Diecast #71: BioWare, Twitch, Sims 4

By Shamus
on Aug 10, 2014
Filed under:
Diecast

257 comments


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Hosts: Chris, Josh, Shamus.

Show notes:

1:00 Casey Hudson departs BioWare.

In retrospect, a bit of this comes off as gossipy. Sorry about that. Be sure to read the announcement and remember anything that’s not said in that announcement is conjecture on our part.

This discussion leads to the first mailbag of the week:

Dear Diecast,

With the recent re-opening of the Mass Effect Wounds at Twenty Sided and three recent tweets by Shamus, it seems appropriate to ask this question:

Why is it that after all this time and an Extended Cut DLC that ‘explained everything’, the very mention of Mass Effect 3, a game that was released in March 2012, STILL has the ability to drive people nuts? Plenty of other games suffer from bad writing in one form or another – why is it that this one rubs people so raw to this day? Is there another game you can think of that even comes close?

Cheers,
RTBones

I answered this in part on the show, but I’m going to answer it more fully in tomorrow’s column.

25:00 Twitch TV has rolled out a dumb broken ContentID system.

Like I said the other day:

twitch_fail.jpg

38:30 Sims 4 is missing a lot of features.

It didn’t sound like a big deal to me at first, but it all sounds kind of shocking when you actually read the list. It’s even more worrisome when you remember what happened to SimCity. Is EA going to ruin two major Maxis titles with their meddling? I’m perversely anxious to find out.

51:00 MAILTIME!

Dear Diecast,

Spoiler Warning has Reginald Cuftbert as a recurring character in every new game. Do any members of the cast have their own special character that makes a return in the various games that you play?

Kana

Here is the Errant Signal episode we were talking about in this segment:


Link (YouTube)

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Footnotes:



A Hundred!A Hundred!202017257. There are now n+1 comments, where n is a big-ish sort of number.

From the Archives:

  1. Artur CalDazar says:

    Oh boy, can’t get enough of you guys talking about Bioware.

    • Shamus says:

      I literally can’t tell if this is sarcastic or not. There’s a huge number of people who are SICK TO DEATH of the whole thing, and a huge number of people who are still sore and want to talk about it. I find myself in both camps.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        I avoid talking about them whenever I can.Sometimes I get lured into ranting,but overall Im just sick of their crap.Bioware died for me,and I dont even register their new games at all.All the news thats circulating about new dragon age and mass effect simply passes through me,like a bunch of neutrinos.

        • boz says:

          Bioware died for a lot of people. My personal feelings for ME3 ending aside, I’d like to give an example how toxic that thing was.

          Before the whole shitstorm, when Bioware still had a “name” (december 2011), EA relabeled two of it’s studios. Victory and Mythic into Bioware Victory and Bioware Mythic to gain some brand recognition or some other PR reason. EA removed those Bioware labels on November 2012.

          • Ringwraith says:

            I’m not sure they’re dead, I think just their strengths and weaknesses have gotten more extreme recently. Their plots being increasingly dodgy but their character writing still being generally excellent.
            I still say Mass Effect 3 is not a bad game if you know all these characters and have come along with them, just incredibly inconsistent quality-wise.
            Though the way the dips in quality are skewed means you’ll much more likely to remember those. Never mind the fact you’re probably more likely to remember what it did wrong anyway, because that’s how we’re wired.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              On its own,it may not be bad,but its not good either.Its clearly rushed,not just in the story,but in the level design and gameplay as well.

              • Ringwraith says:

                Precisely, it’s not a train wreck, but it somewhat fascinating in how ridiculously inconsistent it is.
                Plus the combat is actually good! Just there’s a lot of it.
                So much.

                • Hydralysk says:

                  It’s not just that there’s a lot of it, there’s also that fact that there’s very little variety. No matter which class you pick you’re going to have maybe 2-3 skills and 1-2 guns you use in all encounters.

                  Combine that with that fact that the only fights are against waves of the same enemies it gets old quick. That one laser pointer sequence aside, every combat encounter up to the finale is just “an enemy platoon is approaching, mow them down”.

                  • Ringwraith says:

                    Yeah, there probably aren’t enough places for it show, (because they like corridors too much), but it definitely does in multiplayer, where their AI is really quite good.
                    The Cerberus goons in particular are good at flanking and flushing you out with grenades, while the phantoms always try and sneak up on you from where you’re not looking.

                    • MichaelGC says:

                      Aye, I thought the multiplayer was pretty great overall. Most fun I’ve had, er, multiplaying, since the original Quake. Lots of class & weapon variety, some basic synergies between classes, and (in my experience) a fairly non-toxic community.

                      (That said, making it kinda-mandatory to begin with was a bad idea, although they did address that.)

                      PS Blimey – according to their site I put in 419 hours & 37 mins! I should really fire it up for another 23 minutes just for maximum street-cred. Or whatever the kids call it these days…

                    • somebodys_kid says:

                      460 hours and counting for me…I MUST unlock all of the weapons!

            • boz says:

              Mass Effect 3 is not a bad game
              I have a two word rebuttal of that: Kai Leng

              Jokes aside, I believe ME3 is a bad game. It just has some good parts in it. i.e. Genophage arc, Geth arc and the bit where you shoot cans with Garrus.

              • MichaelGC says:

                Aye – e.g. everything about the sidequests was pretty horrible. The way you acquired them, the way you completed them, the awful journal, all that ‘war asset’ nonsense. Ugh.

              • Ringwraith says:

                Yes, he’s terrible, but he only shows up a few times to ruin your day.
                He’s rather outweighed by himself.

                I still say it’s more inconsistent than bad.

              • Humanoid says:

                I’m repeating what I posted in the forums, but I take it further than that: I never got up to meeting Kai Leng in ME3. No, I quit some time before that. In doing so, I have dismissed the argument that ME3 is only bad because of its ending, or because of Kai Leng, or because of any one specific reason. No, it’s a bad game because it has a bad beginning, a bad ending, and bad everything-in-between.

                The Earth opening was already so hackneyed and forced; a cynical marketing exercise, that by the time I got up to a non-tutorial part of the game I’d already been pretty soured on its whole premise. Then Mars with it’s incredibly heavy-handed scripting and introduction of the ridiculous McGuffin. I’d sat through one ill-conceived dream sequence, and when the second popped up not long thereafter, I finally had enough. There was no joy to be salvaged from that wreck.

                TL;DR: ME3 has a bad everything.

                • Ringwraith says:

                  Again the plot being the worst thing.
                  You were only just about to hit the actual good parts by then, sadly.

                  Though the dream sequences are so bad I keep wiping them from my mind.

                  • Humanoid says:

                    I’d always been ambivalent about the gameplay, so there’s really nothing else. People talk about the shooty gameplay style change between the first game and its sequels, but in truth, I don’t feel they’re much different to each other in value, both are acceptable and do enough to hold up the RPGish bits of the games, no more no less.

                    I’m actually also willing to be forgiving of mediocre plots if it has what’s more important in my eyes, a sense of character ownership. So the dream sequences were particularly offensive (and I absolutely mean that, I find them offensive to my character) because they rip away the last little semblance of that concept. This was no longer my Shepard, and I have no further reason to play.

                    P.S. I watched the entire season of Spoiler Warning so I knew what I was ‘missing’. Frankly even the bits that were praised, such as Mordin’s about face on the genophage are negatives to me, because they trade his trademark logic and rationality for cheap sentimentality and some heavy-handed moral ‘right’. All I got out of watching that scene was the feeling that Bioware was preaching at me.

                    • Ringwraith says:

                      Yeah, I am fairly sure I find the dream sequences so abhorrent I wipe them from my mind for that reason.
                      There’s some better cases of adding character to Shepard without stripping ownership from you, but they are certainly not that.

                      I actually like Mordin’s arc in that regard.
                      He says it wasn’t wrong at the time, and sticks with that, but I’m pretty sure he mentions times have changed. It’s because of his rationality that he sees circumstances have changed, and therefore so should views on the genophage.
                      It’s how I took it anyway.

                    • Humanoid says:

                      Heh, this comment pyramid is maxed out, first time I’ve seen that on trying to comment.

                      Here’s a word of praise for ME3: I’ve read that you can shoot Mordin or whatever to stop him if you disagree with him. And I totally would have if I’d gotten that far. Bear in mind though I’d be playing the same Shepard that was happy to shoot Wrex in ME1 when he was being obstinate.

                    • Mike S. says:

                      Humanoid, if Shepard shot Wrex, it’s possible that they might not have to shoot Mordin. If Eve/Bakara is also dead by that point, due to your choosing not to save Maelon’s research in ME2, it’s possible to talk Mordin into cooperating.

                    • Ringwraith says:

                      The entire pyramid of choices of that arc is pretty ridiculous when you factor in all the previous states that it can start as.
                      This is what they do so well then just mess it up elsewhere when it comes to ‘larger’ plots.

              • GiantRaven says:

                Mass Effect 3 was a game that seemed amazing when you were first playing it but the more you think about it, the worse the experience becomes in retrospect.

        • Phantos says:

          That’s a good strategy, actually. Not caring or even paying attention means we won’t be inevitably disappointed/enraged. Life’s too short for BioWare.

          (I’m considering applying this same logic to Telltale Games, another ship that sank for me recently…)

      • I like hearing about BioWare, frankly, especially if there’s news about the person who seems the most responsible for how Mass Effect 3 turned out. Please pass on any developments or stories that come out about that as they’re released.

        Even when the company is just being referred to for no reason, they’ve become a running gag, like when every week we found out something new and horrifying about SimCity 5. As long as there is or they are a punchline, keep bringing up BioWare.

      • evileeyore says:

        I’m “ambivalent”. I think that’s the right term?

        In longer sentences: I don’t mind hearing new complaints about ME3 or Bioware in general, to me it’s someone still pissing out the tire fire of ME3.

        Other than that I don’t give a shit about Bioware and am slightly tired of the old “ME3 was bad for X reason” rants (unless it’s following someone making glowing references of praise for ME3, then I’m heartened I don’t have to write the rant).

      • I just find it all kind of funny. I saw this coming when ME2 came out and I saw the opening. I got that game for FREE and the opening was STILL so dumb that I couldn’t play the stupid thing. There was never that much in that series that I found good, anyway. The conflicts were dumb and arbitrary from the get-go. (“synthetics” vs. “organics”? plz.) I tend not to like science fiction that’s filled with pseudomagic (aka “biotics”). They had zero grasp of what being in a military chain of command would actually look like. They made a galaxy feel smaller than a single kingdom in some other games. The characters were all kind of Meh to me.

      • Disc says:

        I think good part of it is the fact that nobody expected it and that it hasn’t really happened before at this scale nor at AAA level in the video games industry. I mean, a half-decade old, yet still very popular IP, years of investment by both the players and the company, lots and lots of build-up and expectations.

        And then it’s all flushed away in a heartbeat by a couple of short-sighted “visionaries”.

        A bit like George Lucas, eh?

      • M. says:

        I’d wager another reason for ME3 still being a source of anger is that the negative reaction of players wasn’t reflected in how many game journalists wrote about it, and was even contemptuously dismissed by said journalists. The result is that the complaints never really got the airing that those about, say, SimCity or Aliens: Colonial Marines did, and so the game still remains a sore point.

        • straymute says:

          That is the part of it that sticks out most to me still. I just remember feeling so frustrated that even sites that I normally respected like RPS and filmcritichulk were actually lashing out and attacking their own readers for having the nerve to be criticizing this shit game. That was also when the whole “gamer entitlement” thing really kicked off too and it was such an awful mix.

          Now not only were you coming off the game disappointed, but you were an “entitled baby” for being disappointed. Or in Filmcriticshulk’s case you were destroying games as an artform by wanting a better ending to mass effect. You were also too much of an uncultured simpleton to understand the whole thing was really about cycles the whole time and all the plotholes don’t really matter.

          It was like normal gaming media is the carrot and this was the first time they decided to use the stick.

      • Shirdal says:

        There was a time when my dislike of BioWare was more vehement, but these days I am content to mostly ignore them and what they have to offer. I have a pretty low opinion of their talent and their products, especially after they became an EA brand. Whenever I do bring them up in conversations, it is mostly as an example of how not to do things, or how things are done so much better somewhere else. They’re kind of my baseline for mediocrity.

    • Tizzy says:

      Bioware is beginning to sound like an abusive relationship. Some are able to finally walk away, others must stay with it even if it causes them misery. And they cannot stop talking about the problems in their relationship.

    • Jokerman says:

      I don’t think i will ever tire of people talking about Bioware…

  2. Wulfgar says:

    I guess they will sell Sims 4 like Civ 5… each feature in separate expansion.

    • Humanoid says:

      As long as it takes no more than a couple of interns no more than a month or two to do them. Some omissions are relatively straightforward, but some seem so fundamental to likely engine limitations that I doubt any content releases could address them. Prime example is probably the “everyone is the same height” issue mentioned. It’s disappointing that after 15 years or whatever it’s still not a solved problem in terms of games being able to handle dynamic interactions between anything but actors of fixed heights.

      The concept behind The Sims is pretty close to what an ideal game would be for me, it always has been, but they’re doing a good job of crushing all my expectations. Ah well.

      • Shamus says:

        Way back in 2004 or 2005 I wrote some stuff to take a base adult model and morph it from puberty to adulthood. It’s all a matter of altering proportions. (The only reason you can’t go all the way back to infant is because I couldn’t find a clean way to remove adult muscles and breasts. That takes an artist’s hand.) It’s fiddly and wouldn’t work well on high-end photorealistic models, but if you can make SPORE then morphing through puberty should be straightforward.

        In most games it doesn’t make sense to build a generalized figure editor, but Sims is perfect for it. I still go crazy when I compare the Sims 3 editor to Saints Row. Saints Row is smoother, faster, and makes FAR more divergent people. And then Saints Row has like double the framerate for a far larger world. And then there’s the MASSIVE load times in all the Sim games.

        Basically, their technology is appalling. The ideal is for your software to be both be feature-rich and efficient. Barring that, you ought to at least be one or the other.

        The fact that their plan is to take this junkpile and REMOVE a bunch of features is shocking to me. I hope they’re doing it in an effort to streamline the thing and make performance less embarrassing.

        • Volfram says:

          DAZ Studio is a piece of freeware posing and rendering software that (currently) comes with a unisex model that can be morphed from infant to ancient and male to female.

          Most of the really interesting morphs are sold in their store for money, but it’s entirely possible. Personally, if your game has humans in it, I don’t see any reason not to have a universal morphing system, as it (should) reduce the on-disk size and provide vastly more variety among characters and NPCs. You just have to upload a single mesh and a few vertex shaders, then every single character can be uploaded to the video card as a set of several parameters instead of a set of vertexes.

        • Humanoid says:

          I imagine the problem is not with the model morphs per se, but what happens when two of them need to interact at a level more detailed than one hitting another with a sword, or simply looking at each other by pitching the head and/or eyes up and down. Take a simple kiss while standing up for example: I assume it’d be pretty challenging to line up the hug properly while making mouth contact without making the actors seem like weird invertebrate creatures. But still, I’d have hoped some progress would have been made by now.

          Can anyone think of a game with a height slider (or just simple variable height, Skyrim’s races for one) where they’ve managed to implement complex physical contact?

          • Hitch says:

            The thing is, earlier versions of The Sims are no better at that stuff than any game with a more robust array of figure modification options. I can’t imagine The Sims 4 is the one where they suddenly get it right.

            • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

              Oh, lord, in Sims 2 even the slightest bump will screw-up an interaction because the hands won’t line up or something, so you’ll have two sims just stand there for days trying to exchange handshakes…

              Joel Garreau once joked that the first thing developers do is bulldoze a lot flat because architects have T-Squares and don’t get to use them very often. The Sims appears to have thought that was a good thing.

      • silver Harloe says:

        If I had to guess the story goes basically like the following. But as a preface I would like to point out that my stories these days try to give people as much credit as possible – I start with the assumption of good intentions, and try to apply empathy and my own experience to guess what is happening. I do not have any inside knowledge and I have no clue what’s really up, so this is a work of fiction:

        make the Sims. make money. happy.
        expand it some, tweak some scripting, add new options. Sims 2. happy.
        load on features and ideas. Sims 3.

        but by this point every new feature, idea, or concept is taking more and more effort to add because the software is a 6 year old framework and still has some incredibly painful legacy things you just have to work around every time you go to tweak…
        …or they want to center around emotions rather than needs, but discover that needs are basically hard-coded into far too many functions (originally it was just one exception here they really needed for performance, but…)

        so they do what every developer wishes they could do 5 years into a project: they start over.

        and they’re working on their 2d system, trying to avoid (or falling victim to) several known 2d-system anti-patterns… but while they’re doing this, games are not being released and their publisher comes around and coughs…
        suddenly they’re rushing to finish up their second system, so they have to make huge compromises to get it out the door before 2017.

        if they can survive Sims 4, perhaps they can get more of the original features from the 1st system into the 2d system somewhere around the time to release Sims 5.

        • silver Harloe says:

          I don’t have a story for the Mass Effect series because, as I mentioned, my stories start with good intentions. But after they told everyone they were enjoying the game wrong because they weren’t in love the ending, well, they no longer get my empathy for good intentions treatment. f those guys.

    • Ciennas says:

      If I were to be a cynical person, I’m betting it’s that they want the console sims to fail so they can have everybody playing with the Sims Freeplay, a hilariously misnamed freemium game not unlike the Simpsons and Dungeon Keeper.

      If I were to guess the EA executives feelings….

      I would say simple math. I’m betting that Simsmobile has a more steady outflow of cash for far less features and coding work.

      Why would I want anybody to leave that for a more full featured and robust title that I have to spend more money on, and only recieve payments for in bursts and thin trickles? No, they like being able to compete with King and Rovio and not having to shoot themselves in the foot.

      The problem happens once they realize that (I imagine here, but I think it’s true) Most people only put up with sims mobile because it was a stopgap- a thing to play while they got around to creating Sims 4. Once they realize that that’s really all they’ve got, then they’ll probably join the Mass Effect 1 crowd- wanting something in triple A to scratch the itch, not really having it.

      On a side not, that whole game screenshot at the end of the list was HILARIOUS- Computer power even bigger than it’s ever been before, why are you showing me an even smaller game than even the original?

      (Maybe they have to take it back to square one and they’ve since fired everybody who would have been able to help them, as Harloe mentions- they’re trying to start over, and seem to be fumbling their way through stuff they should already be more than familiar with.)

  3. Klay F. says:

    Doesn’t the typical tale of the Hudson and Walters rewrite of the ME3 script go something like this?:

    The original script got leaked like 6 months before release. The original script contains your typical Bioware cliché ridden ending combined with your typical pseudoscience BS regarding Dark Matter/Energy. The leaking of the script (for some reason) forces Hudson and Walters into an emergency rewrite of the ending.

    Assuming all that is true, I still wonder why they felt the need to change the ending so much. IIRC the original script didn’t contain any of that idiotic shit (i.e. Star Child) we got in the final release. Thats not to say the ending wouldn’t have been bad with the original script, this is Bioware we’re talking about here, but I don’t think it would have gotten that super-backlash.

    • It’s so strange that scripts being leaked = BURN EVERYTHING when it comes to genre properties.

      It’s like how the BBC was worried the leaking of the scripts for Doctor Who would cause the ratings to take a hit. I tweeted that George RR Martin laughed and sent the Beeb a set of his books and a subscription to HBO.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Ultimately it comes as just petty and childish.Evangelion,twilight,all of those authors that say “You dare to get to my thoughts before everyone else?Well fuck you,what will you do now?”.Its just silly.

        • Ringwraith says:

          Especially when quite a few times it’s happened, they’ve simply asked politely not to spoil anything for everyone.
          Guess what, this actually works.

          It’s really puzzling behaviour to just throw everything out.

        • Cybron says:

          Evangelion? There were no leaks regarding Evangelion, as far as I’m aware. It’s pretty well known that Gainax just ran out of money and they couldn’t afford the planned ending, hence the weird anime ending. They would later release the original planned ending as the movie End of Evangelion.

  4. Dragmire says:

    I couldn’t make myself in Saints Row 4. Saints Row 2 though, that I did very well in creating myself. God, some of those cutscenes were chilling as a result.

    • Humanoid says:

      SR4 is superior to SR3 in only one single aspect: the addition of the classic bob hairstyle. Unfortunately everything else was a regression in my eyes. :(

      • Dragmire says:

        I couldn’t really get into Saints Row 3. Not sure why though, I don’t remember anything really bad about it and it’s the first one of the franchise I played as well.

        • krellen says:

          SR3 banks pretty hard on you caring about Johnny Gat, which is hard to do when it’s the first game in the series you’ve played.

          • Hydralysk says:

            Really? SR3 was the first SR game I played, and as I recall Johnny Gat’s death doesn’t really amount to much. I mean Shaundi whines about it a lot, but once STAG comes into play he’s pretty much forgotten. You get your revenge on his “murderer” around a third of the way into the game.

            • krellen says:

              Getting revenge is why STAG shows up. It’s the first act of the story. And if you don’t get grabbed by the first act, you’re generally not invested.

            • Humanoid says:

              Same, it was my first Saints Row game – and considering how little I played SR4, realistically the only game of the series I really played. From that perspective, it’s a simplistic revenge plot with no nuance, sure, but it works the same as any standard “dude murdered my parents” or whatever plot. (As opposed to a total stranger in ME3, and which was irrelevant anyway because it’s not like you needed to *start* a vendetta against the Reapers)

              But then it was never really about having a motivation to play the game, my issue with SR3 vs SR4 is largely purely mechanical. The addition of awful platforming which the engine never really was able to handle, the wholesale obsolescence of old mechanics, and perhaps most of all, the ridiculous superhero combat moves that by and large make all the action completely invisible as the camera jerks around randomly. I flat out couldn’t see what I was doing, it devolved pretty quickly into just holding the sprint button and hitting the melee/tackle button randomly and hoping that a valid target was nearby. I ended up actively avoiding any combat at all as a result, and for a game like Saints Row, that’s pretty much a death sentence.

              • Naota says:

                As succinctly as possible: Saint’s Row 4 is a GTA-alike that makes both cars and guns obsolete.

                There’s really not much more to say about it… it’s like playing an early 2000’s shooter and turning on every single one of the cheats. For ten minutes it’s fun to cross the entire map in seconds, totally ignore your wanted level, buy every gun and upgrade, kill twenty enemies with a glance… and then it’s not any more, because you realize none of the game systems work.

                The game then attempts to redress the balance by literally teleporting the “police” onto your current location, over and over again, no matter how many you kill, even though they’re dumb as suicidal bricks and killing them is effortless. It doesn’t work.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  “Saint’s Row 4 is a GTA-alike that makes both cars and guns obsolete.”

                  Except its not.Saints row 2 and 3 were like gta,4 is like prototype.

                  • Naota says:

                    I don’t think it’s a particularly good Prototype, then, even by the chaotic standards that sets. I felt more like a Prototype protagonist thrown into a GTA game that didn’t know what to do with me.

                    There’s the vehicles, which relative to the player are slow, super-fragile deathtraps. There’s how the enemies are a constantly replenishing swarm of tiny, distant, indistinct blobs shooting you from long range in a sea of fire effects and high-contrast lighting. There’s how the only way the game can make your wanted level matter is to start spawning enemies from thin air on top of you; the cover/hostage/reputation/cash-gaining mechanics from SR3 which are still present but completely useless…

                    Some parts of the game still seem to think you’ll take ten minutes and a car to go somewhere, yet because you move so quickly you’re swamped in hunting collectables 100% of the time. I played the game coop, and 80% of the time the super-fast three dimensional movement scale and total lack of meaningful tactics meant I rarely saw, let alone cooperated with, my friend outside of the missions that explicitly stripped us both of our powers.

                    I had some fun, definitely, but coming into this game from Saint’s Row 3… it’s kind of a gigantic mess in the gameplay department.

    • Bruno M. Torres says:

      I managed to make myself in Mass Effect, somehow. It took me about half an hour and a large mirror.

      If someone else is wondering about doing it: Don’t. Creepy won’t even come close. It’s your own personal uncanny valley. The only thing I could see was how that was not my voice, that was not how my face moved, and that was not my physique.

      But I will say that ME2 did a better job at my face, tough. Also, it made me notice that Sheppard scowls A LOT.

      • Adam says:

        Really? I made a pretty close approximation to myself (not perfect, because my lips are naturally a very different color from the rest of my skin, and no game seems to let you change that without lipstick, which those prudes at Bioware won’t let male characters have) and it didn’t bother me at all. No judgement, I’m just surprised. I’ve found that when a game lets me act in a way I would act in a given situation, I invariably make myself at some point. Notably, I didn’t make myself in any of the Saint’s Row games, even after they added voice options that sounded like me. (I’m white, but it bugs me a little that they took out the hispanic male and female voice actors in favor of more white people after 2)

  5. Alex says:

    EA needs to die. The sooner it runs out of money, the sooner its list of ruined franchises comes to an end.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Thats never gonna happen though.As long as they are able to pump out the next nmadifa 20XX,they will stay afloat.

    • ET says:

      I’d hope they at least sell of their copyright/trademark/etc assets while they’re going under. Someone could buy the rights to Mirror’s Edge, and make the game that it should have been! :)

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        And then ubisoft buys mirrors edge.

        • 4th Dimension says:

          Now call me a heretic, but Ubisoft buying Mirrors Edge might be a best case scenario. I mean despite Ubisoft being evil with their annoying DRM, and having stupid stories, they do make widely popular games featuring platforming/park our. If they also acquired the original studio that made it they would probably demand a stupid Dan Borownish story but would leave gameplay alone.

    • Phantos says:

      I think the people who keep buying FIFA games are the same people who made Ninja Turtles the #1 movie at the box office this week.

      EA will never die. Not as long as millions of dimwits pay to keep entertainment in the toilet.

      • Ciennas says:

        Golly. I can tell you and a lot of other people are very very VERY bitter about the whole Micheal Bay made more money.

        It would have made money if it had been nothing but a shot of Mayonnaise and some onions for an hour.

        But…. It outsold Guardians, which had zero nostalgia on it’s second week, where it managed to add an additional forty eight million. When guardians opened, it was to 100 something million, maybe even 120. Turtles, on its opening weekend, only made 64 million.

        So yeah, it beat guardians that week, but the question is, will it continue being able to beat it? it needs another hundred million to even equal it.

        As for the movie itself… Mr. Bay, has a major shortcoming that gets thrown into sharp relief now that he has a film to be compared to- he’s really bad with having characters who emote properly in his stories. The original TMNT had April O’Niell react much more realistically to the scenario she found herself in, among other things.

        The new one lacked the emotional tenor that the old one had: in the original, by the time they were on the roof with Shredder, you were totally invested.

        This new one feels more like a superhero movie with characters who weren’t established as superheroes. The climax here is where that really becomes apparent.

        Also, Raphael became the lead protagonist- he’s not a bad character, but I wish the others had a chance to shine as well. The original gave everybody a chance to shine much better than the new one.

        It’s not exactly a bad movie, although it leaves lots of places for you to niggle and nitpick at it. He did make an effort to make them seem like teenagers, he made an effort to make them easily distinguishable from each other, and while it was serviceable,I don’t think it will be terribly memorable.

  6. Tychoxi says:

    The problem with ME3’s ending was that all the choices you made throughout three games amounted to nothing, even though the series was based on “Yo! we herd you liek MAKOing choices.”

    Imagine all your choices accumulating and sending you off. Are you a speciesist? Would you have been ok during the ending when it dawns on you entire homeplanets where sacrificed so that you could increase Earth’s chances? Did you doom the galaxy by increasing hate and hostility? Did you lose Earth and humanity became an endangered species? etc, etc-

    Also, both endings to Evangelion are good.

    • Alex says:

      And also because the replacement choices were all shit, and variations on “How do you want to cooperate with literally the worst mass murderer in the history of the Milky Way?”

      • Kian says:

        I didn’t mind the lack of choice in the ending. I can understand budget/complexity issues forcing them to take you into a small set of endings.

        What bothered me was that it came out of left field, and contradicted the very same game. What I mean is, yes, synthetics vs organics was a theme, but it wasn’t what the game was about. Especially when the second one makes one of your companions a synthetic, and the third one, the same game claiming how synthetics can’t coexist, allowing you to settle a three hundred year war proving that yes, they can.

        I recently played ME3 for the second time, so it’s raw. Happy coincidence that Shamus should bring it up again. Anyway, it’s the logic (or lack of it) displayed in the ending that bothers me the most, because it can’t be justified. It’s not their budget that made them make these mistakes. It’s not how complex the plot was, because it wasn’t really.

        The sad thing is that I tried a mod a friend suggested, called “Happy Ending Mod”, and the most striking thing it does is remove the whole conversation and choice thing. The way it goes is you beat the illusive man, the crucible docks, it fires and kills the reapers (not the geth or EDI) with no further explanation. Essentially the red ending from the extended cut, with the small vignettes at the end and such (only including ones where the geth and EDI survive). No crash landing of the Normandy, either.

        And that allows for a predictable, trite, but reasonable ending. You used the unexplained macguffin to destroy the unexplained creatures from beyond. It’s still dumb, but it’s not offensive and disappointing and frustrating.

        I don’t entirely support the mod, because it goes a bit too far in being a “happy ending”. They have the Normandy rescue Sheppard and a few more unnecessary changes to make it happier which I could have done without. The important thing is that they fix the ending by editing the worst of it out.

        • My original hope for the series was that ME 2 would be (predominately) about dealing with the Geth and the people who want to wipe out the Geth, preferably as a new character other than Shepard, who would be busy arranging for military defenses and so forth. Then in the THIRD game you would actually PLAY as a cyborg, a human/synthetic mix who has the inside track on the Reapers and a potential plan for how to take the fight TO them. But no one really trusts you, so you spend the game trying to convince people to try your idea (which also has the benefit of sounding super suicidal). And that would be where all the decisions from the previous games would come into play. Did you convince the Geth to turn against the Reapers? Well, now you have Geth ships. Did you save the Rachni queen as Shepard? The Rachni help you. Etc. Etc. Etc. The final battle would play out more like the ending of ME2, where the allies you have and your relationship with them determines how aspects of the battle play out. And for the big, final climax, your 3-man team is: Shepard, the main from ME2, and the cyborg. When you get to the very end, you get the full tale of what the Reapers are. You get dialog options for ALL THREE characters with this big complex branching decision tree that determines:

          1. Do you destroy the Reapers or do you accept them as the next stage of evolution and go over to their “side”?
          2. Do any/all of your characters live? What condition do they live in?
          3. Do any/all of your NPC companions live? What condition do they live in?
          4. Do you try to salvage any of the Reaper technology? What would the effect of that be?

          And then you have a big ending cinematic and your fleet limps home.

          • Mike S. says:

            That’s an interesting idea, and would have put the AI problem front and center in a way that the series as it is didn’t earn before the conclusion.

            (If they’d wanted to keep the shape of the story closer to what they had while still doing that, an easy fix would have been to swap Cerberus and the geth in ME2. It makes lots of sense for the geth to have unknown capabilities on the scale necessary to repair Shepard as a cyborg and provide a Normandy-plus. They– or their indistinguishable heretic offshoot– just attacked the Citadel, so obviously they need a human go-between to investigate events in Citadel space and deal with organics. Meanwhile Cerberus stays a terrorist/mad science group that can be dealt with, if at all, in a companion quest.)

            My personal druthers would be to make the series more episodic. The Reapers stay what they are in ME1: a solution to the Fermi Question, an explanation for the tech that can’t be reproduced, and an unstoppable disaster that can only be prevented from destroying everything by keeping the door shut. (They’re way off in intergalactic space, and can’t just fly back to the Milky Way, because then why did Sovereign spend thousands of years messing around once the Prothean sabotage was discovered?)

            Do each game as a standalone with its own climax, with or without Shepard, while slowly advancing historical events on the galactic stage: the krogan problem (extinction, stagnation, renaissance, or revanchism?); the quarians and the geth; the return(?) of the rachni; the Rise of Earth (probably don’t put us on the Council at the end of ME, but work towards that more slowly).

            Plus smaller issues like what the Shadow Broker is up to (including periodic Faustian offers to the main character), what dangerous tech the archeologists or Cerberus has dug up this week, who’s beyond the next dormant relay the Council authorizes opening (or some wildcat activates without authorization), and random trouble from batarian terrorists or pirate kings in the traverse.

            That sort of series could have ended with a major, worlds-shaking bang every game, without breaking the overall playset for the next iteration. And at least in principle could have gone on for as many installments as they had stories to tell in that expansive, space opera setting.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And people say usa and uk are so far apart.But look how twitch is emulating bbcs archiving policy.Some 50 years later.

    • ET says:

      Hard drives are so cheap now! BBC at least had the excuse that tapes were expensive back in the day. Hard drives are like, what, $200 USD for 4TB now? ^^;

      • Humanoid says:

        And $300 for 6TB, with 8TB drives due soon. I need an excuse to get rid of all the 2TB drives I have, which are flat out not enough for my NAS, but I can’t justify just binning them, and I don’t have any other boxes worth putting them in. :(

        • Trix2000 says:

          To be fair, video is pretty big data-wise. Also to be fair, storage space in bulk is incredibly cheap (especially if you don’t need high performance).

          And honestly, if it’s REALLY a problem, just have a reasonable space limit, with options to increase (or the fabled unlimited) for reasonable fees/portion of stream profits or whatever.

  8. Klay F. says:

    Also, for alternatives to Twitch, maybe try Azubu.tv? Although I think they may only deal in e-sports related stuff, but their stream quality is really good with very little delay so far.

    Disclaimer: Azubu in its current form has been linked to several people accused of fraud/money laundering, and many investigative articles relating to the funding behind the service have been removed from the internet.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So when is Shamoose actually going to write/say something about dark souls?That is the whole point of people pestering him to play it after all,right.And one twit doesnt count.

    • Eric says:

      As much as I personally love Dark Souls, I’m okay with Shamus not being interested in covering it. Dark Souls is not for everyone and that is okay.

      • Kana says:

        That’s why we should get Josh to write about it!

        (I jest, pretty sure most people wouldn’t care all that much.)

        • Eric says:

          During one of the Dark Soul specials videos I commented that I’d be cool with seeing a one season Spoiler Warning spin-off covering Dark Souls with Josh, Chris, and George commenting. I doubt that would happen, though. It seems like it would be logistically intensive and take time and money away from the main series.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      I guess, he started it, died couple times to Assylm Deamon, that was too much for him but he soldered on. And than he got ganked hard by skeletons. Add at least a couple of deaths to falling and stupid things and he gave up.

      No we are not getting anything out of Shamus, other than rage.

      • Geebs says:

        The thing that amused me was that Shamus’ tweet about how much he hated Dark Souls correctly identified that it was ‘frustrating, stressful and annoying’. Those are Dark Souls’ best features!

        • 4th Dimension says:

          Actually DS best feature is it’s combat model that doesn’t require twich leet skils to be an effective player and to be fun. Also since it hits you on the head early on that you will be dying a LOT it frees you to go out and explore and experiment since the only thing you will be loosing are souls and humanity, and you WILL loose those anyway. Essentially it stresses zen approach to resource management. Looses do hurt but you can always recoup them with some grind. There is almost nothing that you can loose that can not be regained.
          Also it does not lock you into a single path. It’s allmost Elder Scrollish in it’s character setup in which you can start as a INT focused mage and end up a STR beef block that smashes his opponents with BK swords.

          • GiantRaven says:

            I think the environment is Dark Souls’ best feature. The way everything connects together is fantastic. Finding those little shortcuts leading back to earlier areas has been one of my favourite things about the game.

            I really like the sense of mystery surrounding everything as well. Like that massive horned…whatever near the blacksmith you find. What’s the deal with him? Why does he have one leg? What’s he guarding? Why am I allowed to run up and smack him when by this point in the game I’m a little babby?

            On the other hand, fuck the bosses. Fuck them good.

            Fuckin’ Capra Demon…

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I get the removal of todlers and some such,because they can later sell you all that again.Its devious and sleazy,but its smart.But the crap like making everyone the same size?Thats just lazy,and hinges on people being dumb enough to buy the new one even though the old one is superior.I mean,a bunch probably are,but enough to make a substantial profit?I doubt it.

    Basically,they are turning sims into one of their sports games.But their sports games ride on the updated rosters,not pure gameplay and graphics.Its name power more than anything else.That doesnt apply to sims.

    • Alex says:

      “I get the removal of todlers and some such,because they can later sell you all that again.Its devious and sleazy,but its smart.”

      Or rather, it superficially looks smart. It’s the sort of thing that may just cause a revolt that kills the cash cow, but it’s also the sort of thing that short-sighted “Day One DLC” CEOs think is a great idea that couldn’t possibly backfire because their customers are vegetables.

      Games Workshop is another company that is pulling this kind of bullshit, and their profits are down 42% this year.

    • Oh, wow. What if everything in the game, from a 64-bit client to features in the Sims 3 becomes a microtransaction add-on?

      It sounds silly, but when you think about EA’s recent history… It almost sounds plausible.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh,I have an editing question for you.What do you think about this piece of software?Is it any worth?

    • CraigM says:

      I, too, am curious. It seems it might be the heir apparent to some old editing software you guys discussed before.

      Hahahahaha. Well played sir, well played.

  12. MichaelGC says:

    I guess one contributing factor for the longevity of the Mass Effect hate is that we know they’re working on the next one.

    Although they were all ultimately dismissed as potential parallels anyway, that doesn’t apply to the other objects of ire mentioned: there’s no Spore 2, BioShock: To Infinity & Beyond, nor Sim City: We’ve Really Painted Ourselves Into a Corner Subtitlewise.

    Or at least, not yet…

  13. C0Mmander says:

    Oh do I have some good story about some of the quests in SWTOR. Also I fully support a season of spoiler warning where the main character is Thug Mullet.

  14. KMJX says:

    The worst thing about the Twitch ContentID fiasco, is that it is muting VODs that don’t even contain any music at all. They are muting VODs where outside of game sound that is barely audible there is only the commentary from a couple people discussing what is happening in the game.

  15. Jokerman says:

    “Is EA going to ruin two major Maxis titles with their meddling?”

    I hope not… The sims is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine, honestly i didn’t like 3 ti much either. Oh well, ill always have The sims 2…

  16. Toasty Virus says:

    The Sims 4 sounds like it has less shit that the original Sims.

    I give up.

  17. Wide and Nerdy says:

    I’ve been afraid to say it for a good year now because i’, am sick of accusations that go the other way so here goes:

    I’ll bet if the star child and the kid the star child was emulating were little girls, nobody would have complained. Or at the very least a lot fewer people. About this one element of the ending anyway.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      (EDIT: I’m gonna stop myself here till I get a response.)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Nope,still wouldve been the same.The only difference is that thered be those who call everyone misogynistic because of the hate against a girl.

      • Humanoid says:

        What if it was a cute little puppy dog?

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          That could have been a bit interesting. Kind of an alien perspective if almost cliched (Battlefield Earth did the dogs are a higher form of life joke, though I guess your version would be more of a ‘alien notices dogs evoke sympathy in humans but doesn’t understand why’ gag).

          I’ve been trying to think of alternate explanations that might be a little less stupid than the “we kill you because you make synthetics that kill you” thing and I think I have it. See what you think.

          What if its kind of an extreme perverse form of the Prime Directive? What if the Reapers want to see what individual intelligent species come up with but they’re frustrated because any new species achieving space travel tends to get swallowed up in the galactic empires that already exist (or worse in some cases they get swallowed up as soon as they prove intelligent enough to be slave labor). Their cultures get overwritten.

          So the Reapers come through every now and then, harvest the advanced cultures and destroy them so that new cultures can grow and come up with new ideas?

          • Humanoid says:

            Personally, no opinion because as stated earlier I didn’t even get a quarter of the way through the game before quitting in despair.

            If I had to make up my own ending, it’d be that the Reapers were a hoax, a sort of false-flag ploy by the Asari to assert their galactic domination. Because Asari are just a bit too conveniently amazing at everything and attractive to everyone to not be totally evil.

            • Wide And Nerdy says:

              That . . .

              That . . .

              OMG. That would be amazing.

              But since you don’t care and its been two years, there is actually a reveal that exposes the dark side of why the Asari are so perfect (or at least it explains some of it.) Its not nearly that bad but still I liked it.

              • Mike S. says:

                I somewhat liked it, but it makes asari actions kind of inexplicable.

                If they’ve had a Prothean beacon that knows about the Reapers, indoctrination, etc., for the entire duration of their civilization, why are they so blindsided by the attack? It would be one thing if it turned out that they were playing dumb to use the rest of civilization as human shields while they hightailed it out by the secret, non-Reaper mass relay they’d built or something.

                (Even better if it was a direct result of Aethyta’s suggestion, and she just wasn’t cleared to know about it. And the reason the plan doesn’t work is that Benezia did have clearance, and betrayed the location and details once she was Indoctrinated.)

                But there’s nothing about asari strategy that appears to be informed by the secret knowledge they’re revealed to have. Which makes them seem unusually dense even for the ruling coalition of the Citadel.

                • Wide And Nerdy says:

                  That makes her vote against it problematic as well.

                  Clearly this was something thrown in in the middle of writing this installment by someone who was bugged that the Asari were too perfect.

              • Humanoid says:

                Wasn’t aware of any such thing, was this the base game or DLC? (Or heck, in a novel or something?)

                • Wide And Nerdy says:

                  Base game. If you watch the Spoiler Warning, you’ll see it. Though it will likely be overshadowed by something unfortunate and incredibly annoying that happens immediately after the reveal.

                  • Kian says:

                    The thing to remember is they had a beacon, but they still couldn’t use it as Shepard could. Even if it had offered Shepard’s vision to someone, they would have needed the cipher to make sense of it. What it did offer was something they could study in secret. The same way that the Prothean ruins on Mars jump-started human space exploration, studying it allowed them to continue making advances they never shared. They just somehow managed to avoid triggering the warning. Maybe they triggered it thousands of years before and no one could make sense of it then, and then forgot about it.

                    What doesn’t make sense is why they chose until the Reapers were on Thessia to tell you, and how TIM learned that they were going to tell you about it before you did.

                    • Mike S. says:

                      Though even there: we have the Protheans actively engaging in asari uplift and deliberately leaving the beacon for them specifically. It’s at least really weird if they got all sorts of useful tech hints, but not the single most important piece of data the Protheans had to pass on.

                    • Wide And Nerdy says:

                      That was 50,000 years ago. That info might have been lost if it wasn’t stored in their beacon.

                    • Mike S. says:

                      But it was in the beacon– the beacon’s VI recognized Kai Leng as indoctrinated, evaluated where things stood in the Cycle, knew about the Crucible, the location of the Catalyst, etc. By all appearances, it had substantially a more complete understanding of the fall of the Protheans and what they knew about the Reapers than Vigil or Javik did.

                      It’s possible to handwave something about that all somehow being incomprehensible without Shepard’s Prothean Cipher, while they were still somehow able to pull enough information to become the most technically advanced species in the galaxy. But that level of bad luck starts to feel pretty contrived.

                      (And the less they knew, the less culpable they are for keeping the beacon a secret, yet we’re clearly supposed to think this was a pretty serious omission on their part.)

                    • Kian says:

                      Remember that the VI only activated when it felt the presence of Shepard (and Javik, if he’s around). To everyone else, it was an intact but inactive beacon. It’s never explained how exactly the Prothean ruins are studied and how they confer advantages to those who do, but it’s reasonable to assume that the Protheans shut down and hid the beacon after the Reapers appeared to keep the Reapers from destroying it or the Asari.

                      Maybe it worked as a data store of some kind, without an interface to point them at the important stuff, so they didn’t know about the Reapers but they assumed it must have held information that could help the crucible. What’s dumb is that they wait so long to tell you about it, when they knew you were missing a crucial piece.

                    • Mike S. says:

                      If it’s just “the Prothean artifact we got a lot of our stuff from”, it probably doesn’t seem all that important. It seems implicit that everyone got technological jump starts from Prothean ruins.

                      (Or “Prothean”, since the ME1 revelation makes clear that the current cycle’s civilization has been conflating everything ancient as belonging to them, even if it’s actually from the Reapers or an earlier cycle.)

                      So maybe after Liara writes up the events of the first game for the archeology journals, the asari realize that their secret temple artifact is a similar beacon, and that someone with the Cipher in her head could make better use of it. But Saren’s a dead traitor, and by the time the article comes out Shepard is KIA. And the Thorian is dead.

                      But there is potentially one more person who had the Cipher. And she’s even an asari. Downside: Shiala was indoctrinated, and while she seems to have snapped out of it, she’s a hell of a security risk. But still, there’d be a lot to be said for sending a commando team to Feros to grab her and keep her under guard while she does some translating for them.

                      (Then it’s possible to see if the information needs to be laundered and leaked out, or if it’s even sufficiently important to admit to the rest of the galaxy what they have.)

                    • Kian says:

                      Shiala would be an interesting choice I hadn’t considered. You don’t even need her specifically. She can pass on the cipher to anyone. She gave it to Saren and then to you, after all.

                    • Mike S. says:

                      Though both Shepard and Saren had been hit by the beacon. I guess that’s at least implicitly necessary, since otherwise Liara would surely have made Shiala give it to her too. (At least in versions where she was present for the conversation.)

                      But it’s plausible the Thessia beacon should also work– certainly enough that the asari should want to give it a try.

                      (Though I suppose the Thessia beacon didn’t lift anyone up in the air while pressing an urgent message into their brains, at least while we were watching.)

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Ask call of duty how well that shtick went.

          • Humanoid says:

            Everyone knows they drop steeply in emotional value once they’re older than a couple months or so.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            I don’t play that series but the main complaint I heard is that the dog isn’t a bigger part of the game. Granted I’m not on the forums.

            Also, that dog was a companion. Companions are more likely to irritate gamers.

        • Shamus says:

          See, I think you should have peered into the vent and there would be a kid in a wheelchair who is holding a puppy. Pushing the wheelchair is a little girl who wants to be a ballerina but her alcoholic father won’t let her. Behind them is the little league team that needs to win the Big Game or the evil corporation will foreclose on the school. All of them are just standing there in the vent, shouting “You can’t help us!” at Shepard.

          Brings a tear to my eye. So poignant!

          I was going to suggest putting a pregnant woman in the group, but I didn’t want it to seem forced.

          • What if the pregnant woman gave birth (a Paragon interrupt means Shepard delivers the baby, a Renegade interrupt means Shep makes Anderson do it) and that baby later becomes the Starchild?

            It’s also educational about the birthing process, so that would give it at least a 9.9 out of 10.

      • Gruhunchously says:

        And there would also be a slew of heavily misogynistic comments towards the girl in question, the internet being what it is.

        • Wide and Nerdy says:

          (rolls eyes) Really tired of this. Maybe i just hang out on the wrong forums (or the right ones i guess?) but i see way more complaints about misogyny than actual misogyny. i also don’t play multiplayer.

          by my estimation its easy to avoid on the internet (as a reader, writer i know is different) because i avoid it without even trying.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            “or the right ones i guess”

            Yes.Practically any place with moderation will have,well,moderation.But go to even the milder of unmoderated places,like imdb,and youll find bigotry in spades.

            • Classic says:

              It may also help that W&N seems to be less offended by misogyny than the people who complain about it.

              The interesting thing here, if I have to pick it, is that he starchild is androgynous. Just like Shepard is. The preference for one sex as a default is worth talking about.

    • Someone says:

      What a curious perspective.

      Why do you think the child’s gender would matter?

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        It just seems like lately the instances of annoying children I can recall are boys and the instances of sympathetic well done children are girls (even in Waking Dead, Clem is sympathetic, Ducky is annoying though thats more on purpose). We all hate Jake Lloyds performance in Phantom Menace.

        I dunno. Girls seem to evoke at least a baseline sympathy that boys don’t. There are even studies showing that parents tend to comfort their boys less than their girls (which is really sexist in both directions but still might play into this.) Boys are more likely to be told to stop whining and suck it up.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Correlation=/=causation.Both genders of children are annoying in fallout 3,for example.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            Yeah but the study with parents points to more than mere correlation. I wouldn’t have even mentioned it if it was just the four or five characters I could remember off the top of my head.

            Though now that I think about it, Braith was annoying in Skyrim (as were both the male and female brats in Dragonsreach.)

            I wonder for those who played Hearthfire and actually adopted, which children did you adopt? Because if you go based off of which orphans had it the worst, it should be the girl in Windhelm and the boy in Dawnstar (or whatever). But I ended up adopting the girl in Whiterun instead on most playthroughs, mainly because I spent more time there so her plight was more visible than the Dawnstar boy.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Yes,it shows that our society is messed up when raising kids.But it doesnt show our attitude towards OTHERS kids.Which is the thing here.Some kid wasnt shepards child,it was someone elses.

              • Wide and Nerdy says:

                Still supports my theory plenty well enough for me to wonder. I’ll bet those attitudes do ttransfer, it would be counter intuitive for it to be otherwise.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  It has nothing to do with who we find more charming or sympathetic,but what is expected from a “real man” and “real woman”.Mothers are more fond of male children than fathers,but youll still see even the “mommas boys” being expected to act like “real men” by their mothers.

        • Both children in Jurassic Park were annoying, and to be frank, the girl was toned down in annoyance from the novel. One would get the impression Crichton thought little girls were nothing more than “come eat us” sirens after reading his story.

          As for Jake Lloyd, his character was annoying in Star Wars. So was Hayden Christensen’s. Lloyd might have had talent, and I’ve seen Christensen in other films where he’s competent, so the blame probably lies at the feet of the so-called director on those.

          If you want to make generalizations about little girls in video games and what I’ll call “genre media,” they’re more often than not some hidden horror in disguise or used to creep out the viewer. Ask any player what the scariest thing in D&D is, and it’s usually a little girl found all alone in a clearing somewhere. See also the Red Queen in Resident Evil, Alma Wade in F.E.A.R., Bioshock’s Little Sisters, etc.

          As for Mass Effect 3, the star child was an awful concept used to try to sell the concept of an awful ending to what had been a promising series. It was used to try to make you care for the Earth (which should’ve been a given, us being from Earth and all) and then serve as an interface for a reduction of your entire efforts into three buttons. Given that a lot of people didn’t like the child-as-metaphor thing in the first place, having the kid show up as the gatekeeper to your choice of energy color didn’t do the game any favors.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            I know the ending has other problems. I just suspect people would be focusing on those problems more and not really mentioning the Star Child.

            As for Lloyd, while I agree the blame ultimately lies with the casting and the direction and the lines he had to read certainly didn’t help (a problem with Christensen as well) Lloyd’s performance was especially bad. The very idea of showing us Darth Vader as a perky boy is flawed from conception, they could have found a kid who could do it better.

            • From the way they talk about the Dark Side and “sensing fear,” Anakin should’ve been more like Haley Joel Osmont in The Sixth Sense.

              Then there’s Lucas’ idea of “romantic dialog.” I can’t believe Natalie Portman got through those lines with a straight face. Urgh.

              About the only things the prequel trilogy does well is show off ILM’s craft and demonstrate how having other people help Mr. Lucas out made Empire and (most of) Jedi so good by comparison.

    • Mike S. says:

      The dream figure and the Catalyst should have been the squadmate you lost at Virmire. That works as a personification of Shepard’s losses that they actually have a connection to. And on the practical side, it uses voice actors they were already paying. (For bonus points, have them vary the phrasing of their arguments based on Kaidan or Ashley’s actual personality or beliefs.)

      It still wouldn’t have been a great plot, but it would have made more sense as an attempted manipulation of Shepard than the briefly introduced child (that the Reapers have no real way of knowing Shepard ever encountered).

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        There are problems with that. 1) Some players are coming into this having only played ME3 (or even just ME2 and ME3) so they wouldn’t be familiar with the Virmire survivor unless they do multiple playthroughs.

        2) As Spoiler Warning discussed during the season, players tend to be highly varied on the squad mates they liked. Picking the wrong one could backfire. And you can’t just make it a love interest because not everybody does that.

        You can’t even make it a squad mate who dies in ME3 because its possible for none of the squadmates to be dead at that point (even Legion, its possible you sold him or had him killed in ME2). You’d have to have a mandatory squadmate kill late in the game (or else its JENKINS! YOU’RE ALIVE! ).

        Still even with the problems it probably would have been better than what we got. I even would have supported it being Anderson if they could have killed him off a little sooner in the story (maybe as the Normandy is trying to reach Earth, Anderson does something to make sure they land).

        • Humanoid says:

          Also doesn’t take into account Conan Shepard’s motivation for sending out Kaidan. :)

          Not that I support anyone being turned into a ghost, but Anderson could have just been killed off in the opening cutscene, it was always somewhat overly convenient that only Shepard and Anderson survived the meeting room being blown up.

        • If they wanted to make it someone who had died in a previous game (why not Kaiden or Ashley, based on either a previous save or a default ending?) and were worried that players hadn’t touched ME1, that’s hardly a problem.

          Did you know the kid in ME3 beyond rescuing him from a vent and watching him die? No. How were you supposed to learn that you were affected by their death? Annoying dream sequences.

          By using an actual character (who could reference their past together), those dream-interactions could’ve been a lot more meaningful and interesting rather than seeing how long the game would tolerate the player running around the forest. They could’ve even included flashbacks to ME1 to fill in any blanks. It would’ve been a much better choice than a no-name kid who died.

          They’d still need to fix the actual ending, but at least it wouldn’t give us Little Lamplight flashbacks.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          1)Thats no excuse when you are making a trilogy.You dont cater to those who are new to the third part.Its their own fault if they missed the previous installments.

          Incidentally,the whole “but what of people that didnt play the first one” is why me2 is so disjointed,and 3 is so abhorent.

          2)I agree.However,there is one other option that couldve been used.Someone who is human,and more liked by the players than both kashley clones:Anderson.Why he didnt die on earth,then haunt your dreams,then aid you via hallucinations in the end is mind boggling.

          • Mike S. says:

            I don’t think economics will ever let a publisher just say “you snoozed, you lose” when it comes to serial entertainment aimed at a broad audience. Book series have “what has gone before”, TV has “previously on…”, superhero comics have the characters clumsily reminding each other of what they already know, etc. There are more and less skillful ways to catch people up, but they’re not going to leave the new player to flounder or say “just play the first two games, or read Wikipedia”.

            (And I say that as someone who really hates diving into the middle. One reason I haven’t played the Fallout series yet is that I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to the length and old-school gameplay of the first installments, but I understand that there are lots of callbacks later that are lost if you’re not familiar with them.)

            In the stats Bioware released, about 40% of players earned the Long Service Medal, which encompasses both people who imported saves and who played ME3 twice. (Another clue: 64% didn’t meet Wrex in ME3. Sure, some of them shot him on Virmire, but surely most just were playing the default without an import.)

            While it’s likely that some people just lost their saves or switched platforms, I think it’s a fair guess that a majority of players who didn’t get the LSM or meet Wrex were newcomers to the series. The fraction is certainly large. That’s a lot of sales to ask them to sacrifice.

            (I think there’s a good artistic argument against closely connected series like this, just because of the way it limits the possibilities. If you don’t need to pick up the pieces next time, you can have all sorts of widely divergent outcomes. But sequels are really popular, and launching new properties is hard. It’s tough to ask companies to act as if they’re made out of stone when suitcases full of money are involved.)

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              “I don’t think economics will ever let a publisher just say “you snoozed, you lose” when it comes to serial entertainment aimed at a broad audience. ”

              Tell that to peter jackson and his money fort.

              • Wide And Nerdy says:

                But those were shot and released back to back, one a year (and it was glorious).

                The first Mass Effect was years ago and doesn’t even launch properly on Windows 7 (for anyone still having this problem, you copy the config utility from Mass Effect 2 over Mass Effect 1 and rename it to the ME1 version of the name). Not a problem for console owners but its crass to say “screw those noobs.” Lots of games have to accommodate players who didn’t play the entire series canon.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  “But those were shot and released back to back, one a year (and it was glorious).”

                  Precisely.When you want to make a trilogy(and market it as a trilogy from the very beginning),you make it as a trilogy.Which is what bioware shouldve done.Which is what they didnt do.Which is why it doesnt feel like one.

                  • Wide and Nerdy says:

                    this isn’t rhetorical, i genuinely want to know.

                    Has a video game trilogy ever been all greenlit and budgeted at once?

                    i understand probably parts 2 and 3 of successful games are greenlit at once sometimes, but i’ve never heard of a trilogy.

                    plus, games take longer to make and we’re still feeling these things out. also, it would end up being expansion packs on the same engine, which means three games of crappy me1 combat, gameplay, inventory management and mako levels. would have been a real slog. no, the real problem is bioware pulling the lead writer from a franchise built on its writing.

                    • Mike S. says:

                      I’d be more sure of that if the dark energy ending didn’t sound comparably flawed in different ways. But of course it’s impossible to know how the thinking would have evolved if Karpyshyn had actually been given the time and money to develop it into a game.

                      (One disadvantage of living in the IP era is that we can’t see as many different takes on the same basic idea, the way Elizabethans could see Thomas Kyd and Shakespeare do the Hamlet story, or the way we have the Marlowe Doctor Faustus and the Goethe Faust.)

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      “Has a video game trilogy ever been all greenlit and budgeted at once?”

                      Yes.Its called starcraft 2.

                    • The closest we’ve had I think is the Telltale Games, but that’s more of an installment thing.

                      I’d say it could be done, provided there’s a good enough engine (and I wouldn’t mind it being from Bethesda. Buggy as heck, but moddable out the yin-yang) to last 3 years without looking dated. Given that the next console cycle will be at least that long, I could see a forward-thinking company doing a trilogy of games in an RPG style that had the same team writing/coding it from beginning to end.

                      The hitches would be:

                      1. What if game #1 and/or #2 bomb? Does #3 not get made? Is there a contract written up to release it? Maybe the initial costs of art assets and engine work could outweigh most losses on later games, but I dunno.

                      2. Executive and developer meddling over time. Unless the game is based on a novel series, I can’t see a story being allowed to sit in a game company untouched for over a year. Someone somewhere will think it’s best for their career to poke and unravel something in the plot because they believe it’s cool (and it may be, but then there’s Jon Peters’ “giant spider in the 3rd act” from Kevin Smith).

                      3. Complexity vs. compartmentalization. In current games like the Mass Effect series, there are set end points where numbers are tallied, choices are noted, and they’re brought forward into the next game. If you’re doing all these at once, you could wind up with a branching continuity that could require more voice actors than there are employees at the game company involved. There needs to be a happy medium where we get several distinct endings and outcomes without making the game so complicated that it bankrupts the company or certain events stop making sense as the flow chart of choices starts to snarl a bit.

            • Bloodsquirrel says:

              I don’t think economics will ever let a publisher just say “you snoozed, you lose” when it comes to serial entertainment aimed at a broad audience. Book series have “what has gone before”, TV has “previously on…”, superhero comics have the characters clumsily reminding each other of what they already know, etc. There are more and less skillful ways to catch people up, but they’re not going to leave the new player to flounder or say “just play the first two games, or read Wikipedia”.

              This has been increasingly untrue of modern media. TV shows in particular have been very willing to develop complex mythologies well beyond what a 1-minutes “previously on” segment can cover.

              There’s really nothing unreasonable about telling your audience to play Mass Effect 1 before Mass Effect 3. These games were released in the same console generation. Technology has barely changed since then. Mass Effect 1, being much cheaper at this point, has an even lower barrier of entry than Mass Effect 3. Any half-decent businessman would see the hype lead-up for the final installment of a trilogy as a chance to sell the previous installments.

              Besides, what kind of person is insistent of jumping in on the third act of a trilogy and what does that say about how much they care about making sure they fully understand everything about the story?

              • Wide And Nerdy says:

                As I mention above, PC players would have been left in the cold. But who needs them right?

                Plus, the gameplay sucked so hard in ME1. Anyone who came in on a later game (such as myself and apparently Chris) hated it. I use all kinds of cheats to just quickly jump through the gameplay and focus on the story (like on the tank levels, you can just use super speed to get where you’re going and on the one level where you actually need the tank to make the gate jump, you can spawn it when you get there.)

                Plus, the Mass Effect Trilogy as a whole really does work better if you just start with ME2. Everything Spoiler Warning was complaining about during the ME2 season wasn’t a problem for me because I didn’t know about Cerberus from ME1 when I played it and that thing with Shepard being resurrected happens right at the beginning of the game so I just thought “Oh, this is soft scifi, somewhere between Star Trek and Star Wars” and adjusted my expectations accordingly. It makes the game less jarring.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  “As I mention above, PC players would have been left in the cold. But who needs them right?”

                  Have you noticed how pc graphics suddenly plateaus from time to time,even though the machines themselves are capable of much more?Thats because pc still follows the console standards most of the time,because of ports and multi platform releases.The ones that dont want to follow that trend are usually the ones that arent capable of using all the horse power(indies).

                  “Plus, the gameplay sucked so hard in ME1.”

                  Ehhhh,not really.Granted,your companions werent as useful as in the other two,the leveling was a bit wonky,and inventory a bit too cluttered.But,mines were great,heating trumps heat sinks,and open planets trump both probing and constant corridors.It needed refinment,sure,but a complete overhaul wasnt necessary.

                  • Wide and Nerdy says:

                    That’s not the problem that hit me. The big problem there was the config utility crashing in newer versions of windows. Took me a while to fix it and not everybody is keen to troubleshoot to the extent iI had to (nor should they be expected to, it took hours to find the fix. Google came up dry because iI didn’t know what to search for.

                    • Hydralysk says:

                      I remember that bug… I was really pissed at the time that a recent commercial release (I bought it in 2009) couldn’t even run on Windows 7. Luckily it was easy enough to fix (just run the .exe directly from the Binaries folder) but there was really no excuse for that to happen.

                    • Kian says:

                      Huh? I played Mass Effect quite a few times, and never experienced or heard of any issues. Just ran it from steam. And quite a few times means:
                      – The first time.
                      – Another (to uncover a few more achievements?)
                      – Again when ME2 came out (I’d lost the save)
                      – Again when I wanted to play ME2 with a different love interest from the first.
                      – Again when ME3 came out (I’d lost the saves again).

                      Might be forgetting one or two playthroughs. And must have been on win7 on most if not all of those. Of course, I didn’t need to reinstall it any of those times.

                      Anyway, while the gameplay isn’t too polished, I liked it. I agree that the inventory management was a pain, but I preferred the modabble items to ME2 and 3’s approach. Especially in variety of armors. I know they wanted to go for more iconic looks for the characters, but I still think that breathing masks and spandex is not appropriate hard vacuum wear.

                    • Wide And Nerdy says:

                      My Windows 7 was 64 bit. Might have made a difference. I wasn’t thinking about Mass Effect compatibility when I bought it.

                      But when I finally isolated the problem, Google did turn up other users having the same problem. Wasn’t just me.

                • There were plenty of callbacks in the game to the main characters that anyone hitting ME3 cold wouldn’t have known: The Illusive Man, Morden, Anderson, etc.

                  It also says that two really big characters no one had seen before (the Starchild and Kai Leng) are the most loathed.

                  All that’s needed is an optional “previously, on Mass Effect” setup as a codex entry, cutscene, or dialog in appropriate places that fill in what’s needed. That last bit is apparently difficult for most video game (and many TV) writers to do without sounding like “Plot Convenience Playhouse,” but it’s better than losing all continuity.

                  • Wide And Nerdy says:

                    There were plenty of people who liked Samantha, Vega, and/or Steve.

                    • Rob says:

                      Those three were minor characters with actual personalities.

                      Kai Leng and the Starchild are despised because they:
                      * Are plot critical, yet appear with absolutely no prior build-up and don’t really fit in story-wise
                      * Don’t allow the player to control the flow of their scenes
                      * Steal focus from the stories and characters that we actually care about
                      * Have bland personalities, poorly explained motivations and unsatisfying dialog (especially noticeable since character writing is what Bioware is famous for)

                    • What Rob said, plus those minor characters could be largely avoided if they weren’t ones you liked.

                    • Wide And Nerdy says:

                      Of course but you were saying that its telling that the least liked characters are among the newest. I was pointing out that there were likeable new characters too.

                      I wasn’t trying to refute your whole point. I agree with the previously on idea. Its actually what comics books do these days in lieu of awkward expository recap dialog.

                      But it doesn’t solve the Star Child dilemma we were discussing because a recap is not going to get you attached to a dead character. Bioware characters generally take a lot longer to get attached to (or at least, to get a reliable portion of their audience attached.) They always like to show you first how the character likes to present themselves and then follow up by showing you the doubts and insecurities they hide beneath the surface which, at least for me, is when I start liking them.

              • Mike S. says:

                That kind of person evidently comprises a majority of ME3 players, and certainly double-digit percentages, did just that, at a time when the first two games were dirt-cheap on Steam. (And I’m assuming comparably cheap on console– if nothing else, for used discs– though I don’t follow the platform enough to be sure of that.)

                I can’t explain it– I think playing ME3 standalone without the first two games is crazy. But what I think doesn’t change the sales numbers.

                (And I’m guessing a half-decent businessman doesn’t say, “No, no! Put your wallet away untill you’ve completed the prerequisites!”)

    • For me, personally, wouldn’t make a difference, but I tend to treat little girls and boys pretty much the same. (Or at least I try to, I’m well aware that I don’t always succeed)

      For the kid (male or female) to really work, they needed to build a better connection. If I was a writer on the trilogy and knew they wanted a kid for heart-string tugging in the 3rd, I’d introduce ’em in the first. Have them be Shepard’s Number One Fan and send you cute drawings and letters about how awesome you are and how they wanna be just like you and maybe even a couple pictures of them dressed as you for Halloween. Do the same thing for the second, just age up things two years and voila, you have a kid that the player has a connection to. Sex-wise, I’d go for matching Shepard’s, but I suspect marketing might have something to say on that point.

      I read a book a long time ago (and can’t remember what it was called) that suggested that we as a species are genetically programmed to think of males as “disposable/less valuable” and females as “fragile/more valuable” in order to insure that the species continues. Not sure I buy it, but it was an interesting argument.

      If the starchild was written as well as Clem is, I’d care about them as much. Heck, if the starchild was a group of white mice and written better, I’d care about them more.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Good thoughts. I think that would be hard to pull off but if Bioware is going to ever earn the reputation it already has for writing, they need to be able to tackle a challenge like this.

        The problem being, it could be a bit obvious or come off feeling like pandering.

        I tell you what I think would cinch it though. If the kid (now a teen) died trying to do what Shepard does. Maybe he’s been studying how to fire a gun and gets in a few good shots distracting a Reaper letting others get to safety before he goes down.

        That combined with your build up might do it. Also if its established the kid comes to see you in jail because he still believes in you. Maybe he asks why you blew up the Batarian relay. You tell him you make the hard choices, you do what you have to do. And he echoes that line when he’s distracting the Reapers just before he goes down.

        • Kian says:

          One huge problem with the kid is how he was hiding, saw you tell him to go with him, and went “You can’t help me,” and left. That’s not how a child would react. A terrified child would have clung to any adult, especially anyone in uniform. If the child doesn’t act as a child, it’s not a child even if it looks like one.

          Good ideas above, but I think even something as simple as having the kid follow you and Anderson, with you telling him to keep down while you shoot husks and what not and having some low level interaction (Paragon Shepard might try to comfort him, Renegade could tell him to man up) before you send him with an evacuation team and he then gets blown up would have worked better.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            I like that. Its simple. The implication would be “I can save this one kid.” And then you can’t even save him. That would make the dream sequences more justified if they wanted to still do those.
            And instead of chasing the kid through the forest you’re trying to save him over and over and failing. That might even help condition the player to accept a costly victory later on.

          • Renegade Shepard would give him a gun. :)

  18. Benjamin Hilton says:

    The interesting thing about Kotor II was that Obsidian put all the unfinished code in the game files in the hopes that modders would get ideas, and it worked: Restored content mod

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      I’ve only ever played it with this mod and so my KOTOR 2 experience was pretty overwhelmingly positive. Skyrim had gotten me used to dealing with bugs regularly.

      • somebodys_kid says:

        I’ve just started a new KOTOR II playthrough with the restored content mod. Vanilla KOTOR II is already one of my favorite games. How much better does this mod make it?

        • Gruhunchously says:

          It doesn’t fix everything,the ending is still quite disjointed, but it still adds a ton of content. A lot of characters that got dropped to the side in the vanilla game get much more complete arcs- Mandalore, HK-47, and Atton in particular. A lot of scenes, that didn’t quite make sense in the original are also much clearer. Certain fight are also a lot harder than before. And you actually get to fight on Dantooine, not just watch a cutscene.

      • Shirdal says:

        KOTOR 2 is one of my favourite RPG’s. However, for all the story-related brilliance the game brings which, for me, most other RPG’s can’t even hold a candle to (BioWare RPG’s I am looking at you), the game is so bogged down by so many flaws that it’s hard for me to praise it critically. Even the restored content mod only goes so far in improving it. It only makes it feel slightly less incomplete, at best.

        I still love the frag out of that game, though. And I wasn’t really as disappointed by the ending as others appears to have been. For all its many (oh so many) omissions, it still delivered a conclusion to the one thing that stood at the core of the game above all others (those who are fans of the game should know who I am talking about).

  19. fdgzd says:

    it’s interesting how we always gravitate towards the same archetypes in games, even if they’re different settings, themes and mechanics.

    Maybe tabletop rpg players are more used to forcing themselves out of their comfort zones, but I always end up making characters who start out similar with a few differences and end up being mostly palette swaps of each other (high speech/charisma if it has a noticable impact on the game, high intelligence for mucho skillpoints, and either a stealth crit-stacking bastard or a mage superweapon).

    It’s hard to make a character that goes against your expectations on how to “properly” play a game

    • Humanoid says:

      I have three categories which my various CRPG characters fall into, and only one lives in the category of being a fully-formed character. The second is a a group of fairly loosely defined personalities and appearances, coincidentally perhaps mostly drawn from my old Sims characters which I’ll build roughly in line with their original versions. The third is just a pool of names with an approximate class role, these would mostly be drawn from my various personality-free MMORPG alts.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      Your DnD campaign is being written to satisfy your players, not millions of potential buyers. Thats why it gets to break the mold more.

      But then, I love that about tabletop rpgs too. I’ve come to appreciate crpgs as a place to unleash my munchkin impulses so they don’t ruin the fun at the game table.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        I guess you were referring to play archetypes. Well, that goes back to my earlier remark too. The games industry is writing for mass appeal which confines genre which means archetypes.

        But if you have a cool idea for a tabletop character, you can talk to your DM and make it work in the campaign.

    • evileeyore says:

      “it’s interesting how we always gravitate towards the same archetypes in games, even if they’re different settings, themes and mechanics.”

      “We”?

      I don’t. I have a particular archetype I tend to enjoy but I play many, many, many different types of personalities across my characters.

      Granted in CRPGs I do trend towards Joe Psychopath, but then most CRPGs aren;t particularly deep. In the ones that do have deep stories and well fleshed out NPC and character personalities I’ll do different things. I might even play through more than once with different personality styles, to see what sorts of changes occur.

    • Kian says:

      I tend to go for whichever option gives the more interesting options. In Deus Ex:HR, for example, I chose the upgrades that opened more paths and made me sneakier, not the ones that allowed me to kick ass more. Or I’ll grab high charisma because that means more conversation options, or sneaky characters to avoid combat when possible.

      So basically charismatic, sneaky or intelligent depending on the game. Also, I can’t play evil characters. I don’t know how many times I played the original mass effect, but I was always (mostly) paragon. I love watching renegade Shepard on Youtube, but I can’t bring myself to be mean to the imaginary people.

    • Cybron says:

      While I have certainly made unusual characters here and there, I find I return to certain archetypes more often than not. I’ve observed similar behaviors in most of my group. I also used to play with a guy who re-made one of two previously played characters in the vast majority of games. Including race and class in the case of D&D.

      I think it’s pretty natural. In some ways, tabletop games are rooted in escapism and everyone has their own ‘fantasy’ – an idealized self image sort of thing. Also, certain players feel various roles cater better to their strengths. For example, I know I tend to plan a lot, so I try to avoid playing low int characters.

  20. Ilseroth says:

    With regards to Twitch, apparently they have been harassed by lawyers recently with regards to copyrights. They released a statement where they apologized for the slapdash nature and requested that you petition them in false flagging.

    They also implied that the long blocks of muted audio will be shrunk down to the proper size. They also said they will never apply it to live streams even if they could.

    Essentially they recognize they fucked up, but they have to use some kind of copyright crap and theirs isn’t very good right now an they are working on fixing it.

    Here is a link to the notice http://pastebin.com/R0UjQm5X

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      TotalBiscuit pointed out why the petition for false flagging is still bullshit:It takes too long for them to do anything about it.So the same problem youtube has.

      I have no idea why they dont take the side of the accused instead of the accusee during that period.I mean,shouldnt it be innocent until proven guilty,not the other way around.

      • Bloodsquirrel says:

        Because that’s not how the law is written. The DMCA was a seriously awful piece of legislation, large parts of which were designed around moving the burden for enforcement of copyright violations onto service providers instead of copyright holders.

        Google *HAS* to take the side of the accuser or they risk losing their “safe harbor” status and become vulnerable to lawsuits.

        • Zak McKracken says:

          “Safe Harbour” has to do with following European Data protection standards when handling data of European users.
          … I don’t really think they’re obeying those standards but I also don’t think it’ll affect their status as long as they have enough airy statements about how they really care about privacy (for varying definitions of privacy).

          => why do you think there’s a link between DMCA and “safe harbour”? Or is there maybe a different thing by the same name?

          • Bloodsquirrel says:

            The DMCA has “Safe harbor” provisions to protect ISPs and service providers (like Youtube) from copyright lawsuits – but only if they obey DMCA takedown notices.

            http://digital-law-online.info/lpdi1.0/treatise33.html

            If Google was less aggressive they’d risk being held liable for mass copyright infringement. Given how big and juicy a target they are, it’s not a gamble they want to take.

            • Humanoid says:

              Depends on how we define aggressive here in this instance, surely? They have to obey the letter of the (stupid) law, sure, but the parts where they (Google/Twitch) go beyond it seems to be pure programmatic and administrative laziness: e.g. Twitch not bothering to have better granularity than 30min blocks, YouTube flagging entire videos instead of identifying exact beginning and ending timestamps of the supposed infringement, etc.

              They are going beyond what the law requires them to do for the simple reason that it’s easier and cheaper for them to take that path, using the DMCA as a smokescreen for their laziness. They deserve as much of the blame as the copyright holders for their part in this mess.

              • Bloodsquirrel says:

                “It’s cheaper and easier” is not an invalid reason to do something. It’s not really Google’s responsibility to bear the cost of a bad law. If Google was going above and beyond in ways that were expensive and time-consuming, there’s be reason to blame them.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  ““It’s cheaper and easier” is not an invalid reason to do something. ”

                  It is when you are losing money.Granted,they arent losing much,because they are practically monopolizing the market,but numerous people switched to blip (or something else) simply because youtube screwed their monetization because of false positives.

                  • Bloodsquirrel says:

                    I doubt that Google is losing much money due to people leaving Youtube compared to the cost of having all of its content manually screened and verified.

                    Blip is, all around, better set up for small producers trying monetize content. Which isn’t necessarily a failure on Youtube’s part- Youtube has different goals, and the things required to meet those two sets of goals can be mutually contradictory.

            • Zak McKracken says:

              That seems to be a common theme lately … make law/guidelines/ToS deliberately vague but consequences for (perceived) transgressions deliberately harsh, so people will keep a “safe” distance on their own … which has the same effect as if the law was much stricter than parliament would have passed.

              Also: wonderful, we have a name collision!

              • Bloodsquirrel says:

                Oh, it’s even better than that.

                Obeying DMCA takedown notices is “voluntary”. And since it’s “voluntary”, there’s no legal oversight on them. Companies can (and do) shotgun notices at everything they see- especially at their competitors- often without regard for whether they even hold the copyright in question in the first place.

                But they’re only “voluntary” in a way that opens you up to severe legal consequences if you don’t obey them. If you disregard all of them, you’re no longer safe from being held accountable for anything that your users do, so it has to be *your* job to manually sort through the mountain of BS.

        • Paul Spooner says:

          I kind of wonder if Google is being an asshole about IP on purpose in order to soften up public opinion for a landmark court case overturning the bulk of current IP law. Kind of a “by the book” protest. If so, I’d be all for that.

      • Ilseroth says:

        From a business standpoint they are being forced into providing some sort of copyright protection by lawyers.

        They are providing a service which happens to have, in the Terms of Service, the fact you agree not to use copyrighted materials in your streams, including music. If they don’t actually punish these breaches of contract then people will keep doing it.

        That being said, the alternative is them manually going around to streams and slapping them on the wrist. But with thousands of streamers that is logically impossible. So the other alternative is specifically target the people with lots of viewers and hope that whatever punitive measure taken acts as a deterrent (it won’t.)

        Of course that will just piss off ALL of the fans of that popular streamer, possibly pushing them away from the site entirely.

        Really they are stuck in a bad spot, same as youtube. Their business depends on content creators to want to be there and follow the rules. But the content creators don’t want to follow the rules (not using copyrighted music) so they need to find some way to avoid them hosting the copyrighted content via VoDs so they can at least claim non-culpability.

        Yeah, the flagging system is broken right now. But they had to implement it. And given time, hopefully it gets better, if not; people will either just deal with it, or go somewhere with a better flagging system.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          “But with thousands of streamers that is logically impossible. ”

          No,its not.It requires much manpower,but its not impossible.Have the automated system go through everything and flag suspicious stuff,then have a person decide if its legit or not.It would take many people to go through the backlog,yes,but the new content can be moderated effectively in this manner.

          And please dont tell me that google,a company that sent thousands of drivers around the world to map shit,doesnt have money to pay for some moderators.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            Problem is, all that manpower would have to be trained in making reasonable determinations of fair use (or possibly have multiple tiers of reviewers letting the lower tiers handle the obvious stuff and pass the harder stuff to upper tiers which may prove to be a lot of it.) Fair use surrounding lets plays being as contentious as it is means you can’t exactly hire entry level types to field this stuff.

            There would still be a heavy bias towards not releasing locks because getting your employer in legal hot water is not good for job security.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              “Problem is, all that manpower would have to be trained in making reasonable determinations of fair use”

              No,not really.With no training,a human will still net at least 100 less false positives than a machine.And I didnt say that you should replace the dispute claim/go to court thing.That should stay in place.Mods would only be there to prune the easy false positives,like the official tournament thing.

              • Kian says:

                I don’t agree with that “no false positives” assessment. Let’s say you’re one of the guys working there. The computer brings up a video, and a piece of music it claims is in the video. You hear the video and yes, the music is there. You block it and move on. Except maybe the music was licensed already, or the video was made by the owner of the music by a different alias, etc.

                And then there’s the chance that some of the people you hire are going to cut corners and might just block a video to meet a quota of reviewed videos without checking, so you can’t be certain that at least the music you’re flagging will absolutely be there.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Where did I say “no false positives”?I said less.Of course human moderation is not perfect,but it still trumps the (demonstrably) flawed machine moderation we have now.

                  • Kian says:

                    Oh, my bad. You said “With no training,a human will still net at least 100 less false positives than a machine”, I read 100%, not 100. 100% fewer would have been none at all.

                    Now I’m wondering what the number of false positives actually is, and if 100 fewer is meant to be a big or small improvement. Or 100 over what time period.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      I said a 100?Damn,I meant to say 100 times.So fails all around.

                      Now granted,it is something Ive pulled out of my ass,but the twitch fiasco that muted legitimate stuff that would easily be spotted by a human(the tournament,for example) shows that currently their software is not something to be used without any oversight.

              • Wide And Nerdy says:

                Assuming the system isn’t just detecting the wrong song or a song where none exists (and I haven’t heard of that happening). A human overseer would just be cross referencing whitelists which is something that should be automated.

              • Zak McKracken says:

                Yes, humans would deliver fewer false positives but those are not the major concern for a company handling creative “content” on the web these days.
                false positives create angry users. False negatives create lawsuits, and those are expensive and create even more political pressure from people who don’t know what an internet is. Both is terribly damaging for your shareholder value, much more than a few angry users.

                Thus, risk-averseness and good old “cover my ass” thinking will always create an incentive to behave as we see twitch do right now.
                The only thing that could help was if the bad publicity from overblocking had more consequences but recent history shows that the fallout is half as bad as people like me would like to think.

      • Wide and Nerdy says:

        i agree but if a bunch of popular lets players got together and started their fans to petitions each time they’re false flagged, that might eventually inspire twitch to find a better solution. just thinking long term. if they got a sense of just how many people from how many different creators are hurt, it might matter. google sadly is probably too big for this.

        • Zak McKracken says:

          The only long-term solution to this whole mess is to remove responsibility of carriers for the contents of their users. Seems obvious but would of course make it more difficult to get to people actually doing shady stuff on the web.
          Then again, you could argue that maybe not focussing so much on trivial cases (radio in the background, fair use, citations…) might help free some ressources to go after proper fraud and piracy*.

          *proper piracy in this case meaning commercially relevant stuff, not someone who lends their friend a CD or backs albums up to hard drive.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            I really think this can work the way they’re trying to do it. They just need to work on the whitelisting systems. There’s need for a third party whitelisting service with a good API (or something like that).

    • ET says:

      I still don’t get how they* managed to only mute in 30 minute blocks. I mean, this is some undergrad-level programming – Instead of returning True/False, return a list of start/stop times, down to the nearest second, where there is infringing material.

      * Either Twitch or Audible Magic. Somebody made the system more crude than a novice programmer would do. Time to change their name to Incompetent Industries Inc. ^^;

      • Kian says:

        I doubt it’s quite so clear cut. The audio could be low quality, or have voice or noise over it, etc. It’s likely that the system can’t make a statement of fact “There’s this song playing from here to here.” It’s more likely something like “I have a certain confidence that one of these songs is playing in this chunk.” And above a certain confidence the chunk gets blocked.

        • ET says:

          Sure, but your detection system should be smart enough to know that, if you get two or more hits of the same song, close enough together to still be in the duration of that song, then you can assume the song has been playing continuously for that duration. Even if you can’t get accurate down to the second, you can block it out more granularly than 30-minute chunks.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            I’ll bet that doing that at scale is the problem. Not that I really know but there’s a lot of feeds to analyze and detecting licensed music against a database of such music has got to be a seriously non trivial task.

          • Kian says:

            They could probably make the chunks smaller, but dividing streams into 15 minute chunks would mean double the amount of processing is needed. If they’re going over their archives, that’s a lot of processing.

            The software is most likely doing something called fuzzy logic. The program can’t match the audio to a specific song, because the song audio is mixed with other audio, so the two audios simply don’t match. It’s not a straight compare and match problem. The program is probably doing some kind of pattern matching, where if something looks similar to something else, it might be the same thing. The thing is, the pattern probably works at chunk level. You could get more granularity by decreasing the chunk length, at the cost of more analysis.

            It would be great if the software could do exactly what you wanted it to do, but there are technological limitations. Computers are better at handling raw data than at finding patterns, and the task of finding matches is incredibly complex. It’s close to miraculous that it works as well as it does.

  21. Forrest says:

    On the whole Twitch debate, I just wanted to tell you guys that there was a Super Smash Bros Melee stream that got muted because of the IN-GAME music and audio. No third party songs or audio was played during this stream, but it was still muted because of the IN-GAME SOUND!

    • Cybron says:

      I’ve heard all sorts of stupid stories about the mutes. I know that the Invitational got muted (and according to Twitch’s CEO, it wasn’t the music they were playing, it was the noise of the crowd that got mis-id’d as music!) and that a guy playing Punchout with no external music got muted. I’ve seen several instances of people talking over League of Legends get muted. It’s just so awful. As terrible and draconian as Youtube is, at least they generally correctly identify what they’re aiming to take down!

  22. arron says:

    I always wondered what might happen if you did a Diecast with the full cast, then get five sound-a-likes to re-record what was said in the original recording with each impressionist doing an (bad) character impression of the original panel member.

    Or get each cast member to mimic another cast member and say all their words in the original recording.

    And then see if anyone notices.

    Next April Fool anyone? ;)

  23. Cybron says:

    I assume when you say ‘no one likes the ending of Evangelion’ you’re referring to the anime ending, since the move End of Evangelion (which is also the ending of Evangelion) is pretty dang popular. There are also definitely people who will defend the anime ending – whether or not it’s just people liking it because it’s ‘deeper’ is an open question.

    I do like the anime ending but only as a companion to the movie. I’m sure if the only thing I had seen was the anime ending, as a fan of the series during its original airing would have, I would have been upset.

  24. lesser panjandrum says:

    Speaking of comparisons between Mass Effect and Evangelion…

    True story: I threw that video together as a slightly silly joke a few months before Mass Effect 3 was released. Turns out it was more on point than anyone would have wanted.

  25. The_Zoobler says:

    I will defend the ending of Mass Effect 3, but only the Extended Edition.

    I watched the entirety of Spoiler Warning for ME1-3, I understand all of the complaints and criticisms from the cast and other sources and everywhere. I agree the original ending was awful.

    But I loved ME3, and I loved the ending. I felt it was kind of awesome. With one or two flaws.

    • Twisted_Ellipses says:

      Oh thank god! I’ve gone through comment after comment, spitting on Mass Effect 3 and this is perhaps the only one that is prepared to say it’s not so bad. Maybe it’s because this is the internet, where everything is amazing or terrible. Maybe it’s because of mob mentality. Maybe it’s because it was so story and character focused as a franchise. Trust me though, there are far, far, far worse examples of writing in the videogames industry.

      This is the same all-or-nothing reaction people had to the Star Wars prequels, declaring them abominations. Thus overlooking a few decent acting performances in tandem with great action, design, music & effects, simply because the writing & some acting were awful. I take the standpoint that the whole game is one big ending and there are some pretty great moments within it. Does the entire game really justify such hyperbole?

      • MichaelGC says:

        I cared about Mass Effect and did not personally find a lot of sense to much of ME3. Because of the unusual degree to which I cared – i.e. the degree to which I had let it become something personal – this left me open to a much keener sense of disappointment than I would normally tend to feel.

        If that makes me part of a “mob,” then so be it. Anyone got a flaming torch I can borrow? Or a pitchfork?

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        “Does the entire game really justify such hyperbole?”

        Yes.Even if we ignore the rest of the bad stuff in both 2 and 3(which there are plenty of),it still justifies the label of the “worst thing ever”.See,while there are plenty of objectively worse games out there,they are bad on their own.You just look at them and say “this is shit”.But this series had a lot of promise.And that promise still shines through here and there,showing that it couldve been much,MUCH better.And its that contrast between the gem that couldve been and the average that it is that pulls it down into the “worst thing ever” status.

        Tl;dr if you start up high,and end up in the middle,its worse than if you start low and end up low.

      • Mike S. says:

        I loved it too– all three games. I can’t go so far as to defend the last ten minutes, though I spent days after finishing ME3 trying to make it work for me.

        (And then watched my wife go into it blind, and go from “I know there’s controversy, but how bad can it be? This is obviously great!” to being put off replaying the series again due to aversion to the ending in that same ten minutes. I’ve managed to get her to play the main adventure of Citadel, but she still hasn’t done the party, because those characters are all more or less over for her after the ending.)

        But for me the ending is just something to be headcanoned around. (Tastful, Understated Nerdrage said everything I might have wanted to say better than I could, and I had all those discussions then. I can still talk about it, but the disappointment has cooled and the game is still there.) I love ME1 for its story, ME2 for its characters, ME3 for its gameplay, and all of them for the universe.

        But there’s no arguing taste. (Though the dismissal of the later ME games as twentysomething bro-shooters strikes me oddly since I’ve never played a real FPS, came to cRPGs from tabletop, and the personal circle of ME players I regularly discuss playthroughs with skews older and is more than half women.) If the game doesn’t work for someone, it doesn’t work, and when something isn’t working every flaw is naturally heightened. My “great game, with some forgiveable flaws and and ending that just has to be powered through” is someone else’s endless ordeal, “and have you even noticed these dealbreakers?”

      • Zak McKracken says:

        “a few decent acting performances” — like Liam Neeson managing to say extremely silly things with a straight face…

        Agreed, there are decent performances and atmospheric scenes, but for a while I just felt that somethings wasn’t quite right. Then I was very relieved to see this:
        http://redlettermedia.com/plinkett/star-wars/
        …which finally pointed a finger at all the things I had felt were wrong but never quite consciously understood before. Now I know why it’s bad, really bad. I feel much better now.

        • Once he highlights the way way conversations are filmed by just going back and forth between 3/4 profile shots and how hardly anyone runs in the movie because they’re all on a 20′ long greenscreen soundstage, it really explains a lot of the film’s pacing and visual oddities (as well as problems).

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ok,go ahead,defend it.Because the extended ending didnt change anything,it just crammed in more stupid.So please,tell me how that translates into it being good.

  26. fdgzd says:

    one thing I have not seen mentioned before is that twitch stores its videos in 30 minute FLV segments (source: http://blog.twitch.tv/2014/08/update-changes-to-vods-on-twitch/)

    which is why they can’t block smaller segments: their infrastructure sucks.

  27. Kai von Eggenburg says:

    I suggested Hitbox in a comment last week, after I had read about it in an Austrian newspaper (Hitbox being an Austrian company). Now I don’t know anything about it apart from what they said about it in the newspaper article, so I’m just curious:

    What is the problem with Hitbox? What makes it a bad streaming service?

  28. Jordan says:

    I think we’re missing the big picture here. ‘Mac Lee Odd’, Shamus? MacLeod is pronounced ‘mah cloud’ (or ‘məˈklaʊd’ is you want to be boring). As in ‘There can only be one, MacLeod’.

    • Shamus says:

      Okay. I’ll tell all the immigrants in America that they’re pronouncing their names wrong. I’m sure we’ll get this sorted out in no time.

      • Jordan says:

        Well if they’re pronouncing it ‘Lee-Odd’ then they genuinely are pronouncing it wrong. Now I’m picturing hundreds of MacLaughlins (Mac Lochlann) running about saying “Hi, I’m Mister Mac Laughing”.

        • evileeyore says:

          I have a friend who is a McLaughlin and he pronounces it “Mic-Lawf-lin”.

        • Mike S. says:

          Once it’s their name, they really can’t pronounce it wrong, just differently. I know French well enough to pronounce des plaines correctly if I’m speaking that language, but the name of the Illinois city is correctly pronounced Dezz Playnes. (See also Cairo, IL– pron. “Care Oh”, and Devon Avenue– “Duh VAHNN”.)

      • I thought we all agreed the proper way to pronounce it was established by the Scottish documentary, “Highlander”?

  29. nstll says:

    On SWTOR storyline: I played as a Sith Inquisitor to the original cap as well as a Sith Warrior and Jedi Knight who I go 3/4 of the way into and a Bounty Hunter.

    I have to say I’m getting tired of Dark Side being the cackling chaotic stupid side of the force and I’m also sick of the Joss Whedon brand snark that has infested every Bioware franchise.

    The Sith Inquisitor storyline was a bore. Each chapter was a new McGuffin to chase and you were constantly getting betrayed in cutscenes/dialogue. The Inquisitor class, the class centred around being a backstabbing Machiavellian ass, was just sitting around waiting to get dumped on left and right.

    The Jedi Knight story is just the game giving the player fellatio. It is the most vanilla story and it spends a lot of time patting you on the back and making you centre of the universe.

    Sith Warrior and Bounty Hunter are good though.

  30. SyrusRayne says:

    My whole problem with Bioware’s abuse of the ME trilogy has nothing to do with last-minute writing, really.

    You wrote it 5 months before release? Okay. Cool. But you planned a trilogy. So why are you writing ANYTHING AT ALL AT THIS POINT, jackass? You knew GOING INTO IT that it was meant to be three games! BEGINNING GAME, MIDDLE GAME, END GAME. After TWO GAMES you don’t know how your trilogy ends?

    Shamus mentioned that one developer gradually shifted off to work on TOR. Okay, cool, I can see how if nobody else knows his ideas for the plot it’d be difficult. But there’s, uh. There’s this thing we’ve developed called “paper”. You can “write” “words” on it. And then they stay there. You can read them later, and they’ll say the same thing.

    It’s lead me to believe that it’s incompetence all the way down, at Bioware.

    (Post-Script, Pre-posting) – Turns out 4 am is not the time for getting upset at the fall of Bioware. It leads to strange rambling ‘conversations’. Not going to stop me from posting this, of course. That’s a problem for Future Me.

  31. abs1nth says:

    Currently playing Mass Effect 3 for the first time. I really disagree with Mass Effect 1’s gameplay being horrible. I enjoy it more than 3’s. While shooting certainly didn’t feel great and controls were clunky it was going for a more tactical approach that is actually pretty interesting when playing on the higher difficulties. While I would have preferred them taking that route with Mass Effect 2’s combat, it just felt better and the way they used some of the powers was quite interesting. In 3 I’m now playing on Insanity (highest difficulty) and every fight is the same: Hide behind cover, spam powers, rinse/repeat. I don’t think you could do that as well in 2 because the powers had a lot longer cooldowns something like 5-6 seconds compared to 1-3 seconds now.

    I’m the most bummed out about 3 the way they streamlined dialog choices. There appear to be way less moments where you can influence the dialog and when you do there are now only two: the clear Paragon path and the clear Renegade path. It really shoehorns your character. It feels like the game was designed around the option of having the game choose decisions for you. There also seem to be a lot less character moments. In 20+ hours I’ve only had one actual conversation with each companion up until now, everything else is just sort of a short monolog when I walk in the room. The same goes for the locations such as the citadel. I can talk to no one the only dialog I get is through overhearing other people talk. The game also feels more cheesy than ever the way it frequently relies on block buster movie tropes.

    Some other things:
    -Ammo no longer matters as it’s everywhere meaning there’s no reason not to only use the minimum weight on weapons to get 200% power recharge. That + the upgrade system makes it so I can only use one gun while I could experiment with all guns in 2. Bad design.
    -Dialog frequently says that we have to hurry while the level is filled with upgrades and credits in nooks and crannies. WTF? Make up your mind game.
    -Weird fetch sidequests where you overhear people needing something then you find that thing during one of your mission and bring it back to them. What’s the point?

  32. Steve C says:

    So Google never bought Twitch. That was just an internet rumor. Amazon just did buy Twitch though.

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