An Orc Scoundrel - Part 3

*Note: Once again, apologies for the lack of updates to this story to those who care. I've been working hard and been doing a lot of preperations for a new baby coming in a couple weeks. Found a spare moment, so here's a new entry in the Nameless Orc's story. You can find the prior parts in my blog: Part 1 and Part 2. Quick note, most of the story can be found in the comments!*

When we last left our Orc, he had just finished his quest to find Sam, the drinking game instigator who turned out to be Sanguine, a Deadric prince!

A Good Death

I woke up the next morning in my bed. I couldn't remember how I got there and my head told the story of why. Hangovers are the worst... I smacked my lips and swung my legs off the bed, ready for a large breakfast. Soon enough, I had eaten, was armored, and ready. But ready for what? I briefly recalled another one of those Deadric princes requests... A priest of Boethiah needed killing or some such. I unfurled my map. Sure enough, I had the forsight to mark the location down. Good for me, since I can't remember squat!

I find my horse waiting for me outside and I take off into the horizon. Time for some adventuring!

Heading back out!
Heading back out!

After several hours of riding, my gung-ho attitude had been replaced with my typical foul demeanor... these Deadric princes and their "requests"... gets on my nerves. Plus they just keep showing up... Seems like I'd already run across half of the entire Deadric order by now.

Lost in my thoughts, I barely noticed the old Orc on the side of the road hailing me. I glanced over and noticed him standing among a pile of dead bodies.

"What do you want?" I grunted.

"To die," the old Orc rasped. "I seek an honorable death by combat! Do you think you could grant me such a death?"

Knowing the Orc traditions of how they throw out their elderly, I considered for a moment, then nodded, "Alright." He might have some good money on him from all of the folks he'd killed... never know.

Sure, I'll give you a good death, old man...
Sure, I'll give you a good death, old man...

He nodded, took a breath, and rushed me with a growl. I whipped up my crossbow and threw a bolt down his gaping throat. He gurgled and sputtered, looking at me with surprise and fell over. I think he was expecting a little more. Oh well.

After searching the bodies and finding a few hundred gold, I continued on my way.


After a few days ride, I came upon the camp that held the Boethian priest that I had been sent to fetch for Molag Bal. After fighting through a few swarms of Forsworn, I found him chained up to a post. I used a key I found on his guard to unlock his binds.

"Who are you?"

"A... friend," I muttered. "Came to get you out."

Found the priest.

"How... how did you find me? No one knew my location!" The priest eyed me suspiciously. I guess if you're going to be a priest of a Deadric demon, you learn a little bit about paranoia. For good reason, apparently.

I decided to play it up, "Boethiah tasked me with cleansing a shrine of her enemies and sent me to you for your help."

He seemed to accept that. I told him where the shrine was located, sending him straight into Molag Bal's trap. "Very well," he replied. "We can begin as soon as you are ready."

He then walked off, heading in the direction of the stone city. I grunted to myself. That was easy.

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Career Blog - Part 30

Year 14 - 2013

Hi, everyone, got a small update to my career blog.

So, a month after my last career blog entry, I got laid off at Infinite Z. A couple months after that, the rest of my team were laid off as well. Not sure what it means to be first of the group to be laid off, but whatever. It was a shocking development, one that I did not see coming at all. Did not bode very well. The method I learned of my up-coming departure from the company was kind of interesting:

So, the company used Gmail at the time, so we could set up meetings in the Google Calendar and so forth. These meetings were visible to everyone in the company, so that you could schedule meetings around people's availability. Well, I happened across a meeting between my boss that was entitled "Mike M Separation". I was the only "Mike M" at the company. So that was how I learned about it. I was given a 2 week notice and laid off. Sucked pretty hard. When I called out the fact that I found this meeting in the calendar, I noticed later that all of my boss' meetings from then on were simply entitled "Meeting".

For almost 5 months I was unemployed. Luckily, Zombie Studios (the place I worked before Infinite Z) had an opening and I was able to get it. So, now I'm back at Zombie again!

If you've read my previous career blogs, you might wonder if I was all that happy about this. Since I left Zombie, they had a huge management shift in the company. The fine fellows who headed the team making Blacklight Retribution, essentially took over the company. Now they're working on Daylight and more stuff I can't say.

And to be honest, my time at Infinite Z taught me a lot about finding enjoyment in my job. No matter how bad I thought it was previously at Zombie working on games like SAW, or the worst-reviewed Xbox game ever, Blackwater, it was nowhere near as bad as it was at Infinite Z. At least I was making games. Bad games, sure, but games!

I came back to Zombie with a fresh perspective. I can't talk about what I'm working on now, but I can say that it's actually not a game, in the obvious way. I know, weird! It's in the Serious Games department, creating game-like things for the government.

But what I can say is that I'm having more fun NOW in my career, then I have since about 2005. I've only been here a couple months at my new position, but it is amazingly good! I hope I get to keep doing this and feeling this way about my job for a long time.


An Orc Scoundrel - Part 2

Sorry about the long absence from part 1 of this story. I focused on some other games and finding a new job and didn't put time into Skyrim. But, I have a back-log of story to write, so I thought I'd try to continue where I left off! You can see Part 1 earlier in my blog. To catch you up, I'm playing Skyrim with about 160 mods installed and writing my story as I encounter them as if they were a normal part of the game. Most of the mods are graphical enhancements and such, but when it alters the Skyrim story, I'll try to link to the mods I'm using. We're catching up with our Orc friend on his way to a Companion quest. He's also attempting to find Sam, the drinking game guy, who got him in all kinds of trouble in Markarth.

Wolf Out!

I run a couple errands in Whiterun before heading out to meet Skjor out in the fields west of the city. We delve into a ruin and before too long, I accidentally trigger a trap that has me caged in a small alcove in the wall. Skjor grunts at my seeming incompetence, but almost immediately a group of ambushers catch Skjor off guard. I grunt back at him indignantly as I lean against the wall of the caged alcove to watch my companion friend get butchered by these strangers.

Skjor surprises me, though, as his body literally erupts into the shape of a wolf! A werewolf!

He tears through the ambushers, ripping them to shreds. As the last of them slump against the wall, he reverts back to human form and releases me from my cell. He explains that most of the inner circle of the Companions are werewolves and I shouldn't feel obligated to be one myself. On the contrary, I'm all for it! Anything to give me an edge if I ever have to take on a small army of guards or bandits! Ooh, or a dragon!

Time to get my wolf on!
Time to get my wolf on!

Soon after returning to Whiterun, I am brought to a secret meeting in the middle of the night. Sure enough, I'm offered the chance to become a werewolf myself. Without hesitation, I agree and drink the blood offered to me. It is warm and bitter, but I feel a strong power course through my veins.


I black out soon after and have the strangest dream where I'm running through the streets of Whiterun, surprising guards and citizens alike. As I rush through the city faster then I've ever run before, my vision darkens and I feel the cold against my bear skin as I awaken in the middle of the wilderness.


Why am I naked?
Why am I naked?

This werewolf thing isn't exactly panning out like I thought it would...

The skinner is down!
The skinner is down!

I glanced up and saw another Companion. She beckoned me over and I re-equipped my stuff. It would seem the werewolves' arch enemies the Silver Hand were the ones behind the earlier ambush and were holed up in a nearby fort. The two of us cleared the fort of enemies, including their leader known as "The Skinner" and she asked me to return to Companion HQ later. I nodded, but felt like I was having second-thoughts on this werewolf stuff.

I glanced at my map. Hmm, looks like Morvunskar isn't too far away. That's where Sam will supposedly be. I sighed... what started as an innocent drinking game with some scrawny human has sent me all over the land of Skyrim and back again. This seems to be the story of my life so far. But that runt did something to me... maybe he spiked my drink. In any case, I plan on beating some answers out of him once I find him.

Claws vs Magic

As I approached the semi-ruins of Morvunskar fortress, I noticed several magic-users walking around the upper ramparts. They were probably not going to just let me in, were they? I stretched my shoulders... time to unleash this new beast ability of mine and see how it goes...

Let's try this werewolf thing ouoOOOWWW!
Let's try this werewolf thing ouoOOOWWW!



















I don't feel so good...
I don't feel so good...



I came to with a start, looking around franticly. I stood above the mangled body of a mage of some kind, her heart ripped from her chest. Blood dripped from my jaws and I suddenly felt very... full to my stomach. Ugh.... this werewolf thing.... I don't know about this.... I looked around the fort and everywhere I found bodies of ripped open mages, mangled beyond belief. The other werewolves in the Companions seem to be in more control then I am... maybe it comes with practice.

I shivered to myself, knowing full well where these poor bastards' hearts had gone and fought the urge to vomit. I re-equipped my armor and weapons and turned back toward the fort. Time to find Sam... assuming I've not already eaten the guy.

Sam I Am

That doesn't look suspicious at all...
That doesn't look suspicious at all...

Further into the fort, I had to kill a few more mages that my wolf form hadn't yet run across. I had to admit, I felt much better about crushing their skulls and running them through the back then the whole eating-their-hearts thing. I wasn't sure I'd be trying to evoke the wolf again any time soon. As another mage crumpled to the floor, a large sphere of energy erupted into view in the corner of the room. Having not found Sam amongst the dead or anywhere else in the fort, I assumed that maybe he was through this portal... actually that would explain how he managed to drag me across Tamriel all in the course of a single night. Figures that he must also be a mage, I suppose. Good, that will make him that much easier to squish...

I stepped through the portal and a white light enveloped me. I felt the familiar stomach-flip that I've begun to associate with portals and blinked a few times as I materialized on the other side... in some sort of wooded forest area.

So, having a party, huh?
So, having a party, huh?

I crept around slowly, sword drawn, looking for any sign of trouble. I heard the murmurs of conversation further down the path and smelled what seemed like cooking food in the near distance. Must be some sort of camp. I pushed aside the thick brush and emerged into a clearing. There, in the middle of the woods, was a long banquet tabled, lined with men eating a rich looking meal and downing bottles of rum. But that wasn't the main thing that stood out... that would be the Deadra that stood at the head of the table. I tensed as I prepared for a bloody fight, but was surprised with the Deadra started to laugh merrily, with a very human-sounding voice. It was SAM!

Another Deadric prince?!
Another Deadric prince?!

He laughed at the expression on my mask and lightly punched my arm in jest as he explained. He was Sanguine, the Deadric Prince of mirth, drunkeness, and, well, being annoying, it seemed. He bestowed upon me a flowery looking staff that I eyed with a bit of disdain... did he expect me to weild this thing into battle? He smirked as he flicked his fingers in my direction and my stomach did cartwheels as I found myself... back in the Whiterun Inn where I had met Sam to begin with. I fought the urge to retch in my mask and peered at the staff warily. I sighed as I slung it on my back and stepped up to the counter.

Time for a drink...

I need a beer...
I need a beer...

Skyrim Diary - An Orc Scoundrel

I've been having a great time playing Skyrim again and I thought it'd be fun to do a little Skyrim Diary story as I play my new Orc character. I've got over 150 mods installed and will be telling the story as if those things are normally a part of the game... mostly little things like making dragon bones weigh less, but if a mod ever impacts my story, I'll reference or link to it's Steam page so anyone else can check it out. I'll be adding more installments of this story in the comments! Also, more pictures will come in later installments as I didn't start playing with this diary in mind, so as the entries come in, they'll start having more and more images with them.

Welcome to Skyrim

Let's cut to the chase.

A dragon attacked and interrupted my execution. Escaped with some Nord idiot. The second he suggested a split up, I ran off to the north west, off the trail. No way are these Imperials going to find me so easily. I was going to have a tough time blending in as it were. An Orc running around in Imperial armor might be a bit eye catching. I was just hoping that the dragon would make itself useful and kill 'em all. Get that Nord I escaped with too, while yer at it... don't need him blabbing his mouth about his Orc "buddy" that he saw run off into the woods...

I crossed a stream, killed a deer, and stripped it of anything useful... meat, hide, hell took the antlers too. I hear they can be ground down into something or other.

I clutched the crossbow I had stripped from a body in Helgen as I saw a small hut in the middle of a field. I approached cautiously, hoping it would be that magical combination of deserted yet filled to the brim with useful equipment and valuables. As I rounded the corner, I ran into an old woman, startling her.

"Oh!" she exclaimed. When she regained her composure, she forced a smile across her face, "Don't mind me, dear, just an old woman." She waved me off nervously.

The murder of Anise the witch.
The murder of Anise the witch.

I grunted as the crossbow bolt flung her across the yard. Don't know if the Imperials would ask her about any suspicious looking Orcs running around out here, but I wasn't going to take any chances. A quick search of the old woman's cabin revealed her name was Anise... and it turns out she was a witch. I grunted to myself in disgust as I pilfered her alchemical ingrediants... damn witch was probably waiting for me to turn my back to fry me from the inside out...

Can't trust any body out here. I'm going to make my way through Skyrim alright... and no one is going to get in my way.


Mods Referenced:

Craftable Crossbows and Bolts Everywhere!


Career Blog Part 29

Year 13 2012

I'm back for a brief installment of my career blog. :) When I last posted in this series last year, I had left the game industry and joined up with some old co-workers at a new company. I've been here for over a year now and thought it safe enough to comment a bit about what it is I'm doing now. The company is called Infinite Z and it is responsible for this:

Infinite Z's 3D stereoscopic display: ZSpace
Infinite Z's 3D stereoscopic display: ZSpace

Introducing Z Space! The Z Space is a stereoscopic 3D display. As a 3D artist I've been working on helping out with creating true 3D graphics to be displayed on the device's screen. Not games, though. Maybe eventually! Everyone I work with is from the games industry so we all have ideas of things we could do with such a device in the games space. But for now, it's mainly for more high-end purposes, like product design.

The main cool thing about it is that, by tracking the 3D glasses, the device uses head-tracking to control your perspective, much like Track IR. That way, you can literally look around things that are on the display, making objects look that much more real.

Not a lot else to really say! You can see more about the device at the website:

It's a pretty cool piece of tech and I hope does really well as more applications are developed for it. And maybe I'll be able to make a game for it one day! I miss game development!


Behind the Scenes - Gizmondo Texas

I got some good responses from my last behind the scenes blog, so I thought I'd write another, this time based on my experiences working for Gizmondo. I was an artist at Warthog Texas (previously known as Fever Pitch Studios). Warthog was a large family of developers with development offices all around the world. However, they had not been selling too many hits lately and were not doing well financially. So, Warthog was purchased, as is common in this industry. What's not so common is what happened next.


At the time, my team was hard at work on Conquest 2, the sequel to Conquest: Frontier Wars. It was a very fun project and was progressing well. (There was a failed Kickstarter recently attempting to revive it.) We were looking forward to seeing it release after one more year of development. But it was not to be. I recall the team (about 40 people) being called into the big conference room for a company meeting. The last time that had happened, we had found out that our previous game had been canceled, so it was not a good thing to be called in for another one of these meetings! There, it was announced that Warthog had been purchased by another company. The good news was: we'd all keep our jobs. The bad news: Conquest 2 is canceled.

Then the worst news: we were bought by Gizmondo. Gizmondo was a company that none of us had ever heard of. Turns out, they were developing a new handheld gaming platform, also known as the Gizmondo. Whatever future titles we would be making would be developed for it. So who were these guys? Where did they come from? All we knew is that they were somehow involved with Tiger Telematics. At first, I thought this was Tiger Electronics, the creator of all those old-school handheld baseball games and so on. No, they were actually a lot shadier then that. But we wouldn't find out how shady for a little while yet...

Gizmondo Games

While we were making a game for the Gizmondo device, we all had little doubt that this wasn't going to succeed. However, we had no idea just how crazy the whole situation was going to become. When the financial records of Gizmondo were made public (as all publicly traded companies do) it became pretty obvious that something wasn't all above board. The financial report proceeded to tell us about the executives' seven-figure incomes, not to mention six-figure bonuses, six-figure "vehicle budgets", and other such extravagant spending. Including a yacht. This all seemed pretty outrageous to us, but even that stuff paled in comparison to the next information we learned.

Swedish Mafia

A Swedish paper came out with an article detailing the criminal connections of several of the upper executives of Gizmondo in 2005. None of us in the Texas studio read Swedish papers, but it wasn't long before news traveled and we got a copy sent to us from some of the other former Warthog studios in Europe. We were very surprised, to put it mildly!

Stefan Eriksson - known as "Fat Steve" to the Swedish police. He was a known member of Uppsalamaffian (or the Uppsala Mafia. Uppsala is a city in Sweden). He had previous convictions in theft, cocaine, and arms dealings. He was also an executive in Gizmondo!

Carl Freer - the founder of Gizmondo. And Tiger Telematics. And a prolific forger and con man who has managed to thus far, escape prosecution.

There were others, but to be honest, I forget their names. I know one was an alleged "enforcer" for the Uppsala Mafia... as in knee-breaker... maybe even hitman, for all I know.

When all that info was released, we at the studio were flabbergasted. What was going to happen now? There was some effort to downplay the news. We even had a teleconferencing meeting with Carl Freer on a big TV screen where he said that it was essentially a misunderstanding and that business was to continue like normal.

It didn't.

Within a month, Gizmondo Studios shut down. If interested, you can see some info about the game we made (and completely finished) here at the Hit & Myth page. Never shipped, but fully complete!

Ferrari Enzo

Months later, I was at a new job a couple thousand miles away in Oregon. Through certain news sites, I read about a familiar name... Stefan Eriksson! He was in the news again for... not just wrecking an incredibly expensive Ferrari Enzo sportscar, but ripping one in half! I won't go into the details (I'm sure you can fine them!), but it was incredibly satisfying to know that this jerk was going to be getting busted by the cops for something at least!

All in all, I look back on the whole thing with a sense of... hmm... not satisfaction so much, but just a sense of being happy to have been a part of something so uniquely screwed up! It was terrible at the time, but now it makes for interesting conversation pieces. :)


Assassin's Creed - Multiplayer

I've been a big fan of Assassin's Creed since AC II, the debut of Ezio Auditore's story. The gameplay really grabbed my attention, and I really enjoyed the premise. Plus, the parkour elements are amazing. With each subsequent game, I've continued to enjoy it, despite the limited evolution of the gameplay. When AC: Brotherhood was announced with the addition of multiplayer, I wasn't interested at all. I used to be much better at multiplayer games, such as the old Unreal Tournament days. But with the console generations, I've lost my touch. I can't work the Playstation or Xbox controller nearly as well as I could a mouse and keyboard, so the multiplayer aspects of games like Call of Duty and Halo just never appealed to me.

So, when I heard the word "multiplayer" in association with AC: Brotherhood, my brain immediately hit the "ignore" button and I just played the single player game and enjoyed it very much!

I recently got AC: Revelations and, again was prepared to ignore the online aspects altogether and just enjoy the single player experience... which I did. Then, one day, purely on a whim, I thought, "why not?" and logged into AC: Rev's multiplayer and started playing.

I freaking love it! I'm not the greatest at it, rarely ranking any better then 2nd or 3rd if not 6th, but just the fact that I *can* rank in the top 3 sometimes without having to worry about my atrophied FPS skills, makes the AC multiplayer experience a breath of fresh air! I just wish I had started back when the game came out so that I could have experienced the game with a much larger community. Even so, for a 6 month old game, the community is still large enough that I'm able to find matches and I'm enjoying it immensely.

If any of you are like me, and love Assassin's Creed but felt like ignoring the multiplayer, I'd ask you to give it a try. You might be surprised. My new admiration for this gameplay has me chomping at the bit for AC III even more! I can't wait!


Behind the Scenes - SAW

I think SAW has been out long enough that I feel comfortable getting into some of the behind the scenes of the making of that game. I talk a lot about my experiences with it in previous entries to my blog, so I'll try not to retread topics too much. But there are a few interesting things about it that I wanted to talk about.

Original SAW Creators' Input

The first thing that was done when it comes to SAW: The Game (hearafter just referred to as SAW) was to approach the film's original writers/creators. We wanted the story to be authentic to the SAW universe so it made obvious sense to go directly to the source. We paid Leigh Whannell and James Wan (the original creators of SAW) to come up with a story for the game. What we got in return was simply... atrocious. Not only was it awful in general, but it also did not fit with the films in any way. Here were some of their contributions that had us scratching our collective heads:

  • A giant Billy the Puppet robot boss battle.
  • People being controlled by Jigsaw through microchips in their brains.
  • The headless ghost of David Tapp's partner following you around.

I won't continue, but regardless... this stuff was just incredibly, amazingly bad. We felt that, in order to stay true to the franchise that people have come to know and love, we had to completely disregard their work and come up with something on our own. I won't claim that what ended up happening was good, but at least it wasn't a complete slap to the face of SAW fans!

Doctor Gordon

Over the course of the film franchise's installments, a running mystery thread has been what happened to Dr. Lawrence Gordon? Gordon was the main protagonist in the first SAW film played by Cary Elwes who famously cut off his own foot and crawled away. Nothing was ever spoken of again regarding his fate. Since it seemed like the films had disregarded the character and since our story took place between SAW 1 and 2 (so we couldn't, for example, kill Jigsaw) the story we eventually came up with (after cutting out the creators' version) was to have Dr. Gordon play a significant role and have his fate be revealed at last.

We were about 90% through production when we suddenly received the mandate that we could no longer use Dr. Gordon in the game because the film developers wanted to keep the opportunity to use him in later films. This was quite the blow for our story as, up to now, everything about all of the clues and story bits and hints and innuendo that had been developed and already recorded and voice acted had been completed! We had to scramble to come up with something different in a very small amount of time. This resulted in our using Melissa Sing, a character that we had already completed, as a rushed replacement.

We didn't have the opportunity to record more lines to explain this change and were instead forced to strip out all references to Gordon from the game and had Melissa's mouth suddenly become conveniently sewn shut after your initial encounter with her. The reveal that she was the game's ultimate bad guy was... to say the least... underwhelming to all of us on the game's development. I'm sure it was equally so to any SAW fan who made it that far.

Original Publisher

Before Konami took the publishing reigns on SAW, it was originally Brash Entertainment. Brash was a mediocre publisher who made a business model of snapping up movie licenses for games. Some of their gems included Jumper and Space Chimps. When Zombie started developing the idea, however, Brash seemed to perk up a bit and realized that it could be an actual good game. They were putting all their eggs in SAW's basket and wanted it to be a flagship title for them. Unfortunately, this also brought with it a ton of executive meddling. Some of their mandates were things like:

  • Multi-player. While not a bad idea on its own, it's so time consuming and resource intense that it soaked up a lot of bandwidth before the jump to Konami allowed us to cut the feature completely.
  • Pighead Bosses: The Pighead character is a more minor staple of the SAW franchise and we had our own version of the Pighead. However, Brash wanted a LOT of Pigheads to act as bosses in the game. So, we literally created about 8 different Pighead characters with different themed costumes: Policeman Pighead, Soldier Pighead, Cultist Pighead, Business Suit Pighead... all of which had their own back stories and so on. We were glad to cut them out once Brash was out of the picture.

When Brash went out of business and we effectively lost our publisher, we were hit hard with the layoff stick at the studio. Luckily when Konami picked the game up, many of use were hired back, myself included, but we lost several people who could have definitely made the game better who never came back for one reason or another.

Danny Glover

Not a big story, but a minor note that we actually modeled and textured a Danny Glover head based on his SAW character very early in development. However, it became apparent as time went on that Brash was not going to pony up the money to get the likeness rights to his face, so a more generic looking character had to be created to portray David Tapp in the game.


Trying to get an M rating for SAW was very difficult. I mention this a bit in a prior blog of mine, but what it came down to was the violence and gore. If you were to look at the gore in SAW, however, you'd find it not that shocking. Especially compared to something like Dead Space or Resident Evil. The actual problem is that the universe of SAW is our universe. There is no magic or fantasy creatures. This is like GTA4 or Heavy Rain. Those games aren't very gory at all, despite the violence. Because of that, SAW was judged very harshly.

One interesting tidbit is that the content of the European version of SAW is more graphic then the North American version. For the 2nd attempt at getting an M and Pegi 17 rating, SAW passed in Europe but failed in America. Rather then changing the content for both to meet the needs of North America, the content locked for Europe and then continued to be edited down for North America. I'd be interested in seeing a side-by-side comparison to show people the difference.


If any other interesting tidbits about the game's development comes to mind, I'll update this post. But I thought that this might give a little insight into the goings-ons of the making of a game, even a small game. Feel free to ask if you have any questions about anything!


Indoctrination theory - Mass Effect 3

I just saw the indoctrination theory video. I love how this was presented! So much that I'm just going to make that my ending. It's just too awesome not to and it makes my memory of the trilogy a happy one.


Mass Effect 3 - Alternate Realities

Spoilers ahead!

I was re-playing Mass Effect 3, using my other Shepard character - the renegade female one when I suddenly found something very interesting. While I was still choosing renegade options, I found myself actually agreeing with them. Let me explain. On my first playthrough of the series, I was Paragon Male Shepard. In Mass Effect 2, I had managed to defeat the Collectors with only one casualty... my love interest, Tali. Everyone else lived and in ME3 I found myself rekindled with my old flame Liara.

I cured the genophage for my old buddy Wrex and his new hunny, I mourned as Mordin sacrificed himself to get it done. I sided with Legion when it came time to choose between the Quarians and the Geth... without Tali's influence, the Quarians all perished... I felt I had done everything I could to get them to see reason, and their destruction was their own doing.

I rescued the Rachni Queen... again... and managed to keep Grunt around in the process. Garrus came back to serve under me, I saved Jack from Cerberus, Miranda died in my arms saving her sister, I shook Jacob's hand as he announced he was going to be a father, I kept Samara from killing herself over the death of her daughters, I even convinced old Zaeed to stop his merc ways and join up against the Reapers... and I literally got a bit misty at the death of Thane.

All of that was very satisfying, if not a bit "what a coincidence! You!" about it all. Then that ending... just tore me up that it seemed all ruined by that.

Then, I played my renegade... the one where out of all of those characters from ME2, only Garrus and Grunt survived. No one else.

Garrus joined me again and that was great... but I got to Jack's school and she wasn't there. Her students were on their own, and not all of them survived the attack. Miranda was replaced by her sister discovering the bad news about her dad. Jacob's child would never be. I ended up putting a bullet in the last of Samara's children. Thane wasn't around to stop the assassin and we lost the Salarian councilor. Tali was still not around, but this time... neither was Legion. Just an AI duplicate of him that I didn't trust. The Geth were wiped out. A clone of the Rachni Queen? I don't think so. Left her to die. All of that was different, and interesting, but nothing as interesting as the genophage differences.

Urdnot Wreav was the main Krogan this time... see, I killed old Wrex way back in the day. Mordin was long dead, so his replacement, the not-nearly-as-talented, but still brilliant salarian scientist Padok Wiks was there to help in his place. This character, truly, was a delight. He was eccentric, like Mordin, but in different ways. He actually had faith in some sort of spiritual Creator which was very un-Salarian of him. He was also funny and piont-blank asks Eve how Krogan mate. Her answer? Very clumsily. And Wreav... all he talked about was revenge for the genophage. Something Wrex would be against if he were still here. So when offered the deal by the Salarian Dalatrass? To fool the Krogan into thinking they are cured when they weren't? I took the deal. And when Wiks confronted me about it... he decided he agreed. See, Eve had died because Wiks was unable to stabilize her immune system, unlike Mordin. Without her guidence, Wreav would become a despot. Wiks and I both walked away as the faulty cure was spread. The Krogan would continue to be practically unbreedable, and peace would prevail. Had Wrex survived or Mordin... that might have ended a lot differently. But since they were both gone, I did it gladly. Something I never would have done against Wrex when given the same choices.

Anyway, I found that very interesting. I have heard that there is a way to spare the Quarians AND the Geth and I have a 3rd playthrough of ME2 with all members surviving to try it out with. All in all, my disappointment about the ending is still there, but my admiration for the game and its story from beginning to *almost* the end has been uplifted and is quite profound.