Pro of writing fic for a video game: Can take as much time as you like studying (many) locations, outfits, characters' faces etc., rather than trying to extrapolate a whole room from a 0.3 second peek over somebody's shoulder.

Con of writing fic for a video game: Very difficult to go back and check specific lines of dialogue, gestures etc., since you pretty much have to play through to a given point to see the scene again (or save really really frequently so you have set points to play from to check but you can't name your saves and it's easy to overwrite things by accident). Or there's youtube clips but Shepard always has the wrong face and sometimes the wrong voice and I can't choose the conversation forks/interrupts.

This is a long-winded way of saying that my creative brain has swung back around to words-making and I have several nearly complete fics waiting for me to reach certain scenes before I can share them (downside is I am writing on my iPod on transit and between/in classes rather than knitting so nothing gets knit). Seriously, one is completely done except for the first two lines of dialogue.


Since I don't have any close friends (that I know of?) in Mass Effect fandom and am not inclined to actively seek some out, I hereby designate the space behind this cut tag as the place I will come to flail/jot down notes about my personal version of the Milky Way according to Mass Effect.

- There is no such thing as MShep. Male Shepard is entirely a figment of some fans' imaginations. Commander Shepard is a woman, full stop. (I tried starting or importing an MShep playthrough, couple of times, mostly to get at certain romance storylines, but I can't stand Mark Meer's voice--even watching the scenes on youtube grates me.)

- My Shepard, the real-to-me Shepard (the one I keep going back to earlier points on playing so I can get all the important-to-me decisions and interactions just right), is a paragon-leaning infiltrator with a spacer/war hero background.

- She romanced Liara in ME1, Thane in ME2, and is currently undecided on whether/who to romance in ME3 once Thane is dead. At this point in her life she identifies as queer/bisexual and . . . I have to come up with in-universe slang for attraction to members of same/other/multiple sentient species, because nobody else seems to have done that--conspec, allospec, polyspec respectively? Shep's the last one (obviously), but wasn't/never thought about it before getting command of the Normandy.

- I have to figure out how to take in-game screenshots because my attempts to sketch her face have failed, but the easy to verbalize important details are soft butch light-skinned WoC with short dark-brown hair and dark-brown eyes. (I see the ultra-femme options in the character design interface but do not understand why anyone would choose them--not because femme women can't headbutt krogan, I just can't reconcile it with her voice. Also: role model Ellen Ripley.)

- Her name is Robin Jane Shepard but she'll answer to either Jane or Robin (tried to switch to Jane as a kid because other kids kept asking where Batman was; she's actually named for either Robin Hood--according to her mother--or Robin the Muppet--according to her father).

- Spacer background means Navy brat; in my specific interpretation she's spent very little time on Earth or any planet outside of Alliance Navy training and those six months imprisoned between ME2 and ME3. Her parents officially split up when she was around 12 (they were always stationed on different ships anyway so it made very little practical difference) and her never-mentioned-in-the-games father died when she was around 20 (officially an accident, Shepard privately suspects suicide).

- Infiltrator class means she is not a biotic (ME universe's word for "organism manifesting telekinetic abilities"), or at least not a powerful/trained one. Instead, she's rather good at picking baddies' heads off with a sniper rifle (shooting through the eye-slit of a Cerberus guardian's shield: SO SATISFYING).

- A lot of the details above only matter to me because I keep reading fic where Shepard is a collection of Mary-Sue cliches--the exotic or alliterative first name, the sapphire- or lavender-coloured eyes, the lush blonde/red curls, the astoundingly powerful biotic abilities, etc.--or at least WAY too femme and it throws me right out of the story. I'm not knocking Mary-Sues as a phenomenon! I totally support the right of all fans to Sue it up as they so choose & player characters ARE fantasy self-proxies & really, between the Prothean visions and getting species with centuries-old grudges to work together to combat an ancient and terrible evil and possibly end a cycle that's been going for millions of years and being so flippin' badass and charismatic a cabal of mad scientists spent two years and a bajillion credits to bring her back from the dead? Shepard is suuuuuuuch a Sue--but telling me all about your vision of a character (with no single set face) that clashes with my own makes it hard-to-impossible to attach/keep reading.

- Hence my policy/recommendation/request for Mass Effect fan authors: unless it is very important to the specific story you are trying to tell do like the games do and avoid physical description and referring to her as anything but Shepard or Commander or (sparingly/in dialogue) in-canon nicknames, or at least use the default "Jane". Make fic-Shepard blank enough that readers can use our own versions, because that's kinda why we customize them in the first place.

- If you kill Wrex, on Virmire or the Citadel, I cannot be your friend (unless, again, in the case of fanworks, it is vitally important to the specific story you are trying to tell).

- I don't hate Kaidan anymore (the first time I played I could not WAIT to get rid of him) and think at some point I might actually let him live instead of Ashley, but I do not ship him with Shepard at all, ever, even in a triad.

- I am open to so many other ships and always intrigued by (if not always sold on) things I have not thought of/seen before.

- This story, Shake It Out, is amazing and gives me hope for ME fandom when skimming AO3 or that kink meme make me headdesk and I wish I knew who the auther was so I could squee (spoilers for ME2-3 and will likely make very little sense unless you either know or correctly extrapolate a bunch of stuff about the games and the totally predictable fanon ostracism of Kelly Chambers).

- Voice acting, man. So cool and weird. Some characters I love only/extra much for the casting excellence of their voice actors (cranky purple Carrie-Anne Moss!), some I actually like less once I find out who voices them (aww Kal'Reegar, why you gotta be voiced by Adam Dickhead Baldwin? I will continue to pretend you are a young unfamous person doing a Bill Paxton impression), some just break my brain (e.g., discovering that Freddie Prinze Jr. voices musclebound marine James Vega in ME3 and the minotaur leatherdaddy in Dragon Age: Inquisition that is, in a roundabout way, responsible for this whole obsession and whaaaaaaaaat until I realized I couldn't actually remember him in anything else so I watched I Know What You Did Last Summer and yeah, okay, fifteen years later? I believe it. In fact if I'm being honest I have kind of a crush now, having watched a bunch of his work including recent tv eps, and he is MUCH hotter now than when I was a teenager).

Possibly TBC when I think of more stuff.
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