BioWare Supports Beleaguered Writer

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Andy Chalk:

ResonanceSD:
ever tried posting criticism, well researched, well argued criticism on the bioware forums? It gets a) pulled pretty fast by mods or b) you get shouted down by the people who spend all day there like drones. Yes, the criticism went way too far, but when it's done in the "official" setting of the BW forums, it's not there for long before it's pulled.

What does this have to do with anything? And it's not "criticism," it's abuse. The inability to tell the difference is one of the most basic problems facing an awful lot of people on the internet.

I'm perfectly aware of the difference and have spoken out about the appaling lack of respect that people have for Helper in multiple threads.

What I'm saying is that BW don't allow criticism in their own forums, then react in a way that gamers aren't used to seeing from companies on social media. When the shit inevitably hits the fan. A lot of people online now see a way to vent their frustrations that they have with BW as a whole, rather than with Hepler, and are going for it tooth and nail.

The fact that Hepler and Andy responded the way they did, didn't help matters. It was warranted, due to people like this charming individual https://twitter.com/#!/LukeParr/status/171422782389891072, but regardless of how someone feels about a situation, fanning the flames has been categorically proven, time and again, to not work. Once Hepler responded with "I have a vagina" etc., there was really no turning back because hey! all of a sudden, people saw Bioware (Not Hepler herself) responding to their abuse with abuse in kind.

draconiansundae:
What! Didn't she write the quest "A Paragon of Her Kind" in DA:O? I loved that quest line. And I quite liked her characterization of Anders in DA:2. Yes, I actually liked DA:2...

apparently we both didn't get the memo because I guess that section of game is shit :/ I have yet to play DA2 though, not my kinda game it seems

lacktheknack:
Some people are sensitive to words and language more than physical contact or actions involving them. For someone like this, this right here is pretty much their absolute worst nightmare. Kids have COMMITTED SUICIDE over being a common name-calling target, even though they aren't attacked or constantly pranked. Seriously, don't discredit verbal abuse simply because it doesn't bother you or you're used to it. Sympathy, man.

I'm just pointing out that simple name calling is just the tip of the iceberg.

Also don't insult me. I'm not that stupid or ignorant. I KNOW kids have committed suicide over it and I KNOW that it can completely crush people. I've seen it happen (who hasn't) and I don't condone bullying in the least.

Some people are sensitive to words and language more than physical contact or actions involving them.

I really doubt that. I can't imagine a single person that's more devastated by words than they would be by physical pain. Not that words can't be devastating but even though physical torture abuse is slightly less common it's much less desirable.

For someone like this, this right here is pretty much their absolute worst nightmare. Kids have COMMITTED SUICIDE over being a common name-calling target, even though they aren't attacked or constantly pranked.

I KNOW. But imagine if they were also beat up, stalked and harassed in every other way. Name calling wouldn't look so bad then would it?

Seriously, don't discredit verbal abuse simply because it doesn't bother you or you're used to it. Sympathy, man.

Right, I think there are worse things than verbal abuse so I must have no sympathy for it. I am NOT twelve years old - I have a good handle on what I'm talking about. My sympathy pours over to all.

Flailing Escapist:

lacktheknack:
Some people are sensitive to words and language more than physical contact or actions involving them. For someone like this, this right here is pretty much their absolute worst nightmare. Kids have COMMITTED SUICIDE over being a common name-calling target, even though they aren't attacked or constantly pranked. Seriously, don't discredit verbal abuse simply because it doesn't bother you or you're used to it. Sympathy, man.

I'm just pointing out that simple name calling is just the tip of the iceberg.

Also don't insult me. I'm not that stupid or ignorant. I KNOW kids have committed suicide over it and I KNOW that it can completely crush people. I've seen it happen (who hasn't) and I don't condone bullying in the least.

Some people are sensitive to words and language more than physical contact or actions involving them.

I really doubt that. I can't imagine a single person that's more devastated by words than they would be by physical pain. Not that words can't be devastating but even though physical torture is slightly less common it's much less desirable.

For someone like this, this right here is pretty much their absolute worst nightmare. Kids have COMMITTED SUICIDE over being a common name-calling target, even though they aren't attacked or constantly pranked.

I KNOW. But imagine if they were also beat up, stalked and harassed in every other way. Name calling wouldn't look so bad then would it?

Seriously, don't discredit verbal abuse simply because it doesn't bother you or you're used to it. Sympathy, man.

Right, I think there are worse things than verbal abuse so I must have no sympathy for it. I am NOT twelve years old - I have a good handle on what I'm talking about. My sympathy pours over to all.

It's certainly not what you conveyed in your first post. I'll take your word for it, though.

DVS BSTrD:

Irridium:

DVS BSTrD:
Those are called movies.
or at best "interactive storytelling experience"

So? If that's how some people want to play, why shouldn't they have the option to do that? Nobody is forcing anyone to skip anything. But I see no reason why we can't have options to do it if we want.

Maybe I want to skip a battle or two. Having the option to do that would be great.

Or, in Origin's case, maybe I want to skip the Deep Roads. God damn the Deep Roads...

But that's just it! That ISN'T playing!
Besides do you really want to give the developers another excuse to neglect combat? Or gamers to be lazy?
You VIL unlock ze Deep Roads
You VIL purge Zem of ze Dark Spawn impurity
Make way for ze glorious Reserection of ze Dwarven Empire!
UNT you will like it Grey Warden!

I'm not saying it should be an all-or-nothing deal, but a toggle-able option of some sort that lets us choose when we want to fight. Sometimes I want to fight, sometimes I don't and just want to get into the story.

Some may choose to just breeze through everything. Some developers may end up neglecting combat. But I'd rather have the option to skip a shitty combat system then be forced to put up with it for 30+ hours.

erttheking:

Brad Shepard:

erttheking:

Really? Funny, I seem to recall that romancing Tali with a Femshep was impossible in the second game but now is possible in the first game. So is that shoehorned in? And can you remind me why adding things to a game is bad? Do you just want something to stay the same forever? Also it was aliens only, which was cheating.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DiscountLesbians

By the way, you do know that it was originally going to be possible to romance Kaiden and Ashley in the first game right?

Ok, lets start this off by saying Tali is only able to be romanced with Male Shepard, 2, Now that im thinking about it, Is it a homosexual relationship with an alien of an asexual race? and 3, it did not make it in, so its non canon.

Yes, in the second game, in the third game it has been confirmed that a Femshep can woo her. Also, it means that they wanted it to be a part of the original game, of course they would work it in when they got the chance. Also what's the big deal? This is one of those things that you have to hunt for, they're not shoving it down your throat. You don't like it? Well...it wasn't for you.

Wait, where was it confirmed FemShep can romance Tali in ME3?

lacktheknack:

It's certainly not what you conveyed in your first post. I'll take your word for it, though.

THIS is my problem with the internet. Don't assume sometime just because I didn't spell it out. Explaining how I see and feel about specific subjects in their specific topics would be several paragraphs of explanation in every thread.

Use some logic! Read what is written and come to conclusions on how they arrived there. THEN respond to them with an open mind in every conclusion you came too and an open mind all around. Sticking to one conclusion is definitely the wrong way to enter any conversation even if your assumption is right.

I support this as well. Good job Bioware, way to stand behind your employees. The kind of crap that has been leveled against Hepler is ridiculous and there is absolutely no excusing that sort of behavior. It's shit like that that makes me ashamed to call myself a gamer often times.

I do have to admit that Hepler's suggestion that there be a feature to skip gameplay in games is pretty absurd. After all such a feature would defeat the purpose of playing the game. I mean I love a good story in a game too, but it's the gameplay that actually makes it a 'game'; if you're going to skip that then you might as well go read a book or watch a movie.
And I should also point out that she never actually said that she didn't like gaming or even that that was her least favorite part of the job. Going by the quote given, what she said was that she didn't seek her job with Bioware out of a love gaming, she sought it out of a love of writing. And then she went on to say that she likes the stories in games much more than the actual gameplay.

This is somewhat unrelated, but can you imagine how much her requested feature would be abused by achievement whores :p

(and yes, that did come to mind because I am a little bit of an achievement whore)

Wait so the writer wants to play a game with more cutscenes then gameplay? Why doesn't she just watch the FFX movie?

I'm glad to see them standing by their employees, it's the responsible thing for any company to do.

On the other hand, this has done nothing to change my opinion of Hepler as an inferior writer better suited to fanfiction than professional writing. Of course, this applies to most writers working in the games industry, but Bioware has made themselves a bit of an easy target by hyping up the story elements of their games so much. I do think that Hepler's attitude towards gameplay hurts her ability to craft engaging narratives within the medium because it effectively amounts to a refusal to make use of any of the tools and techniques which set games apart from novels or films, but she is entitled to her own approach and opinion just as I am entitled to criticize its results. In any case, I would consider that to be the least of her problems as a writer.

I also found her retorts to her detractors to be as disgustingly juvenile as the insults she was responding to. Professionals must hold themselves to a higher standard, and part of that is responding to criticism, however hateful or childish it may be, in a mature and reasonable manner. By engaging in ad hominem attacks in lieu of actual argument, she shows herself to be unworthy of attention.

To all the people saying "watch a movie, or read a book" neither of those medium offer any audience participation in the narrative. The actual combat oriented gameplay of most RPGs has little effect on the narrative - most of those choices are in the cutscene portions.

These people are just more interested in interactive fiction.

Personally there are some games I'm more interested in the storyline than the weak gameplay - significant parts of first two Mass Effect games bored the crap out of me and I'd happily relished in the option to skip them.

Just saying it takes all kinds.

I don't see why it's such a bad thing for someone to be working in an industry they don't fully support. In fact, wouldn't it make them better suited to it since they don't come with fanboy/girl obsessions that could interfere with their quality of work?

OT: She shouldn't have been so blunt in saying that she doesn't care for the gameplay compared to storyline, but at the same time the trolls and ragers of the internet shouldn't take what she said out of context. Everyone made mistakes, but I'm glad that this one isn't costing Jennifer her job right away. I hope she can keep on writing and the gaming community either comes to at least accept it, or STFU.

For crying out loud...if she doesn't like video games, that's her business. Just leave her the #$%^ alone for it.

Turbobutts:
But what if she's not talented after all?

That's a moot point. We know she's not. They know she's not. Nobody's honestly saying she's a good writer.

Irridium:

DVS BSTrD:
Those are called movies.
or at best "interactive storytelling experience"

So? If that's how some people want to play, why shouldn't they have the option to do that? Nobody is forcing anyone to skip anything. But I see no reason why we can't have options to do it if we want.

Because then you're just ignoring gameplay/story integration as a skill that needs to be developed. Sure, most games are built on the grind, but there are certain aspects of it that make playing fun. If you want to watch an overly long cinematic production and bullshit interactions, go play FF13-2. Most games aren't built on the story and the kind of measure ME3 does (as you're suggesting) would basically turn most games into 45 minute strolls through poorly animated facial movements.

And there already is an option to make gameplay go by quickly. It's called the difficulty setting.

As for the gay thing in ME3, they're shoehorning it in to appease the fans. Of course, I bet this means that any character that is conceivably romanceable is bisexual just so players can impose themselves onto them via Shepard. That changes the dynamics of the characters that otherwise should have been done through gameplay, not through suggestions on some forum.

Why would you want to please the fans? Fans are clingy complaining dipshits who will never ever be grateful for any concession you make.

Herr Croshaw is still correct.

RedEyesBlackGamer:

Woodsey:

RedEyesBlackGamer:
I know they are, but he needs to show professionalism.

I fail to see how backing your own member of staff, who has been subjected to an inordinate amount of online abuse, is unprofessional.

That is practically the definition of professional.

This is like working in customer support. It doesn't matter if a customer is yelling at you and being as obnoxious as possible, you never stoop down to their level. He could have defended her without calling someone a fucking moron.

He could've, sure. That's different to should. If someone is a fucking moron, I'd say it's the duty of people to let it be known. What's intrinsically wrong with calling someone a fucking moron if it's the truth?

Darkmantle:
This is somewhat unrelated, but can you imagine how much her requested feature would be abused by achievement whores :p

(and yes, that did come to mind because I am a little bit of an achievement whore)

I am sure they could add something in the game that stops people from getting achievements if they skip a portion of combat.

On Topic: I think Bioware is handling this pretty well. I am happy to see they are sticking by their employee.

Blegh, while I'm not gonna be spamming her email inbox with selections from my folder titled "BigsweatyGabeN" I will say that reading most of her responses in interviews leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Being more of a writer than a gamer is one thing. Wanting to touch upon truly relevant issues like homosexuality in games is a good thing. Wanting to fast-forward through gameplay in a fucking game, shoe-horning in gay romance to all people playing thorugh the final chapter of their beloved space adventure and trying to claim that DA2 was some kind of glorious work of art instead of a boring piece of shit is the sort of thing that's turned me off Bioware in recent years.

Still, as long as she isn't put in charge of Jade Empire 2 (which I'm sure would result in the game being set in a "realistic" portrayal of Ancient China, in one room, with 50% text, 50% homosex and 0% gameplay) I'm happy.

All I have to say is good on Bioware for sticking up for one of their writers. In all fairness, the complaints levelled against Hepler were bullshit anyway. Who says game writers have to enjoy playing games? So long as she does a good job and gets payed for her work, then it really shouldn't matter.

Andy Chalk:
"The customer is always right" is a lie; sometimes the customer is a piece of shit and needs to be told about it.

Unfortunately while that's valid on the Internet where customers don't get to speak face to face with actual humans that represent the games industry and thus spout things they'd never say to a persons face, it's not in real life.
I have a full time job in retailing and I have to deal with rude, arrogant, idiotic customers sometimes. But I'm not allowed to tell them they are a piece of shit for shouting in my face about something I know they are wrong about and calling me stupid, despite their insistance that they are right. Because then I'd get fired for it.

True the same thing could happen on the Internet, that marketing guy for the controller thingy that had his e-mails spread over Penny Arcade is a good example of how people can act on the Internet because people think that the internet allows people to insult people over a vast distance without punishment. BioWare is a good example of how people should act in real life and on the Internet. Politely tell the customer that they are being silly and support their beleaguered writer like a manager in retailing should support the lower ranked staff members when dealing with customers.

I'm not sure really what my point was, I kind of lost my train of thought.
Oh yeah, BioWare could have taken a leaf from your book Andy and called the people who attacked Hepler a bunch of idiots and stuck their fingers in their ears going "lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalal". But they chose the higher ground and I respect them for that.
Basically, yay BioWare for being the good guys and standing with their writer.

Flailing Escapist:
They call this bullying? *facepalm* Fucking really? I understand and support Bioware's decision even though I don't understand - can she not get a writing job somewhere else? I don't even. But insulting (over the internet even) someone is not bullying, dammit. Have you been bullied before? Cry me a river.

I have been the victim of bullying and I am also sure this harassment should count as bullying. This is the least of the hate I have seen directed her way.
Fake porn is the worst, would somebody creating fake porn of you, with a caption mocking your weight sent to your email or PM box be considered bullying?

Agree or disagree with that she said, the fact that there is so much vile, disgusting language being thrown her way is entirely unacceptable. There is no reason why she should be called a cancer, cunt, etc.

RazzleDazzle102:
Wait so the writer wants to play a game with more cutscenes then gameplay? Why doesn't she just watch the FFX movie?

Lol that's exactly what I said. Except now i see why DA2 was like a three hour long terrible movie.

Wait, why are dickheads complaining about a story writer not caring they're writing for video games?
This is a good thing you twits, it means you aren't getting stupid, cliched crappy story lines with sequences specifically made to be 'cool' (See: GoW, CoD, Battlefield, etc etc)

"BioWare Edmonton General Manager Aaryn Flynn was driven to publicly refer to at least one commenter as a 'fucking moron'. "
The world needs more of this. Piss that political and polite bullshit off, if i'm being a dickhead i expect someone to call me a dickhead. This dude responded well.

"I just figure they're jealous that I get to have both a vagina AND a games industry job, and they can't get either."
AAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!
Fucking GOLD.

There are probably many things killing gaming these days, but this nice woman who presumably does the writing for some of my favorite games, is not one of them.

erttheking:

Brad Shepard:

erttheking:

Did you read my post? I flat out stated that ME started by advertising lesbian sex, and now they're appealing to women by adding guy on guy action. (Yes girls like that, it's what girl on girl is to us)

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/YaoiFangirl

Check the real life folder.

So what are you trying to say? Girl on girl is fine in ME but guy on guy is going too far? Word that in a way that actually makes sense please.

What im saying is that has been in there sense game one, and im fine with that, but Male Shepard has had no homosexual options for the first two games, it feels shoehorned in.

Really? Funny, I seem to recall that romancing Tali with a Femshep was impossible in the second game but now is possible in the first game. So is that shoehorned in? And can you remind me why adding things to a game is bad? Do you just want something to stay the same forever? Also it was aliens only, which was cheating.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DiscountLesbians

By the way, you do know that it was originally going to be possible to romance Kaiden and Ashley in the first game right?

I think the point he was making was that from a storytelling perspective it feels rather awkward and forced for a male Shepard to be able to declare himself gay only after there have already been two games without a homosexual male option. Nothing against homosexual males, but it does seem forced and is quite obviously a meek attempt to appeal to fans who were upset at the lack of gay male options. Not a bad thing in and of itself, but the first two games in the series were devoid of anything that could hint at Shepard being gay (and the developers were actually somewhat insistent on that point).

So it seems like more: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SuddenlySexuality As opposed to real, good storytelling or a more natural flow to such characterization. Especially since there was absolutely no reference to a male Shepard being gay at all. At all.

UnderGlass:

Soviet Heavy:
You seem to have missed the part where she fanned the flames by retorting to her detractors. Honestly, this is a situation where I just hate everyone involved. Responding to torrents of bile with the phrase "I just figure they're jealous that I get to have both a vagina AND a games industry job, and they can't get either." is just asking for trouble.

Haha. That quote is made of pure awesome. I refuse to go and read this stuff having more stimulating things to do like scraping my callouses, so thanks for bringing that wee gem over here. Best laugh of the week.

That is comedy gold - funniest thing I've read in ages. And since when is standing up for yourself "fanning the flames". There was a thread here a couple of weeks ago titled something like "Bullies Are People Too" and the amount of pure vitriol being spewed out by people who'd been affected by bullies in their lives was just unbelievable, and yet many of the same kinds of people turn around and treat someone like this? It's just absolutely fucking disgusting.

I think as soon as someone said, "homosexuality is a new OPTION" the discussion should have been over. I don't think it matters whether or not it was in previous games or if it offends anyone. It's like domino's added truffle to there list of toppings and everyone who hates expensive mushrooms shows up with pitch forks and torches.

lacktheknack:

Busard:
snippity

Not a great writer != "WHY HAVEN'T YOU KILLED YOURSELF YOU ****"

Except on the internet, apparently.

I'm not saying that. Like I said, i'm not supporting the bullies in the story. Just trying to put things in perspective since both sides here are missing a bit of the whole picture.

Truth is, I'm supporting neither side so I'm gonna back off the whole ordeal because I don't think I can bring much :p

StriderShinryu:
I really don't see what the issue is with what she said. I think the games we all love to play might actually be improved if there was an option to skip the gameplay and move straight to the storyline and character elements.

Why? Not because gameplay is not important. I would argue alongside many others that the core gameplay is actually what is most important in making a videogame good. I would, however, also argue that the story and character elements are where games are at their weakest while gameplay is stronger than it's ever been across the board. Core gameplay doesn't need any help. If there was the sort of increased focus on story, characters, writing, voice acting, etc. that a non-gameplay option would provide, it would force developers to concentrate on strengthening their weaknesses.

Perhaps having some members of their writing staff being more writers and less gamers is what makes Bioware a company that receives as many commendations as it does for strong interesting stories and characters.

see if you just skip all the gameplay elements, you dont have a game anymore, you have a movie your pressing buttons for. Gameplay parts can be anything from shooting, talking (best part of deus ex to puzzle solving or rhythm matching, without these elements they cease to be games anymore.

While i disagree with how everyones treating her, the statement she made back then showed a person uninterested in improving narative devices for this medium and more interesting in porting the old ways of movie and tv across. Which is bad for us.

This is one of those times where I just don't see the issue. You want gaming to be taken seriously? You want people to look at them and see them as a legitimate form of art or entertainment? You will need talented writers. It doesn't matter if she likes to play or not, she's isn't getting paid to play, and she doesn't even test anything. She just writes. And even counting the storyboard setting stuff, Bioware still has some of the best writing in the industry. Whether or not she actually likes to play should not be an issue when it has nothing to do with her doing her job or her affect on the game.

Speaking as a writer -and- a gamer... I feel ashamed for the internet. She wrote some damn fine stories that I would have gladly paid for in novel form, and we were lucky enough to play them interactively. I think it can't be coincidence that this person works for BioWare, known for some of the best story driven experiences in gaming. Long and short, these people like games. These people like BioWare for their largely story-based games. But they despise the person who puts the -story- into the game?

What would Mass Effect games be without these stories?

Dead Space.

'Nuff said.

Hmm... well the debate is already into the quote stacks stage, so I'm sure this will be ignored. But I thought that peoples beef with her was that she didn't like video games, and yet wrote stories for them.

I think this might be a problem, and lead to a disconnect between plot lines and mechanics... which you could certainly feel in Dragon Age. I have to admit I wasn't at all invested in the combat, and I can only attribute that to it being too heavily game orientated. You could easily see what combat puzzles the devs wanted you to work through, and the puzzles didn't have relevance to the story... beyond kill these guys to get to the next part.

I kind of think a game writer needs to be involved in the level design as well... and to be interested in how the game plays as a whole, so they can tailor their plot lines accordingly. A story about beating the odds would have hordes of low level guys, and a desperate struggle might only feature one or two heavy hitting mobs.

So I think she probably is in the wrong business, or at least the wrong company. Maybe a turn based JRPG would suit her better, or dating sims.

That said, she certainly doesn't deserve a hate campaign, since really it's the fault of the person who hired her not being discriminating enough with their staff.

And I can see a gay Shepard being okay, since, lets face it, the romance in Mass Effect was disconnected from the game play too. So basically, it doesn't really matter at all.

The gaming community ladies and gentlemen. Yep. You guys really deserve the very best a gaming company has to offer. After such a classy classy display.

Loonerinoes:

You want to know who the real cancer of Bioware right now is? It's 'fans' like you. Self-entitled 'fans' with nothing better to do but cry about 'back-in-the-day'.

Boom nailed it. Couldn't have said it better myself.

The Globalizer:
Certainly not defending the commenters, but I think software devs need thicker skin, too. Internet trolling comes with the territory. This showy "anti-bullying" crap is a bit eyerolling, IMO.

Love Mass Effect series so at the end of the day, whatevs.

I quoted this not as a shot at the poster of it but because it nicely sums up a theme in many of the responses to this thread. That "trolling" just comes with the internet. My opinion is that why should we just accept this bullshit? It's a cop out to just say "well that's the way it is."

In my opinion much more should be done about internet trolls. They're not always harmless.

This incident is just another one in a long line of incidents. As a avid supporter of the gaming community I hate that I have to be lumped in with these dipshits.

Does Hepler deserve this kind of hate campaign? Obviously not.
Do you need to be a gamer to be a good writer for a game? Not really.

That said... the lady isn't a exactly the greatest writer, IMO. Her crowning moment in writing (the part with Hespith and the Broodmother) worked so well precisely because at the point you encountered her, the player felt just as bruised and battered emotionally as the character because they had to spend hours upon hours fighting their way through the seemingly endless Deep Roads.

It's a shame that this discussion is tainted by so much vitriol right now, though.
Yeah, hours of horrible whiny clingy gay Anders completely outweigh a few minutes of sublimely creepy Hespith awesomeness, but maybe she did manage to overcome her Yaoi Fangirl Fantasies and write a decent homosexual character for Mass Effect 3. Well, I may never know, thanks to Origin and EA... the latter being, of course, the far biggest tumor in Biowares pancreas.

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