A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Dialogue Trees

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I love the little details here. I was kind of disappointed with the lack of crew options for a gay Shepard, since the first game established that a female Shepard could potentially be gay. That's how I played my female character, and I was disappointed that no female crew members were potential love interests (except for the aforementioned roll in the hay with Kelly). It seemed like an odd choice to exclude any homosexual choices in ME2. I actually found it borderline insulting. Basically saying "She couldn't possibly be gay, of COURSE she'd want to hook up with a male crew member!".

Also before I get flak I play a female Shepard because the voice acting is far superior. I chose Liara because it made the most sense. My Commandeer Shepard was a tried and true military brat, and she would not have violated rules by fraternizing with her subordinate officers. Also as I was going to play Shepard as gay for the interest of a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military character, Liara it was.

Also Kaiden was a ninny. I couldn't sacrifice him fast enough.

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.

Yeah, except that she got "the vapors" at the end of every mission. But boy, she changes, doesn't she? She goes from being a bookwormish academic to being a ruthless underworld information broker.

I definitely felt the romance options in ME2 were better. I had romanced Ashley in the first game, and was never quite happy with her overt racism. So when she bitched me out on Horizon, I figured that was as good an indication as any that it was over, and I was free to move on to greener pastures.

AcacianLeaves:
I actually found it borderline insulting. Basically saying "She couldn't possibly be gay, of COURSE she'd want to hook up with a male crew member!".

In all fairness, there's another way to look at it. Shepard might very well be gay. Unfortunately for her, Miranda, Tali, and Jack are not.

In one sense, Mass Effect 2 has more gay/bi characters. Asari are monogendered, so an asari being attracted to a female human isn't particularly meaningful. Kelly, on the other hand, is human, and apparently bi-curious at least. And if your Shepard romanced Liara and was gay in the first game, presumably she didn't stop being gay... she just lacks a good outlet for it.

But to back up and look at it in a meta sense, Bioware made the decision to make Jack, Garrus, Tali, Miranda, Jacob, and Thane all strictly heterosexual, so if you want to fault them for leaving out good homosexual relationships, that's probably fair... Though I guess Morinth is sort of an exception, but a relationship with Morinth is very ill-advised :)

Besides, she's Asari anyway, so she's no more gay than Liara.

Actually, Susan, you can leave the picture up if you don't persue romance with another character. Devs said that the romances in the first two games would have a places in the third game. My FemShep (Alex) went for Liara as well. Instead of the romance scene you got with Thane you would have got a shorter, less risque one where Shep looks at the picture on the desk for a few moments.

Also, I am surprised you found any acceptable choices. The last thing I'd want to do after breaking up with someone is find a terminally ill one who's going to die in less than a year.

Im annoyed that Tali wasnt a romantic option for a fem shepard. Kelly kinda creeped me out by how quickly it seemed like the conversation would have ended up in bed, same with jacobe (err black guy whoes name I cant remember) and sleeping with Garrus just didnt seem right and Thane was too human looking for a reptile alien. So for me when it comes down to it Tali is the only char I like in such a way that I would want my Shepard to sleep with.... at least my fem one, one of my male ones wouldnt be let near her, that just seems wrong.

Romancing Joker would not be a pleasant experience for him.
Lots of snapping noises. A whole lot.
Also, what's wrong with Jacob other than the daddy issues?

AcacianLeaves:
Also before I get flak I play a female Shepard because the voice acting is far superior.

That would be the brilliant work of a Ms. Jennifer Hale, the greatest voice actress ever.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Hale

That is so sweet!

The detail that is!

Also, all this talk of romancing Tali has made me break. I'm gonna play a guy this time!

Labcoat Samurai:

AcacianLeaves:
I actually found it borderline insulting. Basically saying "She couldn't possibly be gay, of COURSE she'd want to hook up with a male crew member!".

In all fairness, there's another way to look at it. Shepard might very well be gay. Unfortunately for her, Miranda, Tali, and Jack are not.

Actually, they make a point that Jack is at least bi. She tells the story of how she worked with another couple and they 'invited her into their bed'. She also mentions that she's had a few girlfriends, if I remember correctly. I was surprised that she wasn't an option.

Labcoat Samurai:

In one sense, Mass Effect 2 has more gay/bi characters. Asari are monogendered, so an asari being attracted to a female human isn't particularly meaningful. Kelly, on the other hand, is human, and apparently bi-curious at least. And if your Shepard romanced Liara and was gay in the first game, presumably she didn't stop being gay... she just lacks a good outlet for it.

I don't count Kelly, as romancing her does not give you the paramour achievement and, again if I remember correctly, the picture of Liara does not get turned over if you romance Kelly.

Labcoat Samurai:

But to back up and look at it in a meta sense, Bioware made the decision to make Jack, Garrus, Tali, Miranda, Jacob, and Thane all strictly heterosexual, so if you want to fault them for leaving out good homosexual relationships, that's probably fair... Though I guess Morinth is sort of an exception, but a relationship with Morinth is very ill-advised :)

Personally I think BioWare needs to add one or two strictly homosexual characters to their games. No one is ever actually gay, anyone who will sleep with a character of the same sex will inevitably sleep with a character of the opposite sex (Zevran, Liara, Kelly, Leliana, etc). However there are many characters who are strictly heterosexual and will only sleep with characters of the opposite sex. I'm still waiting for a gay character in a BioWare game. They seem very reluctant to bring actual homosexuality into their storytelling.

Surprisingly I got the similar feeling from seeing that overturned picture. I've imagined Redamon coming back from Ilium, after blowing off some steam (through the window of the skyscraper), going into his room only to be found in a complete mess of empty bottles next morning, by his trusty secretary/counselor. And than on the way out he would overturn the picture. Too heartbroken to see it again, not angry enough to throw it away.

...

And I dont usually roleplay to THAT extent... wow, just wow. I was impressed.

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.

I haven't played Mass Effect, but related, I took rp my elven mage, Elusia, in Dragon Age Origins as seriously. She was wise, forgiving, tender, with just rebel to make her dangerous. She fell in love several times, but her deepest relationship was with dear Alistair. My - er, her heart was shattered when he rejected her because she could not bare him an heir, and was devastated by his noble sacrifice in the end. She didn't feel like the hero everyone proclaimed she was, and while Ferelden celebrated, all she could do was stare at the endless sky, praying Al's soul was at rest, because her's wasn't.

After years of playing and loving JRPGs, this was my first taste of the world of WRPGs. Fortunately, the DAO system felt like a watered down D&D table top game, so I was able to get a handle on the game play quickly enough. The role playing choices on offer I didn't expect to inspire so much emotion; I found myself often pausing to think before replying, as I would during a real life conversation.

I would like to experience this profound level of immersion again, but am fearful of Mass Effect due to my lack of talent with a gun in any game. Is there any way for you to put my mind at ease?

Having played through Mass Effect (the first one) three times for romance I went the following route.
Ashley
Liara
Liara (once you go blue you never go back)
Two things about Ashley.
1: I haven't played the game in a long time so remind me how she is racist because I don't remember anything like that.
2. Do you see her again in the second game?

Holy shit.
Deep.

:'(

kawaiiamethist:

I would like to experience this profound level of immersion again, but am fearful of Mass Effect due to my lack of talent with a gun in any game. Is there any way for you to put my mind at ease?

I would play the original. It requires no skill at all with a gun, seeing how if you shoot at an enemy it still really looks at your scores as opposed to if you hit it and where you hit it. Its also a good start for ME 2!

I noticed on my first run that Kaiden's picture was flipped over. It was perfectly handled. There is going to be drama between the interests though.

Wish it could be joker, except Kaiden could kick his ass. Joker would make him cry first though. Thats a fun thought.

After Liara's behaviour on Illium I was also quite ready to go romance someone else, but I pushed her as to why she was so obsessed with the Shadow Broker and her old self shone back brightly and I couldn't cheat on her after that, I was so touched.

Plus I'm almost certain there'll be a rather epic conclusion to the romance in ME3 when she catches up to the Shadow Broker. I'm tipping she'll pretty much lose it and Shepard will have to save her, not only physically but emotionally too.

Would be a good arc over all three games I think, naive and innocent with a strong heart in the first then angry and vengeful, driven to unsavory ends in the second, to loss and despair and eventual redemption in the third.

Heh. Very real... It sounds like a nice touch. Though i'm not a fan of Mass Effect so i'll never see it. Thanks for bringing this to my attention though. So many ways to tell a good story outside of dialogue. I think the music in Gears of War 2 stirs up some pretty strong emotion too. Makes you feel what the Gears would be feeling :P Though that could just be me XD Especially in the big speech scene before the invasion *melt* A little off topic there haha but yeh! Nice article. Well done.

Haha your Shepard may have been a kind and caring. My Shepard however took much pleasure it kicking that bastard out the window.

DoW Lowen:
Haha your Shepard may have been a kind and caring. My Shepard however took much pleasure it kicking that bastard out the window.

Glad I didn't roleplay the only emotionless hard-ass here. Well, Avery Shepard does have a soft spot...he never cheated on Liara throughout Mass Effect 2.

But you bet your ass I watched with glee as that bastard flew out the window. XD

My only issue with ME2's handling of this was simple.

Nu (so sue me, I get a kick out of odd names) spent her time chatting kaiden, and eventually was forced to make the judgement call on vermire. I actually spent nearly 5 miunets trying to puzzle it out. Kaiden died at the end of that, guilt over making a decision that risked everyone outweighing personal feelings. So what happened to harken back to that relationship cut short? Nothing. Having read about the picture (where did the illusive man find it... better not to ask.) and noticing it not being there rather upset me. Sure, it was cut short, but to have it not be there at all was rather disconcerting. Especially given how much of what was done (or not done) in ME 1 carried over. After running into the corprate businesswomen who sends you all across noveria, and whos side quest mess I entierly side stepped, and having that mentioned, it seemed like the logical thing would be the picture there, dead or not.
The Chat with Ashly made sense in context to me, we were comrades, but after all those examples of Cerberus being evil, her whole "How do you know they didn't alter you?" stance makes sense. For a fairly extreme paragon to wind up working for Cerberus would seem like a rather extreme step. Like others I found some of the charicters arguments compelling. I follow paragon a LOT, even when its going to hurt (I am staring stright at a specific gunship right now) but after having his entire team whiped out because of the tratior, and seeing Garrus get so badly hurt himself, I stepped aside and let him have the shot.

I did notice one thing that concerned me, compared to the renegade interrupts, the paragon ones were few (see above gunship example) that said, the ones that were there are brillant peices of work.

I do like what I have seen of the handling of renegade, in ME 1 I had a hard time not seeing such a shepard as a racist thug that cares for no one. The verity in ME2 is much better balenced, sure you can throw the merc out the window, or you can scare the life out of him for info. You can just let the civilans die to secure Zaled's loyalty, or you can point out just how stupid he is acting in the kind of language he understands. Headbut the krogan to get his attention, because thats how it works in their culture. Good writing over all.

I can see Joker being a romance option in ME3, though I must admit, a relationship with the guy who made Robot Chicken and who played Chris Griffin on family guy would make things equally as uncomfortable as having a relationship with another shipmate who's named after Bruce Campbell's character in the Evil Dead movie.

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

How in the hell you consider THAT a redeeming quality is beyond me. I'd say the fact that they got Carth to do Kaiden's voice demonstrates how much of a wuss the guy is.

Souplex:
Romancing Joker would not be a pleasant experience for him.
Lots of snapping noises. A whole lot.
Also, what's wrong with Jacob other than the daddy issues?

AcacianLeaves:
Also before I get flak I play a female Shepard because the voice acting is far superior.

That would be the brilliant work of a Ms. Jennifer Hale, the greatest voice actress ever.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Hale

Agreed. She's absolutely amazing.

ravens_nest:

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.

I actually was planning all the way through to not let Garrus kill the guy, but at the last moment I realised I couldn't betray him like that by "warning the former squaddie". I let him take the shot.

And yes, I couldn't refuse Tali either. I find her annoyingly endearing now, as I do with all the old ME1 characters, except perhaps original love interest grumpykins.

I also find myself stuggling very hard when I attempt to go the renegade option. I've taken a policy of just being a dick outside of the Normandy, because I don't like upsetting my crew.

Susan Arendt:

Souplex:
Romancing Joker would not be a pleasant experience for him.
Lots of snapping noises. A whole lot.
Also, what's wrong with Jacob other than the daddy issues?

AcacianLeaves:
Also before I get flak I play a female Shepard because the voice acting is far superior.

That would be the brilliant work of a Ms. Jennifer Hale, the greatest voice actress ever.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Hale

Agreed. She's absolutely amazing.

It's the main reason I didn't play a Male Shepard, Jennifer Hale's performance just meshes better with the rest of the cast and carries a gravitas that the male VA just can't capture for me. According to a friend though you MUST play male Shepard as a Paragon to get the full effect but I wasn't seeing it.

I played through the first ME game three times. Usually my choice in companions usually depended more on what I'm looking for than "WWMCD" (What would my character do)

Male Shepard 1: Ended up with Ashley. Why? Partly because her "One of the guys"-attitude was interesting enough to sit through dispite her humancentric biases. Kaiden ended up buying it a Virmire mostly to advance the plot with Ashley. This character I'm not planning on importing to ME2 for a couple of reason, the largested ended up being he ended up looking like Conrad Verner, who I was polite to but I didn't appriciate being his clone.

Female Shepard: For the female Shepard I treated the game like "Mass Effect: Stand Alone Complex". For this one I went with Liara, mostly because Kaiden doesn't interest me as a romantic interest. Haven't settled on a romantic interest for her in ME2 yet, but I know it won't be Kelly, mostly because my Female Shepard looks like a clone of her. (Yeah, I know I can change the appearance in the Lazarus project and the changes are retroactive, but I'm not sure she'd keep my interest through two playthroughs.) As for Virmire, Ashley died Kaiden lived mostly because I had slightly more use for Kaiden since I was an Infiltrator, plus Ashley seemed superfluous since my character had the "Tough Chick" apsect covered.

Male Shepard 2: This is the one I'm playing ME2 now with now. Patterned him after a John Sheridan from Babylon 5, even designed his looks by using a reference photograh in the creator. Haven't settled on a companion here either, but so far Kelly's the frontrunner and its not going to be Jack. For Virmire this time, I let Ashley die again but for slightly different reasons. Given their skill sets I let Ashley lead the assault and Kaiden set the bomb since he was more of a tech guy. Also it had her going out in a blaze of glory as a way of making up for her Grandfather's surrender. I also got really tired of her Human-centrist crap. Sure Kaiden is "Lt. EMO", but if you're not having a romance with him he shuts up after a while.

I don't mind "Tough Chick" characters exactly, just the ones that have giant chips on their shoulder or large axes to grind.

That was a touching read and well done. The spoilers aren't even all that bad. Considering that I play a male Sheppard and am actively figuring out who the paramour should be it's nice to know who it could have been were I to play a woman. So no spoiler there :) just saved me froma second play thru with a caracter I have trouble connecting with.

I've never been good with lady caracters, I seem to play them a bit too slutty.

Wow a lot of people killed off Ashley...

Personally I felt Kaidan was more "prepared" to go, essentially he seemed willing to blow himself up to save everyone whereas leaving Ashley to be gunned down by Geth sounded like a far worse fate.

I hate the dialogues grown into thees. i want conversation about something not a fucking plant. how do I know i've seen the best if I'm gonna do stuff for paragon/renegade? I had to watch hours of youtube vids to actually find out ash was a xenophobic whore, and that made me not regret killing her without having the romace(I only did it with Liara). Make sure you have seen Morlan singing before you move onto non-mass effect games.

i was very disappointed in the romance optionsf for femshep. I hadn't read the wiki or any spoilers, so she looked for sugar from, in order:

1. Jack
2. Samara
3. Tali

. . with no luck. So she stayed "faithful" to Liara.

Not that it really matters, Bioware wimped out bigtime on the romance endscene.

. . .and Joker? Ugh. Seth needs shoved out the nearest airlock. Very disappointed you couldn't kill him off no matter what choices you made.

AcacianLeaves:
I love the little details here. I was kind of disappointed with the lack of crew options for a gay Shepard, since the first game established that a female Shepard could potentially be gay. That's how I played my female character, and I was disappointed that no female crew members were potential love interests (except for the aforementioned roll in the hay with Kelly). It seemed like an odd choice to exclude any homosexual choices in ME2. I actually found it borderline insulting. Basically saying "She couldn't possibly be gay, of COURSE she'd want to hook up with a male crew member!".
.

I was very disappointed that I couldn't romance Miranda or Jack. Miranda simply stopped talking to me and Jack told me flat-out that she wasn't into girls. Shame, really, I found them both to be very intriguing. Jacob is just plain boring...is BioWare incapable of making a human male sexy?

Yeah, speaking generally, I found the romance to be problematic in the ME2. Ashley is ANGRY at seeing Shepard? You'd think she would have trusted enough in Shepard's vision to know that Cerberus is a means to an end.

As for Liara, why so distant? I know it will be revealed, but it was jarringly inconsistent with what I might expect in real life.

The conversation was something along the lines of this (clearly paraphrasing)

Ashley: "you bastard, you died. I can't believe you would do that to me"

Shepard: "Seriously bitch, I DIED! You are making me DYING all about you somehow? I hope you die sometime so that I too can make it all about me, then we'd be equal"

Ashley: "So my pain doesn't matter now?"

Shepard: "Are you still alive? Did you DIE? Seriously bitch..seriously."

Lovely article, Susan! I also noticed that little touch. It actually made me a little sad since I felt like something was missing on the desk; I loved it that until then when I entered the quarters I could just see Liara's face smiling back at me.

The freaky thing is that around the end of ME1 I found her annoying, but the pic was really one of my favorite details in 2.

BlicaGB:

I've never been good with lady caracters, I seem to play them a bit too slutty.

That's funny, I do the same thing when I play with male characters...

Susan Arendt:

AcacianLeaves:
SNIP

I was very disappointed that I couldn't romance Miranda or Jack. Miranda simply stopped talking to me and Jack told me flat-out that she wasn't into girls. Shame, really, I found them both to be very intriguing. Jacob is just plain boring...is BioWare incapable of making a human male sexy?

There was Alister in Dragon Age, I hooked up my female char with him instead of Lelliana and all of my lady friends who played the game found him fantastic.

But I don't think Mass Effect 3 will be any better, not for me anyway, I'm really hoping the Saga of Chell Shepard gets some sort of happy ending that involves Liara.

PedroSteckecilo:

Susan Arendt:

AcacianLeaves:
SNIP

I was very disappointed that I couldn't romance Miranda or Jack. Miranda simply stopped talking to me and Jack told me flat-out that she wasn't into girls. Shame, really, I found them both to be very intriguing. Jacob is just plain boring...is BioWare incapable of making a human male sexy?

There was Alister in Dragon Age, I hooked up my female char with him instead of Lelliana and all of my lady friends who played the game found him fantastic.

But I don't think Mass Effect 3 will be any better, not for me anyway, I'm really hoping the Saga of Chell Shepard gets some sort of happy ending that involves Liara.

Ok, I'm actually terribly fond of Alistair, but he's more of an "aw, shucks" kind of cutie than a "rawr, take me now" kind of sexy. BioWare's female characters are far more nuanced.

Susan Arendt:

PedroSteckecilo:

Susan Arendt:

AcacianLeaves:
SNIP

I was very disappointed that I couldn't romance Miranda or Jack. Miranda simply stopped talking to me and Jack told me flat-out that she wasn't into girls. Shame, really, I found them both to be very intriguing. Jacob is just plain boring...is BioWare incapable of making a human male sexy?

There was Alister in Dragon Age, I hooked up my female char with him instead of Lelliana and all of my lady friends who played the game found him fantastic.

But I don't think Mass Effect 3 will be any better, not for me anyway, I'm really hoping the Saga of Chell Shepard gets some sort of happy ending that involves Liara.

Ok, I'm actually terribly fond of Alistair, but he's more of an "aw, shucks" kind of cutie than a "rawr, take me now" kind of sexy. BioWare's female characters are far more nuanced.

...I guess that says something about the women I associate myself with doesn't it, most of them found Alister "rawr, take me now."

I was just happy so see Bioware create a primary male character who wasn't a serious whiner (I'm looking at you Carth, Kaidan and wanky paladin boy from BG2)

Susan Arendt:

PedroSteckecilo:

Susan Arendt:

AcacianLeaves:
SNIP

I was very disappointed that I couldn't romance Miranda or Jack. Miranda simply stopped talking to me and Jack told me flat-out that she wasn't into girls. Shame, really, I found them both to be very intriguing. Jacob is just plain boring...is BioWare incapable of making a human male sexy?

There was Alister in Dragon Age, I hooked up my female char with him instead of Lelliana and all of my lady friends who played the game found him fantastic.

But I don't think Mass Effect 3 will be any better, not for me anyway, I'm really hoping the Saga of Chell Shepard gets some sort of happy ending that involves Liara.

Ok, I'm actually terribly fond of Alistair, but he's more of an "aw, shucks" kind of cutie than a "rawr, take me now" kind of sexy. BioWare's female characters are far more nuanced.

I think it has something to do with male writers writing characters they want to Schtupp and then just rounding out the cast with men. I enjoyed talking to Jacob once I got past his freakishly large teeth.

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