Fri
Apr 6 2012 2:30pm

Mass Effect: Who Owns an RPG?

BioWare can’t win. Well, as much as shipping 1.3 million copies of a game in the first month of release can be seen as a loss.

While highly praised by critics and many fans, Mass Effect 3 looks to be remembered most for a controversial ending and sthe ubsequent fan uproar. More than that, the final showdown between Commander Shepard and the Reapers seems like a schoolgirl slap-fight compared to the dissenting opinions on consumer demand and creative control, especially in a medium that’s already fighting hard to be taken seriously as art.

Whatever that means.

Please note: this article contains no major spoilers. There’s tons of easily available articles elsewhere about what’s wrong with the Mass Effect 3 ending. This isn’t about the specifics. This is about what happens after.

When you buy a role-playing game such as Mass Effect, where the fate of galaxies, races, and individuals depend upon your choices, do you have a right to ask for more choices when the ones provided don’t meet your standards? Is BioWare being weak or business-savvy by addressing concerns about the game’s ending with just-announced downloadable content available in a few months’ time?

Just because a video game can be changed in such a way, should it? We buy directors’ cuts of movies and read authors’ definitive editions of novels. But creating video games is less of a solitary endeavor than writing and few titles have just one person at the helm. It’s not “Casey Hudson’s Mass Effect 3,” after all. (Hudson is the project director of the Mass Effect series.)

At any rate, Casey Hudson’s Mass Effect 3 experience was probably nothing like mine because few players have completely identical playthroughs. In my 100+ hours spent as Commander Jane Shepard (with the aquiline nose, gamine haircut, and eyeshadow to match her N7 armor) I forged my own path through a staggering amount of dialogue trees and irreversible actions. I chose for Shepard as I would choose for myself. Even down to telling inappropriately dressed Game Informer reporters to piss off. Well, I might not be brave enough to headbutt a krogan. But playing as Commander Shepard gives you license for a bit of wish fulfillment, no?

And maybe that’s why so many fans took the ending so personally.

Okay, I lied. Here’s some spoilers for Mass Effect 3 that one can skip over if one so chooses:

My personal, immediate reaction to the ending I was forced to pick was confusion and extreme frustration. The ending didn’t satisfy me on any level. Especially compared to the emotional closure I felt earlier in the game when I cured the genophage and negotiated peace between the Quarians and the Geth. That was extremely well-done drama in any medium.

The very last ten minutes of a 100+ hour game shouldn’t matter so much, but they did. At least when the finales of Lost and Battlestar Galactica let me down, I wasn’t shocked because the last seasons were uneven. The Mass Effect 3 ending was intellectually flimsy, abrupt, and failed to make the hours of preceding drama resonate in any meaningful way to my squadmates or to me as a player. Which is the biggest failure of all.

I wasn’t expecting an 80s-style montage of “Where is Garrus/Tali/Joker now?” But I was expecting more from a final take-away image than a pop-up text telling me “Commander Shepard has become a legend by ending the Reaper threat. Now you can continue to build that legend through further gameplay and downloadable content.”

That’s not showing me that my character has become a legend. That’s telling me to be sure to drink my Ovaltine.

I was also not expecting Commander Shepard to live. While Mass Effect is a wildly fun series, it’s not as original as some may claim it to be and dismissing critics of the ending as crybabies who only want to see adorable baby asari and roses is a failure to do detailed research on people’s actual complaints. Mass Effect is a gorgeous pastiche. So why would I expect the savior of the universe to not sacrifice her own life for the greater good in a tale as old as savior stories? Jesus was an OP. (Original Paragon.)

Spoiler-territory cleared.

BioWare committed a cardinal sin of role-playing games: don’t force all players into a definitive final choice. And more specific to Mass Effect, don’t promise players that they will get to see the consequences of their choices and then fail to deliver. In the age of YouTube, players can easily compare all outcomes and see that, on the surface, all three possible outcomes are nearly identical. There is some argument against this and I’m willing to cede some points in the name of suspension of belief, but it still doesn’t change the final cutscenes’ similarity.

The feeling of real betrayal is stronger in some people than in others. My initial anger gradually cooled down to disappointment — what a missed opportunity to go for those heartstrings one last time and deliver an epic ending to such a blockbuster series! I’m still not certain how long it will take me to replay the game. Yet, while I agree with the outrage (and I do believe it’s more than a small and vocal online community) I can’t defend the actions of some protesting fans. I find the use of tying customer demands with donations to juvenile cancer charity Child’s Play extremely distasteful. If only being a really cool cancer charity alone was enough to raise $80,000 in a few days.

There was no easy answer for BioWare. Caving into the pressure of unhappy fans is admitting they failed. A game gives the illusion of action and accomplishment, but most every event in a game is scripted by someone. There’s even proof that BioWare wanted an ending with a lot of speculation. Which I guess is code for a big ol’ sloppy mess of follow-up questions. But BioWare should be lauded for not throwing their writers on the fire and standing behind their artistic vision, however misguided it may be.

The “extended cut” of Mass Effect 3 is at least a free add-on, so kudos to BioWare for getting that right. They could have charged for it, but then I suspect the gaming community would have collapsed from the weight of its own indignation. So they have listened to fans. But BioWare is not giving players new choices at the end, they are just adding on more cinematics post-final decision to offer more clarity. (Will I learn how my squad for the Earth mission returned to the Normandy?)

But I already played through the final mission of Mass Effect 3, accepted my disappointment and nursed some stiff drinks through my own emergency induction port. And I moved on. Adding new cutscenes to the end-game won’t change my initial experience, though I will watch out of curiosity. They can’t give me the legacy I have already imagined for my own Commander Shepard in the month since I finished the game. 

BioWare hopes the new DLC will provide unhappy gamers with a sense of closure, but that will surely prove to be as impossible — and personal — to define as art.


Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com. She covers True Blood, Game of Thrones, and is also an avid gamer. She has also covered tech and TV for Geektress.com and Action Flick Chick. Follower her on Twitter @tdelucci

29 comments
Evan Langlinais
1. Skwid
It cracks me up how everyone who tries to write this critique always winds up having to put a spoiler section in out of sheer frustration.

Anyway, well said.
chaosprime
2. chaosprime
I wasn't so much mad at my choice, the synthesis ending, as just confused. I mean, in a world where games like the Fallout series have provided the template for giving an extremely satisfying post-game rundown of the long-term effects of your choices, at the end of a spectacular series that has at every turn been all about your choices having real effects that are carried forward, I literally never thought for a moment that ME3 wouldn't have such a sequence. (Or that it would be limited to a cutscene that reflects whether or not you killed EDI in your final decision.)

It didn't get me up in arms or anything, but it did seem like a really enormous lost opportunity.
Tim Buller
3. samzo77
There's a scene at the end of the credits with an old man (Buzz Aldrin) and a young boy talking about the legend of Commander Shepard, and it is clearly on the same planet as the final Normandy scene. I think this is where they "show" you that Shepard is a legend, not in the following texts about eventual DLC.
Regardless of how anyone felt about the end, I thought the entire series was very well done, well written, and that it redefined what we ought to expect from the medium of video games.
Ásgeir Jóhannsson
4. Skastrik
To be blunt I was and still am tempted to call it cheap storytelling to go out with a 3 flavor variation of the basically same ending.

Playing with a character made in the original Mass Effect and through ME2 and imported into ME3. I was kinda expecting anything I did in the previous games to have influenced the outcome beyond my control. Consequences that I'd have to accept. But they didn't and choices made in ME3 hardly mattered in the end.

They skimped on the ending, went all intellectual like the Matrix movies went and a lot of sci-fi does eventually. Which is so, so sad. Because this should have been an emotional ending, not something that leaves you considering plot holes, obvious plot holes.

I'd have been fine with the lack of choices if the ending had been up to it. But it wasn't.....
Evan Langlinais
5. Skwid
Anyway...how 'bout that multiplayer, huh? I'm totally enjoying the hell out of that, at least!
Amy Palmer
6. wayfaringpanda
"Yet, while I agree with the outrage (and I do believe it’s more than a small and vocal online community) I can’t defend the actions of some protesting fans. I find the use of tying customer demands with donations to juvenile cancer charity Child’s Play extremely distasteful. If only being a really cool cancer charity alone was enough to raise $80,000 in a few days."

The problem with this is that gamers are always being told to vote with their wallets, but when game reviewers consistently overrate games, or when the highly unsatisfying moment does in fact happen in the last ten minutes of a game, or when the gamers themselves can't not purchase the latest iteration of their favorite IP (because let's be honest, we're all addicts when it comes to our favorite IPs), there's very little recourse on how to actually make game developers pay attention.

Child's Play is a charity geared towards game developers and gamers. The Retake ME3 movement wanted to draw attention and help others at the same time, which they managed to do. When the charity asked that they stop, as they were uncomfortable with the donations being tide to a movement like Retake ME3, they did so without kicking up a fuss and apologizing for any issues they may have caused the charity. Now they are using other methods, from forming their own charity, to coordinating members for BioWare and EA panels at PAX East, and even sent cupcakes.

I loved 99.9 percent of Mass Effect, from firing up my rarely-used Xbox360 to the time I actually start retaking Earth. I will probably continue to buy BioWare games for years to come. But they let a large portion of their fans down, and I don't blame the movement for wanting to make their voices heard in any way they can. In fact, I give them major props for how organized they're becoming and (for the most part) promoting a civil response to the entire ordeal. I hope they continue to Hold the Line, and I hope they continue to help other causes while doing so.
Matthew Hunter
7. matthew1215
I've played the whole sequence of games, and I admit to being more than a little disappointed by the ending to the series. As a programmer I understand how difficult it can be to handle branching decisions like that -- you have to think about all your possible branches in everything you do after that branch, and it can rapidly become unmanageable. Bioware clearly chose throughout the game to offer players the *illusion* of choice, and then wave their hands behind the scenes so that it looked like your choices mattered... until you played through the game and made difference choices. I think, in the final analysis, your "choices" add up to a single number: how many points you get in the military strength meter before invading earth.

SPOILERS

Didn't save the Rachni queen in the first game? Don't get her support points, but you still have to face her reaper-modified forces. Didn't negotiate a truce between the geth and the quarians? Well, then you get points for one or the other, not both. I think Bioware boiled down the choices in the previous games to bare numbers, and then gave you a final ending choice that... completly, totally, utterly FLOPPED, because all of the choices you had made previously had *already* coalesced into a single, final pathway.

Compare that to the previous games:

Mass Effect 1 defined a really interesting universe, some good gameplay elements (cover-based shooter with some driving/exploration elements and a sort-of-magic if you prefer to use that), and gave you choices that felt like they had an impact. Some of them were hard choices.

Mass Effect 2, for all the logic holes in the plot, took your choices from the first game, preserved them, and stuck you in a situation where you had to take a close look at moral grey areas. It gave you *hard* choices. It forced you to question the motives of your nominal leader the Illusive Man. Most importantly, the end sequence of the game could potentially kill off most of your crew if you made the wrong choices or weren't invested in them enough to bother dealing with their issues. That's some *serious* choice there, and some serious emotional wrenching if you screwed up and lost characters. The end mission sequences were emotionally powerful and felt meaningful, even if the human-reaper-terminator-thing made no logical sense.

So how did ME3 handle the huge number of branches that could show up from all those possible crew deaths? Much smaller crew with new members, focused on those characters who were certain to survive the previous games. Many of the really interesting characters from ME2 that gave that game such a large and diverse cast showed up only as "episode stars", not crewmembers. Something that could be easily removed if that character had died in ME2. I won't say it cheapened the impact of events in ME2, but it certainly did not live up to them.

I don't know what to think about the downloadable extension. If it's just cut scenes and cinematics, I don't think it can salvage anything. When they first announced it (without details) I thought it might work. Here's what I would have taken as a successful conclusion:

1) The "indoctrination ending" (google it) is true and most of the final sequence was a reaper-induced hallucination. The only way out of the hallucination is to pick the C/red/destroy choice.

2) The downloadable content picks up after the C/red/destroy choice, back on earth, and gives you playable content to make it to the citadel and fire the crucible, which (cinematic) destroys the reapers throughout the galaxy, but without the silly "Let's control the reapers" and "let's merge with the reapers" choices.

3) The ending cinematic must actually make sense. Part of the justification for the "indoctrination ending" is that the ending cinematic makes no sense, feels dreamlike, and doesn't differ much based on the choices you make. The new ending cinematic must emphasize: we blew up the reapers, we are back in the real world, possibly paying a high cost for our victory. We're not stepping off a damaged starship on some pristine new jungle world to start over fresh. No soft-focus dreamlike stuff.

Why does that work? Well, it turns the whole ending dream sequence thing into a meaningful choice. You've been zapped by the reaper indoctrination beam, they are trying to take control of your mind to stop you, you have to shake off their control and manipulation -- as a player! -- by not taking the two choices they push at you in the game as the obvious moral choices, and ONLY if you pass that challenge do you have the chance to destroy the reapers for real.

That wouldn't change the cheap coalesce-all-paths-into-a-numerical-score trick, but it would give that final choice some punch, some meaning, rather than "Oh, we changed the color-coded explosion in the cinematic to represent the choice you made." That just screams of a budget failure.
David Thomson
8. ZetaStriker
My biggest problems with the ending was that your party disappears without warning, which shook me to the point that I believed they'd been killed unnoticed off-screen until they randomly appeared in the ended. I'd chosen my party carefully, based on what finishing the fight with the Reapers might mean personally for each participant, and their being ripped from the narrative in a forced plot point made no sense, and emotionally distanced me from everything that followed.

My second complaint is that, despite "sticking to their creative vision", Bioware lost their former writing team and this ending is not the originally planned ending for the series. And it's been forced into place by their new head writer in a very sloppy fashion.
John Skotnik
9. ShooneSprings
The biggest disappointment to me was that after hearing so much talk about "unique" endings, and then trying to do everything possible in the game, I still was left with choice A, B, or C.
If I had rushed through the game, I still would have had the same choices. That too me is the frustrating thing.

*SPOILER ALERT*

In ME2, if you rushed through the game (and skipped the loyalty missions), your squad members would die during the final mission. Heck, you might even have died!

*/SPOILER ALERT*

That, too me, showed some significant personalization.

I'm eagerly awaiting the "Extended Cut", and look forward to seeing how it alters the game.
Theresa DeLucci
10. theresa_delucci
Glad to see some people have actually finished the game! Most people I know haven't gotten there yet, so it's been so frustrating keeping it all in.

@5 I sucked at multiplayer! Not used to the different controls and no anonymous players would give me a chance before kicking me from the team. D'oh. I need more multiplayer buds.

@6 I wonder how many game reviewers actually finished the game before reviewing it. Because it really was the last 10 minutes that, well, I don't want to say ruined... but that's how I felt at the time. That ending ruined the game for me in that I didn't really have an interest in replaying.

I'm really of two minds about fan-organized protests. I participated in a big way for Farscape's cancellation back in the day. (Take that, Browncoats!) It's cool to see so many passionate people showing a big company just what they want to do with their dollars. And the Retake Mass Effect, as unseemly and petchulant as some of it was, was also largely polite. I think in my grumpiness, I can't see getting that worked up over much pop culture anymore.

Almost all of my favorite TV shows have been axed. I can deal with it. But this asking for a new ending business bugged me as someone who likes to write stories of my own. It's just a big grey area, which of course makes it fascinating to observe!

@7 Well said on all points!

@8 I had a bit about the changing writing staff and notes, but cut it for length. There definitely had to be some behind the scenes challenges and conflicts going on, either eith BioWare or EA or leaked scripts. And yes, the multicolored ending smacked of a rushed job and no more budget.
chaosprime
11. mchandler
It's a MAJOR failure for a mature game company. Whither playtesting???
chaosprime
12. Lomifeh
Gonna be a few spoilers in here maybe

There was a post on the penny arcade forums about the ending by one of the writers of the game. This writer was responsible for, among other things, Tali. He said the ending was written by the lead writer and Casey Hudson alone with no peer review. This went against the normal procedure for writing. The authenticity of the post has been questioned with some claiming it was confirmed and others debunked.

But that ending feels like ticould be true because it just feels so out of sync wi path the rest of the game. I loved the game until that endpoint. One thing I liked is how some in game dialogue got changed slightly based on earlier events. Like Jack mentioning the collector base changing if you had her run the barrier. Or Tali complaining about the vents if you had her run them. They did have some missteps though like their handling of Emily Wong and the IGN gimme character.

Also for those who cured the genophage, anyone else shed man tears?
Theresa DeLucci
13. theresa_delucci
@12 I shed girly tears. Does that count? I also maybe got choked up during those last conversations with your crew.

@9 Mass Effect 2 was my favorite of the series for that reason. Also, Thane.

I think this thread should now be about comparing notes on what we did differently. I can't imagine my Commander Shepard differently, so it's weird but fun, like peeking into alternate universes.

I thought the Emily Wong Twitter thing was an interesting idea. The Jessica Chobot character, not so much. It just seemed like an excuse to pander to teenage boys. Even more than James Vega. (I ended up really liking Vega, so that was great characterization.) Her presence pulled me out of the game and made me think about how I much I dislike "gamer girl celebrities" like Jessica Chobot and Olivia Munn. But that's probably a whole other post. Chobot's acting was bad and her character model looked like Snookie.

And was that a shiny Spandex dress? Why does FemShep get a black version of that skanky dress as a casual outfit and BroShep gets a cool leather jacket?

But I digress.
chaosprime
14. lomifeh
@13: Yeah James does grow on you. I romanced Ash in 1 and Tali for the rest and the depth added to the Geth/Rannoch missions because of it was great. The writer for that has also been somewhat more outspoken regarding things which is nice. That is one thing that stuck me, at least for the squaddies that could be romanced, how they added a bit of depth there.

Those final convos were great. They felt right for the squad at least. If you romance Tali it's heartbreaking how she says "I want more time." One thing I did not get but I saw videos of was the uhm hilarious reaction the humans have to Cortez going down if you were not all buddy buddy with him. I was all friends with him so he lived.

Did you listen to all the huntresses dialouge? When Joker mentioned his sister everything clicked and I felt so crappy.
chaosprime
15. Plan R
Spoilers off the port side!

I am on my second play through still. This Shep lost Thane in the Collector's base, so durring the coup attempt on the Citadel I thought the Salarian councilor would die, but Kirrahe shows up and saves the day. It wasn't quite as bad ass or as touching as Thane's scene's, but it did tug on the old Heart Strings a bit. Hold the Line.

From know on I am kicking Ashley/Kaidan off the ship after the coup attempt. It triggered a scene where Joker salutes me and talks about how its time someone showed me the respect I deserved. I didn't think I could like that guy any more then I already did.

I cured the Genophage again this time, but I did't say a word about the Salarian sabotage until I was in the shroud with Moridin. This triggered a scene with me talking about how Moridin was always for the Genophage and I was always against it. The scene was not the heartfelt good bye I got previously, but when he screamed "I made a mistake!" at me it really got to me and I let him distribute the cure. I dont think in any playthrough I will be able to actually kill him. So tricking the Krogan will have to wait until I use my Shep where only Garrus and Tali surrvive ME2.

Also I learned to never shoot the bottle durring my outing with Garrus on the Citadel. Because "I'm Garrus Vakaryan and this is my favorite spot on the Citadel." is one of the best lines in the game.

@ 13 and 14 At first I did not like James either, but after he rammed the shuttle on Mars, I softened up a bit, and the guy really did grow on me.
chaosprime
16. Plan R
Oh and on the IGN reporter garbage. I think the idea of having a reporter on the Normandy is a good one. I like giving the interviews and listening in on her conversations about what is happening in the war, so I let her on board both times, and its fun shooting down her advances on me. But its a total fail, because she is complete eye candy and plays to the hot chick gammer/journalist routine, which is such BS. Bioware losses a point for that.
chaosprime
17. lordnaryb
SPOILERS:

in ME2 I saved everyone and romanced Miranda (continued in ME3) - it appears at the end of ME3 that Tali and Garrus have a thing
Theresa DeLucci
18. theresa_delucci
@15/16

I don't know anyone renegade enough to take the shot with Garrus on the Citadel. You'd have to be a real jerk. Even the most dickish Shep still bros out with Garrus. He was my romance and that date was so cute. I thought it was very touching and appropriate for two soldiers. I saved him for last after visiting Liara and friend-zoning Kaiden (tool) so I was just expecting another conversation at the docks, not actually leaving to go to a new location. That was a nice surprise. and cemented Garrus' status as a million time more fun than anyone else on the Normandy.

I loved the increased crew interaction. I didn't like that you couldn't navigate dialogue trees as much on the Normandy, but I loved the conversations: Drunk Tali and Javik, Javik and James in the kitchen, Garrus and Joker. (Seriously, get the "From Ashes" DLC. Javik was my favorite new character of the game.)

The way Vega was such a tease, I thought for sure I noticed some actual flirting between him and Cortez in the shuttle bay. I think it would've been awesome if they became an item after you helped Cortez mourn his husband.

My next playthrough (maybe) I'll let Space-Snookie on just to hear some new dialogue. My war assets didn't suffer without her.
Sky Thibedeau
19. SkylarkThibedeau
A note to Sucessful game Designers and Screenwriters: Just because the first two seasons or editions of your story were wildly popular and sucessful does not mean you have the intellectual talent of a Goethe or a Tolstoy. It just means your story reasonates with us in Geekville. Please do not try to give us some philosophical claptrap or teach us some irrelevant moral lesson ala 'Matrix Revolutions', or the 'LOST' and 'BSG' final seasons. ENTERTAIN US.

This is the Age of Panem et Circenses. The Enlightenment comes after the Dark Ages.
chaosprime
20. Plan R
@18

Well with that particular Shepard, he would never have missed on purpose, He was my War Hero/Earthborn, hardass with a heart of gold. I have diffrent motivations with each Sheaprd I have, so even though that one was mostly Paragon, he would never just let someone win. His bromance with Garrus wasn't impacted by making the shot as far as I can tell. But from now on I will miss on purpose, it was a great scene.

If your really against letting Snookie onboard, she only gives you 5 points, so you dont get much either way. The interviews are nice, they would be even better if they had an actual voice actor in that role.

I think the best non-dialouge wheel crew interaction is walikng in on Garrus and Tali getting personal in the forawrd battery. Even after the dialouge was over I just stood there stareing at them giggling to myself. They would have made a good couple if they had surrivied the end and the evolutionary change I forced upon them .

I am going to have to pick up the DLC, but I am not sure how, I have no internet at the house, always relying on wireless hooks ups from my neighbor, I definetly dont want to buy the wireless adaptor for a one time download, so Im sol. Same with the multiplayer, I normally wouldn't care about MP, but it sucks that no matter what I do I can't get above 4000 ems.
chaosprime
21. Jayme
Excepting Allers (Chobot), I really enjoyed the new crew members. The goodbyes with all my ME2 team at the end of ME3 were fantastic, though I did miss them at times during the main game. But also, I like taking the same team out with me everytime, so I certainly appreciate not having 12 team members to choose from. But I've been a Kaidan/Garrus dream team Shepard since ME1. ME2 I enjoyed, but it was hell for me without Kaidan.

I didn't dislike Allers, but I would have preferred Emily Wong, hands down. Would really like to know why she went from being a reporter on the Citadel to being a reporter on Earth.

The only character I did not get to return (that could show up in ME3) was Kelly because I could never bring myself to invite her for dinner. I couldn't even flirt with her enough to get the dinner conversation. Too bad. I would have liked my fish back.

If you're looking for a fun group of people to MP with, there is a group on the BioWare Social Network that a bunch of us Kaidan fans put together. It's limited to us crazies, but you may be able to find other groups of like-minded individuals. Or you can email me and I will give you my gamertag. I don't get to play much, so I certainly won't boot you for getting used to playing. :)
chaosprime
22. Jayme
Ha! I thought my email address would link to my name. Guess not. You can find my gamertag here.
Theresa DeLucci
23. theresa_delucci
Thanks, Jayme. I just might take you up on that. Kaidan fans, eh? I like to joke about him, but he's not such a bad guy. I really loved him in the first game.

People can DM on Twitter for my GT. It'd be fun to get a bunch of Tor folk together to play!

I remember in ME1, you got an achievement for bringing one squad member with you for x amount of missions. There really should've been an achievement for bringing the same squad member on x amount of missions through all three games. Garrus would be mine, hands down. Then Liara. I never really thought about how to best use other people's biotics.
Jan Grilanc
24. DrRoxo
Really well written.

It amazes me, how many people don't get, why all the rage - so, thanks for understanding, I guess ^^

Oh, and by the way:
"But BioWare should be lauded for not throwing their writers on the fire and standing behind their artistic vision, however misguided it may be."
That's the only part, where I disagree with the article. Standing for something that was poorly writen and badly executed doesn't really strike me as noble. It smells too much of embracing mediocrity - which is far from what ME has been through most of the series. And even further away from what it should have been in those heart wrenching final minutes.
chaosprime
25. Shanz
It's heartening that a site that features writers writing would "get" the disappointment so many have felt with the non-ending. Thanks for this article.

So many anecdotes above, too, underline how much many of us were invested in the ME characters and game.

Only one spoiler: "it's all indoctrination!" can't work as an explanation, because then you've got to answer why The Child would put a "destroy everything!" button anywhere Shep could get to it... not to mention why that button would exist in any case.
Theresa DeLucci
26. theresa_delucci
@24 I really mostly only meant that as the writers are not the only ones to blame for such a mistake as a bad ending, so it's good that BioWare didn't fire their writing staff. As with many movies, a script for a game is also a collaborative effort. We can't blame Joss Whedon for the atrocities of Alien Resurrection, right?

@25 I've still never even really looked at the Indoctrination Theory in detail because I find it so hard to believe that BioWare would really let a game go out without a "real" ending. But if they retcon the exisiting ending with the indoctrination theories from fans, that would certainly be interesting!

And I do take the fan complaints seriously. I rarely get worked up over pop culture, but, man, this disappointed me hugely! I waited on line, in the San Diego heat, for 3 hours last Comic-Con just to play the ME3 demo. I got a sunburn! Haha. I won't put myself through that for just anything.
Evan Langlinais
27. Skwid
I forgot to check back in on this thread, but if any Tor folks want to add me, I play on Xbox as "GreatGraySkwid."
chaosprime
28. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan
I was really shocked by the ending. Like jaw-droppingly astounded. For a series that places such great imporance on details and storytelling, the ending was very short and vague. It felt like it was very rushed and they did the ending without much thought or analysis. There were too many plot holes and unanswered questions in it.

It would have been like Luke Skywalker sacrificing his life to kill Darth Vader but we never find out what the importance was of that action. Or the relationship between them.
chaosprime
30. murp
http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/9872108&lf=8

https://twitter.com/masseffect/status/179687674049867776

Serious reply now. As for unanswered questions, Bioware purposely created this ending to be vague because they wanted people to talk about it and come up with theories and use their imaginations to fill in the blanks. Lot of people expected some kind of Return of the King completionist ending which answers everything and ties everything in a knot, but they forget, this is sci-fi, and sci-fi has a lot of unanswered stuff and things that aren't fully explained for the masses. Think a lot of people who play Mass Effect 3 (least on BSN) came from games like WoW or DAO where they got handed everything, then they come to the sci-fi realm thinking this game will end like DAO or LOTR (epilogue and closure cutscenes, no stone left unturned approach) and it didn't.

http://www.lightsfilmschool.com/articles/film_adudience/index.html

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