Mass Effect EP13: Filler Galore

  By Shamus   Nov 19, 2012   110 comments


Link (YouTube)

Note the longer load times and frame skipping we have going on now that Randy is our player. I do wonder what sort of magical herculean CPU Josh has under his desk. You can see Randy’s machine struggled to keep up with Mass Effect here. The CPU load of capturing full-frame video to disk AND capturing video, reducing, and streaming it to Livestream is a considerable challenge, and this is on top of running a videogame. Josh’s computer does this week after week without skipping any frames.


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  1. GM says:

    The Video is Private and 1 second later that is false.

  2. Lame Duck says:

    I was going to comment that the video was set to private, but by the time I had loaded the post and could type a comment, the video had become public (the site’s still running pretty slow for me).

  3. Paul Spooner says:

    It’s interesting the different tone in the background of the game between this and the most recent ME3 SW. ME1 has lots of talking, discussing political impact, trying to convince people of this or that. ME3 has reapers shooting individual troop transports with death rays and the player running around trying to get some infantry “heavy” weapons to shoot at the space elder gods. Still a good deal of “trying to convince people of things” but, somewhere in there Shepard seems to have taken the idiot ball from the Council.

  4. Tse says:

    Why would an armor piece or, hell, any piece of clothing, need to get into a person’s butt crack?

  5. krellen says:

    And yet not even Josh’s mighty machine can manage to run Adobe Premier without incident.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    That hangar in the beginning is one of the bigger reasons why I prefer me1 over 2 and 3.Yes,it may feel boring on replays,but this connection between places really makes the galaxy feel like a big place.You go from A to B to C to D to E,everything flowing naturally.While in the sequels you teleport from A to D,without any connectivity.Sometimes you dont even get a cutscene.And even your ship looks like a bunch of hubs,and not like a connected piece of an environment.It just makes everything feel small and cramped.

    And people say how me2 has better presentation.Pshah.

    • swenson says:

      True. ME1 just felt like so much of a bigger galaxy. Sure, all the planets were copy-pasted and ugly and boring, but at least they were there.

      I do have to say one thing in ME3’s defense, though, and that is that the ME3 Normandy is by far my favorite. There’s just so much stuff in it, even rooms that never get used for anything (like life support)!

      • Jake Albano says:

        Life support is where Thane hangs out. I think all the rooms are home to one character or another (if you include the DLC ones).

        • Amnestic says:

          Thane hung out in Life Support in ME2, but in ME3 no one does. It’s just an empty room. You don’t even get flashbacks to talking to Thane (which would be appropriate (though not for Josh!) given his species’ weird flashback eidetic memory thing).

          It’s not even used for one-off conversation spots like the bar is for Tali being drunk (not for Josh!) or Garrus/Javik talking about their respective cycles.

          It might be used for another DLC character at some point I suppose. I don’t think Fem Turian or Aria are going to be recruitable for the main game though.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    By the way,I forgot,did you punch the al-jilani in me3?

  8. swenson says:

    Oh, the good old days… back when I could just stop talking to the Council whenever I wanted…

  9. SleepingDragon says:

    Josh’s computer does this week after week without skipping any frames.

    Except for the time it spontaneously catches fire.

  10. zob says:

    Maybe it’s mentioned before but Tali looks uglier in this game compared to ME2/ME3.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      You think she looks prettier here?

      • zob says:

        It’s more of a body shape issue, she looks more alien in this game.

      • Gruhunchously says:

        They really just couldn’t get someone to at least try to conjure up a static 3D model for a still frame picture could they? Ugh.

        I mean, I don’t envy them for having to choose whether or not to reveal her face or not, but they could have handled it a little more gracefully than that.

        • The Rocketeer says:

          I appreciate the difficulty of having to decide whether to show her face or not. They were going to piss a lot of people off regardless of what they chose. I’d have understood if they just left her looks a mystery.

          That said, I think their handling of it was the clumsiest way of doing it. The two big scenes that could have really benefited from finally seeing her face- any of the scenes on Rannoch, and the final part of her romance- instead chose to keep it very obstinately hidden.

          So even if the picture you get of her afterwards had been, in itself, lovingly crafted and adored by all, it still would have felt like too little, too late; even though Shepard has seen her face a good two or three times now, the player’s payoff comes when all the main Tali drama has already passed by, in a tiny scene in which she isn’t even present, and you can’t even get a very good look at the picture.

          That the picture itself was what it was is simply icing on the cake; they had already turned what could have been a more involved, dramatic pay-off into a baffling anticlimax, irrespective of the picture itself.

          • anaphysik says:

            Definitely some very good points there.

          • Armagrodden says:

            I definitely agree that Tali should have revealed her face during one of the Rannoch scenes if she did so at all. Honestly, when I first watched the cutscene where Shepherd finds her picture I had hoped her entire face would be obscured by lens flare; it would have felt less like half-assed fanservice and more like an in-joke with the fans, and it would be justified because I doubt that quarrians have much experience taking omni-tool self-shots and posting them to Spacebook.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        Eh, does that happen?
        And why is she looking all . . . erm . . . “slutty”? And half naked on some planet?

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Not only that,but she is also a badly photoshoped stock picture.Thats your reward for romancing her for 2 games.Yeah,fuck you bioware.

          • 4th Dimension says:

            0 <– Amount of mf (milifucks) given by Bioware.

            • Klay F. says:

              Honestly, I’d be surprised if Bioware even gave a Planck-fuck at this point.

              • Paul Spooner says:

                That’s an interesting comment actually. While the Planck length, and time are infentessimal, not all Planck derived units are small. Some are quite large in fact!

                Taking the “fuck” as a unit of energy, we can approximate it at 120 Calories (your results may vary of course). That’s about 5*10^5 Joules. A milifuck would be about 5*10^2, or 500 Joules, enough energy to illuminate a room for a few seconds.

                However, the Planck energy is quite large, about 2*10^9 J, or about 4 kilofucks. That’s on the order of the amount of energy in a 20 gallon tank of gasoline. Put another way, you could demolish a skyscraper with a single planckfuck.

                Your statement is still valid of course. I would be very surprised if Bioware even their profit margins that many fucks.

          • Lame Duck says:

            And I thought Asari were bad in terms of just being attractive humans with some minor alien looking features stapled on.

            • The Rocketeer says:

              On one hand, I could understand; men have a much narrower range of what they find physically attractive, so while lady Shepards are fine with romancing reptilian space freaks, cleaving closer to ‘regular human gals with shit photoshopped onto their heads’ when designing love interests for guys might ultimately be the wiser option- to a point.

              But man, BioWare had a ridiculous level of romantic capital to blow on Tali’s face, a phrase I’m choosing not to alter even as its terrible potential dawns on me. Tali’s fans were already so fully, firmly devoted that they could have made her look like whatever they wanted and everyone would have just rolled with it. Quarians could have been seal people. Partly translucent. Non-Euclidean. There could have been nothing under the mask but the endless void of light and stars within the Monolith. Wouldn’t have mattered, at all, because everyone who’d care was already in for a pound.

              But nope. Human chick with glowy eyes and neck veins. BioWare, you cowards, you gutless wretches, you had the opportunity to troll a legion of hopeless nerds- which, might I remind you, is your only hobby- by conning them into loving a gal with Zoidberg mouthflaps, and you wasted it on something presentably mundane. Shame on you.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                To be fair,putting any amount of effort into it by imagining a new species,even a turian like clone,would be preferable.This was the ultimate trolling.

              • Armagrodden says:

                They could also have gotten more drama out of it by having Shepherd go through the same process of growing to care about Tali and then not caring about her inhuman face. You could have a scene in which Kai Leng or some other Cerberus thug tears off her mask during some pro-human rant, followed by most of the humans recoiling because they see a Gaim while the Normandy crew just sees Tali. Admittedly that isn’t original in concept or execution, but it’s better than what we got.

                (I’m also not sure that they gave female Shepherd more romantic options because they think being a woman would make her less shallow; I find it more likely that they assumed that even female Shepherds would be predominantly controlled by male players and therefore that no one would be paying attention to her male partners anyway.)

                • The Rocketeer says:

                  “I’m also not sure that they gave female Shepherd more romantic options because they think being a woman would make her less shallow; I find it more likely that they assumed that even female Shepherds would be predominantly controlled by male players and therefore that no one would be paying attention to her male partners anyway.”

                  I think I was going to say something to the same effect, and then edited it out; I think it’s within the realm of possibility, but I don’t give them that much credit. Do note that it’s not just ‘being shallow,’ though, it’s proven fact that men the world over just have a narrower set of characteristics they find physically attractive. It’s human nature.

                • LunaticFringe says:

                  Hey, Gaims are damned sexy.

          • Klay F. says:

            My favorite bit of that picture is the hand. They seriously just drew a line from where the middle and ring finger meet to the outside of the wrist, and then chopped everything below the line off in photoshop or whatever. There is absolutely no effort put into making the hand look like it should. The first time I saw it, it blew my mind how few fucks Bioware gave about portraying one of their most beloved characters. I wasn’t even mad about it at first because the shear audacity of it shocked me. In a game full of giant middle-fingers pointed at the audience, that picture stood taller than all the others, at least initially.

          • Amnestic says:

            I knew it was disappointing, but that’s my first time seeing the pic up close. Wow. Way to piss all over three games worth of setup, Bioware.

            Did you really not expect the rabid Tali fans to obsess over that picture and dissect it? Oh, right:

            “0 <– Amount of mf (milifucks) given by Bioware."

            Yup :|

  11. anaphysik says:

    Wow, I’ve never seen that sidequest with Ash in my party (since why would I ever head around with anyone but Wrex & Garrus? (Except maybe Wrex & Tali)).

    So that was neat. I like individually tailored connections like those.

  12. anaphysik says:

    @Past!Josh: wiki says that lieutenant commanders in the modern US navy *are* considered junior officers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junior_officer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lieutenant_commander_%28United_States%29

    Whether that should extend to Space-Navy, I don’t know. ME1 Codex doesn’t mention it in its run-down of ranks: http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Codex/Humanity_and_the_Systems_Alliance

    • McNutcase says:

      To a jerk Admiral, almost everyone’s a junior officer. Also, I understand it would be unusual to have a Lieutenant Commander as the commanding officer of a significant fleet asset. Their equivalent of a minesweeper, maybe, but my understanding is that the Normandy is more like a frigate in a wet navy, and that would be a full Commander’s posting. Probably with a LtCdr as XO, but apparently the paperwork is inefficient, or something, and Shepard never quite got the promotion.

      And brings to mind another point. I seem to recall Anderson is a Captain in this game; he seems a little senior for the posting. Although given the Normandy’s uniqueness, it’s probably not a step down in prestige (unusual vessels that work are considered awesome postings; unusual ones that don’t work are career suicide). However, from a flag perspective, a vessel that was commanded by a Captain now being commanded by a LtCdr? Very much Not As Things Should Be, and if you’re a jerk, you’ll mention how little rank the current CO has compared to his predecessor.

      • Amnestic says:

        Shepard doesn’t need a promotion. She works for the Council, not the Alliance. She’s a Spectre.

        Which makes the whole ‘house arrest’ thing in ME3…really, really stupid. Shepard’s above the law and the only reason the Alliance could hold her is if she willingly submitted to them. Why would she do that when she knows for certain the Reapers are coming and losing six months of time under house arrest would severely hinder preparation efforts. Clearly she didn’t lose her Spectre status for working with Cerberus, because the Council reinstated her in ME2 even when she was doing so.

        • 4th Dimension says:

          Yeah but he’ll still need to be of higher ranks than the next man aboard, and presumably there are multiple people aboard now that outrank him that are commanded by Shepard.

          Plus, Shepard is basically a Marine (he specializes in covert GROUND ops), who is given command over a naval asset. The proper way to do this is to have a real Commander or Capitan of Normandy who handles ship side of things, who’s orders are to ferry Shepard’s squad, and provide fire support. I suppose.

          But than again this is a game. So I never expect them to give any fucks about military hierarchy, and difference between services and what are their duties.

          • Amnestic says:

            Shepard’s above military hierarchy though. Again, she’s a Spectre – the only people in the galaxy who outrank her are the Council and she only takes orders from other people if she lets them. Or if the game railroads her to do so.

            In ME1, I’ll grant you that the Alliance could be all “well it’s still technically OUR ship” even though Anderson gave it to Shepard and occasionally that comes into play with Hackett giving you orders (well, I always viewed them as ‘requests’), but ME2/3? That was technically Cerberus’ ship which Shepard ‘confiscated’ and the Alliance then stole off you.

            • 4th Dimension says:

              Yeah, but even if he is above military, he still shouldn’t be running the Normandy. He could issue directives where to go next, but he should have no input in execution of those directives, since he is not qualified to run it in space combat. He has no experience in naval side of things. Supposedly.
              For example let’s equate him to President on board of a Navy ship. Now skirting the issue of his security, if the president said he wants to go somewhere, and that ship was detailed to him, the ship captain would take him there, BUT the President would have NO rights to interfere into OPERATIONAL part of things.

              Even worse, after first ME (where we at least had XO Presley), that part is now filled by Joker, who . . . is what exactly? A non com? Certainly not somebody that has the rank and experience to run an ENTIRE ship. After all ship is not only flying bits, but managing personnel, logistics, tactics and whole other lot.

              • drkeiscool says:

                I don’t think Shepard is even part of the Alliance anymore; he was declared dead by both the Alliance and the Council. Shepard might not even get his Spectre designation back, depending on certain variables.

                The Normandy SR-2 was built by Cerberus, crewed by Cerberus, and supported by Cerberus. The Alliance has absolutely no part in it, so Alliance protocols no longer matter. Rank is irrelevant.

                As for logistics and tactics… maybe the MST3K mantra? I mean, if you couldn’t use the ship, there wouldn’t be a game.

                • 4th Dimension says:

                  I know that 90% of the time films and games hoolywood things. I was just stating how stupid things are.

                  Alltough in ME2 there is a chain of command. Sort of. Miranda is there to solve discipline problems. Joker is in charge of flying, and EDI is in charge of tactics.

                  BUt still it’s stupid.

            • anaphysik says:

              Correction: the Council, Cerberus, and the Plot.

        • Wedge says:

          Wait, Shepard’s a Spectre? Shit, I keep forgetting about that, considering it has ABSOLUTELY NO BEARING on ME2 and 3 and they barely even fucking mention it.

  13. LunaticFringe says:

    After Conan Shepherd’s mass murder of the Feros colonists I almost wish that he was the Shepherd in the Mass Effect 3 season. Cause seeing him having a constant emotional conflict about the death of one innocent would’ve been hilarious.

    • Gruhunchously says:

      Well, seeing as how Regina Shepard was created in Mass Effect 2, and the new character creator always assumes that you took all the Renegade options from the previous game, it can be deduced that she,too, murdered all the colonists.

      (Josh went back and jiggled with the save-game editor to ensure that Wrex survived and a few other things, but otherwise didn’t change much.)

  14. On the positive side, though it may be my imagination, this site seems to load a little faster, about one out of seven times.

    I wonder if Shamus’ site is getting more traffic since the interaction with Film Critic Hulk started up?

  15. Cody211282 says:

    Just to be fair to Randy, we don’t see nearly as many bugs as here as what we do when Josh is in charge. His rig may be an all powerful demigod, but that power came with a steep price.

  16. Cannibal guppy says:

    i had a quadcore(Q6600) at the time this game came out and a fairly good graphics card(Nvidia 9800gtx) and i never had framerates under 60… even with fraps :p and that was not a very expensive pc…

    • Raygereio says:

      Demiurge Studios’s porting job of ME1 was not exactly stellar. Console games ported to the PC almost always have one of two problems. Its either the controls, or as was the case with ME1’s port: performance.
      My system was well within the game’s requirements and I frequently suffered stuttering and slowdowns.

      Mass Effect 2 did give us some good things: For one slightly less terrible levelling mechanics and combat that wasn’t as clunky as ME1’s. And most importantly: a decent engine.

  17. Collin says:

    The backstory to the Krogan uplift was always constant, which means that the Krogans figurex out nuclear physics two millennia before the humans did.

    I think the reason for this is that they had a genius for war, and figured it out so early because they were properly motivated. The nuclear war just wiped out all their te h, until the Salarians offered it to fight the rachni.

    • anaphysik says:

      The problem with this is that human development of nuclear weapons had its foundation built over hundreds of years of dudes and ladies just messing around being all science-y. That the development was fast-tracked due to war funding was a sort of temporal accident, one that could not have existed without the essence of what came before it.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Sure,we say that now,in hindsight.But how can we be sure that a different path wouldnt lead to a same conclusion?Just how most fiction always assumes that because we are bipedal,all sapient life must follow that path.But why?

        Also just because krogan are a bit more warmongering than humans,doesnt make them stupid.And so what if they prefer autocracy?Most of the biggest empires in our world were autocratic in one way or another.

        And,one more important thing,we see krogan for what they are now,two millenia after they blew up their world.If we were to blow up earth now,who is to say that most of the survivors wont be militant?

        • Keeshhound says:

          Not that the games ever really examine that subject either. So many interesting concepts, never really explored.

        • 4th Dimension says:

          The most plausible scenario was that they WERE tribal, but like us they managed to suppress their tribalism for a while (half a milenia) leading to Scientific progress. Just before nukes started raining they were probably similar to us During cold wars. Well after the nuclear apocalypse, they devolved back to the tribalism (as all post apocalyptic movies predict would happen to us). And they never had a chance to again get that out of their system, since Salarians uplifted them tribal like that. Also I wouldn’t be surprised if the apocalypse caused by things invented by “learned” caused a backlash against knowledge. So there might be quite knowledgeable, relatively, Krogans among them, but they don’t wan’t to appear to be nerds.

        • Klay F. says:

          As far as bipedal aliens go, there is a very strong logical thread to follow. Intelligent species need free hands to develops tools. If they don’t have hands, then they need some other evolved mechanism for physically manipulating tools, like maybe telekinesis.

          • Wedge says:

            Yeah, this is exactly my problem with the Elcor, as much as I love them, I can’t imagine (and I don’t think it’s ever explained) how they can be capable of manipulating objects.

            • Klay F. says:

              In the Elcors’ case, it isn’t so much their hands (if you look closely at their front feet, you can actually make out three independent digits, like all the other aliens), but the gravity of their homeworld that is the problem. The high gravity of their homeworld makes staying as stable as possible a priority. Shifting to two feet to manipulate and build things would have been incredibly risky when falling could kill them. We have seen that Elcor are extremely risk averse, so the mere act of getting off their world in the first place is quite unlikely.

              • Mike S. says:

                The elcor would actually have worked better if the trunk had been left on the elephant model, and developed into a manipulating appendage. But given that a tripod is a very stable structure, it’s imaginable that they did most of their tool development and use one-“handed”. (Or maybe in collaboration, since they’re herd-oriented.)

                (Arguably, their ponderous, careful movement doesn’t make as much sense in the Citadel’s gravity– they should be able to bound like moonwalkers there. With reaction time to match, since everything falls so comparatively slowly compared to Dekuuna.)

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Tentacles,more than 4 limbs,facial pincers,those are all valid options.

            • Klay F. says:

              I would have no problem with any of those options provided the writers give some justification as to why any of those things are advantageous to survival and lead to the development of intelligence on their homeworld. As it is, this is Bioware we are talking about.

          • Tse says:

            And why are they supposed to have our number of limbs? I can easily imagine three-legged, five-armed aliens with no heads who can’t see in our spectrum, but have natural sonar and infrared vision and communicate through telepathy, in stead of sounds. They also have a one way digestive system, whose mouth is between the legs. I imagine the other species could get grossed out by their eating habits.

            • Klay F. says:

              Again, as I said above, I would have no problem with any of those things as long as the writers gave plausible reasons why any of those things would be evolutionarily advantageous over the default two hands two arms layout on their homeworld. Why would any of those configurations lead to domination of their homeworld over the default? If you can’t answer these kinds of questions in a way that makes biological sense, you are better off not even trying. As it is, its just variety for the ill-conceived sake of variety.

        • Amnestic says:

          Bear in mind that Krogan live for a long, long time. Wrex and Okeer were both alive in the Krogan rebellions (which puts them at about 1400-1500+ years of age during Mass Effect’s events – Okeer probably a fair bit older given how Wrex talked about him) and Wrex gives no indication he’s ‘getting too old for this’.

          That said, apparently there’s never been a recorded death of old age for the Krogan so most of them probably do die off early for cultural reasons that I’m sure are apparently.

          Just something to consider!

    • LunaticFringe says:

      Mass Effect 3’s curing the genophage questline also goes out of the way to highlight that krogan society was definitely different before the bombs dropped. It’s implied they were still warlike due to the conditions on their planet, but they had a much more developed society in terms of social and cultural elements. The examples of krogan art and Eve’s claim that female krogans had a more equalized position in society back this.

  18. Kdansky says:

    Blind guess: Josh has an SSD.

    If you don’t have an SSD: Get one.

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      Or Josh is simply spinning the video off to a different spindle than the game’s running from. How much data FRAPS writes varies by a lot of factors, but if we guess that the episodes are broken up to about where FRAPS changes files anyway, it’s writing 3-4 MB per second, which (while a lot) is still well within the capacity of even plain old SATA by a large fraction. If that drive is ONLY recording FRAPS and the other drive is only playing the game, and you’ve got a multi-core processor that’s above the games minimum spec, you can get some fantastic results.

      • aldowyn says:

        FRAPS doesn’t have to change files any more, at least not as often, and I can speak from experience when I say that at the previous limit (4 GB, I think it was?), FRAPS records about 8 minutes of ME2 at … 720p, I think? So episodes aren’t at the gaps, although 2 would be close.

    • Asimech says:

      I don’t know how beneficial an SSD would be in this case, since space is more of an issue than the IO speed with video capture. Those files get huge.

      And if the game would on an SSD then the load times wouldn’t be at all representative of what most people would experience with the game, which is undermining the “show how the game works” point a bit.

  19. Johan says:

    So about the Krogan sciencing it up and making nukes…
    I seem to remember reading in the Codex that the nuclear war did change the Krogan (this was a long time ago so I can’t remember all of it), but there was one bit in particular that said something like “before the nuclear war only 1% of Krogan could into their battle rage thing where they feel no pain, since the war if became 100%.” Which does make sense, everything suddenly going to hell is going to change things, and certain traits will suddenly be VERY evolutionarily advantageous. So from this I always assumed that there really is a difference between these Krogan and those. These Krogan fight because they like to, it’s all they know how to do, and many of them will see not fighting as a weakness, whereas before they were probably more warlike (they did have a nuclear war), but not to the same level as today. It’s totally possible that they had an advanced, if warlike society that then got destroyed, and the nuclear aftermath then selected against the traits that would lead again to an advanced society, particularly with a species like the Krogan who have so many children at once, on the assumption that many die before maturity

  20. Dave Anderson says:

    I was just curious, when did this become a Mass Effect blog?

  21. Blackbird71 says:

    Speaking of filler, are you still planning on a third post for the “Plot Holes” topic? Not trying to be rude or anything, I just really enjoyed the analysis and have been (semi)patiently looking forward to the conclusion.

    Thanks!

  22. Skeeveti says:

    Dear Shamus,
    Please change your website name to, http://www.allipostisfuckingmasseffectvideosanymore.com

    Sincerely,
    your brother

  23. Jokerman says:

    So uhhh, Mass Effect 4 got announced not long ago – gonna do that?

  24. Deuxmains says:

    Bloody hell, Randy mentions how the squad has blue, red and yellow going on in the Citadel elevator. Who could have known how close that was to foreshadowing the ending of ME3.

  25. aldowyn says:

    Hmm. I’ve been doing a Mass Effect Let’s Play similar to spoiler warning, on and off, and I don’t have stuttering problems like you might expect. Instead my game crashes. Repeatedly. Roughly every half an hour. It makes it rather difficult, as the co-hosts can attest.

    So I suppose if anyone has any advice that’d be nice :P

    Also, I’m pretty sure something about the strain of recording DOES cause more bugs.I’ve seen more doing my LP than in all other playthroughs combined. It certainly slows the game – I remember 30 second load times where previously it was 5. (Specifically, heading into the Normandy where it scans you)

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