A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Dialogue Trees

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A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Dialogue Trees

How a small detail in Mass Effect 2 tells more story than hours of dialogue.

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Susan Arendt was vaguely disappointed that Joker wasn't a romantic option in Mass Effect 2.

If only to hear Mordin explain how best to approach that without breaking him in two.

Nice article, I noticed that too, Liara didn't seem like the innocent young Asari my Shepard fell for (also, Tali was not available in the first game), so when Tali's loyalty mission came around I was literally feeling upset for the poor Quarian... It had to be her.

Slycne:

Susan Arendt was vaguely disappointed that Joker wasn't a romantic option in Mass Effect 2.

If only to hear Mordin explain how best to approach that without breaking him in two.

Pretty much

The lack of closure with Liara has pretty much been my only real gripe with Mass Effect 2 at the moment. My Shepard became more angry and reckless as a result, after seeing Liara's coldness she started throwing people out of windows, beating people senseless and operating on a bit more of a hair trigger.

Do not lament too soon, maybe after Mass Effect 3 Liara and Joanna will be reuinited!

Or they'll both be dead.

Through the unfortunate pressing of the X button I missed the entire romance cutscene. Damn, now I will have to play throught the game again to see what Tali looks like without her helmet. Oh well, no loss there.

EDIT: Apparently I didnt miss much by skiping it. Im still going to play through it again though, that game was awesome.

PedroSteckecilo:
The lack of closure with Liara has pretty much been my only real gripe with Mass Effect 2 at the moment. My Shepard became more angry and reckless as a result, after seeing Liara's coldness she started throwing people out of windows, beating people senseless and operating on a bit more of a hair trigger.

I totally get that. I was surprised at how upset I was by Liara's brushoff. But Joanna is too dedicated - or perhaps introverted - to take that out on anyone.

Cpu46:
Through the unfortunate pressing of the X button I missed the entire romance cutscene. Damn, now I will have to play throught the game again to see what Tali looks like without her helmet. Oh well, no loss there.

Trust me, don't worry about it.

Great article; can't believe I missed the picture on my first playthrough.

I was likewise surprised by the way that the Liara reunion was handled. After doing that side-mission for her on Illium, I kept waiting for a message to pop up on my private terminal telling me that she had finally located the Shadow Broker and needed my help--a mission which would then lead to a more satisfying and closure-providing resolution one way or the other. It just seemed to follow logically, especially given her "Not now Shepard, I need more time to do what I do" dialogue.

So the whole thing kind of smells like cut content to me, which would be terribly disappointing. Or like upcoming DLC, which would be terribly cheap from a storytelling perspective.

edit: The next post rightfully made me consider the possibility that they're just waiting until ME3 to bring her back in full force...I have to admit, depending on how they do it (and there's no reason to doubt Bioware will do it well) that may actually be a masterstroke.

Susan Arendt:

PedroSteckecilo:
The lack of closure with Liara has pretty much been my only real gripe with Mass Effect 2 at the moment. My Shepard became more angry and reckless as a result, after seeing Liara's coldness she started throwing people out of windows, beating people senseless and operating on a bit more of a hair trigger.

I totally get that. I was surprised at how upset I was by Liara's brushoff. But Joanna is too dedicated - or perhaps introverted - to take that out on anyone.

This is a remarkably telling statement about Mass Effects ability to well, effect people through its narrative. It proves how much story people can build onto the game through their actions and how much narrative it can create that goes unspoken in the actual game dialogue.

Take my own character, Chell Shepard (named after my Fiancee NOT the character from Portal thank you very much) she's a bit emotionally broken due to her Sole Survivor origin and has always had some issues with loss, she tries to be as good as she can but occasionally snaps and Liara's coldness seems to have driven her towards greater violence towards people she feels deserve it and more protective of people she feels deserve a second chance. Since she holds on so tightly to the people around her after losing them before she'll probably hold out that desperate hope that Liara will eventually come back to her (you listening Bioware?) sometime in the future.

You can't romance Joker cause he's already in love with the ship.

seditary:
You can't romance Joker cause he's already in love with the ship.

I can't see him and EDI being seperated now... ever.

I noticed that photo, too.

Move over Ashley, you were mostly an accident because I slipped up and drove Liara away with a dialogue option. Tali's my fictional girl!

Why does everyone romance Liara? I mean, I get it if you don't like Ashley or Kaiden... But you think LIARA is a better alternative? I hated her so, so, so much. Her voice was horrible.

I noticed that photo. Also, if you have a romantic relationship wij anojer character, and that picture is shown knocked down, so you can't see the face.

Daystar Clarion:

seditary:
You can't romance Joker cause he's already in love with the ship.

I can't see him and EDI being seperated now... ever.

And EDI can see everything joker does. Everything...

Wow really? I never noticed that. I'll have to go back and check.

But damn, thats a pretty, well, outstanding thing. I haven't really seen something show so much emotion since The Darkness, when you cuddled and watched a movie with your girlfriend.

Ph0t0n1c Ph34r:

Daystar Clarion:

seditary:
You can't romance Joker cause he's already in love with the ship.

I can't see him and EDI being seperated now... ever.

And EDI can see everything joker does. Everything...

To quote EDI:

EDI:
I love seeing humans on their knees.

It's worth nothing, I continued my Mass Effect save, and I had previously romanced Ashley. Despite temptations, again the more I got into my character I really did enjoy the interactions he had with Miranda and the surprisingly endearing times with Tali, but ( on that playthough ) anyway, my Shepard stayed single.

So where as if I had romanced someone else, the picture would have been turned over, instead right before the final mission, there was a cutscene of my Shepard in his quarters, staring at the still upright picture of Ashley. He smiles a little at the end, and then it's time for the mission.

I dug it. A powerful and endearing moment.

Irridium:
Wow really? I never noticed that. I'll have to go back and check.

But damn, thats a pretty, well, outstanding thing. I haven't really seen something show so much emotion since The Darkness, when you cuddled and watched a movie with your girlfriend.

Ph0t0n1c Ph34r:

Daystar Clarion:

seditary:
You can't romance Joker cause he's already in love with the ship.

I can't see him and EDI being seperated now... ever.

And EDI can see everything joker does. Everything...

To quote EDI:

EDI:
I love seeing humans on their knees.

That was a joke.

I wonder if anyone has 34'rd that yet. Nevermind, I don't want to know.

Irridium:
To quote EDI:

EDI:
I love seeing humans on their knees.

I love that moment. Joker's like "WTF?"

When I found out about the ship's AI, I nearly blew my lid. I spent the last game plowing through AI baddies only to have one sitting in my ship's systems? "Get this thing off my ship!"

That was very well done. Especially because my biggest gripe with gaming storytelling is a terminal lack of subtlety. Nice catch, Arendt.

I roleplay the same way, but I had to go with Liara because I love freaky girls. Also, since I too had a girl Shepard it was either that or Kaidan, who is a stereotype wrapped in another, different sterotype. But I got to the point where I could romance Kaidan (by accident), and the dialog in which he subtly indicates that he wants to be with Shepard and I have Shepard unsubtly announce she has no idea of what the fuck he means is one of my favourite gaming dialogs ever.

My first play through Shepard didn't romance anyone, he still had feelings for Liara, where the romance scene should have been all I saw was her photograph and a disheartened Shepard...

Second time around Kaiden turned his back on Jane Sheppard, so she went to Jacob, the good old doctor forwarded some leaflets on using Biotics in the bedroom, this peaked my curiosity in the romance scene.....

Slycne:

Susan Arendt was vaguely disappointed that Joker wasn't a romantic option in Mass Effect 2.

If only to hear Mordin explain how best to approach that without breaking him in two.

That would have been hilarious...

hehe, his certain convrsation about one other crew member had me in hysterics!

Joker's heart belongs to EDI.

I feel like those who romanced Liara rather than Ashley/Kiaden got a better deal out of the whole 'follow up' romance. Having booted up saves for both the human romances (but not yet imported a Liara romance), I found that A/K's reactions were pretty...well, bitchy.

I mean, I'd been dead for two years, Anderson's roosterblocking me on where ROMANCEINTEREST is and I'm a bit busy trying to save the galaxy on what amounts to pretty much be a suicide mission. We finally meet, by chance, and all they do is whine at me that I'm helping Cerberus. Hell, I brought Garrus with me on that mission and he told ROMANCEINTEREST that they were being crazy but they didn't listen.

Then a few missions later I get one, single e-mail about how they're all confused and stuff. You know what ROMANCEINTEREST? I'm not confused. I was calm, polite, I explained how stuff went down and that I've been dead for two years and after all that all I got was a stupid Tennyson poem? Screw you. I'm going to go have sex with the genius Quarian girl who's been into me since I saved her tight arse in the Wards.

But yeah, the picture frame being lowered was a nice touch. Didn't really reflect what I was feeling though. I wanted Joker to jettison into space and obliterate it with my shiny new Thanix Cannon.

It was because of that damned photo that my Sheppard stayed single. I played a renegade, but even as a badass, I couldn't play if it meant breaking Liara's heart! I broke up with Jacob when I saw that and he was pretty bitter about it :P

scifidownbeat:

Irridium:
To quote EDI:

EDI:
I love seeing humans on their knees.

I love that moment. Joker's like "WTF?"

When I found out about the ship's AI, I nearly blew my lid. I spent the last game plowing through AI baddies only to have one sitting in my ship's systems? "Get this thing off my ship!"

I think I was actually scared of Tali when she is informed of the AI's presence aboard the Normandy. For someone who has no perceivable face she sure 'looked' mad. Her body language is so well animated throughout. Bravo to bioware...

OT: I noticed the photograph too... Interestingly I noticed it once I had just invited Tali up to my quarters for the first time... I didn't feel too guilty because I had always loved Tali.

Actually this has been the first game to truly pull on my emotional strings. I usually roleplay as if it were me in the situation, naturally I am fully paragon in virtually everyway, (just a bit partial to smuggling and fraud). But I first noticed that I had begun to truly treat my crew like real living people with real emotions. After listening to Tali talk about reclaiming her homeworld from the Geth I had initially tried to convince her not to start a war, but she actually convinced me to support her in her cause... When Garrus asked me to help him assassinate his former squadmate I had pretty much refused out of principle but something in the way he was talking to me just pursuaded me to help him. The moments like that were incredible for me and bioware seems to have pulled it off so easily and with such startling impact. Peter Molyneux has been trying for years to achieve this, I sure hope he was taking notes for Fable 3.

I really hope they scrap the push here for nice response and here for evil options. It isn't that hard to work out the effect you'll have if you say something... Also by just hiding the good/evil points mechanic it'd make choosing the right path for you so much more gratifying. Let the reactions inform you if you just made a bad move or said something insensitive, we all make mistakes in conversations why should that be any different in-game?

The Bandit:
Why does everyone romance Liara? I mean, I get it if you don't like Ashley or Kaiden... But you think LIARA is a better alternative? I hated her so, so, so much. Her voice was horrible.

In my case, for the achievement. I couldn't get Tali in ME1 and Ashley was, to be blunt, an ugly racist.

Nice catch Susan. My uploaded Shepard had stayed single specifically because I didn't want an old relationship to cause problems with Tali in ME2. Now I'll have to play it again with a different profile to catch all the little things I missed out on like that picture.

Without reading anything in this article beyond the first line, I just wish to thank you from the bottom of my KotOR/RPG loving heart for the spoiler warning. I won't be playing it for another couple of weeks at least and I really appreciate the spoiler warning.

I noticed that little photo, too.

I'm not sure if 1000 words are expressed, but you certainly get that Shepard did not enjoy his/her reunion with Liara where she effectivly just hires him/her as an employee for a bit, pays you and you never really have any reason to talk with her ever again.

So, does Shepard keep the photo to remind him/her of the past or to hope for the future?

Cpu46:
Through the unfortunate pressing of the X button I missed the entire romance cutscene. Damn, now I will have to play throught the game again to see what Tali looks like without her helmet. Oh well, no loss there.

Yes, no loss there because you don't get to see her face... why!!??

*ahem*

Anyway I never noticed any "Small moments" because I was having too much fun throwing people out windows and headbutting krogans in the FACE!

The Bandit:
Why does everyone romance Liara? I mean, I get it if you don't like Ashley or Kaiden... But you think LIARA is a better alternative? I hated her so, so, so much. Her voice was horrible.

Kaiden was a complete ninny. He was just so utterly limp, not something Joanna would find attractive at all. He certainly wasn't her equal. Liara had a quiet and beautiful strength that complemented Shepard well.

Susan Arendt:

The Bandit:
Why does everyone romance Liara? I mean, I get it if you don't like Ashley or Kaiden... But you think LIARA is a better alternative? I hated her so, so, so much. Her voice was horrible.

Kaiden was a complete ninny. He was just so utterly limp, not something Joanna would find attractive at all. He certainly wasn't her equal. Liara had a quiet and beautiful strength that complemented Shepard well.

Kaidens only redeeming quality was that I knew deep down, he was Carth Onasi.

That's IT.

Anyway, fantastic article, I love when games approach things subtly like that. It really does say more than hours of cutscenes could. One of the reasons I loved MGS3 so much is that for a metal gear game, it wasn't NEAR as blunt as all the other ones, story wise anyway.

The scene with Liara in ME2 just made me angry. If she has the nerve to be upset in ME3, I'll freak out in her general direction.

I really hope Bioware doesn't write it so Liara attacks your love interest from ME2, but from how she behaved on Illium, I'm not so sure she will handle it too well.

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