This Just In: Bioware Unsure On Tali’s Face

By Quintin Smith on July 4th, 2011 at 11:33 am.

But what happens when she sneezes?

I love these strange burps and backdrafts of information that aren’t really stories, yet they are.

Bioware art director Derek Watts has revealed in an interview with CVG that the studio is having trouble deciding whether to finally reveal the face of party member Tali in Mass Effect 3. Tali has, up till now, sheltered behind the mask that characterises her space-faring people with their terrible immune systems, and in the process has become something of a seductive enigma in the Mass Effect community, as a quick (NSFW) Google image search will prove.

“A lot of people want to have her face revealed and obviously people are going to be pissed off either way,” said Watts. “Like ‘I thought she was going to look beautiful!’ or ‘I thought she was going to be the most hideous thing ever!’ So we’ve had a lot of debate over Tali’s face, but that’s the one we kind of dread a lot. We’re always ‘well, let’s talk about something else for a while!’ That’s something we’re going to have to decide.”

Watts also talks about where he draws inspiration from, including Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Interesting stuff. Still, to me the most interesting part of this story is that it sounds like Bioware have no idea what’s under the mask either. I know what I’d do in their shoes, mind you. Random facial generation. Let each player find something completely different under there, ranging from a beautiful lady to a fibrous, ever-shifting blob.

Speaking of which, the Tali’s Face thread on the Bioware forums is more than worth a look.

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102 Comments »

  1. KauhuK says:

    “Let each player find something completely different under there, ranging from a beautiful lady to a fibrous, ever-shifting blob.” I have bad news for one of my Shepards who went with Tali.

    • soulblur says:

      Well, whatever they go with, can’t make any less sense than their choice of accents for the rest of the quarians. Tali had a sort of lilting southern-European accent, I think. Maybe kind of Spanish? But the other quarians just have a mash of accents from all over the Earth. Weird. Why not just pick a place and stick with it?

    • GCU Speak Softly says:

      Why would every member of a race have the same accent anyway?

      As Chris Eccelston said as Dr Who: “Lots of planets have a North!”

    • CaspianRoach says:

      I do believe it’s meant to be Middle Eastern accent, something like Arabian, since at least the main admiral lady voice actress is of iranian descent (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0013037/) and Tali’s voice actress looks middleastern as well (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2245907/).
      Don’t know why the rest of quarians had generic american accents though, maybe they ran out of good voice actors.

      Or yeah, different places (ships) of origins = different accents!

    • Schadenfreude says:

      Didn’t they kind of explain that? Each ship on the Flotilla is effectively it’s own country; different accents crop up on different ships.

    • Manac0r says:

      @Caspianroach:
      Didn’t know that about Tali, makes her name seem like an ironic pun now. Oh and I m not nitpicking here but Iranian and Arabic accents are vastly different allow Maz to educate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6qZ-PYBrMw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    • soulblur says:

      I thought they should have a consistent accent (or less variation) because there don’t appear to be very many of them, and they move around a lot between the ships. I don’t have an issue with lots of accents amongst a race – I just don’t like where every person has a completely different accent – you never hear two people with the same accent. Do quarians randomly pick an Earth country to emulate accents from? Perhaps….

      Seems not to have been as much an issue for other people as it was for me. Such is life.

    • Mr Labbes says:

      I can’t find any information on where Liz Sroka is actually from, but her last name is slavic, meaning eastern Europe. One of the judges in ME2 also had an eastern European accent, so maybe there’s a pattern? Not sure because of Mr. Baldwin and Mrs. Black.

    • Nick says:

      I thought it was a russian romani accent.

    • Ravenger says:

      There’s a practical reason for all the different Quarian accents in ME2, at least for the section on the migrant fleet – most of the performers are from the Dragon Age cast who were recording DA at the time. It’d save money to add a few extra lines for ME2 to their DA recording session, plus you get some great actors to perform in your game that you might otherwise have not got.

    • sinister agent says:

      @Nick I got that too, it sounded a bit more like that to me than a middle eastern accent. ‘course, not being able to pin the accent down makes more sense.

    • meatshit says:

      I remember one of the devs saying that they tried to make all the Quarians speak with a Persian accent like Tali, but they couldn’t find enough voice actors who even knew what a Persian accent sounded like. After sitting through the billionth Apu impersonation during the casting call, they gave up and just went with what they had.

    • mpk says:

      Hearing Adam Baldwin yelling out of a Quarian mask really broke the immersion for me. I’d just about got the idea that the Quarian’s were some sort of space-Bedouin, and their costumes definitely evoked a middle eastern/ye-olde-arab sensibility (for me, anyway). Then a great big yank starts shouting about kicking ass and taking names and it all went downhill. Could only have been worse if one of the admirals in the trial scene had turned out to be Stephen Fry.

  2. fearghaill says:

    please, the community has moved on from speculating about Tali’s face. Now it’s all about what her sweat tastes like, and whether it’s a natural pheromone/aphrodisiac. NSFS(anity)

  3. McDan says:

    I’m commander shepard and Tali is my favourite character on the citadel on both mass effects, (she’s awesome) but I think that you shouldn’t see her face. You don’t see other quarians faces, why should she be different, plus it still wouldn’t look as good as her usual look anyway. And I don’t mean in that way you weird internet pervs. Leave tali as she is!

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      Well, most likely she would only show her face to Shepherd. Either because they’re close friends who’ve been through a lot, or Tali is Shepherd’s lover. It’d probably be a sign of utmost trust in someone to show your face. I doubt an immune-system free alien is going to run around in-game without her suit on.

  4. Stevostin says:

    The only right decision is of course to NOT reveal her face. This imply to remember even the dumbest brain with fill the gap with its imagination, and that nearly everything different from what it imagined will be more or less unpleasant. Bioware made this character with a mystery to play with, now they have to respect what we came with. Frustration of not knowing is nothing compared to the gift made to players to remain free to picture what they want.

    (PS : If they HAD a plan from day 1 about her face, that would of course be entirely different as the idea would have been to lead us somewhere. But if they have no leads, ours are as good as theirs at the stage. I guess they know that and that’s why the discussion in uncomfortable to them : it simply isn’t a legitimate choice for them to make at this stage)

    • AndrewC says:

      Have you considered her mask as a Burka analogue? It puts a different slant on things.

      Anyway the One True Tali has a Predator face, and is HOTT.

    • Nick says:

      “Have you considered her mask as a Burka analogue?”

      Why the fuck would you do that? Its a breathing/protection/envirnoment suit aparatus, it shares nothing at all in relation to a burka.

    • AndrewC says:

      Because the ethical/cultural reasons for keeping it on/removing it share interesting similarities and sci-i often hides its social commentary behind surface level McGuffins like ‘environment suit’.

    • deiseach says:

      I was disappointed that we didn’t get a reveal when we got to the Fleet. Why should the quarians feel the need to wear their suits on the sterile environment of their ships? It’s a waste of their scarce resources to keep a presumably exogenously-powered suit on the go even when it’s not required. Stevostin is right, any decision they make is going to require some laborious retconning, so it’s best if they leave it as it hanging. Jeez, not every loose end has to be tied up

    • mlaskus says:

      There was an explanation for that. Their ships are old and unreliable, so they prefer not to risk taking off their suits as the life support could brake down at any moment.

    • .backslash says:

      TIL: Muslim women catch the super-flu and die if they take off their burqas.

      Seriously, Mass Effect does have some instances of social commentary in it (the Gene treatment sidequest; deciding what to do with the Geth) but I really don’t see this as one of them.

    • Brutal Deluxe says:

      Why do they have to reveal it at all? BTW they’ve never shown what a Krogan’s butt looks like either.

    • Nick says:

      “Because the ethical/cultural reasons for keeping it on/removing it share interesting similarities”

      No they don’t. At all.

    • JuJuCam says:

      The burqa interpretation always seemed mind-numbingly obvious to me. If not in metaphorical significance then at least in the design. Who could possibly look at it and not think of that?

    • Lukasz says:

      Burqa? please.
      what about the short pig like aliens? you see burqa’s in their environmental suits too? or they are not hot enough.

      she wears one because she has no immunity to foreign objects… looking at it as some cultural statement is a forced view.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      For fuck’s sake people, the male Quarians never take off their suits as well. Are you scurrying so hard to to jump to conclusions that this didn’t ever cross your minds?

      Pathetic. Try harder.

    • kament says:

      I like this burka theory. Really, that’s as close as you get with that sorta things. I mean, it’ crystal clear that Bioware could’ve shown Tali’s face right from the beginning. They could make her visor… yeah, clear. Transparent. But they wanted to create a mystery and here we are, solving it. So it totally makes sense to consider tinted visor as burka analogue. It _is_ burka, by the function—to prevent them gamers from staring at the face of fair quarian lady. And of course, they had to keep it up and apply this same no-face rule to all the rest of the quarians.

    • ix says:

      I don’t think it’s a social commentary on the burka as such (bioware don’t do subtle), but the quarian situation as a whole is definitely commentary on immigration and social prejudice. It’s not hard to see why Bioware went with more southern/eastern/middle eastern sounding accents there.

  5. Diziet Sma says:

    “Let each player find something completely different under there, ranging from a beautiful lady to a fibrous, ever-shifting blob.”

    Shame Tali isn’t a cryptic and prophetic character then, they could do a Babylon 5 and make the reveal like that of ambassador kosh.

  6. Dana says:

    The moment they will show her face will be the moment I will lose all respect I had left for Bioware, after Dragon Age 2.

  7. Inigo says:

    Shepard removes Tali’s faceplate only to reveal Shepard’s own hand inside, forming a crude mouth. Tali, and indeed all of Shepard’s companions, are mere figments of his/her imagination. In reality, Shepard was irreparably brain-damaged as a result of the Prothean Beacon in Mass Effect 1, and all subsequent events took place entirely within Shepard’s fractured mind as s/he rolled around mindlessly in a padded cell somewhere in a secure mental institution, convinced s/he was saving the universe even as s/he lay face down in a puddle of his/her own drool.

  8. vodka and cookies says:

    Porcelain skin space goat face with lots of cybernetics or something like that, basically tali would probably look quite scary with the mask off so best kept on.

    * in the fluff it’s mentioned their species are plant eaters.
    * there supposed to be heavily modified with cybernetics.
    * living inside suits their entire life can’t be good for the complexion.

  9. coldvvvave says:

    From what I heard Mass Effect fandom is mostly terrible.

  10. Duke of Chutney says:

    http://img830.imageshack.us/img830/1184/tfacemeer.png

    Tali = Magic Meer

    Quins, your profile pic is facing the wrong way/ angle otherwise i’d have done you

  11. Tei says:

    I like this [Live JPG GIRL] a lot.

    • ChaosSmurf says:

      Yeah this is really good tbh, makes me think they should maybe just leave it.
      Or she should turn out to be a he.

      EDIT: With a beard.

    • Lilliput King says:

      She’ll almost certainly be something very close to this. I don’t think they have the stones to make her a hairy green goo which dribbles out of the helmet when the mask is removed.

    • mlaskus says:

      Well, you can already see her nose and eyes through the helmet, so shapeless goo wouldn’t make much sense. She has an anthropomorphic face.

    • AndrewC says:

      And her voice is very human too, which suggests a human-like mouth, so beaks are, sadly, right out.

    • Lilliput King says:

      1. Stasis field holds the goo back from the mask, forms a ‘nose’ shape

      2. Voice generator.

    • Koozer says:

      That is a horrible Tali. As the only vaguely plausible looking Tali I’ve seen, it’s also the one I shall now always see. THANKS TEI.

    • AndrewC says:

      These are acceptable explanations, Lilliput, and I will stand by them: beaks and goo and external organs everywhere!

      But it does suggest an underlying deceptive nature to the Quarians. Do they lie out of shame for their forms, or do their disguises hide intentions more ugly than the hexagonal array of sifting grills they call a mouth?

    • Bhazor says:

      Or will she turn out to be gorgeous and instantly agree to sex with you.
      Sadly I think we all know which way Bioware will go.

    • AndrewC says:

      I think Bioware have proven their willingness to go both ways.

    • JuJuCam says:

      All we need is for Wulf to turn up and tell us all how predictably gutless Bioware will be for not considering a distinctly “other” Tali and bemoaning the lack of truly alien aliens.

    • fearghaill says:

      “AndrewC says:
      I think Bioware have proven their willingness to go both ways.”

      bravo

    • frenz0rz says:

      “All we need is for Wulf to turn up and tell us all how predictably gutless Bioware will be for not considering a distinctly “other” Tali and bemoaning the lack of truly alien aliens.”

      *Puts the kettle on and waits patiently*

  12. kurtcocaine says:

    they should just go with this..
    It’s perfect..!
    http://unrealitymag.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/tali2.jpg

    Edit: oops just noticed the post above me linked the same image.. :p

  13. studenteternal says:

    I was really dissapointed when they did not do a reveal in ME2. ( thought there was a great opportunity for a reversal thing on the fleet where Sheppard and crew and to suit up to keep from infecting the locals but tali would finally be free to ditch the suit.) that they didn’t really strikes me that they are flying by the seat of their pants with the whole series. Which is probably part of why I did not enjoy ME2 that much, despite it being a technically better game, but it felt like the grand adventure implied in Mass Effect 1 has not actually been written and so now they are stalling horribly for time while they try to slap something together.

    Course I will still buy ME3, because while it might be a disappointing rigged game, its the only game in town right now for decent Sci-fi rpg-y thing.

    • Vague-rant says:

      So… that’s the one thing that implies the Mass Effect series isn’t rigidly planned? The fact that they didn’t do what you thought (and may very well have been) an interesting side plot? Ok.

    • studenteternal says:

      heh well to be fair, one of the things is probably a better phrasing, but it stands out for me because here was this great opportunity to do something with Tali and her people, who I loved from the first game, and the whole quest arc ended up just very, humdrum. No epic revelations, no big set pieces, all the shooty bits could have been exchanged almost as is with other sequences from either later or earlier in the game with really no changes, and a plot that was carried off with about the same degree of emotional investment as the pirate bases you found on the world maps in ME1. Its not that they didn’t do exactly what I expected, its that they had a cinematic and narrative moment with a lot of potential and did, nothing much with it.

      YMMV but, were abandoning the series a serious option for me, that is pretty much the point I would have.

    • Furius says:

      Yeah the only reason I smashed it in 2 was so I could see her face. And boast to Joker and the Doc later obv.

  14. Easydog says:

    It doesn’t matter, she’s dead. Got shot in the face, so it’s just a bullet wound behind that mask now :)

  15. diebroken says:

    “Thanks. I’ll wait for Melina.”
    “Earth slime!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJVPD5vrlrU

  16. Frakattack says:

    She doesn’t have a face!

    Directed by M. Knight. Shamalamadingdong.

  17. Subject 706 says:

    The bigger question is why members of two completely different species get the idea that having sex is a good idea. Sure would be fun if Shepard got some horribly disfiguring space-STD though. Space syphilis?

    • Lukasz says:

      Only if it was specifically engineered to infect a human. otherwise aliens are immune to other aliens diseases.

    • Bret says:

      And Mordin gives advice and informational videos anyway, to deal with the system shock from incompatible biological systems.

      There are massive problems, but they arise from, well, totally alien biologies, not diseases.

      Unlike having sex with Kelly.

  18. Unaco says:

    I hope it’s revealed that she has exactly the same face as Shepard him/herself… only smaller, shrivelled a little, like a shrunken head. And that she drools and has 1 lazy eye. And bad teeth.

    Either that or she has a face like Rush Limbaugh’s. As well as one these, I hope the reveal is made very early in the game, and she discards her mask for the rest of it… so you have to lay eyes upon that hideous visage every step of the way.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      And I hope Bioware really doesn’t troll their playerbase like that. The only ones who would appreciate and enjoy it would be trolls themselves.

  19. Tams80 says:

    So, what does happen when she sneezes?

  20. fiddlesticks says:

    Obviously, behind her mask lies another mask.

  21. RagingLion says:

    A good reason to reveal her face is that if you pursue a relationship with here (like I have) Shepherd sees her face in which case to keep that close player – player-character relationship going the player should see her face too. I can understand the arguments against though.

  22. Ravenger says:

    The concept art in the ME2 artbook shows her with a noticeably human face behind the mask, but that doesn’t match the eyes for her in-game model, so probably isn’t accurate.

  23. Lazaruso says:

    “Good God, the xenophobia in all of these comments makes me want to weep for the sad state of the industry. Horrible people like you all are the ones responsible for my crushed hopes and dreams!

    And please Bioware, make Tali’s face turn out to be nine thousand bleeding eyeballs.”

    • steviesteveo says:

      I’d feel short changed by only 2 eyes at this point.
      They’ve hyped it too much, they’ll never be able to make it good enough.

  24. sinister agent says:

    Tali’s face is clearly two hovering eye-sized orbs. If she takes her mask off, they fly away, squealing.

  25. kibayasu says:

    Hey, maybe I’m just crazy, but BioWare, how about you do what you want to do with your character and stop listening/pandering to the creepy, creepy Talifans that inhabit your forums.

  26. Joshua says:

    It always struck me as weird that, in a galaxy as advanced as Mass Effect’s, nobody ever invented see trough glass for those masks, and nobody invented a bloody automatic fish feeder.

    • sinister agent says:

      Seriously. I mean, they gave me that bloody useless email reading bint (the correct answer to “you have x emails, sir” is “find something useful to do or you’re fired”), but not someone to feed the fish? Bah.

  27. pilouuuu says:

    She should look like Dree Elle from He-Man cartoon
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orko

  28. Jamesworkshop says:

    I’m saying no, people already spend far too much time, describing in far too much detail their creep Tali sex fantasys.

    They already have quite enough ammo already thanks

  29. DRoseDARs says:

    I’m hoping she ends up as a chick with Steve Buscemi eyes…

  30. KikassAssassin says:

    Out of all the things to report on from that interview, why are you reporting on this one, when everyone is missing the most important piece of information revealed in that interview?

    “Will Shepard get to punch a reporter again?”

    “Yes.”

  31. MikeBBetts says:

    I don’t care, because my Tali is dead! *disappears to weep*

  32. Holybasil says:

    I intentionally killed her off.

  33. kament says:

    This whole thread is just terrific.

  34. soylentrobot says:

    nothing but eyes and teeth!

  35. Jackablade says:

    If they do decide to do any revealing, the way to do it would be to keep things tantalizing.

    For example:
    Shepard walks into Tali’s quarters. Tali is there facing away from the camera without her headgear on. Without turning around she, puts on the mask and headscarf. We get just enough of an angle to get a vague idea of the structure of her face and pigment and texture of her skin.

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