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Ray Muzyka Addresses Mass Effect 3 Ending Debacle 2012

Today Bioware co-founder Ray Muzyka took to the Internets to drop the official Bioware position on fan and critical reaction to Mass Effect 3’s ending. The whole comment is worth reading, but this is the part, I presume, that made my Twitter feed explode this morning:

Building on their research, Exec Producer Casey Hudson and the team are hard at work on a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey. You’ll hear more on this in April. We’re working hard to maintain the right balance between the artistic integrity of the original story while addressing the fan feedback we’ve received. This is in addition to our existing plan to continue providing new Mass Effect content and new full games, so rest assured that your journey in the Mass Effect universe can, and will, continue.

Most every critic I follow has absolutely skewered Bioware for supposedly caving to fan entitlement and changing the ending for the game. I actually feel for Bioware here. It’s the classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. Personally, I’ve read the full statement three times and it’s not at all clear what they actually intend to do so I think the more prudent move here is to withhold judgment.

Incidentally, I have my full thoughts on the game’s ending, and the surrounding silliness, going up first thing tomorrow. You know, just in case the 1,463,352 other stories about it on the web weren’t enough for you.

READ ALSO:  Thrower’s Tallies: Top Eight Designers

This is fast-becoming one of the damndest scenarios I’ve seen unfold in this business.

Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and proceeded to spend over 16 years as a development editor for Pearson Education, publishing books, videos, and digital learning products under the Que and Sams Publishing imprints. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd has also been a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets. Follow him on Twitter @ubrakto or check it out his website at ToddsFoolery.com.

56 thoughts to “Ray Muzyka Addresses Mass Effect 3 Ending Debacle 2012”

  1. This is disappointing. BioWare should have stuck to their guns- and stood by their writers. This is a sharp blow for games as art and as a creative medium. Any medium with “fans” that demand creators change their work to suit them is in a pretty sorry state.

    The thing is, if these consolation endings are paid DLC…I’ll applaud them. Make those “Retake Mass Effect” idiots pay.

    I still haven’t gotten to the end, but I’ve gathered enough context clues to see what’s happened. BioWare wanted a thoughtful, resonant, and not necessarily happy or conclusive ending. Fans wanted a fireworks show along with a lollipop and a handjob from BioWare to thank them for buying their games. Then there’s this whole fucked up concept that people wanted the ‘right’ ending for ‘their’ Shepard, which is unbelievably bizarre.

    Like “fans” have any ownership over this stuff. STFU, “fans”.

    As I said before, how would it be if “fans” bitched and whined until Polanski changed the end of Chinatown? Or if “fans” took to the picket lines over the ending of 2001, complaining that they “didn’t get the ending that was promised” or some such preposterous nonsense? We wouldb’t have these great, iconic films. We’ve had crowdsourced narratives instead of auteur works.

    I for one dread the day when stories are crowdsourced and changed to suit the whims of a ne’er-do-well public that thinks they can improve anything but have neither the tools nor talent to do so.

    This is a bad move, BioWare. It sets a TERRIBLE precedent.

    1. On this, I agree.

      But that said, what if a game sequel adds some goofy mechanic or Jessica Chobot that seem to defy the intent of the original? Where is the line between “tell your fans to STFU” and “listen to these people: you don’t need sparkly vampires in Game of Thrones to make it better”?

      But yeah. One more time. This ending stuff is clearly on the “STFU” side of the line.

      1. Well, that’s where good craft and common sense come in- you don’t put glitter vampires in Game of Thrones because it’s not a consistent narrative. If you need “fans” to tell you that…get out of the writing business!

      2. What about when the goofy mechanics and Jessica Chobot were concessions to fan expectations in the first place?

        How do you distinguish between fan-service and art? Whether or not you personally enjoy it?

    2. 1. I think comparing Mass Effect to Chinatown is a HUGE leap.

      Compare it to Transformers: Dark of the Moon and you’re closer.

      2. I don’t expect Bioware to change a darn thing about the endings. I expect them to offer something that makes things a bit clearer. I would be stunned if they put in an entirely different ending.

      In the end I think it comes down to $$. Obviously EA or Bioware felt this whole thing could impact sales and they are trying to act accordingly. This is still a business and Bioware doesn’t make cheap indie games here. The EA shareholders could give a crap about artistic integrity that is for sure.

      More to the point: How much is artistic integrity worth? When Bioware employees are getting laid off because the games aren’t the blockbusters they once were…. what then? All worth it? I know if I was handing a guy his severance package I, personally, would have a hard time looking him in the eye and said “Hey, we kept our artistic integrity”… but I am a bit of a pragmatist.

      Artistic integrity is the rock, and the consumers of their product are the hard place, and Bioware is firmly stuck in between them. This isn’t some indie developer making some tiny-budget game. This is a AAA franchise with a AAA budget…

      1. Well said, Martin- There’s definitely a crossroads of art and commerce here.

        Believe me, I’m the last guy on earth that thinks that the people that decelop and make games are noble, romantic artists who are willing to die to make great video games, corporations be damned. This is a capitalistic business, and there are people who are looking to both make money and feed families doing it. And there are folks who want to be wealthy from doing it. Nothing wrong with all of that.

        But it is still a creative medium, and there is room for art and artistic integrity. Great, popular art can and does exist.

        It does go back to the Dragon Age 2 comments earlier this week too…they tried some different things, some more sophisticated things…and found out the hard way that a AAA sequel to a hit video game was not the place to do that.

        Maybe having the darker, more challenging ending to Mass Effect 3 was a bad idea, commercially. I still haven’t seen it yet, so don’t tell me.

    3. But using movies is a terrible example because you’re comparing two different mediums. One involves around 2 hours of passive viewing, the other involves, for some people in this case, 60+ hours of active involvement and decision making. The world of Mass Effect for me may be very different for somebody else, based on the choices we made. Everybody is going to see the same version of Chinatown.

      Now i’m not saying i agree with the idea of Bioware going back and changing the ending, as terrible as it was. Nor do i agree with the vehemence of some of the reaction to it. But i do understand that at the core of those feelings is the idea that Bioware gave people a game where they claimed that player choice actually mattered. And the ending pretty much tossed that notion aside.

      1. I don’t disagree with you, but when you get right down to it choices like those in any BioWare game are an illusion. You aren’t making any decisions. You’re selecting a path. They’re Choose Your Own Adventure books. The storylines and decision points are still there even if you go a different route. Your decisions do not, in any way, create the narrative of Mass Effect. Your decisions direct which way you go through pre-created, pre-ordained content.

        They’ve kind of stepped that up a bit by having persistent effects and game world-changing outcomes. But it’s still all canned, every moral choice has less to do with choice and more to do with selecting outcomes.

        Player choice doesn’t matter. In the end, it’s BioWare’s story.

        Now, more to your point, I do agree with what you’re saying about film as a passive medium versus games as an active medium- I’ve written about this extensively in the past, at one point I was really fascinated by how games (tabletop and video) are not complete until they’re played and they require the player to perform a kind of figurative alchemy to transmute the lead of rules and content to the gold of gameplay and narrative.

        But I also argue that if games shouldn’t be held to the kind of critical rigor and analysis that films are…quit trying to emulate films!

        1. If only ME3 was more like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. At least with those you usually had a few different endings dependent upon the choices you made. ME3 is more like a CYOA book that just directs everybody to the same final page no matter what. I also totally disagree with you that player actions do not create the narrative, at least some of it. I won’t go into specifics since you haven’t reached the ending yet, but it is fairly easy to make choices in the game that directly contradict the events of the ending. I agree that it’s Bioware’s story, but if they had a set story they wanted to tell all along, then they should’ve done a much better job of making sure that the actions of the player fell more in line with that. Otherwise, touting “player choice” as one of the major features of your game comes across as extremely disingenuous.

          1. Let me rephrase it in a way that makes more sense- your choices create the connections between narrative events but you’re still operating in their story and within their parameters.

            I’m interested to see about these contradicting events- if that is there, then that’s a continuity issue that BioWare should have worked out the kinds of decision points that lead up to it.

            The reality of it is, BG, is that the ending of Mass Effect 3 wasn’t likely even considered when Mass Effect 1- or even 2- were being written. And it is a complex, multifaceted story with these branching decision points. So it wouldn’t surprise me if the writers found themselves in a situation where they had to allow some degree of contradiction into some of the possible conclusions in order for it to work.

            Now, the problem there is that this is the internet age, and you can’t really get away with that. If Star Wars came out today, the internet would EXPLODE about Luke being Leia’s brother after the events and characterizations in A New Hope.

    4. Interestingly, this is exactly what I’m talking about. We don’t know what they’re going to offer. Will it change the ending? Will it just augment the ending? We have no idea. Let’s see what they actually produce before we skewer them.

    5. Plus movies are a bad comparison because the endings of movies get changed all the time if they test poorly.

      Now it doesn’t usually happen after the movie is released (though someone will inevitably bring up Blade Runner, so I just will right now). But it does happen after focus group viewing all the time.

      1. Beat me to it. The difference is that Blade Runner had a commercially conscripted “crowd pleasing” ending that wasn’t the director’s intent. It also had the knock-on effect of completely eliminating some of the more interesting subtexts and suggestions of the _entire film_. It was changed because Ridley Scott wanted (and was able) to revisit it.

        NOT because whiny, entitled fans pitched a hissy fit on the internet.

    6. Mr Barnes, first I want to say Broken Steel exists so the precedent is already there even if it wasn’t all creative mediums have had this is one form or another. Books have had Arthur Conan Doyle caving to peer pressure and bringing Sherlock Holmes back to life and hell even the recent Mass Effect book will be altered, films have been recut to suit someones view of the film (usually directors but there are others too like the fan cut of Highlander 2)in fact the only medium not yet affected is television.

      Second,you have yet to experience the ending so I would assume, maybe incorrectly, that you do not know why fans are upset so you know maybe you shouldn’t attack them without knowing the whole picture.

      Also Bioware kept saying Shepard was theirs so get angry at Bioware for planting that seed and not the fans.

      I don’t care about Mass Effect, not since the first one, but at this point in the dialogue the majority of the Retakers seem alot more clear headed and polite then anybody who disagree with them.

      1. Good points about Broken Steel and Holmes- I hadn’t thought about Holmes in particular, but something to bear in mind there is that Doyle brought Holmes back in a story that he claimed was pre-Reichenbach Falls- Hound of the Baskervilles. Fan pressure could very well have been a deciding factor for him to “resurrect” Holmes later on, but dollars to donuts says that it was a writer’s paycheck that was the deciding factor- not appeasement.

        That’s a good point too about the Mass Effect book, but apparently it was actually inconsistent with BioWare’s story materials.

        It’s funny that you mention television, because I don’t know of a single series that had an ending that pleased everyone. Lost springs to mind, as does Battlestar Galactica. And X-Files. Yet these controversial or fan-deemed unsatisfactory endings remain.

        I do know why fans are upset. They’ve invested a lot of time and, quite foolishly IMO, personal emotion into the stories and whatever their version of Shepard is. The ending seems like a betrayal for their loyalty and commitment to the series. I’ve heard enough to know that it’s a bleak, honest ending that some people may not be fully parsing due to heated passions.

        I’m impolite about it because I think it’s hurtful to the medium for this kind of ridiculous fan campaign to go on. I think it’s also hurtful that this tear-it-down mentality exists in place of serious, meaningful analysis and criticism. And I do think that there’s a whiny, crybaby mentality about it all.

        More, I find it terribly disturbing that people will get this angry and up-in-arms about VIDEO GAMES yet they’d never take up a picket to protest wrongdoing and injustice or petition an elected official to make positive changes.

        But that’s the internet “fan” mentality. You are what you consume.

        1. I would agree that it is a bit silly but then again I’m not passionate about this subject so I don’t know if I would react the same way if I was.

          The thing about TV is an oddity I think it is different because money isn’t typically involved bar cable fees. I think that fans got this upset and think they are in the right to ask for a change because they paid for it. Whether or not they are in the right I can’t say, I’m usually pro-consumer and yet this is kind of a sketchy area, yes Bioware made promises about choices and not having an A,B or C ending and yet I view that as PR fluff and not actual promises. How I think it will end will depend on how nervous these fans make them, there are alot of voices involved and those are the people who will pay for the DLCs and who will buy future Bioware games, again it all comes down to money.

          I actually think that this is not a bad thing that hurts gaming for one it’s far too localized to one franchise/company for that but aside from that I highly doubt this kind of behaviour will carry on to other aspects of gaming. In fact I think it proves how much Mass Effect ahem affected people and that is a great example of why gaming can be much more engaging and even important than films, books or TV and that at least is a positive thing in my opinion.

  2. I am very curious when he mentions “future full games”

    The ending in ME3 was very much emphatically an ENDING. Not just to “Shepards story” but to the Mass Effect universe as it existed….

    So do they go the prequel route? I am not sure that would sell so well… but who knows… do they go 100,200, 500 years into the future into a very different ME universe?

    will be interesting to watch at least.

    I think Bioware is really at a cross roads as a company. DA2 didn’t sell nearly as well as Origins (I loved it though). TOR started out of the gates like a rocket but appears to be falling off a bit… and now this whole ME3 thing….

    1. The problem is that they’re being assassinated by “fans”, aided and abetted by this sick “fan” culture that the internet has created where it’s all about dogpiling on something and tearing it down. Witness the Metacritic user review thing and how that works…and how the kind of morons that participate in that CONSTANTLY denigrate and devalue professional writing about games with conspiracy theories and misplaced distrust.

      As for more of Mass Effect- there’s a lot of stories and events in Mass Effect that could be told that might be interesting game material- I’m thinking specifically of the First Contact War. I could even see a first person humans versus turians game being really cool.

      Personally, I want a spaceship game. Something like Wing Commander but in a Mass Effect setting.

      1. I agree, Mike.

        The minute you listen to a fan on the Internet, you have lost.

        It’s just a pissing contest to see who can find the most fault in shit. Nobody knows how to enjoy anything anymore.

        Goddamn depressing.

        1. I assume they are people who enjoy a good tongue-in-cheek review like Yahtzee’s zero punctuation, but later forget about all context. Like the mythical TV watcher who believes Stephen Colbert isn’t doing a character.

        1. For two play-throughs of ME1, I roved all over every planet I found. It was fun. Like they had included Excite-Bike in 3d.

    2. Why can’t it just be an ending? It seems like that’s what they were going for. Why can’t Mass Effect just be done? There were three fantastic games that people loved. They decided to end it definitively. Why do we have to keep tapping every game IP until it’s dry?

      I would’ve applauded BioWare for taking a stand, ending their game and ensuring a long-lasting legacy for a great series like Mass Effect. But now I’m worried that we’re just going to get a slew of weak products to keep fans ‘happy.’

      I forgot who it was, but someone posted a really good comment in the Dragon Age II thread stating that BioWare can’t seem to figure out if it wants to maximize sales or maintain its artistic integrity. It looks like their reaction to ME3’s ending is going to show us which way they want to go, and this comment by the developers pretty much reveals which choice they made.

      1. Why can’t it just end?

        Who own’s Bioware again?

        Why is there a new Madden every year? A new Battlefield? EA is always looking for that next franchise it can whore out. Why should Bioware get a free pass?

        1. I’m actually kind of torn here because I’m very much in the “let it end when it ends” camp. But I also think that they’ve actually managed to create a pretty darn good pop SF property that has a lot of marketable- and creatively compelling- hooks. I wouldn’t mind seeing more games- like something where you play as a Hanar or Volus.

          But the Shepard/Reaper story…yeah, it needs to be conclusive.

          1. It’s true, and I’d probably be OK with a new game set in the Mass Effect universe (especially something similar to Privateer, as suggested by MartinBlank, because let’s be honest here, that sounds awesome), but I mostly just want the Shepard story to be done, and for them to not mess with their ending and let it stand on its own merits. I think I’m going to be disappointed…

  3. As far as I can tell, it sounds like they’re not changing a thing, but just trying to explain what happened in more detail. If this is the case, they may as well not bother, because that won’t change anyone’s mind.

    Personally, I think the whole debacle is quite unnecessary, but then again, the ending didn’t really bother me.

  4. I have said it at least a billion times:

    Privateer in the Mass Effect universe.

    Take my money.. please

    1. Shall we take this cri de coeur onto Kickstarter, Martin?

      While we’re at it…Shadowrun on the Citadel. Change the fantasy races to aliens, replace magic with biotics.

      With Mass Effect gates on planetary surfaces, you could even do a poor man’s version of Rifts.

  5. I could take the ending being poorly written, I could take it being poorly executed. Here we have both. I think it would be fairly easy to fix at least one of those problems with dlc.

    Also it would be nice to see the reactions of your various mates to what you decide in the end, but that may be pushing it.

  6. I haven’t actually played Mass Effect 3 yet, so perhaps I’m not qualified to talk about the ending. However, I’ve read a whole bunch about it, and the basic idea of what happens seems to be in keeping with the particular kind of sci-fi story that Mass Effect actually is. Namely, a classic cosmicism sci-fi story in vein of H.P. Lovecraft, where humans aren’t the centre of everything that goes on. The older sci-fi stories tend to end with a question, rather than an absolute resolution. A big giant “Now what?” which seems to be exactly what ME3 is doing.

    In theory, I have no qualms with this at all. In fact, I think it makes perfect sense if the entire goal is to break free of the Reaper cycle. In the first Mass Effect, Sovereign literally laid it out for you that the Reaper technology was the technological basis for the development of the [i]entire galaxy[/i] for the sole purpose of controlling the evolution of organic lifeforms. Literally everything you have is based on Reaper technology. The mass relays being destroyed is simply a requirement for getting rid of the Reapers. You cannot divorce yourself from this vicious cycle unless you break free of the forced evolutionary path based on technology that the Reapers have laid down. Whatever happens with people being stranded far away from their homes, the development of life in the galaxy will finally follow a natural, rather than artificial path. The fact that there has to be a big sacrifice for this to happen is expected, and didn’t surprise me at all that there isn’t a totally “happy” ending. I never expected one in the first place, and that’s really what we’re talking about here, isn’t it? Expectations.

    As for the actual ending decision, didn’t Mass Effect 1 & 2 end the same way? In ME1, you either went in and saved the council or you sat back and let them get destroyed. In ME2, you either salvaged the Collector base or you destroyed it. The previous games ultimately came down to a single big choice in the very end, with an ending cutscene with minor differences, and they didn’t even give you three options like this one does! Now, the actual ending states of the various people and, in this game, entire races are [i]vastly[/i] affected by the choices you make, which is really where the decision making comes into play from what I can see. Which characters survive the suicide run in ME2, what kind of romantic relationship(s) Commander Sheppard has, etc. These can all be altered by your decisions, but it still comes down to one binary decision at the very end, doesn’t it? I don’t recall everyone bitching up a storm about the first two games. I can only guess that it’s because this is the final game in the trilogy, so people just told themselves that it wasn’t [i]really[/i] the ending, and everything would be just fine by the end of ME3.

    Now having said all that, like I stated at the beginning, I haven’t actually played it yet. There may be some plot holes, or maybe the method of delivery is bad, I don’t know. There’s something about using the form of a dead child from the attack on Earth, a la Jodie Foster’s dad in Contact. Again, no complaints from me, that’s a perfectly valid sci-fi trope used plenty of times. I saw some people complain that he didn’t even have the decency to explain that he was appearing in a form Sheppard would find comfortable or something. Here’s a thought: maybe the writers thought you’d be smart enough to figure it out without them holding your hand? I dunno, I guess I have to play it for myself before I pass final judgement. But I’m personally having a really hard time getting behind the ridiculous amount of vitriol over the ending to this game.

    1. Good stuff! Will be interesting to see what your take is when my post on the ending goes up in the morning.

    2. Very well stated. But you’re assuming that the average Mass Effect “fan” has read enough classic Science Fiction to understand that kind of an open-ended, speculative resolution. Like Blade Runner, mentioned above.

      Thinking about it, two of my very favorite video game endings of all time have exactly this kind of “what now” ending. Metro 2033 ends with a devastating beat- not with a massive tentacle monster fight, but with a moment of quiet contemplation regarding what happens in the final moments. It comes after a harrowing passage, and it calls into question EVERYTHING about what happened. If it had been a more mainstream game,some folks would have been pissed.

      Arkham City was much more mainstream, and it had a very dark, speculative “what now” conclusion. It was emotionally draining, bleak, and rife with moral questions and psychological uncertainties. I won’t spoil the final line, but it was almost as good as “It’s Chinatown, Jake” in the story’s context.

      I like endings like this. I don’t need a Return of the King-style extended epilogue that shows me what everybody did (if they’re still alive). I also don’t need a celebration. What I want is a consistent conclusion that, in Mass Effect’s case, may not answer all the questions but invites me to speculate and project meanings and resolutions.

      We’ll see next week.

      1. ‘Very well stated. But you’re assuming that the average Mass Effect “fan” has read enough classic Science Fiction to understand that kind of an open-ended, speculative resolution. Like Blade Runner, mentioned above.’

        Kind of a dick thing to say.

        1. I’m not being a dick about it. Frankly speaking and with a huge dollop of generality, most people haven’t read a lot of classic science fiction. Reading classic SF isn’t really very “mainstream” these days. But Mass Effect is very mainstream, and my point is that although the writers of the game are clearly influenced by a lot of classic SF and may be attempting the kind of ending discussed, the audience this game is reaching may not get that.

          Not because they’re dumb, but because they’re just not tuned into the same thinking or genre conventions. Most of what the mainstream thinks and understands about science fiction today comes from Star Wars and the residual three decades of action films with SF window dressing and the occasional TV series.

          1. See I think the opposite, the people complaining are not the mainstream (I doubt the mainstream fans would bother with internet gaming sites) but the hardcore Mass Effect fans the ones that are on the whole intelligent and like to analyse aspects of the universe including the science behind it and yes get nitpicky on the lore. Every argument I have read on the subject is not that it makes sense due to them not understanding it but that it doesn’t make sense logically, as there are many inconsistencies and logical fallacies.

            I think if anyone is reading classic SF it would be these guys.

            I would also disagree that Mass Effect was inspired by classic SF perhaps the original but as the series has progressed it has gotten more and more in to pulp. In fact the Mass Effect 3 ending I think borrows alot from a modern writer called Alastair Reynolds as well as many other pulpy sci-fi including Star Wars.

          2. Spoiler: Science-fiction requires at least one inconsistency. All the juicy details Star Trek gives about the nuances of dark matter and warp drive mechanics are bullshit. Science fiction isn’t about convincing the audience that the world portrayed is a real one. It’s about convincing the audience that IF they forgive some inconsistent premises, they’ll see an interesting story or characters in light of it.

            When details are given about the mumbo-jumbo in the universe, they’re not there to make sense of everything else. They’re there to add something for the story or characters to build from. Trying to make logical sense of the idea behind “Green Mars” is the entire plot of the book. Putting people into a strange scenario and trying to describe how they will respond is the point. Being consistent still isn’t the point.

            Someone who finishes the large scale sci-fy that Mass Effect is and complains about inconsistency is missing the whole point. They’ll absorb other inconsistencies like Shepard’s memories being retained after having its brain destroyed and re-grown as long as they’re given a gratuitous non-explanation about Cerberus medicine. But some inconsistency about the power of the Reapers between games? (which isn’t an inconsistency in the universe, but one of communication between game characters. I’d think most sci-fy nerds would love that.)

            So I agree with Michael Barnes. I’m pretty sure this isn’t the old-school sci-fy crowd complaining. This is the Star Trek, sonic-screwdriver crowd. They’re more worried about why THIS PARTICULAR man lives for 1000 years instead of caring about his choices and what he does with his time.

      2. Mark Hamill’s contribution to the ending of Arkham City was chilling.

        Dorkmaster, I wish I’d had a spoiler warning, dude. I’m not lashing out – it was my decision to read. But I’m trying to purposefully not give these guys money for ME3 until the GOTY edition comes out. Bound to happen eventually, I guess.

        Fans who hate DA2 compared to DA:O seem to divide mostly into two camps: “Where Is My Crunchy Stat Whoring?” and “Where Is My Big Bad?” I personally don’t need a Big Bad for an RPG to be epic, but clearly some folks do.

        In the end, though, this is BioWare’s fault, because they beat Sauron in the first episode. In their mind, they might have been clearing Big Bad out of the way so they could focus on something else. To many gamers, they were setting expectations for the franchise.

        1. Sorry, I just assumed that anybody reading this has probably either finished the game or read enough to spoil it for themselves, given the nature of the discussion.

      3. You, like Mass Effect team, clearly haven’t been paying attention since the announcement of ME3, then. No one wanted a “What now” ending. Look at how people talk when they about how they played the games. “My renegade gay male Shep did this.” “Well, my female paragon Shep did that and now I can’t…” “My neutral Shep is totally a bro with Garrus.” These people, the fans, the people that bought the game, the reason the game was made, did want an ending that explains some things (note that I did not say all things). At the very least, what happened to the crew should make some sense, and they didn’t even get that right!

        Besides, the “artistic” ending strikes me as extraordinarily lazy. “Uh, let’s not bother coming up with decent explanations for some of the reasonable questions people might have.” “Also, uh, there’s no time to make unique cutscenes for the whopping three (3) choices, so we’ll just re-color the one we did make.”

        1. Well like I said, I haven’t actually played it, so there may be very valid points in the actual execution of the ending that I haven’t seen yet. Frankly, I’m not concerned with what people wanted. I’m simply saying that the broad strokes of the ending make sense to me, given the themes that the series was dealing with in the first two games. I doubt that actually playing it is going to change my overall opinion that this whole thing is overblown, but I can’t say for absolute certain until I do play it.

  7. Calm down, everyone! I know what they’re going to do. They’re going to turn to a highly-advanced ancient artifact they discovered that presents them with two buttons:
    “Move on the next planned project; abandon illiterate fans to lives of rage and confusion”

    “Leave no man behind; Stop everything to modify or create DLC to carefully explain everything to everyone.”

  8. I’m more disappointed that they still haven’t said a word regarding the inability to recreate my Cmdr Shepard at the beginning of the game due to removed options that they’ve known would create a bug from at least a week before the game shipped.

    I just can’t play it at all as a result of breaking that 3rd person narrative relationship so horribly as it does. Bioware has simply made non-committal non-answers with no substance on fixing it at all and no one seems to care all that much.

    At this point I’m more insulted that they haven’t communicated anything at all about that kind of issue other than being ‘aware of it’ (or the ones where people’s choices imported incorrectly) than anything regarding the ending at all. One is an artistic choice that may have been lazy or sloppy, the other is a pure and utter failure of customer service/appreciation if nothing else. I get that bugs and tech issues happen, but the lack of communication on it is appalling and well over the line. Just give me a list on what you’re looking at for the next patch and I’ll be happy to move on if you can’t fix it. I can’t promise I’ll ignore it, but at least you appreciated me as a consumer of your product who purchased it on launch day enough to communicate to me that you’re trying to help (or that you can’t do so and regret it or whatever) and that’s worth quite a lot vs the silence and disregard for the issues that’s just making anyone with them bitter.

    I’m amazed it’s not more of an issue, but I suppose most people don’t really play the role-playing side of these games or haven’t played through the first one to carry everything over to begin with. Let alone that this issue supersedes it in interest while the other is a bit hard to write about and not as interesting to report.

    I’d love to experience and get enraged :p about the ending, but I can’t even experience the beginning in a suitable fashion.

    1. …..and as I say that they announce it’s done with the next patch….. still hate the effective communication block that was enacted prior to said announcement though!

  9. I haven’t gotten to the ending yet. I am only about 1/3 of the way into the game. I can’t comment on its quality.

    From day one, well, actually before day one, I have been a little surprised at all the vitriol and anger and hate that’s been spewed at BioWare for this game. I know it’s the internet and all – I’ve been around the internet since it began – but this whole thing seems to be crazier and burn with more white hot nerd rage than I’ve ever really seen with respect to any video game.

    Maybe I’m too old to really get it, but it seems like madness to me.

    Sure, EA/BioWare had some missteps along the way with the DLC and some other things, but I have yet to come across anything in the 16 hours I have played so far that is worthy of such rage and anger.

    In fact, that laste time I played I just had to make the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in a video game. I had to step away and ask Lady Ajax19 her advice. This, of course, forced me to go into a rather detailed background about the history of the Mass Effect galaxy. She’s an incredibly patient woman.

    That entire mission, especially after how it ended, was very emotional.

    To be honest, even if the rest of the game sucks balls, that segment of the game alone was almost worth the entire price I paid for it. It’s exactly the kind of thing that I’m looking for out of a RPG and something I rarely experience when playing video games.

  10. I agree with your sentiment that author’s shouldn’t bow to peer pressure but (and it is a massive but) once you finish ME3 you might see what the fuss is about. I personally have no problem with dark endings or open ended endings, endings that leave you to speculate or those that tie things up with a neat bow. However I do resent an ending which makes no sense whatsoever and basically assumes that nobody playing the game is bright enough or cares enough to give it two seconds thought. Shamus Young at Twenty Sided has a particularly good critique of the ending which I’d highly recommend if you want to get a sense of how utterly indefensible the “plot” is.

    I think a lot of the backlash is to do with the deterioration in the quality of the writing that has been evident from ME2 (just like most things the rage ends up being directed at one particular often inconsequential thing).

  11. Dr. “Ray” Frankenstein seems to be confused as to why the “minority” of townsfolk are upset over his construct tearing the hillside up. The good Dr. is also confused over the fuss about his grave robb … er … colleagues in the “field” that gave near perfect reviews toward this body of work. “They raved about the little cute bolts, the perfect sutures, the bold zipper in front” … “A paragon of infallibility, it’s art ! Mind the hands on that thing, choking hazard”.

    As a former graphic artist (that happened to work on those god awful Britney Pespi ads) I can tell you Ray’s statement is complete horse hockey. This is word for word what PespiCo said in the negative wake to the NAB complaints about those exploding bottles (and graphics) whenever the starlet walked by. Believe me when I say every artist working on the team vocally said that selling “soda vs sex & masturbation” is a bad idea. Soda & Sex ? Sure .. but not combined in an offensive way to piss off our target.

    I do not doubt for second that the brass at Bioware wasn’t hearing this (negativity) months ago from it’s own research & focus groups.

    At the moment I chalk this SNAFU to a more common problem in the programing & gaming industry. Overworked, underpaid, and unreasonable deadlines. That is killing the gaming industry. Most outraged fans on BSN are trying to save Bioware.

    It would be one thing if Muzyka came out and said “Hey, sorry guys, I’ve got this shit, we’re on it, check in at PAX for updates” in layman’s terms. But instead we get back handed complements one right after another. “while still maintaining the artistic integrity of the game” … that’s the big sticking point here too. Something produced is not art. There always is in art in products & it may turn out later to be art, but that is not the purpose of the product. I bought the Mass Effect Art-book and ***spoiler*** there was art in there! If I opened that hardback & found Casey Hudson’s scribbles “Lots of Speculation” on crunched up paper, I’d be escorted out of B&N by the police. Mass Effect 3 was not on the disc when I spun up the 360. I got something that looked like it, but was not Mass Effect 3. If anything I got the end of Mass Effect 3 or the prologue to ME4 on top of rushed a game with a plot riddled ending. If you watched “A New Hope”, “Empire Strikes Back” and then just saw only the ending of the battle of Endor with a cut to credits after Vader threw the Emperor over the side … it’s possible a riot would break out in the theater. Don’t forget the last rub of at the credits end “Enjoy the rest of the story on the extended DVD later!”

    If EA & Bioware’s plan was to sell (or give away) conclusion based DLC, that’s fine if it’s disclosed. The bold face lying from both these companies with pre/day zero/post DLC, the games content, the metacritic scores, marketing & PR statements are a disaster. I wish this push back against bad industry practices was with another company (EA & Activision directly or Ubisoft) , but it’s literally a crying shame it has to be Bioware.

    Good job Ray “Finkle” , laces out next time,if there is a next time.

    1. “Something produced is not art” stopped me. Sorry.

      Every piece of live theater is a production. It is art. Does collaborative art require a different skillset than lone-auteur work? Yes. Compromise is not automatically selling out – is that what your stance really is? If not, what am I misreading here?

      “This is a business” is increasingly just an attempt to short-circuit discussion. It’s not helpful to the larger questions that debates like this are really about:

      1) Why does [Thing X] rock or suck?
      2) How might we align the desire to make Thing X rock/not suck to the desire to make stacks of sweet, sweet cash appear in my hands? As opposed to setting those desires against one another?

      There is a way. YMMV, but I think other collaborative art forms CAN inform the discussion on how to do this.

      Christopher Nolan is making mainstream films that suck much less than Hollywood films on similar topics.

      George RR Martin visits the set of the GoT TV show to provide advice, but when the costume designer says his original vision of white enamel armor with white-and-gold feather cloaks looks like ass on camera, George shuts his mouth. And this is a guy whose primary form of income is making lone-auteur epics.

      As for your main point, yeah, sure. All PR statements sound the same. They have to. It’s not lying, so much as it’s avoiding the parts of the truth that will kill market share.

      1. Writing isn’t a strong skill. I’ll try to clarify.

        A door handle’s purpose isn’t art. An artist my design or make it, but it’s purpose isn’t to be art. Again, it’s secondary purpose “can” be art, but it’s purpose or it’s production is to be a door handle first.

        The primary purpose of Mass Effect 3 is not art. Artists, writers, programers, etc.. worked on Mass Effect 3. “Art” may be the primary tool set in building Mass Effect 3, but the primary purpose of Mass Effect 3 is entertainment in exchange for money. I say it that way because “art” is not an excuse for low quality work. If this was a car (for example), it can be a work of art, but it better turn on, it better have working breaks & the seat belt better work. If the seat belt doesn’t work, a recall is issued & the problem is fixed. Mass Effect 3’s ending doesn’t work (as intended for most people to be entertained). A “recall” so to speak makes perfect sense.

  12. Dammit, spam bot! I loved this thread, but its time had come. WHY WON’T YOU LET THE DEAD SLEEP IN THEIR NOBLE GRAVES?

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