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This Space Intentionally Left Blank

By Shamus
on Wednesday Nov 21, 2012
Filed under:
Personal

 
 

Since people keeping asking about this, I suppose I’d better say something. YES, the blog is all Mass Effect all the time. This isn’t because I’m obsessed with Mass Effect, or because that’s all I want to talk about. It’s because the Mass Effect vids are already done. The Mass Effect videos aren’t preventing you from getting prose from me, they’re filling what would otherwise be a BLANK SPACE.

I’m really busy lately. I’ve got personal-life stuff going on right now that’s eating some time, plus a book I’m trying to finish, plus a bit of coding, plus some other obligations.

(The book is stalled. Not because I’m unhappy with the book, but because my brain switching to PROGRAMMING MODE! I seriously can’t write fiction right now, and so I’m noodling with code because that’s all my brain wants to do. I’m 85% of the way done with this book. It’s terrible. And no, the code’s not anything worth turning into blog posts.)

I totally understand if you’re sick of hearing about Mass Effect and you’re hoping I’ll make some other content. I’m sick of the series and I’m eager to put the thing behind me and move on. Spoiler Warning costs me only a couple of hours a week to record, and the Mass Effect 1 videos were completed years ago. I’m just putting this stuff up for those who want it.

Having said that, I do try to make the visit worth your while. Even if you don’t watch the video, I try to make the blog post itself worth a read, and if I can I make it able to stand on its own.

The run of Mass Effect 3 should finish up this week. Once that’s over we’ll announce the next series.

If you’re looking for something to read, can I suggest Krellen’s XCOM game? It stars some people from this very site.

In short: The Mass Effect will continue until morale improves.



 
 
Comments (75)

  1. Mattias42 says:

    I thought this was clear as crystal already?

    Still, good that it got clarified if people have been complaining.

    I personally don’t mind lots of Mass Effect. Many things to debate and/or
    moan about.

    I admit a new season of Spoiler Warning will be a breath of fresh air, but considering there is one or two episodes left of ME3…

    Speaking of that, do you guys have the extended ending DLC installed or are you gonna show of the “artistic integrity”?

    • newdarkcloud says:

      They said they are playing the original ending.

    • Zagzag says:

      Their plan was to show the original ending, because apparently complaining about something that has already been improved is a good thing, and will allow them to show just how much better than the developers they are.

      All joking aside, I can understand why they chose to play the original ending, but it is slightly irritating to have them completely disregard Bioware’s attempt to actually address the concerns that the crew shared with many others after finishing the game, and instead complain about something that Bioware admits is flawed and needed changing.

      EDIT: Hmmm apparently my comment is being moderated this time around, when they normally aren’t. I’m slightly terrified by the fact that Shamus’ new spam filter can apparently detect the fact that I was saying something that could have been considered slightly negative about him.

      Double EDIT: Ninja’d in the moderation queue… this is what I get for triggering Shamus’ negetivity filter…

      • Mattias42 says:

        Meh, I’ve seen the “improved” endings on YouTube, considering the quotation marks you should be able to infer what i thought of them.

        Thanks for the answer though, I personally think showing the original ending will lead to more interesting discussions, both on the show and in the comments. One of the reasons I like this blog actually, interesting content, you don’t have to register to comment AND somehow things tend to stay civil.

        Besides, I have said it before and will say it again, any ending, no matter the medium, where a press-release is needed to tell you that no one starved to death deserves to be mocked.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I hope they talked about the Extended Cut when they did the recording, at least.

        • Thomas says:

          I think discussions of ME3 need to see the original ending to have an understanding about the legacy of the game, talking about the Extended Cut doesn’t have the same worth if you don’t talk about what it added. Saying that, complaining about something that got changed would be bad form. ‘This was bad and so they changed it is okay’

          I’m not sure which one personally I would have wanted to see though. I have a hard time understanding what is that people really take away from the EC or why my views on it differ so substantially from everyone (it’s easyish to find people who like the original ending but I haven’t come across other people who actively disliked the EC yet), so I guess I’d’ve got more out of watching people watch the EC. Also it’d probably be less negative

          EDIT: I put that a little badly, as a commentary/discussion focused lets play, I figure it would be remiss to skip the original ending, they aren’t necessarily there to show the game in it’s best form and people who haven’t played the game will get the most from being showed the original ending, but my personal enjoyment is probably different than that

          • newdarkcloud says:

            For me, the Extended Cut turned a completely shitty ending into a stupid, but passable one.

            And it let me tell Some God Kid to fuck off.

            • Thomas says:

              That’s more of the affect than the specifics though. The kid thing is interesting, but like, which particular cutscenes were the ones you enjoyed? The only ones I’d keep and can understand the enjoyment is the extra fleet scenes and the scenes of the Normandy flying around (NOT the awful one that interrupted the running to the laser scene) and those ones wouldn#t save the ending. I could maybe imagine that someone enjoyed the ending summary but I’d need more explanation on that and what it changes that makes them feel happy, because it doesn’t change anything, it just confirms or unconfirms what you imagined in your head had happenened anyway.

              Did people like Synthesis? Wasn’t it a bit kooky? And doesnät it do more harm to have such a big ‘This is the correct answer’? Was it the chance of Shepard surviving? Were people more drawn into the personal fate of their character than the universe at large? etc

              • Mattias42 says:

                I personally thought destroy the only thinkable option.

                Your talking to space Cthulhu, wearing the guise and face of a kid that his minion, made from a murdered civilization, vaporized in front of you and “his” argument for why boils down to “I killed billions to save the minds of thousands! I have done this every 50 000 years for millions of years. This was a good thing, because I say it is. Don’t argue!”.

                He is a mass-murderer unlike all the current sentient species histories combined! Even without the treat of indoctrination, why listen to a single word he speaks? Trusting something like that to keep it’s word… Ludicrous.

                Even with the destruction of your synthetic allies, (something that feels tacked on to prevent “Destroy” from being the best ending, rather then for logical reasons.) the galaxy is so much better of without their foul presence that it is not even funny.

                Eggs and omelets… Tragic, but a lesser evil.

                I do think the Defiance ending had the chance at being better, but as is it feels like a middle finger directly from Bioware towards all the critics.

                *Edit. Fixed spoiler tags.

                • Thomas says:

                  See I had the opposite response. Why wouldn’t you pick control? You mean I get to save earth, save technology and even get to save the Reapers themselves? This is an option without downside.

                  In the end your distrust of the narrator doesn’t impact, because if he was lying, then he would equally lie about what destroy did. You don’t know how the Catalyst works so maybe the thing he tells you to destroy will just blow yourself up. Or maybe it will actually just cause a small scale explosion forever removing the Catalyst option and obliterating Earth. I never saw anything to distrust in what he said, his reasoning was flawed but he wasn’t trying to portray himself in a false light and nothing he said disagreed with what we knew. I can believe he was wrong, but if he was intending to deceive he wouldnät start off by explaining how he wants to kill everything you love. Plus he’s a computer and I felt that in this circumstance there wouldn’t be function to lying. From his incredibly extreme methods it felt like he was actually quite limited in thinking and would be the sort of thing that couldn’t lie about a situation like this.

                  One of the things I Spoiler Warning taught me to admire about the ME ending is that people have such different views on it. It’s like the Horcruxes, we all know which one is obviously best, but we all know different things

                  • Mattias42 says:

                    Ah, but indoctrination takes time and if it is speed up, the end-result is little more then a husk. Considering the destructive nature of the reapers, there should be much more simple ways to outright kill Shepard, even in an inner sanctum type place. Thus, for the moment at least, Shepard can trust his senses.

                    Thus even if the machinery doesn’t do exactly what the space kid says, shooting the machinery should if not outright kill him, at least case some damage. Remember, he did declare the reapers his solution and even hint that he gives direct orders. There is a reason snipers exist, removing the commander from an enemies army can change an entire war.

                    Basically a head of the snake type situation. Even if all else fails destroying their commander (He even moved his “throne” to better survey the battlefield after all, another stupidity, but I digress.) would do if not irreparable damage to the Reapers, or at least sett them back far enough that the next cycle might get more time and finish the job.

                    That was my reasoning at least.

                    *Edit. I completely agree on your last point. A pity the endings weren’t better, the few discussions I’ve had that managed to get past the outrage has been quite good.

                    • Thomas says:

                      I MEANT HALLOWS! *cough* Yeah that one has been bothering me a bit um *cough*

                      The way I see it, the Starchild wouldn’t even need to indoctrinate. Shepard wouldn’t know what blows up right and what doesn’t. But I agree as it stands it would help a lot just to kill the Catalyst (which makes the actual super weapon a little pointless). I don’t like the decision to give the Catalyst direct control over the Reapers, a lot of the story falls apart because of it and it pushes him much more into your territory, an unreliable Narrator who needs to be destroyed. I think it works better if he just gave the Reapers their initial orders, because it makes him more of a mediator and gives the Reapers reason to be sentient.

                      I tend to make that my head canon, because I really like the idea that Shepard can just undo their original orders and then they get a chance to be their own species and have their own culture, instead of waging this mindless war every 50 000 years

      • Asimech says:

        Bioware didn’t admit they had failed with their ending, nor did they fix the things people were complaining about. The basic gist of the new ending is that “it’s better than the original, but still really bad and there’s a new ending that’s better than the rest but was clearly meant to be a middle finger towards complainers”.

        The reason to show the original is to show people what other people were complaining about, since it’s unlikely a lot of them will actually experience that version themselves. So it’s there for context, basically.

        The spam filter should be the old one provided by the WordPress system, from what I understand.

      • LunaticFringe says:

        Um, wait, Bioware admitted something it made was flawed? When did this happen? I recall them saying that the EC was a ‘clarification’, not a correction.

        • Mattias42 says:

          They didn’t. To my knowledge they still cling to their excuse of artistic integrity.

          My opinion, but I believe the extended ending was simply a olive branch to silence the critics during the “all-important” first month of sales.

      • anaphysik says:

        Naw, they’re not doing the Extended Cut because they don’t want to have to go through all the complaints about that as well. Better just to let this thing putter out and die.

        Besides, SW never really concerned itself with the ending in any of its forms. We all came in with the understanding that it was… “sub-par,” and then let ourselves focus on everything else wrong (or occasionally right) with the game.

  2. kikito says:

    > And no, the code's not anything worth turning into blog posts.

    Samus, as a parent and writer, you should know by now that writing such thing makes us want a blog post about the code *even more*. There’s a Spanish say: “Don’t throw the stone and hide the hand”. I don’t know how well it translates to English, but I hope you get the idea.

    If you don’t want to write about your code, the polite algorithm is the following:

    1. You start by saying “The code needs to get some details figured out before I can post about it. I’ll do so when I’ve resolved them”.
    2. Most of your audience will be appeased knowing that their curiosity will be satisfied in the future.
    3. Then you never write it.
    4. But it will not matter. We live in a time of short attention span and information gluttony. The majority of people will forget about it in 1 week.
    5. Eventually someone with exceptionally good memory/interest will ask you about your post.
    6. You answer “I have not resolved all the issues YET”.
    7. GOTO 2

    After a couple iterations, most people will have forgotten about it without any frustratingly unsatisfied sense of curiosity. Instead, you will have gently helped them forget about the whole thing. You will probably bug the hell out of any extremely obsessive-compulsive readers, but those get regularly pissed off anyway.

    And no, it’s not “lying”. Not if at least one of the “issues I’ve not resolved yet” is “I don’t want to write a blog post about it”.

    I will patiently wait for your second book, which I’ll purchase as soon as it gets out, since you said it’s total rubbish.

    Until then, receive my best regards.

    A reader.

  3. Hal says:

    I’ll admit, I don’t really watch the videos, but I’ll read the associated posts when you deconstruct narrative silliness within said videos. That’s always fun.

    Of course, if you need a source of material for writing, you could always get back into tabletop gaming again. *nudge* (I know, busy, not lacking inspiration.)

    • Joshua says:

      That’s basically what I said earlier. I have no interest in watching videos(unless they’re just a minute or two), but look forward to reading all of the insightful prose. Here’s hoping that things calm down in the future for Shamus!

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      And chasing through the links supplied that are to things referred to (mistakenly or otherwise) in the session is always fun as well.

  4. robert says:

    I suppose you probably get a lot of emails about lack of content or something. But that’s a good thing. It means people visit the site constantly, looking for new stuff. The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.

    By the way, I love all your programming stuff. It has me into programming. I hope to make a career of it some day.

    I’ve started learning python now. I’ve got a bunch of ideas for projects that I would put on a blog as I make them. I just hope its interesting too.

    [x] I am not a spammer

  5. Ebalosus says:

    I discovered your spoiler warning let’s plays recently (as in, I’ve started watching them), and have been really enjoying them. I’ve just finished marathoning the ME3 one, and have started on the ME2 one.

    • Harry says:

      I strongly suggest watching the Fallout episodes, both F3 and New Vegas. They’re my personal favourites!

      Actually I guess the F3 ones are gone now and won’t be re-uploaded to Youtube for a while, so go for New Vegas I guess.

  6. Neko says:

    It’s cool. Do what you like. It’s really the only way to stay motivated.

  7. Jarenth says:

    If you’re hungry from more XCOM after krellen’s hilarious adventures in mismanagement, why not try my XCOM Let’s Play, plug? It’s a more traditional gameplay-oriented affair when contrasted to krellen’s running Commander narrative, but I’ve been given to understand at least some people enjoy reading. Plus, it doesn’t just feature people from this very site, but even the big man himself*.

    *For as long as that will last.**
    **Which isn’t that long, really.***
    ***Seriously, get supplies while they’re fresh.****
    ****Sign up now and watch me mismanage Josh into a needlessly early grave!

  8. Sashas says:

    As one of those people who does not/cannot watch the videos, I just want to say that the attending text you’ve added still makes me enjoy coming here.

  9. Robyrt says:

    You wouldn’t have this problem in the first place if you weren’t so good about posting regular, free, interesting content in the first place. For most of the competition’s web shows, more than a week of regular updates is a herculean effort. So basically keep making the excuses and we’ll all be fine :)

  10. krellen says:

    My XCOM team is an all-volunteer group – you won’t see Shamus or Josh appear, because they didn’t offer themselves up to the slaughter.

    But if YOU want to volunteer, you can give a shout out. There’s five people already ahead of you, but who knows how many casualties we’ll have – I’m playing Classic Ironman.

    • Abnaxis says:

      Go ahead and put me on the death roster. I added a comment on your blog to that effect

    • ehlijen says:

      Can I be a s.h.i.v.?

      • krellen says:

        If I ever build one, I suppose.

        • anaphysik says:

          I’ve never played XCOM, but wikis say that S.H.I.V.s are basically really strong soldiers that take a very long time to heal (and are robots, but that’s flavour :P). Are they terrible or something? Take up engineers? Simply displace a soldier from getting promotions? Your response was pretty dismissive.

          • Irridium says:

            They aren’t exactly the most used, since until a recent patch they were… broken, basically. Some would spawn without guns and some you couldn’t take on missions for whatever reason. Those where the issues I had with ’em.

            So most of us are used to doing without. Well, that’s the case with me, at least.

          • StashAugustine says:

            In the original, tanks were either used for heavy weapons platforms or for expendable scouts (since you could replace them much easier than a high-level soldier.) The new game’s SHIVs are much more expensive (thus making them less expendable) and aren’t that much more heavily armed than infantry. I’ll probably build one on Classic Ironman to fill gaps, though.

            • krellen says:

              There’s a fairly high up-front cost to even being able to build them (costs I have not yet paid in my game), and then a not-insignificant cost per-robot to build them.

              At the point I’m currently at, I’m not even sure I’m going to survive, let alone be able to fund every research project.

              • Amnestic says:

                The highest cost with the SHIV was not the research, production or upgrade costs but that it took up a squad slot which could go to a human. With 4 (6 max upgrade) slots available, losing one which could go to another character was too high a price for most missions. I generally only rolled them out when my A-team was under strength due to injuries and needed a backup scout.

          • ehlijen says:

            They are tougher than rookies, but less resilient than Colonels. They also don’t have armour, just health; that means any wound will result in downtime, as opposed to soldiers who can suffer wounds up to their armour and not have to go to the infirmary after.

            They have decent inbuilt defence, but can’t take advantage of actual cover. They come with a LMG (same as heavy, pretty much) but only get the suppression ability as talents ever (and that costs weapon fragments to develop).

            You don’t ever need to train them up from rookie level and they can never be mindcontrolled, but they cost more than rookies and require a somewhat expensive building to develop, making them hard to unlock early in the game. Once you do, they cost a little less to upgrade to new weapon tech levels though.

            The hover one is super fast, but I don’t think any of them can climb up/down/over stuff, relying on ramps (or flight mode for the hover one).

            Overall…they are not that good.

    • Joneleth says:

      Put me in for the slaughter coach, I’m ready!

    • Jokerman says:

      Jokerman needs reviving….

    • Asimech says:

      Assuming I’m not in the backlog of names I’m volunteering.

    • krellen says:

      Y’all should speak up with specifics about (nick)names, colours, skills and appearance if you don’t want me to just make stuff up or randomly assign you.

  11. СТАЛКЕР of ЗОНА says:

    Now I want to see fiction written as a program. Just a short, simple story written in either a real or an abstract programming language.

    • Jarenth says:

      story.printCurrentDate();

      “A long, long time ago…”

    • swenson says:

      I actually tried my hand at writing a poem in valid C++ (so you read the words and it’s a poem, but it also compiles and runs, even if it doesn’t do anything). Didn’t get too far, but I still would like to go back and try it someday. I think it’d tend toward getting cheesy with variable names or declaring strings to put in longer lines.

      [x] I am totally a spammer.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Would it have to be a narrative when parsed by the computer, or the person reading the program? It would be easy to put a story in the comments of code. It would be a little harder to make a simple “procedural story maker” which patches together bits of text to “write stories”. It would be even harder to embed the story in the function and variable names, especially if the story had to make sense, and the program had to be functional.

      Of course, it’s possible to write a program using overloaded functions and variables which reads like a story, and when executed, writes stories. I suggest something interpreted, like Python.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        Here you go, written in Python.
        a story in the form of a program, which executes to give you the (admitadly lame and anticlimactic) ending.

        I originally pasted the whole program into the comment, but the formatter removed the quadruple spaces required for the function definition to work. Here’s a teaser:

        Once_upon_a_time = “there was”
        a = {“boy”:”named”}
        def who(met, a_troupe_of, jugglers, performing_in, the_street):

        And, here’s the blog post I wrote about it.

      • СТАЛКЕР of ЗОНА says:

        It would be a narrative told through computer/programming logic. It doesn’t need to parse – doesn’t even need to be a real programming language, as long as the programming logic is there.

        You say in your blog:

        a program in the form of a story

        But I mean (IF I know what I mean) the other way around, a story in the form of a program. As if you were programming the protagonist to go through the hoops and reach the end, the events to take place, or the weather/surroundings be what they are.
        And because I don’t know programming, I don’t even know if your Python program fills my definition.

        Don’t even know if it’s relevant here, but I found Free Radical’s programming sections quite interesting – especially because the guy wasn’t just writing a GUI in Java to get a big button that says “Execute haxx.exe.gif.tmp”, but because he was trying to figure out the logic with which to get things work the way he needed (without the computer logic going “ah, the easiest way to turn off the lights is to KILL ALL HUMANS AND BURN THEIR CITIES” and other fun “bugs”).

        • Paul Spooner says:

          yeah, I definitely approached the challenge from the other direction. Fictional prose is much less formally structured than even interpreted languages like Python. Thus, the challenge is much less to write prose than program.

          That said, a “computer drama” of some sort is an interesting idea. With code-based AI characters that interact in some sort of network perhaps? The temptation to anthropomorphize them would be intense (see ReBoot and other “life in the computer” media), but if resisted it could lead to some interesting works.

          I’m sure someone has tried this before, but I don’t know of any good ones. Are there any existing examples of this theme?

          • СТАЛКЕР of ЗОНА says:

            Free Radical(‘s programming sections) comes closest, but it’s more of a “hey guys, computers don’t actually have emotions and morals, so you can’t just tell them to do the ‘right thing’, you have to know what you’re doing or the computer might do what you want it to do but in an entirely wrong way”-thing than a story in the form of a program, but it does address the computer/programming logic compared to human language thing.

            Like I said, I don’t know programming, so I might be entirely wrong here, but I think Shamus’s programming background shows there. At the very least it stands out in comparison to standard fiction written by non-programmers (GUI in Java with a button labeled “Hack President’s Personal PC Computer.exe.pdf.dll”). It has that “oh carp, this guy might actually know what the hell he’s writing about” feel.

  12. Factoid says:

    New book, or have you gone back to the sci-fi novel you were writing? I intentionally didn’t read what you put out there in case it was ever finished.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      He started a second sci-fi book, which I’m pretty sure is the one he’s 85% done with. All we know is it deals with starfish aliens.

      The one you’re referring to, “Fall From the Sky”, is still dropped (as far as we know) but I’ve been working on finishing it. My version is only about 85% done as well, but it’s more than doubled in length. It’s probably at least an order of magnitude poorer literature, but it may be as good an ending as we’ll get. I’m hoping that Shamus will do a polishing editorial pass once I’m done, but he’s super busy and hasn’t said anything to that effect.

  13. LunaticFringe says:

    I’m actually fine with tons of Mass Effect all at once. Watching both seasons at the same time has really highlighted the tonal shift the series went through. I think we all just need to get Mass Effect 3 out of our system and then forget it ever happened.

  14. SteveDJ says:

    As if you didn’t have enough on your plate already, let’s not forget what starts to happen next month.

    … you know, when The Hobbit comes out?

    … and then a few months later it is released on DVD?

    … and then, you are dragged – kicking and screaming – by your loyal readers, who force you to give it the DMotR treatment?

    … Bwa ha ha ha! …er, ah… so you better clear your schedule now… :-)

  15. Jokerman says:

    Sylvia McNutcase looks exactly like a badass sniper in my only winning game of Xcom, 100+ kills in like 30 missions….survived from the start to the the last mission where she was killed at the end ““ so sad, love xcom :D

  16. Jokerman says:

    I dont mind this series at all, few episodes of mostly combat stuff wasnt great but i think its right to show these games in the entirety. Overall its fine though, i dont even mind the bitching….bitching is kind of what got me coming back to your site anyway…

  17. Tetracyclic says:

    My kindle died a third of the way through The Witch Watch and I’m currently awaiting the Paper White to continue; having been an avid reader of Twenty Sided for years, should I take away from this that I should be reading the Spoiler Warning posts? I usually ignore them in my RSS reader, as after the first couple of series I stopped watching them (no fault of you guys, I just don’t have the time!)

  18. Somebody says:

    I never watch Spoiler Warning, I used to, but now I just can’t find the time – but I love reading the posts on them.

  19. Heche says:

    I’d kinda assumed that the dearth of content was (all the above)-related, but it’s nice to have it confirmed.

    Thank you for writing an awesome blog ^_^

  20. Urs says:

    I’m going to have to say… I’m somewhat the target audience of this entry? ;) I once came here while browsing for Procedural Design and following a link to your City project. And then stayed because interesting stuff. Nice stuff. But indeed, I don’t find that much use or entertainment in watching a video of someone playing a video game (although, for the sake of completeness: a DayZ Spoiler Warning I would not mind at all) and as for Mass Effect – the series has completely eluded me. Or vice versa. I have only ever played the ME3 demo.
    However!, you do please do how you see fit.

  21. Simon Buchan says:

    “I'm 85% of the way done with this book. It's terrible.” – Shamus Young, 2012

    Uhh, yeah. Really not in writing mode at the moment, are you :P

    I’m curious if your abandoned story suffered from Second-system effect – if it was, then we should be getting your best work in your next story (no pressure :P).

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