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"Citadel: Cerberus Propaganda" Assignment Suggestion

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"Citadel: Cerberus Propaganda" Assignment Suggestion

Postby Sil » 28 Aug 2016, 23:00

Citadel: Cerberus Propaganda

Introduction

Spoiler:
The idea for this is based on the leaked beta mission involving Emily Wong and Khalisah bint Sinan al-Jilani. Because of Emily Wong’s crash landing over twitter, I’ve not included her in this document. So, I apologise now to any fans of hers reading this. Instead the focus will be on Khalisah al-Jilani. Here is an overview of the assignment from the beta:

You hear hate speech and misinformation coming from humans on the Citadel and traces it to a Charles Saracino, who is using the human-centric Terra Firma party to put out Cerberus propaganda. After you turn the crowd against Saracino, Cerberus comes after you through people Shepard has helped on past missions. Working with Citadel reporter Emily Wong, you track the Cerberus assassins to a neighbourhood in the Wards where Cerberus has almost total control.

You go into the Cerberus-controlled neighbourhood with reporters Emily Wong and Khalisah al-Jilani recording your actions through a camera mounted on your armour. You question witnesses (who refuse to talk) and fight Cerberus forces while hunting for the assassin, and in the process catch Cerberus atrocities on live video. In the final area, you uncover horrible Cerberus atrocities before killing the assassin. The vids ensure that nobody on the Citadel will work with Cerberus.


I’m going to have to change this to make it work, my aim is to cover most parts of it including Terra Firma, the investigation and Emily Wong. All of this tied up into one assignment chain, not as hard as it sounds to design, actually. The assignment takes on two stages, Stage 1 is about Terra Firma and Stage 2 deals with Khalisah al-Jilani. The sections involving Emily Wong act as a prologue and epilogue I suppose, or you could count it as a reward for completing the mission.



Prologue: Emily Wong’s Death

Spoiler:
My thought is that an email should be added to the game to explain what has happened to Emily Wong for those who didn’t know she is supposed to be dead. The “solcomm” feed she sent out is pretty long, too long to be properly presented over emails, so instead I’ll write one that is marking her death.

ANN News Alert: new article on “Emily Wong”

From: Alliance News Network Information Partners

It is with deep regret that we inform our readers and viewers of the death of a beloved reporter who had worked with us at the ANN as well as the Future Content Corporation news services. Emily Wong had been broadcasting via SolComm text-messages when the comm buoys fell silent just prior to the Reaper assault on Earth. Her last message indicated she was injured and was aiming on ramming her van into one of the Reapers. We have had no word since and Alliance Command believe she succeeded in her attempt.

Emily Wong was well-known and respect across the Citadel and her investigations were known to hit hard and get results; because of her organised crime syndicates were exposed on the Wards and she helped traffic controllers in a dispute over the long hours they had been forced to work, making docking procedures safer in the process. She was also news anchor for a year for FCC News before transferring to Earth.

Her family has been notified, and both the ANN and FCC join them in mourning.


This email would be received once you have completed Priority: Menae, so there is a little time between Earth being invaded and her death being ‘confirmed’.



Stage One: Terra Firma

Spoiler:
The assignment starts once two conditions have been met; Priority: Menae has been completed and the player has already spoken to Khalisah al-Jilani. Regardless of how that ends, you’ll get the message from her, so I’ll have to keep it pretty neutral and matter of fact, to avoid needing to write multiple versions that depend on how Shepard acted with her. The email begins the assignment:

Terra Firma

From: Khalisah bint Sinan al-Jilani

Commander Shepard,

It may have gone beyond your notice but there has been a surge in support for the Terra Firma party ever since the Reapers began to assault Earth and her colonies. Terra Firma are a hardline, pro-human party that have been lobbying for years for humanity to have more control over Citadel Space.

Many that I have spoken to attribute the support to the lack of aid being sent to Earth, but there are many instances of people fighting back against Terra Firma’s political rallies. Life in the Wards is growing uncomfortable for humans and aliens.

I have been doing some digging and I have uncovered traces that point to Cerberus financially backing the political party, however my sources are not wholly legal. If you could authorise the use of this evidence, we can damage their support base on the Citadel and I can get a headlining news story.

I have also dug up more about Cerberus than their involvement with Terra Firma. What do you say to working together for once? Meet me in Purgatory if you authorise my report.

Regards,
Khalisah bint Sinan al-Jilani, Westerlund News


Shepard then needs to go to the Spectre Terminal and can choose to activate the evidence and allow Khalisah al-Jilani to publish her article. The Spectre Terminal message is as follows:

Terra Firma Corruption

Khalisah bint Sinan al-Jilani has uncovered evidence that the extremist pro-human party Terra Firma has received backing from the terrorist organisation Cerberus, however the methods used to gain this data is not legal. Authorize the use of that evidence to allow Khalisah to publish her report without fear of legal reprisals.


This leads to two different scenarios, if you authorise it then you receive another email that shows that Terra Firma have been rocked by scandals following Khalisah’s report and also another email from Khalisah which leads into Stage Two of the assignment. If you do not authorise it before Tuchunka is complete then you will get a negative war asset. The email and war asset follow.

Spectre Request Authorised:

ANN News Alert: New article regarding “Terra Firma”

From: Alliance News Network Information Partners

Charles Saracino, head of the extremist political party Terra Firma, has been arrested today following Khalisah al-Jilani’s damning report into the parties’ financial backing. Among the charges are Tax Evasion, Endorsing and Supporting a Known Terrorist Network, and Inciting Xeno-Hatred.

The acting head of the party has yet to give a statement on the matter, but party membership has dropped 60%. The Council has yet to comment on growing calls to have the party forcibly closed down.


Just so people know, I’ve loosely based this message on a cut piece from Mass Effect 2 where Charles Saracino was arrested for tax evasion. So… it’s almost loreful, well, it’s kinda loreful. The bit of information is here.

Spectre Request Denied/Ignored:

War Asset Upgraded: Citadel Defence Force
Military Strength: -5

Terra Firma has riled up humans that are bitter over a lack of support for Earth from the other species of Citadel Space. This has led to a few small riots, numerous brawls and a number of aggressive political rallies.



Stage Two: Khalisah al-Jilani

Spoiler:
This part of the assignment is activated when you authorise the Spectre Terminal message in Stage One of this chain. Shepherd goes to Purgatory to talk to her, you’ll find her to the left when you first enter the club (the actual club, not the entrance hall). She has her camera with her, as she always does. When you walk into the club there is ambient dialogue spoken by Khalisah to get your attention.

For the following assignment I have tried to use lines for Shepard and EDI that are pretty basic or that I’m 90% sure are said over the course of the three games. If they aren’t there, then they give an idea of the responses that could be there. Khalisah on the other hand, all her lines are taken from the games and I spent quite a long time trying to form a conversation that makes sense from them. It was not particularly easy, as she does have few lines. Here is a key for the following conversations:

Key:

KAJ = Khalisah bint Sinan al-Jilani
SHEP = Commander Shepard
EDI = EDI


Ambient line to lure in the player:

KAJ: Commander Shepard? (ME1 line)

*Player enters into conversation with Khalisah*

KAJ: Khalisah bint Sinan al-Jilani, Westerlund News. (ME1) Do you have a minute? (ME2)
KAJ: I interviewed you two years ago, (ME2) you presented your case very well on camera. (ME2, if Shepard doesn’t punch her at all)
SHEP: Is this about the message you sent?
KAJ: Yes (cut from the line “Humans, yes” in ME1).
SHEP: You do know that hacking is illegal in Citadel Space, right?
KAJ: Shepherd — you may object to my methods, but we’re on the same side (ME2, cut “Now,” from the line). I can give you the chance to set the record straight, what do you say? (ME1)


Option 1: Help Khalisah

SHEP: I can help you to find who is blocking news on Cerberus atrocities.
KAJ: I think our viewers will be glad to hear that, Commander. (ME1)
SHEP: It won’t be easy.
KAJ: Don’t worry. We’ll find out. (ME1)
EDI-Comm: I will monitor each terminal, Shepherd. That should help us to locate who is hacking these files.
SHEP: Nice idea, EDI.


Choosing this option leads to the rest of the assignment.

Option 2: Refuse

SHEP: I can’t help you.
KAJ: You son of a *****! (ME1 when getting punched) I’ll make sure everyone in the Alliance sees that! (ME1)


Choosing this option leads nowhere, Khalisah is pissed off with you but nothing else happens other than the assignment not being available.

If you chose Option 1, then Shepard needs to find the first place to hack so he can get hold of the information. The first one should be in the Purgatory area, I’m thinking the screen beside the elevator. The video would replace whatever is on there, unless that is too difficult, then perhaps have the video appearing on the omni-tool?

Terminal Video 1:

*Take video of Cerberus shooting people in the Priority: Citadel II mission, flip it horizontally and add artefacts to it. This can be the first video.*

Radio KAJ: We get it? (ME2, cut “Check vid?” and “Great, bull-rushed on my own show”)
SHEP: Yeah, one down, two to go.


The next terminal video is found in the Presidium Commons beside the red Purgatory sign, where the ANN Newscaster can be seen. On the way there, in the Presidium, you’ll get the following radio conversation with Khalisah.

Conversation while running around after Terminal 1:

Radio KAJ: People have heard a lot of wild stories about you, Commander. (ME1, cut “back home” from the line)
SHEP: Have they?
Radio KAJ: Would you answer a few questions for our viewers? (ME1) I just want to give your story its due. (ME2, cut “You’re back, you’re news”)
SHEP: I’ll pass for now. I’ve given enough interviews.
Radio: KAJ: The people want to hear your story, Shepard. (ME2)
SHEP: Maybe you will get my story once we have won this war.
Radio KAJ: You really do believe that, don’t you? (ME1)
SHEP: I do. We’ll win this war, one way or another.



Terminal Video 2:

*Take video of Eden Prime showing dead Alliance Soldiers in a room, Dress Shepard in the full Cerberus armour that covers his/her head and pose to make it look like he shot them. Use flycam if this is possible, if not, don’t show Shepard. Add artefacts to video and flip it horizontally*

SHEP: I found another one. It’s hard to watch.
Radio KAJ: I’m sure our viewers will understand.

*Pause*

Radio KAJ: …there were so many dead. (ME3)
SHEP: They’ll get what is coming to them.


After this you need to find the third terminal, the third and last. The mission is almost over. This time the Terminal is in the Normandy Dock, there is a screen in there that would be used for it. Although as mentioned before, a vid on the omni-tool would work too.

Conversation while running around after Terminal 2:

EDI-Comm: Shepard,I have detected an anomaly.
SHEP: What is it?
EDI-Comm: I believe I have found a Cerberus AI. Not as sophisticated as I, but it has been hacking more Citadel systems than just the news feeds.
SHEP: Can you shut it down?
EDI-Comm: That goes without saying, Shepherd.
SHEP: You’re right, sorry EDI.
EDI-Comm: Don’t worry. You’re only human.

Terminal Video 3:

*Take flycam video of Cerberus abducting people on the N7: Abductions mission, add artefacts to the video*

SHEP: That’s all of them. We’re tracking those responsible for hacking these files. I hope that helps.
Radio KAJ: Thank you, Commander (ME3). I’m glad you’re on our side. (ME3)
SHEP: So am I, Khalisah.


That is the mission complete, job done, you’ve proven Cerberus are bastards and the news can spread information about it. Because of this, you get the following War Asset:

War Asset
Khalisah al-Jilani
Military Strength:
+1

Updated: Khalisah al-Jilani’s damning reports into Cerberus corruption and propaganda have caused an increase in her viewership.

War Asset
Alliance Recruits
Military Strength:
+10

Alliance recruiting drives have surged in popularity since the damning reports against Cerberus in the news, those disgruntled humans who once considered joining the terrorist organisation have now turned to the Systems Alliance.



Epilogue: Emily Wong

Spoiler:
So once you’ve completed the mission you then get another radio conversation, this one is just after you get the mission complete notice. Here is what is said.

Conversation following Terminal 3:

EDI-Comm: I located the anomaly, Shepherd.
SHEP: Can you shut it down remotely?
EDI-Comm: It has already been done.
SHEP: Good work, EDI.
EDI-Comm: There is more, I have found evidence that data packets sent from Earth have been interrupted. These are primarily news bulletins. I believe they were trying to disguise any victories on the planet.
SHEP: No doubt they were trying to drive people to joining up with them. Release the files, EDI.
EDI-Comm: I have sent them to the Alliance News Network.


The information EDI mentions are data packets sent by Emily Wong, somehow she survived the first day of the Reaper assault and is still trying to give the people news of what is going on. For those wanting lots of stuff for Emily, you’re not getting it. I want to keep this pretty simple. First, you receive an email.

ANN News Alert: News regarding “Emily Wong”

From: Alliance News Network Information Partners

It is not often we are giving good news of late, but we’re pleased to announce that we made a mistake in earlier reports regarding the FCC reporter Emily Wong. We have received intel that suggests that she is alive on Earth and still attempting to broadcast. We have little information on her well-being, but ANN is hoping to secure an interview with her in the near future. Rest assured ANN will do our utmost to avoid repeating a mistake of this calibre again.


And then you receive this War Asset:

War Asset
Emily Wong
Military Strength:
+5

Emily Wong reports for FCC News and ANN from Earth using a Quantum Entanglement Communicator. Though her reports are brief and often filled with heart-wrenching news, the fact that she survived has brought hope to many humans across the galaxy awaiting news of their loved ones on the homeworld.


And that is that. If a modder wanted, they could go further and splice together a news terminal story using her dialogue from the previous games. But I think this is all that is really needed. So yeah, idea done.
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Re: "Citadel: Cerberus Propaganda" Assignment Suggestion

Postby Kinkojiro » 29 Aug 2016, 13:58

It is an interesting idea, and some is definitely do-able, here are a few pointers to help you start:

- I am guessing you know how to do conditionals, mails and the like. If not there are good tutorials here.

- Constructing voices is a lot harder than it seems. There is a lot of dialogue in the games to pick from, but often the pace, tone and intonation is completely out, it is not easy to correct it. If I was you I would plan how to implement first and then create the audio and finally construct the game portion.

- Remember when you punish a player for not doing something you have to actually program a sequence somewhere to make it happen. If it is based on reading a mail or going somewhere the player may well not do that.

- Nobody AFAIK has constructed entire conversations from start - this is where your plan might have problems. A conversation is actually incredibly complex: the voices soundbanks, dialogue / decisions, physical animations, facial animations, camera work, lighting. It all feeds together. You are better off getting an existing conversation and editing that to fit rather than the other way around. Alternatively radio conversations are a good cop-out - only sounds matter and shepards face is generally away from camera if it is an ambient.

- 90% of the videos in game are actually rendered scenes that are happening off stage. For example all of Hackett's briefings on the shuttle - his actor is literally standing on the shuttle roof saying those words into a camera which is then rendered onto the console. The rest are prerecorded texturemovies. I warn you from bitter experience - unreal is not that great with them, the quality deteriorates significantly and often they don't play (for no reason I can find).

All of this is not to put you off, just want to give you the straight facts so you can plan better. I have generally found it is better to start small and build experience than aim for very difficult mods.

Good luck and looking forward to seeing how it goes.

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Re: "Citadel: Cerberus Propaganda" Assignment Suggestion

Postby Sil » 29 Aug 2016, 17:38

Kinkojiro wrote:It is an interesting idea, and some is definitely do-able, here are a few pointers to help you start:


Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my thread :).

- I am guessing you know how to do conditionals, mails and the like. If not there are good tutorials here.


Nope, not yet. I've got a fair idea of what they are, but I've never edited any or made new emails etc. I'm an ME3 modding noob I'm afraid. I do want to learn though.

- Constructing voices is a lot harder than it seems. There is a lot of dialogue in the games to pick from, but often the pace, tone and intonation is completely out, it is not easy to correct it. If I was you I would plan how to implement first and then create the audio and finally construct the game portion.


Yeah, I noticed from the ThaneMod forums that audio editing can be a pain to deal with, that is why I have done my best to try and build Khalisah's lines by splicing pretty much whole sentences into an order that produces a new series of dialogue, my hope is that will make it feel more natural. That, and Khalisah's dialogue often has a twinge of self-righteousness in it, so a lot of her lines seem to be similar in tone, which should make it more possible to make. However, I'm not expecting it to go over easily, I wouldn't be surprised if there are a few points which just don't sound quite right. I'll definitely take your advice though, before I try the rest I'll try and nail down her audio, if I can get that, there should hopefully be enough lines throughout ME1, 2 and 3 to get full lines close to what I want for Shepherd. EDI would be more problematic, but I think it'd be doable, I just may have to rephrase her conversation. I'll definitely do audio before attempting to add it all in.

- Remember when you punish a player for not doing something you have to actually program a sequence somewhere to make it happen. If it is based on reading a mail or going somewhere the player may well not do that.


I can remove that then, at least for a first go at making this. It might actually flow better if there isn't a punishment for not using the spectre terminal and once you authorise it you just start the rest of the mission. I'll have to go over my idea again, see what I can edit and re-arrange to make it flow better. I probably don't need to have a dialogue choice either, it's not exactly essential and doesn't add a great deal for a quest like this anyway.

- Nobody AFAIK has constructed entire conversations from start - this is where your plan might have problems. A conversation is actually incredibly complex: the voices soundbanks, dialogue / decisions, physical animations, facial animations, camera work, lighting. It all feeds together. You are better off getting an existing conversation and editing that to fit rather than the other way around. Alternatively radio conversations are a good cop-out - only sounds matter and shepards face is generally away from camera if it is an ambient.


That... is problematic. If brand new conversations aren't yet possible, then that throws out a whole segment of the idea and also means the two other "small" mission ideas I was remaking from the beta, and one other small assignment, won't be possible in a meaningful way. Quite frustrating. I guess I can try and use ambient dialogue/radio conversations instead. Maybe if I make the lines for Khalisah as it current is in the script, but have separate versions of those audio files where I apply a distortion effect to make it sound as if it is coming from a radio. That way I'm prepared for an eventuality where conversations are possible, but I also have a version that can be used until that time.

- 90% of the videos in game are actually rendered scenes that are happening off stage. For example all of Hackett's briefings on the shuttle - his actor is literally standing on the shuttle roof saying those words into a camera which is then rendered onto the console. The rest are prerecorded texturemovies. I warn you from bitter experience - unreal is not that great with them, the quality deteriorates significantly and often they don't play (for no reason I can find).


I didn't realise Unreal was such a pain in the arse for that, hmmm... well, no matter. I thought the videos would've added an improved sense of it 'belonging' in the game, but since that's not possible then I think having the terminals acting like datapads and having reports on them would work quite well too. If the dialogue on the radio is still there then that is the most important bit as that is what should make it feel that bit more like it is meant to be in the game.

All of this is not to put you off, just want to give you the straight facts so you can plan better. I have generally found it is better to start small and build experience than aim for very difficult mods.

Good luck and looking forward to seeing how it goes.


I'd rather be told the facts so I can adjust my ideas than to go off into dream land (though I do enjoy dream land, there are some fun missions in there). I'll try and write an altered version of this that takes into account what you've told me. I'd like to try to build this, along with an edited version of the Virtual Alien storyline and a few other small assignment ideas eventually.
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Re: "Citadel: Cerberus Propaganda" Assignment Suggestion

Postby giftfish » 30 Aug 2016, 19:57

Kinko is right on the money (as usual).

You're not the first person to come in with lots of big ideas, Sil, so no worries. Then people find out what's possible, what isn't, and how much effort it will take to make the stuff that's possible happen. Right now is a good time, though. The toolset has grown leaps and bounds over the last year. Things are indeed possible now that weren't before. And things that were possible and now are 100x easier.

At this point you have a lot of ideas, so it's probably a good time to pick one and start digging in. Get a feel for using the toolset works and the amount of work implementing your ideas will entail. I know you'd like a clearer type of guide on these things -- unfortunately, the wiki isn't there yet. There are plenty of tutorials on the forums, though, and the truth is that all the modders here had to learn from scratch, flounder a bit (or a lot), ask others for help, post their own research and discoveries, etc. You can learn a lot just by opening files, looking around, and using knowledge of game mechanics to point you in the right direction. You can also download other people's mods compare their modded files to vanilla equivalents. See what they did and discern why.

It'll be interesting to see which project you decide to pursue first :)
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Re: "Citadel: Cerberus Propaganda" Assignment Suggestion

Postby Sil » 31 Aug 2016, 01:23

Thanks for the kind words of advice and support from both of you :). I'll be starting soon enough, once I've finished my run through using EGM as I don't want to tread over the same ground for no real reason. So far I've seen some great additions in that mod, so a lot of stuff I've wanted to write I've discovered I no longer need to! :D

The one I was considering doing as a first off for learning purposes is one I haven't written up yet. When I played through Priority: Sur'kesh I found the Varren research the Salarians were doing where they considered using them as bioweapons. So I was considering having a Spectre Terminal authorisation choice of authorising the Varren research and letting them be used as a weapon, followed by an email saying how it backfired really badly on the war-zone they dropped it in and giving negative war assets. To me that seems like a good basis to start, as it involves making an email, an authorisation message and a war asset without needing to make a brand new assignment in the process. It seems like a good stepping stone to me, plus I could also learn to assign a condition for the Spectre Terminal message based on whether the Varren research was found/Priority: Sur'kesh completed.

Does that seem like a good place to begin? It's not my most exciting idea, but I like it and I also like the idea that Shepard authorising stuff doesn't always turn out peachy.
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Re: "Citadel: Cerberus Propaganda" Assignment Suggestion

Postby giftfish » 31 Aug 2016, 02:13

@Sil -- I think that's a great place to start. You'll need to create a custom TLK, BIN, and CND file. You'll get experience writing conditional expressions. You'll may end up doing some basic sequence editing as well... maybe.

Sounds like a good plan :)
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Re: "Citadel: Cerberus Propaganda" Assignment Suggestion

Postby Sil » 04 Sep 2016, 22:54

I've written up a plan for the spectre terminal message, what I want to happen to allow that message to appear, and an email that is sent should you authorise the varren research. Unfortunately I'm really struggling to find a war asset I can negatively impact to punish a player for backing idiotic methods of fighting the Reapers. My email mentions it being field tested on a colony. Should the idea just give an email saying how badly it went, or is there a war asset that is suitable to negatively impact? I'm aiming to make this work alongside EGM's stuff.
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