And Another Thing–


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Spoilers for the ‘movie night’ storyline in Mass Effect: Andromeda


Ok, so I got nothing, still haven’t had a chance to start HZD: Frozen Wilds, but it’s the nothing that has me thinking of something.

I’m truly bummed that I’m not playing something right now.

Like, not just “Oh, man, can’t wait for the next thing,” but irritated that there’s nothing to turn over in my head, to think about, or to have there at the end of the day if I want it.

I shouldn’t say to “think about,” as I have about 12 million things to think about. And it’s not like I play every night, but I like knowing it’s there.

I dunno, man. I guess games, or even just knowing there’s a game there in the disc drive, is kinda stress relief. If I don’t have that rather unimportant thing to think about, my brain starts going over all the other crap that’s going to give me an ulcer (if it hasn’t already).

But is that normal? Is that ok? Do people who watch TV get antsy when the season of their show is over?

I am troubled.


I don’t watch TV these days, but I feel like yeah, they do? I mean, back when I was watching TV shows in real time, like Breaking Bad or Mad Men, after a season ended I would definitely get that kind of “man, NOW what do I do with this mental energy until the next season starts?”

Because as you say, it’s not as if you don’t have plenty of other things to think about, and it’s not as if you DON’T think about those other things, but there’s been this part of your attention that’s been dedicated to following a particular story and waiting for updates, and pondering how new information fits into the previous understanding of the story/characters, so definitely once you no longer have a regular update to look forward to, there’s a kind of gap while you figure out what you’re going to be doing with that portion of your brain.

So I wouldn’t worry about it. I think it’s just a normal result of spending a fair amount of time thinking about something, and then not having that thing to think about.

I mean, it’s the same with anything that takes up a significant part of your attention for a period of time, isn’t it? Moving, wedding planning, writing a book…there’s this project you’re engaged in, and then when it’s done there’s a sense of completion, but also of being slightly at loose ends because you’re used to having that thing to think about, and now you don’t.

We moved! We’re married! The book is written! So…now what?

Now we start a new game.

Hey, at least that’s much less expensive and traumatic than having to plan another move or go marry someone else just to keep the energy going. Writing another book, that’s probably pretty normal for people who write books.


And the thing that’s really key is the down time. This school year is kicking my ass. Always on the go. My parents are complex these days, and you’re my only friend who isn’t going through eight pounds of shit right now, so I can’t even hang out with dudes and just shoot the shit about gossip or hockey or anything like I could six months ago. I’m always ON, you know? Except when I’m fighting kett or PLAYING AS CHLOE.

Or Aloy, the minute I get the opportunity to load it. Gonna love me some ROBOT DINOSAURS.

Wait, you wrote a book? That you finished? Jeez. Who knew you were so verbose?


No, no, I was just using “writing a book” as an example of a big thing people might work on, not something I specifically am involved in. I did National Novel Writing Month a few times (write a 50,000 word story in the month of November), but that was long ago, before blogging and, critically, before children.

Although I suppose it’s still a good example of a project that takes up a lot of time and mental energy for a while, and then after it’s over you’re briefly at a loss because you don’t have to think about it anymore.

I may already be enjoying some ROBOT DINOSAURS. I waited as long as I could!


You tried. I’ll get there soon.

50,000 words? Pfft. We do that in a day. Feels that way, anyway.


Feels that way!–but actually it’s usually more like 1,500-3,000. They’re just SO GOOD that most people would take 50,000 to cover that much awesomeness.

That’s my spin.


True, true. Though if you tally all the words we’ve done over the course of this blog, we’ve probably out done Shakespeare five times over.

And really, we’re far superior. Did he talk about nudity? No. Did he talk about booze? Ok, some, I’ll give him that. He sure as shit never talked up his T SHIRT line.

Why do people read him anyway, when he’s lacking all that?


Probably for the themes. People do enjoy themes. Which we’re happy to provide, with add-ons!


Themes. Pfft.

The only thing people enjoy more than booze is nudity.


Look at that! Trifecta!

Also, thinking of what I’m not playing reminded me of something:

I was SO looking forward to the inevitable, wonderful, funny cutscene that was going to be the movie night. It was set up so beautifully! I was absolutely convinced that we’d have a scene where they’re all together, like the war council, or PB’s profession of friendship and….nothing. When the quest ended, I really felt “That’s it? Aren’t you…forgetting something? a cutscene perhaps? Another ‘start the movie’ part of the quest?”

Very disappointing.


Yes! I also keenly felt the lack of a movie night scene after all that buildup. I expected something like that drinking/card playing scene in DAI, but come on, even just a pan over the crew’s faces would have been SOMETHING if they ran out of steam and couldn’t come up with an actual scene.

Instead we spent all this time on the quest, did something related to it for pretty much every person in the crew, it was this big team-wide exercise that I enjoyed because it was kind of a fun idea, and then…nothing. I don’t even know if they HAD movie night.

Disappointing, indeed.


It felt just like the card game scene (or that it wanted to be that). Shit, the reason I bothered doing it was for the payoff of a scene like that…which never came. Especially as it had all sorts of chances for hilarity: Liam’s taste in movies, Jaal’s weird…gadget…Suvi’s awful snacks..

Awesomeness that never happened.


Right! So many funny bits, highlighting so many weird little aspects of different peoples’ characters, all of them really getting into this activity in a way that was fun to see, and then…who knows what happened then. Nothing, something, it was a big success, it was a terrible failure, it was a boring ‘whatever,’ there’s no way to tell.

There was too much buildup for that nothing payoff!


Yet another instance of Frankengame.

Man. I think I will forever remember MEA not for what it was, but what it could have and should have been.


Unfortunate, but perhaps fair.


Indeed. And I don’t think that it’s because I’m holding it to a higher standard than I should because it’s a Mass Effect game. I’m not going to be all “Well, it’s not as good as ME2 so it sucks” like the rest of the internet. I think these criticisms can exist on their own.

Or am I being judgy?


No, I think it’s fair. While there’s plenty of comparison with other games we’ve played, because other games we’ve played are what lets us have an idea of things that work and don’t work (for us and in general), I don’t think there’s an underlying component of “this thing we’re complaining about wouldn’t really have bugged me, but it’s a Mass Effect game so they should know better.”

I mean, we did kind of just say “we know BioWare can do a good party scene because DAI, so they should know better here,” so there is a bit of a sense that BioWare is not entirely living up to its best stuff, but I think that the criticism would have been equally relevant if this were some other company. We could just as well have said, “we know good party scenes can be done because BioWare did it, so they should have learned from that,” and, crucially, I think we WOULD have said something like that, because I think we would have found all that buildup and no payoff as frustrating in any other game as it was here.

With this, and all the things we’ve been less enthusiastic about, I don’t think we’re saying “I expect better from Mass Effect,” as much as we’re saying “I would like this to be different in whatever game I’m playing.”

You’re off the hook. Although of course BioWare folks might feel differently, and as soon as they read our awesome blog I’m sure they’ll let us know because as Buttons would be happy to verify, game companies totally love it when their employees wander around talking about their games all over the internet. Chime right in, folks!


True. It is all rather interconnected. The build up did not make much sense without the payout.

And we ARE tough critics. I’m still mad that I got no nudity.


Also, we talk a lot about wanting more group hugs, and movie night was a missed opportunity for that! Imagine if there’d been a moving scene of everyone coming together to share a group activity, and maybe there’d be some disagreements about the film and the snacks, some laughter, some tears, and then…group hug! Team bonding! Let’s do this again soon/never!

So much wasted potential.


All this being said, I still liked the game. I did. I wish I had liked it more, but I did like it.


Oh yes, absolutely–we shouldn’t close on a down note. I did enjoy it. I spent many mostly happy hours on it, and I don’t regret them. There was fun banter and cool scenery and lively action and some thoughtful story.

I liked it. Didn’t LOVE it, but it was a solid like.


Mass Effect Andromeda Ending: Discussion Continued


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Spoilers for the end of Mass Effect: Andromeda


Well, I didn’t play anything. Want to start Horizon Zero Dawn DLC, but no chance. Sigh.

You around or did O’Jr have pneumonia?


The cough wasn’t as bad last night and he seemed pretty chipper this morning, so off he went to school! Of course, I could get a call at any minute saying he passed out or something, but we’ll hope for the best.


Ah, man. Coughing sucks. Coughing kid sucks. Hope he’s doing better.

Where were we re MEA?

Ok, I’ll start.

Were you as bothered as I was with the massive amount of post credit shit? I don’t mind a little cutscene, but I thought all that dulled the ending to a large degree.


Yeah, all that was a little weird. It’s like “big dramatic ending, yay!” Credits, you’re feeling pretty good, and then “oh, hey, wait, don’t go away, we’ve also got this other stuff!”

I don’t know, I feel in a way it worked with Ryder as a slightly less badass typical hero…a bit awkward, not sure about how to do the job or whether she’s the right person to do it. Maybe it makes sense to have a slightly less typical ending, where yeah, there’s a big dramatic fight and everyone cheers you, but then…you still have to deal with this slightly awkward stuff, you still don’t quite know how to do the job, things just kind of carry on even when you’re ready for them to be finished. Because that’s life when you’re kind of a regular doofy person and not a superhuman badass (even when you are in fact a superhuman badass).

I don’t know if I’m going to argue that they did that on purpose for Theme, but that was the way it managed to totally not annoy the hell out of me.

I think also if you’re the type who plays the main story and then keeps playing the game to wrap up side quests, it would have made a lot more sense. “You want to stick around? Do! There’s all this stuff to do! Even some new stuff!” So maybe they’re just aiming more for that group than for us with our “we do everything we can stand to do before finishing the main quest, and then we never want to see the game again” approach. It wouldn’t be the first time somebody designed something for not-us.


It was SO redundant, though. Why did I have to talk to everyone? I planted a garden, listened to PB talk about how this was her family, looked at Jaal’s stars….all of that was WAY better than the cursory endgame chats. Sure, bioware DOES the cursory endgame chat (DAO, DAI, etc.) but it’s PREcredits, and not after all the other good epilogues you got through the game.

And, if you really wanted to do the Helius 7 thing, that could’ve very easily have been a short, three minutes, post credit cutscene. Making me run around? Why? Just…why?

I clocked the whole endgame. I played an hour. AN HOUR! 1/15 of Uncharted! That’s just silly.

And true, it could be with other kinds of players in mind. But other games let you do all that without wasting an hour of your time. And I’m not sure it was that. Really, the last thing (even though my Suvi thing was after even this) was the cheering as Helius 7 is renamed. That FELT like an ending, and would have been fine had it not been an HOUR after the ending.

I don’t get it. They had lots of places to end the thing, and then picked a wrong one.

Typical of this game, really. And rather sad. There was a lot of good in this game, but it just couldn’t stick to it.


I feel like there was so much they wanted to do and include, and in the end they just did and included all of it.

“Put in everything.”
“What do you mean, everything?”
“EV. RY. THING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

And here’s another discussion point: we talked about how we did more things differently in this game than practically ever before. Did it make any difference? I mean, we ended up with different people, that’s a difference, but all of the in-game major decisions about supporting one person or another, shooting or not shooting someone…it seems like we wound up at pretty much the same place regardless.

Which is reasonable because they don’t want to make 50 radically different endings (although…maybe the slow post-credit stuff was where those differences show up, but we just didn’t do the RIGHT things differently to have noticed dramatic differences in how things turned out), and because the ending is not the whole story and making decisions in the course of play still matters to how you experience the game, but…do we end up feeling that none of our decisions actually made that big a difference?

I mean, my Macen is a drunken wreck and yours is a badass pathfinder, so that’s one clear distinction.

What about Sid’s final bit, did you wind up revealing the truth, or lying to maintain peoples’ faith in government? (I lied, perhaps oddly. I just figured…undermining the entire structure CAN’T be a good idea at this fragile stage. Though that’s always the argument, isn’t it?)

Anyway. Making different choices: what difference does it make?


Well, the word was that this game had a difficult development. That sort of thing can lead to Frankengame. A whole lot of stuff gets chucked in, some gets cut (I still think all those remnant structures with kett that were easy to speed by and ignore had a point in some early draft of the game), some doesn’t. Sometimes too much gets cut and you have holes in a game, sometimes not enough and you get this.

There were many times this felt like Frankengame.

And I think certain choices made the last bit easier. I had a bunch of dudes fighting for me, and they were killin’ dudes. Luckily, I had the subtitles on, so I could actually hear when Sloane and Morda and everyone was all “We’re holding the left pathfinder!” or “We’ll hold them here! Go on!” But other than that, there didn’t seem to be much. Certainly not in terms of narrative.

Maybe we’d find out if we kept playing. I suppose I could run around talking to Vetra and Sid and everyone, but I don’t want to. And, even then, I find it hard to believe that it would make a difference past dialog. The real hardcore consequences (like characters dying at the end of ME2) have lost their window of appearing in the narrative.

And I was expecting a couple of those! Drack’s age and apparent death wishes made me absolutely convinced he’d die. Maybe some of them would had they not been loyal, but we’ll never know.

It’s especially striking that it didn’t seem to matter much considering a MAJOR knock on ME3 was that nothing really mattered. You had that end of game “red/green/blue” choice no matter what, and people didn’t like that. They had to patch in that end of game slideshow where you saw how everyone wound up because of your decisions (which I really liked). You’d think they would have learned from that.


Hmm…yeah, it doesn’t look as if any of the decisions make that much difference (see Polygon walkthrough). I mean, it changes who’s available to help you at the end, and maybe if you made all the ‘wrong’ choices the final fight would be harder because you have fewer people on your side, but there were a number of times where I picked the ‘wrong’ thing, and the final battle was still…well, the final battle. We talked about it. It was fine, not too tiny and boring, not too frustratingly difficult. You must have to work hard to get to a point where it has any real impact, if there is such a point.


That’s….disappointing. Especially as I had two levels of difficulty under normal I could have switched to.

“Screwed it all up? Whatever. Click down, all set.”

Well, I GUESS you could have lost companions to the fact that you pissed them off, but that’s not really a penalty.

Maybe the thinking is that they don’t want people to think they’ve won or lost in an RPG, which I can see. You don’t want people metagaming and trying to make choices that are the “best” result. After all, consequences or not, there were times in the game where we made choices and talked about how those choices made us feel, and we wouldn’t have gotten that had we tried to “win.” So it still was good, from our own playing perspective, that we played how we did. But there ought to be a middle ground. After all, you can make choices that hurt people. The slideshow at the end of ME3 showed that. The original Fallouts had similar slideshows that showed that. So….balance.


It’s true, we don’t want it to be about “winning or losing,” and there is value in having to make a choice and think about what that choice means for the character you’re playing. Absolutely.

But yeah, I also agree that it’s nice to have some actual, tangible example of what turned out differently, if anything, based on one choice or another. And having the difference be purely about who turned up in the final battle feels flat.

OK, so if you save the angaran AI it gives you useful data for the final battle. Fine. But what ELSE does it do? What does it mean in peoples’ day-to-day lives? Apparently nothing. At least, nothing we know about in THIS game, so stay tuned for the sequel that will probably never happen!



Another thing that reeks of Frankengame.

I know you can’t be bothered with the codex, so I’ll fill you in: There was a whole tab called “The journey so far” that cataloged, like, EVERYTHING you did. There were things in there I’ve forgotten already because they were so minor. If the game bothered to keep track of it, that meant it either mattered, or it was GOING to matter at some point in the development of the game.

Buttons has pointed out that only 30% or so of people bother to finish games they start (who ARE these people), so, when cutting time and effort to develop a part of a game, often the ending gets short shrift because they figure 70% of everyone won’t see it. You said “They can’t make, like, 50 endings,” but maybe they meant to at one point in the fraught development of the game, and, when they got to the point where they were over budget and behind schedule (the game did get delayed), they threw in the towel with the endings they were going to make. “Ah, fuck it, just put something in the final fight.”

Which is disappointing, but “This got cut” does feel like a plausible explanation. If that is the case (and we’ll never know), it’s infuriating because there’s SO much they should’ve and could’ve cut that wasn’t the ending.


Ah, “the journey so far.” It’s true, I never looked at that tab. I knew it was there, but I figured “if I don’t remember it with my own brain, it doesn’t matter.” My pathfinder has a short attention span and doesn’t care who knows it. “Who’s doing what with the what now? Never mind, I’ve moved on.”

It’s a nice idea, since it was probably supposed to help keep track of all those sprawling side quests, where we’d be thinking “wait, who’s Spender and why does Drack hate him?” but if it’s not somehow directly linked to the quest line, I’m not going to bother going to another tab to look it up.

See, I finish games, usually (unless they have no possible way to sprint, or contain purple tentacles), but I’m lazy in other ways. Somebody who always reads all the information on every tab but doesn’t get around to finishing the game is thinking “Who ARE these people?”


Except it wasn’t to keep track of what you were doing, it was to keep track of what you did. It would say shit like “You told Sid she was brave,” but it wouldn’t SAY that until you finished the quest. And it was that vague. So it would say stuff like “You told Sheggie to keep the tooka” without explaining what the fuck that was.

And it kept track of EVERYTHING, thus leading one to believe that these things mattered. There was no other reason, because these quests were over. Why care about the results of completed quests unless the outcome matters?

And yet, in the final version of the game, they didn’t matter.


Damn it, I KNEW I should have kept the tooka myself! It was obvious Sheggie couldn’t be trusted!

But now I’m kind of glad I never looked at it, because it sounds unhelpful, and, at the end, irrelevant. Thanks for easing my mind on that one.


It really was. But man, it sure looked and felt like something that was going to be relevant, which is yet another thing that made me think that there was more going on in earlier iterations of the game. It was like the stuff that this would be relevant to wasn’t there, and, when they chopped that stuff, they couldn’t be bothered to chop the stuff in the codex.

Frankengame, I say.


It is odd. Unless it was also meant to be a quick way to record information that could be transferred from this game into a sequel, where some of those decisions might be meaningful? There’s no real point in us even being able to see it, if that’s true, but maybe they thought…people wanting to follow up on their MEA playthrough but play MEA2 (or whatever) on another system, or whatever, could look up and copy in their information? I dunno, that’s definitely a stretch.

Discussion Interrupted


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Spoilers for the end of Mass Effect: Andromeda


Ok, as I figure we got as much as we could out of aphids (who am I kidding, we’ll talk about them for weeks) I binge played and FINISHED THE GAME!

This GAME man. That “ending,” such as it was, was just a great summation of the whole thing: it was a game that could have been very, very good had it just gotten out of its own way.

Because the “end” there, that was good. Everything growing, coming out of the place surrounded by this diverse group of creatures, and, for me, themes. Suvi comes up all excited about science and the future (full of hope, you see), and if you pick the nice dialog option, the “Let’s just enjoy this” or something, all you do is put your finger on her mouth to quiet her, you both smile, you kiss (live in the moment, see, themes), pull back, fade to black, Ryder says “We made it,” which can be interpreted many different ways by bloggers, credits.

That’s a GOOD ending.

But did it END there? Why no, no it did not now, did it?

Then we have a scene in which I have to pick an ambassador. Why? Even Ryder says “Can’t I have a day off?” Then a 0/10 quest where I have to talk to everyone to get an epilogue that wasn’t as good as the little epilogues we got after the loyalty quests. Then I have to go to the vid con to be told to go back to the galaxy map for a quest just for old time’s sake…..

Three running around quests. An hour of playing time. AFTER THE GAME ENDED. And none of it had any punch at all!

That’s just sums up MEA, doesn’t it? This should’ve been a great game. There was a great game in there, somewhere. It just buried itself. It’s too bad. When it was good it was very, very good.

There was one beef I had with the (actual) endgame: Scott. This was the cheap “You care because we told you he’s your brother” thing. I barely knew Scott, so when he was all in distress, it didn’t have as much punch. Now, had they taken one of my crewmates, THAT would’ve added some urgency. Vetra? PB? Suvi? Liam? Oh HELL yeah, that would’ve been panic. But this dude I barely knew? Hmm.

I think they tried to get us to feel some empathy with that “Play as Scott” moment, and I say moment because it was really short and didn’t accomplish much. It was more annoying than anything. It certainly didn’t move the character forward or make me have any connection to him.

Sorry game. The whole “You care a lot cuz we’re telling you to care a lot” thing never works.

But hey, all in all, not bad. Exciting stuff, mostly. And you’re right: not rage inducing final fight stuff. Well done on that front, actually. Good, tense fighting and I didn’t die once. We praise games for that, and credit is due here.

Thank GOD I didn’t have to kill that architect.

At least I got a good last line, purely by accident. I flirted with Suvi on the bridge one last time. We had a nice sexy chat about science and wonder being everywhere, so I’ll take her wherever she wants to go…etc. Kallo goes “Do I have to be here for this?” and I say “Life’s hard, buddy, get used to it,” and he says “Why don’t you go…..pathfind?”

I figured it wasn’t gonna get better than that as an ending.

So there ya go. Your turn.

Oh, and, I DID run into my Turian pathfinder! Or he ran into me. He shows up in the Epic Space Battle in a ship with a whole fleet of turians and fucked the SHIT out of a whole mess of kett ships, giving orders, looking great, total badass. He came out just fine.


Go you! Alright, now go back and try to find those crumbs so you can have a pet. Hahahahaha.

So Macen was a totally badass pathfinder, eh? Whereas mine was hanging out alone in a bar being miserable. I guess the moral is, people don’t always know what’s good for them. (And neither do I!)

My ending involved Peebee telling me she’d left a surprise in my cabin, and then we had passionate, mind-melding sex, and then there was a lot of fighting. I think I might have died because of something stupid like accidentally leaping off a cliff or something, but yeah, it wasn’t outrageously difficult fighting. I felt it was complex enough to keep me interested, but not so hard it got frustrating, so the forward momentum kept up.

I wasn’t sure about the ambassador selection bit, either. I picked…Bradley? Was that the name? The Prodromos guy. I wanted to pick the Moshae, but everyone seemed to object less to Bradley. Then I talked to the Moshae, who felt that selecting a human sent an exclusionary message or something, so…meh.

I feel like we hung out with Scott just enough, in flashbacks and talking about mom, so I cared a BIT. I agree it wasn’t “you stole my lover, this is PERSONAL”-level caring, but I was moderately interested in saving Scott.

Speaking of which, and referencing previous discussion, the fact that the Archon took Scott (after manipulating circumstances so that Scott would be the one with an active SAM) in order to gain access to SAM so he could control the remnant technology is what makes me think that SAM is the key to interfacing with the remnant stuff, and it’s not specifically a rare and special quality of (the PC) Ryder. We do see that Ryder can do it alone to some extent, which I assumed was because her brain had been rewired sufficiently by SAM–it could also be true that this is actually a rare and special quality of PC Ryder, but since Lexi told us not to do it anymore in case our brain explodes or whatever, it probably wouldn’t be a very effective one long term.

I suppose it could also be a rare and special quality of Ryder (or human) DNA when linked with SAM, but I got the impression the Archon really wanted a SAM, and went after Scott for convenience, rather than because he had access to other pathfinders who he thought couldn’t do the job (not that he’d know).

Anyway, it’s all rather fuzzy, but I do think there’s a good argument that SAM is the important part of the remtech interface, leaving us with those interesting thematic questions like, if the beings who left the remtech are effectively gods, is this saying we have to build something to let us talk to god? Humans NEED an intermediary, we can’t communicate with god on our own (Suvi would likely disagree), but we can build tools to make that communication possible? God wants us to improve ourselves through technology before he/she will condescend to respond in any way?

Or, does this just strengthen the argument that if there is a god, it’s NOT these beings, even if they did perform the godlike feat of creating intelligent life, because god shouldn’t need us to create AI to communicate, so god is, as Suvi argues, everywhere and everything or whatever?


He was badass! All these kett ships were being all naughty, and he pulls this Han Solo out of nowhere move and just kicks everyone’s ass. Was good to see. Go dude go!

MORE mind melding sex? Dude. I got no nudity. I got no strong sexual content. My game experience was very T for Teen. When did you get this surprise? And then, what happened after you killed the archon as you didn’t kiss Suvi like I did?

I picked the moshae as ambassador. But…meh. At that point, really, who cares? That was very anticlimactic. Why not do that before? Why do that at all? The game is OVER. It does not matter, because OVER. Weighty decisions do not feel all that weighty after the credits roll.

I cared about Scott a bit, yes. But just a bit. It certainly wasn’t personal, and the game obviously WANTED it to be personal. Yes, he was more than a Kevin, but not so much that it added all that much to the tension of the endgame.

The whole “Ryder does it alone” bit was a bit…interesting. No doubt the game wanted it to be heavy, as you had to interface three times. Ryder found it in herself to do that. I was wondering, too, if this was more “PC as savior” stuff that ME is, let’s face it, rather into.

If we’re going as SAM as an intermediary to god, then what do you make of a) the fact that Ryder would have died without him (or died because she lost him, both of which are loaded with symbolism) and b) the fact the archon could just take SAM? Generally, in religion, you need some virtue to connect with whatever intermediary, right? I’m not really down with religion, but I get the sense that it’s more than just calling up Jesus on his celly. The Archon just zapped Scott and boom! access to all of it.

I’m curious as to how your ending was, because my ending had a lot to say on this front. My last conversations with Suvi (which you didn’t get) were her a) very, very excited about all the possibilities of science and understanding everything cuz remnant, HOPEFUL (and us kissing), and b) her with wide eyed wonder at the fact that there’s “beautiful science” everywhere. Ryder says something like “I can take you wherever you want to go,” and Suvi says “I want to go where there’s beauty…there’s science…there’s wonder…so you can take me anywhere.”

Which goes back to the idea that there is hope for all of us, in that our dream (assuming we all share this dream) of achieving anything, even the godlike, is possible. There’s something out there, be it god, the universe, destiny, love and faith in each other, whatever, that WANTS us to do everything, WANTS us to do impossible things like travel faster than light or colonize worlds or create life or whatever.

But here’s where Bioware gets interesting: My ending’s thoughts on all this were very much colored by the fact I was with Suvi, who had a certain take on all this. I’m curious if yours were different.

Or what about the people who didn’t romance anyone? Or didn’t do loyalty missions at all? Would we feel differently if Ryder ended this game alone? COULD she end this game alone?

So much of the hope in this game comes from connections, to SAM, to your crew, to your brother, to your father. Now, the way we play games, we make every connection we can, which reinforces the metaphors we’re seeing. But not everyone plays that way. I wonder if that matters.


Sigh. My poor, drunken Macen, missing out on that potential to be a badass. Sorry, dude. My bad.

My ending was not that much different. And was actually the first time we did that mind-meldy thing, we just finally got to the point in the game where we can talk about what else was happening. This was the only time I got meldy nudity.

As for the end…I had a similar, though obviously not romantic, conversation with Suvi, about how great it is to have so much opportunity to science, etc., and how she wants to stay on my team/ship and go wherever I want to–

Drat. Just got a call from the school, O’Jr. is not feeling well. Off I go to retrieve sick kid.

Dang kids interfering with our genius discussion.


Ah man. That sucks. Tell him to feel better.

So…How’s the Garden?


, ,


Spoiler for that sidequest with the crumbs in Mass Effect: Andromeda


I got nothing. Junior is 10 going on 17 and is acting like a moody assed teenager. Lots of chores…

No games though.



****more crickets****

So…what? Nudity? Hostas? This is certainly going to be an “ephemera” day.

We have gotten to the point where the first two back up topics we have are nudity and hostas. The fuck is wrong with us?


Naked gardening! Hostas in the nude! Future advertisers will love that!

We saw the kids’ 9-year-old cousins over the weekend. Their mom also mentioned the “going on teenager” attitude that starts to develop around now.

CAN’T WAIT. At least maybe by then we’ll have finished moving and will have hostas to tend as stress relief.


“Fine, I need to go water the hostas.”

I played a bit. Have to say, I’m quite enjoying the banter in this game. Chloe and Nadine do some good chit-chat. You’ll love it.


Try not to finish up with Chloe. I’m going as fast as I can here!

Dude, if it’s as bad as it’s getting with Junior, you’ll need plants that need more care than hostas. Hostas are too easy. Tomatoes. They take time. Or roses. They’re a total pain in the ass.

But less so than a ten year old. They smell better, too.


Roses and tomatoes it is. It’s important to think about the future when landscaping!

I was thinking about how these sweet, adorable babies, who are sometimes obnoxious but in relatively simple ways like not sleeping or eating or something, become these large, opinionated, angst-filled creatures seething with passions that can only be expressed by shouting at the tops of their lungs. It’s so weird!

Time to go prune those roses.


And it’s a rip off too cuz we won’t need them to take care of us in our old age! We’ll be in the home playing games.

Gonna go pick aphids off of…something. Maybe pull up some weeds.


YEAH! They’ll come around saying “well, we were really annoying as kids, but at least now we spend time with you,” and we’ll say “um, don’t feel you have to linger, I’m sure you’re busy and I do have hundreds of dudes to murder…”

There are always aphids on something. (Even this time of years?) Or weeds. Always some weeds somewhere. Dead weeds can still be pulled.


I always really hated aphids until today. Silly me for not being open minded. Everything has a purpose I suppose.


Indeed! Don’t hate the humble aphid, for one day it may be the method of your escape from preteen angst.

I shall make a note of this, to remind me to appreciate the aphids in days to come.


I would remind you to appreciate the humble aphid, but you and I both know you wouldn’t know an aphid even if I pointed to one and said “see that? That’s an aphid.”


Actually, in my hippie childhood I was exposed to a number of outdoorsy and garden-related phenomena, including aphids, weeds, and potato bugs (which we used to pick off the potatoes and put into jars, and obviously, the fullest jar wins).

For some reason I am reminded that I once had a terrible crisis of conscience when I was traipsing through the tomato bed and broke one of the plants. I tried for what seemed like hours to work up the nerve to confess it to my mother, and finally just slunk away to bed in silence.

Nothing was ever said about it, so she probably either didn’t even notice, or assumed a dog had run over it or something, since there wasn’t a fence around the bed. To this day, my soul bears the stain of that guilt.

I’m so sorry, mother.


You….you monster!

I’d have blamed the aphids.

See? Another lesson for home ownership. Don’t traipse.


I’ve already ordered a big NO TRAIPSING sign for the walk. No one else should have to suffer the kind of guilty torment I have.


Wise. Nothing invites traipsing like well edged hostas.


NO TRAIPSING. BEWARE OF (other peoples’) DOGS.

Speaking of dogs/pets, did you do the random side mission about the creature that was eating food on the Tempest?

Whew! Finally something game-related!


I thought we were doing quite well!

I TRIED to do that quest! I found the first crumbs, and, when I’m in the NOMAD room I get that “bloop! Scan!” thing, and I scan and scan and scan and find nothing. I KNOW it’s crumbs, but…nothing.

So I got nothing. Even on that I got nothing.

I’ll play tonight. I just did all my dinner prep to free up time.


I know, it was hard to FIND the damn crumbs to scan them. I was scanning all over the whole floor, and you have to get JUST the right angle.

Then you have to do it about four more times to track the thing down.

Spoiler, it turns out to be some sort of gerbilly thing that you can trap and keep in your room as a pet, which is why I thought of it. Cute, but don’t bother putting off the end just to do it.

Pretty sure it doesn’t add to your offensive capabilities in any significant way.

The Happy Ending We Dream Of


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Minor spoilers for Mass Effect: Andromeda romance outcomes

Butch [during the weekend]:

We’re back! I played!

MAN this game.

Ok, it’s one thing to be all “HA! It’s not here it’s there! Nope, not there! Over THERE!” in a find the cheese quest. Doing it in a MAIN quest? Kinda cheap.

Activate Meridian…HA! This isn’t it! THAT’S it! And by THAT I mean THAT OVER THERE!”

Watch, it’ll be all “HA! After five trips around the galaxy, turns out Meridian was in Kadara Port all this time!”

So I activated…whatever that was. Now Suvi wants to talk, and I’m saving that for next.

I guess I’ll have more themes when I talk to Jaal. Or Suvi. Or whatever. Last night was just a “Shoot the dudes” session and little else. There sure were a lot of dudes. Many, many dudes. Not a lot of themes, though.

But I have hope that things’ll be going quickly. Behemoths and shit no longer really faze me. Neither did the sword guy.

Wanna talk to Suvi.


Played more.

Played with Drack, talked to Suvi…kinda wound up with Suvi. There was much talking about creators, how science and God are inseparable, etc. It was good stuff, but you didn’t get it. Then she invited me back to show me a beautiful model she’s making of Helius, and, well, you know how it goes. But no nudity! Or strong sexual content! Smooching, and a well done scene where you believe the romance, but very T for Teen.

Ah, well. She’s a sweetie.

But also did the final memory. Hmm.

So they were running from the reapers, eh? Hmm. There’s really only one person who would know they were coming and have the resources to be a benefactor. The Illusive Man?

Now….I killed him. And saved the galaxy. The galaxy was ok. I saved it, didn’t I? So all this stuff about the start of the reaper invasion…it left off the end. And there’s only one person who would WANT you to think it was over….The Illusive Man. Right? RIGHT?

Ok, don’t say anything. But tell me this: Do we find out? Or is it all a cliffhanger that’ll be resolved in a sequel that it seems might never happen?


Awww, you and Suvi. Just the sweetest. I hope you’re very happy together with your chaste romance. (Although my romance scene was also chaste when we first officially got together, and then later there was the scene with nudity, so maybe you still have more coming.)

As for the final memory, no, we never find out anything more about that. Maybe next game, folks! The one we’re probably not going to make! Enjoy those loose ends of narrative!

Although speaking of reapers and creators and ancient godlike technology, whatever left the remnant is pretty much on a level with whatever left the mass relays in the Milky Way, as far as powerful tech and mysteriousness goes, and we know how that turned out. The reapers were also ‘gods’ as far as that goes, existing as good as eternally, with near-omnipotent power. If religious texts (and this game) teach us anything, it’s that gods can be destructive and terrible as easily as they can be beneficent and generous. And sometimes the “vast divine plan” involves a bunch of machines coming back every 10,000 years to wipe out intelligent life in the galaxy.

Which most people in this game don’t know, but it would be entirely plausible that whatever left the remnant technology has some vast plan that’s equally inhospitable to our version of a positive outcome.

Perhaps we shall never know.


God DAMN it, I was afraid of that. When they were all “We’ll keep working for mom” I just KNEW that meant “In the next game.”

Damn this game. And damn bioware for putting it on hiatus. Grumble. They best not do this to Dragon Age. Though I’m getting nervous, gotta say. Their focus on this “Anthem,” which looks like a Destiny clone, isn’t promising. And now we hear that they’ve shuttered the studio responsible for Dead Space, and the Star Wars game from Amy Henning (of Uncharted) and Jade Raymond (of Assassin’s Creed) seems to be in limbo. I fear they’re drifting away from single player. This saddens me.

At least there’s CDPR. And Horizon. I have a feeling we’ll get Horizon 2. And plenty of indies. Right? RIGHT?

Sigh. I thought, when I first saw Meridian, that it looked vaguely reaperish, but I wrote it off to a) lazy bioware and b) repears do look like sci fi cliches, so it must be coincidence. Now, I figure, less so. ARE these reapers?



I would be seriously down if a franchise that I kinda love hadn’t started this year.


SO MAD. You can’t move away from the single player RPGs, BioWare! The flirting! The banter! The character creation! The romance! WE NEED YOU ON THIS.

At least I have the new HZD content, so that’s something to look forward to. I hope we get to keep that sparkly armor.


Yeah, got that. I figure, I must have another week of MEA, right? Considering I rarely play on weekends.

What about you and CHLOE?


Hm…yeah, probably a week should do it. You have the news about mom, you did the Meridian stuff, basically you’re now in “time to attack!” phase, right? Which has a few different steps to it, of course, but is not made up of 800 separate inlocking sidequests or anything. You’re actually pretty close to the end, assuming you don’t get sidetracked on random nonessentials. Which you’re doing a good job of not doing, so–yeah, finishing up sometime this week seems entirely doable.

ROBOT DINOSAURS! I could absolutely go for some of those.

But I’ll pack while I wait for you.

Uncharted AS CHLOE been fun. Very pretty scenery, and kind of a fun take on action/adventure, just these two badass women wandering around climbing cliffs and solving puzzles and murdering dudes while occasionally exchanging amusing commentary. It’s exactly an Uncharted game, but with different leads. I’m into it.


Well, don’t get too into it. Let’s kill a few dinos, then I’ll get into it myself. We do have a blog to think about.

Go pack.


Yeah, I’m just kind of meandering around in it — I put it on ‘hard’ because why not, so all the fights are extra deadly and take an extra long time to finish what with all the dying. No rush.


None. We gotta get on the same page.

Look at you all playing on hard.


Well, I figured if it takes longer, we’ll be on the same page sooner. I’m thinking of the blog! Although not so much the packing.


Now that’s friendship.

I’m doing my part! I’m flying through this now!

And hey, banged Suvi, and that’s what matters, doesn’t it?


I agree. You really might as well just quit now. You got your romantic fulfillment, and the final battle is probably just going to be irritating anyway.

Move on to CHLOE! Or, first, ROBOT DINOSAURS. That was the deal.


Don’t say it’s irritating!

I can always turn down the difficulty.

It’s irritating, isn’t it?


No, it’s actually pretty fine. Don’t even worry about it. You’ll do great.


Let me guess:

I’m gonna love it.


Well, I won’t say that. I mean, it’s a big final battle, not a fancy dress ball full of Chloe lookalikes in glamorous gowns.

But as big final battles go, it’s pretty straightforward and non-controller-hurling. You’re gonna love it.

Oh wait, I will say that.


Damn it, we NEED a fancy dress ball with Chloe lookalikes in glamorous gowns.

Or a puzzle! Find the Morrigan lookalike in the crowd of Chloe lookalikes!

I like it.

I’m gonna love it.


It’s gonna be amazing. And at the very end? Group hug.

It’s Gonna Be Great: Preparation for Big Days


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No spoilers, except of Mrs. McP’s cleaning secrets and Feminina’s long-term life goals


Oh, why do I even try? So tired. Can we just skip to the wine parts?

I got started cooking today. Granted, most of it is stuff you don’t eat (All three of my stuffings have meat). Hey, my brother brought a vegetarian for many years. I’m making up for lost time. But I’ll have at least one pie by the afternoon. And Brussels Sprouts! Lots of those!

Games? HA! What’re those? Oh, right, the things I use to shut my kids up so I can make SPROUTS!

Now THAT’S salt in the wound.


I didn’t play either. Not because I was doing anything useful: it was just that Mr. O’ was using the console.

I do love me some brussels sprouts, though. So, you know, I salute your sacrifices in the service of a noble cause. The sprouts cause.


I also, in everyday life, said a T SHIRT that is appropriate for both carnivores and weirdos like you alike:

Booze solves what bacon can’t.

That’s what it’s come to this week, Femmy. That’s what it’s come to.

Though in about 10 minutes I will have a quite nice looking chocolate kaluha pecan pie.


I propose an adjustment to the hierarchy:

Pie solves what bacon can’t. Booze solves what pie can’t.

Pie with booze solves everything.

Because pie…pie…


This is a good lookin’ pie.

With coffee whipped cream, no less.

A nice, subtle end to a nice subtle meal. That and the other two pies I’m making…..


Sounds tastefully humble and understated. Just as Thanksgiving should be.


It’s like a candy bar baked into a pie crust. Ooo! Done. Hold on…..

Yup. That’s a fine looking pie.

Apple next.

Granny smith/maple.


Officially overcome by candybar pie lust.


Smells great.

Though Mrs. McP is cleaning, and the smell of Mr. Clean is kinda harshing the experience.


Ew…Mr. Clean, come on man!

Although that is cleaning you won’t have to do, so…fair trade off.


Dude, she’s washing the walls. The WALLS!

I wasn’t going to do that cleaning anyway.


Well…I suppose I expect no less of a woman who’s sorry when work is closed and she can’t go there.

I think I washed a wall once. When a kid wrote on it with marker. Good times.


And she’s all “Isn’t this SO much better?” And I have to say “Uh…yeah! Great! Thank you! So much!”

I’d rather smell pie.


“Yes! It looks…so much more…wall!”

[Retreating into the basement with the pie]


You should add something about your packing adventures to this.

We can tag the post “stress.” Or “Misery.”

We’re probably gonna need “Misery” when we play TLOU2 anyway. Might as well start.


I was thinking more ‘soul-crushing depression,’ but ‘misery’ is nice and simple.



We’re too tired to describe our misery with so many words.


At least I have pie.



“See, it’s more complicated than misery, there’s a certain exhaustion and resignation to the whole thing, like our souls have been crushed so thoroughly that we no longer think to expect anything different, and yet we still know we’re going to keep going back anyway…aw, screw it, ‘misery’ is close enough.”



You’re gonna love it.

T SHIRT!!!!!

OK, took a break and totally played!

Whoa, sorry. I’m so tired I hallucinated there. I didn’t play at all.

Gotta go make more pie.

I’m almost at the cackling insanely phase, which will be followed by the staring into space phase.


Tell Mrs. McP to lay off the Mr. Clean! The fumes can’t be helping.

Even though the walls look AMAZING. They’re so clean, I can perceive them from here.


Best walls in town.

How goes the packing?


Terribly. I’ve too busy fighting dudes to look at it. But this weekend! Starting Friday! We both know it has to happen, so that’s pretty much all we’re going to do this weekend.

I mean, that and eat leftover pie.


Hey man! You said you’d take a break! Dude!


I did. I will. This weekend. And next week until the movers show up.

It’s gonna be great.


Nonsense! They will work around you, until all that is left in your bare apartment is you, the PS4 and leftover pie.


Mmm…that sounds nice. Peaceful. Until the new tenants show up, anyway.


They won’t even notice you’re there. Until you start swearing at the screen. But they probably won’t care.


I like that assumption.

How could anyone object to a foul-mouthed, pie-eating stranger who sits in their living room playing video games forever? I’d be like their mascot. Or the resident house elf, only not a useful house elf who mends your shoes or anything, just a giant weird one who hangs out playing games and eating your pie.


That really is a great role for you You’re made for it!


I’ve found my calling.

It’s gonna be great.

This is a Sacred and/or Very High-Tech Place


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Spoilers for late-game plot developments in Mass Effect: Andromeda


Well, then. That wasn’t what I was expecting.

Turned on both pillars. Got the exploration ships going and saw the kett. Ok, that wasn’t a whole lot. Mostly, wasted time in a fight because I found a console all about changing Observer combat parameters and tried to activated it in combat and I couldn’t figure out how.

But then I did the other one……

Kinda wish I had Jaal with me. Had PB (cuz remnant) and Drack (cuz Drack).

Well, then. That REALLY wasn’t what I was expecting.

We have some THEMES now, do we not?

So…we have a pretty blatant God figure now, I think we can agree. And it’s leftover, a ghost, a shell of itself, a remnant. And we have “bad guys” who are going to use said god for evil.

But then we have us. “Good guys,” who want to use the thing for “good.”

We’ve talked about imperialism a whole lot in this game, and now we’re adding some degree of religion to said Imperialism. Not to mention…I was gonna say overtones but it’s more than overtones…of people using god/religion for “bad things.”

Now…I’m going to hold out judgment here for a spell, as I just found out about this, and I haven’t done any more. But, as a good hippie commie liberal, I’m concerned about the idea that you can use religion for “good” or “evil.” Sure, terrorism is bad, that it is. But when it comes to the idea of “those guys” trying to convert everyone vs. “good [fill in blanks]” trying to help everyone/save our values/whatever the fuck, I get a tad edgy.

I really hope this game isn’t going down a road where the guys who use god for “bad” are “bad” and the fact they’re trying to convert everyone is “bad” and they are WORTH KILLING, but the guys who want to use god to change the whole universe to make it like their old home because OF COURSE EVERYONE WILL LIKE IT are “good.”

That would trouble me.

But I will play more before I get very troubled. I do wish I had Jaal. Wonder how the angara fit into this.

And I wonder about the remnant themselves. A bunch of machines that are pretty chill unless you GET TOO CLOSE or MESS WITH THEM. If they represent/are part of god/religion, what to make of that? A warning that, even though we think we’re the bad guys, we’re not? That we should stay away, too? Or that God ISN’T benevolent itself?

And what to make of the fact that you can turn the remnant against enemies? “It’s fighting you, but NOW it’s fighting them because you did something?”

Many themes this day. Which is good cuz we were running dry and we can get them out of the way before Thanksgiving.


That was interesting, wasn’t it?

I had Jaal with me there, and he was quite shaken. He might still talk to you about it next time you run into him on the ship, so I won’t say more, but he definitely had some feelings about this revelation.

It’s interesting that you read this as being clearly about god and religion. I mean, the themes are absolutely there, but I saw it much more as a “sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from [divine] magic” issue. That the ancient whoevers who did all this and created all this were possessed of phenomenal technology that we don’t understand, but that the assumption is nevertheless that it was a product of the material universe, and that we WILL eventually understand it if we keep poking around in the remains of their machinery. (Which we will obviously do, because…science!)

And, as noted, there may not actually be a real difference (especially in terms of discussing general themes) between literal gods, and advanced alien races with godlike powers, but the presentation struck me quite differently. There’s the whole ‘achievability’ angle, I guess, where with advanced technology, however mysterious, you always have the idea that it’s POSSIBLE you could understand it/do the same thing, where with god-powers it’s generally supposed they’re forever beyond the reach of mere mortals. There are of course those rare mortals in various religious traditions who do become divine, but it’s usually not presented as something to which an average mortal aspires, whereas average mortals aspiring to learn how to use unfamiliar technology is standard procedure.

As best I recall, Suvi didn’t even have much of anything to say about it, which is a bit surprising since she already has a religious outlook and you’d expect her of all people to at least wonder “wait, is this God?” You have a closer relationship with her than I did, so maybe she’ll say something to you.


Oh I just imagine Jaal had thoughts. This happens a lot in bioware games, this “Oh SHIT I wish I had brought [such and so].” He will most certainly mention it. We’ll compare notes.

And your argument about unfamiliar technology vs. sacred stuff, yeah…


The Kett, the “bad” guys, have been trying and trying and trying and don’t get it. Like sinners not allowed into the kingdom of heaven. Ryder CAN do it and…here’s the thing…has no idea why or how. She didn’t HAVE to learn to use unfamiliar advanced technology. It..answered to her? Chose her? You didn’t have a do a “Figure out how the fucking consoles work” quest first. You just wave your hand and go “I dunno, seems to work.” This technology IS beyond the reach of mere mortals. But “pathfinders?” All set. Or, at least, we are. I wonder if Reaka can do it. Hmm.

I shouldn’t single out the “bad” guys here. Another interesting wrinkle is the Angara have also been trying to figure out this stuff, this, in your view, potentially understandable thing for centuries and they can’t. Which is odd. If the Angara are the product/children/whatever of the Remnant, why is it letting an alien be the one to mess with it? (You know, don’t you? Don’t spoil). Here on earth, our prophets, such as they are, are human. Indeed, when some religion does say that there’s aliens behind a comet or the pyramids were alien gates to somewhere or something, they’re immediately written off as crackpots. Even the most devout believers in any mainstream faith believe that knowledge/salvation/whatever will come from humanity. And yet here we have the Angara finding an alien is their…whatever.

I’m curious to talk to Jaal because he is one of two characters who mentions his faith in the game. We have a rather long discussion of Angaran religion early on. Now, in a weird narrative wrinkle, we have proof they were dead wrong. This should be interesting.

Maybe Suvi will mention it, but, remember, her religious views weren’t necessarily Christian or anything recognizable as a modern established religion. She was more “There has to be something bigger than us” believer. So this would fit in with her just fine.

Or they messed up and didn’t write it well. We shall see.


True, true…but it’s not really Ryder, or “pathfinders,” who can make this stuff work, it’s SAM, which is explicitly a piece of technology. Ryder repeatedly gives SAM credit for being the one who can actually interface with the technology. Pathfinders in this scenario are a vehicle for SAM, more than being ultra-special cool people on their own merits (we’ve discussed this before, how Ryder has that ‘ordinary person’ kind of vibe, and some of the other pathfinders and potential pathfinders are equally inexperienced and unsure).

We/Ryder have apparently learned enough from SAM to do some things on our own, as we did when we made the remnant ships fight for us, but I think it’s strongly implied that it took SAM to get our brain into the right configuration before we could do it, which kind of supports the idea that this is something a person can learn to do, hence scientific/material rather than supernatural (though it could obviously just as easily be learned magic in a game focused on fantasy instead of sci fi).

Of course, in addition to being technology, SAM is a mysterious and scary technology for a lot of people because it is self-aware and no longer completely answers to its creators. So, is it that the ‘life’ we created is the key to making the technology of these other creators work? We (as a culture/society/whatever) proved we’re worthy to interact with their equipment by replicating their life-creation feat in a small way? We have become like gods ourselves, and that’s what we have to do to begin to approach these other gods?

Meanwhile the kett, who are pursuing their own scientific advances using parts of other species to enhance their own DNA or whatever, are maybe just not focusing their attention on the right field of inquiry, since they seem to be pursuing genetic manipulation rather than AI. Maybe machine intelligence is what it takes to operate this old machinery, and they haven’t been working on machine intelligence, but if they had they could have taken over the entire cluster years ago.

Maybe there’s no moral value involved. I mean, except to the extent that you feel building artificial intelligence is more moral than torturing living animals to turn them into members of your species/army…so, OK, some moral value in this specific situation, but not an INHERENT one, since the kett could conceivably have pursued their genetic modification technology in a peaceful and torture-free, totally voluntary way, and we/some other species could have pursued AI in a way that wiped out millions of innocents (which we in fact pretty much did, considering the geth war back in the Milky Way).


Wait, really it’s all SAM? Do we have word of any other pathfinders doing this? I didn’t think they could, and they have SAMs.

Oooo! All of a sudden I’m glad and cheated and reloaded a long time ago. You know how before I was talking on how odd it was that the Angara can’t seem to work remtech, or even understand it?

Well guess what I have that you don’t have: I have an Angaran AI. That was, like, lost forever.

Now, if you’re right (and I think you are) that AI’s are necessary to interact with remtech, maybe the Angaran USED to be able to do that, and the knowledge (and the tech/personality that could) got lost to history (and a bigassed ice cave). All of a sudden, it becomes Metaphor, with a capital M.

Because if SAM is the key to all this, note that SAM also doesn’t like/trust the Angaran AI. More jealousy/desire to possess the godlike power?

Also, you’ve hit on a difference in morality: Milky Way races got to the point where they said “What are we doing? This is wrong. We made a mistake,” and backtracked on AI (until Shep came and fucked everything up and gave everyone green visors which might not had happened if EDI wasn’t hot). The kett have not shown any evidence of doing this. Sure, they disagree about how to go about it, but we’ve yet to see a kett that says “Hey guys? Maybe, you know, this isn’t nice? Perhaps we should rethink?” The kett have had no internal debate on the rightness of what they are doing. We’ve had that debate IN THIS GAME when we encountered the firefighters.


No, it’s true I haven’t seen any other pathfinders/SAMs use remtech, but as far as I know they never try. (Why not? Good question. Probably because I got to all the vaults first, and/or they were busy doing other things like finding paths and murdering hundreds of dudes. Even I only interact with remtech a limited part of the time.)

But Ryder frequently talks to or about SAM when using remnant control panels, etc., SAM often says something like “deciphering” or whatever when he’s working on remtech, and the Archon certainly believes that SAM is the key. Um…I don’t know how far you’ve gotten on that, so I’ll say no more, but we can talk later about whether or not he appears to be right.

Very interesting point about the angaran AI. It’s long gone from my universe, but yeah…maybe it could or did interact with remtech, and then was lost or hidden and the information forgotten…hm.


Yeah, I’m eager to talk to both Jaal and that AI. That AI is an interesting wild card. It’s interesting that you could kill it. Usually, when something is going to be Metaphor then it’s gonna get to the final act whether you want it to or not.

I also haven’t seen the final memory. It’s unlocked, waiting there, but I have yet to get to it. I’m curious about that, too.


Definitely tell me what, if anything, the angaran AI says.

Ooh, and the final memory, that’s a very big plot point. We’ll talk later.



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Spoilers for main plot (Meridian) in Mass Effect: Andromeda


Ok! Meridian ahoy!

Jumping down onto an ancient spaceship, huh? Sure, why not?

So I killed shit, and I started drifting towards the “exploration” tower. Didn’t get there.

I think…I missed some stuff. They did the whole “story through banter” thing and I missed some banter, I think.

Because…what…it’s raining, I get that, because the processor is broken? And something happened here that made the scourge go everywhere? Right? Or something?

So here we are again, on a story mission, with me chasing hexagons hoping the next hexagon will make it all make sense.

Sigh. Silly game. I truly thought I’d have some themeage after doing some Meridian. So far, Horizon’s Meridian is far cooler.

On a side note, if you happen to find yourself in some ancient machine, and you come to the conclusion that something awful happened there that spread awful deadly shit through the WHOLE GALAXY, maybe…I dunno, just spitballin’ here….leave?


I hate that. “Wait, what was that? Some important point about what we’re doing here?”

But you know you can’t just LEAVE. I mean, that would leave potentially deadly technology UNMESSED WITH! Completely left alone without even a chance that by tinkering with it, we destroy us all! That’s madness.

I kind of liked the rain from a design standpoint. It was a cool bit of atmosphere. Literally I guess, haha, but also in an aesthetic sense. But you’re right, it was hard to tell whether it was supposed to mean something significant that we missed the banter about, or if was just there to be cool.


That or they talk over themselves!

PB: That’s amazing! If we just activate that then-
Drack: My ass hurts because I ate a-
Ryder: It’s all so amazing…..

DUDES! One at a time! Please!

Yeah, game protagonists never seem to get the term: “On second thought…” Once they make their minds up, their minds are made up. It’s never “Well, we started this plan without knowing anything about anything, and, now that we have some concrete data, especially terrifying concrete data, perhaps we should reassess.” Nope. It’s always “Hey, we committed to this, we’re gonna do it. Don’t worry. I’m sure everything will be just fine once we get to the next hexagon.”

But then, can you blame them? Any real second guessing or warning would probably be

PB: Actually, Sara, based on my calculations that would be a very bad-
Drack: My ass hurts because I ate a-
Ryder: It’s all so amazing……what were you saying PB?
PB: I can only tell you if you reload the game and do that whole fight again.
Ryder: Well, fuck that. Off to the next hexagon! It’ll be fine. You’re gonna love it.


Yes. That is exactly the conversation I have had with companions many times. “What was that? Never mind, I don’t want to reload. Let’s just press on, I’m sure it’ll work out.”

And it does! With us killing everyone in sight for no clear reason! Just as we planned.

I do hate when they talk over each other. Seems like a fixable issue there, but I don’t know how this works.

Plus, I suppose, there are those players who would hate if the game paused and MADE you listen to each conversation when they were in a hurry to press on and were therefore triggering all those overlapping observations by moving within range of the whatever. “Will you shut up, I don’t care about that!”

Can’t please everyone.


Those people really should play a game where the story doesn’t matter.

But then, the easy fix is to keep the banter light hearted, and keep the story in cutscenes. Might be artificial, but at least it wouldn’t lead to confusion. I can live with some confusion in side quests, but now? At the big main goal thing? No.


I repeatedly said, while running around Meridian, “thanks, me, for reminding me what I’m doing here,” and meant it, because I would have gotten completely lost without Ryder’s occasional helpful comments on “there’s the tower, I’ve got to get over there!” or whatever.

It wasn’t really HARD, and I did enjoy the atmosphere, but it was definitely a bit of a confusing mess.


Oh it’s not hard. Shit, now that I’ve done all the loyalty quests and everyone is powered up to the hilt, AND I have the bot powered up to the hilt, even Hydra no longer scare me. I haven’t died at all. The only “HOLY SHIT” moments come when I mess up and step in scourge goo.

I think this was one of those games that messed up by giving you SO many quests early, thus enabling you to overpower yourself for the main quests. I feel this would have been interestingly challenging about 18 levels ago, but I did all the side quests and loyalty quests that the GAME GAVE ME first, so now it’s all “zap, zap, wait for Drack, oh look the drone and I’m done.”

All open world games have a problem with this. If they let you go anywhere, they run the risk of letting you do everything too early and turning into superman. Some games (TW3, FO3) did a good job of putting up barriers to things (Skellege, whole shit tons of deathclaws), but this game? Less so. Except when it does put up laughingly unsubtle barriers, but it doesn’t do that enough.


Ha! I kept falling in the goo too. “And away I leap!–and oops, down I go, and now I’m dying from electric shock or whatever.”

It’s true, these games do let us get all superpowered up, and then the later parts aren’t that challenging, but do you really WANT them to be very challenging at this point? I mean, if this were a series of horrendous deathfights, wouldn’t that just be frustrating?

As you say, it kind of comes with the open-world model: if you want to NOT let people get superpowered before certain things, you have to construct a more linear story to make sure they don’t have access to things until you think they should. And that’s not really an open world.

But in open worlds with 50 million things to do, I honestly think being overleveled for the endgame is a pro, more than a con, because by the time we’ve finished the 45 million out of 50 million that we’re actually going to do, we just want to get on with the damn game. We don’t necessarily WANT to be “challenged” at that point. We’ve done every freaking challenge you set up for us, now you want us to jump through more murderhoops to prove we’re worthy of finding out how the story ends?

In a linear game that only takes 20-30 hours to finish, sure: make the final fight be the hardest thing ever. When I’ve already put 200 hours in (probably not literally–although this game doesn’t track play time, so who knows?), I am not in the damn mood.

It’s just a different approach.


Unlike other planets, the goo is not terribly well marked.

I did like, on Kadara, when Ryder would say “Yup, still hurts.”

Yes, Sara, I know, I missed the jump.

It would be frustrating if this were super hard, and I have expressed my displeasure with hard end of game fights often, but this isn’t end of game (is it?). We’re a few quests from the end, and if it’s gonna be THIS easy for this long, it’s just going to get to the point where I roll my eyes at pointless shooting that is just slowing me down. I think I’m already there.

As for open world, see TW3 (and FO3 which you didn’t play shame on you). It was open world, yes, kinda, sorta, but it wasn’t. There were whole areas that weren’t even accessible until you did enough in the open world you were in. “Go to Skellege” was level 18, and there were things you had to accomplish before the boat guy would take you. You couldn’t say “I’m going to do every monster contract IN THE WHOLE GAME before I move along with the main story even had you wanted to, because large chunks of the whole game were cordoned off. This game, not so much. You could do anything anytime.

They could have, say, not given you the loyalty quests, say, until you had played enough that you MUST be level whatever. Or they could have MADE you do the bomb and tiller quests (and made them a certain difficulty) before the Meridian bit (and made that harder). But they didn’t, and now fights are boring.

I feel like we’re about 500 hours in. At least. Maybe more.

I kid. Sorta.

I’m gonna try to wrap up Meridian tonight, but I have a massive cold, plus holiday prep. I figured out why the armchair cover has been turning up in the kitchen, the dining room, even the bathroom once: Meatball has been using it as a handkerchief.



Kids are so gross. Someday the house will be really clean! But not until the kids grow up.

And you’re not actually that far away from the end, though. It’s all sort of end-ish after Meridian. I mean, it doesn’t have to be if you have a lot of stuff left to do, but I had pretty much done everything before, and I pretty much didn’t do anything afterwards but chase the end. It’s not like you’re done with Meridian and now you have 20 new quests you have to clear up.


Oh good. Then, by all means, easy! Hooray, easy!

And I still have two clicks of easy under normal! I might actually PLAY AS CHLOE before you finish PLAYING AS CHLOE!

Though you have, haven’t you?


Nope. I have not. I’m not even very far in. YOU CAN DO IT!


No I can’t. Don’t mock me.

Escape Pod of Love


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Spoilers for some conversations with Suvi and for Jaal’s companion story


MAN what a busy assed week it’s been. Just got back from taking kids to before school sports, the bus, preschool, and the store.

Doesn’t life know I want to PLAY GAMES?

I played a little? I think? It seems, like, a century ago. Kids were nuts, I was busy as all hell, kids were nuts. Did I mention kids were nuts? They were nuts.

I tried to start PB’s mission, and found the scavenger, and I went to talk to her and she was being all feely and I worried it would turn into hot Asari sex and there were people there so I quit out.

So I’m gonna go do that conversation so I can play later.

I’m tired.


I had computer problems this morning so I’m only just getting into my email.

Computers: It’s all fun and games until suddenly your files have vanished and it takes IT 3 hours to recover them. At least they WERE recoverable.

I can say that Peebee’s mission promises a bit of excitement. People to chase, robots to track down. There’s another decision moment there that we can talk about.


I wish I could play.

I DID do the conversation with PB, there was no Asari sex. Then I did the Jaal meet the family thing, which was nice. I liked that. Calm. But no sex.



Jaal’s finale was nice. I do wonder, as with Cora’s big scene, what this would have been like if you’d been Jaal’s lover. Would people have been more all bustling around checking you out and welcoming you to the family and stuff?

It was still good. Calm. And nice that Jaal still has this connection, and a nice depiction, really, of a functional family (albeit not, to most of us, a conventional one). Things may suck in a lot of ways, but this group of parents and siblings still hang together and support one another. Making it especially nice that we didn’t have to kill Jaal’s briefly-Roekaar siblings.


Yeah, I thought that, too. It had so many trappings of “Meeting the family” that I didn’t want to do it for fear this was a “romance or break heart” kind of deal. Indeed, when I was back there in his room I thought “Uh oh…here it comes…”

But no. All fine.

I even hugged his mom.


Oh, see, by the time I did this scene, I was already committed to Peebee, and so, with the magical perceptiveness of BioWare characters, everyone else had completely stopped flirting with me and I didn’t expect anything.

Actually I guess this would not be so much magical perceptiveness as ‘living on a tiny ship where you literally cannot help knowing who’s spending the night in the Pathfinder’s quarters because you probably bumped into her going there while you were coming out of the bathroom.’ Like a dorm. So, in fact, this was a touch of realism.

I like to imagine that Jaal really did only ever think of me as a dear, dear friend (he’s just super expressive about it!), and so we are able to continue being dear, dear friends without it having anything to do with my relationship with Peebee.


Oh, I expected something. The quest, I think, was called “Meet the family.” Damn. And mama there was as gushing as a Jewish mother whose kid finally brings home a human.

There is that about the touch of realism, though. Maybe that’s why they don’t seem to know I’m banging PB. She doesn’t sleep in the crew quarters, so there’s no “Hey….um…is she staying up late again?” Anyone else, their absence would be rather apparent.

But anyway, we got the same scene, and you were committed to PB and I wasn’t committed to anyone (Suvi and I are still in the flirty stages). So maybe it’s a “you’re either together or you aren’t” deal.


Still, Suvi and Kallo are both RIGHT THERE when you go into Peebee’s escape pod. They have to suspect something. “We seem to hear a lot of chaste moaning coming out of that pod when they go in there for work meetings…”

Nah, I’m kidding, I’m sure it’s soundproof. And you have work meetings with all the crewmembers all the time about their various concerns, so it could be anything.

Get your minds out of the gutter, people! Just because it’s true doesn’t mean it’s justified speculation.


Oh, shit, I forgot about that. Damn. Probably shouldn’t have gotten a friend with benefits right by the woman I’m falling for. Bad planning.

Ryder’s a terrible person.

I could say the moaning is…POC creaking! That’s it. We’re just…oiling POC.

If you know what I mean.


Oh, I know what you mean. The whole crew knows what you mean. Good thing Suvi is either incredibly innocent or incredibly forgiving.


I’m going with innocent. Poor thing.

You missed this, as you aren’t as charming as I am, but the second flirty scene, Suvi shares some Milky Way tea with you. Tea. Not whiskey, not beers, tea. She drinks tea.

So cute.

And why I think going for her is in character. She IS naive and hopeful. She STILL looks on the universe as beautiful, a place where anything is possible, and that’s how I’m playing Ryder.

I also think this is why she’s the only romancable character (I’m assuming that Reyes was just there to bang, so, too, the reporter) who doesn’t have a loyalty mission. She’s not someone who has to shoot a bunch of things up (or have you shoot a bunch of things up) to love you. She loves you not because you both went through something awful together, but because you both share boundless optimism. If she DID have some mission where you had to shoot a bunch of stuff, that wouldn’t work for her character or yours.


On the contrary, I’m SO charming that even though I wasn’t flirting with her anymore by then, she still shared her tea with me.

But I like your analysis of why her lack of a special mission works for her character. She doesn’t need you to do anything to be ‘loyal,’ she’s just sincerely dedicated to the mission, the hope you represent, the optimism…yeah, that’s nice. You’re right, she’s very sweet.


Wait, you got tea? Did you get the trigger pull to kiss her?

Oh, who am I kidding? You wouldn’t have noticed if you did.


Dude. DUDE.

There are many things I do not notice. I would have noticed a kiss option. And no, I did not have one.

Remember, you didn’t get a kiss option with Reyes, and I didn’t cast aspersions on your ability to notice it!

Probably it was based on how much we’d each flirted with them previously.


Fair point, fair point. I forgot to whom I was speaking. I apologize.

And true, I did not get to smooch Reyes. Maybe the game knows I am a tender soul and you are but a rogue.

Though this wasn’t an option. It was one of those QTEs. ! KISS

! KISS is a pretty good

T SHIRT!!!!!!


Oh, true, I do have a poor track record on the QTEs in this game…it’s not because I fail to notice those, though, I just fail to hit them in time. There’s a difference.

This Post Reports No Conflicts of Interest (But Call Us!)


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Spoilers for the Reyes/Kadara/Charlatan quest and the ‘first baby’ quest in Mass Effect: Andomeda


Oh Reyes you charlatan, you!

That was one of the twists that you think “Ok, I’m really stupid for not seeing that coming.” I should have seen that coming. I really should have. More on that in a bit.

So choice wise, saved Sloane, didn’t shoot Reyes, so he’s out there somewhere, after giving me a jaunty wave, and I’m “allied” with Sloane, I guess. Whatever gets me an outpost. Which I have. Whoo hoo!

So I was thinking “Why didn’t I see that coming? That was so obvious! Am I stupid? Am I getting stupid?” and I realized: It was because of the flirting. I can’t think of ANY game that lets you flirt with a character who has his/her own agenda for flirting with you. You don’t get PLAYED in games! If the NPC is flirting back, if you have a heart option, if you can pull the trigger to KISS (yes, I did, not ashamed) then that NPC is a GOOD guy, or at least an open book. Once you’re flirting in a game, there’s just NO CHANCE that the NPC is doing anything OTHER than flirting back because you’re awesome. They don’t flirt to trick you. But Reyes did.

And the GAME did! Because there were, maybe, 394832755 heart dialog choices. SO MANY! More with him than I’ve had with Suvi! The game was lulling us into that false sense of security! On purpose, I think!

I think reason number 5927538203 I like Morrigan so much is that, before this, she came the closest to a love/sex interest that had her own agenda for being with you. You played that as a woman, so you didn’t get the same impact of her asking you to be the father of evil demon baby, but that was a pretty punchy moment if you were a male character, especially if you romanced her. There was a lot of ambiguity as to whether her come ons (if you didn’t romance her) or her professions of love (if you did) were genuine or if she was doing all of it just to get you to father demon baby. So that came close, but it stayed ambiguous. She COULD have loved you, it could have been genuine….Reyes? Nope. You got PLAYED.

And that was cool.


I know! I should have seen that coming! As soon as I saw him there I was like “oh, of course, you!”–but I didn’t suspect. I think you’re right, he distracted us with the flirting. We’re not used to people flirting with us for other reasons besides us being awesome (or us being their boss and them possibly being afraid they’ll get fired…ahem, workplace flirtations). Well played, game.

And see, at that point I was angry at being played, so I DID shoot him, but it didn’t kill him, he got up and escaped anyway. Later I got an email saying “I thought you’d be upset, but shooting me in the back? That’s cold. Still, I’ll always remember that fun night at the party,” or something. (I also kissed him. And since it faded to black, who knows how far that went?)

So he’s still out there and apparently doesn’t hold it against me, although he probably wouldn’t hesitate to shoot ME in the back if it served his purposes. But then, being the charlatan, that was probably always true. And I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sloane, but I couldn’t just stand there and let her get ambushed, so that was when I sided with her too. She wasn’t all bad…sort of. (And I liked her second in command, that turian, and was upset when he was beaten to within an inch of his life, so I wasn’t the biggest fan of the charlatan and the Collective either. One of those ‘there’s no really good option here’ choices.) I told her “no more heads on spikes!” and she grudgingly agreed, so, you know, maybe with my influence Kadara will become halfway decent.

It’s what I do. Try to make things marginally less terrible.


An Outlook issue unfortunately ate Butch’s brilliant response, but it included the following points:

  • never got another chance to romance Reyes, just the smooch to ‘create a diversion’
  • also liked the turian and that was bad they beat him up, although we kill hundreds of dudes a day so what does that say about us?
  • did the ‘first baby’ story; sent them all to Eos; felt they didn’t do as much with that story as they could have


You never got another chance? What else did you do at that party? I did the ‘diversion smooch,’ but then later that evening we were sitting and talking and looking at the stars or whatever, and there was a kiss option that led to a fadeout. I wonder how you missed that. Maybe he just didn’t like you as much as he liked me. It’s probably my adorable pixie cut.

As for him beating up dudes and us killing dudes…well…see…the thing about that is…hey, look over there! A plot point!

It’s true, the baby story wasn’t as involved as it could have been. Although really I don’t know exactly how many ways they could have taken it. I mean, I totally get that we shouldn’t be having babies yet, we’re not ready, etc., and if there was a choice where you could allow or forbid the woman to become pregnant, that would be one thing, but she just HAD the baby. It’s not as if they’re going to give us a choice to either let her keep it, or toss it out the airlock as a drain on resources.

I suppose we COULD have forced her to put it in a stasis pod…that would actually have been kind of an interesting moral dilemma. Taking a newborn away from its parents is obviously terrible, but is letting it out there to be raised in an incredibly dangerous environment better? And yet, hasn’t every baby ever born been raised in an environment that was, to one degree or another, dangerous?

Hm. Well, they didn’t make us decide that. Anyway, I also sent them all to Eos.


That would have been an interesting choice! But no, never saw more conversation options with Reyes at the party.

If you’re at 100% on a planet, you’re done, right? Cuz I’m at 100% on everywhere but Voeld, where I’m at 84%.

Getting there……..


Oh, you poor, innocent thing…OF COURSE you can keep getting quests for planets even after they’re at 100% viability! Why would “100%” signal some kind of closing point? That’s just silly!

I think getting planets to 100% may have something to do with how many settlers are available in the end to help you with end things, because this is BioWare, but people can still give you missions on those planets, because this game is endless. You can probably ignore many of them, though.

It sounds like you’re pretty well on course to ignore a lot of extraneous stuff and charge towards the end, so go you!

That’s so weird about Reyes at the party…I wonder what I did differently that I got the heart option? I had been flirting with him pretty hardcore from the beginning…maybe you missed one flirt option somewhere, and that made him think you didn’t REALLY like him? These suave dudes are very sensitive, you know.


Oh not in regards to quests. I’ve been ignoring so many. No, I mean that’s all the monoliths, right? Vaults? Running from smoke monsters?


Oh, that, yes. 100% is all the “making this place habitable” remnant magic stuff. After that it’s just running around looking for great-grandad’s handaxe.

Man, I miss that thing. Sniffle.


And hitting rocks. FOR SCIENCE!

OK, good. We’re almost done with monoliths.

I can start to see what probably isn’t the end.


Damn it I miss those rocks! And scanning bodies! I never did scan all the bodies.

Thanks for opening up old wounds, man.

There were no hexagons! I would have obsessively tracked down every single one of those body-scanning (sounds like I was looking for a job with TSA) etc. tasks if there’d been hexagons, but if you don’t give me a quest marker, I’m out. There are limits even for me.


Dude, the bodies DO have hexagons. Indeed, the only way I remember which forward station is the one by the slums is that it has two hexagons right by it representing unscanned bodies.

(Sorry. Probably shouldn’t have told you that.)

Or that I’m making the first pie of the season and the house smells great.

Homeownership tip: Nothing goes with the percolating of radiators quite like the smell of pie.

You’re gonna love it.


Oh no, not those bodies. I did scan those. I mean the bodies on Eos, long ago. Remember, when you’re supposed to scan all the bodies from the original colony that was wiped out by kett, to identify them for the survivors or whatever?

No guidance. No closure.

It IS going to be the weekend. Maybe I’ll make my own damn pie!

But probably not.


Oh man! I forgot about those! That was, like, 200 playing hours ago!

Maybe you can’t finish it. Maybe the people who made the game were like “After all that, let’s make them finish with a task they got in the first half hour of the game!”

I may have pie, but I’m also increasing my gas bill. Cuz, you know, when you own you pay for your heat and…..

Oops. Heh. I mean, you’re gonna love it.


Enh, we pay for our heat now. Quite a bit, since the apartment is full of windows, which is great for natural lighting and breeze in the summer, but not so great for drafts in the winter.

We don’t pay for water…but how much can we really drink? Right?


Water is a nice, cheap bill. It is. 

Well, it’s cheap until your kid gets to that age where he’s taking four hour showers. Or so.

We just had our most expensive water bill since last year, when we were watering our lawn during a drought.

Junior’s gotta speed up.


Can you get a programmable thermostat for your water heater, so it will turn off after, say, two and a half hours? Cold water is cheaper! Enjoy that refreshing and character-building icy shower!


Dunno. We don’t have a water heater. We have one of those all in one super efficient furnaces.


Ah, that’s tough…you don’t want to have to chill the entire house to make him get out of the shower. Ah well.


Great furnace though.

See? You’ll know about furnace quality soon!

You’re gonna love it.

Don’t worry, everyone. We have enough to play that this won’t turn into a furnace blog.

But in the meantime, I heartily recommend a Buderus.

(PFTL is not sponsored by Buderus Boilers, Inc.)

(But we can be bought.)


“All the video game and furnace discussions you could ever want!”


Dude, someone wants to pay us, I’ll talk about any damn thing.

Well, as long as we still have time to talk about games. And nudity!

Phew. It’s been a while since a nudity derailment.


“This FURNACE will keep your house so cozy, you can play VIDEO GAMES in the NUDE all winter long!”

We’ll be hitting the keywords like nobody’s business.