Saturday, 30 June 2012

Since a lot of people were asking for a site to talk and post their comments beyond the youtube comment limit, I thought I'd open up a blog.  I'd like to think of "The Second Slice" as something to have while discussing art and science in a happy, social setting, similar in sentiment to ordering an piece of cake, pizza, or pie at a diner. (And most definitely not an additional razor blade cut in ones arm when trying to explain oneself to others.)

Hey, I'm Stefan Di Iorio, AKA smudboy from youtube.

I first started making youtube videos of the Mass Effect series primarily due to the uselessness of explaining things to people online.  Discovering that having forum arguments was equal to banging ones head against the wall, I sought other avenues.  In my videos, I try to be as impartial and objective as possible, and have very little tolerance for other peoples subjective inferences.

In my latest vid, I randomly look at the Top 20 (starting with the first 10) questionable things of ME3.

I enjoyed ME3 for what it was worth: it had a plot, it had characters and tried to do too much too quickly: but it was a fun, and memorable game.  The ending will go down in history as the largest illogical balderdash of ineptitude I've ever seen, and the most destructive.  The Extended Cut merely added to the kerfuffle: those who enjoyed it were only seeking drama, and those who saw it for what it was -- a continued waste of everyone's time, another series of lies, and ineptitude on behalf of the creators -- were even more disappointed; if that was even possible.

Will I do a vid on it?  If I have the time.  I think I'm recuperating from ME3 in general, and getting it out of my system.  Right now I'm enjoying iced tea, Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars, air conditioning, the conclusion to Euro 2012, and the long, Canadian weekend.


  1. I cant wait to see you take apart the extended cut as well.
    I was wondering if you had taken a look at how much of the story is plagiarized from Star wars (Jacob rescue mission "Hoth"), the machine race wiping out organics (Numerous but especially Revelation Space where the reaper is called "Cerberus"), the rachni are a cut and past from the Ender's Game series, and other things like the Krogan being a fusion of Start trek's Kilingons and the Fremen from Dune (with the thresher maw sand worms used to win the last difficult battle). Did you notice that Jesus Shepard had exactly 12 disciples in ME2 with the DLC?

  2. I'm less worried about the fact you can't charge through glass than I am about the fact that breakable glass NEVER. SHOWS. UP. AGAIN. Seriously, there's a whole fucking tooltip about breakable glass in the Mars mission and it isn't even a constant game mechanic.

  3. The biggest WTF for me had to do with the way Bioware managed its time.
    The way the plot moved sideways in ME2 meant this game had just too much to deal with, it couldn't possibly deal with everything.

    I was expecting it to go in one of two ways:
    1-- Rush the beginning, quickly develop knowledge on how to stop the reapers and then flesh out what the game should've been about in the first place (stopping the reapers and ending the trilogy).
    2-- The opposite of the one above, take its time with the beginning and rush the ending.

    At first I thought they were going for the former... Instead they rushed the whole thing.
    If time was such an issue that they had to resort not to one but two Dei Ex Machina then why spend it developing new characters like Vega, STEEEEVE!!!, Traynor, Diana Allers and the likes? Why not keep what they already had and focus on the plot, twisting it in intricate and interesting ways?

    This trilogy was just an improvisation gone bad.

  4. My biggest gripes with Mass Effect 3:

    1. Disregarding / forgetting the theme. The theme of Mass Effect is most likely freedom for all, or self determinism. Why then, is the main theme suddenly identified as synthetics versus organics? THAT IS NOT THE MAIN THEME BIOWARE.

    2. Sporadic variations in laziness. Vehicle exploration in ME1, no vehicles but exploration in ME2, Vehicles in ME2 after DLC, No vehicles or exploration in ME3. Bioware, please make up your mind. Do you want to make games or don't you?

    3. Autodialogue in ME3, and bipolarism. The number one indication Bioware have given up trying. Very disheartening.

    4. Character introduction in the ending. No. You that when telling a story. aaaaaaahh....

    5. Reusing character models, sound design assets, 2D sprites

    6. The ending in general. For all the reasons Stefan made in his videos

  5. I had a question that never got answered from your "Mass Effect 3: Bookends of Destruction Part 5" video. ( At ~an hour and 20 mins you begin giving a scientific explanation as to why the scene is impossible, but for the life of me, no matter how many times I watch, and re-watch that section of your video, I can't completely understand the science behind what you are saying... Could you please go a little bit more in depth on that subject - possibly give a source of reference for the science behind it too?

    1. What's funny about that scene is that you would have to be in the future to be able to watch those explosions going off.

      Light doesn't travel instantly, it takes time. For example, if you look at someone's face, the light reflecting from the nose reaches your eyes first than the light reflecting from the ears.
      Same thing if you look at our sun you get a delay. You're actually looking to where the sun was 8 minutes and 20 seconds ago, because light takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach us.
      From where the camera was, light would have taken thousands of years to reach us.

      The problem with it is that the relays explosions are too big and light is traveling too fast.

    2. I'll try and make sense of what I can, since as we know, the entire ending was nonsensical.

      There are three issues, only the first two I comment on in the video:
      1) Distance (in relation to the speed of light.)
      2) The width of the beams and explosions (in relation to Massless Corridors and energy.)
      3) The starting point of the explosions.


      The distance of the Milky Way is 100,000 light years across, or 100 kilolight years. What that means is in order for the light from stars to be visible, from one end of the galaxy to the other, it takes 100,000 years. I guesstimated that the camera we see the Milky Way from (when the relay's are exploding) is roughly 100,000 light years away. What this means, is we are seeing the events of the exploding relays 100,000 years in the future, because that's roughly how long it would take for the light traveling from those relays to reach the camera. Keep in mind the camera is in "dark space" where no other galaxies are, though relatively close to the Milky Way in comparison to other galaxies (the distance between galaxies is measured in megalight years, or 1,000,000s of light years.) There's also the issue of certain areas of the galaxy being brighter/darker based on the POV, but hey, astrophysics.

      2) The width of the beams/signal being propagated throughout the network and explosions are also of considerable size. We're talking at least one kilo light year for the beams; this contradicts what we see when they hit a relay, which are obviously much smaller (which I never talked about in the vid.) Since there is no mass in a massless corridor, there can't be any light coming from (since photons are generated when an electron jumps up one energy state.) We can only guess this is done for artistic effect, but the issue of scale is still incorrect.

      The other problem is the size and range of the explosions. The "planar shockwave" of each relay exploding is several kilolight years in thickness, before it tapers off. What you are talking about is an enormous amount of energy never seen before in nature: several explosions on a scale far beyond the most powerful thing in the known universe (supernovas), pushing energy several million times the speed of light. If every particle of whatever substance this was would even have a fraction of mass, it would annihilate anything in its path, hence, the soap-grease commercial I used. We have to assume all that energy and radiation is somehow massless (like photons) or else nothing would stand in it's way. This is another issue of scale, as we see in previous scenes the shockwave being relatively quick and not very wide; in reality, the amount of light generated from those explosions would blanket everything (it goes through everything) in it's corresponding color-light for the several seconds it takes to pass through, traveling millions of times the speed of light. We can only assume somehow photons are generated, or else we wouldn't see anything, and such immediate, powerful raw red/green/blue-radiation would blind any living creature it comes in contact, as it bounces literally everywhere for the second or two as the "magical" energy passes through everything. Since the magical energy can pass through anything, closing your eyes or having any kind of eye protection wouldn't matter.

      (Let's also not contemplate the painless and miraculous insta-"gene-therapy" Synthesis does to the nucleus of every cell of every amoeba, paramecium, plant, virus, etc., somehow granting glowing green structures in some microscopic way.)

      3) And something I didn't even bother to think about since my brain was sufficiently gone by then:

    3. Sorry if this is repeating things I will try and keep it as simple as I can. Please do correct me if I'm wrong.

      1. The scene is crazy because it violates Einstein's special theory of relativity. No object with mass can ever travel faster than the speed of light. This is the famous E=mc^2 theory. As an object's speed increases so does it's mass, because the speed of light c is always constant. In order for something with mass to travel faster than light it requires infinite energy, and that is impossible.

      When you see an explosion, you are actually seeing particles with mass emit light, as a result of being heated to super high temperatures. Thus in the galactic explosion scene of Mass Effect 3, you are seeing particles with mass travelling at a speed much greater than the speed of light, as these distances are thousands of light years in radius but are traversed in roughly a second. If I use a calculator, this means particles in the explosions are travelling at roughly 31579200000 times the speed of light. This is physically impossible and completely incomprehensible.

      2. Anything with finite mass travelling at this speed must have infinite energy. This is impossible and would annihilate the entire universe let alone the galaxy. If something has infinite energy then it's kinetic energy is also infinite, and no amount of obstacles in its way can possibly stop it. The universe would end.

      Bioware have made the mistaken assumption that either:

      A) light can travel faster than itself. I know. This is madness

      B) Particles with finite mass travelling at the speed of light or FTL speeds can be completely harmless.

      Both A and B are physically impossible!

      3. Light travels at a finite speed, and this speed is constant. We are roughly a thousand light years away from the galaxy as we observe the mass relay explosions. We could never observe this event in the present. We would have to wait a thousand years before the light from this event could reach our eyes.

      4. The Relay beams are supposed to be travelling through massless corridors hence we should not be able to see any light from them. Bioware have ignored this completely.

      So from a science standpoint (this is supposed to be science fiction) what we see is completely unbelievable. Unbelievable in a bad way.

      Good question!

  6. This will probably be the only blog I'll ever consistently visit. I'm absolutely enamored with your analysis and its objectivity. It's like you're completely immune to all forms of emotional exploitation in any narrative. No inconsistency is safe from you.

    I'm awaiting your next project (after all this Mass Effect hubbub) with great anticipation. Any thoughts on what's on the horizon?

  7. I'm glad you made this because there's always so much I want to say but that annoying character limit youtube has always gets in the way. Anyway this is pretty long so you've been warned.

    The way I see it the Mass Effect series as a whole was primarily damaged by the fact that different writers and game designers worked on different games, and I'm not just talking about the fact that Karpyshn jumped ship before Mass Effect 3's production cycle began although having the original story writer jump ship is never ever a good thing. Having different programmers and scripters between different games isn't that big of a deal since they mostly just implement the game mechanics, characters, conversations, levels, etc. that the designers and writers come up with. Having so many people move around all the time is really bad for the industry as a whole because the constant mass migration leads to different interpretations of the same story by different writers moving into and out of the same project. This leads to story quality that is only consistent in its constant decline.

    Its always bad when the writers of the first game in a series have an idea for the story and then leave and get replaced by different writers with a different idea for that story. Even if the second idea is a good one if viewed independently and objectively the change itself is never a good thing because the reader is only going to scratch his or her head about what happened to the original story. Even if there is a smooth transition between ideas your still going to end up with loose plot threads and a noticeable shift in the tones and themes of the story; all of this is extremely apparent if you view the Mass Effect series as a whole. The executives at Bioware should have been smart enough to contractually oblige all the writers and designers to stay on for the whole series.

    For ME 1:
    The Project Director: was Casey Hudson.
    The Lead Designer: Preston Watamaniuk.
    The Lead Writer: Drew Karpyshyn.
    Other Writers: Luke Kristjansen, Chris L'Etoile, Mac Walters, Patrick Weekes

    For ME 2:
    The Project Director: Casey Hudson.
    The Lead Designer: Preston Watamaniuk.
    The Lead Writers: Mac Walters and Drew Karpyshyn (and yes Walters' name is listed before Karpyshyn's in the credits).
    The Senior Project Manager (a position which did not exist for ME 1): was Yanick Roy.
    Other Writers: Malcolm Azania, Chris Hepler, Brian Kindregan, Luke Kristjansen, Chris L'Etoile, Jay Turner, Jay Watamaniuk (Does this last name look familiar?), Patrick Weeks.

    Finally for ME 3:
    The Project Director: was Casey Hudson.
    The Lead Designer: Preston Watamaniuk.
    The Lead Writer: Mac Walters.
    Other Writers: John Dombrow, Sylvia Feletekuty, Chris Hepler, Ann Lemay, Neil Pollner, Cathleen Rootsaert, Jay Watamaniuk, Patrick Weekes.

    While the all the Leads were the same over all three games with the exception of Mac Walters becoming a lead writer FOR ME2 and Drew Karpyshyn jumping ship AFTER ME2, the writing staff got bloated for ME2 and then everyone except one person from ME1 and one person from ME2 jumped ship for ME3.

    I realize listing everyone like this and making a long winded argument does make a lengthy post but all this goes back to my argument above, that different writers come into the picture with conflicting ideas for the story and the results are disastrous. We can clearly see why ME2 couldn't decide what it's central plot and themes were, it had 2 lead writers and a bunch of new writers were brought into the picture for no reason which could have only resulted in a lot of people in a small room shouting conflicting ideas over eachother. We can also see why ME3's story had almost nothing to do with the rest of the series, almost none of the original writers were involved in it.

    1. Great post thanks for all that information!
      On a more positive note from what I can tell, Marc Laidlaw will remain the lead writer for Half Life 3. I'm confident that when Half Life 3 finally does comes around it will not disappoint!

  8. And just regarding the Extended Cut, did you find the Normandy pick-up scene synonymous with the "I'll always love you Braaaaaaaak" riff during the spaceship crash at the end of the Mystery Science Theater version of This Island Earth?

    It's the first thing that came to mind when I was playing it and I laughed my head off.

  9. The extended DLC was about twice as good as I thought it would be, meaning that it only fixed maybe 10% of the problems, mainly because all it did was give closure and clarity. To actually fix the ending they would have to redo the whole game.

    How did Anderson make it to the citadel before Shepard and end up transported to a different spot? They could fix that plot hole by simply never having Anderson resign from the Citadel, still a councilor or Udina's aid. Then he could be leading his resistence onboard the Citadel with C Sec and the militia.

    But if Bioware must have Anderson on earth leading the resistence, the evac at the Harbinger scene could have went like this. The Normandy flies by and sends a shuttle to rescue your squadmates, rather than the Normandy stupidly landing right in front of Harbinger. The Normandy provides cover, firing at Harbinger, so the shuttle can evacuate your squad. Then Anderson says "now's our chance" and him and a small group make it through the beam. Shepard later finds out that husks attacked Anderson and his men, with him being the only survivor.


    Rather than having some random lady saying "Hamer is defeated, retreat, retreat," while you're dazed, they could have your squadmates saying "Normandy come in, Hammer is defeated, come evacutate us." The devs wouldnt even need to add new animation for that. Though a lot of people prefer the sentimental parting with their love interest in the animated version.

  10. Hackett: "Conventionally, we can't defeat the Reapers without the crucible!"

    1. On Tuchanka, a Reaper Destroyer is, well, destroyed by a thresher maw.

    2. During the space battle, a Reaper loses its legs to conventional artillery fire, indicating it is extremely vulnerable. What the hell?

    3. Sovereign - we defeated it conventionally. It was Hackett who gave the order damn it!
    Hackett: "Take down that monster, no matter the cost!"

    4. The derelict Reaper in ME2, indicates they can be killed by conventional means. If not dead, then towards a state of complete inactivity

    1. Completely agree. One of the things that really bothers me about Mass Effect 3 is how it constantly likes to beat us over the head with the idea that the Reapers cannot be defeated conventionally but this should not be true. They are an incredible obstacle to be sure, but if ME2 showed us anything it’s that we have the tools to fight back. All the writers had to do was pay attention to their own narrative and the friggin’ codex!

      the Turian Thanix Cannon is based off Reaper weaponry and can take out a Collector ship in two shots. Imagine how effective that would be against a Reaper! Better still, it can be mounted on ships as small as fighters. How come no one bothered to build entire fleets with these things? We dumped tons of resources on the Crucible, and no one even knew what that thing did. The galaxy was grasping at straws. If they’re willing to put money on a big giant deus ex machina device of stupid, then how much more would they be investing in Thanix cannons? YOU CAN PUT THEM ON FIGHTERS; HOW MANY MORE TIMES CAN I SAY THAT?

      The Alliance could also look at the handheld Reaper Blackstar weapon which is insta-win waiting to happen right there. Heck, research the mysterious “Klendagon Weapon,” y’know, that massive gun that killed a Reaper and created the great rift on the planet Klendagon? Look at Javik’s beam rifle! We saw visions of Protheans using them against Reaper ships in a ground fight–I don’t know if this was out of desperation or because those rifles really do pack a punch, but it’s worth investigating anyway. Reverse engineer people! Oh my goodness!

      Writers: friggin'. Pay. Attention. To. Your. Narrative.

      Instead, all these things magically don’t exist anymore–not even the Thanix Cannon on the Normandy. We are forced to rely on the “Ending-o-Tron 3000™.” That massive “gun” that no one, from its inception, even knew what it did; that different races from every galactic cycle added onto and were able to hide from the Reapers who “never leave a trace”; that was magically sitting in the Mars archives and no one happened to notice until recently… oh how convenient…. Yet for as important as this thing was, no mention is ever made of it in any of the Prothean Beacons or in other records, except for the Beacon in the temple on Thessia, which Asari have supposedly been studying for thousands of years and somehow never found Crucible or (what was then the mysterious) Catalyst plans–heck they’re too stupid to make the connection that ancient carvings of their goddess look exactly like Protheans...


      PS: Smudboy, the first couple paragraphs of this post would suit rather well to an "About" page. :)

  11. The best way to fix ME3, in the confines of their budget?

    A boss battle with Harbinger. When you defeat Harbinger, all the other Reapers magically explode. It's stupid, but at least it would be fun.

  12. Don't you think your being a little too extreme with these criticisms? I mean, most of them hold very little value. It seems like your just bashing BioWare because it's the popular thing to do. I feel like you're deconstructing the entire plot of ME 3 in search of plot holes (no matter how minor) to further boost your hate for this game. I'm disappointed by ME 3 as much as the next gamer, but nitpicking to this level of irrelevancy is concerning. It devalues the constructive dialogue between fans and developers.

    It seems like you're nitpicking this game to death because it's "cool" to dislike it or something. There are a lot of plot-related problems in Mass Effect 3, but some of these criticisms are so negligible, they come off as weak and smug attempts at validating the hatred surrounding this game. I hope this isn't your intent, but that's how it's coming across in your videos.

    You said you pride yourself on being impartial and objective, but you seem to ignore everything BioWare has done right. You give BioWare too little credit. Surely, BioWare has done something positive. Make a video deconstructing the things this franchise has done right.

    It's apparent you want everything to make logical sense and be realistic. However, this very perspective is flawed, making your nitpicking arguments invalid. Why? Because if every piece of entertainment had to follow the logical/realistic path, then everything would be boring. And..well...that wouldn't be entertainment. I can't identify one piece of mainstream entertainment that follows this kind of realism.

    Can you not suspend your disbelief?

    I find most of your criticisms very unrealistic, irrelevant, and unfair. The broad points I can wholeheartedly agree with, but these nit picks are unwarranted. Their effect on the experience is negligible. Bashing BioWare on these petty nitpicks is honestly the lowest form of critique. Why? Because they're everywhere in everything and hold no value.

    If you cut this type of criticism and stick to more meaningful observations (which you do occasionally touch upon), you'd be a lot more credible.

    1. Thanks for your feedback.

      My style of analysis is akin to an editor going line by line. This is simply how I was taught. I recall my first few classes with my prof:

      As you can see from the reviews, the average student sees him as brutal. He's also completely brilliant. The drop out rate from the first few classes was enormous. He destroyed people's stories, and a lot took that personally. But if you had a thick skin and put up with his "nitpicking" and listened to his edits, you learned a lot, and your stories came out immaculate.

      I'm not some genius PhD'er in English, but I'm definitely not some lightweight. I analyze things that deserve it, based on what they're worth; and if I discover no thought was put behind a piece of work, then the work is thoughtless. But I still have the right to do so, while being objective.

      I'm not doing this to like or dislike anything; I'm merely going through the narrative. Of things I enjoy, obviously.

      There is nothing flawed about having things being logical and realistic, especially in a made up universe which determine the logic and realism. If one can't believe in a consistent setting, everything that comes from it is unbelievable or contrived. ME is constantly changing the setting and lore -- sometimes to change game play -- at the expense of its own believability. Nothing was stopping the creators from having proper explanations with appropriate changes. 'called good writing.

      It was recommended from a friend I do a "Top 20 Awesome things of ME3." If I have the time, I might get to it.

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