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.

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Tech Thing Daily
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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

Code Runner is free today on iTunes!

Loved the podcast, as usual.

Re Justin's confusion about ME3 guns: don't you just choose to go to weapons loadout each time you pick one up and see exactly how the new gun's stats compare? Then you can choose to keep your existing loadout or change it?

I loved how you incorporated the indoctrination hypothesis into the spoiler section. Awesome interplay. Also, I think it is telling that the most generous interpretation of the ending was "It was all a dream..."

I'm confused about the anger that Elysium seems to harbor about audience/player complaints about the ending. Games are a uniquely interactive medium, and we comment, complain, and give feedback all the time about broken mechanics, bugs, lag, texture pops, art direction, dialogue, load times, etc. In this case, the audience that seems to be most invested in ME3 is giving their feedback on a broken element of the game-- the last 10 minutes of story. Because storytelling is above all an interactive element of the ME franchise (indeed, the interactive storytelling is its most powerful and notable hallmark), it is appropriate that players express their disappointment in the complete failure and abdication of this element in the most important section of the climax. People complained about inventory and Mako in ME1 and Bioware responded by changing or eliminating those elements. How is this any different? This is one of the most intriguing dynamics of the interactive/iterative culture that is game design in the 21st century, and it is weird to hear people within the criticism/journalism industry (not Elysium, I'm more thinking of Colin Moriarty at IGN) express horror and disgust when an audience tells a developer that they think an element of the game 1) is broken, 2) can be fixed with a patch, and 3) is central to their enjoyment of the franchise. Bioware can choose to respond or to dig in.

[spoiler]

I personally hope to read a leaked memo where the starchild segment and Normandy escape scene are explained as a brilliant commentary on the fundamental misconceptions that game players have about personal agency in RPGs.

But, until then, I think Bioware is reaping the whirlwind.

Brilliant, brilliant spoiler section.

I finished the game last night and the first thing I did this morning, was listen to the spoiler section. It was the perfect way to round off Mass Effect 3. I didn't experience some of the things you mentioned, which is great, and the point at which your play throughs diverged was priceless.

I actually enjoyed the ending, possibly because I was expecting much worse. It sounds like it worked for you, on some levels. I was going to visit the spoiler thread today but I may just let that whole thing lie. I suspect it would kill my mellow, post credits, mood.

Spoiler:

I have a strange taste in story endings and this one ticked all the boxes for me. I enjoy endings that take me completely by surprise. Thankfully this one did. I like endings where there are still some questions to be answered and, possibly most importantly, I enjoy down beat endings (The film: Blood Simple and the book (not the film) of Cold Mountain are good examples. Fade Out by Patrick Tilley also comes to mind (great SF book.))

The choice was a great moment for me. As the unnecessary ghost child (in my mind that entity was some kind of insane god figure. Representing him as a child gave him a feeling of innocence that was a nice counterpoint to his horrendous (?) nature) set out the three options it dawned on me, with no small amount of trepidation, that none of the options were satisfactory. The melding didn't appeal at all. I imagined that we would all lose our bodies and become white reapers or some such. I wanted to preserve as many of the cultures and races of the galaxy as possible while, at the same time, taking out the Reapers. Blowing them up with me, EDI, and the Geth as unfortunate collateral damage seemed to be the least worst option (the scene of him doing that in slow motion was brilliant.) I suspect I may have been less impressed with the ending if I'd gone middle. I nearly didn't listen to the spoiler cast because I wasn't sure if I wanted to know the other endings so I'm delighted that none of you did the 'take control' option.

I may just go for that one with my femshep.

It seems like another pragmatic way to preserve the galaxy as is (I'd fly all the reapers into the nearest sun), as long as that wasn't all a dream and I wasn't being indoctrinated....

ClockworkHouse wrote:

kuddles, that's one of the best positive breakdowns of the ending that I've read. Nicely done.

I concur.

I won't be playing ME3 for reasons that are of interest to nobody but me, so I listened to the spoiler section.

While it was fun listening to you guys geek out (and try to figure out what happened in the game with no reference points), I find it hard to take seriously anyone who can say the Lord of the Rings has the worst ending in literature.

I won't go into the falderol about how the Eagles should have been able to drop the ring in Mount Doom with Sauron and the Nazgul watching. But what about the scouring of the Shire? The final confrontation with Saruman? The tearful departure of Frodo from this world and the return of Sam to his wife and kids?

Those are powerful moments to me. How can you not love watching the four hobbits return home and confront the bullies with the kind of attitude that says "We've killed orcs, Nazgul, and the greatest evil ever to exist in Middle Earth. You don't frighten me, you pissant."

Speaking about the spoiler section ending:

Spoiler:

The part about the "what would my character do?" The reason i was disappointed was that my Shepard would have said no to everything.

With regards to the indoctrination theory. It makes sense... but then it makes no sense because why would you be able to die from the guys before the transportation beam. Also, i think it's going to be a cheap decision on Bioware's part because i think they planned to "end the game" with DLC from the beginning. Sure, they broke the rule about not including core plotlines in DLC with Shadow Broker and Arrival... but to make the ending a "required" DLC to be able to finish the game? Lowest of the low actions against your customers.

It's also bad writing. You've hit the twist but you don't deliver the goods after the twist... making it no twist at all.

Duoae:

Spoiler:

Er, if Shepard says no to everything, wouldn't that just mean that you're defeated by the Reapers? I believe it's possible to do that. Just do nothing and then go to the Game Over screen and then stop playing.

LarryC wrote:

Duoae:

Spoiler:

Er, if Shepard says no to everything, wouldn't that just mean that you're defeated by the Reapers? I believe it's possible to do that. Just do nothing and then go to the Game Over screen and then stop playing.

Spoiler:

I'd rather die in a blaze of glory, fighting a war i can't win than be forced into three stupid choices. Refusing to comply is still a choice and probably the most powerful choice possible.

Okay, technically i meant my character.

Also, if it results in a game over screen - it's not an ending.

Duoae:

Well, technically it's an ending, it's just not a well-animated one. Judging from the absurd amount of Tali/Shep shipping going on, I gather that we're in the minority when we say we want to watch the entire Citadel fleet going up in smoke in gratuitous and bloody detail.

Welcome to Old People Club. Shotgun's to the left. Paleo hosts "Keeping Kids Off Your Lawn" workshops Saturdays after Kick Gas.

LarryC wrote:

Duoae:

Well, technically it's an ending, it's just not a well-animated one. Judging from the absurd amount of Tali/Shep shipping going on, I gather that we're in the minority when we say we want to watch the entire Citadel fleet going up in smoke in gratuitous and bloody detail.

Welcome to Old People Club. Shotgun's to the left. Paleo hosts "Keeping Kids Off Your Lawn" workshops Saturdays after Kick Gas.

Sounds like a mighty fine crew to bow out on to me... might fine.

File it under more internet entitlement, and even though I don't necessarily disagree with the main point he's trying to make, every time the 'entitlement' discussion is brought up, it's almost painful to listen to.

Spoiler:

Yeah, I can see them possibly intending for indoctrination as being one possible interpretation, but if it was THE interpretation, they would have made it clearer by the end.

That said, I don't agree with the idea that there should have been a fourth option. I find it odd for people to say "My Shepard wouldn't choose any of those choices". I would like to know what Shepard you are playing where letting everyone die after all the hard work of the past three games would be more reasonable. I have a feeling the RetakeME3 crowd wouldn't have been satisfied with that choice either.

kuddles wrote:
Spoiler:

Yeah, I can see them possibly intending for indoctrination as being one possible interpretation, but if it was THE interpretation, they would have made it clearer by the end.

That said, I don't agree with the idea that there should have been a fourth option. I find it odd for people to say "My Shepard wouldn't choose any of those choices". I would like to know what Shepard you are playing where letting everyone die after all the hard work of the past three games would be more reasonable. I have a feeling the RetakeME3 crowd wouldn't have been satisfied with that choice either.

I was playing the Shepard who was always fighting unfair authority figures (from the council, to Udina, to Cerberus, even the Reapers...). I can't think of a single time my paragon Shepard said, "Welp. The boss says we have to pull out and let these people die so... Let's go guys!".
My Shepard never accepted it when she was told "this is the way it's going to be". She fought against that as best she could. Sometimes she failed, sometimes she succeeded... but she always fought.

It was always a case of the right thing is to ignore orders/the authority figures and I think in the case of what we're talking about that applies as well.

Spoiler:

Now... Bioware wrote that character. I didn't write it, i experienced it through the choices i made. So it seemed completely out of character for her to suddenly not be doing that.

kuddles wrote:
Spoiler:

Yeah, I can see them possibly intending for indoctrination as being one possible interpretation, but if it was THE interpretation, they would have made it clearer by the end.

That said, I don't agree with the idea that there should have been a fourth option. I find it odd for people to say "My Shepard wouldn't choose any of those choices". I would like to know what Shepard you are playing where letting everyone die after all the hard work of the past three games would be more reasonable. I have a feeling the RetakeME3 crowd wouldn't have been satisfied with that choice either.

From everything I'm reading, the whole RetakeME3 issue is one of a mismatched audience. Rabbit pointed out that there's basically no way for Shepard to win. That's classic Sci-Fi, which is based on the premise that because the nerds who write sci-fi got picked on during their formative years, then humanity doesn't deserve to have any hope. You can tell someone who is into Classic Sci Fi because they're the ones who grumble about who Star Trek doesn't count.

The problem is that most of the people playing ME3 are not old-school, Rod Serling types who think that just because they can't read in peace then neither should Burgess Meredith. They're people who think Sci Fi involves dashing bald men saying "make it so" a lot. (And how many Halo dudebro types do you think tried it out because they heard about the big blue alien lesbian controversy from ME1 and got hooked for the trilogy?) So when they're confronted with Classic Sci Fi, especially if they get heavily invested in it before they realize what's going on, they feel cheated. This isn't a case of entitled internet people thinking they own the story, it's a case of people thinking they bought one game and finding out they bought another during the last 20 minutes.

You can argue that the fault lies with the people who thought they were playing a triumphalist game, but it's not like gamers aren't used to overcoming horribly overwhelming odds.

To expand on that a bit, bear with me:

One of the things I was pondering elsewhere is as an alternative to the ME trilogy being played with one character, that it's a different character for each entry with the overarching plot.

Spoiler:

The new reason I think this would be good is ME2's hyped suicide mission, that it would allow success in the main objective but loss of the player's character, to allow them to make the ultimate sacrifice for the mission. Joker talks to Illusive and the game exports an endgame save

Hast wrote:

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.

Oh no, I think he was totally ingenuous. Not all negative responses about ME3 rise to the level of "outrage," but those that do have triggered a negative counter-reaction.

Hast wrote:

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.

I think that even since the beginning of the series, the game has been about being given a limited set of ambiguous choices with unexpected or sometimes seemingly ineffectual results. Isn't that the core of the dialogue system?

I may well be wrong, but I hear this "the whole series is about choice" line a lot lately, and I'm not sure I've seen that claim truly backed up.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

kuddles, that's one of the best positive breakdowns of the ending that I've read. Nicely done.

Hear, hear.

LarryC wrote:

Duoae:

Spoiler:

Er, if Shepard says no to everything, wouldn't that just mean that you're defeated by the Reapers? I believe it's possible to do that. Just do nothing and then go to the Game Over screen and then stop playing.

Choosing to "lose" is always a valid ending, even if developers very rarely provide content rewarding the player.

Justin McElroy mentioned an article that "everyone should read" during the show. Something about the internet. Does that vague description jog any memories?

Polliwog wrote:

Justin McElroy mentioned an article that "everyone should read" during the show. Something about the internet. Does that vague description jog any memories?

Probably this? http://www.ftrain.com/wwic.html

shoptroll wrote:
Polliwog wrote:

Justin McElroy mentioned an article that "everyone should read" during the show. Something about the internet. Does that vague description jog any memories?

Probably this? http://www.ftrain.com/wwic.html

He also mentioned this on Striving. It's also worth a read:
http://37signals.com/svn/posts/3124-...

To begin with, two links that explain what's SO wrong with the end much better than I'll ever do:

http://www.gamefront.com/mass-effect...
http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysid...

I haven't listened to the ME3 spoiler section yet, but guys.. the people are not complaining about the ending per se, but about the lack of different endings, LIKE BIOWARE PROMISED time and time again. This is not gamer entitlement, this is Bioware breaking their word. There is a forum thread in the bioware forums linking some interviews with bioware guys telling us about how there are lots of endings depending on your decisions through the trilogy, and how things like

Spoiler:

saving or killing the Rachni queen

have HUGE ramifications (yeah, sure, 30? points in War Assets), and there is no less than 15 of them, and that's with the big honchos. Include previews, tweets from EA/Bioware, etc, and you'll get a lot more.

It's not that I thought THE ending was that bad. It's that you reach the end and they say "ok, all these things you did the last three games?. Forget about them, they don't matter one sh*t. Tell us: what is your favourite color, red, green or blue?. And if you really made most of the missions AND you played multiplayer, you get 3 extra seconds!!!". Wow. Not to mention another broken promise: "you will get to see where everybody ends". I'd say it's more like the contrary.

As I said, I still have to listen to the second part, but frankly, your dismissal of all of us that feel cheated by Bioware felt really condescending and unfair. I expected that from Elysium, but from the rest of you, guys?. Really?.

wordsmythe wrote:
shoptroll wrote:
Polliwog wrote:

Justin McElroy mentioned an article that "everyone should read" during the show. Something about the internet. Does that vague description jog any memories?

Probably this? http://www.ftrain.com/wwic.html

He also mentioned this on Striving. It's also worth a read:
http://37signals.com/svn/posts/3124-...

Thank you both! I just listened to Striving on the drive home this evening and was looking for that one too.

rabbit wrote:
RolandofGilead wrote:

I take umbrage at "dirt boring Starship Troopers". Even the movie and animated series based on the movie were alright.

The pinball machine I'll give you. The movie?

Absolutely. Watch it again. No, seriously. Watch it again. John Scalzi wants you to.

It is our greatest "9/11" film, even though it was filmed years before 9/11. Now you're going to scoff at me for reading too much into things. Which you would be well within your right to do, if this movie were made by Joel Silver or Uwe Boll. But it wasn't. It was made by Paul Vanderhoeven, a pretty talented director in his own right, and a man who was channeling a lot of his anxieties about his childhood in WWII. So watch it again, and keep all that in mind. I think you'll be surprised.

Would like you to know more?

I actually liked the movie more than the book. That's one of the few scifi flicks where I could say that.

OMG, so I am not the only one that feels like the ending was a dream! I thought I was the only one!

Given the post credits scene, it's highly unlikely it was dream. Something real happened otherwise there's no ending to the story the guy was telling.

LTTP here, but thanks for the discussion. I finally finished the game, late last night, and the first thing I did this morning was sync my iPod with this podcast so I could listen to the discussion on the way to work.

And I was fine with the ending.