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Werthead

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  • Birthday 01/22/1979

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  1. Started Mass Effect: Andromeda. So far I'm enjoying the great RPG mechanics/focus versus the trilogy and the open-world exploration is good without becoming Dragon Age: Inquisition levels of obnoxious, with too much to do on each planet. The main plot is kind of bland and the entire premise is quite ludicrously unbelievable (the resources spent on the Initiative seem to be greater by an order of magnitude than that spent on the Crucible), but it's all reasonably fun. Combat is also much better than the prior games. I am not happy with the UI, though. I've had weapons disappear mid-mission without any explanation and the absence of quicksave is acceptable if the autosave they replace it with is decent, which this is very much not. Kaidan is ultra-bland in ME1, which is why something like 90% of people pick Ashley over him. Ashley definitely has the better character arc over the three games, even if her "glow-up" in ME3 is really random. However, Kaiden does benefit massively from a greater writing focus in ME3, and in ME3 he's really the better character to have around versus Ashley, to the point that it's quite silly (Ashley only has option bits of dialogue in the lounge, Kaiden has proper long conversation cutscenes like other companions).
  2. I didn't know this, but apparently if Shepard romances Miranda in Mass Effect 2, they get it on in the engine room...which has big windows looking out into it from Thane, Mordin and Zaeed's rooms overhead. All these windows are mysteriously blocked off in Mass Effect 3. Hmm.
  3. Yeah, Angel is certainly the more consistent show and doesn't have the weak spots that Buffy has, whilst probably matching its strongest moments.
  4. Owch. Just to note it didn't completely 180 and destroy its own launcher, but not far off.
  5. It should be noted that Harington co-created and produced Gunpowder, and according to some credits was also an uncredited co-writer alongside Ronan Bennett. I haven't seen it, but apparently it was well-received.
  6. Interesting article here by Bakker's brother, where he talks about how the series developed out of their D&D campaigns in the 1980s. He shows some maps, character ideas and even a poem that came out of those campaigns, which were set in a proto-Earwa. It's interesting seeing D&D races like gnomes alongside SA names like Scylvendi. At the end he alludes to Scott having some problems in recent years which he is trying to overcome. He also says of the final series that it's kind of where we thought it was five years ago: Scott seems torn between expanding the story further with a final series/trilogy or leaving The Unholy Consult as the final word on the series.
  7. One idea I liked that was common fanon in the 1980s was that TIES and X-wings were great at space combat, but TIEs were not designed for atmosphere at all and X-wings could land and take off, but were rubbish at being used as aerial fighters. That's why you needed a distinction between space combat craft and air combat craft, and the air/snowspeeders were the latter. Later instalments in the canon, obviously, threw all of that out the window and showed X-wings being great in all modes, so yeah, why they don't have the X-wings taking out the AT-ATs with proton torpedoes does seem weird.
  8. Launching from the moon is very cost-effective. You use much less fuel than launching from Earth. I think you're also better off launching from the moon and only having to escape the moon's gravity (and the much more limited pull from Earth at that distance) than you are launching from low Earth orbit, where you still have to climb out of the Earth's gravity well. The Russians launching directly from Earth's surface is definitely weird, but if they had a superheavy lift rocket already in service (which they must do, to get to the moon), they may have decided it was better to use one of those then go to the rigmarole of building on the moon. It get the impression their space programme, although far superior to reality, was still on a shoestring compared to NASA. Interesting bit of worldbuilding as well, where they indicate that the space race with the USA is effectively the only thing keeping the Soviet Union from collapsing as in our world.
  9. Season 3 of The Orville has been disappointing so far. The first three episodes were weak, each successively worse than the last, and the third episode would have been kicked out of a Voyager script development session for being far too bollocks. Episode 4 did at least start bringing things back together, but the late-episode slide into the abortion debate was as utterly hideous as you'd expect a "Seth MacFarlane talks about abortion" piece to be. I'm also bewildered by the "New Horizons" tag. Episode 2 set up them going into a new region of space, like the Expanse in Enterprise Season 3, but then they just forget all about it and it's back to Season 1-2 business as normal. Season 6 of Buffy feels overwrought and weird when you're a teenager and lands far too hard when you're older. A hard watch, but I think genius in its own way. It also has my favourite scene in the whole series,
  10. It depends who you ask. Mass Effect 1 seems to be regarded as having the best story, RPG systems, the best villain, best pacing (lame planet-hopping excepted) and the greatest amount of freedom and player agency, but the worst combat, controls and graphics (although the LE certainly rounds off those problems a bit). The much more succinct story also means that relationships are more rushed than in the other two games, especially with Liara (since you can acquire Liara relatively late in the game, so she basically wants to jump you five minutes later). Even in the LE, the animation feels stiff compared to the other two games. Mass Effect 2 seems to be regarded as having the best self-contained quests, the best focus on characterisation and the best ending of the three games, and possibly the best single mission in the series (and maybe one of the best video game missions in history) with the suicide mission. It probably also has the best difficulty balancing. However, the planet scanning minigame is the least satisfying of the three main exploration mechanics in the series and for every great new character the game introduces, it also introduces some who are kind of pointless (Zaeed, in particular). The game also has a lot of complete logic breakdowns which don't make sense. How Shepard is saved, why on Earth he/she would even consider working for Cerberus after their bullshit in ME1, the characterisation of Cerberus being wildly at odds with both ME1 and 3, destroying the Normandy only to immediately bring it back in a slightly better form, and completely sidelining the ME1 cast in favour of newcomers, which then screws over character relationships in ME3 (in particular making it impossible to get the romance achievement across all three games in the trilogy unless it's Tali or Garrus, which makes you a monster because they're destined for one another; although considering you can touch boots with Liara in Shadow Broker, it's weird the achievement doesn't recognise that). The entire ME2 cast being disposable in the final mission also makes it impossible for them to play a major role in ME3 (apart from Garrus and Tali, and again only a monster would get them killed in ME2), making the game feel even more like Mass Effect 2: Side Quest - The Game. Mass Effect 3 seems to be regarded as having the best combat, the best soundtrack, the best atmosphere, the best planet-exploration mechanic and some of the best crunch point decisions in the trilogy, along with probably the best expansion in Citadel. The iffy ending loses it a lot of goodwill though, perhaps a bit too much considering the ending is 10 minutes out of a 30-hour experience. Karpyshyn left after Mass Effect 2 and the other writers who took ME2 and 3 through to completion did work on ME1 as well, so whilst Karpyshyn was their best writer and him leaving was problematic, I don't think it was the entire story. There's plenty of great moments in ME2 and 3 and some clunkiness in 1, although the reverse is generally the case. A lot of Shamus Young's points do resonate though, and I think the takeaway that it's very difficult to construct a thematically coherent story when it's being pushed and pulled all over the place by the vagaries of 7-8 years of continuous video game development whilst your company is undergoing massive transformations is a good one. I do think the move away from the Dark Energy problem in Mass Effect 2 as the ultimate threat of the series and motivation for the Reapers had arguments for and against it. In favour was the fact that Dark Energy and the whole Mass Effect "science" were massively undersold in the series. Nobody really talks about them, so making ME3 and the motivation for the Reapers all about them would have been pretty weird. On the other hand, the issues with synthetic/organic relations were a major part of ME1 and an even bigger part of ME2, so that does work better as a foreshadowed plot development. The main argument against is out-of-text, namely that it makes the entire Mass Effect plot feel like Babylon 5 mixed in with 2003 Battlestar Galactica, and more derivative and less interesting. Making the Dark Energy storyline the main threat, in a hard SF, David Brin kind of way (and it's annoying that some of the minor races being "uplifted" by the older ones is a point that's completely minimised), would have been great and more original, but wold have required a rewrite from the very start of ME1.
  11. Martin is involved as an executive producer and "his team" (I suspect specifically referring to his close associate who was a writer on House of the Dragon as well) is going over the project, but I think otherwise his role will be more in the area of consultant and kind of grand-overseer. He's not going to be involved day-to-day in production, any more than he was on House of the Dragon. He even notes that Kit Harington and his writer came up with the idea and brought it to GRRM and HBO, and they're still very much the creative impetus behind it.
  12. Andromeda is so disliked and was so commercially disappoininting that it certainly won't be the basis for a TV show. And we don't know what they're doing with ME5. It does look like Liara might be involved, but that still means it could be set eight or nine centuries later. I think with Mass Effect the key appeal is the story and the characters, so picking up the Mass Effect IP and starting with the First Contact War is like picking up the ASoIaF IP and starting the story with the War of the Ninepenny Kings. There's some interesting stuff there but it's not the story that the millions and millions of pre-existing fans are expecting to see. That's stuff you can flesh out later on in spin-offs. Halo starting earlier than the games did make some sense because the games are pretty short (and are 95% people shooting aliens, which is no basis for a TV show), but even then they immediately started building up to the start of the first game and they used the games' key characters. The first game actually works quite well with a James Bond-style "straight into the action" sequence on Eden Prime, some immediate exposition against an action backdrop with the various races, introducing Shepard and Anderson straight up-front, and then a long sequence on the Citadel which does a lot of worldbuilding whilst also developing the story. The first game would work very well as a TV season, although the TV show probably won't spend 20 minutes with the Mako stuck up a mountain or an episode where Shepard gets stuck to a piece of cover, can't more for some reason and is then killed by a grenade. ME2 as a TV season would be deranged though. It's far too long, especially since ME2 is basically a massive side-quest in the overall story, and it has too large a cast of main characters. You'd probably have to cut it way down (maybe lose Zaeed, Kasumi and maybe even Thane as main characters, possibly Samara as well, since they're all kind of redundant), and possibly ramp up Cerberus in Season 1 so they don't come out of nowhere as this massive, rich organisation in ME2.
  13. Completed the Mass Effect trilogy on a completionist playthrough. 95.6 hours for the entire thing. Interestingly, because this was definitely not the case in the past, but Mass Effect 2 took longer than Mass Effect 3 (36.1 vs 34.3 hours). There's way less to scan in ME3, so I think ME3 still has the most content out of the game in terms of actual missions/quests/dialogue, especially with Citadel (easily the biggest of all the DLC/expansions) added. I think the honest question arises - again - if Mass Effect has the finest SF worldbuilding/background lore, characters and story ever made for a video game or series (if we go all-genres, then of course a whole bunch of fantasy games and JRPGs enter the equation that could make very strong arguments). In terms of a space opera/SF universe and background, Halo is pretty good, but all ten games combined into one playthrough wouldn't match the trilogy, and of course you have zero narrative choice or impact on the game world. You see a much, much narrower slither of the world and characters. So I don't think that's much competition. All the other big SF video games are licensed (lots of great Star Wars games) or are far too short to go into their universes in as much depth. Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the few games whose characters come close, but of course it's a licensed game (the background having been developed for tabletop games in the 1980s), and it only has a relatively small cast compared to just the "main" cast of Mass Effect, let alone the gargantuan battery of secondary and tertiary characters. I am just completely bewildered at how they're going to make it into a TV show though. Narrowing down the possible endings/outcomes to the major storylines into one satisfying narrative that will hook in established fans and newcomers alike is daunting. And the time they'd need is going to be prohibitive. You can adapt Mass Effect as one season of television (just about) but you'd probably want two seasons minimum for ME2 and maybe three for ME3. That's quite ambitious. And how the hell they'll work out the ending in a less controversial manner will be interesting.
  14. Byelection turnout and total numbers of votes are usually so low that getting a reliable sample size is quite difficult. It may also be fairly useless, as the margins in Honiton are so tight as to be almost nonexistent (if it swings, it will be the biggest majority ever overturned in a byelection, apparently). Wakefield could be much bigger, as the Tories' majority was okay but not massive and Labour need a much more modest swing to recapture it. Apparently the Tories are projecting holding Honiton with a massively reduced majority. The LibDems have said it's a "big ask" but they think they can just scrape it if Labour and Green supporters have switched to tactical voting almost completely. Wakefield is much more doable for Labour, especially with LibDem tactical voting for Labour. This is horseshit. One of the main problems is that the TOCs (Train Operating Companies) don't want to invest too much money in the franchises unless they can get a lot more back out, or unless they can get longer and longer contracts. A perennial problem with the system has been that if there's a five-year contract, then the TOC will basically only fully fund it for three years (sometimes two) and then not invest anything after that point because what's the point when they might not get the contract renewed again? One phrase that cropped up was that they didn't want to invest in new trains, new technology and new ideas if a rival was going to snap up the franchise (with all its improvements) afterwards. If anything, this has gotten worse since the government has said it's now happy to step in and take over a franchise even mid-term if the TOC fucks up, as the TOCs now think they could lose their investment at any time so why even bother? One of the really big fights a few years ago was over how many staff there are on trains, and the unions being firm they needed at least three people (not including buffet car staff) to ensure safety and mean that someone can always go and check out an issue in one of the carriages who isn't the driver. But at one point they were being pushed hard to literally just have the driver as the only staffmember on the train, which the unions regarded as massively unsafe and drivers pointblank refused to accept that, as it meant if they saw someone being assaulted on the train, they'd either have to ignore it to reach the next station or stop the train in the middle of nowhere to intervene (possibly in a dangerous situation if they were outnumbered etc). The sheer lack of common sense in how to manage the railway system has been quite, quite mindboggling over the years.
  15. I think Anakin was being flattered somewhat by those around him (especially Palpatine). The nature of the Sith was cyclical, with master-and-apprentice cycle repeating themselves for a thousand years. Anakin was more powerful that some or most or even all, but the general idea was that the cycle would continue no matter what. Admittedly this is because it was George Lucas throwing out cool-sounding vague ideas, some of which didn't stick and weren't explained (especially when the horribly negative response to the midichlorian idea made him change course). Was Anakin really an immaculate conception from the Force itself or was there some other weird SF explanation (Shmi was impregnated without her knowledge by - urgh - Palpatine or Plageuis or something)? We don't know. Both the Expanded Universe and new canon have had problems in sustaining that, hence their decision to bring in "Sith but they're actually Dark Jedi or Grey Jedi or some shit like that." If Vader falls, the Emperor promotes the Grand Inquisitor in his place, and he and all ten of his minions running around are probably as effective as Vader, if not moreso. It's not ideal, but it's like when he had Maul instead running around: you go with what you've got.
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