GWJ Conference Call Episode 284

Conference Call

Mass Effect 3, Code Runner, Wizorb, A Mother's Inferno, Fairway Solitaire, Coco Loco, Rift, Special Guest Justin McElroy, Questions With Shawn, Mass Effect 3 Spoiler Section, Your Emails and more!

This week Sean, Julian, Shawn and special guest Justin McElroy talk about Diablo III's release date, Wasteland's Kickstarter, appearing in games and more. There's also a Mass Effect 3 spoiler section after the credits!

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined.

Sponsor

Tech Thing Daily
Game Thing Daily
Good Old Games

Mass Effect 3 Catch-All
Mass Effect 3 Spoiler Thread
Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Thread
A Mother's Inferno
Wizorb
Coco Loco
RIFT
Code Runner

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Comments

Your spoiler section for Mass Effect 2 is what got me to actually go out and play the game.

Thank god I am not alone in thinking that ALL of Mass Effect 3 is an ending not just the last 5mins...

By the way, Julian... I suspect you are indoctrinated and are just propagandising for the Reapers...

Honestly, part of the beauty of ME3's final scene(s) is the interpretational nature you can approach it with.

The (only?) major flaw was the Normandy thing but meh!

No Mass Effect spoilers in this thread!

Back on topic. I haven't listened yet, but this podcast is why I sync my iPod on Tuesday nights. Keep up the good work!

After taking a week off to visit my re-education camps, I'm back with this week's rundown, brought to you by Wuxia Green Vegetable Refinery Conglomerates--because there's green vegetables, and there's Wuxia Green® vegetables.

00.01.34 Coderunner (iOS)
00.10.24 Elysium sums up iOS games Coco Loco, Fairway Solitaire HD, iCombat Pacific (not sure if this title is correct) in one dirty word.
00.11.56 ME3 iPad app "Farmville for the Galaxy"
00.13.05 Justin et al talks ME3
00.24.57 Wizorb
00.27.14 A Mother's Inferno
00.28.56 Rift
00.30.55 SW:TOR - anyone still playing?
00.32.58 This week's topic: Kickstartering game development!
00.53.50 your emails
01.11.05 Mass Effect 3 Spoiler section (spoiler alert: may contain spoilers)

A spoiler especially for the hosts:

Spoiler:

It is totally possible to save Mordin. Won't tell ya how! Nya, nya.

That is all.

Less-spoilery stuff. The first Sniper Rifle is available on

Spoiler:

Mars

, and it's a viable choice throughout the game, even at the end. It's the Mantis - same first sniper rifle you got in ME2. They did a really, really good job balancing the weapons for the third installment. Second one is the Viper, which is on Menae.

The Avenger AR which is available (spoilers) on the ground at Alliance HQ is likewise a very solid choice for power-centric Shepards throughout the game.

Fun episode, guys! Loving having Justin McElroy on there.

I'm gonna stick the next part in spoilers since it concerns the (duh) spoiler section.

Spoiler:

I was a little put off by both Julian's and Shawn's characterization of their own forum's spoiler thread as a "huge mistake." Of course there's been some heated debate on the quality of the ending there (a couple posters were pretty apoplectic at the start, but, with the exception of one in particular, have seemed to have cooled down now), it's now a pretty lively debate.

I don't know, I was just a bit taken aback by the casual dismissal of people (of whom I include myself) who are unsatisfied with the last 5ish minutes of ME. However I liked your guys idea that the missions starting with Mordin's are the real ending. Still, though, that doesn't diminish the crappyness of the last set of choices.

Reading over this, I realize I'm sounding like a child..."my feelings were hurt, wah!"...but I just was a bit jarred by that last bit.

What ending would satisfy me? One, an ending where the decisions leading up to the last 5 minutes mattered. One of the biggest points I've taken away from the spoiler thread was that you were given the same choices no matter what. Maybe less choices depending on your War Readiness or whatever. But it's never "hey you got the Geth an Quarians to work together, so here's a purple-ray-of-light-choice."

Two, an ending that doesn't have some new character tell me "the way it is"--all synthetics will kill organics--when I know from experience the opposite--I just got the Quarians and Geth to end a 300 year war and work together and the AI on my ship loves organics.

Three, an ending that lets me know what happened to the folks that I've spent the last 100 hours of game time caring about. I don't care if I lived. I actually didn't think I would. But I had a crew of 15 or so and a bunch of side characters that I cared about and I'd like to know what happened to those guys...even if it's "they all got blown to smithereens." Right now I'm forced to watch the fan-made Animal House ending and wonder what Liara's LOLCATS are like in the 22nd Century.

Those are a couple of things I would have liked to have seen and I'm very disappointed in the ending as it is. That said, I'm already staring up my second playthrough. I've been thinking about the game and the various scenes that you guys talked about in the podcast (adding one other moving scene for me...the Blue Rose of Ilium...the krogan's last poem to his partner on the Citadel... Niagara Falls at the computer desk) nonstop since I began to play. Playing through ME1, ME2 and now ME3 has been a winter tradition of mine for the past 3 years and I don't plan to let my disappointment in the last 5 minutes of the last game affect my love of the game and its universe. I do, though, think Bioware dropped the ball big time on those last 5 minutes.

Regarding the ending of ME3, I'll just drop this link here even though it's been posted a dozen times already. I would encourage the hosts of the show to read it.

Musings of a Screenwriter

Spoiler:
I was a little put off by both Julian's and Shawn's characterization of their own forum's spoiler thread as a "huge mistake."

Response:

Spoiler:

The statement was not that the thread was a huge mistake, but that engaging in that conversations -- or in my case reading it at length -- was a huge mistake. I love this community, but sometimes the tone of this or that puts me off in a really unpleasant way. Like having a family whose politics you sometimes disagree with -- the best call is to walk out of the room when that conversation comes up. Not doing that was, for us, a huge mistake.

This will make my upcoming Airbus/toture chamber flight immeasurably better.

Holy crap! Thanks so much for the shout out! That was unnecessary but so freaking appreciated.

What Sean said.

The podcast ends abruptly where Shawn Andrich goes 'Ummm so,' WHAT DID HE SAY?

Meta-commentary? ;p

The ending to this podcast sucks. I demand a refund. Hold the Line, people! Hold the line.

Haven't listened to the podcast yet, but has there ever been this much furor over a game ending before? I thought most people don't finish games which is why the ending sections are always the weakest parts...

Now I wish I was actually up to speed on this series so I could participate in the conversation

Gentlemen, I greatly appreciated the spoiler section. Kudos. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who responds to tedious nerd trivialities with "Who gives a sh*t? Shut the f*ck up!"

Elysium wrote:
Spoiler:
I was a little put off by both Julian's and Shawn's characterization of their own forum's spoiler thread as a "huge mistake."

Response:

Spoiler:

The statement was not that the thread was a huge mistake, but that engaging in that conversations -- or in my case reading it at length -- was a huge mistake. I love this community, but sometimes the tone of this or that puts me off in a really unpleasant way. Like having a family whose politics you sometimes disagree with -- the best call is to walk out of the room when that conversation comes up. Not doing that was, for us, a huge mistake.

I see. Sorry about misreading it.

Damn, this whole ending fiasco is starting to wear on me.

Elysium wrote:

Get your ass to Mars!

Speaking of Lord of the Rings and the Mass Effect 3 conclusion...

Wakim wrote:
Elysium wrote:

Get your ass to Mars!

Wakim wrote:
Elysium wrote:

Get your ass to Mars!

Wakim wrote:
Elysium wrote:

Get your ass to Mars!

Wakim wrote:
Elysium wrote:

Get your ass to Mars!

IMAGE(http://geeksyndicate.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/total-recall.png)

Regarding the end of Mass Effect 3 I agree with the other posters here that I find you to be a bit disingenuous towards the "intenet outrage" begind the ending. I felt extremly let down by the ending (particularly when I tried the alternative endings) and I think there is an important core lesson to take from all of this.

I would also like to point out that when I finished the game I did not feel any "internet rage" or things like that. It was much more that I was so profoundly dissapointed and let down that I completely lost interest in the series as a whole. While playing the game I was constantly thinking "I can't wait to replay ME2 and ME3 and see how this is handled differently!" and I went from that to finding out that santa isn't real... and is actually a drunk hobo... who just ran over my dog. And that happened in the last 5 minutes of the game.

Spoiler:

The entire series of the games have been about choice, and the player is an active participant both in defining who their Shepard is and what the story is about. This is a natural consequence of having a game which is this ambitious in scope. The fundamental problem is then when you get to the end of the game the story collapses down the "possibility space" of the game down to only a few possible interpretations. And if you happened to previously think of the game in one of the ways which was removed the feeling (that I personally got) was of having the rug swept out from under you. And not in a cool "I see dead people" twist but more like the last Matrix where the canon was the least satisfying possible alternative.

In a movie this is a potentially risky thing to do, because not all people appreciate this. And plenty of people hate M. Night Shyamalan movies because of this (I personally tend to like those movies). The problem with Mass Effect is that to me I started in a Star Wars movie and ended up in an Shyamalan movie and that creates a fundamental rift in the experience of the game.

Compounding on this is that the ending is poorly executed. That's discussed at length in the "Musing from a screen-writer" post. While I can overlook many of these things individually, at the end of Mass effect everything came crashing together at one point completely ruined the experience for me.

I also find it a bit frustrating that a lot of "jay sayers" of the ending seem to dismiss the critical views because either they have not thought about it enough, or too much. If you don't think enough about it you don't consider the indoctrination theory. But when you do go down that hole and start looking at the details there are too many things which make no sense in the end (like Normandy's escape, I mean WTF?). And when comment that "But everyone will starve at Earth!" then they are also thinking too much.

In conclusion I found that the ending was a case where they didn't really know what they wanted and how to present it. So they threw in a bunch of different stuff which supported different interpretations. Like the tendrils supporting indoctrination; the Normandy escaping which is apparently supposed to give "closure" regarding your team; and the possibility of Shepard "waking up" back on Earth (apparenly he/she can fall from orbit and live).

These details (and many more) create an inconsitent ending which is causing at least me to say "Ok, you had no idea what you wanted here and didn't commit to anything just throwing random stuff at the screen hoping the player would decide." And that could work, if it was done well, but it again is completely breaking the world view of the game for a lot of players.

In the end I think there are many valid points raised by this furor. And I also think it is a very interesting problem which has been brought to light here. In normal stories there is typically one story that is being told and the hero belongs to one archetype. But in complex games like Mass effect the player can alter what the main character actually is and how do you make the game balance that with what the maker intends? It would be very interesting to see this problem being discussed more by you guys. Understanding what story you are telling, and how the player can interpret it is very important in games, and something I feel will only become more important in the future.

Wow, the ME3 inventory on PC must be atrocious. On the 360 at least it's very easy to see how much a weapon weighs and how it compares to your currently equipped weapon. Also, once I realized all quest locations were on the map I stopped using the journal. Just open the map and scan through the different sub areas and see where there are people to go see and head off that way, no journal needed.

The ME3 inventory on PC is actually really good. I think McElroy is grousing over your inability to see how good a gun is when you first pick up a sample, even though they give you the option to equip it immediately. I never paid that much attention because past the first few missions, it never pays to do so. Your Mark V Mantis with high level mods will always be better than a Mark I new sniper rifle without any mods.

Once you're in a position to upgrade it and mod it, you can easily compare the qualities on the workbench.

On the 360 version at least it opens the regular inventory when you choose to equip it, and you can compare it and see the weight and all the jazz right from there. The only thing you can't do is add mods to it.

I'm willing to bet that you can't upgrade it. If it's otherwise, that would be a key functional difference between the versions. I don't like opening the weapons inventory because it resets the ammo powers. I hate having to reapply those over and over.

Thany wrote:

my downturn started with cheap looking London levels

Now that you bring it up, I think it's a bit of a missed opportunity really. I agree that it's dull, bombed out destroyed environments are common in games and not interesting. It's also part of a game series that has had some very pretty and interesting environments to play in. Although they were going for a warzone, they could have been imaginative with it.

Also it's been a while now that I assume kotaku and all it's content is worth taking steps to actively avoid.

Thany:

For that I prefer the Indra Sniper Rifle. You can't just almost use it as an assault rifle, it functionally is a fully automatic assault rifle with a sniper scope.

I like McElroy but he had no idea what he was talking about. It seems he doesnt even know that a weapon bench exists on the normandy.

I personaly prefer the N7 sniper do to super fast reload time and decent damage. Mantis has a good one shot damage but the reload is a bitch and is only usuable on long range, while N7 with slow down mod can be used almost like an assault rifle. Why are we talking about sniper rifles anyway?

I can relate to Hast, I to have lost interest in ME universe, my downturn started with

Spoiler:

cheap looking London levels, and the ending was just logical crash of quality and bad ideas.

And no, I'm not a buthurt talimancer, just read gamefronts article by Ross Lincoln and you should get it

edit: scratched sorry to edit my post on you added the sentence back

CodeRunner sounds awesome, I always knew geocaching could be turned into a game, but my imagination failed me.
Kickstarter is awesome, I might submit something one day.

What I meant was, that it can fill the role of an assault rifle, which is on the move use, dealing constant damage in mid/long ranges. sorry if I wasnt clear on that.

scratched, why did you mention kotaku? gamefront (break media) and kotaku (gawker) have nothing in common if you're trying to discredit the article I mentioned?

RolandofGilead wrote:

CodeRunner sounds awesome, I always knew geocaching could be turned into a game, but my imagination failed me.

For only $0.99 I think I'm going to give it a try. Might be fun to do around Boston on the weekend. Kinda surprised Julian didn't bring up Run, Zombie, Run since it sounds like both games are working with a similar concept of a narrative-driven location-based game (wow that's some marketing pitch right there).