Escapist Podcast: 037: Directed vs Player Driven Narrative

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Susan Arendt:

WarpZone:

ravenshrike:

But of course, according to you NONE of these things has to do with fan outrage and it's only because we wanted a happy ending.

My bad. I didn't mean to suggest that there weren't tons of smaller problems. I was just pointing out how lame it is to do a podcast about Mass Effect, directly acknowledge the fan reaction, and then not address anything the fans are complaining about, not even the obvious broad-stokes problems other venues have already openly discussed.

It comes across like they're attacking a straw man of the fan complaints, as if to say "Sorry, sponsors! We don't know why the metacritic score is so low!" Even though they made it clear they were trying not to spoil anything for Steve, it comes across this way because they avoid saying anything of substance. The voice of Gaming, ladies and gentlemen.

I have no idea why you're being so hostile towards us, especially when we devoted an entire podcast to the endings, including a variety of fan complaints.

5 to 3 its because the Podcast wasn't bashing Bioware for their ending. People are really angry about the ending, to the extent some are filling FTC complaints against EA/Bioware, so when people hear/see things that aren't 100% supporting them they assume its an attack on their beliefs. Or he's just trolling.

Susan Arendt:

I have no idea why you're being so hostile towards us, especially when we devoted an entire podcast to the endings, including a variety of fan complaints.

Whoops, I hadn't seen that one yet. I may have gone off a bit half-cocked. Sorry, Susan.

I only listen to the podcasts occasionally, and I guess I was interpreting Podcast 037 as your only word in response to the fan controversy.

Just so I know, are you talking about the two-parter?

WarpZone:
You had to know that going into the podcast. Why not just ask Steve to step out of the room? Then you could have actually discussed the game and the issue people have with the ending, instead of this non-content in the middle of the podcast where everyone goes "derp, I dunno, I gueth people juth want more choitheth!"

Because we had already done a full podcast on just the ending - Bonus Mass Effect 3 With Spoilers Part 2. So we just would have been repeating what we had already said, but the topic of the ending made for a nice segue into a similar and related one.

Slycne:

In general, I think reviewers are more willing to look at the product as a whole. That's not to say that someone's opinion that the ending ruined their whole experience is invalid. For example, I flat out stated in our podcast that I though the ending was broken, but I still think Mass Effect 3 is overall an great game. I genuinely believe that a lot of those 55,000 views or 236,000 page views are coming from a similar place of affection for the game and series. If people simply hated from start to finish we wouldn't see this much outcry.

But the largest part of the problem with the reviews is that they didn't take into consideration how awful the endings were in the scope of the series. This is bullshit because the vast majority also praise the dozens of minute little occurrences that happened during the rest of the game as a result of choices made in the previous Mass Effect games. The impartiality and credibility of said reviewers are in question when they praise one, but don't criticize the rest. Doesn't it tell you something is amiss when you see perfect scores glossing over problems that a sizable chunk of the fanbase absolutely detest?

Freechoice:

Slycne:

In general, I think reviewers are more willing to look at the product as a whole. That's not to say that someone's opinion that the ending ruined their whole experience is invalid. For example, I flat out stated in our podcast that I though the ending was broken, but I still think Mass Effect 3 is overall an great game. I genuinely believe that a lot of those 55,000 views or 236,000 page views are coming from a similar place of affection for the game and series. If people simply hated from start to finish we wouldn't see this much outcry.

But the largest part of the problem with the reviews is that they didn't take into consideration how awful the endings were in the scope of the series. This is bullshit because the vast majority also praise the dozens of minute little occurrences that happened during the rest of the game as a result of choices made in the previous Mass Effect games. The impartiality and credibility of said reviewers are in question when they praise one, but don't criticize the rest. Doesn't it tell you something is amiss when you see perfect scores glossing over problems that a sizable chunk of the fanbase absolutely detest?

Well just because people don't like it doesn't mean its not good. Like Origin, it works great for me but I don't like it that much. I get the impression that reviews typically look at the positive and highlight it more than the negative. I tend to like reviews that only talk about the negative. When I write reviews (for amazon, forums, etc.) I talk about the negative as much as I can, I'd rather people not get a decent game than get a bad game. Also if your expectations are lowered by a low score you won't be as disappointed.

ARCTIC_EAGLE:

Freechoice:

Slycne:

In general, I think reviewers are more willing to look at the product as a whole. That's not to say that someone's opinion that the ending ruined their whole experience is invalid. For example, I flat out stated in our podcast that I though the ending was broken, but I still think Mass Effect 3 is overall an great game. I genuinely believe that a lot of those 55,000 views or 236,000 page views are coming from a similar place of affection for the game and series. If people simply hated from start to finish we wouldn't see this much outcry.

But the largest part of the problem with the reviews is that they didn't take into consideration how awful the endings were in the scope of the series. This is bullshit because the vast majority also praise the dozens of minute little occurrences that happened during the rest of the game as a result of choices made in the previous Mass Effect games. The impartiality and credibility of said reviewers are in question when they praise one, but don't criticize the rest. Doesn't it tell you something is amiss when you see perfect scores glossing over problems that a sizable chunk of the fanbase absolutely detest?

Well just because people don't like it doesn't mean its not good. Like Origin, it works great for me but I don't like it that much. I get the impression that reviews typically look at the positive and highlight it more than the negative. I tend to like reviews that only talk about the negative. When I write reviews (for amazon, forums, etc.) I talk about the negative as much as I can, I'd rather people not get a decent game than get a bad game. Also if your expectations are lowered by a low score you won't be as disappointed.

But it's this kind of journalistic stupidity that got Obsidian fucked over for a bonus. Roughly 25% of the scores for ME3 are perfect despite the giant, pulsating tumor that is the end. I saw one that called Shepard "captain." Must have been written by a quarian. Can't trust them backstabbing space gypsies. Look at what they did to the geth in ME3.

Freechoice:

ARCTIC_EAGLE:

Freechoice:

But the largest part of the problem with the reviews is that they didn't take into consideration how awful the endings were in the scope of the series. This is bullshit because the vast majority also praise the dozens of minute little occurrences that happened during the rest of the game as a result of choices made in the previous Mass Effect games. The impartiality and credibility of said reviewers are in question when they praise one, but don't criticize the rest. Doesn't it tell you something is amiss when you see perfect scores glossing over problems that a sizable chunk of the fanbase absolutely detest?

Well just because people don't like it doesn't mean its not good. Like Origin, it works great for me but I don't like it that much. I get the impression that reviews typically look at the positive and highlight it more than the negative. I tend to like reviews that only talk about the negative. When I write reviews (for amazon, forums, etc.) I talk about the negative as much as I can, I'd rather people not get a decent game than get a bad game. Also if your expectations are lowered by a low score you won't be as disappointed.

But it's this kind of journalistic stupidity that got Obsidian fucked over for a bonus. Roughly 25% of the scores for ME3 are perfect despite the giant, pulsating tumor that is the end. I saw one that called Shepard "captain." Must have been written by a quarian. Can't trust them backstabbing space gypsies. Look at what they did to the geth in ME3.

You've lost me. But the quality of the ending is an opinion not a cut and dry. So there should be mention of it in reviews "while the story is amazing and engaging the final 10 minutes let it down." They shouldn't take off points for it though.

Slycne:

WarpZone:
You had to know that going into the podcast. Why not just ask Steve to step out of the room? Then you could have actually discussed the game and the issue people have with the ending, instead of this non-content in the middle of the podcast where everyone goes "derp, I dunno, I gueth people juth want more choitheth!"

Because we had already done a full podcast on just the ending - Bonus Mass Effect 3 With Spoilers Part 2. So we just would have been repeating what we had already said, but the topic of the ending made for a nice segue into a similar and related one.

Yeah, Susan already called me on it. I'm listening to it now. I'm at 32:57 at the moment and it's an excellent listen so far.

Sorry for going off half-cocked.

As always great to listen,incredibly long to hear it during the day.
I haven't played that many games,nor have I bothered to look into how the narrative works,is it player driven or directed.
Player driven narrative can be great,but it's not easy to nail it while directed is a safe bet.Sure a mash between both can be done,but that complicates things more.I'm from the PS2 generation so I can accept both,but I guess I'm less tolerable to directed narrative,you don't have to hold my hand to show and tell me everything.However if it's made blatantly clear that you won't because that's not how it works,I'll open up and see if what is shown and said is worth my time,if not,then bug off.

ARCTIC_EAGLE:

Freechoice:

ARCTIC_EAGLE:

Well just because people don't like it doesn't mean its not good. Like Origin, it works great for me but I don't like it that much. I get the impression that reviews typically look at the positive and highlight it more than the negative. I tend to like reviews that only talk about the negative. When I write reviews (for amazon, forums, etc.) I talk about the negative as much as I can, I'd rather people not get a decent game than get a bad game. Also if your expectations are lowered by a low score you won't be as disappointed.

But it's this kind of journalistic stupidity that got Obsidian fucked over for a bonus. Roughly 25% of the scores for ME3 are perfect despite the giant, pulsating tumor that is the end. I saw one that called Shepard "captain." Must have been written by a quarian. Can't trust them backstabbing space gypsies. Look at what they did to the geth in ME3.

You've lost me. But the quality of the ending is an opinion not a cut and dry. So there should be mention of it in reviews "while the story is amazing and engaging the final 10 minutes let it down." They shouldn't take off points for it though.

Reviews are also opinion (in addition to objective facts) and some opinions are just fucking stupid. When there are dedicated fans that play a game for 500 hours and cancel their preorders or are willing to pay for DLC to rectify the end, it is pretty cut and dry that something went wrong somewhere. To say otherwise is just ignoring numerical fact.

And in the scope of the series, a reviewer cannot have unabashed praise at having seen their choices play out in the final installment without also acknowledging that the lackluster endings drain all vitality from said choice in about 10 minutes. To say otherwise demonstrates a lack of journalistic integrity. And again, saying it doesn't disavows the fact that thousands of people are pissed off. Internet logic 1 opinion=100,000 opinions.

And the reviews DO matter. Obsidian lost money and staff because of 1 point on metacritic. And God knows they're one of the last studios with any kind of creativity.

Just as an aside, am I the only one who prefers "Control?"

Freechoice:

ARCTIC_EAGLE:

Freechoice:

But it's this kind of journalistic stupidity that got Obsidian fucked over for a bonus. Roughly 25% of the scores for ME3 are perfect despite the giant, pulsating tumor that is the end. I saw one that called Shepard "captain." Must have been written by a quarian. Can't trust them backstabbing space gypsies. Look at what they did to the geth in ME3.

You've lost me. But the quality of the ending is an opinion not a cut and dry. So there should be mention of it in reviews "while the story is amazing and engaging the final 10 minutes let it down." They shouldn't take off points for it though.

Reviews are also opinion (in addition to objective facts) and some opinions are just fucking stupid. When there are dedicated fans that play a game for 500 hours and cancel their preorders or are willing to pay for DLC to rectify the end, it is pretty cut and dry that something went wrong somewhere. To say otherwise is just ignoring numerical fact.

And in the scope of the series, a reviewer cannot have unabashed praise at having seen their choices play out in the final installment without also acknowledging that the lackluster endings drain all vitality from said choice in about 10 minutes. To say otherwise demonstrates a lack of journalistic integrity. And again, saying it doesn't disavows the fact that thousands of people are pissed off. Internet logic 1 opinion=100,000 opinions.

And the reviews DO matter. Obsidian lost money and staff because of 1 point on metacritic. And God knows they're one of the last studios with any kind of creativity.

Reviews shouldn't be opinion, only fact. Example: ME3's cover system sometimes forces the player onto cover they don't want. Some of ME3's dialogue is stilted. Most decision from ME2/ME1 don't impact the end of the 3rd game, there are many plot holes in the ending of ME3. Those are all facts, saying the end is "bad" is opinion, present proof so that your review is objective.

WarpZone:

Susan Arendt:

I have no idea why you're being so hostile towards us, especially when we devoted an entire podcast to the endings, including a variety of fan complaints.

Whoops, I hadn't seen that one yet. I may have gone off a bit half-cocked. Sorry, Susan.

I only listen to the podcasts occasionally, and I guess I was interpreting Podcast 037 as your only word in response to the fan controversy.

Just so I know, are you talking about the two-parter?

Yes, that's what I'm referring to.

Susan Arendt:

WarpZone:

Susan Arendt:

I have no idea why you're being so hostile towards us, especially when we devoted an entire podcast to the endings, including a variety of fan complaints.

Whoops, I hadn't seen that one yet. I may have gone off a bit half-cocked. Sorry, Susan.

I only listen to the podcasts occasionally, and I guess I was interpreting Podcast 037 as your only word in response to the fan controversy.

Just so I know, are you talking about the two-parter?

Yes, that's what I'm referring to.

Okay. I just listened to it, and I just wanted to say that you guys did a great job covering the endings and the fan controversy in that one. So... yeah. I screwed up. I even went back and edited my first post in this thread, so as to limit the extent to which my derp can spread to others.

Honestly, this would have been pretty easy to inject some closure into. Just make the camera pan around a space station or a planet or something with some NPCs milling about while the credits roll. If you picked

If you want not just Closure but also something emotional or rational, though, you'd need to branch the story long before this point.

This entire trio of endings feels like one of the Walking Dead branches of a Choose Your Own Adventure book... you know, where you're 4 pages in, you die, so you go back, you read the other branch and it's just another way you could have died. So then you start over from the beginning and start to think about where you went wrong, because that sure as hell isn't the actual ENDING of the STORY.

IMHO to actually make the ending GOOD and SATISFYING, you'd need to first parse all the consequences of the player's choices from earlier games CORRECTLY, and instead of retconning everything so people are dead who are supposed to be alive and alive who are supposed to be dead, and, y'know, actually run with the consequences of the player's actions and write a branching series of endings that actually consider what each character and race could have brought to the table. For example,

And, hey, anyone remember Chrono Trigger? Remember the New Game +? Remember all the different crazy ways of ending the story differently? If it was really THAT important to them that whatever the ending the Action Mode people got be the official TRUE ending, all they had to do was throw the other endings into some kind of a New Game Plus mode. Bam. Instant replay value and less fan backlash.

Of course, if the whole thing was just a feint to sow demand for a DLC, Mission Accomplished. I hope Bioware considers this big of a hit to their Metacritic to be worth it. And honestly, I kind of do hope they're hurting over it. I hope they lost Bonuses because of the low Metacritic score, if Ending DLC was the plan all along. Because seriously, who jerks around their audience like that? In any medium? Who deliberately writes a bad ending just so people will buy a sequel so they can see it retconned? In my mind, if this "polarizing" thing really was all a big ploy to make us hungry for DLC, that's actually MUCH WORSE than if the endings sucked simply because they fell asleep at the wheel. Because it means they're just soaking us for everything we're worth, and it sets a very toxic precedent. Every Bioware game from here on out would be designed to have a promising setup and an unfulfilling ending. Just to fuck with us.

Seriously. Who DOES that?

And why would anyone buy another Bioware game if "endings which suck on purpose just so you'll pay extra to see them undone" becomes the new norm?

Cool, I got a Baldur's Gate podcast.

Well close enough.

They updated the source code message recently, hinting at new chapters. New content sounds great. There was also a tweet from Trent to suggest if these do well we could get a Baldur's Gate 3.

Either way, everyone is talking about my favourite game, this is awesome.

On a side note, cmon people that assassin was a chump. You just had to encounter him when that guards were near. They pump him full of arrows. Not the proudest moment for the spawn of bhaal, but lvl ones do what they gotta do.

Good podcast as always. It is an interesting question why we assume the story is infallible, speically for a story that had gone through several writers. And its true not all mechanics that are changed are black and white (Broken and Working). Now while the ending didn't actually bother me plot wise, the fact that all three were very similar video wise, seemed somewhat sloppy for such an epic game.

I can't help but feel they were cutting corners at the end.

Either way, I don't doubt they have a DLC planned.

ARCTIC_EAGLE:

Reviews shouldn't be opinion, only fact. Example: ME3's cover system sometimes forces the player onto cover they don't want. Some of ME3's dialogue is stilted. Most decision from ME2/ME1 don't impact the end of the 3rd game, there are many plot holes in the ending of ME3. Those are all facts, saying the end is "bad" is opinion, present proof so that your review is objective.

All I can substantiate with is a rumor.

Here.

And for the most part, you're wrong about the lack of opinion. By definition, (and in the context of a review as an evaluation of a game) a review requires opinion in the form of criticism. While there needs to be an objective basis for disliking something, it should be a good indication that something tangible is wrong when people are expressing such contempt for one aspect. You're disavowing the importance of the statistics by saying the ending is too opinion oriented to be an actual facet of the numerical evaluation that is the score.

That's bullshit because it unilaterally pissed people off. They (the endings) created a tangible sense of disgust in fans of the series (and possibly other people) that should have been something the reviewers felt if they had played the previous games. If the reviewers were fresh to the series, the groups behind those reviewers did a disservice (read: were stupid assholes) to the game by not having people that could understand most of the value behind Mass Effect 3 playing it. By doing so, they defeated the purpose of having the review by having someone ignorant of the content at the helm.

But that's slightly off topic. Basically, opinion matters otherwise the same shit would be getting said by a thousand different people. And clearly, opinion does come into play when people have different views on a fact. Some people liked ME3's multi. Others felt it was obtrusive and tired. There is opinion whether you want it there or not.

That DLC was leaked from 4chan so its probably untrue. Here's a run down on what the community knows, spoilers in link
http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/10084349/1

ARCTIC_EAGLE:
That DLC was leaked from 4chan so its probably untrue. Here's a run down on what the community knows, spoilers in link
http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/10084349/1

It was leaked by the same guy who originally leaked all the info on LotSB several months before it came out. So it's reliability can't be immediately discarded.

Five good ending or one amazing ending? I almost feel sorry for him, he clearly does not begin to understand what he's in for.

At this point I'm hoping the Indoctrination Theory turns out to be true just so that we can rub it in the faces of all the people who insist the current ending is fine and that asking for one that actually makes sense is just entitled whining because the ending wasn't happy enough.

Maybe they could re-imagine Baldur's Gate in the same way that they re-imagined the Fallout franchise to be something totally new for the modern age, but with the same lore and setting, so that newcomers could play it as well. At least that way they'd have a precendent to attract protential investors.
Also, as far as Mass Effect is concerned, I don't think it would have been a good idea to have the endings become too varied. Because as good as the Bioware writers are, even they would get caught in a web of plot holes. I mean, they weren't even able to get that bit right in the second game, where the guy thinks that you pulled a gun on him, regardless of what you did in Mass Effect 1. With that in mind, I think it would have been too risky to have all of those important decisions overlap, just in case they made one fatal error.

WarpZone:

Uszi:

For instance, my main reason for disliking the ending isn't that it was sad or that I didn't have enough choices, it was that all of my choices ultimately destroy the Universe of Mass Effect as it had existed up until the end of ME3. None of the options preserve or improve the status quo as it existed prior to the war with the Reapers---the status quo which I had just spent three games trying to defend, and most of Mass Effect 3 I spent improving (ending the war with the Quarians/Geth, saving the Krogan, etc).

Uh... sorry, maybe we're talking at cross-purposes here, but I consider what you just described an additional choice that leads to a happy ending. What did you think I meant?

Well I thought you were arguing that everyone disliked it because it was a downer ending.

I don't think that new choices inherently lead to a happy endings--maybe they do, maybe they don't. The ending I see some people advocating is one that simply ends with Shepard and Anderson dying next to each other after activating the Crucible and wiping out the reapers. That would be sad, awesome, etc. It wouldn't really offer me more in terms of closure about other characters and what not, but at least it wouldn't raise more questions.

I don't think the endings as they exist are inherently unhappy, either. I mean, they're only depressing in the sense that you're forced to let go of the Mass Effect Universe as it existed up that point. But generally you either kill the Reapers, and Organic life is free to self-determine and go about it's business, or you control the reapers (and some have suggested that Shep would use them as a force of good and stewards of the new cycle) or you achieve Synthesis... which sounds fucking awful to me, but the game does it's best to present it as the only future where peace can exist.

Anyway, forcing the players to let go of the Universe ultimately, seems unfair to me. It'd be like if Luke needed to destroy The Force in order to kill the Emperor in Return of the Jedi.

The choice to not destroy the essence of Mass Effect seems like the choice we're missing. But again, that's my personal take.

WarpZone:

Uszi:

I don't think you can generalize one set of complaints to the tens of thousands who have complained about the ending online, especially when there's no way for any of us to collect a representative sample of those complaints.

No, you're right. It's just that they're going out of their way to avoid mentioning even the big, obvious ones. My post was mostly expressing frustration that the gaming comic's throwaway joke had more to say than a half-hour podcast by the self-professed "voice of gaming."

All, well then pardon me for missing the jab.

WarpZone:

An example of actual dishonesty is saying that all players are complaining simply because of the downer ending.

I'll admit that was careless use of language on my part. I probably should have said something along the lines of "One complaint that comes up pretty consistently while paging through the reams of negative reviews over at metacritic is that the endings sucked. Not simply because they were sad, but because they were sad for reasons that lore, the ME universe's internal logic, and the past choices of the player suggest should have been avoidable." My bad.

Heh, and I'll admit that my post was over critical of how you phrased your thoughts as opposed to the content of them. Then again, how a thought is phrased is often all you have to go on over the internet.

Okay, so the whole clothing issue, that has to do with northerners vs southerners......... Im from Seattle, I will not wear a coat unless it is A a downpour, or B snowing. I have no qualms with wearing cloths in bed and I know many women who wear flip flops in below freezing weather.

I believe Greg(?) said that Bioware not changing the endings would be more legitimate, and I don't see how that's true at all.

As is the case with the George Lucas continued support of the Star Wars Prequels, I'd say it greatly damages their legitimacy, as it shows an unwillingness to acknowledge the possibility of artistic fallibility - it comes across as "I am the creator, I know better than you what is best for my universe".

You can try to say that's the truth, that an artist does know best and it is impossible for them to be wrong about what should happen with their universe, but then you'd be saying the Prequels were good and a worthy edition to the Star Wars universe, and we'd all know you were lying to us and yourself.

It also shows a disregard for the fans and even a degree of hostility towards them, as if their input is meaningless and them asking for anything from you is entitling whining that -must- be from the vocal minority and they probably wouldn't like anything you gave them anyways, so you shouldn't bother.

The fact is, it is far more legitimate to acknowledge the validity of others' perspectives and admit one's mistakes than it is stick to your guns for the sake of personal consistency. I think we all know one person in our lives who will refuse to change their position no matter how many times they are demonstrated to be incorrect. That's not anything worthy of respect, their determination just comes across as pathetic and deluded.

Great, now I want a shamrock frozen dairy desert.

on the side, there were a few years I refused to wear shorts and only wore pants. Then I came to my sense and realized shorts feel so much better in the summer. Even though I have hairless chicken legs.

Every time you talk about sweet food, my diabetes cries. Can you talk about cuisine stuff that's easy to make? A load of us made mini steak bits for gaming once and they were delicious. Mostly cos they we fancied them up and by fancied them up I mean threw salt on the bis of steak and all the herbs in the kitchen.

It is ME3's decided ambiguity, the deliberate obfuscation, and the fact that it, while telling you it is over, it is also telling you that you can never know how it actually ended. The end is or is not a dream, is or is not part of the game's reality. It is not that it ended poorly, it is that it absolutely decided that you can not know how it ended. Ambiguity that is part of the narrative, is fine and understandable, but the ambiguity in ME3, only occurs in the last ten minutes. It isn't that it is bad, it is that it is decidedly manipulative.

I am also fairly certain that ME3 will have DLC. So the product is absolutely going to be expanded. I am not saying the ending should be part of that, but I am saying that it is not the same as a static product like a movie or a book.

The end of Mass Effect is the destruction of the universe they have created. I believe that the ones saying that people will me mad no matter what Bioware changes the ending to are very wrong. Saying "oh people will be pissed no matter what, so let's not examine it at all" as an excuse and a total cop out.

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