Bioware writer Patrick Weekes knows about the cringey Shepherd line from Mass Effect 2 and took to Twitter to explain the interesting dev circumstances that led to it while also giving it a retool.
Writers talking about paraphrases and icons in conversation wheels, and I brought up one I did due to outside constraints that I KNEW was not great.@SherylChee: Oh, I remembered that paraphrase. Very awkward.YES I KNOW IT WAS BAD, WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE IN RE BADNESS :DMay 22, 2020
The line in question isn't a spoken word of dialogue, but a paraphrasing of Shepherd's line that appears as an option on the dialogue wheel in a specific scene. The scene in question is a conversation between Fem Shep and Thane (sadly, there were only heterosexual relationship options in the first two Mass Effect games) where Thane tells the heartbreaking story of how his wife died. There are two dialogue options for players to choose from, and one of them is the catalyst for a Thane/Shepherd romance.
According to Weekes, a bug came in close to the game's ship date saying that testers found a lack of clarity around the conversation and the options it poses. "You only get one chance to choose to romance him, and they're missing it, and therefore missing a bunch of content. And some folks are opting in by accident, too," Weekes writes.
What follows is a fascinating and hilarious look at the minutiae that makeup some of our favorite games. As Mass Effect 2 was so close to its ship date, it was impossible to re-record lines from the voice actors and the writer of the Thane storyline had left the team. So what could Weekes do? Turns out, not much, save for changing the paraphrased line of dialogue on the wheel so that it was more clear you were choosing to romance Thane - and this was 2009, so the heart emoji wasn't an option. The result was like something out of a bad Tinder convo…
2009 Me: So I have no heart icon, I can't change the dialogue at all. Literally I can do is change the paraphrase, and I have to change it so nobody has any doubt about what this line indicates.2009 Me: Nailed it. pic.twitter.com/BUu41oD6wyMay 22, 2020
"I want you, Thane." Eesh. It's bad, and Weekes is well aware of it - but it's also a fascinating look at how difficult game dev is, even down to the struggle to write a paraphrased line. "This is what last-minute fixes look like," Weeks admits.
Luckily he's had over a decade to think of a line edit, and I think what he's come up with is ideal: "You matter to me, Thane." *chef's kiss*
We all want another Mass Effect game, so it's promising to hear that Bioware is working on a new game from one of its most "prestigious franchises."