Alan Wake EP26: The End

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jun 7, 2012

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 330 comments

Link (YouTube)

As I said in the ending credits, I think Alan Wake had all the ingredients to make a much stronger game, and most of the major systemic flaws were a result of a few key mistakes. Here is what I’d do to re-edit the game:

  1. Alan needs to shut his mouth. His calm, soothing delivery during monologue exposition was completely at odds with the idea of “thriller”, “horror”, “action”, or whatever this game was trying to be. It was also at odds with the character they eventually establish: A hot-tempered jerk. His warm instruction to the player undercuts both the mood of the game and the identity of the protagonist. And speaking of Alan’s personality, the story needs to…
  2. Establish Alan sooner. The scene with him waking up and taking painkiller at the start of Chapter 6 was a lot more revealing than the one where he comforts his wife in the dark. I know that the latter had key exposition in it: It showed his wife being afraid of the dark, it showed the clicker, and it established that they did have a healthy relationship at some point. We needed both of these scenes for the Alice plot to have the proper emotional weight. I think we could make room for both of them in the first act by getting rid of…
  3. The opening tutorial. This took way too long to introduce what was basically a few very simple concepts. It screwed up the mood. This whole section could be cut and the gameplay elements could have been introduced later when they were needed.
  4. Combat taunts. Cut them all. Combat taunts in general are usually a bad idea. If we really needed to have them in the game, they should show up a few times in the entire game, not in every single fight. This goes beyond Alan Wake, but as games move closer to photo-realism and aspire to be quasi-movies, they need to realize that repeating combat taunts is no more acceptable than having movie characters recycle dialog. And speaking of the enemies…
  5. Remove 75% of the enemies in the game. I say this without having experienced the combat in American Nightmare. From what Chris has said, it sounds like they fixed the combat by embracing the action-shooter elements. That’s not wrong, but I’m trying to make the case here that you could fix this game without creating additional content, and I think it would be cheating for me to ask for the greater foe diversity of the DLC.

    Instead, I’m going to suggest that the game should be more about uncertainty. If we wanted to keep the game the same length we could make 1/4 as many foes, but have them take longer to fight when you do encounter them. Maybe that would only make players want to run away more, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. It was often more expedient to run away from foes in Silent Hill 2. (I use SH2 as an example not because it’s the greatest scary game ever, but it is the most widely praised and the closest to this one in terms of mechanics.) Running away can be even more thrilling than fighting, if done properly. And speaking of the fights…

  6. STOP TELEGRAPHING ALL THE FIGHTS WTF WHY?!? Beyond the tedious combat, the meandering story, the idiotic taunts, I think the thing that bugged me most was just how mechanical the fights felt. The slow motion. The camera swing. The music cue. The flashlight burn sound. Bang! Bang! Bang!

    Imagine an action movie where they used the same camera cut, the same music cue, and the same sound effects for every. Single. Fight. And imagine that all fight scenes lasted exactly the same length of time and all the fights were the same distance apart.

    Mix it up. Every fight should be a little different. The player should never think, “It’s about time for a fight now. Yep. There it is.” And they should never, ever feel, “Okay. Fight over. I should be safe until I get to the next obvious arena.”

    There was that one moment in the game where you enter a cabin and you see a taken walk by the window. You don’t fight him. It’s just the game messing with you. We need way, way more of that. We should see taken moving around in the distance. See them milling around a shed, but when you get to the shed they aren’t there. This will create unease and doubt.

    Give the player the illusion of choice. (Obviously real choice is better, but remember I’m trying to fix this game through editing.) Take one of those sections of woods where there is a huge worthless expanse of foliage off to one side of the path. Make the road fork, so the player has to choose which way to go. Make both paths drop down to the same one-way area (to avoid them going in circles) and let them wonder what was on the other road.

    Some players will go back and check before dropping down. That’s fine too. This isn’t perfect and some players will still complain about these false choices, but this will at least give the player a tiny bit of slack in the exploration leash so that your railroad tracks aren’t so obvious.

We can argue about which flaws were the worst, but I stand by my assertion that they had everything they needed for a really smart and interesting game. I was sorry to see so many great ideas buried under so many basic problems with combat and pacing.

Thanks for watching. Thanks to Rutskarn, Mumbles, and Chris. And especially thanks to Josh for playing through and editing this whole deal.

Thanks for watching.


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330 thoughts on “Alan Wake EP26: The End

  1. Tobias says:

    So Alan Wake? Probably not going to play it.

    I found Mumble’s comment at the beginning interesting.
    She said that she prefers games with good story and bad gameplay over the other way around.

    Personally I prefer it the other way around. When the gameplay is good and the story bad I just pretend that there is no story.
    But when the story is good, I want to see the ending so I have to play on without having fun. I can forgive it if the game is easy enough that I can watch TV or Read a book while playing the bad parts but if I have to put in serious (not fun) effort to finish the story I get annoyed.

    Would be interesting to see how the rest of you stand on this.

    1. Nyctef says:

      For me it can be either the gameplay or the story that keeps it going. I agree though that the plot isn’t as important as caring about the characters or caring what happens next. That’s definitely something I can relate to, and it’s pretty good advice for most writers: write a simple, even formulaic plot with interesting characters.

      Looking back, Battlefield 3 was actually (I thought) an interesting example where the plot wasn’t great, but it had a couple of neat little hooks in the way it was told that made it interesting.

      Edit: Shamus goes “I like to think that, in their position, I could do a lot better.” But that’s the trap, don’t you see? That’s how the dark presence got Wake and Zane, by promising them more power than they really had. That’s apparently the revelation that Alan has at the end, that he can’t actually fix anything without an equivalent sacrifice.

      1. Kizer says:

        I have to agree with you. One of my favorite games of all time, Skies of Arcadia: Legends, has some pretty bad gameplay, and a pretty conventional plot. But the characters are fun and interesting, and the dialogue is well-written. Instead of revolutionizing the genre, the creators tweaked the mechanics for a traditional JRPG, and spent most of their time on creating an interesting and vibrant world to explore. I would like to see more games take that approach. If I care about the characters, I’ll push through the gameplay.

      2. Zozma says:

        The thing is, you can’t experience great characters outside of a good plot. The most important part of a character is what he (or she) wants. And the characters interacting, individually trying to get what they want, is the plot.

        You can’t get interesting characters without doing character work–there’s no doubt about that. But if the audience is going to be interested in a character, that also takes PLOT work. The reason formulaic plots crop up so much is because they’re designed to make the audience care about the characters, about what happens next (the reason everyone in Hollywood uses three-act is because it WORKS).

        I feel like plot is treated as a bit of a bad word in writing, when it doesn’t deserve to be. Take the most interesting character in the world: without a plot, that character is just a boring character sketch that needs to be applied to something.

        1. Syal says:

          You’re equating “mechanically sound” with “good”. When most people think of a good plot or a good character, they mean one that stands out from the rest, which simple formulaic plots don’t.

          You can have interesting characters in a formulaic plot, and you can have an interesting plot with bland characters, but you need at least one.

          1. Zozma says:

            The more I think about it, I agree with you. Great stories are called great because they stand out.

            All I’ll say is that there’s no reason “it has to stand out” can’t be included in the definition of a mechanically sound plot. The way I define a mechanically sound plot is, it’s a plot designed to be good.

            The audience likes it? Great. It’s mechanically sound. They don’t? Then there’s mechanical problems.

            That’s just the way I look at it. I don’t think I was clear about this in my earlier comment.

    2. Thomas says:

      I play very few non-story focused games so it’s hard to tell. But I played FFXIII to the end despite not really ever loving the combat, so I’m probably going to er on the story side a little bit.

      I think it’s more about overall tone for me though, I never really yearn to do another level of gameplay etc and all that. In a racing game, I’m never going sit down and learn all the skills so I can get that final unlock. On the other hand I can appreciate varying degrees of story.

      So I think it’s not the story in particular, but it has to feel like I’m doing something interesting, other than just learning skills, jumping hoops.

      It’s fuzzy though, I enjoyed Most Wanted’s story and without it I might not have grinded some of the races, but I plugged hours into running away from the police with no particular goal in mind

      1. The Hokey Pokey says:

        You are a more patient man than I. I tried to enjoy FF13, but after about ten hours I realized it was irredeemable. Every character was just terrible, and it didn’t help that they made more vocalizations than they spoke actual words.

        1. Thomas says:

          I loved the characters. Just the game surrounding them made many many missteps

          1. Ringwraith says:

            That is pretty much the driving force behind most of the game, the characters, and if you’re one of the many people who didn’t like any of them, then there’s not really much going for it.

    3. Zombie says:

      Really, I can forgive bad gameplay. If its obstructing all the fun, then I just give up on the game. However, I can also forgive a somewhat weak plot if their is anything really good. Like Metro: 2033. The story is really samy. The Atmosphere and Characterization are what makes me want to play it. I felt really sad when Burbon died in the Bandit Metro tunnel when he was trying to save you. You meet him as just some guy that wants money and is willing to take you through the tunnels, and by the end he saves you from being killed like three times.

      But Alan Wake had NOTHING like this. I want to kill everyone in this game, especially Alan. Their is no atmosphere, gameplay looks pretty bad, the only redeaming quality is that it looks like it had a good story, but someone messed up the manuscript pages, and no one told the voice actors or the director.

      I also think plot helps gameplay and gameplay helps plot. Like in Bioshock, when the plot took a nose dive into the shit pool, the gameplay suffered as well. Before the plot died, their were boss fights, but they felt like you were fighting just some other splicer, or you were fighting a Big Daddy. After, you had the big boss fight with Frank Fontaine, which was horrific. And when you only had one or two plasmids, ammo for only about three guns, and maybe one or two tonic slots, the idea of “Multiple splicers or a Big Daddy = Danger” is easier to understand. By then end, you most likly have fully unlocked everything and have you favorite weapons modded, the same idea is a joke, and you have to wonder why they try to make it sound hard to fight enemies.

    4. AlternatePFG says:

      I agree, it’s the gameplay that makes the game for me, rather than the story. Don’t get me wrong, if the story is good enough for me to ignore the bad/boring gameplay (Planescape Torment is a good example of this) I will enjoy it but if a game has great gameplay, I’ll keep playing it despite the story.

      For example, I just finished Dragon’s Dogma a few days ago, and while the story was rather stupid at times (Though it did take a really strange metaphysical bent at the end that was kind of interesting) the gameplay was fun enough for me continue to playing it. It was like Shadow of the Colossus combined with Skyrim, it was awesome.

      Dark Souls is probably my favorite game and it’s plot is almost non-existent. It has an interesting world/lore behind it if you look for it though.

      By the same token though, Diablo 3’s story really, really made me want to stop playing the game. Very hard to ignore, and very, very stupid. I didn’t like the gameplay too much either to begin with though.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        Most of Diablo 3’s story was an excuse to go get you doing something else, but I’m a fan of the lore. As usual… Blizzard is quite good at establishing a world, backstory, and lore, and Diablo is no exception (at least in my opinion)

        1. AlternatePFG says:

          I actually liked the little lore tidbits scattered around the game, but the main plot just really grated on me.

        2. JPH says:

          If you ask me, the only good writing in Diablo 3 was in the subplots for each of the followers. The templar’s was the most interesting if you ask me. It really caught me off-guard, since when I first saw him I thought he was just going to be a one-dimensional MIGHTY WARRIOR lunkhead.

          1. Raygereio says:

            The dialogue between followers and the PC are overall pretty good too.
            One of my favorites is the combination of Demon Hunter & Templar: they’re like children in a candy store as they invade hell.

      2. IFS says:

        I just finished my first playthrough of dark souls today and I really like how the story is nonintrusive, if you don’t care and just want to explore dungeons go ahead, if you want to look for lore and story details there is a lot to find. I also like how the lore is ambiguous enough that the player is left to decide what some details mean and it implies things rather than outright state them.

    5. Lame Duck says:

      If a game has a good story but bad gameplay, I tend to quit before the end and feel bad about it (see The Witcher). If a game has a bad story and good gameplay, I’ll probably play it longer but then I’ll be much more mad about it (see Assassin’s Creed 2 or Fable 2).

      I enjoy bad story, good gameplay games a lot more if I have them spoiled or on subsequent playthroughs; basically once I’ve learned not to care about what’s happening and just have fun. For example, I’m playing Prototype for a second time and it’s infinitely more enjoyable tooling around in the city with the knowledge that the entire plot is stupid, irrelevant nonsense. On the flip side, Bioshock is a game I loved on my first playthrough but when I tried to play it again the combat was just so much of a chore that I couldn’t finish it.

    6. Destrustor says:

      For me, if any element of the game is downright horrible, it eventually drains all the fun out of the other ones.
      Like with White Knight chronicles, when I realised just how much grinding was required to unlock the coolest gear and the freaking upper character levels themselves. Given just how tedious and slow the combat itself is, my opinion of the game went from “this game is cool” to “aw, but all the coolest stuff is locked away behind hours of grinding” to “why am I playing this if it’ll never get me anywhere without weeks entirely devoted to it” to “why did they do it like that?” and finally ” man this game is useless, Imma go get skyrim”. Even though it is possible to beat the game without all that ridiculous grinding (seriously there are FAQs and message boards devoted to “getting the best stuff in only 45-60 hours of pure grinding”. 45-60 hours not including the actual time you’d need to complete the game or even getting to the point where that grinding can actually become efficient.), Just the thought that the game’s designers intended us to spend litteral days playing their game before allowing us to get the really fun stuff just slowly rotted away all of my desire to play it. My time is precious and I know more fulfilling ways to willfully waste it.
      The same would go with any other part of a game: if it’s a mess where you have to hold three buttons just to walk forward, or the graphics are eye-searingly bad or the story just sucks to the point of being offensive, the rest of the game could be pure virtual bliss encoded on a solid gold disk and I’d still eventually lose all interest.
      Individual elements just need a passing grade of say, 50% for me to enjoy the overall game. As long as no single part of the game is abysmally bad I can play(and/or tolerate) it.

    7. newdarkcloud says:

      For me I’m perfectly fine with either a bad story OR bad gameplay, but the other half of the equation had damn well better make up for it in some way.

      I’ll play through a really bad game if the story is top-notch and well-written. I’ll play a fun game regardless of if it has a good story so long as it feels like I did something. (ex. I can’t play Tetris for long, but I love many of those old platformers without nigh non-existent stories.)

      1. Destrustor says:

        Oh yeah the “feel like I did something” thing.
        I need to make progress when I play a game. Whether it’s self-imposed or just handed to me, I need a goal. And then every minute I play must make me feel like I’m advancing toward that goal. I hate DIAS gameplay, I hate games that don’t let you save whenever you want and then you make one small mistake that makes you lose everything you did in the past three hours. I already know I’m wasting my time playing games. Don’t make me lose my gameplay progress. Don’t let me realise that I just litteraly wasted hours of my life with nothing to show for it.

        (Couldn’t think of a way to seamlessly insert this in my other rant above. Sorry)

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Oh yes. Especially in this day and age, a game without a save anywhere feature is one of the surest ways to piss me off. Doubly so when couple with “Do It Again Stupid” gameplay. If there’s is a good chance that I could lose a half-hour or more of playtime, something went wrong.

          DIAS is another way to piss me off, but Shamus has already gone into enough detail about that on his blog.

    8. TMTVL says:

      I can’t finish Planescape: Torment for the life of me because I absolutely despise the gameplay, no matter how good the story is. By the same token I usually finish Persona 3 taking only the time to pay attention to 5 of the social links, skipping out on many of the tohers, and ignoring around 80 percent of the story. What’s more… I like Blood Bowl. Now there’s a game that’s pure gameplay and zero story.

      Of course, in grey areas I tend towards what brings me less pain, I really like BG2, but I don’t have the stomach for TES3, for example.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Oddly, for me in Persona 3 I try to skip the gameplay as much as possible and instead focus on the story and S-links … although I also can’t finish Torment.

        1. Thomas says:

          I physically can’t finish Torment. Or at least it’s taking me a long long time. It seems like depending on the dice every single fight can go well or kill everyone, so I have to save and quickload every single encounter until it goes the way I wanted it too. But I think I’ll eventually make it, because darn that story is good

          1. Daimbert says:

            I always start it, play it for a while, and then get tired of it and quit. The same thing happened to me with the Fallouts. I keep meaning to play them and finish them, but it never seems to happen.

          2. Jirin says:

            I got through Torment purely by running around like a madman for half the game. They can’t kill me if they can’t catch me!

    9. Daimbert says:

      I’m not really set on either, as there are cases where good gameplay can overcome a bad story, a good story can overcome bad gameplay, and cases where a bad story or bad gameplay can make me just quit a game.

      As examples, I managed to get through Catherine despite how frustrating the puzzle sequences could be because the story was innovative and interesting, and right now I find myself managing to grind through Record of Agarest War Zero because the story sections are worth it. However, I couldn’t play Final Fantasy X-2 for long at all because the combat was too frustrating for me, even though I didn’t mind the story.

    10. Sumanai says:

      I can play a game either for its gameplay or story, but the weaker side may not drop too low. Good performance in the other can save ho-hum performance in the other, but even then the good has to be evenly good. Couple of glistening jewels in a sea of crap is not going to get me to stay with it.

      Another way for designers to get me to stop playing is to make a decent story/gameplay but then spread stinkers all along it. With gameplay it usually means that I get stuck in them, with story I get pulled out and stop feeling involved.

  2. Amnestic says:

    While we’re saying thanks, I’d like to thank you guys for providing another season (now up to 8!) of quality entertainment. :)

    Would this game be better if it starred the Doctor trying to get his companion back? I think it might be.

    1. Jacob Albano says:

      Being as the Doctor is a pacifist, most if not all of the combat would have to be cut. I would be okay with that.

      1. Amnestic says:

        I wouldn’t really call him a pacifist. He doesn’t fight with guns and swords, true, but he’s not exactly a stranger to killing. I don’t think there’s an example more clear than (“New Who” Season 6) the opening sequence of A Good Man Goes To War when he blows up an entire Cyberfleet to make a point.

        “Generally attached to the preservation of life” would be better than “Pacifist” in my eyes. He’ll still fight and still kill though. If he is a pacifist he lapses more often than a vegan addicted to bacon.

        1. ehlijen says:

          The first new christmas special (tennant’s debut) names you a liar :P
          He does fight with a sword and even kills his opponent.

          1. Amnestic says:

            I’d make an exception to that since it was (intended to be) an honourable duel which wasn’t to the death. Or at least, The 10th Doctor didn’t intend it to be.

            I suppose it’d be more accurate to say he doesn’t kill with guns or swords. I remember the teaser at the end of the first Matt Smith episode which ended with him firing a gun and that seemed like a huge deal ‘cos the Doctor doesn’t use guns, he hates guns! Why does he have a gun?

            Overall though I don’t think a character as long running as the Doctor can (easily) be pigeonholed into one label or another (except for ‘white male’, I suppose). 11 Doctors almost 50 years and almost 800 episodes, with each actor bringing something different to the character, with numerous writers and producers and companions and storylines.

      2. avpix says:

        It’s simple. Turn Alan Wake’s flashlight into the sonic screwdriver and reskin all of the taken into Cybermen or something, and now you have your Doctor Who game.

    2. Destrustor says:

      +1 on the thanks. This show is awesome and you guys (and guyette) are great. I’m really looking forward the the next seasons.

  3. WILL says:

    Next Season : that game where Bioware just up and died.

    1. Amnestic says:

      Bioware? I’m pretty sure they died in 2009 after releasing Dragon Age: Origins. It was a real shame too, I wish they’d made a sequel to their Mass Effect franchise. It had so much promise!

      1. Aldowyn says:

        Dang it, I thought (and so did most everyone else) Mass Effect 3 was amazing, right until the end. Most of the issues story-wise were pretty much inevitable from Mass Effect 1, and it was undeniably waaay better than ME2 in… pretty much every way.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Don’t worry, we will break you soon enough.

          1. anaphysik says:

            Aldowyn::ME3 as Mumbles::Bioshock?

            1. SougoXIII says:

              I wonder what game will pop Chris’ ‘hate cherry.’

              1. Chris says:

                It would have to be a phenomenally awful game for me to actively simply hate it. I mean, there are games that I like more than others, but even games I find… lacking in value, I can still find some good to discuss. Call of Duty is a Michael Bay inspired, crassly commercial, hyper-jingoistic celebration of western military prowess over fictional enemies that glorifies war crimes with a story so stupid it would make Tom Clancy blush. But it’s also done some really interesting things with the concept of lethality in first person shooter design, is effectively where the modern console deathmatch scene has moved, and it’s hard to deny the now nearly ubiquitous influence of its skinner box approach to unlocks and multiplayer progression. Even Duke Nukem Forever, which is completely morally repugnant, serves as an interesting discussion point for the temporal nature of cultural relevance, the epitome of the 13-year-old-male target demographic in games, and the fine lines between parody, self-parody, and self-seriousness.

                I guess my point is outside of specific scenes or specific mechanics it’s hard to get me to seethe with rage at an entire game, especially because some of the worst games can bring up some really interesting topics.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Well to really hate a game it has to be a sequel to a game you really loved.Or it has to be a game that you really love that ends in such a hateful manner.

                  For example,the worst game Ive ever played is great qin warriors*,but I dont hate that one,because I never was invested in anything about it.Mass effect 2/3 are waaaay better games than that one,however I really liked mass effect 1,and seeing what 2 did with all that setup was really disappointing.Then to have 3 destroy(in the opening text no less) one of the things Ive praised 1 for,that was just rage inducing.

                  *Its 30 cents now on amazon,and I still think thats too much to pay for that.

                  1. Lame Duck says:

                    Yes! If I’m being objective, I can’t really call Assassin’s Creed 2 a bad game, but it is still far and away my most hated game ever because of how much it wrecked the really interesting stuff from AC1. I think it’s worse for me because AC1 is pretty badly flawed and I wanted a sequel that resolved its problems but preserved the good stuff and now I’m never going to see it. The series will always be unfulfilled potential to me now

              2. anaphysik says:

                Half Life 2.


                Actually, I’ve never played any of the HL games, so I have no particularly personal feelings regards them. But I did really enjoy both the HL2 Spoiler Warning specials and the Errant Signal vid regards the game (which was on Alyx in particular, iirc; though I seem to vaguely recall one on linearity too?).

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            And boy how will we do it!From the opening text crawl to the very end!

            1. newdarkcloud says:

              I can’t wait until the season starts so we can REALLY get into it!

            2. Earlindor says:

              Can’t wait. I really have an axe to grind with ME3 (and not just the ending) …

        2. Amnestic says:

          I haven’t actually played Mass Effect 3 yet. I ordered my copy such that it should be delivered sometime early next week so I can’t speak to its quality. I’m looking forward to it and somehow have managed to avoid any real spoilers other than that the ending is a lot better if you subscribe to something called the “Indoctrination Theory” or something. I ‘unno.

          1. Earlindor says:

            But even that theory isn’t really good once you think about it.

        3. Zombie says:

          I’m with Aldowyn. It’s not a bad game, and the story makes sense, for a Mass Effect game. Im only on Tuchanka, but what I’ve played is pretty good. And just about any game with a half-way good story is better then ME2.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            I’ll admit the Tuchanka was an excellent segment. I thought that was very well done.

            It’s once you get past that that thing go REALLY downhill. Intro is bad, but it does get worse.

          2. ehlijen says:

            That means you haven’t met Kai Leng yet :P Be glad!

            1. Zombie says:

              I just met him. He is the DUMBEST thing ever put in a game. I went into the mission with Garrus, who is suppost to be an epic shot, and EDI, who should be an epic shot, she is a robot, and Shepard is also supppost to be a good shot. I couldnt hit him at point blank range, and Garrus and EDI didn’t even try to shoot. Its just so….. I dont even know

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                Just me, if you think that’s dumb, just wait until you get ever farther into the game. He get’s worse… much worse. To the point where I’d consider him the lamest, cheating-est God Mode Sue I’ve ever encountered in a video game.

          3. Fnord says:

            It’s not a BAD game, at least until the ending. Nothing before the ending is as stupid as the Cerberus-railroad in 2, or plenty of other things in plenty of other games.

            But it’s not really a good game, either. I’d even say 2 is better, arguably (when 3 makes most of 2 stupid and pointless, is that bad writing in 3 or in 2?). 2’s main story has issues, but the bulk of the game is dealing with the characters, and it does good work there. Tuchanka is pretty much the high point of 3, and it’s got nothing Tali’s or Mordin’s storylines in 2.

            1. anaphysik says:

              “Tuchanka is pretty much the high point of 3, and it's got nothing [on] Tali's or Mordin's storylines in 2.”
              Agreed, though I’d put Legion just above those two as 2’s highest point.
              (Though I did really like how Tali had a sort of continuing role in ME2. Her use at the beginning was clever.)

    2. Moriarty says:

      maybe the next season will finally be enough to get me more than half an hour of mass effect 3.

      I tried two times now, and never could play past the point where you meet Liara the first time. Literally every line being said and every cutscene up to that point are so terrible they made me hate the game so much that I had to alt+f4 because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

      1. Eric says:

        Obviously you’re not Emotionally Engaged(TM) enough. Maybe you should imagine yourself as a retarded transexual Shepard with a fetish for blue tentacle aliens, obviously it’s the way the game was intended to be played.

  4. Thomas says:

    It was a good season and you summary seems fair. I really wanted to learn about Alan Wake and I have.

    As for the ending, that’s what you have when you have a good ending just floating in the air. It’s a shame, there were some nice powerful things in that ending. With the words though, they needed a lot more of them and you shouldn’t have had to focus for any length of time. They made it a chore for no payoff, instead you should have been sweeping your torch across the screen with interesting details and varied objects popping up everywhere.

    I liked Alan Wake, I just wish they’d let Shamus do the editing for them :) Maybe they jsut struggled with resources and time in the end, when a game takes 5 years to make there must be significant pressure to finally get it out the door

  5. Michael says:

    Toward the end:

    SHAMUS: …again, that ending coulda worked if there was – if we had an emotion carrying us there. Th-that coulda been fine!

    JOSH: But most of that emotion has been drained away by the last hour of combat.

    SHAMUS: (simultaneously) Yeah…

    Here, let me fix that for you. Edits are in italics. “But most of that emotion is contempt for Alan Wake.

  6. lurkey says:

    Well, this was the most boring game I ever watched and (very briefly) played. Given how often the band went off tangent in this season and the broad range – from “meh” to “Well, I didn’t hate it” – of opinions, I presume the sentiment was somewhat shared. Thanks for not falling asleep while playing, dudes and dudette. 8-)

    1. Indy says:

      Don’t call Rutskarn a dudette!

      1. Syal says:

        Also the boobs and belly at the end was unnecessary.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yes.We all know that he is brolina.

  7. AJ_Wings says:

    While I do care about story and especially gameplay. What interests me the most is setting, tone and atmosphere of a game. Some of the recent games I’ve played shared a common theme. Ico, Hitman: Blood Money, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Amnesia and Metro 2033. They all have pretty straightforward and simplistic plots but its the world-building and atmosphere that hooks me into the game. And yes, good gameplay helps too.

    Ah well, that was an entertaining season. Thanks guys!

    We’re gonna have sooooooo much fun with Mass Effect 3 next season… ugh.

  8. Zukhramm says:

    Didn’t watch the latest couple of episodes because, the game stopped seeming interesting. I’ll go back and do it later.

    What I thought I’d ask now that we’re (I assume) reaching the real credits is why the game didn’t show any credits during the ending songs of the “episodes”? It seemes really odd to me that they did not.

    1. Earlindor says:

      You came this far and the game just now ceased to be interesting in its last hour?

      Lol, please forgive me; I found the comment funny.

  9. Alex says:

    Mumbles and Rutskarn’s talk in the first 3 minutes about why they play games. That might be the most valuable thing to come out of Spoiler Warning.

    1. Earlindor says:

      I don’t know if I’d agree it was the most valuable thing to come out of the show, but I do agree it was a great conversation. :)

  10. The Defenestrator says:

    I know that you’ve already picked your next two games, but I want to make a suggestion of a game I think might be good for Spoiler Warning: Freespace 2. It has an interesting story that almost every mission ties into, and although it has plenty of combat, it has more different situations and things you can try than Alan Wake, and I think you can get a lot of mileage out of talking about how the game tells its story, and about the space sim genre, how it works and why it died.

    1. scowdich says:

      I feel like that might be tricky. I love the Freespace games, but they require all sorts of keyboard interaction, and it’s not simple to play without a joystick (which have fallen out of favor, not many people have one lying around anymore). Combine that with Josh’s need for a push-to-talk key, and you might be asking for a silent player.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        And I wouldn’t be surprised if they had similar problems as they had with KotOR, considering they came from the same timeframe. Although FS2 was PC only, so that might make a difference.

        And I have a Logitech Atk 3 right next to me, where I can reach it.

        Interesting idea, though the problems with Josh talking are totally valid. There’s so many controls in that game anyway.

        1. Peter H. Coffin says:

          Heh. Mine’s a Saitek X52. But I’m an occasional flight-sim nerd, so having a HOTAS rig is pretty much bottom-level default gear. I’m (at this point) just disappointed that I didn’t discover that there’s Cessna-badged flight controls out there either two months ago, long before vacation, or would have waited to learn this until fall, when vacations were recovered from. ’cause I’m sure I’m going to have to spend like $500 on yokes, pedals, throttle panels, switch and radio arrays, etc. Dammit.

      2. Phantom Hoover says:

        I played FS2 on a *laptop*, and I enjoyed it well enough. Redirecting power was clumsy, though.

    2. Nick says:

      Also, freespace 2 has a lot of very similar missions. I think the crew would get very bored talking about flying around in space shooting other ships some more.

      It’s quite fun to play but less fun to comment on, is what I’m saying.

      1. ehlijen says:

        I agree. Freespace 2, while the best space shooter ever (if only because it has a mission editor added for free and it was one of the last ever released) in my opinion, is not an interesting game to follow while just watching. It might work for a few in between season episodes, but I don’t think the whole game would be sensible to do a SW on.

    3. TMTVL says:

      I think they’re always going to have enough games to do to not need audience input…

      Not really looking forward to Skyrim, though.

      Also, what’s wrong with shorter games? Oni could be good for just running through between two heavier seasons.

      (Though I’m still hoping they do Beyond Good & Evil sometime.)

  11. scowdich says:

    As I recall, the uncertainty Shamus asks for is fairly prevalent in the Dead Space games (though it’s looking like the third one is going the bigger, shootier, more in-your-face route, which is a shame). The first game had a pretty good opening buildup in which you’re weaponless and running, and it takes a while before you really start to feel confident. Meanwhile, combat is varied – there’s a variety of enemies, you fight in a variety of environments (zero-g, vacuum, zero-g and vacuum, normality), and the atmosphere is pretty good. Only toward the end of the game does the combat start to get really formulaic and predictable – at least, as far as I can remember.
    The second game is less masterful in this way, but they must’ve brought the original team back for one of the chapters. There’s an entire half of a chapter about midway through the game which has no combat, just building tension, so much that it’s practically a release when something tries to eat your torso.
    Of course, both games had their flaws in equal measure, but at least for a while, they built tension pretty well. Shame EA is doing to that franchise what they’re doing to all the others.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      You say that like EA recently ruined what could have been a great, epic Space Opera trilogy filled with fascinating characters, interesting plots, and a well-written and refined overarching narrative.

      Nothing like that could ever happen.

      1. anaphysik says:

        I’m not totally convinced EA did.
        I think BioWare ruined it of its own accord. Possibly due to choosing to become more like EA – but that’s only indirectly EA’s fault.

        1. Raygereio says:

          BioWare’s perfectly capable of doing this themselves. You can make a case for EA screwing up in terms of not allowing enough developement time / resources (this is especially true when it comes to DA2).
          But in the end EA is not the one writing. They’re not the who started a trilogy while having absolutely no idea where the story was going.

          1. anaphysik says:


          2. newdarkcloud says:

            That why I think we got the ending we have now. I think the money simply ran out and they had to do something. It would also explain why it felt so rushed.

            1. anaphysik says:

              I don’t know… I’m not really convinced it was rushed. Or even if the writing was rushed, it seems like a lot of the infrastructure for the ending had to have been in development before that.

              Here’s a really old theory that never got any love, which I actually found pretty compelling:

              I think the comparison between the ending of Legion’s loyalty and the ending of ME3 is actually pretty spot on. It also betrays a pretty sinister thought: BW didn’t realize that the reason players didn’t mind large immediate differences in the effects of their choices was because they expected large future (i.e. in ME2/3) differences. (Rachni Queen being frex a great and well-known example of complete failure to deliver.)

              Though I disagree with the poster’s belief that there was “a lot of correct judgement which almost worked out but went horribly wrong due to actually minor flaws.”
              The intrinsic flaw the poster implicitly points out is emphatically not ‘minor’ in my eyes. The key problem I’m seeing is that instead of thinking like storytellers (or, yes, artists) (‘alright, I want to create a world; how far can I go?’), BioWare were thinking like businessmen (‘alright, I want to make profits by the end of second quarter; how low can I keep the budget while still making the product look good?’)

              (Or something like that. Maybe I’m just rambling.)

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                With regards to expecting more consequence, I wrote about that in a two parter I wrote for my own blog.

                The first one simply poses the question of “Is Mass Effect REALLY a game about choice and consequences”.

                The second detailed how I’d go and rewrite the game. I admit, it’s not perfect, but it’s something.

                Overall, the realization that my choices affected so little hurt. I re-framed from talking about the ending because so many people already discussed it at length and at the time I was quite frankly sick of talking about it.

                1. anaphysik says:

                  Yeah, I read those, and a whole bunch of your other posts too. It’s how I commented on your Overlord analysis :P

                  With that aside remark (on Legion’s loyalty’s ending vs. RGB explosions), I was more trying to get at the fundamental reason why lack of difference in outcomes based on ‘choice’ had been acceptable up to now: there was the unspoken understanding (amongst fans, though I guess not game writers/directors) that things would matter in the next game. We saw this break down and fail when ME2 rolled around. We then saw it catch fire and totally explode when ME3 rolled around.

                  1. newdarkcloud says:

                    I don’t how why, but somehow some part of me still held hope after Mass Effect 2 that ME3 might take choice and consequences seriously. Then Anderson tells me he’s not a Councillor and I get depressed. Then, Udina is Councillor and I get more depressed. Then Tuchanka and I get excited because of how well done it is. But it’s all downhill from there and I crawl into the fetal position and cry softly to myself.

                    1. anaphysik says:

                      Then Anderson tells me he's not a Councillor and I get depressed. Then, Udina is Councillor and I get more depressed.”

                      But don’t you know? “It’s all explained in the books!”


                    2. newdarkcloud says:

                      That arguably makes it worse… and I’m about to read that book!

                      *Gets into the fetal position*

                    3. anaphysik says:

                      (My “UGH” was in response to those who use the horrible defense of “Read the books.” No, no I will not.)

                    4. newdarkcloud says:

                      I agree with that. All you need to know about a game and its world should be made apparent in the game. Secondary materials can build on that, but it shouldn’t be necessary for plot coherence. To it’s credit (at least as far as I’m aware), Mass Effect’s novels really aren’t terribly necessary and all it boils down to are a few missed references.

                      I got the books because I thought they’d be interesting and so far I don’t really have a problem with them (Except for Cerberus, but that extends to the game, so what can you do?). I just started the third so I can’t comment on that, but Kai Leng brings anything down.

        2. Eric says:

          It’s true, BioWare was already more or less going down the hole. Many of their better people left after Dragon Age and Mass Effect came out, and the resulting games were sort of this perfect storm of “screwed by the publisher” and “we have no idea what we’re doing” that resulted in some big, bloated, incoherent titles with a lack of intelligent focus, as well as some exceptionally sloppy design.

          EA definitely are responsible for changes in corporate culture, marketing and scheduling (Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 were both obviously rushed), and BioWare themselves must be feeling the strain of making a profitable multi-million-dollar game every year for EA to deliciously exploit, but really, BioWare have been declining steadily since Baldur’s Gate II. EA is just a scapegoat.

    2. Atarlost says:

      The atmosphere in the vacuum segments kind of sucked.
      cue snare drum

      1. TheHidden says:

        To be more accurate: It blows.

        1. Eric says:

          Thank you, Data.

    3. Dude says:

      Er, no. Dead Space gave loud musical cues every time monsters spawned around. I basically turned the volume off to enjoy the game properly. Sound is the biggest component that needs to be right for good horror–it’s something System Shock 2 and Thief (God bless you LGS) got absolutely right. Dead Space and Alan Wake use shock music; and it does the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to do. Like laughter tracks.

      1. Shamus says:

        That’s a good analogy. The musical sting is like a laugh track… A laugh track that plays just before the punchline.

        1. Ringwraith says:

          F.E.A.R. (the first one at least) does interesting stuff with this, cutting the music and having “unknown signal” come up on your communications when weird stuff’s about to happen, but then it starts messing with the timing. There are points when the music cuts out really early or even not at all, or all the lights flicker and you get the unknown signal again and nothing happens. It really does try and be unpredictable despite it started off giving you clear warnings.

      2. mewse says:

        I just wanted to mention that virtually all game developers work with their game sounds turned off. Always made me sad to see that.

      3. IFS says:

        It would be interesting if a game used stings to announce enemies for the first hour or so of gameplay, to get you used to it, and then not only stopped using them to announce enemies but also had them go off at points when there are no enemies, just to make the player nervous.

        1. Rasha says:

          Go play F.E.A.R. Seriously do it.

  12. CharNobyl says:

    I like the idea to make enemies harder to dispatch while cutting down their numbers. If a game is supposed to be frightening, I want to dread encounters with enemies. Take a note from F.E.A.R.’s book and make the guns fire like actual guns: fill the air with gunsmoke after sustained fire, kick up debris with missed shots. Shooting at the Taken should’ve been a constant pull between restraint (conserving ammo/keeping vision clear) and desperation (wanting to put them down as soon as possible).

    And maybe in addition to that sort of thing, make it a bit easier to evade them, or at least evade their attacks. If running is going to be an option, I want to actually be able to reliably outrun their rank-and-file. That would make the fast ones a much more frightening enemy: they take away your ability to run away and force you to fight, and as the conflict draws out, the risk of you getting caught in a situation you can’t escape from grows.

    1. Thomas says:

      Well we certainly dreaded encounters with enemies in Alan Wake…

  13. MatthewH says:

    That ending… Ay-ay-ay. I suppose it could be explained, but at first glance it didn’t make a lick of sense. It’s not quite as bad as the starchild, but Murphy’s Diabolus Ex Machina is still in full effect.

    Story is fully consistent with itself? Then why do I get the feeling that we had this ending not because the cycle is important, symbolic, or a significant part of the story, but because the author thought it would be cute?

    I “finished” (I actually threw up my hands in frustration and YouTubed it) Dragon Age II last week, and between that, ME3, and now Alan Wake, I’m removing the “but at least they were trying something new/interesting” card from my deck. Developers no longer get points for interesting ideas they fail to execute. I am in favor of trying something new, but if developers are going to keep messing it up I’d rather they go back to the formulas. Stick to the rules and make a few variations here and there. Experiment in small ways. And TEST TEST TEST. Stop trying for the blockbuster breakthrough.

    Elsewhere I have argued that 70% of videogames is execution, 30% is content. Alan Wake builds the case. There is are some interesting ideas here, but I don’t care because I’m paying attention to the sloppy implentation. (This would also be why I don’t find it odd that AAA games rarely score below 7/10 -I’d expect major developers to be able to execute perfectly, even if they have no content.)

  14. MatthewH says:

    On a less vindictive note: does anyone else thing Barry is the most interesting character in the game? He may well be the most heroic person here. Alan should be going after his wife -every husbands privilege to die for his love and all. The sherriff should be trying to save the town.

    Barry has no reason to be involved at all -much less to the extent he is -except that he is Alan’s best friend.

    Let’s explore that relationship. That sounds fascinating.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I loved barry.In fact,he is the only character in this game that I cared for.Every time barry was in danger,I felt kind of sad expecting that he will be killed off.And I was so glad that he survived.

  15. BeamSplashX says:

    If only you could do Deadly Premonition. It does the whole open-world Twin Peaks thing rather well, I’ve heard, though most of its cult classic status derives from its charm and humor and none of it from its purported horror elements.

    Then again, that’s one I definitely want to experience hands-on. Skipping the Deus Ex season was tough for me.

    1. Rutskarn says:

      …doesn’t its cult classic status come from the fact that it’s terrible?

      1. Irridium says:

        Apparently it’s in the “so bad it’s good” vein. That fact that it was only $20 on release probably helped things as well.

      2. Daniel says:

        The driving controls are awful. The shooting is clunky (On a controller with triggers, why would you use the A button to shoot?). The plot is crazy and there are many random side quests that make no sense.

        Having said all of that, I really enjoyed playing Deadly Premonition. One of the most interestingly wacky games I have ever played.

      3. BeamSplashX says:

        You’ve likely already read the Narm Charm page on TV Tropes, and I won’t link it to avoid pulling those unaware into the Darkness. But Deadly Premonition is that, alongside its brokenness (which is funny in its own way). The lead designer even got to present at GDC (or a similar conference) on interactive storytelling, and it really highlights smart things DP does that, well, Alan Wake doesn’t, for example.

        That said, the developers mentioned a possible HD update that would fix a those issues and improve the fundamental graphic quality (it was originally a PS2 game, which shows). And that version would also hopefully come out in English on the PS3, saving me the trouble of importing it and finding translations for the text portions.

        So next season’s Street Fighter IV, right?

  16. Rasha says:

    I’m just going to point out that companies which have already been nominated for worst in America are disqualified in later such contests.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      EA may have issues, but worst in America? Yeah, right…

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        I think he’s saying that since Bank of America and many others already earned the distinction, that meant EA was kinda “winner by default”.

        Admittedly, I’d need to do more research to confirm.

        1. Rasha says:

          Yeah you’re right. That is how it works, and most if not all of the companies mentioned in the show have already won (or lost depending on point of view) that award. Hilariously enough EA tried to use the: ”But other companies do even worse stuff!” to save face. All companies they mentioned had won in previous years.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            They actually said that?Wow…Thats like saying “Yeah I killed that whole family,but you gotta let me go because hitler did worse”.

            1. X2Eliah says:

              Exactly. Because making some executive money-earning-focused decisions in gaming industry is exactlythe same as killing a family. Yes.

              … what?
              EA is a VIDEOGAME publisher. If something they do with a small fragment of VIDEOGAMES makes you rage as if they were worst company in anything / ruining thousands of lives / murders, then really you should get a clue/life and stop obsessing. Perspective and all that.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                You see this . ?Thats the point.Youve missed it by a mile.

                1. X2Eliah says:

                  Not the first time.
                  Maybe in the future you’d think of placing that point in the actual post it was meant to be in? ;)

        2. Supahewok says:

          Seeing as how Bank of America came second, it wasn’t disqualified. Although others might have been. Like Walmart or something.

          1. Rasha says:

            Like I said it was probably just most of the companies mentioned. Further this is a worldwide vote. People in say… China probably care less about local evils than international ones.

            1. Moriarty says:

              Where do you get these facts?

              previous winners aren’t disqualified at all, in fact all of them were in the opening bracket:

              also, while technically true that people outside of the US could have voted here, the contest is distinctly aimed at americans.

      2. Bryan says:

        Yeah, all the software patent trolls rank below them. Not by much, but by just a bit…

    2. Raygereio says:

      I'm just going to point out that that whole “worst company”-stupidity was a poll that everyone and their dog could vote on and was flooded by nerdrage right after ME3 and it’s wonderfull ending hit.

      Noone should atribute any sort of relevance to it.

      1. Earlindor says:

        If I had to guess, I’d say that is the ONLY reason EA got that award.

  17. Eric says:

    I was so very disappointed by this game’s ending. I really, really expected the ending to answer questions or to at least provide a sense of resolution… but nope, it’s just “Alan dies (or is trapped, whatever) and Alice lives.” That’s it? What is the Darkness and where does it get its power? What’s up with Zane and Alan’s relationship?

    I had put it down for a few months and fired it up due to Spoiler Warning to finish it, and… man, what the hell. I literally sat there for a few moments thinking “that’s it?”, waited through the whole credits sequence to see if there was some sort of bonus ending that shed light on things… nope. Finished the game and went through that hour-long end sequence, and that’s it? No answers, no conclusion, just a DLC set-up and some sappy music? I expect that from lower-concept games, but not something with the pretense of Alan Wake.

    1. Thomas says:

      I figure the conclusion would have worked better if you imagine the story the game was meant to have. If it was about the nature of stories and why everything went wrong for Thomas Zane and part of Alan’s arc that was emphasised was that he wanted everything easier and without cost (hence hack writer) it would make sense that the conclusion of the story was that eventually everything had to pay a price and it was time Wake paid his.

      It would have even fitted into the idea of a game. A player wants everything to go well, to succeed without consequence and they’d be striving for their happy ending yet the more they fought the more went wrong in the game and everything got harder and darker until…

  18. Jacob Albano says:

    What the heck is up with all these stupid “tap mouse to move item” prompts all of a sudden? They are completely useless.

    Rutskarn and Mumbles: If you’re into games with good stories and are willing to put up with gameplay to move the story along, I cannot recommend Alpha Protocol enough. The combat is kind of tedious, but the amount of agency you have in how the story plays out is astounding. Every single character is unique and interesting, and your interactions with them can radically change the way the story plays out.

    It’s on my list of games I wish I’d never played, just because then I would still be able to play it for the first time.

    1. Peter H. Coffin says:

      What the heck is up with all these stupid “tap mouse to move item” prompts all of a sudden? They are completely useless.

      Obviously, the end game is the PERFECT place to introduce a new play mechanic, even if it is a stupidly simple one….

    2. Eric says:

      The Awesome Button doesn’t map so well to keyboard/mouse setups.

  19. meyerkev says:

    So what is the starting save game going to be for ME3? New Game? Level 30 import? Will Josh be crazy enough to try Insanity Vanguard (It’s actually easier than hardcore IMO)? Will we get a hilarious episode on “Story Mode”, where the only way to die is to stand in a puddle of Ravager Acid for about 30 seconds, and you can walk up to a turret and have a smoke while it’s shooting you (Seriously, for all the hate, it’s certainly the most fun I’ve had playing a video game in a while)?

    And how are you guys going to play? Straight through? All side missions? 0 Krogan War Assets (requires certain save imports, and I have never felt quite as evil)?

    Who will be dead? Not-Mordin, Not-Tali, Not-Jacob, and Not-Grunt exist in major ways, and Not-Mordin is actually a pretty awesome character (albeit not nearly as awesome as Mordin). Will Wrex be dead to save Mordin or will Mordin be forced to die?

    1. Aldowyn says:

      Interestingly, there is no Not-Samara, Not-Jack, or Not-Thane.

      Also I vote import. I hope you have your save still, Josh! (I don’t)

      *edit* And not being able to keep both of them alive is just… irritating. Haven’t played it enough to see why dead Wrex means he stays alive… At least Mordin got an amazing send-off, no?

      1. anaphysik says:

        “Haven't played it enough to see why dead Wrex means he stays alive…”
        If Wrex is dead and Eve is dead, with a high enough Reputation Mordin (and even Padok, contrary to popular opinion) can be convinced to sabotage the cure, and thereby not die (otherwise you let them cure it (whereby they die in the explosion) or shoot them YOU HEARTLESS MONSTER). Basically, you tell Mordin that genophage-cured krogan hordes led by Wreav may not be such a great idea. Mordin then becomes a War Asset, and I think you can talk to him via holo in London, though I’ve never done it myself.

        I’m imagining them importing their ME2 playthrough save, which means no Thane (;^;), no Grunt (;^;), no Jack, no Jacob, no Miranda (^_^), no Kirrahe (;^;), Wrex alive (^_^) (via save edit), Maelon’s data saved (I think), Tali pardoned, and I forget what they did with the heretics. And it would mean FemShep ftw again.

        I’m predicting that Josh will troll us with some slow-ass combat build. Maybe an engineer with -200% cooldown who doesn’t use drones/turrets. Or only uses drones/turrets.

        1. meyerkev says:

          Interestingly, that means that the salarian councilor has to die, and that it’s unlikely that we’ll get to see much of the Virmire survivor (who is Kaiden anyways). My one playthrough where the councilor died, I was given no other choice but to shoot her. So no drunk Ashley for us.

          Also, I think they skipped Legion’s loyalty which means: No happy ending for the Quarians/Geth.

          Seriously, we’re in a brilliant position for a “Screw the galaxy” playthrough. Between Wrex being alive and the data being destroyed, we can get 0 Krogan War Assets if we skip the rachni, skip the bomb mission after saving the platoon, and shoot Mordin. Combine that with 50% readiness, doing very few side missions, and having to choose a side in the Quarian/Geth war, and less than 1750 points is not an impossible goal. It’s actually a pity they didn’t do Legion’s loyalty mission, since then they could then just pick the side that got screwed (Geth lose and Quarians gain if you destroy and vice versa if you overwrite)

          1. Mumbles says:

            Just so you guys know, I’m trying to get Josh to use a premade shep so that we can get a lot of cool plot stuff even IF we end up trying to tear the game down. While our playthrough will likely be…typical of our last seasons, I don’t want stuff to be missed because we were dumb enough to let Thane die.

            If we use Regina from last season, know that I have failed you.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              You gotta get that emergency induction port thing.That was hilarious.

            2. Raygereio says:

              In that case, don’t simply start a new character. But grab one of (I think you can change the name to Regina with a save editor).

              A non-imported character will have screwed up pretty much anything that can be screwed up in the previous games and you’ll miss even more content.

              1. meyerkev says:

                I must mention that the last time I used a save editor (albeit way back in April), little stuff worked, and big stuff didn’t. I took an “Everybody Lives” save game and turned it into an “Everyone Dies” playthrough, and ended up with 5 of my buddies showing up (Grunt, Tali, Garrus, Samara, and someone else I’m forgetting). Also, making Conrad Verner show up is a c%#pshoot even in games where he did survive ME1/2 (and he is lulzy, so please let him show up).

                So if you do get a save game import, get one that has the big stuff right (and a confirmed Conrad sighting), and then bend the little stuff to your will.

                /Also in enraging bugs, I imported my “Shepard (and everybody else) Dies” ME2 save, and had Jacob show up.

            3. Sleeping Dragon says:

              I’m sort of conflicted here. On the one hand it’s obvious you won’t be doing all the side stuff and will probably make some “stupid” choices for the sake of hilarity. On the other… I think to really tear the ending to pieces it would be best to have the “best” one available. On the other other hand maybe the final episode should be a montage of different endings and you can just use a downloaded savefile for that.

              Generally though I do think you should use an “everybody lives” savefile, if only to be able to discuss how well/bad the individual character arcs are resolved.

              1. Mumbles says:

                Trust me, I’m having the same problem. There is no one in the cast who liked the game more than me (which made the ending feel like they tore out my heart guts), so I *want* to show all the stuff I loved.

                On the other hand, we like showing stuff that people don’t normally get to see. And, there are some baaaaaaaad choices to be made in ME3.

                1. Peter H. Coffin says:

                  And sometimes baaaaaaaaad choices are more fun than good ones… (;

                2. Eric says:

                  What did you love, exactly? The story full of plot holes and moronic characters? The lack of lore consistency with prior games and the complete inconsequence of Mass Effect 1 and 2? The horribly sappy, soap opera romance? Shepard’s lack of character development? Or is it just because Tali is so cute and you like Tali that much, omg she is my waifu ^__________________^;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

                  I just don’t get it. I see people talk this way about BioWare games all the time… “oh, yeah, it’s got problems, but the good parts are totally worth it!” to which I say “what good parts?” Yeah, there are some characters who are moderately likeable because they are constructed in so corporately pandering a fashion to appeal specifically to different demographics, but I don’t understand how that can make enduring such a completely moronic and unfun game experience worthwhile.

                  Also, what bad choices? Everyone dies at the end anyway. The entire game and its EMS “mechanic” is one giant middle finger.

                  1. newdarkcloud says:

                    If Mumbles is anything like me, she really felt for the characters of Mass Effect. Garrus, Tali, Mordin, Wrex, and Legion are all very well-written as an example. To you tey not be much, but to me, they were very interesting and I felt an emotional connection to them. I for one am looking forward to the “Grape Paladin”‘s return.

                    That’s another reason why the ending felt like a slap in face followed by Bioware feeding me to a bear.

                    1. anaphysik says:

                      You forgot Conrad Verner. Dr. Conrad Verner is the best.

                    2. Eric says:

                      I’m not so sure they’re good characters, though… they’re all obvious stereotypes, all their development takes place between games rather than in the games themselves, and while they’re memorable, it’s usually due to visual design and not because there’s anything distinctive about them personality-wise. I can say that I enjoy some of them, but do I really care about them? Not really, and I don’t understand the obsession with them some fans seem to have.

                      I feel the same thing about Half-Life 2. People love all the “characters” like Alyx, Kleiner, Breen etc. but they’re all extremely shallow stereotypes at worst and nerd fanservice at best. There’s really nothing to them, as *people* – rather, they gravitate around the player fantasy, and at least to me, it comes across as manipulative and shallow rather than emotionally involving.

                      I would like Conrad Verner more if Shepard was actually “badass” enough to make him a suitable foil in the first place. As it stands all I can think is “why is Shepard such a colossal moron for failing to see obvious connections, constantly walking into traps, etc.?”

                    3. Daemian Lucifer says:


                      Actually garrus,liara,tali and wrex develop in 1 just as much as in between 1 and 2.

                      As for all of those being stereotypes…well that can be said about any character in any work really.

                      Those you mention in half life arent shallow,they are just not probed to their core.It really isnt realistic to expect to learn someones whole life story just by spending a few hours with them.A few hours of combat,I might add.You learn the crucial stuff,like goals,ambitions and fears,and thats more than enough.

                  2. Mumbles says:

                    Ooooh snarky comments about something I express interest in just how I like to start my morning.

                    There’s a lot of really thought provoking stuff in Mass Effect that rises above all the “soap opera romance” and such. For example, the Krogan race has probably the most interesting gender rules and traditions that I’ve seen in a video game. The female Krogan is not only well written, but challenges how you feel about letting the race move past their genophage and gives you clear, thought out choice of what path you want for their future.

                    The Geth and Quarian are just as indepth, providing a classic, Isaac Asimov/Mary Shelley look into science fiction. Being able to resolve their differences and care about an AI at the end of Mass Effect 3 is not only a brilliant accomplishment but a heartening throw back to the one theme I love most about science fiction.

                    Just because you don’t like the fluff, doesn’t mean you get to shield your eyes from the good stuff.

                    1. newdarkcloud says:

                      I agree that everything involving the Krogan was really well done and should have served as a template for everything else.

                      I enjoyed the overall Geth/Quarian arc and I agree that the resolution was well done, but the link I posted in an above comment will show my grievances with it.

                    2. Eric says:

                      The conversion of the Krogans into a noble savage stereotype race didn’t do anything for me. Previously they were cast as a patriarchal species who were brutal, valued strength above others, and treated females like property. Mass Effect 3 retconned this really awkwardly – the Krogan have been that way for hundreds of years, and yet their women are apparently educated, nurturing and intelligent? Why does Eve judge her people by human characteristics? It makes absolutely no sense that she’d behave like a 21st-century woman or hold so many familiar ideals.

                      I can understand them being spiritual leaders due to their scarcity, but then why does their ridiculous ritual (buried alive or whatever) even exist if they’re so valuable and rare in the first place? This spiritual side doesn’t fit with the previous games or any of the Krogan we’ve ever seen before (who ran the range of “asshole mercenaries” to “asshole mad scientists”). If Wrex is dead, the entire species has basically zero redeeming qualities whatsoever, and even so it’s stupid to base the future of the Krogan on one or two people.

                      Regarding the Quarians and Geth, I actually don’t mind that so much except for the fact that a) the VR simulation thing was derp as hell and b) the Quarians are a bunch of morons. Not only do we learn that the conflict is a direct result of their own stupidity and unwillingness to speak to the machines on even terms, instead just burning them with fire, throughout the entire game the Quarians are constantly making bad tactical and strategic decisions in battle to the point of sabotaging Shepard’s progress. Why the hell am I suppose to give a shit about these idiots who ruined their own world and species? Oh right, because omg Tali so cute ^__^;; (okay I’ll stop).

                      It’s not that Mass Effect has no redeeming qualities. A lot of the setup for the world is great and there are some cool themes explored (frankly I think the backstory with the genophage and Mordin’s character are handled very, very well). It’s just nothing special in the realm of science fiction (seriously, shows like Babylon 5/Farscape/Star Trek/etc. deal with all this stuff a hundred times more intelligently), and I don’t think those few moments of interest make the game worth suffering through.

                      I believe Shamus may have once said – don’t introduce more depth than what your setting can sustain – and that is a perfect way to describe what’s wrong with Mass Effect as a sci-fi genre work. When it starts introducing all these moral messages, thinly-veiled political statements and parallels to modern-day society it only raises more questions about the universe that spawned them, and in many cases the universe can’t provide intelligent answers.

              2. anaphysik says:

                The ending’s been torn to shreds already. On this site even!
                Far more interesting would be to see the SW crew tear into all the other problems that occur along the way. …As well as extract the bits of loving goodness hidden in the crannies.

            4. Destrustor says:

              On the other hand, the cool stuff you want to show us might be great, but I still feel Regina should have to live with the consequences of her actions.
              Also Miranda needs to be dead.

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                The question remains, should they leave her dead, or should they bring her back so that they can kill her again.

              2. Even says:

                I figured they’d go with Regina just to have her dead.

                1. anaphysik says:

                  I have an ‘only Miranda dead’ save I could donate ^_^ (it’s my canon).

                  1. newdarkcloud says:

                    I have to ask, how did you make it so that ONLY Miranda died? That’s a feat if you did it legitimately! It would be my ideal, but I could deal with the death of Jacob.

                    1. anaphysik says:

                      I posted a detailed walkthrough elsewhere on Shamus’ blog in response to another commenter’s similar skepticism.

                      It is in fact possible to legitimately kill off only Miranda.

                      (Plus, you can do it whether you have both, one, or neither of the DLC characters, so that’s extra nice)

                      Let me see if I can find my earlier post. The basic gist: 1) gain everyone’s loyalty, 2) side with Jack in the Jack-Miranda fight (which has the added benefit of being the 100% complete sensical thing to do anyway), 3) leave your now non-loyal Miranda as part of the hold-the-line crew, but be juuust under the critical threshold for complete survival; and thus she will be killed.

                      A) bring her with you to the final battle as your only non-loyal – she gets crushed by a rock or something. Downsides: you have to have her in your party and listen to her say some lines (both unacceptable)
                      B) don’t do her loyalty mission, so you can skip step 2. Downsides: Oriana gets captured or whatever; she hasn’t actually done anything to prove herself to be a horrible bitch, so I’d feel kind of bad about letting that happen. And you miss out on calling Miranda out as a pouty baby during and immediately after the Jack-Miranda fight scene. (Therefore also unacceptable to me!)

                      The biggest monkey wrench that can get thrown into the ‘fragging Miranda’ plan is if you can’t resolve the conflict between Tali and Legion, and so will end up with two non-loyals. In that case, non-loyal Legion is better, since non-loyal Miranda would still die before him while holding the line (just don’t bring him with you to the final boss).

                      The other problem is that when killing Miranda with all the rest loyal and with both Zaeed and Kasumi, you can’t bring both Mordin and Legion (BESTEST CHARACTERS) with you during the last section, since that would leave a high enough hold-the-line score for Miranda to live. So I had to bring Mordin and Garrus.

                      EDIT: when I find my previous writing, maybe we can reformat it and put it up somewhere more permanent; you’re welcome to spread the word of the Miranda Solution on your blog.

                    2. anaphysik says:

                      Here’s that more detailed number-y explanation:


                    3. newdarkcloud says:

                      I just want you to know that you, anaphysik, you are my new hero! :)

                    4. anaphysik says:


  20. newdarkcloud says:

    I think the reason I thought so highly of this game at the start of the season was that I didn’t actually play it. I only saw a Let’s Play of both this and American Nightmare. (I don’t PC game, so my rig isn’t enough to play Alan Wake.) When you don’t have to play through it and only experience the story, this is amazing. I can see how playing through it would suck.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Plus american nightmare improves the opinion of the series(can it be called that now?)by quite a bit.

  21. Thanakil says:

    @Shamus : In regard to American Nightmare and headshots-

    They didn’t add headshots, but they give you the feeling of doing a “great shot” in a different way.

    They added a fair amount of weapons with different qualities and traits. Some of them shoot in an arc, some will pierce through enemies, and a bow can pierce through the darkness without burning it away first.

    Weapons are balanced so that they have good sides and bad sides, and taking a good weapon that is hard to use and compensating for that with your own skill to achieve good shots will bring a similar feeling to doing a headshot in other games.

    So while they didn’t add heatshot, they gave something a little similar which makes shooting your enemies more interesting.

    1. Even says:

      I loved that crossbow. Not only because of the special effect but the raw damage is just staggering. It’s great for picking off the Taken from a distance.

    2. LunaticFringe says:

      After playing the original Alan Wake, picking up the Uzi in American Nightmare is completely liberating. Very satisfying to ‘zipper’ (fire up the chest) Taken after bland revolver shots. Hell, I think I even remember Alan commenting on it, saying something like ‘it’s about time I went full automatic’. Nice lampshade by Remedy.

    3. Mr. Guy says:

      I actually think headshots would have made this game WAY more annoying.

      One thing about Alan Wake is that iPod don’t spend a lot of effort “aiming.”. There aren’t really crosshairs. If you’re facing the right direction and shoot, in general you hit the nearest enemy in that direction.

      If you want differential results for headshots, now we have to have the player line up every shot, so we see if you got him in the head or just the arm.

      If there’s one thing I think would make the combat in this game 10x worse, it would be adding a fiddly aiming mechanic to the already-not-stellar combat…

  22. Earlindor says:

    This was definitely one of the hardest seasons for me to watch, the story-gameplay segregation was so bad I couldn’t bear it; I wanted to bash my head or… I dunno… something. Thank God for the Spoiler Warning team and their commentary.

    Really looking forward to this next season (and the one after)!

  23. Hitch says:

    I can’t remember if I’ve already said this, but this is pretty much my last chance, so I’ll say it now, even if I’m repeating myself.

    I never played this game. I never had any interest in playing this game. Having watched this season, I still won’t play this game. But, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching this season of Spoiler Warning. You’ve managed to have 26 episodes of interesting conversation about a game I cared nothing about. Well done.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      You should at least watch lets plays of the dlcs and american nightmare(maybe even play american nightmare).It will be worth it.

      1. Hitch says:

        I can’t stand watching straight Let’s Plays of anything. The commentary has to be entertaining or I get bored or frustrated very quickly. I either don’t care at all, or I want to be the one playing.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Well,then play american nightmare:)

          1. Hitch says:

            I’ll keep it in mind, but as I said, this franchise doesn’t really interest me.

  24. Alex says:

    Are you guys going to wait until the Extended Cut DLC? I know it’ll probably just be more stupid crap, so the odds of it proving everyone wrong and making that travesty mean something are slim. But at the very least, it’s free and it would give you guys more to complain about.

    1. IFS says:

      They don’t need it, mumbles already ate the catalyst and provided all the answers.

    2. CalDazar says:

      I was wondering how that would factor into things.

      Likely it won’t fix anything anyway because it isn’t changing anything, but the person behind it is apparently one of their good writers, not the lead who came up with the ending in the first place (He apparently also come up with the collectors and Cerberus, sensing a patten there). So that’s got a little potential.

      1. Raygereio says:

        Yeah, I wouldn’t hold much hope of the extended cut DLC being good either.

        The original ending it was writen by Casey Hudson & Mac Walters alone. Way, way to far into the game’s development they still hadn’t written the ending, so they just locked themselves in a room with a whole lot of alcohol and peyote and this is what came out of it.
        The problem with that is normally BioWare writers works on a peer review principle. When this is done properly crappy writers can still produce decent writing, because they get a lot of input as to what works, what does’t and what’s just batshit insane. But when certain writers are allowed to go at it alone we stuff like the wankfest that is Cerberus and ME3’s ending.

        Apparently the extended cut is being writen with the peer review in place, so we got that at least. But BioWare has indeed stated that this DLC won’t change anything, it will just “explain things better”. From the sound of that, they’re just going to grab the big turd that is ME3’s ending and try to polish it.

    3. The Hokey Pokey says:

      If they do the Extended Cut, it will be the only way I’ll see it. After I finished that game, all interest I had in Mass Effect died. I won’t play it myself because I can’t work up the energy to care anymore.

      The only thing that excites me about Mass Effect now is the coming physical anguish that Xtreem Cyber Ninja will inflict on the Spoiler Warning Crew. It’s like Bioware looked at Reaver from the Fable series and said “That’s just what our comic relief villain needs!”

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        Sorry, any mention of that particularly bullshit character fills me with RAGE!!! Fuck him and his Mary Sue-ness.

        1. Even says:

          I’ve found it easier to tolerate his existence when I picture him as a Marvel villain stuck in the wrong universe.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            You know, it’s surprisingly easy to imagine him as one of Magneto’s flunkies.

            1. GiantRaven says:

              He reminds me more of Dick Grayson personally.

        2. Alex says:

          I didn’t mind Kai or TIM.

          Oh they’re both terrible characters with stupid motivations. And they’re both big cheaters when it comes to the plot.

          But I can tolerate that in bad guys. History has shown that sometimes the biggest damage is caused by reckless idiots, and I’m not supposed to like the villains. Not every antagonist has to be Magneto.

          It’s more annoying to me when the GOOD GUYS act this way. The people I’m supposed to be rooting for.

          1. The Hokey Pokey says:

            You shouldn’t have to tolerate bad writing. Every moment those “characters” are on screen, the quality of the game plummets. Kai’s design is essentially what a middle school student would draw in his notebook when he imagined someone “rad.” He is laughably ineffective in combat, yet every time control is taken away from the player he is allowed to win because no one beats Bioware’s precious Mary Sue.

            If the writing was good, you would like the villain. Not as a person, but as a character. A good villain makes every scene he is in exciting. A good villain makes you look forward to your next meeting, and motivates you to try and stop him. Kai just makes you wish there was someone more interesting to fight.

            1. anaphysik says:

              Good Mass Effect villains: Saren, ME1 geth, most of Sovereign, arguably Maelon
              Bad Mass Effect villains: Harbinger, TIM, Kai Leng, Collectors, most of the random idiots on side-missions (e.g. Purgatory warden), Reapers you shoot turret rounds at until they repeat inane platitudes at you, and of course “Ah, yes, ‘Reapers'”
              Hm, sensing a pattern.

              Also, a specific example of goodness: Even before ME1 ended, I was firmly convinced that the geth were not at all at fault for the quarians being driven from their homeworld. (Most of this convincing came from interpreting Tali’s statements without the cultural pro-quarian bias.)

              Look, if you can get a Shep to understand the viewpoint (if not approve of the actions) of the inscrutable AIs her antagonists, who’ve attempted to kill her and her fellow sapients at nearly every turn in recent history; to see that viewpoint even against the viewpoints of trusted teammates; AND still have that Shep retain the adamance needed to oppose those AIs? Well, damn, you’ve made a good antagonist.
              Much of the same applies for Saren himself, as well. ME1 did a good job of tying antagonists together, as well as tying them to the world as real parts of it.

          2. newdarkcloud says:

            I don’t mind them acting stupid so much as being given immunity because the plot demands it. There’s no reason for him to be able to just stand there and regen shields while I pummel him with tons of bullets and the powers of both me and my squadmates. And then… And THEN, he has the balls to say “Too slow, Sheppard!”.

            ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!! What the fuck!!? This is bullshit!!!

            That’s only one example of his supposed power to bend the plot to his will. I don’t mind a dumb villain (though it’d help for the game to acknowledge that stupidity). I didn’t even mind TIM and thought the confrontation with him was perfectly fine, but for god’s sake do not make the villain invulnerable when there’s no reason for him to be! That’s lazy! It’s lazy writing!

            1. ehlijen says:

              Kai Leng is now the new ‘U mad, bro?” face :(

          3. MatthewH says:

            TIM is defensible. He’s an interesting anti-shepard. He has the same options Shepard does, but he fatalisticly embraces “the only way” to defeat the reapers. He devotes all of his resources to conquoring the reapers, up to and including grafting reaper upgrades into himself. He could have been Saren (though having already done Saren, I wouldn’t have done this no matter how much it rhymed).

            Of course, given how much TIM gives up in order to achieve his victory (and ultimate failure) this just calls into question whether Casey Hudson understands what the phrase “victory through sacrifice” means.

            1. Even says:

              Defensible to what degree exactly? Most of his plans are just plain idiotic and non-sensical and only succeed by the virtue of the writers letting things happen in his favor. A lot of his successes are just the universe bending over to give some air of credibility to his plans, even though when you actually stop to think about them for a second, he never really had any reason to believe he’d succeed with most of them. Things just happen to work for him and he’s all the more smug for it.

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                You could defend it by saying that he was indoctrinated (which he was well before the events of even the first game) and therefore of course what he’s saying doesn’t make sense. It’s just the Reapers trying to reconcile their commands to him with his ideals so that their mind manipulation works more effectively on him.

                It opens up another plot hole (namely, why would they let him revive Sheppard in Mass Effect 2), but it would make his actions more defensible.

                1. Even says:

                  But that just opens a new can of worms. What was the point of all the crap that Cerberus did in ME1 and even before that? How does anything in ME2 help the Reapers?

                  Like for one, did the reapers want humans to develop biotic ability for some reason? Why? Was it their plan to expose humans to eezo all along? How did all the stupid Cerberus experiments serve any actual purpose?

                  1. newdarkcloud says:

                    Exactly. Plugging that plot hole opened up 50 more.

                    In the original Dark Energy ending, this actually might have made sense. Since the Reapers add all the collective intelligence and skills of a species to their ranks when they turn them into a Reaper (in order to solve the problem of Dark Energy overabundance), then it would make sense for them to want to make that species as strong as possible before harvesting them. It would also make reviving Sheppard make more sense because Sheppard is known for solving problems most people simply are not able to (no matter what kind of Sheppard you play). You could explain there incompetency via Indoctrination or something.

                    But with the ending we have, none of this really makes any sense. Cerberus makes the whole plot a whole convoluted mess.

                    1. anaphysik says:

                      Using TIM’s indoctrination to explain his actions (ahem, idiocy), thereby making his actions (ahem idiocy) actually make even less sense is what TvTropes would call a Voodoo Shark explanation:

                      Cogently: “You can’t just go filling plot holes with bullshit!
                      “”The Spoony One”

              2. MatthewH says:

                Allow me to restate: his presence in the narrative is defensible. His use in the narrative is not. Kai Leng has no business being in the game, at all.

                1. newdarkcloud says:

                  I think I’d just settle for him not being a Mary Sue and having stupid, unnecessary plot armor and change his boss fight up so that it isn’t stupid.

                2. Even says:

                  Fair enough. I just wish they’d left him rot to a side role instead of making him a main antagonist. As for Leng, I think he would have fitted the game a lot better if they’d only used him for the Citadel mission and then let him die off and take his ridiculous melodrama to the grave. I mean, it’s not too much to ask for a boss character that you can at least pretend to take seriously, right?

                  1. ehlijen says:

                    I wonder if ME2 and 3 would have been better recieved if instead of the shepard dying/being reborn nonsense, the second game would have been ‘and meanwhile, this is what cerberus gets up to’ with the player being Kai Leng, saving the world behind the curtains and giving the player a much better look at what TIM is up to.

                    It would have made ME2 being about cerberus less dumb, TIMs motivation in 3 more understandable and Kai Leng might have had some goodwill going for him in the form of ‘hey, I used to be that guy, I bet he’s awesome’ as opposed to ‘why am I told that guy’s awesome if all he ever does is run away, crouch in the open and fiat?’.

                    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Well that sure would patch quite few holes in both games.Yes,it would be preferable to have it like that.

    4. Daemian Lucifer says:

      The extended cut will only add things to the ending,so no need to wait.They can just add it on when it comes out and it wont change anything they come up before that.

  25. Ryan says:

    The gold word mechanic reminded really heavily of Today I Die, which did it in a much more interesting and emotional way.

  26. Syal says:

    repeating combat taunts is no more acceptable than having movie characters recycle dialog.

    Now I want to see the “combat-taunt” version of 300.

    “Take from them… EVERYTHING!” and “THIS! IS! SPARTA!!!” looped over and over again in EVERY BATTLE.

    EDIT: Actually, that brings up a point; are they any better when it’s the protagonist spouting them?

    1. Thomas says:

      Yes! When the protagonist had tourettes and also the repetition of their lines mark their descent into madness

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        Did I ever tell you the definition of Insanity?

  27. CalDazar says:

    Isn’t the game always saying that Alan wrote a horror story? Or what he wrote was turned into a horror story, whatever. Wouldn’t that suggest the game wants to be considered horror?

    Time travelling troll mumbles? I now have a scene in my mind of:
    Mumbles: “Hey Ruts remember how you wanted a pony for Christmas and you never got it? That’s because I went back in time and killed Santa.”

    Also it’s not called Echo Bazaar anymore, its Fallen London.

    1. Peter H. Coffin says:

      “Horrible”, not “horror”… (;

      1. anaphysik says:


  28. silver Harloe says:

    During the cutscene at the beginning of the last chapter you should find and read the last page of the manuscript and it should be in a different type writer font with Alan saying, “I didn’t write this!”

    That would greatly increase the tension of the last chapter because you wouldn’t know if you’re going to live or die, or even succeed, even though the ending would probably be like you do live and do succeed, but refused to the finish the book so Barry finished it for you (assuming this manuscript eventually becomes Alan’s final book)

  29. JPH says:


    Checking out old games I didn’t play back then that people give huge praise now is sort of my shtick, sort of. And I do own the Max Paynes on Steam, though I haven’t touched them yet.

    I might install that shit.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Noooo!Dont do that to yourself man!Just go watch the non-combat parts on youtube,then go scrub your toilet or something for half an hour,and youll get the same effect.

      If you own the dlcs however,sure go play those.More fun than the game proper.Or play american nightmare,which is way more fun.

      1. Sagretti says:

        I think he was referring to seeing how the Max Payne games hold up, not Alan Wake. Not sure how the first will hold up, but the second is still probably pretty decent years later. Although, there were some platforming bits that were just awful, but I think they were few and far in-between.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Doh!I fail reading once more.

          You know…Maybe I should go and replay those two before I start with the 3rd.Contrast and all that stuff.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            Chris seems really eager to talk about it in his Errant Signal series.

            And Extra Credits and Yathzee touched on the differences between current Max Payne and old Max Payne.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Yahtzee was right:A game where the cutscenes have your character holding the weapon you were using before it deserves to be game of the year.Theres also some thing about solid gameplay and good visuals and all of that,but thats not important.

              1. Alex says:

                “Yahtzee was right”.

                1. Destrustor says:

                  You mean Daemian should have said “Yahtzee is right, all the time”, Right?

                  1. Sagretti says:

                    *Shudder* I think I’ve actually seen people on the internet with that level of worship of Yahtzee. The discussion pretty much goes:

                    Person1: I just gone done playing GameA. It was a lot of fun.
                    Person2: Never played it, cause Yahtzee said it sucked.
                    Person1: Really? That’s too bad, I think it’s worth checking out.
                    Person2: Then you’re an idiot, cause Yahtzee said it sucks.

                    Not saying anyone here does it, but it gets on my nerves how some people take his often very subjective opinions as some kind of ultimate truth.

                    1. newdarkcloud says:

                      That is true. Especially since he considers it his job to accentuate the negative (since no one liked him gushing about Psychonauts) and therefore he won’t spend much time highlighting what makes a game good.

                      And it’s always best to get a couple of opinions from different sources when doing anything like that. I watch Yahtzee because I find him funny and his Extra Punctuation articles and Zero Punctuation videos tend to have some degree of truth (EP more-so). I don’t use him to inform my gaming purchases.

                    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Usually when yahtzee gives praise to something,its worth checking out.Second sight,binding of isaac and painkiller are the games Ive checked out because of that,and I enjoyed them very much.When he bashes something(which is often),I still go on and search for someone elses opinion,or a demo before deciding.

                    3. Dasick says:

                      You think that is bad? I know someone who bashes any game using any mildly negative Yahtzee quote when she simply doesn’t care for that game. But when she likes a game enough to play it – completely blind to any flaws and Yahtzee is just plain wrong.

                      Yahtzee isn’t really a Game Reviewer though, he’s kind of an Art Critic.

                2. JPH says:

                  Let me get this straight. Not only do you think that Yahtzee is never right about anything ever, but the mere idea that somebody would say Yahtzee is right about something is hilarious to you?

                  There you go again with the cartoonish hyperbole, Alex.

    2. Jamfalcon says:

      I just played them for the first time within the last six months or so, and they held up amazingly well considering their age. Some of the mechanics feel a bit dated, but it’s still a blast to play and the writing is excellent. It also manages to not look too ugly by today’s standards, which is impressive compared to other games from the same era.

  30. hborrgg says:

    As far as bland mcguffin love interests go I tend to have two main problems.
    First off, it feels like too often it’s just being used as a crutch by writers who can’t actually come up with any real motivation. You know their plan when called out is to just say something along the lines of “well obviously you can’t really understand because love is powerful and mysterious and stuff.”
    Second, you can have an interesting character who ignores common sense because to greed, pride, prejudice, etc. But a lot of writers seem to be under the assumption that making the motivation “love” not only explains any action but somehow serves as an instant redemption as well. “You broke down crying 3 feet from the save everything button and almost got everyone killed because. . . You were in love? Oh, that’s ok then.” No it’s not, it’s still stupid. If you want us to like your character you’ll need to either give them some more actual redeeming traits or learn why romeo and Juliet ended in tragedy.
    So, alan wake. The ratio of positive or well explained stuff to stupid stuff leaves him mostly in “twat” territory, while the free range story it sounds like they were trying to make didn’t really tie itself together well come crunch time.

    1. bit says:

      Except that Romeo and Juliet is a terrible play.

      1. Thomas says:

        Stupid Shakespeare leaving out Benvolio…

      2. anaphysik says:

        Retake Romeo and Juliet: Mercutio wouldn’t just die like that, Billy!

  31. ENC says:

    ME3 is stupid.

    The child motif is stupid.
    The over-the-top action is stupid.
    Trying to account for ‘ALL the possibilities!’ was a stupid idea in the first place and I expected no more.

    Anyway, I thought the Alan Wake ending was saying he went back in time (like in AM), and instead of leaving he stayed instead until he defeated the darkness…?

    Or maybe he replaced Mr. Scratch in the lake as he was being a jerkass with Alan’s reality?

    Or the writing wasn’t metaphorical and was just poor.

  32. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And before the next season starts,you guys will return to half life 2,right?And you will be including Chris in that,right?Right?!

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I don’t know if I want to see that first or if I just want to dive into ME3.

      Either or would be incredible.

    2. Chris says:

      I think if the past few years on the internet have taught me anything, it’s that I need to avoid speaking publicly about Half-Life if at all possible.

      1. Eric says:

        Contrary to popular belief, not everybody out there loves Half-Life 2 or even the original Half-Life. It’s okay Chris, you’re allowed to have dissident opinions.

        1. ENC says:

          I didn’t like it at release; tried it again and still didn’t really like it.

          I think I felt too much like they forced the plot down my throat which most people praised as the world was reacting to what you did, but it just felt so stapled together as if I was following some grand scheme laid out before me (you cannot excuse that with the G-Man or the narrative as a cop-out) and all I could do was follow the convenient path that would always open up before me as I was blocked by a wall, then mysteriously a hole would form next to it and I would have to go through; it never felt like I had to form my own path to get to my objective.

          Not to mention Gordon kept doing stupid things (don’t leave a loose animal around when using a teleporter as I do not want to go in but… oh I have to go in to force the plot along? Alright…) and people seemed to be under the impression he talked at one point before either of the games, but having a mute character is just lazy storytelling; you can’t get away with it in a book (well certainly not with the hero archetype) so why can you get away with it here? Because it’s interactive and you’re too distracted shooting dudes?

          I’d take it as a commentary on the nature of video games if it wasn’t for the fact they were being so serious about it.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Nooo,dont!I loved your episode on it,even though I disagree with maybe everything you said in there.

      3. newdarkcloud says:

        I actually really want to hear what you have to say about it. A fresh, differing opinion can be valuable to learning more about something. Especially one from a guy who clearly knows what he is talking about.

        1. Amnestic says:

          Part of it can be found here. I doubt this is all he has to say on the subject (can’t really fit such thoughts into a 14 minute video).

        2. Mr Charles says:

          I strongly second this.

      4. Irridium says:

        Same can be said of any popular game, really. Though I have noticed that there seems to be about as many people who don’t like HL2 than the ones that do like HL2.

        I just wish people wouldn’t react to criticisms of their favorite games with intense hatred. Hell, I love Halo, but I won’t deny that the games have problems.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I dont think there are as many people who dont like half life 2.There are,however many people who hate the hl2 hype.

          1. Duhad says:

            I can see that, I felt that way about Avatar.

            1. Irridium says:

              Yeah, he’s probably right. I’ve definitely fallen into the “hate the hype” a few times.

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                I used to do that with Call of Duty all the time, then I realized that it wasn’t the game that annoyed me. It wasn’t even the fan base, it was a specific subset of the fanbase that feels the need to defend it at the slightest provocation.

                The game itself is alright. Completely average in my opinion, but alright.

        2. X2Eliah says:

          What about the flip side of the coint, btw?

          There are a lot of popular games that are just so cool to hate that the ‘cool bros of the net’ will pile 10metric tons of crap on your head if you even dare to like something about it.
          Just ask mumbles what people say when she admits she liked DA2. Just look above at all the hate on ME3. Try to start a discussion about Oblivion without it degenerating into “lolbethesdacrapplotsoblivionsodumbbetrayalofmorrowind” wankfest…

      5. CalDazar says:

        I saw a thread on 4chan that started out as trolling HL2 fans but turned into a legitimate and polite discussion when somebody linked to your video.

        That’s some magic right there.

      6. Dasick says:

        True or false (in your opinion)?

        Half-Life is overrated

        True or false (in your opinion DAMMIT)?

        Overrated does not mean bad. Just not as good as the hype suggests it is, with often overlooked flaws that need to be pointed out.

  33. John The Savage says:

    Shamus, you need to play Red Dead Redemption. You will never know how brilliant and endearing combat taunts can be until you do. Mark my words, you will change your mind by the time you see the end credits.

    1. Eric says:

      But can it top “I WILL DESTROOYYY YOU!”?

      1. IFS says:


        1. Daemian Lucifer says:


          1. newdarkcloud says:


            1. Earlindor says:


              1. newdarkcloud says:


                1. Alex says:

                  “I’M A COWARDLY FOOL!”

                  1. Destrustor says:

                    “I WILL BE YOUR DOOOOOOOM!”

                    1. Pete says:

                      Is this the new pun thread? Oh, and:

                      “Skyrim belongs to the Nords!”

                    2. newdarkcloud says:

                      “What’s the matter, someone stole your sweetroll?”

                    3. Syal says:


                2. IFS says:

                  “Your in over your head”

                  1. newdarkcloud says:

                    “The Caesar has marked you for death. And the Legion obeys! Ready yourself for battle.”

                    True story, in New Vegas. I saw a Legion ambush squad coming to me and started shooting at them before they arrived. One of them got close me, said the above line, then ran away shouting “I DON’T WANNA DIE!!!”.

                    1. Even says:

                      “This place makes boot camp seem like Disneyland!”

                    2. Destrustor says:

                      “patrolling the Mojave almost makes you wish for a nuclear winter”

  34. Kyrion says:

    Make the road fork, so the player has to choose which way to go. Make both paths drop down to the same one-way area (to avoid them going in circles) and let them wonder what was on the other road.

    I don’t know about other people, but if that was in Alan Wake I’d just go back every time, for a similar reason to why I’d go off the track exploring. They’ve put collectibles out there! They must be collected! While the thermos flasks seem like the most pointless of things and extra ammo is less relevant in Alan Wake because of the inventory resets that happen, the manuscript pages are there explaining the plot, so missing them makes it even more tangled.

    What I think is needed is something to force the player to keep moving a bit, in the same way that Left 4 Dead throws mobs of zombies at you if you hang around too long messing with stuff, this needs something to make it feel like there’s actually some kind of threat and it’s a race against time… Not always, but occasionally. As it is there’s either set pieces (like the bridge) or walks in the woods with someone having laid taken summoning alarm traps every 50 paces. If you got to a fork, went one way, came to a one-way drop, turned back and got mobbed by taken it’d be an actual decision: Should I fight through to check the other way, or leave whatever might have been there?

    Lastly, did I miss WHY the manuscript pages are scattered aound everywhere? Was there an incredibly anal hurricane that ripped each page out individually and threw them around in a very specific pattern?

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      An early cutscene showed the first two pages you find being blown in the wind. That was to establish that the wind blew the pages across the town.

      1. Thomas says:

        Also Zane was supposed to be manipulating things so the right one always found you at the right time

  35. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I think the game wasted a lot of potential with both plot and mechanics. The idea is that “darkness is the enemy”, basically if it’s not in the light the Dark Presence can “take” it, warp it, poltergeist it… but what we get out of it is basically enemies with shields that you have to bring down before you shoot them and some physics objects wildly flung around.

    Now, I’m not saying that Alan Wake would be better as a puzzler but I think it could profit from being a bit more like, say, Amnesia. Have the player struggle for light, make the flashlight just one of the mechanics, and possibly a scarce one, and use light switches, light from fires, torches… Like Shamus said, make enemies fewer, but powerful, instead of making the player wonder if there are indeed hundreds of truckers missing from the area or if the DP can “spawn” them ad infinitum make a few enemies with better defined character stalking you, some of them perhaps trying to attack you in indirect ways, that are either chased away or held back by the light until some form of final confrontation with them. Make dark areas that make player anxious that something is going to happen until they turn on the lights and see it’s just a normal room, then turn it around and make normal areas that go spooky when the light is off. Make it obvious that whenever you’re not in the light the primordial, eldritch cosmic horror may be reaching out for you…

    Another idea, the entire “works of art come true” thing is hardly explored. Put in more artists, just as the DP is struggling against Alan’s writing make the characters search for loopholes in what they’ve been written in. Alan could realise much quicker that it’s his writing that’s coming real, the player obviously does, but he could be anxious to tell everybody else that “hey, all those people dying or missing? It’s kinda my doing” and when he finally does just imagine the possibilities, imagine the uncomfortable feeling of looking at someone you know you wrote dead or maimed, imagine the characters wondering how to ask if you wrote them off, possibly just to balance out your own survival, and grasping at straws: “It says ‘Alan saw her disappear over the edge of the cliff, too terrified to even scream'” “But you didn’t write I’m dead. It doesn’t say you’ll see my corpse, right? Right?!” That’s without even getting into the whole cause-effect angle…

    1. LunaticFringe says:

      The ‘other artist’ angle is something I would have liked to see explored more too. Having the other artists affect reality in some sense would help to draw away from Alan being ‘special’ as well, which could soften his ‘douchey elitist’ image.

  36. Drexer says:

    I gotta thank you all for a very good season. I hadn’t been watching Spoiler Warning as frequently as I wished too, and I’d dropped the previous 3 seasons before reaching the end, so it was with great enjoyment that I felt that the conversation and content of this season was such that it kept me interested the whole way. It certainly can be related to the way you’ve all accumulated experience with it, seeing as even the times you spoke all one over another were quickly corrected and you made sure to keep the talk about the game and its theme relatively centralized.

    Just a couple of ideas regarding the ending though. I certainly felt it was very anti-climatic and raising the various comparisons Chris made in terms of Stephen King and his books, in his finales King’s books always seem to work with bigger stakes. Here Alan sacrificed himself and saved Alice, but other than that it seemed like the status quo stayed the same, the darkness disappeared but the lake is still there and apparently nothing changed in the town. I can’t help but feel that a better ending would have been if mayhaps Alan had closed the lake behind him, draining it to a bottomless point at its center which would have worked both thematically as well as avoiding the weird moment where Alice saved herself but not Allan. It would certainly have felt to me as if Alan had accomplished more if that happened, that and it would certainly had a more ‘other’ prespective to the final comment about the lake being an ocean.

    PS: Having just seen the trailer for Lucius, I am going to bet on it for at the very least a one or two episode special in a year or so. It’s the perfect game for Josh to troll around with and if they do not fix the horrible voice acting I certainly expect much fun will be had with Mumble’s accents.

  37. Nimas says:

    Heh, mentioning recut trailers, I’ll have to leave this here.

  38. Piflik says:

    I think the Clicker should have been some kind of ‘superweapon’…the combat was repetitive from the beginning, so it wouldn’t really have broken anything gameplaywise having a 1-click solution to every encounter, but it would have established the Clicker as something potent…

  39. rayen says:

    am i the only one who doesn’t want to see mass effect 3? i feel it’s just going to be ME2+1. really really good game until the end. ME2 was that, ME3 is also that only the gameplay and first 90% is better and the ending is exponentially worse. Everyone is just gonna stick around for the shredding at the end. And even if it’s a minimum hour run, that’s too much build up.

    The nerdrage around ME3 is too ferocious. Anything positive is going to drowned out by the “but the ending sucks”. i mean look at this thread, it isn’t just about alan wake’s ending (although there isn’t much to say), it’s also about ME3, ME3 next season, and ME3’s ending. Everything Mass Effect involved eventually ends up on ME3’s ending, how bad it was, and the nerdrage surrounding it. and that makes it very hard for voices of reason, the people who don’t care, weren’t surprised, or praise the game for what it did right, to get a word in edgewise. The storm passed and i have no wish to see it return.

    I say do saints row (2/3), or an elder scrolls game.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      Anything negative about the game is equally drowned out by “the ending sucks”. I enjoyed by time with Mass Effect 3, but even the parts before the ending were by no means perfect.

      1. Eric says:

        Considering the entire game’s plot is premised on a plot hole, I’d say that’s a fair assessment.

      2. Alex says:

        “Shepard Commander, I have to die now. No, don’t ask me how, or why that has to happen. Be sure to just accept it blindly and then forget about me 10 seconds later.

        OK dead now bai”

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          There’s also the fact that he’s using Reaper tech when “Geth make their own future” and previously rejected all forms of Reaper tech.

          1. CalDazar says:

            It didn’t just port over reaper code directly, it used reaper tech to make the new upgrades for the Geth, didn’t it? I mean they have free will so obviously they are not the same upgrades as what they had under the Reaper. Thats in line with what Geth do, in fact that was what legion was doing when you meet it (looking for reaper tech to re-purpose).

            1. Even says:

              There’s also the fact that the Geth consensus is always subject to change when new data is acquired. “Geth making their own future” may have become irrelevant to him/it anyway after experiencing the full potential of the upgrade while still retaining a free will. Plus it wasn’t as if he had a choice thanks to the idiocy of the Quarians. It was either perish or do the upgrade.

      3. anaphysik says:

        “i mean look at this thread, it isn't just about alan wake's ending (although there isn't much to say), it's also about ME3, ME3 next season, and ME3″²s ending. Everything Mass Effect involved eventually ends up on ME3″²s ending, how bad it was, and the nerdrage surrounding it”
        Reading comprehension much? Seriously, look at the prior ME3 discussions in this thread again and tell us that we’re ragging on about the ending. We are not. Everyone knows the endings (ending) are horrible, and precisely how horrible they are has already been well enumerated elsewhere on the internet. (Heck, even here on Shamus’ blog, but in threads from weeks ago. See the ME3 Ending Deconstruction thread, and the thread for Shamus’ Escapist article on the subject.)

        No, newdarkcloud has it precisely right. We’re not discussing what went wrong with the ending – we’re discussing what went wrong everywhere else. We’re interested in all the problems that people have let slide simply because the extreme awfuless of the ending overshadowed them.

        (I too generally enjoyed ME3, but it does indeed have a strong case of THE BADNESS throughout it. I’m certainly not going to give it a free pass just because it’s ‘fairly good.’ Anything worth criticizing is worth criticizing well.)

    2. RTBones says:

      I think the nerdrage you speak of is exactly why they SHOULD do ME3. It is a very rare title that gets so much right, and undoes it by doing so much wrong at the end. The fact that the contrast is so VIVID is reason enough to talk about it.

      Dont get me wrong – I will enjoy the SW playthrough of Skyrim when they get there. But it is the right time to do ME3.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      But its not a really really good game before the end.There are a lot of problems in it way before the ending even comes to view.And not all of them are story related(lets see how long it takes for Josh to rage about the awesome button).

      1. anaphysik says:

        Awesome button rage was already present in ME2 (see his getting stuck talking with SMELLY when he was trying to run past her). But, of course, the in-combat rage will happen in due time, yes, yesssssss….

        (And now I’m trying to remember whether Charge targeting got better or worse in ME3. I dun forgot.)

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          I heard that in ME3, Vanguards can just span Charge, then Nova over and over until everything dies.

          1. IFS says:

            Yes they can, it is awesome

          2. anaphysik says:

            Yes we can, it is awesome.

            (However, I was talking about the actual activation of Charge. Notice how often Josh died in the ME2 playthrough simply because Charge wasn’t activating (and so no shield recovery for him). For instance, one reason I hate playing vanguard in ME3 MP is because Charge is a pain to activate for some reason.)

            (Also, the actual thing to do is get Charge, shotgun until your cooldown is almost finished, THEN Nova. That way you can Charge immediately afterwards to keep your shields up all the time.)

            1. IFS says:

              It has problems in multiplayer because the tiniest amount of lag throws it off, its why I only play vanguard as the host. Also in the campaign if you don’t carry too much weight, wear armor with a good power cooldown (blood dragon or custom N7) and taake the nova upgrade that makes your cooldown go faster when you use nova then you will be able to charge, immediately activate nova and then immediately use charge again, repeat until victorious.

              1. anaphysik says:

                (Yeah, that’s actually the build I used in SP. (I like me that light Eviscerator.))

                1. IFS says:

                  Really? I hate how the eviscerator has only 3 shots, I always use the scimitar, although I rarely need to fire a shot.

    4. MatthewH says:

      The problem with Alan Wake is that everything petered out a week early. As our hosts said earlier in the week -they didn’t have anything more to say. So it’s not surprising that we are thinking about the next season.

      During the next season, though, I suspect we’ll have enough to talk about in every episode without devolving into “yeah, but the ending sucks” until we actually get to the ending.

    5. X2Eliah says:

      Yeah, I agree. Let’s see if the SW cast can actually pull something more interesting than “X sucks Y sucks Z sucks waah waah ending waah waah lol dis iz stoopid look at Josh deaths waah waah ending”.

      I certainly hope they can rise above that, BUT I also logically don’t believe they’ll manage (or even try) that.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Sooo,you blame them for seeing only negative in everything,while you completely ignore everything positive theyve said about previous games,even about this very game,even in this very episode where you are commenting.Great job!

        1. X2Eliah says:

          You’re completely ignoring anything positive I’ve said in previous posts on previous episodes in this very season. Soo, you blame me for only one negative-ish pessimistic comment that I wrote on a bad day?

          Great job!

          … and so on ad infinitum.

          Edit – and now for proper explanation, why I said that:
          It’s, in part, because they really do like to rip bioware’s games apart. Stuff like tweets etc. so far indicate that they are planning much of the same, except for Mumbles.
          Also – take a look at other comments of, say, last week’s threads that touched ME3 subject, eh? See how many of them basically ask for “bile”? Yeah, that – I’m trying to counter that. So it doesn’t look like everybody wants pure unadulterated hate from SW show. Because it IS a great show, with lots of good criticism and great humour. and i’d really hate to see it succumb to those asking for “bags of bile”.

          1. Dasick says:

            I don’t want SW crew to rip ME3 apart. I just wish they didn’t do an LP of it at all. I know the proper healthy response is OMFG NERDRAAAAAAAAAAUGHEEEEE!!! but the entire ME3 thing just makes me sad, from the demo trailers to the bad ending. I knew it would suck one way or another right from the start, but sometimes I wish I was wrong.

            1. newdarkcloud says:

              It’s my hope that they do more than just tear it apart all of the time. I also want them to highlight all of the things that they did right with Mass Effect 3. And they did do several things right in the game that I have high praise for.

              As tough as I am (and will continue to be) on Mass Effect 3, I don’t hate the game. In fact, I’d say that I enjoyed my play-through overall and intend to one day play again. It was worth the money I spent and I wouldn’t go so far as to say it ruined the series. Yeah, many of the things that happened were stupid and didn’t make sense, but it was still an enjoyable experience.

              At least most of the parts without Kai Leng. Seriously, I don’t like him.

              1. RTBones says:

                For me, it didn’t ruin the series, it ruined further interest in the series. It was a nice ride while it lasted, but there are other rides in this amusement park that deserve attention now. Some of Bioware/EA’s design decisions this time around were just, in my opinion, bad – and that is before I even get to the godawful ending.

  40. RTBones says:

    A few minor things –

    First – thank you for another fine season. The more you do this, the better you get at it. You did better on this run than I would have – as I mentioned in a previous post, the combat at some point would have made me just quit. Kudos to Josh and the rest of the cast for sticking it out.

    Second, I think Remedy deserves at least a few props for Alan Wake. Did they get some things wrong? Of course they did. The key here, though, is that it is a decent effort overall, and they had the stones to stick by it even when and where its obvious they were taking a risk. That is to be commended, particularly in today’s cookie-cutter formulary business environment. Remedy, please dont lose that edge.

    Third – yeah, ME3. We’re on the last episode of Alan Wake, and the M60s are already warming up with Bioware/EA firmly lined up in just about everybody’s sights. This should be a fun ride.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I agree. Remedy screwed up with Alan Wake, but at least they took a risk. The fact that the took it as a learning experience and improved upon the central mechanics and story in both the DLCs and American Nightmare also gives me an even higher opinion of them. They took the time to read the criticisms, reflected on them, and avoided making the same mistakes. Also, the story was good and the premise was interesting. I can respect Remedy for all of this.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Oh yes.Learning from your mistakes and correcting them is something you rarely see in companies these days.For contrast look at bioware who not only repeated their mistakes,but even made them worse.

        1. LunaticFringe says:

          Bioware has never had a good record responding to consumer criticism, and their ‘occupation’ by EA hasn’t helped things along.

  41. Gahrer says:

    The first two episodes of this SW made me buy the game from GOG. I really liked it. The story were interesting, I loved the characters and I found the combat sections padded but otherwise fun. I’m amazed that the games creators managed to create a “irritating” comic-relief/sidekick character (Barry) and actually making me like him. Never once did I feel the urge to punch/murder him. I don’t think that has ever happened before to me in a game.

    Edit: I liked the combat taunts in this game. They felt mildly creepy and were uncommon enough for me to not be annoyed by them. I feel strange just by realising that I felt that a game were improved by its combat taunts. :P

    1. newdarkcloud says:


      1. Minnow says:


        1. newdarkcloud says:


          1. Amnestic says:


            1. Jarenth says:


              1. Michael says:

                I’LL NEVER DANCE AGAIN, MOM!

                1. Destrustor says:

                  JOHN AND MARY GO TO SCHOOL!

  42. Deadpool says:

    Creating items from words reminded me of Unwritten… except Unwritten was AMAZING (PS: Mumbles, you should totally go ready it) and this is… Well, this…

  43. If there was an Alan Wake movie it might be like this?!!!

  44. Alex says:

    Re: the next season:

    I know you guys have decided the next one already. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Maxwell Adams and the Freelance Astronauts, it’s this: watching someone play Tetris while a bunch of people judge him is the best thing that can happen in a Let’s Play.

    That is when the magic happens.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yes,lets have Rutskarn play tetris while everyone is judging him!

  45. Axiomatic Badger says:

    Firstly, thank you for another wonderful series :)

    Really, my opionion about this game has simply solidified: Alan Wake is supposed to be a game “about” horror, rather than a horror game. We’re watching someone who’s life is comming apart in a truely surreal way, rather than experiencing it ourselves.

    It’s also badly made.

    I kinda liked the little bit at the end in the faux-appartment. That really should have been the premise of the whole game, that the whole time he was trapped in a mockery of the real world, that he never left the lake.
    This game also could have been a typing tutor, a’la Typing of the Dead.

    Ah, well, looking forward to the next series. There are fewer things in life finer than watching Shamus be wrong (ME3 Ending made sense! Mostly! Spread the word!)


  46. LunaticFringe says:

    Great season guys, I do love how this game ran out of steam but you substituted it with random conversations about Source mods and Rhode Island politics.

    Haven’t had a chance to play Mass Effect 3 yet, but I saw it at a used media store for thirty bucks. Definitely picking it up to experience the game before you tear it apart.

  47. hborrgg says:

    Alright, watching me3 get installed. If you guys want to show the game as it’s played then the entire first episode should have no gameplay whatsoever, just Origin.

    1. X2Eliah says:

      Is that any different from steam/install-from-disc/impulse/gamersgate, though? I mean, I’ve yet to hear of a game that doesn’t have to be installed and is not a browser-based flashgame.

      1. Shamus says:

        I’m assuming he’s talking about the whole Origin account creation, which is the most time-consuming account creation I’ve ever done. Seriously. By the end it felt like I was doing my taxes.

        1. X2Eliah says:

          Oh, that. Hm, could be. I think I managed to make mine fairly simply, I just used my bioware forum account which is basically also my EA-everything account.. I didn’t need to make anything specifically *for* origin.

          BUT – I also haven’t bought things through origin either, everything there is from disc.. So possibly adding all sorts of payment details etc. might be a pain, idk.

          However, I bet that even at it’s worst it doesn’t approach the stupidity of GFWL account systems, where you need to fuss about with xbox live accounts and countries (because gfwl isn’t available in some countries, xbox live accounts are available in other places that do’t perfectly overlap, and yet you can buy gfwl-demanding games off amazon/whatever in a completely different set of countries), which honestly was such a royal pita for me… Urgh.

          Hm. Come to think of it.. isn’t any sort of account creation a fairly annoying process? Imagine coming fresh to steam, or to impulse, or to ubisoft’s servers, or to (as said before) gfwl.. It’s all fairly awful, isn’t it?

          1. Shamus says:

            They’re all awful, but Origin is particularly time-consuming. It make me set up SEVERAL secret questions, for example. I had to use THEIR questions – most of which didn’t make sense for me and I HAD to do at least three. (And they wanted five.) I can’t remember what the other things were, but they were time consuming as well and I remember at the time thinking, “I hope other services don’t start doing this.”

            Having said that, I’m sure GFWL is worse. GFWL is diabolical in its awfulness.

            1. X2Eliah says:

              Urgh, yes.. Secret questions – I really hate that nonsense.. Cisco’s net academy also relies on those fairly heavily, and it’s just plain a pure annoyance.

              It’s not like those secret questions are actually any helpful either, imo. Stuff like “your mom’s maiden name” is obvious to any data trawler, and YOU as the actual legitimate user are royally screwed if, say, you forgot the answer to something that seemed witty two years ago – or if you forgot how exactly you spelled it then (what spaces, what capitals, was there a dot at the end, and so on)..

              So yeah – Origin had this secret question nonsense? Egads.. that’s bad.

              1. Destrustor says:

                It wouldn’t be as awful if they always let you come up with your own questions. Those pre-made questions don’t apply to everyone, and when they do it’s very nearly a security risk anyway.
                When I can, I make the question about a part of the fictional world I’m building for role-playing purposes and the actual answer a just-as-fictional word.
                Unless they can search the database of MY VERY BRAIN, no-one could find the answers recorded anywhere.

  48. Mr. Guy says:

    This piece has one of my favorite examples of the lazy writing here:
    Zane: “It has no heart. It is filled with darkness. You must fill its heart with light.”

    Wait. I must fill the heart it doesn’t have with light? How does that work?

    This is an example of throwing sentences that sound good individually together and not bothering to read the whole. This is easy to fix, and would jump out to any half-decent editor. And it’s not really necessary. Simple fixes that keep the tone and don’t sound so dumb:
    “It’s heart is filled with darkness. You must fill it with light.”
    “It has no heart. It is filled with darkness. You must drive out the darkness.”

    Apparently Zane is also a lousy writer…

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      He did create Mr. Scratch.

      1. Amnestic says:

        Did he? I played through American Nightmare and from what I gathered Mr. Scratch was the tabloid rumours about Alan Wake made flesh by the Dark Place. If he WAS created by Zane, then why was he so bloody evil and…well, Dark? Part of me hopes that American Nightmare isn’t fully canonical though since Mr. Scratch dies at the end of it and he’s too fun a villain to give up after only a four hour standalone expansion game.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          You know, how much influence Zane had in the creation of Mr. Scratch is left somewhat ambiguous.

          I was under the impression that Zane created him so that Alan’s life wouldn’t turn to shit while he was in the dark realm. However, the rumors about Alan “corrupted” him and turned into the murder-happy psycho he see in American Nightmare.

  49. newdarkcloud says:

    I’m just curious: Is there anyone on the cast who has not played ME3 yet? A lot of the humor from ME2’s finale came from Rutskarn not knowing anything about it before it happened. Will any one else be going through it blind so that we can see all the good and the bad from the perspective of someone who’s seeing it for the first time.

    1. anaphysik says:

      Sounds like Chris might not have? I believe I heard others talk about him ‘doing research on the Mass Effect series’?

      I don’t think I’ve ever noticed any Mass Effect refs in his Errant Signal vids either, so it just might be the case.

      1. anaphysik says:

        EDIT: From his twitter feed, it sounds like he’s just started ME2.

  50. Eljacko says:

    You know what you guys should do sometime? Chzo Mythos.

  51. Tever says:

    I like to think, in their position, I could do a lot better.

    Yeah, but you’re allowed to write happy endings, Shamus. Wake is a horror writer.

  52. Vic 2.0 says:

    “Alan needs to shut his mouth. His calm, soothing delivery during monologue exposition was completely at odds with the idea of “thriller”, “horror”, “action”, or whatever this game was trying to be.”

    Not to me. In fact, I thought that his voice being calm and “soothing” (which was an effect I must say I did not experience) contributed to the obvious aim to make you feel alone. The purpose of the narration was to keep you moving along. Keep you feeling rushed even when you’re not technically in any danger.

    “It was also at odds with the character they eventually establish: A hot-tempered jerk. His warm instruction to the player undercuts both the mood of the game and the identity of the protagonist.”

    Well, naturally, he’s speaking in past tense. So perhaps he had a life-changing experience? Not too hard to believe.

    “And speaking of Alan's personality, the story needs to… Establish Alan sooner. The scene with him waking up and taking painkiller at the start of Chapter 6 was a lot more revealing than the one where he comforts his wife in the dark.”

    His personality is established the minute he wakes up from his dream and on through the scene at the diner and in the cabin… all at the very beginning of the game.

    “The opening tutorial. This took way too long to introduce what was basically a few very simple concepts. It screwed up the mood. This whole section could be cut and the gameplay elements could have been introduced later when they were needed.”

    They were needed the moment the tutorial was over! I actually thought it was pretty thrilling for Alan to be thrown into danger right after Zane disappeared *shrugs*

    “Combat taunts. Cut them all. Combat taunts in general are usually a bad idea. If we really needed to have them in the game, they should show up a few times in the entire game, not in every single fight. This goes beyond Alan Wake, but as games move closer to photo-realism and aspire to be quasi-movies, they need to realize that repeating combat taunts is no more acceptable than having movie characters recycle dialog.”

    A fair point. But I enjoyed them as the stimulating (typically comedic) additions I’m sure they were meant to be.

    “And speaking of the enemies… Remove 75% of the enemies in the game. I say this without having experienced the combat in American Nightmare. From what Chris has said, it sounds like they fixed the combat by embracing the action-shooter elements.”

    I disagree on both points. What’s there to feel on edge about without the occasional onslaught of supernatural foes? And American Nightmare was a joke. There are far too few enemies in that one. You can literally walk around the map just hunting for Taken and maybe get approached by two weaklings that take zero time to kill off. Didn’t make sense to me that they added weapons and varieties of Taken but then made them all chickens that seemed more afraid of you.

  53. The Truth says:

    0:27 – You call that a PUZZLE? This is supposed to be you making fun of the game, not you demonstrating that you couldn’t figure out you were moving a cart out of the way so you could continue across the bridge.

    3:43 – “Anyone else just wondering WTF the darkness is doing at this point?”

    Nope. It explained it in the first manuscript in this Episode you picked up and talked over.

    4:00 – You know what’s going to happen at the end of Episode 6 before seeing it?… Yeah, I’m calling BS.

    4:32 – No, that’s a piece of a ship. That’s why it LOOKS like a piece of a ship :P

    5:25 – You have ships and trains falling all around you, and your only thought is that the enemy models are repeating? This sort of repetition is common in shooters, but they don’t usually have trains and ships falling from the sky in the process! Idk, it just seems like a weird thing to nitpick.

    And you’re just glossing over the tele-flanker, which is a rather rare enemy in this game.

    5:50 – Alan Wake’s American Nightmare was a great game too, but I actually think the combat in American Nightmare is LESS enjoyable than the original Alan Wake. Despite adding some different types of enemies and weapons (which wouldn’t have fit the plot in this game anyway), it’s just too easy. They gave Alan way too much stamina, made it so the flashlight is practically infinitely powered, and made the whole “too much ammo” problem this game had to begin with infinitely worse. There’s also a lot less variety in locations. Not saying American Nightmare is a BAD game, but nowhere near as good as this one.

    At 6:46, you mentioned the fact that you had never been killed by the dark presence dropping a train directly on you. At 6:54, I thought to myself, “You would most definitely be complaining about it if it were possible, so why even bring it up?”

    At 7:48, Shamus confuses something he tried to do on his own playthrough with a reason to critique the game.

    8:55 – You’re not SUPPOSED to know “what” the evil villain is in this sort of game, and you WOULD know what the plan was if you’da been paying attention to the cutscenes, narration, manuscripts, etc.

    But alas, the story sucks because you didn’t listen to any part of it.

    9:20 – I actually loved the combat in this game. Very satisfying. I come back and play it through sometimes just for the combat and atmosphere alone.

    Chris overestimated your skill in gaming, bro. You died so many times, that’s the only reason you couldn’t fit the rest of the game into the last episode. Seriously… Never heard someone use the word “forgettable” to describe Episode 6 though!

    11:25 – No, they’re not magnets. They’re being pulled by the darkness to the opening of the ravine to keep you from getting any further. That umm. That should’ve been obvious.

    “You know, darkness, your aim is pretty bad-” *smack* Haha, love it.

    12:18 – The “Alice never loved you” actually goes with the criticism you go into afterward. You’re supposed to put it together that A) He failed Alice in many ways, and B) The dark presence is now trying to break his spirits by making more drama of that than there really is.

    14:40 – How does the fight with the dark presence “not make any sense”. What is it, specifically? You never elaborated on that.

    15:09 – WTF would he bring the flare gun with him UNDERWATER for? Your criticisms make no sense.

    15:35 – This time, the jump doesn’t look so bad, because he’s free falling a great distance into water. So I don’t get the harping on this one either.

    17:20 – Well this criticism WOULD make sense, if it didn’t directly contradict earlier criticism. You can’t say “The game should NOT be having us do the same stuff from beginning to end” and then turn around to say “It SHOULD be having us do the same stuff from beginning to end”. It’s just weird, mmkay?

    18:05 – Zane creating Mr. Scratch is only one interpretation, which may or may not include Mr. Scratch being evil as the point of it. Indeed, neither the content of the DLC nor the spin-off American Nightmare is necessarily any part of Alan’s real-life storyline. It could be that he’s not evil at all.

    21:40 – If you want emotion, stop talking over all the dialogue EXPRESSING EMOTION! Argh!

    24:50 – He’s not trapped “in the bottom of the lake” for no reason. As the game points out, repeatedly (including in this very cut scene you’re talking over), the scales have to balance out. Zane’s attempt failed specifically because he tried to simply bring Barbara back with nothing negative to balance the scales. Alan essentially sacrificed himself to free Alice. That’s the ending.

    25:25 – “Apparently all the people we killed are totally fine, I guess”

    Um? Who in the cut scene is someone you killed in the game? Even Rose and Nightingale weren’t shown being KILLED… So you guys didn’t just neglect to LISTEN to the content in the game; you didn’t watch it either? That’s weird.

    26:25 – They answered and addressed quite a lot. More importantly, the objective from Alan’s standpoint was achieved in that Alice was rescued. I mean, there’s certainly no denying that much of the mystery hasn’t been resolved, but then that’s how horror/thriller typically works.

    “Is it a parody, is it a horror story, is it a thriller?”

    Probably what it says on the front of the case? (That would be the last one)

    28:20 – Where and how does the story of the game not follow it’s own internal logic? And nothing in the game tells you the story has to make sense. In fact, in the very beginning of the game, it suggests to you that very few questions (if any) are supposed to be answered.

    28:50 – Alan’s narration was one of the things I found MOST interesting. Not the narration itself, just the fact that it was being done, I thought it was an interesting concept for this genre of game. And it was clear that we weren’t supposed to have an emotional connection with Alan, beyond wanting to save Alice. This is what all of his rage and worry, and all of her screaming, was supposed to accomplish. Just that she is in trouble and we should rescue her.

    It’s not that I think ideas such as “The apartment scene in the last episode should’ve been in the FIRST episode” are BAD ideas, I just know that we were in fact given plenty to run with in the beginning already. And I really feel that you guys did more harm to your understanding/connecting to the story by talking over manuscripts and narrations, making jokes over cutscenes and other dialogue, and nit-picking than the way the game was designed could’ve ever done. I know that a couple of you played this game before making this video, but considering that you two never jumped in to correct several misstatements by the others (You can find them in my comments after every video), I have to assume you didn’t pay very close attention then either. I’m a big fan of the game, and it isn’t because I’m going by prior understanding as you said in this video. I made it a point to look for things that you guys had in fact missed from previous episodes, to base my disagreement over several criticisms on.

    Aside from that, to each his own. I didn’t do all this to troll you, BTW, I just realized that the “Alan Wake apologists” were grossly underrepresented here and wanted to give a more fair (and what I think is a more accurate) assessment of the game in its entirety.

    That being said, you guys are ENORMOUSLY entertaining the whole way through your videos. I like your entire style as a team. Just get your audio in order, doggammit! Peace.

    1. Benjamin Hilton says:

      Holy Vehemence Batman!

      I decide to re-watch an old season and find that someone felt the need to get angry and comment at length on a two year lets play of a four year old game.

      Why?…just Why?

      1. The Truth says:

        I’d say I was more annoyed than angry (I even complimented these guys a few times, including at the end of this very comment). But yes, I was annoyed that they were clearly just trying to make fun of the game and not give it a fair assessment. Why? Well I should think that obvious. I believe the truth should be heard, even if it’s a truth most people don’t care a lot about.

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