I’m Back!

By Shamus Posted Sunday Jul 1, 2018

Filed under: Personal 62 comments

Like I said last week, I’ve been having trouble with my eyes. If you’re curious about the medical Twilight Zone that caused this, I have the strange details at the end of this post. If you’re a normal person and you just want to know what sort of content we have to look forward to in the coming week, then read the very next paragraph.

I’m playing Mass Effect Andromeda. It’s been patched pretty well by this point so it’s no longer the distracting and meme-worthy circus of malfunctions. It’s still a bit janky around the edges, but not enough to really bother me. The narrative is paradoxically better than I expected and yet far worse than I’d hoped for, if that makes any sense.

My impressions have been oscillating wildly like, “Hey. This is a cool idea. Actually no, I guess not as cool as it seemed at first. Ugh. This is atrocious. Okay this conversation isn’t bad. Oh, now it’s making me cringe again. Okay, this character could be interesting. Or they were, until they left. Hey, I like this puzzle. And this jetpack stuff is cool. I like this shotgun. Oh no, this really grating character wants to talk again. Oh, but she’s giving me a cool quest. Nope, wrong. This quest is too dumb to think about.”

What I’d really like to do is have a stream where I play the game and discuss things with chat. I have this sneaking suspicion that some of you have opinions on the Mass Effect series. I figure we can hang out for an hour or so. I’ll play some early / mid-game content, and we can talk about the game.

Okay, her butt is floating above the seat and her arms are floating above her legs and the pose looks totally unnatural, but I'd gladly overlook failings in production values if the writing could just get in the same ballpark as Mass Effect 1.
Okay, her butt is floating above the seat and her arms are floating above her legs and the pose looks totally unnatural, but I'd gladly overlook failings in production values if the writing could just get in the same ballpark as Mass Effect 1.

I’m planning on streaming this Thursday. This event link should have all the details. I know I usually stream on Wednesday, but Wed is July 4th and I know a lot of my American readers will be busy blowing their fingers off.

So what’s going on with my eyes?

I Have No Idea

I’ve pretty much proven all of my eye problems are the result of diet. And apparently I have a problem that is completely undocumented or discussed on the internet.

Here’s the thing: For the past few years, I’ve had this thing where my eyes will get red and inflamed. This drags on for a couple of days and they gradually lose the ability to focus and adjust to bright light. The effect is mostly limited to the left eye, although when it gets really intense the problem manifests in the right eye as well.

Sometimes I’ll go for months without any trouble. Sometimes the problem will hit me twice in one week. Sometimes flare-ups last a day, and sometimes they drag on for a week.

I went to the eye doctor a couple of years ago and he said I had an eye infection and gave me some antibiotics. So I’ve been thinking of this problem as a recurring infection.

During the past few episodes I noticed that the problems coincided with Mexican food. A few hours after eating, my eye began burning. I figured I probably got hot pepper juice on my hands and then a few hours later I touched my eye. That didn’t really fit with observations (symptoms were spontaneous and never coincided with touching my face) but it was the only reasonable explanation I could think of.

So I started scrubbing my hands. I’m already a bit of a germaphobe and tend to wash my hands frequently, but now I was scrubbing like a surgeon after doing any cooking. Also, I started watching my food and noting the onset of eye problems.

What I discovered was that the symptoms reliably followed the consumption of certain foods: Spicy things, citrus, and vinegar. Consume them, and a few hours later my eye would begin burning.

As far as I could tell, this stuff was ending up in my tears. Somehow, my body wasn’t properly filtering the water it sent to my eyes, and so I was winding up with trace amounts of spices / citrus / vinegar in my eyes. That makes no medical sense and I’m not even sure it’s physically possible, but that’s what this repeating pattern was telling me.

When your eyes burn, your body usually makes them water to clear out contaminants. Except in my case, the contaminants were in the tears so this just exacerbated the problem.

If this is true, then the infection the doctor observed wasn’t the root of the problem, it was just a symptom brought about by my dabbing and rubbing my eyes for days.

I’ve searched online and I can’t find anything. Even if I’m totally wrong about the cause of this affliction, you’d think SOMEBODY out there would come to this same wrong conclusion.

I don’t know what to make of it. It’s strange. For the time being I’m just going to avoid the offending foodsAlthough avoiding vinegar is a little tricky. A LOT of foods have a dash of vinegar in them somewhere..

This most recent flare-up was really intense. Even four days into my recovery, and it’s still not quite normal. There’s a blurriness that neither my eyeglasses nor vigorous squinting can correct.

I’m not sure why you read all that, but I hope you found it interesting. We’ll have a Diecast tomorrow, the stream on Thursday, and another Grand Theft Auto post on Friday. Between E3 and the eye problems I haven’t done any coding in a few weeks, but I hope to get back to the coding posts Real Soon Now.



[1] Although avoiding vinegar is a little tricky. A LOT of foods have a dash of vinegar in them somewhere.

From The Archives:

62 thoughts on “I’m Back!

  1. Low-hanging fruit, I know, but have you considered if the problem could be a simple allergy?

    I’ve got the same symptoms (albeit way less serious) when I eat certain herbs, mostly found on tomato-mozzarella-sandwiches. I’d recommend getting tested, specifically for the foods you presume are the cause.

    1. Angie says:

      This. [nod] Inflammatory reactions are much more common than most people think, and most of them aren’t the OMG-jab-with-Epipen-and-run-to-ER level of reaction. Minor aches, redness, swelling, and even a lowering of energy can be traced to inflammatory reactions, which are basically allergies. I’ve been on an anti-inflammation diet for the last 2.5 years, and feel so much better it’s not even funny.


      1. Methermeneus says:

        I’ll jump on the allergy train here; you’re right about the being no mechanism for the acid/contaminants to get to your tears, since blood is what transports water through your body, and if your blood were that acidic, you’d have died a long time ago. (Seriously, look up acidosis, if you can without getting distracted by quacks selling homeopathy and water deacidifiers. It can be a real condition, and it’s insanely dangerous, so if you’d had it, you’d know.)

        Also, I did once have an eye condition that was misdiagnosed as an infection and turned out to be allergies. The doctor basically took one look and prescribed me antibiotics, but that didn’t do any good, so I went back, and a different doctor was working that day. She said you can tell it’s allergies by the texture of the discharge (there’s attention to detail for you!), and she prescribed Patanol (generic name olopatadine, if it’s available as a generic yet), an antihistamine eye drop. It’s a bit pricey (over a hundred bucks for a month’s supply before insurance, etc.), but it worked like a charm. And this was as bad as you’re describing; mine was seasonal allergies, and I actually wound up missing finals because I couldn’t see well enough to walk a mile to campus.

        Given what you’ve previously said about your allergies, I imagine you already take some meds for them, so maybe double check with your doctor and/or pharmacist, but the doctor also told me that cetirizine and loratadine (Zyrtec and Claritin) don’t have dangerous interactions with each other and, in combination, are useful for bad optical allergic reactions, as a cut-rate substitute. After that first year, it’s what I’ve been doing, since I can’t afford a Patanol prescription, and, though I get a little itchy and teary, I can still see well enough to work.

        1. Marslineman says:

          The issue is likely that certain foods (perhaps including vitamin C) stimulate fluid production in his eyes. There are certain types of dysfunctions (and allergies) that could be responsible. It’s not that the acid is literally traveling through his bloodstream, but rather that fluid (likely non-saline) is being secreted in response to certain food intakes. As I posted below, a full rest (non-lit) of the visual system may help alleviate the problem, or at least lessen the symptoms.

          1. Cordance says:

            Im going to assume that Shamus in his infinite wisdom has tried using saline eye drops to help clean his eyes out when ever it happens.
            My guess would be it has something to do with your sinus cavities and mucus. You could try a nasal rinse with saline something that is utterly disgusting to do but not hard to do. Its not really something you want to do every day but if you try it when your not having issues to make sure it doesnt cause issues for you. Then when you have a significant outbreak you can try cleaning it out and see if it helps. Good luck for handling the future

        2. Jennifer Snow says:

          Uh, this is actually not quite correct.

          Humans have this bug/feature called gut permeability. What it’s supposed to do is to allow water to enter your gut so that it can initiate a “flush” (give you diarrhea). This helps clear contaminants out of the gut so that they don’t poison you.

          The flip side of this is that the permeability works both ways, and when your gut opens up, various proteins can pass through the OTHER direction into your bloodstream and cause all kinds of bodily weirdness. Autoimmune disease is one manifestation of this problem. For a lot of people, wheat triggers gut permeability which is why some people experience even a complete reversal of autoimmune disease when they stop eating wheat.

          HOWEVER, wheat is not the ONLY type of protein that can cause this problem, and any issue caused by gut permeability can manifest in such bizarre and (apparently) completely-disconnected ways that it’s unreal. It depends on the health of various tissues and basically WHAT your body decides is “causing” the foreign proteins. This stood out to me:

          “What I discovered was that the symptoms reliably followed the consumption of certain foods: Spicy things, citrus, and vinegar. Consume them, and a few hours later my eye would begin burning.”

          I have problems with *exactly* that same list of foods (as well as several meats like salmon and hard-cooked eggs). In my case, they screw up my digestion–I have to take Betaine HCL and digestive bitters to get my stomach working again.

          If I had to guess, your eye problem is related to gut permeability and parts of those foods finding their way into your bloodstream and triggering an “oh no wtf is this SWELL MUST SWELL” AUTOIMMUNE reaction in your eyes.

          I am not an expert, of course, but dropping anything that contributes to gut permeability (usually you can find this on nutrition pages as “inflammatory” foods) and, if necessary, asking your doctor about any inflammation-reducing drugs like Humira might be an option. If you’ve ever seen commercials for Humira, it’s basically used to treat EVERYTHING that’s a result of inflammatory damage.

          Personally, if you’re only having flare-ups you can probably skip the drugs and manage it with a stricter diet.

          1. Jennifer Snow says:

            Okay, one more thing, I don’t know if you take any Vitamin D, but if you’re an indoors person like me, it might be a good idea to get your D levels checked because having enough Vitamin D can help control inflammation. I feel better when I take extra.

            I’ve also been looking at this https://www.everlywell.com/products/food-sensitivity/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIw5Ti167-2wIVVAOGCh3NwgHrEAAYASAAEgIfTvD_BwE

            I’m debating on whether to get one of those tests. They’re a bit pricey, but it might be worth it to stop having WTF days.

            1. methermeneus says:

              Ah, yes, his mention of acids specifically made me think of that, bit it’s true that certain proteins can pass through to the blood. That’s actually what causes most food allergies that don’t occur directly within the digestive system.

          2. Doppleganger says:

            Jennifer might be on to something here.

            Looks to me like you could be suffering from Iritis (aka Anterior Uveitis). And this is not treated with antibiotics but rather corticosteroid drops.

            Check this link or google iritis or anterior uveitis, might be useful, at least I hope

            woaw, just rechecked to see if link was working and noticed the article dates back to 2003. But still, I would google on the subject if I were you.

            1. Mischa says:

              I have iritis. I’ve never heard about it being triggered by food but it’s always possible. However, my opthamologist says that if the eye redness goes away on it’s own, without taking steroid eye-drops, then it isn’t iritis, it’s something else. (I’m not sure how much I agree with that. Sometimes I have the start of symptoms that go away with ibuprofen, less screen time, plus extra sleep.) Also, iritis is an inflammation of the iris so one of the symptoms is pain when your iris expands\contracts in response to light.

          3. Hal says:

            Jennifer, what you’re describing is popularly referred to as, “Leaky Gut Syndrome.”

            As a scientist with a master’s degree in Immunology, I feel safe saying that Leaky Gut is nonsense.

            The “permeability” of the gut involves very specific channels that only allow water through. There’s no possible way for food to travel with the water.

            1. Decius says:

              “Only allow water”
              How does it prevent other molecules from using the same transport path?

              1. Viktor Berg says:

                I’m no biologist, but when it comes to permeability of specific molecules, that is indeed a thing. Molecules have a different size, and a water moecule is quite small, just an oxygen atom and 2 hydrogen atoms forming a 105 degee angle. Even the simplest organic molecules are larger than that. Meanwhile, selective osmosis is used in very many places in our body, right down to cell membranes.

            2. Doppleganger says:

              Ever read about zonulin, discovered in 2000 ?

              1. Jennifer Snow says:

                I have, and yes, it does make your gut permeable. The guy who discovered it also studied apes and they found that this could be the reason why apes don’t suffer from autoimmune disease the way humans do–they don’t have zonulin or the gut permeability trigger.


    2. djw says:

      You think he is allergic to low hanging fruit?

      1. Droid says:

        If he experiences eye issues after reading this post, we’ll know for sure.

        1. Karma The Alligator says:

          Well, the fruit might be hanging so low it pokes him in the eye. Does that still count?

    3. DaMage says:

      Agreed, I had a food allergy that would cause a bad rash on my upper arm, always in the same spot. Once I figured out it was an additive in one of the packaged foods I was eating I changed brands and the rash went away.

      Food allergies are weird and cause a wide range of things in different people.

    4. Adeon says:

      Yeah it sounds like a much worse version of the symptoms I get when I use certain brands of shampoo (no clue what the actual ingredient in the shampoo I’m allergic to is so I just stick to a few brands I know are safe).

    5. Felblood says:

      For years I thought my food allergies, IBS and sinus migraines were just a single issue, because they all get worse if I consume anything with garlic or onion powder in them.

      They’re all inflammatory issues, but they each have their own set of triggers, that happen to overlap in some cases.

      Those are pretty common spices to add to Mexican food or anything with vinegar in it, along with HFCS, which I’m sure you already avoid due to your corn allergy.

  2. Asdasd says:


    [[[not a doctor intensifies]]]

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Maybe its not ingesting the food thats the problem.Try taking a good whiff of something spicy,and if thats the case the problem is in your nose.Or,like Michael Gerber said,youve developed a new allergy,which would really suck.

    Anyway,glad you at least found out whats the problem so that you can avoid it.

  4. MarsLineman says:

    Shamus, I have some experience with the problem you’re describing. Although adjusting your diet might help in the short term, you might also want to try sleeping in an entirely blacked-out bedroom- meaning no night lights, no status LEDs, curtains over the windows, etc. Giving your system a full break from light exposure. Biomechanics are complicated, and poorly understood. In my opinion, it’s worth a shot to give your visual system a full break.

    1. Droid says:

      A LED? You know, even a dozen LEDs shining from across the room through your closed eyes probably have less effective influence on the light exposure of your eyes than the thermal radiation from the room, including your own eyelids.

      While it is true that the biomechanics behind it are poorly understood, this seems like a highly specific cure that has no direct connection to the problem at hand. Dermal sensitization, even if specifically on the eyes, is not so uncommon a symptom that you could make a connection here.

      1. Marslineman says:

        This is a complicated topic. Just keep in mind that there is ample evidence for a light-sensitive mechanism for circadian rhythm (even with closed eyes). I don’t want to get into my own as-yet-unpublished research, but light exposure (particularly in the high-frequency blue-wave areas) may affect circadian rhythm-related visual mechanisms, even with the eyes closed, and even with relatively small lumen exposure. Given my experience in this area, it seems like a worthy experiment for Shamus to try sleeping in a blacked-out environment, to allow all light-sensitive mechanisms to reset.

  5. Karma The Alligator says:

    Pretty happy you decided to pick up ME: Andromeda. I kinda wanted to see what you’d think about it.

  6. Liessa says:

    Hope you get the eye problem sorted out – it might be worth checking out what other people are saying about allergies. I can’t watch the Andromeda stream live (it’ll be around 2am here) but I assume you’ll upload it somewhere else later?

  7. RCN says:

    Bah, who cares about 4th of July?

    I mean, I’m not American, but I have the feeling the demographic here isn’t big on the whole “attempting to blow the neighborhood up more than your neighbors to prove you’re more patriotic than them” thing.

    We are indoor dwellers who’d rather see the virtual fireworks of exploding enemy spaceships/ exploding police cars/ exploding bad robots/ wizard fireballs/ Shamus’ head exploding at the bad writing than the real thing any day.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Bah, who cares about 4th of July?

      I mean, I’m not American, but…

      This made me chuckle.
      Never, ever, underestimate the power/importance of National Traditions. In my country, people chase cheese down a hill and/or run around while holding burning barrels for fun – but god help anybody who would dare disparage such activities. National Traditions are SRS BSNS, apparently.

      And it could also be that Shamus himself wants to do something for Independence Day.
      (I mean, he is well-adjusted enough to have a wife & kids after all…)

      1. RCN says:

        It is not like my country doesn’t have any. It does have the carnival, after all.

        But the last time I’ve taken part in a carnival celebration was… I don’t even know. I think it was during high school? Carnival for me is a good few days a year of bingeing on a 4X game or a series.

        1. Droid says:

          Yeah, it’s always the same stale jokes or ones that were “topical” 5 weeks to months ago, and big crowds doing stuff I wouldn’t enjoy doing (including being part of a large crowd in the first place). More power to those who enjoy it, but keep that stuff away from me!

    2. Viktor says:

      I’m wondering how much longer people are going to be doing the backyard fireworks thing for in general. The US has a lot of veterans already and we’re getting more and more survivors of mass shootings each week. That’s a lot of people who do not want to hear explosions and smell gunpowder when going about their daily lives. I could see that number of people eventually reaching critical mass enough that social pressure puts a stop to the bulk of the holiday fireworks.

      1. Antwon says:

        That’s a really interesting question. I assume that fireworks being A Thing(tm) is a tradition that might hang on for decades and centuries, but I know it startles me and mine, and has pets bolting for cover; I can’t imagine how neighboring folks who’ve seen active combat might feel.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Seeing how there are already a bunch of things where the majority wants something but the laws say otherwise,I wouldnt count on it.

        1. Viktor says:

          I’m not saying laws(they’re already illegal where I live due to fire and I know at least one neighbor will be letting them off from 6 til midnight), but people saying “No, I don’t want to come over and let off fireworks, Jocylyn still flinches every time someone drops a plate” and vets putting “Please don’t let off fireworks near this house” signs will eventually make it the social equivalent of farting in an elevator.

    3. lucky7 says:

      I’m actually really excited for the 4th this year, because my family has moved to a state that’s a lot more lax on firework regulations, so we’re pretty excited to watch everyone else’s fireworks

  8. Dave Rolsky says:

    Your condition sounds like it might be ocular rosacea. See https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/ocular-rosacea.htm for some details. It sounds like the symptoms can be managed, so I’d bring this to an eye doctor and see if they agree.

  9. Turtlebear says:

    Even reading about your eye problem makes my own eyes water. Hope you find some way to ease it off over time.

    Nice to hear you’re breaking your sikence on Andromeda as well. I’ll try and stay up until 2 AM to watch it on Friday morning!

  10. King Marth says:

    As someone who has a particular distaste for vinegar, I agree that it makes eating things difficult. From my perspective, so many foods are basically good up until the chef decides to add a squirt of dish detergent mixed with gravel, and everyone looks at me like the weird one for not liking detergent and gravel mixed into my food.

    Never tied it to eye problems, vinegar just takes perfectly good salad or sandwiches and makes them taste terrible for no reason in a way which can’t be fixed by picking bits off later. It isn’t because of the acidity, because I like citrus. At places I frequent, my order involves asking for several things removed from a sandwich/burger which aren’t listed on the menu because they go without saying. Still, since it isn’t a physiological response, even I can get by when the vinegar is largely cooked off like with sautéed onions.

  11. Retsam says:

    Have you tried turning your eyes on and then off again?

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Are you sure they’re plugged in?

      1. evileeyore says:

        I recommend he update his optical drivers. If that doesn’t work, clear the cache and try a reboot.

        1. blue_painted says:

          It wouldn’t happen if he had FruityCo(tm) eyes, they Just Work!

        2. Gruhunchously says:

          Make sure that he’s up to date with the latest Eye Patch.

  12. Dreadjaws says:

    Sound like a T-Virus infection. Have you experienced bouts of rage, memory/intelligence loss and intense hunger for human flesh? Avoid secondary zombie bites if possible. That might only exacerbate your problems.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Wouldn’t a second zombie bite actually reverse the effects of the first? Hair of the dog and all that.

      1. EricF says:

        Only if you dilute it at least 10X with uninfected human bites.

      2. shoeboxjeddy says:

        That’s a common misconception. You actually have to drink some of the zombie’s blood, since it just drank some of yours.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Isnt that the cure against vampires?

  13. kdansky says:

    I’d try going to a different doctor when it shows up again. I know, crazy talk.

  14. Dan says:

    Never overlook the obvious. Man spends tons of time staring into computer screen. Eyes go bad. Greatest detective in the world says “digital eyestrain.” Collects massive fee.

    No wait. Greatest detective first asks: “Have you acquired a new monitor recently?”

  15. Darren says:

    Your tear ducts being the receptacle for spicy substances doesn’t sound very plausible, but it could be a simple allergic reaction or perhaps a sinus problem. I have issues with acid reflux, and the plumbing in your face is interconnected in a lot of crazy ways. Wouldn’t surprise me if you had a reflux problem and your gut is spraying acid up into your cranial cavities when it gets irritated. You should consult an ear, nose, and throat specialist about this, as acid reflux (if that’s what it proves to be) can have all sorts of nasty effects.

  16. newplan says:

    I’ve searched online and I can’t find anything. Even if I’m totally wrong about the cause of this affliction, you’d think SOMEBODY out there would come to this same wrong conclusion.

    Hey, could be worse – you could have found a forum post somewhere that was a description of the exact same problem with only a single response from the OP a week later saying – “Never mind, I figured it out the problem and fixed it”.

  17. Dev Null says:

    If you find yourself looking for something to play next (unlikely, given how many people are constantly harranging you with comments like this one) I’d love to hear what you think of Elex. Skyrim-style RPG set in a post-apocalyptic/sci-fi-ish world… where I hated all of the factions so much that I didn’t want to join any of them, which seems to be pretty much mandatory to progress the main story at all. Also, it was on sale when I got it from GOG recently, so it’s probably cheap.

  18. DaveMc says:

    Just a note to say that I enjoyed the drama of the Eye Reveal, it reminded me of television: “So what’s going on with my eyes? The answer … may surprise you. More after this short break.”

  19. Thom says:

    The foods you mention (Spicy things, citrus, and vinegar) are all on my no-no list since I was diagnosed with an allergy to “Balsam of Peru” three years ago. The full list includes wine, beer, chocolate, cinnamon, tomatoes, pickled items (vinegar), certain spices, and flavoring agents. Lucky for me, I can tolerate several of those in small quantities without breaking out in a rash.

    1. Shamus says:

      Boom! Every single thing in my no-no list is included in the list you gave. I can’t be 100% sure, but this seems like a very likely culprit.

      Fun fact: If you type “Balsam of P” into Google it will autocomplete to “Balsam of Peru Allergy”. So I guess this is a common problem and I just have a strange reaction to BoP.

      Thanks for the lead!

      1. Rob says:

        Hey Shamus, I almost never post here (I think I’ve posted once in 2007 when I started reading your blog and that’s it), but since this is a health issue, I’ll try to give you my 2 cents and hope it might help.

        As far as I can tell, those foods and/or spices are high in histamine (some extremely high – such as vinegar). Considering you have quite a few severe allergies, I would suggest you stay away from any kind of food high in histamine. This problem with the eye(s) also sounds like an allergic reaction. Besides that, it could be a dehydration issue (and even if it’s not, you should always take care to stay extra hydrated when eating spicy/sour/salty foods or drinking alcohol – the recommended 2 litre per day amount is almost never enough for the average adult).

        Some other foods high in histamine are pork and anything fermented. You can look up a list if it turns out this is the problem.

        I know some of this might be obvious information, or it might not. I’m just trying to make sure you’re aware of these things. I’ve been reading up on nutrition for a few years, but am by no means an expert, so take what I say with a grain of salt. However, I have a light form of asthma that had flared up a few years ago, and I have since started avoiding these foods/drinks. Haven’t had any problems since then, and I do moderate to intense physical activity now.

        Take care, and I do recommend reading up on some of this. Sometimes the answer is far simpler than we think, and it makes sense that what we put into our body every day affects us heavily.

  20. Matthew Collins says:

    I understand the frustration. I have a rare medical condition about which little is known (post-orgasmic illness syndrome). It took about a decade before I was able to actually find out what was wrong with me, and even then it was only to get a name for it, the vague beginning of investigation into its possible causes, and the explanation of “medical science agrees that this thing exists but we don’t actually know what it is, why it happens, or how to stop it. Oh, and we might put some funding into exploring it twenty years from now. Or we might not. It’s interesting, though, isn’t it?”

  21. GoStu says:

    Sorry to hear about your eyes and/or allergies.

    About Andromeda: I’m really interested in hearing your take on it. I’ll be glad to hear some criticism that isn’t just somebody taking a screenshot of a janky moment and captioning it. I’ve held and stood by a position that more-or-less everyone would have overlooked the graphical bugs had there been some interesting story or worldbuilding or anything going on.

    Andromeda’s failings were in that they took a perfectly fertile setting and absolutely squandered it and salted the earth with failure. I don’t think anyone had ever done a “sci-fi frontier settlement and colonization” RPG before, and it was ripe for opportunities.

    Obviously, without the Mass Relay networks it’d be confined to the area (roughly) of one sector; navigable by conventional FTL but with a finite amount of garden worlds for four arks worth of species arriving. When the garden-world candidates turned out to be less than ideal, I thought it was a prime setup for a Man* vs. Environment struggle to survive, with choices between “Let’s all work together for peaceful collaboration” Paragon-type options and “Survival of the Fittest, Humanity First!” Renegade choices. Instead we get a sandbox of somewhat indeterminate size… and a lot of opportunities missed. In no particular order:

    – Nobody thought to bring the Volus or Elcor? In-universe they can happily inhabit worlds that others can’t. Out-of-universe this includes two of the more unique species that help lend variety and some charm.

    – Nobody remembered that Turians eat/drink different foods than anyone but the Quarians. I’m pretty sure I never even heard it discussed.

    – I know we hate them, but someone like Cerberus could have actually been an interesting factor here. There’s like, zero chance that Mr. “I read the script” Illusive Man didn’t hear about this load of ships planning to settle a new galaxy. I know some Cerberus action crops up but it’s pretty much “petty acts of sabotage” and continues their habits of being awful for no reason.

    – The natives of this sector are handled in the least imaginative way possible. They aren’t technologically behind to create interesting conundrums (hey Salarians, wanna pull that same trick you did with the Krogan, to hugely bolster your numbers and power), nor are they anything more than just “another alien species”.

    – Seriously fuck the main villain/antagonists of the story as written with a rake.

    – Despite being a “pathfinder” you don’t really explore anywhere that isn’t already inhabited or populated.

    – One of the “main” planets in the game is shattered all to hell, into tiny pieces. Why are we still trying to do anything here instead of literally any other airless rock that at least would be in one piece? We’re not sticking around just for the view, are we?

    – The sense of scale is way the hell off. Somehow we’re a limited number of colonists, limited further still by the fact that many people are still in stasis (this makes up a side conflict and justifies one of your upgrade systems), but there’s still enough people to have offshoots and civil wars and rival factions? This is the Cerberus problem all over again.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I don’t think anyone had ever done a “sci-fi frontier settlement and colonization” RPG before, and it was ripe for opportunities.

      Was there ever a “frontier settlement and colonization” rpg even?The closest I can think of is either fallout/wasteland,where you are not the one doing the settling,and games like oregon trail where you arent so much playing a role as managing your dwindling number of colonists.It really would be nice to have a game where you are going to wild spaces on your own,finding a suitable place,and bringing some people to settle there before you move on to find new things.

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