1 April, 2012
Well, good news and bad news. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: I’m stepping back from my responsibilities on Storybricks. Frankly the work was too creative and rewarding. As I get older, I realize that I really just want to have a cubicle somewhere and try to do as little work as possible. Preferably a job where I can be a raging asshole after making a lot of money being acquired by a company that is totally not evil and doesn’t attract assholes.
Anyway, the good news is that I’ve landed a new gig at Bioware. Spoiler alert: it has to deal with Mass Effect 3!
After being tired of being paid fairly well as a programmer and designer, I decided I wanted to make a lot less money, so I’ve been applying for game writing jobs. One of the places my spambot contacted from scraping addresses from websites is Bioware. I guess they were impressed with how persistent I was, although I think that was just a bug in the spambot that resent the email a few times too many. But, whatever.
Obviously I’m under NDA, but let’s pretend we’re at one of the bars at GDC, and I’ll let you in on all the juicy details, ‘K? Just keep it between us.
My first job is to write a “clarification” to the ending of Mass Effect 3. Now, I admit, I’m only near the end of Mass Effect 1, so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge, but I’m up for it. I’m sure I can learn on the job, right?
I’m finishing a proposal right now for some DLC that will clarify the ending and add a lot of new content. What happened is that the indoctrination theorists are partially right. A machine was adjusting Sheperd’s mind! but, it was a long-term cryosleep chamber instead of the Reapers! This was even hinted at in the first Mass Effect: ever notice that there were sleeping pods on the Normandy, even though the ship was capable of faster-than-light travel? Why would you need pods that are obviously built for long-term sleep for long distances if you can use the mass relays to travel around the galaxy rapidly? Obviously this is a sign Sheperd’s mind is trying to communicate with him/her, presenting a symbol to the subconscious to try to get him/her to piece it together.
My DLC, tentatively called “The Crimson Short”, will have a flashback to the original Normandy where Shepherd will notice a swimming certificate hanging on the wall. This is strange, since it’s been established that Shepherd can’t swim (ever notice that he/she never visits worlds with water in the first Mass Effect?) If Shepherd takes the swim certificate to the medical bay and analyzes the swimming certificate under a microscope, he’ll notice a microdot full of data in the dot of an ‘i’. Analyzing this will lead to Shepherd finally awaking from the cryosleep into the real world. But… EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED!
Turns out Shepherd wasn’t a big military hero, rather a technician (third-class) named “Dave” (or a trans-gendered person named Davette if your Shepherd dreamed he/she was female). The Reavers were real, and they won. They developed a ray that would turn humanoid life into piles of dust. But, since Sheperd was in cryosleep stasis, he was saved from the destruction and awakens millions of years later to find the rest of the crew dead, as well as all humanoid life in the galaxy! The Reavers became dormant again so now Dave(tte) is free to roam open space once again. But, he/she won’t be alone, oh no!
He/she has a VI assisting him that, over the years, broke into the databanks that stored employee personality data and borrowed different parts of personalities from others, leading to a conflicted character that is simultaneously courages/cowardly, officious/lazy, etc. A lot of the personalities in the ship database were spacers from the galactic rim, so that affects a large part of the VI’s personality. This VI will be named “Arnold” (or “Arnolda” depending on if your relationships were primarily hetero- or homosexual). The VI has also updated its visual presentation to be a lot more human-like. Due to this quirk, the VI has taken to wearing a flashy ‘H’ on his/her forehead (but this is just a way to remind the player that they are the last living person).
Dave(tte) also has a new character: a sentient cat that evolved over the years. This character will be rather vain and selfish, just like a real cat! This character is intended to be the comic relief in what is othewise a very serious and grim story. There’s a third character, an android that evolved from a Quarian design intended to replace the Geth. I wanted to name it in homage to John Crichton from Farscape, but EA legal made me obscure the name to “Kryten”.
The climax of the story is when the ship reactors start to go critical, and Arnold(a) accidentally gets trapped behind a containment field. Thinking that Arnold(a) is sacrificing him-/herself like Floyd from Planetfall (okay, so I’m borrowing a bit from a few other sources!) Dave(ette) has an emotional scene where he/she keenly feels the loss of a trusted companion and goes on a psychological journey to understand exactly what Arnold(a) meant to him/her. Since most of the personalities were from the galactic rim, this part is called the “Rimmer Experience”.
Anyway, I have some “leaked” footage from one cutscene. It shows the upgrade in graphics the team has been working on, and how their models have completely gone past the “uncanny valley”. This clip assumes a male “Dave” with with a male “Arnold”. (Ignore the woman in the scene, she’ll be written out [and back in] later.) You can watch it on YouTube: http://youtu.be/py3u3P9OpBE
Obviously, I’m tremendously excited and honored to be part of this new team. I hope this satisfies all the people disappointed with the ME3 ending. At any rate, I expect great things!