Escapist Podcast: 036: Mass Effect 3 & Tali Stock Photos

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036: Mass Effect 3 & Tali Stock Photos

This week, we discuss some of our first impressions on Mass Effect 3 (of those of us who didn't review it), the controversy surrounding the use of stock photography in the game and whether or not a bad ending can ruin a whole game. We also respond to a number of your questions.

Watch Video

You have got to be kidding me? A reveal that people have been waiting 6 years for is done by 10 minutes in photoshop (seriously, for a person mildly skilled that's all it takes) is okay? Especially because the Quarians are described differently. It's such a pathetic lazy cop-out, for a AAA game with a multi-million dollar budget? I would understand if its XBLA or a small studio, but this is something that is incredibly hyped and anticipated! I honestly can't believe you are defending this! Wouldn't it have been better to not ever show their faces? No one would have complained then. Or how about they use one of the ridiculous amount of concept faces they created? But no, that takes time to render faces, so instead we will focus on making every character you make eye contact with a romance option. I am not sure how much EA is paying you guys, but can you stop white knighting for Bioware and EA, they are just money grabbing companies that unfortunately no longer care about their fans.

superbowlbound:
Wouldn't it have been better to not ever show their faces? No one would have complained then.

No? Because I rather think we'd be getting the same hysterical accusations of laziness, only this time it would be "BioWare was too lazy to show us Tali's face".

And, if I may, a semi-spoilery ME3 question for our talented podcasters: while I applaud BioWare's decision to have a wide and diverse array of potential romances, it seems to me that some of those characters are given more weight or detail than others - for example, in comparing the two men a male Shepard can pursue, there's a _world_ of difference in how the scenes play out (one's sweet but lasts about ten seconds, the other could practically melt a cheese sandwich from across the room). Is this a subtle attempt at railroading, where "approved" romances are explored at greater length? Or might there be some other reason for the different approaches?

superbowlbound:
You have got to be kidding me? A reveal that people have been waiting 6 years for is done by 10 minutes in photoshop (seriously, for a person mildly skilled that's all it takes) is okay? Especially because the Quarians are described differently. It's such a pathetic lazy cop-out, for a AAA game with a multi-million dollar budget? I would understand if its XBLA or a small studio, but this is something that is incredibly hyped and anticipated! I honestly can't believe you are defending this! Wouldn't it have been better to not ever show their faces? No one would have complained then. Or how about they use one of the ridiculous amount of concept faces they created? But no, that takes time to render faces, so instead we will focus on making every character you make eye contact with a romance option. I am not sure how much EA is paying you guys, but can you stop white knighting for Bioware and EA, they are just money grabbing companies that unfortunately no longer care about their fans.

I have to agree mostly, I don't understand how they can so easily dismiss this, saying that the variety of the game allows them to skimp on something like this, this isn't a small portion of t he community either that will experience this, tally is the most popular romance option in ME 2 according to polls, and they've been building this up like crazy. It seems like last minute they decided to add it in and didn't have time to decide on a face so they went to stock photography, which is a shame, because it would have been better left a mystery than a last minute descision.

Also one final note, I would like to make it clear that NO EFFORT went into that photo, anyone who says that they spent effort on making that photo look part of the universe is a) retarded or b) hasn't played ME, because the picture is outside in a park with no environment suit on, of which is impossible for any Quarian. If your fine with them using stock photography then go for it and speak your peice, but defending it so blindly that you don't know what your saying is suspect of your intentions.

Yes! Raptor, god I loved that game!

Zone-66 was another game from around the same era that I loved as well although it wasn't a top-scroller.

I completed both Super Mario Galaxies within a week with no hassle, after getting some wii points I bought Super Mario World. To this day I still haven't beaten it.

Diana Kingston-Gabai:

superbowlbound:
Wouldn't it have been better to not ever show their faces? No one would have complained then.

No? Because I rather think we'd be getting the same hysterical accusations of laziness, only this time it would be "BioWare was too lazy to show us Tali's face".

I assumed after the romance in the second game they weren't going to show her face, and I was fine with that. I don't see why it matters if I can see her face, I would always prefer to never see it then have a lazy reveal.

superbowlbound:
You have got to be kidding me? A reveal that people have been waiting 6 years for is done by 10 minutes in photoshop (seriously, for a person mildly skilled that's all it takes) is okay? Especially because the Quarians are described differently. It's such a pathetic lazy cop-out, for a AAA game with a multi-million dollar budget? I would understand if its XBLA or a small studio, but this is something that is incredibly hyped and anticipated! I honestly can't believe you are defending this! Wouldn't it have been better to not ever show their faces? No one would have complained then. Or how about they use one of the ridiculous amount of concept faces they created? But no, that takes time to render faces, so instead we will focus on making every character you make eye contact with a romance option. I am not sure how much EA is paying you guys, but can you stop white knighting for Bioware and EA, they are just money grabbing companies that unfortunately no longer care about their fans.

Personally, I don't think they should have asked their fan base about this in the first place, because it was sure to make people pissed off, and we know what kind of waaaaah-waaaah whining we get when people get pissed off on Te Internets.

Also, what evidence do you have that "EA is paying The Escapist"? I mean, OTHER than the fact that they said something you disagreed with, and you're calling them names and being a small child.

As Susan Arendt once put it succinctly, lighten up, Francis.

gyro2death:

I have to agree mostly, I don't understand how they can so easily dismiss this, saying that the variety of the game allows them to skimp on something like this, this isn't a small portion of t he community either that will experience this, tally is the most popular romance option in ME 2 according to polls, and they've been building this up like crazy. It seems like last minute they decided to add it in and didn't have time to decide on a face so they went to stock photography, which is a shame, because it would have been better left a mystery than a last minute descision.

Also one final note, I would like to make it clear that NO EFFORT went into that photo, anyone who says that they spent effort on making that photo look part of the universe is a) retarded or b) hasn't played ME, because the picture is outside in a park with no environment suit on, of which is impossible for any Quarian. If your fine with them using stock photography then go for it and speak your peice, but defending it so blindly that you don't know what your saying is suspect of your intentions.

Er, were you listening? They've ALL played it.

As I said in my last post, I think Bioware mishandled this, but it's also a teeny-tiny-itsy-bitsy little aspect of the game, and one that in my view doesn't warrant this kind of hostility, especially towards a third party.

Far more serious (not to me, but in general) is the bug regarding importing your save games from earlier Mass Effects. That's something which has been trumpeted as A Big Deal, and the game doesn't seem to be able to live up to it.

Everybody has an opinion, but calling people names and being childish is no way to get people to listen to yours, once you're old enough to start shaving.

superbowlbound:
I assumed after the romance in the second game they weren't going to show her face, and I was fine with that. I don't see why it matters if I can see her face, I would always prefer to never see it then have a lazy reveal.

The thing about the "Mass Effect" series, though, is that a _lot_ of it comes down to personal preference. You romanced Tali, you'd rather not see her face, fine. You don't even see the photo unless a specific event occurs. But that's a long way from "a reveal that people have been waiting 6 years for."

The reality is that for a game like ME3, BioWare categorically would _not_ have been able to please everyone. Don't show her face at all, you'll hear "What do Quarians look like?" at every single press conference. Create a full render for an optional scene that lasts a few seconds? Oh, BioWare is basically _forcing_ you to fulfill a specific story requirement in order to see the image in the first place.

Given all that, I just don't see the big deal. If you've seen the photo, you know what Tali looks like. Who cares where the image came from? I don't see anyone screaming about Male Shepard being based on Mark Vanderloo...

I don't see anyone screaming about Male Shepard being based on Mark Vanderloo...

I think they should have based him on Yahtzee Crowshaw.

Also, for the people who claim The Escapist is taking money from game publishers for favourable reviews: have you seen their offices? They work in a basement.

If I had a vacuum pump in EA's wallet, I'd make finding a better office than that a priority...

Kristian Fischer:
I think they should have based him on Yahtzee Crowshaw.

Complete with N7 hat! :)

Yep!

Diana Kingston-Gabai:
I don't see anyone screaming about Male Shepard being based on Mark Vanderloo...

My main problem isn't that they just photoshopped an image. My problem is that they just photoshopped some random stock image. They should have gotten Liz Sroka to pose and photoshopped that.

inb4 people say this is about aesthetics and not about BioWare not giving a fuck.

Kristian Fischer:

superbowlbound:
You have got to be kidding me? A reveal that people have been waiting 6 years for is done by 10 minutes in photoshop (seriously, for a person mildly skilled that's all it takes) is okay? Especially because the Quarians are described differently. It's such a pathetic lazy cop-out, for a AAA game with a multi-million dollar budget? I would understand if its XBLA or a small studio, but this is something that is incredibly hyped and anticipated! I honestly can't believe you are defending this! Wouldn't it have been better to not ever show their faces? No one would have complained then. Or how about they use one of the ridiculous amount of concept faces they created? But no, that takes time to render faces, so instead we will focus on making every character you make eye contact with a romance option. I am not sure how much EA is paying you guys, but can you stop white knighting for Bioware and EA, they are just money grabbing companies that unfortunately no longer care about their fans.

Personally, I don't think they should have asked their fan base about this in the first place, because it was sure to make people pissed off, and we know what kind of waaaaah-waaaah whining we get when people get pissed off on Te Internets.

Also, what evidence do you have that "EA is paying The Escapist"? I mean, OTHER than the fact that they said something you disagreed with, and you're calling them names and being a small child.

As Susan Arendt once put it succinctly, lighten up, Francis.

I am confused when they asked their fans, Maybe it would have been acceptable if they had crowd sourced her face. And I am confused how you repudiated my point, I'll admit the last line was out of anger, but the rest was name calling to avoid your inability to correct anything I have said. Please stop your blind love of Bioware, they are no longer the company that made Mass Effect, they are now the company that made Dragon Age 2.

Diana Kingston-Gabai:

superbowlbound:
I assumed after the romance in the second game they weren't going to show her face, and I was fine with that. I don't see why it matters if I can see her face, I would always prefer to never see it then have a lazy reveal.

The thing about the "Mass Effect" series, though, is that a _lot_ of it comes down to personal preference. You romanced Tali, you'd rather not see her face, fine. You don't even see the photo unless a specific event occurs. But that's a long way from "a reveal that people have been waiting 6 years for."

The reality is that for a game like ME3, BioWare categorically would _not_ have been able to please everyone. Don't show her face at all, you'll hear "What do Quarians look like?" at every single press conference. Create a full render for an optional scene that lasts a few seconds? Oh, BioWare is basically _forcing_ you to fulfill a specific story requirement in order to see the image in the first place.

Given all that, I just don't see the big deal. If you've seen the photo, you know what Tali looks like. Who cares where the image came from? I don't see anyone screaming about Male Shepard being based on Mark Vanderloo...

So what you're saying is that this company with a 25 million dollar budget couldn't waste 20 minutes coming up with a character design and 1 hour rendering it. Instead they spent maybe 5 minutes (not an exaggeration) lazily editing a stock photo. Heck, look at her hand, they missed a knuckle and didn't blend the fingers correctly at all. The problem isn't my opportunity to see the image, it's the fact that she is an alien race and its basically just a human with glowing eyes and black lines (and hair?!? In a clean suit, come on!). What other alien race is even close to that lazy? The Asari are about that closest to humans and they are still really really different. Open your eyes, they cut corners with the plot, dialouge, art design, testing, and fun; this is just one of many examples.

Love how you guys left out the fact that the photo is a terrible fucking photoshop. "Care was taken to make this photo"? Are you kidding me mate? More care is taken when one decides to make a bowel movement. The question has never been that people are upset with the aesthetics of Tali, it's how BioWare went about creating her face. And if you're honestly fine with a AAA game not finding the time to put that effort in a character of Tali's importance, I really doubt you played the game for the story and you'd much rather scan planets, as you so pointed out in the podcast.

superbowlbound:
no longer care about their fans.

You say that as if they once did.

Naivety. It amuses me.

Grape_Bullion:
Love how you guys left out the fact that the photo is a terrible fucking photoshop.

My first thought when I saw the pic was 'who the fuck let that in a professional product?'. Bloody thing looks like it belongs on a geocities page.

so how is this podcast for spoilers?

I disagree with you guys about the Tali picture. It's a fucking main character for Christ sake...how can you not see that O_O She was supposed to be important enough to warrant the effort...but she wasn't even worth an hour or two in photoshop.

Edit: at least you addressed the weird question about the tali picture. >.>

Diana Kingston-Gabai:
I don't see anyone screaming about Male Shepard being based on Mark Vanderloo...

Does Shepard face look like a 5 minute photoshop hack job of Mark Vanderloo?

The clear difference is time. Yes Mark Vanderloo is used as a clear reference point and that's perfectly fine. Its fine because its not a 5-10 minute hack photoshop job.. that was still badly done.

There is a clear difference between the two.

krellen:

Diana Kingston-Gabai:
I don't see anyone screaming about Male Shepard being based on Mark Vanderloo...

My main problem isn't that they just photoshopped an image. My problem is that they just photoshopped some random stock image. They should have gotten Liz Sroka to pose and photoshopped that.

Oooh, that would have been pretty cool actually.

Or - they could have gotten one of the many, many fan-artists to draw it up, and then used a filter to make it look like a photo. I mean, there are some really good fan-arts of Tali's face, and the final photo looks a LOT like several of them. Hell, to get his or her version in ME3, I bet the fan artist chosen would have been willing to draw it for free. ^^

I totally would have. If I was any good at drawing, I mean. :p

I don't see anyone screaming about Male Shepard being based on Mark Vanderloo...

I am! I hate Mark Vanderloo. Jackass. It's all his fault that my FemShep can't romance Tali!

... but admittedly I hate him for reasons that don't necessarily apply to your point. :p

Also, this:

Kristian Fischer:
As I said in my last post, I think Bioware mishandled this, but it's also a teeny-tiny-itsy-bitsy little aspect of the game, and one that in my view doesn't warrant this kind of hostility, especially towards a third party.

Agreed. I mean, they clearly could have done better (see above) but... really, who cares? We have a basic idea of how she should look (that is, she has hair, certain facial markings, etc) so the way I see it, the shitty photo is just a "template" for all future Fan Art to be based on.

And there will be future fan art. Oh yes. ^^ THAT I am looking forward to.

The Escapist Staff:
036: Mass Effect 3 & Tali Stock Photos

This week, we discuss some of our first impressions on Mass Effect 3 (of those of us who didn't review it), the controversy surrounding the use of stock photography in the game and whether or not a bad ending can ruin a whole game. We also respond to a number of your questions.

Watch Video

25:40 "The combat is really challenging"
It doesn't help that 90% of that challenge comes from the A button never doing what you want it to. ME 3 would be playable if they put Run and Roll on a different button.
Or conversely ditch the Roll command all together.
Every one of my deaths on Insanity can be attributed to Shepard rolling away from cover like an idiot or failing to run away from a grenade if there's a flat wall to take cover on.

This is just a general question that I'd like answered, because Susan didn't bring anything like it up in the review. And no one else seems to be bothered by it.

Question
Did everyone in the podcast play either a straight Paragon or Renegade Shepard throughout the first two games?

Because I thought Mass Effect 3 was a travesty (I'm talking worse than Dragon Age 2) for the simple reason that there was no Neutral option. Bioware effectively killed 4 of my Shepards by not including that Neutral dialog response. (Thus robbing me of the conclusion to what must have been 300 hours of emotional attachment to these people I created. From ME 1 to 2 and now I can't take them into 3 with their personalities intact)

29:00
I'm the exact opposite of Susan. The end is what everything hinges on. Clannad and Lost were great, then they ended, and then they sucked.
And, unfortunately, the same thing happened with Mass Effect 3. Even worse Mass Effect 3 had the first two games riding on it. The final installment being as bad as it was I can't go back and enjoy the first two games any more because I know that is how the third act plays out. ME 3 wasn't just a disappointment in it's self, it tainted two of my favorite games in the process.

39:30
I wouldn't mind that actually. I'd look forward to a Mass Effect 4 where Shepard wakes up on the way back from the Omega 4 Relay and says "I just had this crazy dream where the Reapers invaded earth." It would be like Bioware saying "HA, we got you good, here's the real Mass Effect 3."

44:20
Showing Tali's face makes me question everyone at Bioware's judgment.
They had the opportunity to show her in ME 2 and they chose not to. Doubling back on that now is proof that they don't care about their own creative license.

Mikeyfell:

29:00
I'm the exact opposite of Susan. The end is what everything hinges on. Clannad and Lost were great, then they ended, and then they sucked.
And, unfortunately, the same thing happened with Mass Effect 3. Even worse Mass Effect 3 had the first two games riding on it. The final installment being as bad as it was I can't go back and enjoy the first two games any more because I know that is how the third act plays out. ME 3 wasn't just a disappointment in it's self, it tainted two of my favorite games in the process.

Really this is the thing that bothers me most. I remember playin Mass Effect 1 and 2 multiple times to try out multiple different ways of playin. I literally can not do that in Mass Effect 3 because all 3 endings completely invalidate every single choice you have ever made in every single game before hand.

This was a series that was touted for so long as a game where your choices mattered. The endin does not live up to that ideal and because of that it completely taints every single moment before then.

The problem with the ending is that it has plot holes that you can drive Harbinger through. The logic involved concludes in

This is absolutely unacceptable.

The problem with the Tali photo is that the 'shop is complete crap. I mean, I could do something like that. And the last time I used photoshop was 7 years ago.

To point out a small thing that it seems no one else cares about...

I'd prefer MMOs to be less specialized because I hate forced multiplayer. And having role specific classes pretty much requires that you will have to group to play the game. Because a person who is completely a healer will not be able to do anything by themselves.

That being said, I don't play MMOs. Because I hate forced grouping. So I guess my opinion on the matter holds no weight.

This photo should be considered as easter egg, not as something official
It doesn't angers me, but rather disappoints that it was handled this way
But as I wrote already ME2&3 disappointing me in general :(

On the side note, are there finally Krogan and Turian females appearing in ME3?

Mikeyfell:
Question
Did everyone in the podcast play either a straight Paragon or Renegade Shepard throughout the first two games?

No, even in ME1 and 2 I would always end up like 30/70 paragon to renegade. For instance, using a grenade that could instantly incapacitate the colonists at Zhu's Hope didn't seem out of character for my direct approach Shepard, despite being mostly renegade.

Eric the Orange:
To point out a small thing that it seems no one else cares about...

I'd prefer MMOs to be less specialized because I hate forced multiplayer. And having role specific classes pretty much requires that you will have to group to play the game. Because a person who is completely a healer will not be able to do anything by themselves.

That being said, I don't play MMOs. Because I hate forced grouping. So I guess my opinion on the matter holds no weight.

We didn't mention it, but in The Secret World you can change your build of the skills you've unlocked at any time. You can actually save the skills and items into a template to quickly swap back an forth. So you can quite easily switch between something that might be better for grouping to something better for soloing as the need arises.

I'm not 100% Paragon...maybe more like 90.

OMG, Lego Rock Raiders was awesome, it was one of my first games too along with a puzzle-platformer (I guess) called Lego Alpha Team.

OMG, Lego Rock Raiders was awesome, it was one of my first games too along with a puzzle-platformer (I guess) called Lego Alpha Team.

OMG, Lego Rock Raiders was awesome, it was one of my first games too along with a puzzle-platformer (I guess) called Lego Alpha Team.

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