likes this Post written by Aegeri
about a year ago
"This may not be relevant or interesting for anyone who isn't interested in the story about the Mass Effect 3 ending, but its definitely a well written piece and is far more reasonable an argument than normally comes out of such a situation."
So I've been reading about the ending for a long time now, on many different forums (many I don't even post on) and I've really been struck by how consistent
the disappointment in the ending is. Everywhere I've gone and read things, it's the same complaints from multitudes of different people. I feel the need to get this out of the way, because there are so many tangents and similar some of the important points are being generally lost.
The main thrust of the arguments against the ending (in no particular order) that are almost universally consistent (spoilered obviously):
1) The ending comes out of nowhere. You get space elevatored up into a very literal deus ex machina, then asked to make the same generic three choices - none of which are dependant or relevant to any of your previous actions.
2) The ending is abrupt and provides absolutely no closure for anything. Especially given that the previous game's arrival DLC told us that when Mass Relays explode they take out entire systems. The only explanation for this has been "Space magic" and quite frankly, that's a dumb argument that isn't even worth considering.
3) The Normandy and crew inexplicably fleeing for no apparent reason - especially given squadmates who were right behind you on earth can just wander out of the crashed ship, leading to a genuine "WTF" moment.
4) Following on from point 2 the whole "Space Magic" aspect of the ending really gets to a lot of people.
5) The ending simply isn't what Bioware promised it would be. Usually followed by a shit ton of quotes from the developers, most important of whom is Casey Hudson, who was ultimately one of the two writers responsible for the ending being as it is.
Aside from these three reasons, others will often include points that it is not a happy ending - but this isn't really that universal an argument and even among those who dislike the ending you'll see a lot of debate on this point. Being nonsense and having no sense of closure/accounting for previous actions is definitely true: But if there should be a happy ending to the game is hardly something that a large chunk of people who dislike the ending can actually agree on or not. I for one can't make up my mind if I think a happy ending should be a part of the game, or if inherently all endings should have Shepard dying or be inherently very "bittersweet".
Personally, I feel any ending that doesn't have a very tragic focus on the end of the series would not be a good ending to Mass Effect 3 - others are welcome to disagree.
Aside from this, I've also read most of the arguments for the ending. To say I've found nearly every explanation put forward to be unsatisfying to me is a rather irrelevant side point and personally, the argument I think is best is this one "I liked the ending and I don't care that you didn't, so deal with it". Beautifully stated and unarguable, I can totally respect that. If Bioware came out tomorrow and said "This is the way we have decided the game should end. Even though we've heard your arguments it is just not possible (or we don't want) to put in a new ending despite the complaints." I would be all "Okay, I don't have to buy your DLC but I sure as hell don't get to say you have
to change the ending". It would be an answer and really, that's all I really want: To be heard and acknowledged.
But what really gets me are the completely inane arguments some are using, starting with the whole "The game is art and you don't have any right to demand Bioware change the ending!!! ARTISTIC INTEGRITY!!!" or similar. This is just inane and anyone who makes this argument is a silly goose of the highest order. Firstly, even the movement to "Take Back Mass Effect" on their petition with the original pledge to Childs Play doesn't think they have a "right" to a better ending. They firmly believe they have a "right" to ask
for a better ending.
This is a highly semantic but important distinction. Asking for a better ending is quite different from believing one is better. That they have organized considerably, with a facebook page approaching 45,000 members, raised $70,000 odd dollars for a Charity to prove their point and a Bioware Social Network poll with ~60,000 respondants has nearly 92% saying they were disappointed with the ending and want it changed. That the only response to this is to insinuate everyone who complains is just a "vocal minority" and everyone else who is strangely silent
isn't saying anything because they are perfectly happy. Further many of them go further to insinuate that the Child's Play drive is some sort of sinister emotional blackmail: Utter trollop to that.
The point of the CP drive is to put hard currency to words of disappointment: Raising $70,000 dollars to make a point for a good video game related charity is worth more than all the words complaining about the ending combined. How many times have you mocked people for making an online poll about something (in fact I'm trying to think how many times I have done this)? I've seen lots of "Video game rage" on the internet before, often resulting in hilarious polls that publishers, gamers in general and probably the developers mock relentlessly.
Not so easy to mock and dismiss out of hand when people are putting thousands of actual dollars into their disapproval to a well known charity isn't it? That's really the entire point: You can ignore a silly poll on the web that anyone can just sock puppet the hell out of. Ignoring thousands of gamers donating their actual currency straight to a charity (they just track how many people do it through them - they see NONE of the money) is much harder
to ignore. Trying to deflect this by applying negative "emotional blackmail" and similar stereotypes, which are actually refuted in the page encouraging people to donate (go ahead, look for yourself) is just beyond daft.
But these aren't even the main reasons why I find the whole "ARTISTIC INTEGRITY CAN'T BE COMPROMISED" argument to be absolutely inane. The reason it's inane is because ME3 isn't the vision of a single artist: It's the vision of many. A group of highly talented writers worked on ME3, this is self evident from the fact even the most vocal complainers all say "The game was awesome, until the ending". Everyone on that writing team contributed to making the entire game great until one moment
, possibly the most critical in the series: The ending
Now at this point it's beyond dispute that we know two writers, Mac Walters and Casey Hudson wrote the ending. They did so without the rest of the writing team and decided, quite deliberately to make the ending the way they did. So why does this make the "Artistic integrity" argument a load of bunk bullshit? Because the artistic vision of the final part of the game, does not represent the artistic vision of the rest of the game. To continue the analogy, it's like a painting where a lot of people contributed and then right at the end the "lead artist" decided to paint dark brown all over the final part - creating a disconnect between the vividly coloured rest of the paining.
In effect, we don't see "Biowares" vision as written by everyone who made the rest of the game great: We see what Mac Walters and Casey Hudson did to "Generate Lots of Speculation". The rest of the writing team never got a chance to object or shape the ending - so why should we accept the dropping quality between the writing of the rest of the game and the ending? How do they feel? How would you
feel if you had been one of the other writers, reading all these hostile comments about how the game ended that you couldn't have a say in
? In all the "The ending is art" nonsense, I've never seen a single satisfying answer to this question (actually I've never ever seen anyone even address it).
The other inane argument that I've touched on earlier is the whole "The ending wasn't happy!" nonsense. Really? While I won't say there isn't a substantial amount of people who dislike the ending because of that, it's a secondary argument to the numbers who find it illogical, unsatisfying, rushed and overly sudden. There is a wide spectrum of views about "Should there be a happy ending" in there and in many ways, we actually do have the kind of "happy ending" Penny-Arcade mocked in the game.
The Synthesis ending, which is quite literally "Space Jesus making Space Magic" as an ending, is this games literal "Turn the reapers into ice cream" equivalent. It doesn't make any sense by the lore of the game and is literally performing a feat well beyond anything we've heard of in the game until this point. That it's done entirely to set up the most hokey imaginable "Adam and Eve" situation is just adding a layer of additional ridiculousness onto that again.
But this is aside from the point that as I said before, I don't even think a happy ending may be appropriate to Mass Effect 3 from a tonal point of view in the first place. This is something up for debate entirely, but that's just precisely the point: The hive mind on the hatred for the ending has this as a secondary issue. It means that a lot of commentary about Mass Effects ending is simply a huge strawman (Ben Kuchera and others being prime offenders). If anyone goes and reads the actual reasons for why people dislike the ending, the "Happy ending" part is a minor tangenitial debate within a debate about the disappointment. It naturally gets made the most prominent argument because it's easy to attack and dismiss people you disagree with this way. It's also utterly wrong and misses the main important points - but that's kind of the point there.
Noting that I am not going to just "attack" everyone who makes arguments for the ending and this is not my intention. I merely dislike these two repetitive and highly dumb arguments that come up time and time again. Stop using them. They don't make you look clever for finding some incredibly witty concept that nobody complaining could possibly argue with.
But in the end aside from this I've been (over the past few days) talking to lots of people about the game - some of whom are developers. After reading what the iPad App (Final Hours) has to say, talking to people who actually know more than I do about modifying the ending and thinking about if the whole "Indoctrination Theory" is even real: There is only one conclusion I can come to. No amount of complaining will change the ending
Frankly, reading Casey's post on Friday was the revelation that I needed to know the ending probably won't change. Nine paragraphs to write basically nothing of substance except to sell people on buying DLC was not encouraging. Combined with how difficult it would actually be to repurpose or program in a new ending at this point as well: You would need to get your voice actors back, encode new CGI cinematics, add more gameplay somewhere in there - involving picking a difficult point as to "Where do we insert new material?". I can't even get any agreement with people who hate the ending like I do as to where they would cut off the ending part of the game to begin a DLC that provided a new ending.
Let alone if that is even feasible to change the scripting and then there is the huge issue of do you make it free? If it is free, how would Bioware pay for a large amount of content, new voice acting and cinematics to end the game as we want? If it is paid for, would everyone claim victory? Hell no. You'd just have the entire internet rise up worse than they are now baying for Biowares blood: It WAS a conspiracy! They planned a bad ending to make us pay for it!?! RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE
. Facts would not get in the way of this, because anyone who bothers to download Mass Effect 3: Final Hours can see this was the intention
. It backfired, but there was never any plan anywhere to make a terrible ending and then sell a real one as DLC (unlike say, Prince of Persia, which had a terribly ambiguous ending and then had an "Epilogue" as DLC. The epilogue had clearly been planned ahead of the release of the game).
Ultimately, I just can't take repeated rounds of this whole "The ending was terrible rabble rabble are bioware going to fix it for free rabble rabble", because honestly I don't think no matter how many people say they didn't like it anything will change. It is clear that DLC is planned but statements made by Hudson et al clearly indicate this is stuff planned for before the end of the game. Frankly, I have no interest in this after what the ending does to the universe. So really, I just don't want any more ME and with my growing feeling changing the ending will not be practical (even if they do agree the ending is bad - unlikely IMO from what I've read from Final Hours), I don't see the point in participating in these discussions anymore.
Lots of people will continue speculating, arguing about the endings merits (or more commonly, lack of them) and playing the multiplayer. I'm already bored of the multiplayer, because I'm finding grinding my characters back up to usable levels in silver/gold when I want to do something new is just not that invigorating. The horde mode is a cool idea and I think it's fun, but it doesn't have the variation and complexities of say Gears of War 3s horde mode (as a comparison, plus I like that games overall mechanics better as a pure shooter). The ending has - I realize irrationally, so don't point it out - taken away my enthusiasm and love for Mass Effect as a series: Even if I feel it's quality as a game is indisputable.
So this is my last post in this thread beyond direct replies to me. I've had fun discussing the game, but I am making an unfair and unreasonable expectation of Bioware to do anything about the ending to continue my personal enjoyment of the series
. I realize it's probably impractical to change the ending and if they do, they will need to charge for it - probably creating a round 2 of Bad PR that will make anyone making decisions balk at doing it in the first place. Or the current ending drama look like a tame kitten in comparison. It's an unfair position for them but frankly, I'll just not buy any of the DLC for ME3 and move onto something else.
All I can hope is there is an acknowledgement along the lines of "We made this ending and it will stand as is, but we totally acknowledge that it was not satisfying for our customers. In future, we shall strive to do better and improve our writing process* for the endings of our games". I am not going to just boycott bioware games in future, but I won't be buying anything more Mass Effect as they've successfully deinvested me from the entire series.
In the end that is the sad achievement of Mass Effect 3 for me, that despite 99% of the game being fantastic 1% really can ruin the rest. This is a lesson in general for how important endings can be in a series that actually fosters a great deal of investment in your player base. In future, I can only hope Casey Hudson realizes just doing the final part without the input of your fellows who helped make the rest of the game great is not a good strategy. I won't demand the ending be changed for me, but I will demand
that Bioware learns from this and doesn't repeat this kind of mistake in future. Ultimately that's the point of criticism (that I think is being lost) to make things better in future: Not demand immediate change now that might not be possible - however much we want it.