’m still nursing the wounds from Oblivion and Fallout 3.

        • Even says:

          I’m looking to Obsidian for the time being, for good or ill. They’re trying, at least, even if they tend to come attached with a crapload of bugs.

          • Eric says:

            I really want to like Obsidian, but they make it so hard. I loved KotOR II way more than I did KotOR… until I reached the non-existent third act. Fallout: New Vegas has thus far been rather dull. I don’t hate it, but I don’t feel compelled to play it. Neverwinter Nights 2 was crap, but both expansion packs are high-quality. It’s a shame the toolset doesn’t work better, because I’d have a lot of fun with it, I think. I really want to play Dungeon Siege III, but I just don’t feel comfortable spending $50+ on it, considering Obsidian’s track record. As for Alpha Protocol, I’ve never touched it.

            Evidence suggests that they’re getting better as the years go on, but I still have my doubts.

            • Even says:

              We’ll have to see. They’ve got the potential. They’d just need to get it on for good for whatever their next own project is going to be. It’d be about time to see anyway if all the years of struggling has paid off or not. Make it or break it. Alpha Protocol was a good try when looking at how it got treated, but still lacking. Just bought it, so I’m about to find out for myself.

            • DrMcCoy says:

              The story of the second expansion of Neverwinter Nights 2 didn’t grip me at all. Sure, it’s more polished than the OC, but still…meh.

              The first expansion still has a very dear place in my heart, though. I just love that dark atmosphere, and the personal story works beautifully.

              As for KotOR II, I really like that one too. I still prefer the first one, because of the horrible unfinishedness and brokenness/buggyness of the second one.

              So yeah, my views on Obsidian are very “schizophrenic”, too.

              The love/hate relationship I have with BioWare is similarily weird. Their stories are often very interesting (with the occasional missed opportunity, playing it safe instead), their tech often very very WTF-y and they let themselves slap about by publishers way too often. And the route they’ve been taking for the last couple of years has me really disappointed.

              • Aldowyn says:

                Mass Effect and DA were both way too influenced by the market. Both of the first games were successful, so why compromise what you want to do just to get more money?

                • Klay F. says:

                  My theory is that they took away the completely wrong idea from Mass Effect 1. Basically they saw how successful ME1 was, then looked at the amount of controversy it stirred up at the time and thought “Hot Damn! You mean pandering to the lowest common denominator is THIS easy?” and the rest, as they say, is history.

                  • Aldowyn says:

                    No dice there. ME1 stirred up controversy because of the female romance with Liara, which… was completely taken out of ME2. No bisexual relationships at ALL.

                    • ehlijen says:

                      Apart from the side mission to seduce the blue babe with the death kisses?

                      Ok, maybe not a relationship as such, but definitely the same asari bisexuality.

                    • Lavallin says:

                      Except for Yeoman Chambers, who’ll do anyone. Or anything.

                    • sab says:

                      You mean Kelly?

                    • Klay F. says:

                      Actually, they just got smarter about their pandering. They took out the stark naked bits, which got them in trouble, but literally filled the second game with gratuitous ass and boob shots. Think carefully, was there a single scene that centered around Miranda which DIDN’T focus on her boobs or ass or BOTH?

                      You nail the pocket mining demographic while still getting the “think of the children” demographic to ignore the game altogether.

                      If you think about it logically, the clear message that was sent to Bioware because of the first game was this: Tasteful Nudity = Bad; Crass, Sleazy, Exploitative Imagery = Good.

              • Eric says:

                I totally agree with you about Storm of Zehir’s story being pretty meh all around. What I like about it is that it attempted to capture the spirit of a table-top campaign with very little hand-holding as far as plot rails are concerned. It isn’t something I’ve seen since Baldur’s Gate, so it was much appreciated.

                Mask of the Betrayer is the most personally affecting game story I’ve experienced since KotOR II (which is the most affecting I’d experienced since Planescape: Torment–the common factor being Chris Avellone). Everything about it worked wonderfully. About the only quibble I have is that it doesn’t feel “epic,” just high level. I think the OC should’ve spanned levels 1-10 and MotB 11-20, but that’s neither here nor there.

        • Deus. Ex. Human. Revolution.
          BAM! You just got RPG FIXED.

          In all seriousness, buying TOR hasn’t even crossed my mind – And it’s not because I have something against MMOs – Guild Wars 2 is currently impressing the hell out of me, it’s that Star wars on it’s own isn’t nearly as interesting as people seem to think – at least not enough to make a deep, compelling universe out of. KOTOR told a very un-star-warsey tale in that it didn’t just retread the movies. TOR just looks like an MMO hitting all the Star Wars tropes – jedi, sith, bounty hunters etc, but bringing nothing new to the table.

          • Eric says:

            This is my secret shame: I’ve never played Deus Ex or System Shock/2. :x

            Human Revolution does sound pretty interesting overall.

            I think you also hit on why I like KotOR II so much more than KotOR–how the story it was telling was so outside the scope of what a “Star Wars” game is.

            • Aldowyn says:

              KotOR II was even less Star warsy, though… Star Wars doesn’t do shades of gray, and KotOR II was quite, quite gray. Now that I think about it, KotOR 1 probably bears quite a bit of resemblance to a lot of the EU stuff, and, personally, I really like the way KotOR is. I love hearing more about the Old Republic, more about the old Sith Empire, more about… all sorts of things.

  13. Shamus, I think this is all about the marketing Shepard.
    The in-game one will be similar to the other two games, plus a default that looks like the PR one. Only thing that makes sense.

    Personally I actually like #5, but might test with redish hair. (fan favorite it seems).
    Although the blondish look isn’t bad, at least it’s not platinum blonde. *ugh*, and the slightly rough hair look is nice.

    Then again, I haven’t played female at all in the ME games.
    What I might do in ME3 though is tweak my male shepard,
    I hope they added some new hair options for ME3, after all Shepard is no longer a “soldier” and can dress however he/she damn like.
    I’d like a longer haired male shepard myself. (green eyes, and raven black or blood red hair is what I usually choose in games)

    What I do like though is that BioWare unlike many companies out there actually has a female armor that looks like a damn armor. (and it did so in ME1 and 2 as well).
    In fact the female armor in the ME games look way cooler than the male ones (for shepard), which kinda annoyed me initially heh…

    If BioWare actually ads some gender specific stuff in ME3, then I might consider replaying the trilogy with a female shepard.
    But if the difference of gender is only the love interests and a variation of reactions then I probably wont.
    There is far too little story difference for me to replay with opposite gender as it is.

    I’ll probably just end up re-doing a few things in ME1 and ME2 if it turns out my choices in those takes a turn that I do not desire in ME3.
    So I’m more interested in how much the ME1 and ME2 choices impact stuff in ME3, after all, with ME3 they can really go full out with alternate endings since there will be no sequels to Shepard’s story, so canon isn’t a major issue.

    (Though a ME4 will assume a certain Mass Effect universe canon obviously).

    • Nick Bell says:

      This has been beaten to death in other places, but I’ll bring it up all the same: if you haven’t played Mass Effect as Femshep, you’re missing out. Jennifer Hale knocks the socks off Mark Meer when it comes to playing Shepard. By far the better experience to me. Definitely worth checking out.

      • Eathanu says:

        Jennifer Hale has also voiced over 100 roles in video games. I can pick her voice out of a crowd and I’m sick to death of it. I believe the same is true for at least some other ME players.

        Not that she is bad by any means, but you wouldn’t like, say, Liam Neeson if he starred in every film he had a minor role in, and had a minor role in six for every film in which he starred.

        Edit: I just realized that grammatically I was trying to get across a mathematical equation. The point being, I am far over-saturated in Hale-voice, and hearing someone I had never heard before (Mark Meer) made the game enjoyable to me.

        • Aldowyn says:

          Jennifer Hale, for some reason, I don’t recognize a lot of time. It takes a HUGE amount of effort for me to dig Femshep out of Bastila, for example. If anyone played Freelancer, she played the female lead in that, and I had no idea until I imdb’ed her for some reason or another.

          The only problem is she’s gotten so much more publicity, they WANT her recognized now, thus completely voiding any talent in favor of … publicity. She sounds EXACTLY like femshep whenever I hear her doing TOR stuff.

          • Klay F. says:

            Jennifer Hale’s voice, along with voices like Nolan North’s really grate on my nerves because they basically use the same voice for EVERY. FLIPPING. ROLE. Contrast their voices with Steve Blum’s, who has superior range. I am really looking forward to the day Nolan North retires, just so I don’t have to hear his damn voice every time I play a game.

            • Aldowyn says:

              Did you play KotOR? Do you remember Bastila? Entirely different, and I don’t think it’s just the accent.

              • Klay F. says:

                That’s one role out of like… a lot. Still KOTOR was a long time ago, and her voice has since far exceeded saturation point for me. Nolan North’s voice did the same thing about three years earlier.

                Its enough to make me wonder what the pay is for voice actors right now. I would imagine the demand is pretty high. I’ll have to add that to my list of jobs worth investigating.

              • Eathanu says:

                Hale managed to make two characters from the same series (Naomi Hunter and Emma Emmerich) sound pretty much the same. Again, she did both roles very well, but Naomi is Jaden Korr is Shepard is Dynaheir.

                • Aldowyn says:

                  I forgot about Jaden, too. I just don’t notice.

                  That’s… 4 games I own she’s played the female lead, 2 as companions and 2 as the PC. *shrug*

                  I just never noticed for some reason until I started hearing her in SWTOR stuff. I think ME2 is the breaking point for her…

                • Eärlindor says:

                  She’s also Galadriel AAAND Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in the Fellowship of the Ring game. When I found out she did the voice of a old, greedy grump like Lobelia, I almost died laughing.

                  • Aldowyn says:

                    A different one from the gameboy one I played, then. The one I played was… horrible. Buggy as HECK, screwed up level design (so screwed up it was possible, even likely, to literally make the game unplayable by unlocking the wrong door. Not to mention the literally gamebreaking bug in the same zone. Moria, oh moria), horribly slow combat… just terrible.

                    • Eärlindor says:

                      Yes, the GB Adv. version was horrible. I’m talking about the console/PC version (and even those two were different 0.o). Those versions are much better and more playable, though still not a masterpiece of gaming of course. The portrayal of places, characters, creatures, etc. is also hit and miss.

                • Alexander The 1st says:

                  Samus sounds different though, you’d have to agree.

                  Also, her TV showings are sometimes the same show, multiple characters.

            • What about Nolan North in Portal 2?

              • Klay F. says:

                In all honesty, I don’t even remember what they’re voices sounded like. Most likely, my brain heard his voice then automatically shut it out as a defense mechanism.

            • Adam says:

              Really, Steve Blum has a superior range? The only characters he voiced that sounded even slightly different than every other character he’s voiced EVER are Oghren and Grunt, and they were really just his normal in-character voice, only MORE GRUFF.

              That’s not to say Hale doesn’t have an extremely recognizable voice, but Blum as an example of versatility? I don’t think so. (Also, everywhere he goes he ends up voice acting for at least half the male characters in a game. Look at Doom 3, Dragon Age, and ME2.)

              • Klay F. says:

                I admit what I said is completely subjective. I said nothing of the fact that he is overused, and make no mistake he IS overused. Just a simple look at his Wikipedia page proves that. But I guarantee you, a few of the roles he’s done will surprise you.

        • Velkrin says:

          Oddly enough I don’t recognize Hale’s voice at all.

          Cree Summer’s on the other hand….

  14. Raygereio says:

    I actually don’t like any of the femshep options here. With number 4 being the worst; this one looks like BioWare drew inspiration from the nexussites with that hairstyle.
    What was wrong with the old default femshep?

    more “badass shooter” and less “exploration space opera”.

    Was ME ever about that? Sure, ME1 had some half baked exploration aspects, but that’s all they were: half baked and shitty. ME1 basically still was a shooter: a not all that well executed shooter, but a shooter non the less.
    As for it being space opera: well, I supposed it’s story still falls under that very broad and vague genre.

    As studios dump more money into graphics they have to aim their releases wider and wider to have a shot at breaking even.

    Am I the only one that finds this really silly from a business perspective? I mean, Shamus’ statement is undeniably true; but if they’d only dump less money into the graphics they could:
    -suffer less of risk of the game not preforming as hoped.
    -tap into markets that are less saturated, by focussing on such things as good writing.
    -target demographics that are less likely to pirate your game.
    -hire more and better artists and instead of making a really expensive, shiney engine and produce crap with it, they could get a less expensive and shiney engine and produce good looking, interesting surroundings.
    The list goes on. You get the idea.

    • James says:

      a good example is the source engine, its dammed old now but with good artists it looks great, hell HL2 still looks good how much can we say about other games from that time?

      Aesthetics >>>>>>>>>>>> Graphical Fidelity

      take two very good of both and you get The Witcher 2

    • Aldowyn says:

      It’s more about the feel of the levels, not the exploring planets part. In Mass Effect 1, a lot more time was spent developing atmosphere and talking about things you find or discover, while ME2 is…. hey, look, this planet is themed this way (about half of them brown), now let’s go shoot some stuff!

      It’s partly because of the very cut up nature of the game. Hour long segments doesn’t allow for much development. Tuchanka and Omega wasn’t bad, and Illium was actually pretty cool. Omega was probably developed the most, but it seemed WAY more cliche than Illium. (Despite the fact that Illium is essentially a mix of Nar Shaddaa and Coruscant)

  15. Mari says:

    Not that I bothered to vote because I’m sick to death of grizzled space marines (male OR female) but again my peculiar taste shows. I have a strong preference for 2 and 3 followed by 1992 Winona Ryder.

  16. Dev Null says:

    To be honest, I can’t get far enough past the steel-bra-over-spandex women’s armour to worry much about hair colour, but lets have a look…

    I’d have to go with 1 or 3. They’re the ones that make the mascara and eyeliner that someone apparently applied with a wheelbarrow and a putty knife look the least weird; everyone else looks like a bad dye job because of the black eyebrows.

    But at this point, where they’ve obviously already made the models, and they’re all so similar that they should easily be able to be dropped into the same spots in the same cutscenes, (and can all use the same ridiculous armour models… but no! I’m past that…) why not just give us the choice when we play the game? It doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to ship the game with all 6.

  17. Rutskarn says:

    Look at that hair on #5–it is a head nod away from falling over her eyes like a goddamned show curtain.

    I voted for #3 because to me, she looked the most like a soldier. Well, her and #1, but for some reason the tied-back worked for me better than the pixie cut.

    • Ingvar M says:

      If I was allowed to re-model the armed suit, I think all of them would, to some extent, work for me. But I think I would’ve gone with one of 1, 2 or 3.

      As is, the armed suit breaks my suspension of disbelief. No one in a sane mind would sculpt actual breasts on an armed suit, that’s just asking for AP shots aimed into… er, yes. Doesn’t work, for me, at all.

      • Dev Null says:

        Hallelujah brother!

        And pseudo-techo-magic aside, I can’t believe in a suit of armour that looks like it was spray-painted on bare skin.

        Though actually, if you assume you’ll be fighting humans, maybe breasts on armour isn’t as stupid as it sounds. While the idiots are staring at a lump of metal just because it happens to be breast-shaped, you shoot them in the head.

        • Does that “make female characters wear chainmail bikinis in order to distract the enemy” line ever, EVER come into play as a plot point? Or, you know, act as more than a really lazy excuse for fanservice.

          That said, they mainly rely on force fields, and given Jack and Miranda I’m pretty sure the “armour” is little more than a glorified HAZMAT suit, rather than anything reallly protective.

        • empty_other says:

          So… Did the romans fight a lot of females? You know; sculpted breastplates with nipples… to distract the… amazones! Genious!

          And if a male wanted to distract another male, would it help if he wore a female armor? Its not beautiful, but it would certainly be distracting.

      • Mari says:

        OK, I can understand the rage about the ridiculous molded-on breasts for FemShep, but where’s your outrage against male Shepard’s CODPIECE? Because, really, when’s the last time a soldier went into battle wearing a codpiece? I guaran-darn-tee that no US military uniform has an exterior codpiece. If you wanna wear a cup under your fatigues, feel free but it goes on the INSIDE of your pants.

    • Even says:

      Didn’t vote, but I would have picked 3 as well. But mostly because she looks the least constipated.

    • Sean Riley says:

      Realism is over-rated. That was exactly why numbers 1-3 were the first ones eliminated for me; they looked dull.

      • Rutskarn says:

        It’s not merely a concern for “realism,” exactly. It’s more that when I look at 1-3, I immediately see soldiers, and when I look at the others, I don’t. That’s something beyond realism–although I wouldn’t impose either on anyone, I think there are people who aren’t fond of “realism” that are still concerned with aesthetic verisimilitude.

        An example of this: most real snipers don’t dress like the Sniper does in TF2, with his slouch hat and aviators and casual vest. But when you look at him, you immediately think, “Yep, looks like a Sniper.” If he’d had a propeller beanie, a big Rasputin beard, and a cardigan, he might have looked more interesting, but he wouldn’t communicate his character as well.

        There’s definitely a time and place to challenge this, and it shouldn’t be the character designer’s only priority, but in this case, I’d say it was one of mine.

        • Sean Riley says:

          No, OK, I get that. That’s a fair point.

          I still say #1-3 are dull, but you’re not championing realism, you’re championing the iconic, and that’s a much stronger position.

        • Naota says:

          There’s definitely a balance to be struck between functionality/believability in design and the interest factor and raw aesthetics for things like this. These two aren’t mutually exclusive by any means, but in cases like Mass Effect you wind up with a pretty tough decision to make.

          Prime example? Male Shepard’s hair.

          I get that soldiers with long, flowing locks and a dapper handlebar mustache aren’t likely to be combat effective having to pack that sizeable mane into a helmet or brush it out of their eyes every two minutes (or every two seconds if there’s any kind of draft at all). That makes perfect sense. However, even if it is historically the military practice, did they have to give you a dozen instances of what is effectively not enough hair to have any style? Yes, it’s “realistic”. It’s also overwhelmingly bland.

          You have bald Shepard, balding Shepard, shaved Shepard, less shaved Shepard, selectively shaved Shepard, Shepard with an inch of hair, and Shepard with an inch of hair who has never heard of shampoo, and that is the full extent of your customization. This is the largest and most evident feature of the head in a third person game we’re talking about, and nearly all the options look the same. No pony tails, no bangs, no curls, no asymmetric partings, no hair that’s longer at the back… just bald or generic very short hair.

          But okay Bioware, I’ll let you have your high-fidelity boring military hair – I just ask that you acknowledge this fact and let us customize something else that’s just as characteristic in place of it. Maybe you can arrange and colour your own out-of-helmet headwear from different parts, give Shepard some visible mechanical implants on his face, pick out some accessories (dibs on the eye patch!), or change the pattern/design of his glowy-eyes. Customization is only custom if the result is actually distinct. I’d rather have any of these options than two dozen subtle variations on “generic space marine (non)hair”.

          • Tse says:

            I agree, but the default should still look like a soldier. Not like a barbie girl. Allowing the player to make their character look out of place is good, making the default character out of place is not.

            • Naota says:

              Very true, but keep in mind that I’m not really suggesting options that would seem out of place – rather I’m going for what I imagine would be a good balance between believability and aesthetic style.

              I think Shepard could look very much like a soldier and still have slicked-back Equilibrium hair instead of a boring crew cut, or the ‘do from Deus Ex 3, or a headband or eyepatch. Hell, you could even throw in a missing ear as one of the “scar” options. Details abound. There are lots of ways to make a character stand out and look unique while still being grounded and believeable.

              It’s interesting to note that other RPG’s get this wrong in the opposite direction all the time as well. I have yet to play a single MMO that didn’t have this exact selection of hair options:

              -Completely ridiculous immersion-shattering 80’s mohawk
              -Overblown emo combover (for players who enjoy constant mockery!)
              -Corn rows
              -Male pattern baldness
              -Bald pattern baldness
              -Long hair braided with rings into a massive viking beard
              -Broken sideburns/beard that clip through your head and don’t match the face texture at all
              -Elvis hair (if you’re lucky)
              -Generic boring hair you will inevitably have to pick to avoid looking like an utter loon.

              BONUS FEATURE: A limited number of hair colours which include neon green, pink, bright purple, and inhumanly self-illuminating 100% white, but no believable red-orange hues or dark/subtle shades of any colour.

              If I see one more NPC elf with a purple two-foot mohawk that the player is supposed to take seriously, I swear to god…

            • False Prophet says:

              Shepherd is special forces (N7). They tend to have a bit more leeway with their hairstyles, as they engage in covert work and want to avoid broadcasting “professional soldier” to everyone. But I agree with your broader point. Shepherd should still look like a soldier, even if s/he’s not held to textbook dress and grooming.

    • Gndwyn says:

      I think all six of them look like silly teenagers. None look like a veteran soldier to me.

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      #1 probably also reminds you of the Seeker in DAII, which probably affected the choice.

      I know when I focused on it, that’s who I was reminded of.

  18. Michael says:

    I think the fans only voted for 5 because Female Shepard is voiced by Samus Aran.

    Personally, I preferred 3.

    • Veloxyll says:

      Wait. Metroid Prime (or was it Fusion) Samus, or Other M Samus. Because I’ve heard some of Other M and I’d prefer the Microsoft voice to her acting.

      • Eärlindor says:

        I believe he’s talking about the Metroid Prime games, since Samus’s voice was done by Jennifer Hale, who also (of course) is the voice of FemShep.

      • Michael says:

        Yes, yes. Prime.

        I thought we all agreed You-Know-What wasn’t to be mentioned again. Were you not there for the meeting, Veloxyll?

        • Zukhramm says:

          I didn’t mind the voice actor in Other M as much as the lines she had to read. And the Metroid Prime games? I’m not sure I can see her voice in those games as a great example of voice acting, they just poked her in the eye once and recorded whatever sound she made.

          • Michael says:

            I wasn’t trying to say that the Metroid Prime games showcase Hale’s talents. The reason I brought up the Prime Trilogy was that Hale voices both Shepard and Samus, so I made the logical leap that fans wanted a Samus Shepard, and thus voted blond.

            Though I disagree with you about Other M’s Samus’ voice. The lines were awful, yes, but the dead-pan delivery was, too. They were trying to portray Samus with strong emotions, and instead casted the Kristen Stewart of voice overs.

            I also have to admit: I’ve never played Other M, so my opinion is based only on cutscenes and dialogue I happened to have found floating around my internet.

  19. Kdansky says:

    Hey, don’t dismiss Starship Troopers so easily. While it only looks like a generic action movie about shooting, it’s a modernised All Quiet on the Western Front, and clearly points out that the humans are the aggressors, and the aliens just a victim. But most people are too stupid to have gotten that, which is part of the message.

    If anything, Mass Effect 3 aims a lot lower than that.

    • acronix says:

      I might have the details a bit…blurred, but didn`t the bugs in that movie throw a huge meteorite in the general direction of the planet, aiming to hit a city and succeeding at blowing it up?

      • Raygereio says:

        Yup, the bugs struck first.
        The only things that movie does is be silly and depict the human military forces as incredibly incompetent.

        That and while both All Quiet on the Western Front and Starship Troopers have a couple of similar scenes and themes, the former (both book and movie ) had a big anti-war vibe, unlike the latter (again both book and movie).

        • StranaMente says:

          Yep, Starship troopers is clearly pro-war in a almost comical way.

          • Kdansky says:

            Watch it again, and try to take notice of things such as propaganda or needless cruelty. You’ll be surprised how much you catch yourself falling for it, because it’s quite a clever film. It’s far deeper than most people believe.

            ST is chock-full of scenes that depict humans committing atrocities towards the aliens for no reason, invading their planet and murdering everyone (and feeling good about it), torturing their leaders, playing heroes and distorting reality through completely fake news broadcasts.

            If you miss it on a second view while watching for it, the message is: “See how powerful propaganda is? Most viewers easily fall for it, even if it’s overdone (and looks comical).”

            Sorry to say, but you just didn’t get it. I didn’t either when I saw it for the first time.

            • acronix says:

              I`d actually agree with that, if there was some kind of hint about this inside the movie itself. If this is indeed the point of the movie, that propaganda is very, very powerful, then they failed to make people notice of their core message. They tried to make us notice of the Chtulhu beast that is sleeping at the deepest depths (cacophony ftw!) of the ocean by showing us some sharks fighting a horde of crabs.

              • Klay F. says:

                Wait so subtext needs to be spelled out for it to be valid? Hubuhwha?

                I’ll give one chance to guess one of the main reasons why the theatrical cut of Blade Runner is inferior to the Director’s/Final Cut.

                • acronix says:

                  I said there had to be some hint. Spelling out would be to make it explicit, which is against the point, as you imply by your “hubuhwha”.
                  A hint is when you show the viewer there´s a lack of information they are not getting, without telling them what. But if you don`t show (as opposed to telling, as always) the viewer/reader that there´s place for subtext, then they won`t notice this lack of information. Unless the author wants to make it very stealthly for some reason.

                  In the case of Starship Troopers, movie, we don`t get anything to contradict the over-the-top military propaganda, besides the mere fact that they are over-the-top and silly (but the whole movie is silly). The soldiers shoot stuff, the bugs kill some soldiers. There´s nothing to hint that the bugs might be just victims of a slaughter because the movie is so silly about everything. I don`t think the author should pretend to have a serious subtext about propaganda if your movie is going to look like a silly bug-squashing movie.

                  Mmaybe I can`t see it seriously because when I saw they threw a meteorite on my hometown I laughed a lot (after the shock that it didn`t hit New York, for some reason).

                  Or, more probably, it´s just that I need to sleep, maybe that`s why. *facepalms himself to sleep*

                  • Bubble181 says:

                    For the record, Pau lVerhoeven is actrually quite an intelligent director. All of the movie is one big statement against war, for democracy, against inactivity, againstpropaganda, and even against Hollywood, with the oh-so-correct scars and wounds of the characters over-estheticised on purpose.
                    That about 80% of the people failed to realize this, is not his fault.

                    Also ,the book is very much misread very often, as well. Despite being a military man, Heinlein wasn’t a big warmonger in favour of killing everything and anything; quite the opposite.

                    Also, humans invaded Bug space first; the meteor(s) was a retaliation. The humans are the bad guys in both movie and book.

                    • SomeUnregPunk says:

                      if 80% of people fail to realize your intent in your work then it means you are not doing your job properly.

                      If I had a math teacher teaching Higher math and just walked in shoved a book in your face and then walked out … it wouldn’t be called teaching. It would be called having a book shoved into your face.

                      … I read the book and it did a better job at presenting it’s point than movie did.

                      book:..humans walk in a kill stuff to get their way, the solider that survive slowly get desensitized to war, realize their leaders don’t know jack and doesn’t care about the individual deaths and is desensitized themselves in regards to their people dying pointless deaths to win a pointless battle. His friends and others around him die and he witnesses the inept actions of his leadership.

                      The movie on the other hand used too much silly imagery and b-schlock camaraderie that it pushed it’s overall theme to the side. People that die doesn’t affect their comrades in the movie. The movie made desensitization silly.

                    • Bubble181 says:

                      If 80% of the people don’t understand your work, that doesn’t mean your work is bad – just that, perhaps, it wasn’t intended for them.
                      I think easily 80% of people don’t understand modern art. Does that mean it isn’t art?
                      Easily 80% of people don’t understand the tables of numbers published in the Wall Street Journal. Does that mean they shouldn’t publish them?

                      It’s not because your message isn’t received by everyone, that you shouldn’t relay the message. It just means that a lot of people didn’t understand what you tried to do. It can be due to bad workmanship, or because the people who saw it weren’t the intended audience, or because different people can see the same work on different levels (older Disney classics, as well as many of the good Simpsons episodes, are promoted for children, but easily half the jokes are way too mature for children to understand – they’re there for parents and other adults who see it, and can enjoy it on a different level than the children. Does this mean those jokes are bad, or the movie/program was badly made? No.).

                      “I don’t understand it, so it’s bad” or “I didn’t see it, so it isn’t there” are easy and self-centered answers.

            • pinchy says:

              Would recommend a read of the last few questions at- http://www.avclub.com/articles/paul-verhoeven,14078/ or pretty much any other interview where Verhoeven has talked about the movie.

              It really is one of the most comically mis-interpreted movies of all time). Without wanting to get political the entire point of the movie is basically that most people will believe any nonsense if you drape it in patriotism like is done in Starship Troopers- casual torture and violence, shouting down any viewpoint that is contradictory to ones own beliefs e.g- that perhaps the bugs may have been provoked by the humans colonising bug territory, televised executions following a show trial, really the list just goes on. What makes it particularly well done in terms of propaganda is it gives you the illusion of choice- “would you like to know more?” and as such it just goes completely over the head of so many people.

        • Kaeltik says:

          The book and the movie couldn’t be more different thematically, but if I remember correctly, they both begin with human settlers moving onto known bug planets, against the orders of the human government. The bugs respond by slaughtering the invaders. When that fails to deter further colonization, the bugs launch a retaliatory meteor strike against earth.

          The humans were the aggressors.

          • Aldowyn says:

            I don’t believe the book ever actually talked about how the war started. It started when he was in boot camp, and pretty much all he said was “while I was in boot camp, the war escalated until it was finally an actually declared war”

            I’m a little curious about how any one can know who started it when the book shows so little of the big picture.

      • Danel says:

        I’ve not seen the film fully myself, but I’ve heard that an interpretation of that is that it was the bugs didn’t have any sort of capability to do anything of the sort, and it was just an excuse to give the humans a pretext to kill them all.

        • Kdansky says:

          They have neither reason to do so (they never even left their home planet), nor the capabilities (how can a race that has no space ships throw meteors?).

          No Motive. No Opportunity. Not Guilty.

          • acronix says:

            How can they throw meteors without space ships? How did they reach all those different planets besides their homeworld then?
            Or maybe they used the same thing they use to split spaceships in half with some giant-beetle poo.

            • Kaeltik says:

              In the movie they say that the plasma bugs can fire spores into orbit. The spores use an organic star drive to travel to other systems, spreading eggs and creating a new generation of bugs.

              I don’t remember anything like that being explicitly stated in the book, but the warrior bugs in the book used plasma and beam weapons, so they did have some fairly high level of techno prowess.

          • Rob Maguire says:

            It’s been a long time since I watched the movie, so correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the bugs attack the fleet orbiting their planet during the climactic battle with thrown meteors?

      • RPharazon says:

        Yes. An alien race that doesn’t have many interstellar capabilities of its own, that is intensely biologic, that didn’t have much of a beef with humanity, somehow manages to send an asteroid flying across immense reaches of space and manages to hit a city. Even if they got a local asteroid, how come the Earth governments didn’t notice the intense energy-hungry endeavour that weaponizing and directing an asteroid entails?

        The book points heavily in the direction that the asteroid was (excuse the term) an inside job by the Earth government in order to get into a war with an alien race.

        Humans are the aggressors in Starship Troopers, with the soldiers being nothing but peons, in an unwinnable war against a foe that simply does not know how to give up. It’s a stalemate, and a deconstruction of fascist governments, the role of the individual in a war, and the politics and psychology that goes behind waging a war.

        If you just got “generic action novel/movie about shooting things in space”, then perhaps you are not looking hard enough.

        • Raygereio says:

          If you just got “generic action novel/movie about shooting things in space”, then perhaps you are not looking hard enough.

          Or perhaps you’re just looking to hard and in the proces are finding things that just aren’t in the movie. It’s a silly popcorn actionflick, nothing more. I don’t care what Verhoeven says.
          The book does handle some of those themes.

          • Kdansky says:

            So either the movie has tons of logical flaws, or there is a hidden meaning in it and everything suddenly makes sense. The director explicitly says that he intended there to be a second layer. He’s quite known for not being stupid. The book also has that second layer. All evidence supports the theory.

            I’ll put my money on “You are wrong and didn’t get it.” I know, it’s hard to acknowledge, but there you go. Watch it again.

            It’s meant to goad you into believing it’s just a silly action flick. It’s so well done, you didn’t even realize you were being lied to.

            I am not a big fan of the movie (because it is intentionally dumbed down it’s also not a great movie to watch), but I find it important that people don’t misunderstand it.

            • Kaeltik says:

              The book played with such themes as the responsibilities of citizenship and the choice between security and freedom. The movie was a campy shoot-em-up layered over a commentary on propaganda and anti-military themes.

              The movie was kinda fun, but it always felt like something of a subversion of the book rather than an homage.

              It’s been a few years, so I could be wrong.

              • Josufu says:

                I’ve read the book at least a dozen times, and I agree with you regarding that. It was also a coming-of-age tale Heinlein wrote to help bridge the gap between his juvenile writings and his more adult-oriented ones, at least according to his letters in “Grumbles from the Grave”. I’ve never seen the movie all the way through, so I can’t comment on that.

              • Veloxyll says:

                They were kinda going for a subversion/parody of the book

                As for humanity striking first – They did. Mormon extremists invaded Bug Space (they crossed the Arachnid Quarantine zone and set up a colony on a Bug Planet). Hadn’t heard about the Humans done it theory. If only there’d been a sequel…

        • Aldowyn says:

          wait a sec. What asteroid are you talking about in the book? The attack on Buenos Aires? I never heard of it being an asteroid, just that it was “wiped”. And what about the research station on.. Pluto? Titan? Where Carl was.

      • Dragomok says:

        EDIT: Ops, sorry, somebody already posted similiar post. Feel free to skip it.

        I’m sorry, but for me it was obvious as getting hit with a shovel in the face that the entire bug attack was just a natural catastrophe – which was used by Earth’s totalitarian government as a reason to start a war (theorethically as a brutal way of dealing with overpopulation).

        How do you people think a bunch of aliens with (nearly) no space travel technology (and hardly any technology) could – using only ground-to-space living cannons – could hurl a giant meteor to travel through a distance of a few light years – full of gravitational fields, stars, planets and other meteors – on a trajectory so precise to hit a certain, moving, tiny-itsy-bitsy planet?

    • Zozma says:

      The first thing that came to mind for me was the novel by Heinlein. I wouldn’t mind if Bioware turned out a story of that quality for Mass Effect 3…

  20. klasbo says:

    Shamus, Y U NO Experienced Points?

    This is just one of many instances of underhanded and “polish-this-turd”-esque marketing for ME3, and you’re perfectly capable of raging harder and creating a presentable and witty article in the process.

    I mean, you’re writing a book and all, so you know how to do this, right?
    (Don’t mention the war! I mean book!)

    • James says:

      shhhhhh i think you got away with it

    • Klay F. says:

      I don’t think it would be a good idea to post something like this on the Escapist at the moment. They’ve pretty much made it clear to me that they will love ME3 no matter how bad it is.

      • StranaMente says:

        I had the exact same impression.
        I guess there’s some kind of fanboysm towards bioware even between the journalists since there’s almost a news a day about how awesome me3 is going to be.
        I think it all began with the marketing of da2 (and the drooling review it got there) and never stopped.

        I’m not really confortable anymore there.

        • krellen says:

          This is an utter crap year for video games, and the Escapist’s money is based entirely off selling video games, so they have to polish up the turds they’re being given. A bad review here and there will be accepted by publishers, but if the Escapist actually admitted whole-hog that this year sucks and there’s nothing exciting coming out at all, they’d quickly lose all ad revenue.

          Some good/some bad still leads to ads, even from those that get some bad press (and especially from the good press), but all bad leads to nothing.

          • Klay F. says:

            I find myself yearning for the good old days of three years ago back when intelligent discussions still happened quite often on the forums, Zero Punctuation was the only other reason to go there, and before March Mayhem was discovered as an “easy ‘n sleazy way to increase site traffic.

            I find it hard to put into words just how much I despise March Mayhem. There is nothing wrong with wanting revenue for your website, but you bet your ass I find something wrong with the way the Escapist does it.

          • kanodin says:

            Really, you’re gonna claim the year with Portal 2, the Witcher 2, Deus Ex Human Revolution, and Skyrim is a crap year? And that’s only looking at the rpgs or story based games that would be popular here, meanwhile Modern Warfare, Battlefield, and Gears of War 3 are all set to Hoover up vast amounts of money. Oh and new Batman, Assassins Creed, and Saints row games as well.

            That said, I ain’t gonna disagree that it seems like Mass Effect 3 can do no wrong to the staff and fans of the escapist, it just ain’t a conspiracy.

            • Klay F. says:

              A couple of good games does not a good year make. A couple of good games can not suddenly erase tons and TONS of utter shit. A good game is not classified as good on technical merits alone. A game that makes a shit-ton of money also does not a good game make.

              I could list my own reactions to each game you mentioned…so I will.

              Portal 2 = good
              Witcher 2 = debatable
              Deus Ex = no possible way you could know unless you got one of those leaked copies.
              Skyrim = no possible way you could know
              MW3, Battlefield, GOW3 = technical merits do not a good game make, also no possible way you could know.
              AssCreed, Saint’s Row = see Skyrim
              Batman = doesn’t come out this year so is disqualified.

              Sooooo, you are basing your opinion of this year off of two games so far?

              • kanodin says:

                But tons and tons of utter shit will get released every year. More to the point though if the claim is that only a few big titles are coming out and so they must be incredibly hyped to sell what they can then I don’t see what’s wrong with a long list of big names coming out to disprove that assertion. They don’t even need to superhype Mass Effect as the only big rpg coming out let alone as the only big title they can find.

                Also according to Gamefaqs Batman is coming out in november. And I forgot L.A. Noir.

            • krellen says:

              Portal 2 is the only game in that list I give any credit to.

              I can’t play the Witcher because of its ridiculous graphic requirements, I’ve never liked Bethesda, and seriously, EVERY game on that list of yours is a goddamn sequel.

              The industry is not even trying this year. They’re just churning out sequels looking for profit, and I even include Valve in this.

        • Anjin says:

          I’m going to throw my two cents in here to agree with StranaMente. EA/Bioware’s marketing has been particularly tin-earred for years now. At least as far back as Dragon Age, they’ve been trying to get non-RPG players to look at their game by hook or by crook.

        • Eärlindor says:

          Shamus, Y U NO Experienced Points?

          I don’t think it would be a good idea to post something like this on the Escapist at the moment. They’ve pretty much made it clear to me that they will love ME3 no matter how bad it is.

          I had the exact same impression.
          I guess there’s some kind of fanboysm towards bioware even between the journalists since there’s almost a news a day about how awesome me3 is going to be.

          I don’t suppose it would make a healthy ice-breaker then?

      • James says:

        on the topic of The Escapist. sure they got some good shows, but the forums are dreadful. i tried and failed to, promote a great StarCraft tourney, a special one it was the biggest non-comerical tornement ever.
        i wrote everything they need some nice rhetoric i got nothing, least i didnt get warned dam eSport hating jerkoffs

        • Klay F. says:

          Back when ZP was still relatively new, the forums were absolutely excellent. Tons of topics being discussed intelligently, if not always civilly. Then came their sleazy (and disgustingly successful) attempts at turning fanbases against each other in the name increasing traffic…

        • Aldowyn says:

          SCi2? Gotta be. Just got into totalbiscuit, awesome dude.

          … and who was hating on eSports? Why the heck would you hate on eSports?

      • klasbo says:

        I just want Shamus to earn some much-needed moneys. And sensationalism is something the Escapist is already quite good at, so that might help, too?

        • Klay F. says:

          They are also good (bad) at exploitation. Don’t forget that. This is the same website that is actually trying to get the fans to foot the bill to bring Yahtzee to PAX.

          I’ll just let that sink in for a sec.

  21. Meredith says:

    I really don’t have anything to say about female!Shepard or the marketing, but in response to your final paragraphs: I started ME1 this weekend and the combat is really annoying. I finally get all the complaints. Bioware, you got your cover-based shooter in my rpg!

    I was also completely dismayed by the lack of actual character stats. I seriously thought I skipped a step somewhere in the creation process. Oh, but I got to choose from 50 different skin tone sliders that had little to no effect on my appearance, so that’s cool.

    How is the same company making this, Dragon Age, and SW:TOR all at the same time and using the excuse that RPGs don’t sell? Am I the only one that sees the contradiction?

    Sorry, rant over. (I realise you’ve all been over this a few times, I’m always late to the party.)

    • Raygereio says:

      -ME1’s combat gameplay works, but just barely. I’ll be the first to say ME2 had awfull writing, but I do think combat in ME2 is far better then in ME1.
      -Character stats? What do you mean: strength, dexterity and wisdom? What would be the point of that?

      • Meredith says:

        Because it’s a standard of the supposed genre?

        Why bother having character classes either for that matter, to follow your logic. I would expect abilities/attributes to matter in the usual ways: Int could contribute to tech skills, cha to intimidate and charm, etc. Combat’s not dice-rolled perhaps, but you still have to spend skill points to gain in accuracy so good dex could contribute there. Is it really that odd that I expected it to be part of the character creation process before I started the game?

        • Raygereio says:

          Why bother having character classes either for that matter, to follow your logic.

          Erm, how heck do you get to that? o_O
          But now that we are on the subject; is a system with classes integral to a RPG being a RPG? I’d say no. Just like having physical atributes isn’t as far as I’m concerned.

          You can easily have character customization without that. While I’m all for having more options, I’m actually in favor for some streamlining of gameplay to keep things from being unnececarily bloated. If the gameplay calls for there being a strength or intelligence stat, then have them. But nothing in ME’s gameplay calls for your character to have such physical atributes, so why have them?

          • Meredith says:

            My point was, when I fired up the character creator I didn’t know that. I still think they’d be valid and useful, but we can agree to disagree on that. Setting that aside, the game’s just a mess. Why make me spend skill points on pistol accuracy and then make it real-time shooting? There’s nothing streamlined about any of that.

            Bottom line: If you want to make a shooter, just make a shooter. I’m pretty sure their approach to this series didn’t do much for either their usual RPG fans or the Halo types they were trying to court. It’s just bad business, which is where Shamus started.

            • Raygereio says:

              Okay, now we’re talking about ME1’s combat suddenly.
              I did already say “ME1′s combat gameplay works, but just barely. I’ll be the first to say ME2 had awfull writing, but I do think combat in ME2 is far better then in ME1.”
              and I meant that.

              But I do find it funny that you recognize that ME1’s skill based combat is wonky, but then you want make it worse by adding another variable from the physical stats to it. ^_0

              • Meredith says:

                Combat is gameplay, though. I don’t understand why we’re arguing. We agree the combat is poorly implemented, which was basically my point. They tried too hard to please everyone and ended up pretty much pleasing no one (yet we all play the games, d’oh).

                I don’t see why it’s so hard to understand that I expected stats in a game like this. I’m not saying it’s ruined without them and the greatest tragedy in gaming, just that it’s a noticeable thing to not have. It was meant to just be an off-hand comment about the game waffling between genres.

                Edit to respond to your edit: I don’t want to add stats on top of the skills per se. It was just an example of how they could be used in the game. You’re taking this much more seriously than I intended.

                • Raygereio says:

                  I don’t understand why we’re arguing.

                  Are we argueing? At best we’re bickering here.
                  But the thing we disagree on is whether or not physical stats should have been included in ME1’s statsystem.

                  Let’s just stop this, because apparently we have to much of a communication failure to even have an argument about it.

                  • Meredith says:

                    I think I found the problem. You feel strongly that they weren’t necessary and I don’t particularly mind either way, I just noticed that they were missing. It’s like if you went to the cinema and there were no trailers before the film. I’m sure you’d say ‘Huh, I expected a trailer or 3, how odd.’ It doesn’t take away from your film-going experience (rather, it’s probably an improvement), but you noticed. That’s all.

                    I still don’t think it was an unreasonable expectation for me to have prior to loading up the game.

                    • Aldowyn says:

                      As far as I’m concerned, stats like the ones you’re talking about are a D&D conceit, and, since it’s the root of the video game RPG genre, most of them have them. I don’t think it’s necessary, but I can see why you want them.

                      And the reason you upgrade your pistol skill while still shooting in real time is because of the really wonky combat implementation. You don’t shoot straight where you aim, and both damage and accuracy are calculated from your skills and weapons.

                    • Meredith says:

                      Aldowyn, I understand how it works; my point was it’s broken and stats are no more or less relevant than skill-based-real-time shooting.

                      What can I say, I do play d&d and building a character can be the most fun part of any RPG. I don’t hate ME for not having it, I just objected to Ray’s implication that I was crazy to have looked for it and tried to give an example of how it could have worked had they chosen to do so.

                    • Raygereio says:

                      I just objected to Ray’s implication that I was crazy to have looked for it

                      I don’t even… o_O?!
                      I ask you, where and how did I even imply that?
                      Wait, you know what? I don’t even want an answer to that. I’m walking away from this. I already had one to many internet discussions today with people completely failing to understand anything I’ve typed. I don’t have the energy for another one.

                    • Aldowyn says:

                      Note to self: Conversation is GUARANTEED to have been derailed in some form of another when the pyramid reaches the limit. I applaud, you, Shamus, in your (assumed) accidental wisdom.

                      And, Meredith, I think you took what he said a bit far. All he said, literally, was “what would be the point?”

  22. Some Jackass says:

    1-3 looked the same at first glance, so really it was a 4 horse race between Ryder vs Jackson vs Blondie vs Thurman.

    Personally I was let down by the fact that there was no Regina Cuftbert selection

  23. Irridium says:

    What I don’t understand is why they didn’t just, you know, use the default femshep that’s already in the game.

    Oh, right, because then she wouldn’t be “sexy” or “badass” enough.

    *sigh*

    • Raygereio says:

      Thank you; I finally figured out what bothers me so about all femshep options here: it’s the desperate thought of “please find her badass” from designers which you can almost smell coming from those pictures.

    • Hitch says:

      Because the default femshep from 1 and 2 isn’t pretty enough to appeal to shooter fans? Wait… do shooter fans care if their character is “pretty?”

      Or, the shooter fans are being lured in by the game-play, so they need a pretty femshep to appeal to the story and character fans. Wait… would they rather have a femshep that looked the part, rather than a “pretty” one?

      I know. It’s for people who just stumble across it on Facebook and have no clue or opinion about the game. It’s just a “Hot or Not” poll for them.

      Brilliant marketing guys.

  24. Thrawn says:

    I don’t personally care about how default femShep will look. I’ll do my first play-through on customized manShep so that I can – er- see where the Tali romance goes. Then I’ll go back and play through femShep with a customized face. I must say, though, I found the “the base face shape is obviously a Caucasian woman” even a problem with editing; it may be because I am not competent, but I was never able to get a femShep that looked suitably Asian.

    To the point about the larger numbers of fast-paced shooters fans: market equilibrium principles would suggest that at some point the market would reach saturation. It has not, and does not even seem close. This means that we need (and can actually sustain) way more production, which is good in the long run. I look at all the Indie developers now, and can’t help but think that many of them will be AAA developers in the next couple of decades. I might be overly optimistic, of course. In the mean time, I’m going to replay Dragon Age: Origins, and pretend that all of the good PC developers at Bioware are just too busy with TOR to have helped with DA2 or ME2. <_<

    • Shamus says:

      It could be argued that we have hit saturation. For example:

      http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/111874-Epic-Bulletstorm-Didnt-Make-Money-For-Us

      There seem to be a lot of shooter games with good scores and low sales. But the market also suffers from the network effect, where people gravitate to one title simply because everyone else plays that title and they want to play online with their friends. Your game either lands in the top 5 and makes you mega-rich, or it falls short and you lose money.

      Conjecture: It’s possible these companies are all entering the market hoping to be the next Modern Warfare 2. Which means they’re basically just gambling.

      • Tizzy says:

        The tech markets seem winner-take-all, more so than any other market. Operating system? Search engine? Just look at the market share of the main player versus everyone else. And it appears that shooters are the same…

        SO yes, these companies are gambling, because who can seriously say that a game reaches the top spot on the basis of merit alone, without a huge random component?

        Yet… What else are they supposed to do? Other markets, more niche-like, might not have this unforgiving winner takes all situation, and thus might be able to generate steady, predictable revenue. But I’m afraid that the amounts involved are simply too small to be deemed worthy of consideration by many game companies.

        • Klay F. says:

          So in effect, they either make metric-assloads of money or they lose money. Isn’t that the opposite of good business sense?

          They seem to know that risk is bad, but they are minimizing risk in the stupidest way possible. It reminds me of the current state of the US derivatives market. The potential huge gains are much more tantalizing than the reliable small gains every studio started out making.

          You know the more I look at it, the more I come to the conclusion that an industry crash is inevitable. This one will most likely make the crash of ’83 look like good times comparatively.

          • Tizzy says:

            I agree with you on the business sense thing. But unfortunately, that’s the attitude, and as you rightfully point out, not just in the video game industry. I guess they’d rather aim at crushing the opposition, and be very likely to crash and burn, rather than survive on the periphery. Clearly, it wasn’t always like this, though, but only when computer gaming was more of a niche market…

        • GTRichey says:

          The comparison between games and tech companies isn’t really true. Just your example of operating systems. Apple may not have a huge market share but they’re significantly more profitable than Microsoft (who isn’t really a competitor for Apple because Apple is primarily a hardware or overall experience company). The same is true with smartphones, and I don’t see why it couldn’t be with games as well. If companies design and market to the right group of people they don’t have to have massive sales figures to be profitable.

          Tech used to be more winner-take-all, but now it’s more about making your product different enough to capture another segment of the market. Shooters now are winner-take-all as far as profits and sales numbers, but there’s plenty of room for developers to create something that appeals to a different set of customers.

      • Aldowyn says:

        I believe the network effect you’re talking about applies mostly to multiplayer games, and DEFINITELY with shooters (though, Bulletstorm’s singleplayer wasn’t bad. Also… Jennifer Hale. Yep. Didn’t realize until the very end.)

        ANYWAYS, with primarily single player games, the network effect is largely demoted to word of mouth status, which is still more for entertainment properties than anything else in the first place.

  25. Adam P says:

    If Bioware is playing an illusion of choice, then they had me fooled.

    I must say #5 does have the best looking hairstyle, although I’m not too crazy about the blonde color. Blondes are boring. If I had known there was a vote about, and thought that my vote would have made a difference, then I’d have voted for #2 on the grounds that femshep should be a redhead. That’s what she was in the first two games, after all. And, the hairstyle is more practical for a soldier.

  26. GiantRaven says:

    I would’ve gone for #1. She looks the blandest and most generic, which would fit well alongside the bland and generic looking default Male Shep.

  27. Gravebound says:

    I always made my Femshep look like Gillian Anderson. Or, as close as I could and still have her look normal from every angle. Like Gillian Anderson’s younger sister (from the future…).

    I like #2 best. And #6 looks like a Romulan mixed with this Indian girl I used to know.

  28. Mechakisc says:

    We’re getting too old for games, Shamus. Don’t fight it.

    Un-clever and un-original:

    I must not FPS.
    FPS is the mind-killer.
    FPS is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my FPS.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the FPS has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

    This is how I feel, more or less, when we have this particular conversation (rising production costs, etc), and I say this as someone who is still trying to look forward to Battlefield 3 – I LIKE (some) shooters. For me at least, it is simply that I like other things too, and that everything awesome gets turned into a bland shooter by the second sequel is downright depressing.

    Thank Carmack there was never a Planescape sequel.

  29. swimon says:

    So the Mass Effect series switched gears from 1 to 2. It went from a space opera where the first response is usually diplomacy to an action game (narratively as in the game equivalent of an action movie) about shooting bad guys in the face. I found this shift incredibly jarring and I do like space opera more (especially since we don’t get a lot of it) but I think it’s unfair to set up a dichotomy between “character and lore buffs” and “action shooter fans”. After all action shooters can be just as well written (they usually aren’t but that’s just sturgeon’s revelation, if space opera was the norm most space opera would probably be just as shitty).

    What annoys me about ME2 though is that it was badly written action. Nothing is accomplished, the main antagonist is non-threatening because you constantly kick his ass and the last boss (who isn’t the main antagonist since this is the first time you meet him) is a complete joke.

    That said we don’t know anything about ME3 yet it might still be good. It will unfortunately be another action game (unless we’re changing genres again? Maybe it will be a sitcom style RPG?) but that doesn’t mean that it has to be stupid. After all the Half Life series is an action series right?

    EA’s marketing is obnoxious though, it has the ability of making anything look brain dead, DA:O marketing anyone?

    • Raygereio says:

      EA’s marketing is obnoxious though, it has the ability of making anything look brain dead, DA:O marketing anyone?

      Well, ME3’s marketing is handled by David Silverman. Remember him? He gave us the awesome button and the whole ridiculous “DA2 failed because it was too innovative”-shtick. Oh, and let’s not forget the craptastic “fight like a spartan, think like a general” line.
      If I recall right, he actually worked for EA before signing up with BioWare, but I could be wrong. Regardless, the man is pretty good at making a game seem shitty.

      • Aldowyn says:

        With DA:O, all they really needed to do was emphasize how pure of an RPG it is. DA:O is probably the most classis CRPG I’ve seen… for a long time. Well, that was insightful.

        • Bret says:

          And then they’d get conventional RPG fans…

          And no-one else. The marketing, as abysmal as it was, had a simple and understandable goal. Expanding the available pool.

          I’ve been poking around ME3 news, and honestly? I think Shamus is overreacting. Yeah, I get it. Space Marines and brown.

          On the flip side, although I’m not saying it’s enough for you to enjoy it again, everything I’ve read outside of the marketing says:

          More RPG mechanics (Only not sucky this time.)
          Working on having player choices make an impact
          The new guy being lame
          Galaxy hopping to diplomacy with everyone NOT the Reapers (Being as, you know, Reapers. Not much for polite resolutions since day 1) to maybe get an army to fight off the doom of the galaxy.

          Which you know, all good or bad except the FNG.

          But the stuff I’ve read from the writers? That makes me legitimately excited. Not sure if I should say this, but…

          Apparently, the guy who did Mordin’s stuff? Best writer for ME2? He’s more proud of some of his stuff for this than anything he’s done before.

          • Aldowyn says:

            I mentioned that somewhere. I’m looking forward to the parts dealing with Mordin, Wrex, and their story, and Tali, assumingly Legion, and THEIR story.

            Throw in the Rachni while you’re at it.

            But the main story, where you’re actually fighting reapers? WTH?

            Anyways… Shamus keeps focusing on the bad sides, and I freely admit that the marketing sucks for us RPG guys, but when you look to the hard facts, there’s actually a few tidbits that look EXTREMELY promising.

            • Raygereio says:

              [blockquote]there’s actually a few tidbits that look EXTREMELY promising.[/blockquote]
              Meh. That’s what I get out of those tidbits that sound actually good: just meh. To much of it sounds like empty marketing talk and not like actual information.

              Oh, and I just ragequit a ME3 video that was supposed to be about “Choices and consequences”. Five minutes in a twenty minutes long video and they started talking about cover based shooter mechanics.

            • The Bard says:

              I was beginning to think Shamus was slowly having people who liked anything about ME2 butchered and thrown into his daily stew… good to know a few people are still willing to look at ME2 without bemoaning the death of the obscure “space opera inventory management space rpg game thing”

              I can’t be the only one rolling my eyes when the old man shouts to get off the lawn, can I? Go back in your house and keep working on the happy trees, Shamus. ;)

              I mean, sure some executives said some silly things, but there are plenty of reasons to be excited for ME3. Well, if you’re open-minded, there are, anyway… *exaggerated wink*

  30. GM says:

    3 and 4, I like the look, 1 look´s meh

  31. Mark says:

    Oh, fie. Enough doom-saying. Do you want to know what this looks like to me? A Trojan horse, sneaking RPG concepts into the hands and minds of shooter fans. Come for the shooting, stay for the characters. If even a small fraction of bros end up deciding that they would like to try another talky-game, that means it’s that much less risky – and therefore more probable – for developers to make them.

    • Klay F. says:

      You want less risk? STOP SPENDING SO DAMN MUCH MONEY ON A SINGLE GAME.

      Problem = Solved.

    • “It’s OK to betray a series as long as it makes a different audience more inclined to try the games that it’s betraying”

      Obviously Mass Effect sold well enough to get two sequels and an abundance of tie in novels, not to mention Bioware was doing just fine with great RPGs before it. I really doubt the series was “too risky”, especially after the second one. Also: if you were going to do an RPG bait and switch like that – you make the third one a full RPG, not “more action-adventurey” as I’ve seen them put it.

    • ehlijen says:

      “Come for the shooting, stay for the…no wait, we took out the RPG stuff to make it more shooty…erm, enjoy your shooter!”

      • Bret says:

        More RPG added in this outing. Further implementation of numbers, bars.

        Common knowledge, widely advertised, circulated.

        Legitimate causes for anger available! Use them, pretend to have considered both sides briefly.

        Make your point look valid. Otherwise, stirring controversy on false grounds. Poor form.

  32. chabuhi says:

    Makes me yearn for the days when we gamers were loser nerd outcasts.

  33. Ramsus says:

    See, now I would have gone for #1 both as person preference and because it’s the most similar to male Shepard…and since they’re the same character it’d be sort of hard to argue that if male Shepard was female he’d have long blond hair…cuz he could just be Glam Rock Shepard and do that already if he really wanted to.

  34. StranaMente says:

    Have you already seen this: http://www.gametrailers.com/video/sdcc-11-mass-effect/718088 ?
    It’s supposed to be about story and rpg elements but after one minute he starts to talk about cover based shoting. I want to hurt someone.

    Besides, after the huge let down of DA2, I look at sw:tor and me3 marketing campaings and get sad. Every new video discourage me even more than the one before.
    I’m starting to ask myself if I want to but me3 anyway.

    • General Karthos says:

      I’m actually hopeful about SW: TOR. If only because no MMORPG has ever interested me before, so maybe by doing something different they will manage to snare me.

    • Klay F. says:

      The moment I wrote ME3 off was the moment I saw the video of Shepard shooting at a gigantic fucking Reaper from the back of a vehicle mounted machine gun.

      The fact that there is a mounted machine gun section in the game AT ALL was bad enough, the fact that he was shooting at a Reaper was just the final pickle on the insurmountable crap sandwich that was that teaser video.

      • Aldowyn says:

        Yeah, that part bugged me.

        Which just made me realize something. They’ve been talking about a “war”, right? How the HELL do you fight a war, even an extremely defensive war full of stopgap measures, with a race consisting of millions of things that took at the very least a significant portion (now that I think about it… that was likely just a council task force, albeit a large powerful one, assisted by the Alliance military) of the most powerful military force in the galaxy, to kill ONE. Every military asset in the entire friggin galaxy should have been killed within days, except for those that hid in the middle of nowhere. (Like, literally, the middle of nowhere)

        The way I would probably resolve this story is have that essentially happen, but near the end of the game while spending most of the time looking for a kill switch or some other method of defeating the Reapers. When the Reapers DO come, they DO kill just about all the military, but the Normandy escapes and goes to activate said kill switch… except I have no idea what he would be fighting. Ground troops just don’t make sense for the Reapers, who could just glass entire planets. (oh, wait. I guess they need people, hmm? Can I ignore ME2?)

        • Klay F. says:

          I’ve pretty much just consigned myself that the only resolution to the story will require the biggest, most ass-pullyest deus ex machina in the history of all fiction ever. The scale of such will make even Star Trek Voyager fans say “Aw come on! That’s a bit much isn’t it?”

          • Aldowyn says:

            I’ve been thinking galaxy wide EMP, like the Haloes in, well, Halo, except an EMP.

            Did the forerunners (wth are they called in Starcraft? Progenitors? That might be the toss name for them. Wait, they actually had a name. Xel’naga) have some kind of failsafe against the Zerg? I bet they do, but I don’t remember ever hearing about one.

            • Irridium says:

              The Halo’s were that failsafe. They had craploads of stuff before them, they’re just the last resort.

              There’s a bit more two it if you read the terminals in Halo 3 and pay attention to 343 in Halo 1, but that’s the basic of it.

            • Klay F. says:

              If EMPs worked against reapers surely nukes would still be the most widely used weapon in the galaxy, not the quaint “thanks for trying” retard award it is, instead of the lumps of metal they try to force down everyone’s nose at a fraction of the speed of light. Personally, I’d accept a deus ex machina technobabble solution over a solution we’ve had since the discovery of nuclear fission.

              That’s just me though. Maybe I’m an unpleasable ass, then again, I find it more convenient to assume that the writing staff wrote themselves into a logical hole.

              • Aldowyn says:

                I didn’t mean literally EMP. Just a figure of speech.

                And yeah, that hole has been there since the moment we talked to Sovereign. I just hope they had a ladder to get out of it since they decided to make the main bad guys unstoppable, massive, ridiculously advanced killer AI spaceships.

        • Alexander The 1st says:

          Still, they could EMP entire planets. Keeps humans alive, and works better than collector drones. <_<

          While we're talking about parts that bugged us:

          "We need a plan to stop them."

          "We fight or we die. That's the plan."

          …¿

        • discordance says:

          Here’s how I want ME3 to end:

          You ultimately fail to stop the Reapers and all life in the galaxy is extinguished, but like the Protheans you manage to leave another opening that will allow a distant future civilization to survive.

          No way that’s going to happen, but it would be the ballsiest move ever, and incredibly memorable.

          • Klay F. says:

            Man, now I really want the game to have a Childhood’s End type ending. Every sentient species in the galaxy wiped out, except for Shepard of course, standing around being a lonely brick on a desolate Earth.

            • Cineris says:

              Although I can’t say for certain, the premise for Mass Effect’s storyline is very, very similar to a series of books I’ve been reading by Alistair Reynolds.
              Granted, the Reynolds’ books are real science fiction and Mass Effect is bad space opera, but it would not surprise me at all if Mass Effect’s ending were in some way inspired by what happens in Reynolds’ books. Although given that ME hasn’t really alluded to anything like that at a prior point in the story, would still be a huge deus ex machina.

            • Bret says:

              Nah.

              Sole survivor is Zaeed. Picking through the rubble of civilization, and making out like a guddam bandit.

          • Aldowyn says:

            Except it’s a little more of a hint and help, thus implying that it’s a cycle that’s been continuing for a long time and that EVENTUALLY, one civilization will get enough warning to actually come up with something and WIN.

          • Alexander The 1st says:

            And then future generations of cycles get stuck on TV Tropes. <_<

      • StranaMente says:

        I think they got that part straight from Gears of War (as they stated they’re doing here: http://t.co/2xGa7M7).
        Yes. The “greatest sci-fi rpg” of all time is copying Gears of War.
        As you can infer also from this http://t.co/62S14eI.

        • Aldowyn says:

          Honestly, I’m reserving judgment on Vega. All we know right now is musclebound marine. We know nothing about his character, backstory, skills, anything, really.

          And of course they’re using Gears of War as an inspiration. I’m actually looking forward to the rolls and stuff, which are STRAIGHT from gears.

    • Aldowyn says:

      Just watched that. I’m fine with what he was saying, it’s actually a good thing, but come on Casey, stay on topic! He immediately went from “the female option is expensive to develop” to “you can modify your guns in all sorts of awesome ways” with absolutely NO transition.

  35. Vekni says:

    That makes me a saaaaaaaaad panda.

  36. General Karthos says:

    I have friends who have mourned the death of the JRPG (Japanese-style RPG). Something with a preset (but usually fairly good storyline) and little, if any, side-questing.

    When we were discussing, BioWare hadn’t yet been purchased by EA, Mass Effect 1 had just come out, with Dragon Age: Origins incoming. Things were good for fans of Western-style RPGs. Yeah, we had problems with the games sure, but if we could have seen just a few years into the future.

    We had no idea how good we had it.

    JRPGs have mostly died. The last several Final Fantasy games have been mediocre at best.

    And now the Western RPG seems to be following them into their grave.

    *Sigh* I’m just -not- a shooter fan. I lack the trigger-twitch instinct, nor do I take much pleasure in charging at a flag time and time again and getting cut down by snipers. (Nor do I find it particularly fun to cut down the people on the other end of it.)

    Wonder if The Sims 4 will have shooter elements when it comes out?

    • Aldowyn says:

      On the JRPG… I’ve never liked the new final fantasies. JRPGs should be turn based, dang it! FF7, lauded as a masterpiece… I hate what it did to the franchise, honestly. Final Fantasy is for eye candy and ridiculous story lines now :(

      The old ones were cliche (“warriors of light”, anyone?), but sometimes… I like cliche.

  37. burningdragoon says:

    On the customization: I just hope the customization isn’t total ass like it was in ME2.

    On the ranty bits: I agree, but I would at least rather have a space opera turned action shooter than a regular action shooter… sorta… not really.

    • Aldowyn says:

      It will be more customizable, I can almost guarantee it. It’s an easy to implement tidbit they can throw the RPG crowd, while still being in the ballpark of the FPS crowd who, after all, is used to modifying their guns all the time.

      • Irridium says:

        And then claim that their game has “lots of RPG elements”.

        • Aldowyn says:

          What else are you supposed to call “RPG elements”? They’re upgrading the customization of the skill system, as well, and they’ve got the dialogue system, with its (twisted) morality (I get really annoyed at Bioware for their portrayals of Paragon and Renegade in ME2. And the finale of ME1)

  38. I like #5 more than the rest for a couple of reasons:
    First, I wanted her to look nothing like ManShep – he’s bland and boring, which meant I was automatically looking at the ones who weren’t different shades of short, dark hair. Not that they don’t make sense for a soldier, but Ashley didn’t have to cut her hair either.
    However, Shepard isn’t just a foot soldier, she’s the captain of a ship in a space opera (allegedly), and the short military cut only characterises her as a soldier – and we’re not playing Vasquez here. Well, we shouldn’t be if Bioware’s really serious about not making Gears of War in space (haha :( ).

    That leaves us with pop star, Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction/That one awesome cosplayer.
    Call me racist against pop stars, but 4 is gone immediately, making it between 5 and 6. Of the two, 5 has more contrast in the character design, looks war torn and hard without being completely psychotic (all of them have varying degrees of psycho – it’s the eyeshadow I think), and she doesn’t have freshly straightened hair. I think that 5 is the only one that strikes a balance between “military” and “space opera” – someone who belongs equally (more or less) at the helm of a diplomatic vessel and the front lines.

    Now, I’d infinitely prefer the default femshep but of the ones that are there – i think she fits those parameters far better than anyone involved, but of the 6 presented, I think 5 is a lesser evil.

    • Falcon_47 says:

      THIS. I actually thought I was the only one who noticed how #5 had the only hair that transmitted some sort of “military” feel to it. I mean, all the others seem like they went to the hairdresser before taking the picture or something and lets be honest, that background color and brightness is horrible, i can’t even understand how some of those hair styles look like, the blonde is easily the “clearer” one out of the group when faced against that dark background. It’s almost as if… Bioware choose… that background… on purpose?… I’ll go cry in a corner now.

  39. Aldowyn says:

    As far as the femshep is concerned, whatever. It doesn’t really matter, and it’s probably a PR stunt more than anything. I don’t see anything WRONG with it, though. Like someone said above, it’s probably ones that the devs couldn’t decide from, which is fine with me.

    As far as the GAME goes, though… I’m going to be optimistic. I’m always optimistic, but… I HAVE heard that it’s supposed to strike a balance between ME1 and ME2, and if it does, it might be my favorite game ever. I’m not sure it’s going to, though. Most of what I’ve heard is just complete and total BS (WHY does Cerberus have SHOCK TROOPERS? And MECHS? CONSTANTLY? Not to mention the aforementioned shooting a friggin’ reaper with a TURRET. At least it wasn’t really doing anything, though the orbital strike shouldn’t have…), but there are a few hints of promising things to come. Relationships between the Quarians and the Geth (who, btw, make the same decision no matter what your opinion in ME2 was. Not that I blame them. I just hope there’s a significant difference in how they approach it), and the part they’ve been demoing, with Mordin and Wrex (assuming he’s alive) and the “Krogan Princess”…

    There are definitely some promising tidbits about the story, but the MAIN storyline is just BS (well, there shouldn’t be a traditional main storyline, fighting the big bads. You don’t fight Reapers). I’m hoping they’re up-playing all the shooty shooty stuff while keeping the actually interesting stuff quiet, trusting (foolishly, if the feelings in this blog are at all common) to their previous consumer’s loyalty to bring them back for ME3.

    Oh, one last thing. There IS one shooter-like addition that I AM looking forward to – more intelligent and tactical enemies. ME2 didn’t just play as a cover-based shooter, it played like a MINDLESS one. It was mind-dumbingly easy to kill anything that didn’t steadily advance, and those were only hard if they could kill you really quickly or were really hard to kill (Praetorians…)

    … I forgot how much I like to talk about Mass Effect. I should try to go on these spiels more often in my Let’s Play, since they’re what I’m so good at. Other than shooting things, which I AM pretty good at in ME.

    *edit* HOLY… wow, I talk a lot sometimes. Anyway, (sorry for the self-plugging, but it’s at least QUITE relevant) if this sounded reasonable to you, you might want to check out my Let’s Play of Mass Effect, that I’m planning on taking through all 3 games. Just search me on Youtube, please!

  40. When I worked at Bioware (Austin), the racial and gender makeup of the employees was thus (NOTE: Not official, just my observations):

    Female (white/Hispanic/Asian): 9%

    Male (black): 1%

    Female (black): 0%

    Male (white/Hispanic/Asian): 90%

    With such a significant lack of diversity in their employees, it’s no surprise that the characters they create reflect the same bias.

    • Aldowyn says:

      I’m pretty sure that’s a trend that’s reflected in the industry as a whole. Think about it: how many luminaries in the industry can you think of that AREN’T white males? Plenty of females in journalism, but in development?

      P.S. What’d you do, and how’d you get there? Massively curious, I’d love to get a job at a big dev like that some day.

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      Clearly you’ve never seen a Japanese studio like Nintendo before.

      I mean, Japan’s stereotypically known for being extremely isolationist, and yet…they have everything from Italian plumbers and Damsels in Distressess all the way to crazily-efficient super advanced space bounty hunter known more for her in-game art and SSB appearance then her actual game narratives – oh, and giant dragon enemy(ies?).

  41. Sean Riley says:

    OK, hold on here, Shamus. This time I have a few bones to pick with you. I voted #5, and I didn’t do it because she was ‘hot’. (If I’d wanted that, I’d have picked #4, who has a real Rhianna thing going on.)

    I chose #5 because the use of the messy hairstyle and the heavy eyeshadow does a very nice job of giving Shepard a harried, distressed look. As with many, many commentators on that Facebook thread, I said, “Five, but give her a different hair colour.” Sadly, of course, that wasn’t an option. But fine: Shepard five still looks appropriately troubled. Like the world might be ending or something.

    What I will point out is that 1-3 are almost identical, and to me it seems likely that these are the ones Bioware thought were the best option: They were certainly the most realistic, but to my mind realism is highly over-rated when compared to expressiveness. #5 expressed the challenge ahead the best, and it got my vote.

    Now, point 2: You’ve also not covered the discussion over how the powers will be more customizable in ME3. This actually does look promising, and substantial. It’s the first thing Bioware’s released that does make it seem that the game may have more RPG swing to it as well. It’s worth looking at.

    • Shamus says:

      1) I have no doubt you had good reasons for picking #5. But as someone else said, putting this on Facebook where anyone could vote just turned it into “hot or not”.

      2) Sure, the promises of deeper powers are nice to hear. I haven’t discussed them because there’s not much to say. I mean.. “this sounds okay” isn’t really a thesis on which I might build a blog post.

      I will say that stabbing dudes with your holographic PDA is a hilariously silly idea, although I’m sure it’s really just a replacement for the almost-as-silly elbow of death.

      • Besides, morphing powers and more stats aren’t what makes the game an RPG. Those are the tools used to do so, but evolving the mechanics used in an action game for more customizability does not an RPG make.

        The thing that makes an RPG is plot-relevant player choice and consequence. Being able to meaningfully affect the world around you through your play style. Combat options aren’t meaningful choices unless having certain abilities is applicable to the story – ie, everyone but you in the suicide mission in ME2.

        • Aldowyn says:

          That’s arguable, and it also doesn’t mean that more customization isn’t a good thing.

          And Shamus… yeah, I never got the omni-tool, but this isn’t making it any better. I may have to play a biotic just so I don’t actually use the dang thing (BIOTIC PAWNCH!)

      • Adam says:

        I’d like to point out that this isn’t the first time the Omnitool has been weaponized. It’s where your Incinerate, Overload, Cryo Blast, and Sabotage powers originate as a tech character in both ME1 and 2. Making it into a hard-light blade is fairly logical when you can have it spew liquid nitrogen, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some way to have ammo power type abilities applied to it.

        • Klay F. says:

          Why not have an actual blade then? Surely this is nothing more than a slightly more retarded than usual case of Rule of Cool. The game has already ripped-off Gears of War, why not add Assassin’s Creed to the list?

          • Eärlindor says:

            There you go. One thing I enjoyed about the old Republic Commando was the bladed gauntlet which extended whenever you threw a punch (then there was the fun little animation of the laser wiper that cleaned the blood off your visor). Gosh, as base as it that sounds, it was satisfying.

            • Klay F. says:

              Oh I do so love me some Republic Commando. Gameplay-wise it was a sub-par generic shooter. However it set itself apart by NOT featuring retarded Jedi/Sith philosophical debates. Also the wise-cracks of Scorch and the dulcet tones of Temuera Morrison helped too.

              • Aldowyn says:

                Btw… Scorch? He’s Raphael Sbarge, better known as Carth Onasi and Kaiden Alenko. Amazing, isn’t it?

                I love the squad dynamics in that game. It took a ridiculous amount of shooting to kill things, though… and that knife was sweet.

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        Sadly, I suspect that “deeper powers” just means “harder to balance well enough to accomplish goals with any rational build”. Usually, this ends up giving more of that pesky “illusion of choice” and only a couple of different builds are actually accounted for in the scripting. Anything too different from those and one ends up only progressing through some long-shot skill check rolls. Which leads to save-scumming. Which leads to some really rocky periods in the whole “immersion” thing…

        • Klay F. says:

          Both Dragon Age game had this problem too. They gave absolutely ridiculous bonuses if you chose the correct set of powers or spells (Storm of the Century anyone?), so it completely negated any semblance of character customization.

          • Aldowyn says:

            which is why I sucked at it, because I didn’t dig deep enough to find the OPed skills.

            Personally, I’m a little optimistic. It’s only a small deepening compared to ME2, but it might be enough to make a big difference.

            • Klay F. says:

              Personally, (SHHH! don’t let anyone know *whisper*) I didn’t have much of a problem with the gameplay of either ME1 or 2. I certainly see why people were mad, but I got over it. Its the story (also the storytelling) that really got me pissed. ME2 felt like an insult to my intelligence.

              In short, its not the gameplay I’m worried about.

              • Aldowyn says:

                I honestly don’t see why anyone would be worried about the gameplay becoming unbalanced in that way. If it was, that would mean it was too complicated for THEM to figure out, which is WAY too complicated for the shooter crowd they’re aiming at.

                I’m actually really looking forward to the gunplay, I’m just being VERY cautiously optimistic about the story.

      • Sean Riley says:

        I’m just saying: The preponderance of ‘good look, wrong hair colour’ suggests at least a slightly deeper reasoning than ‘she’s hot’. I think a good amount of that support may have been for better reasons than you suggest.

  42. anaphysik says:

    Grah! Shamus, why must I be the bad-man-in-the-internet-who-corrects-what-you-say? It’s ‘krogan’ – a, not e, and not capitalized (no species are capitalized in ME).

    Anyway, my 2p: they all look *terrible.* Really atrocious. I’m sure part of the reason is the ridiculously stupid-looking scowl BioWare’s marketing seems to be in love with.

  43. JemyM says:

    I cannot remember a blonde main female character in a computer game. Giana in Giana Sisters? Even male blondes are rare (there’s Duke, then what?). Even if I prefer redheads I am actually a bit happy to finally have a blonde female main character in a game.

  44. bit says:

    I like 3. The short hair is military, the sleek, pulled back hair is more feminine than 1, and the red of 2 strikes me as too flamboyant. She looks very dispositionally neutral, which is how the “default” should be.

  45. Jokerman89 says:

    I liked 4….why not just do a few defaults if your just going to change hair and skin color?

  46. Eärlindor says:

    Holy crap, when did this thread go up? It exploded.

    Well, anyway, I don’t see why they felt the need to let us pick a FemShep appearance. They could have just used the default FemShep (red-head, blue-green eyes) in the same way they use the default MaleShep and no one would’ve been the wiser. 0.o

    EDIT: Also (and this is a minor thing), the heads look like they don’t belong on the body–like it’s cheaply Photoshopped or something.

  47. AlternatePFG says:

    I enjoyed ME2 quite a bit regardless of the horrible change in tone and terrible main story. I figured “It’s the second act of the series, so as long as the characters and their respective development is good I’ll go along with it” (And for the most part, it was) It helped that it was pretty fun to play too. I never thought the Mass Effect series as an RPG one anyway, but that’s just me.

    Still, I’m not too hopeful for ME3. The marketing is really putting me off the game, especially with every other article on the Escapist being “BioWare: We Think this is Our Best Game Ever” and such. The story better be damn good and satisfying otherwise the entire second game is pointless.

    • Aldowyn says:

      It was nuts the other day. Like 3 of 6 of the articles were ME3 related. The game doesn’t come out for more than SEVEN MONTHS, chill out people!

      I’m with you on ME2. Some of the loyalty missions were just straight up awesome, getting deeper into the lore and world. Let’s see here… Mordin’s, obviously. Tali’s. Legion’s. Garrus’ is cool, but that’s just character development for him. Shucks, that’s about it. Those 3 were epic, though.

      P.S. I want the Geth to be HUGELY important in ME3, and it’s looking like they might be.

  48. Nentuaby says:

    Bizarre. Why was the ORIGINAL default not even an option? I’ve quite gotten to like that design after two games, y’know.

  49. Jonathan says:

    A) The face is creepy

    B) Starship Troopers, the book, is very good. Starship Troopers was never made into a movie.

    • Aldowyn says:

      I totally agree with the sentiment in B. As for A, I think it’s just the ridiculous expression Bioware marketing guys seem to think is badass. Shepard doesn’t need an expression for that, Shepard just needs to be SHEPARD.

      • Hey shush, I think #5 is hot and better looking. I like the look, being aryan looking myself I find that attractive.
        Also I’m sure there is a bunch lesbians out there that might like female playchars to not look like stereotypical butch gals, and only #5 and #6 does that. And #6 is kinda 50’s look I think. So #5 is the all-rounder.

        I don’t understand why this is a big deal for folks. it’s ONLY the marketing “female” shepard.

        Besides it’s not YOUR shepard it’s BioWare and the artists there, if want your own shepard then draw one.
        Now if they reduce the options for char creation/modification in ME3 then that is an issue, but if anything more will be available now.

        Personally I’d like a longer haired male shepard, it’s not like he has to follow army regs about looks now does he?

        Also, Starship Troopers, never read the book, probably never will. Seen the 3 movies, liked them, found the highlighting of fascism gone awry amusing, and never played the game.

        And if Mass Effect trilogy should be compared to anything, then it’s Start Wars’s original trilogy, because if there is one thing I’m sure of then it’s that the Mass Effect trilogy (unless they majorly screw up ME3) is better than the new Star Wars trilogy.

        As to the old Star Wars trilogy, it’s on the same level production-wise I’d say (I wonder what the budget differences where?)
        but it’s hard to compare the two as it’s a gap of 2 decades so the view of technology and science is different too.

        One thing I’m sure of (as I can back this up with my very own words actually),
        is that Mass Effect trilogy is so far giving off the exact same epic space opera feel as classic Star Wars Trilogy did.

        Including some of the cheese factor and cliches and silly things, it wouldn’t be real space opera without it.

        • Aldowyn says:

          Star Wars is one of those that MADE the cliches. Just saying.

          And a lot of Mass Effect feels more Trekky to me. Take the Normandy, for example. The Falcon is cool and all, but can it really stack up to the Enterprise? The Normandy is MUCH closer in style to the Enterprise. Also, the political machinations. There was kind of sort of some of that in the prequel trilogy, but Mass Effect’s is more trek in style, at least to me.

  50. Christopher says:

    #4 is clearly a tanned Victoria Beckham.

  51. Vect says:

    I assume that they’re choosing the FemShep for promotional material. The idea being that since they always use Mark Vanderloo Shepard it’s their way of saying “We’re trying something different this time: A chick!” since if I remember an insane amount of Bioware fans are shippers who obsess over how kawaii Tali and Merrill are and how hawt of a couple Garrus and Shepard are. At least that’s what I remembered last time I checked the Bioware Social Network (advice for others: Don’t visit the Bioware Social Network).

  52. Axle says:

    Is it my silly imagination, or did Bioware just created femshep by copying Hawke?

    http://www.naijiu.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/hawke.png

  53. ClearWater says:

    I like #6 because she has a full body (except for the feet) whereas the others are just busts.

  54. Moonmonster says:

    Who’s this ‘us’ of grognards? I’ve been playing rpgs since the original Wizardry on an apple ][e, and I am delighted that I’ve been getting more and varied universes to explore and fun ways to interact with them.

    I have fond memories of the wizardries and might and magic and all that goodness, but when I go back, I find the UI cumbersome, the gameplay tedious, and the stories non-existent. I don’t know the taxonomy of games like mass effect and alpha protocol, but if they’re standard shooters then I have seriously been missing out on the whole shooter genre.

    Anyway, has no one ever worked at a company with a marketing department? Do you notice that they rarely come up with anything that resembles reality?

  55. Eleion says:

    I found the fact that all the faces were essentially the same very frustrating, because I didn’t think it looked very good. Too young for how I imagine Shepard. *shrug*

    • Aldowyn says:

      That makes me think of something.

      They should have added the option of having Shepard with those ridiculous “scars” from ME2. Do we really need what is essentially a change in methodology to impact our facial appearance? Granted, it looked fairly cool, but did it make sense? Not so much. Plus… no one notices except in that one scene and in an email or two. Not like KotOR, where they just underreacted.

  56. Davie says:

    Well, at the very least, all this FemShep nonsense has made me replay ME1 as a woman to see what all the fuss was about. I get it now. Jennifer Hale is a badass.

  57. 13 CBS says:

    I think someone (either Ruts or Josh, perhaps someone else) might have mentioned this already, but I have an alternate hypothesis as to why Bioware seems to be going down the “badass shooter” path for Mass Effect:

    I agree that Bioware is doing this because for the sake of greater profits, but I’m wondering if they’re doing that not because (or at least, not just because) EA is demanding them to make more money, but because The Old Republic is being such a huge money sink. It’s been in development for a very long time, from what we’ve seen it’s going to have huge production values, and as far as I can tell it’s a high-risk project for Bioware. Thus, they want their other games (such as Mass Effect) to create enough of a profit so that, should TOR bomb, they’ll have some money to fall back on.

    This is only conjecture on my part, but unless EA has gotten its fingers that deeply into Bioware’s administration, I’m wondering if this better explains why the usually wise Bioware is doing these sorts of things.

    • 13 CBS says:

      …huh. I fail at using xhtml tags. Please pretend that the above post is not in italics.

    • Aldowyn says:

      EA has enough money to cover even TOR, I think. They’d take a HUGE hit, but I think they do. Even if they were worried, they’d probably be doing the same with other franchises, and I’ve never seen such a radical change from the first game to the sequel as I have in Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Assassin’s Creed came close, but that was a bit different. (story in that – so confusing, btw)

  58. Nate says:

    Naturally, picking a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian model is bad and having any other ethnicity would have been good, right? You gotta love overly PC people.

    • 13 CBS says:

      Political correctness was not the reason why Shamus and others dislike #5 and the fact that it was chosen. Rather, it’s more that they believe that the fact that #5 was most popular further suggests what they perceive as a current trend in Bioware of marketing Mass Effect more towards Gears of War fans (and fans of similar games).

  59. RTBones says:

    Meh.

    2,3,1…with the rest at the bottom of the list.

    2, 3, and 1 all actually somewhat resemble a female space marine. They are not proverbial night elves in tight bikinis.

    The rest, to me, seem to be playing the “we’re going to try and make this chick look badass and hot” card. They ARE proverbial night elves in tight bikinis. This is lowest-common-denominator-ism, which I am not a fan of.

    What was wrong with the Femshep, anyway? Why not keep her the way she was?

    Meh, and meh again, I say.

  60. Avian Overlord says:

    Didn’t you buy ME2 and all the DLC? And are going to buy ME3? If so, it looks to me like their business strategy is completely sound.

    And put the link section back!

    • Klay F. says:

      Business strategy has nothing to do with it. Is emotional investment really just an alien concept to you?

      Do you think people bought all 7 Harry Potter books because the marketing worked 7 individual times?

      Emotional investment works the same as monetary investment you need to see a return of investment or else it is all a waste. Do I really have to explain this to you? Are you a fucking robot/alien with no concept of human behavioral patterns?

  61. TraderRager says:

    Eh, I honestly don’t care. If I had to chose one, I would go with three since it looks both professional and feminine. But honestly, I can’t stand playing Femshep. The Paragon options sound flat and disinterested, and the Renegade ones all come out as crazy-bitch-permanent-PMS mode.

    • Sean Riley says:

      “The Paragon options sound flat and disinterested”

      Can you explain this one a bit more? I keep hearing it, and it just bamboozles me. Are there any scenes which you particular notice it? And is this more the case with ME1, ME2, or both?

      It’s a baffling one to me, because in ME1, I do not think Mark Meer could have sounded more flat, monotone and dull. Arguments that Hale over-emoted made sense to me, but the more common complaint I’ve heard of late is that she was too flat and dull. And… well, that just doesn’t seem possible to me, not when compared with Meer.

  62. Well it’s funny, now that you’ve actually acknowledged the truth of the situation, kinda puts it in perspective for me. It’s that much clearer that there’s no real solution…leastways nothing we as consumers can do. Which allows me to shrug my shoulders and give up on the whole thing, while you rail against the gods who do no listen. While I don’t think it matters either way, I will say between the two choices, yours is definitely the more admirable.

    However…

    “I’ve been raging against the ridiculous race to make more, shinier pixels for years now, and this is why. This is exactly why.”

    I don’t agree with this particular statement as it’s something that’s bugged me for a while now. I actually posted in a forum about it, but the gist of it was – at least in the context of this particular viewpoint – how can any company be viewed as pursuing the latest/greatest/fanciest graphics, when they’re tied to the technology of six year old consoles?

  63. It’s official, Bioware has become Square-Enix…slap a new hairstyle on a generic face and *poof* new character
    Now we just need to get that blonde female Shepard’s hair onto the male Shepard and watch the cosplayers line up

    This may sound strange, but my preference for character faces are based more on voice…if they look like how they sound I’ll except it pretty quickly
    (True story-I liked a particular voice in Dragon Age and spent hours trying to get the voice to match the face, finally hit upon it when I made my character a black human…imagine my surprise when the pale white king of the pale white lands introduces me as his son?!?!…my first thought after I returned the organs that erupted from my side was “sire, I think their may be something your wife is not telling you”)

    That being said, my girlfriend and I both picked #4, despite the incredibly impractical hair, which will still look fabulous after all life in the universe has been extinguished

    • Aldowyn says:

      I’m pretty sure Shamus and co. have talked about that before. In the Fallout 3 Spoiler Warning intro, I think.

      Anyway, it shouldn’t be that expensive to make multiple versions of family members of the protagonist, and if you don’t… don’t let the PC be a different race. I’m sorry, but I think I would care more about the SHATTERING immersion break than that I couldn’t play a different race.

      *note* I’m a white male, so my judgment is suspect, since I will be able to play a white male 99% of the time, and that 1% is completely fixed characters, and thus will never face that situation.

      • Aww, I wouldn’t know if it was covered…I’m not really into the Spoiler Warning stuff (I know, blasphemy)
        And if we want racial diversity, we’ll always have Lord of the Rings….waaaiiit….

      • burningdragoon says:

        For the record, they did do that in DA2. Your mother, brother and sister would all look different depending on a) which preset face you started customizing from and b) your skin color.

        I didn’t really notice it much (or test it out once I learned they did this) since I started with the same preset both times I played as a dude, so I don’t know how good it looked, but it was there at least.

  64. Zaxares says:

    …I voted for #5. XD Although I should probably point out that I’m a big, BIG fan of long hair on women, and #5 was the only option that didn’t look emo (like #4, and I can’t imagine Shepard being emo) or creepily psychotic (like #6. Seriously, she has a “I’m going to murder you and your babies” look on her face).

    I ALSO voted for #2 and #1. (You can vote for more than one option, you know! It’s done purely via “Likes” on Bioware’s Facebook page.)

    In any case, this whole thing is really just a publicity stunt. All this exercise means is that the chosen Shepard will be published on some of the box art, and it’ll likely be the default female Shepard’s appearance in-game. It otherwise won’t affect the story, dialogue or gameplay in the slightest.

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