Mass Effect 3 Ending Controversy

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SL33TBL1ND:
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see, this is what im talking about. if you actually played the damn thing, you would see how very wrong you are. a subversion is making you think something will happen so that it is a shock when it doesnt, not giving you exactly what you expected (choice) in the most hackneyed, lazy way. that is just plain bad writing. they said 16 endings, and we got 16 endings, its just that they are 98% the same fucking thing. if they intended that as a subversion then they failed completely and as artists should have known people were just going to think they were lazy designers and they just failed to deliver what they wanted to. it is glaringly obvious that they wanted to give you choice in the ending, just utterly failed at it.

you seem to have fallen to the common fallacy that this is about not having a "happy" ending. a tragic end would have been absolutely acceptable, and was indeed expected by a lot of people. some have proposed the "indoctrination theory" that says the ending is a mind-control hallucination, and that your choices really reflect whether you submit to control or rebel against it: and most agree that if true it would be fucking brilliant. this is an ending where your best option leaves in the same desperate situation you were in before taking a laser beam to the face. this is NOT about people failing to understand a tragic tale. tragedy is like THE oldest fucking form of written story telling. understanding it is almost as primal as understanding our lust for sex and violence.

if a character you care about dies, you feel sad, which is actually GOOD because it makes you feel human and that your emotions are functioning properly. its the unspoken reason parents give their children pets: so they can eventually deal with the pain of death in an appropriate, manageable way.

this is the important distinction: proper context. a sad ending is only good if it makes sense. if all the characters in a story are unrelatable assholes, then if it ends with everyone dead and sad music playing, the sadness you feel is because you wasted 2 hours of your life on this bullshit, not because it was an effective tragedy: simply making you feel a certain way is not art, if it is then uwe boll is the greatest director of all time because of his stupid, bleak betrayal of countless source materials. art is about making you feel something(anything) in what your mind believes to be the proper, healthy way. bioware didnt rip the foundation of choice out from under you in a gripping tale of betrayal, they forgot what the foundation was and veered off into deus ex's story. the betrayal you felt wasnt in any logical context, it was simply what some people's brains defaulted to after seeing that nonsensical mess of an ending. it made you feel frustrated, like you should feel something and cant, which is the ANTITHESIS of art, and the ultimate failure of an artist. a lot of people fail to recognize this difference, people like children, hipsters, teenagers, and art snobs. this is how we get pretentious "artsy" films that dont make any sense; the creators believe that making you feel emotion in ANY form is art, that ANY sadness or disappointment is a satisfying conclusion. they believe that their overly-complicated and obtuse expression is perfectly reasonable. they fail to separate their own personal idiosyncrasies from the deeper workings of human emotion.

there is a big difference between negative emotion brought on by a gripping story and negative emotion brought on by frustration. a distinction you would probably know if you PLAYED THE FUCKING GAME. please dont reply to me until you actually play the series, because i have a feeling im just going to keep answering things that you would understand if you just knew what you were defending. the temptation to explain myself is just too great to resist, so please, take it upon yourself to either not continue this conversation, or wait until your play the games and actually experience this supposed "great" ending the way it was intended.

BreakfastMan:

Can I get a citation please? Mainly because I don't know whether to believe that as true or not without one. And that ending also sounds awesome anyway. Way better than the one we got now, at any rate.

OXM got the interview: http://www.oxm.co.uk/39736/revealed-the-mass-effect-3-ending-bioware-canned-before-release/

I think this author is missing the point. The dissapointment with the game conclusion is not because we think it is a poor ending (it is). The dissapointment comes from being told that the decisions one makes as they progress three games will ultimatly change the story being told, that includes,....THE END. The endings are all nearly identical, how can you tell a player that the choices they made throughout the game really, "changed" the outcome? Ohh sure, blah blah survived, blog blog died, Kelly is alive but can't be romanced but, so what. The ultimate conclusion of the story needs to be affected. Are we looking for a happy everybody good wins and the badguys loose ending,...sure. But I'm also looking for The badguys win and the good guys loose with a myriad of inbetweens. That is what has got the uproar going. So...frankly the article you wrote, just a red-herring to try and play, "devil's advocate." Sorry, didn't work.

Frotality:
snip

Once again, I feel I must reiterate my position. I agree with everyone here that the ending was mishandled and poorly executed. What I'm saying is that the idea behind the ending is what I'm praising.

Let me just paste in a conversation I had with my friend who I discussed this with originally.

This entire debate you've decided to present here just comes from a misunderstanding on your part, and an admittedly not entirely clear first post on my part.

We good? We're good.

EDIT: Woo, 6666th post.

SL33TBL1ND:

Frotality:

SL33TBL1ND:

They're called different perspectives. Stop whining and reply to me in a more mature manner.

yes you have a different perspective, an ignorant perspective. there really isnt much more i can reply too until you play the games and actually know what you are defending.

ive already given my argument as to why ME3 is not anywhere close to even possibly dreaming of thinking of perhaps one day maybe being a subversion of anything. ive already given my assertion as to why even if they did it would be stupid and not the "greatest ending ever".

How is laying down a foundation of player choice and then ripping it out from under your feet not a subversion?

It is a subversion, without a doubt. The problem is, it's not an effective subversion. Every sign points toward it simply being a subversion for the sake of a subversion -- a means to manufacture controversy and "lots of speculation from everyone!", in the lead writer's own words -- and that sort of subversion is just as hacky as any by-the-numbers, drawn-by-committee Hollywood ending. In fact, it's worse in my opinion, since it's pretentious and is done to suit the writer's own ego and at the audience's expense.

Also, to clarify what Frotality means in regards to your "perspective" had he more tact: You don't really have a reliable place of perspective, because you have no real first-hand knowledge on the matter. You're basing assertions of the quality of a narrative from second-hand information. Would you perform a critical analysis on the greatness of a book you've never read or of a film you've never seen?

makes you a sadist, not an artist. people have life to disappoint them, to intentionally do it with an entertainment product is the epitome of trolling.

Have you ever heard of catharsis? I'm beginning to get the impression that none of you have ever heard of what a tragedy is.

Don't talk down your nose to people who understand a work better than you do. The Mass Effect series -- a series you've only barely played and are admittedly only tangentially familiar with -- was never built up as a tragedy -- not in the classical sense you're referring to. It may have included some tragic subplots, but the core story was never really about tragedy. Catharsis also isn't as effective when the tragedy in question is simply sprung onto the unsuspecting like a trap. Instead of catharsis, it simply causes emotional whiplash in the audience, and that, combined with the sheer volume of plot holes and unanswered questions the ending raises, is the result of what we're seeing here.

I put forward that, while the ending was poorly executed, the core themes and ideas behind it are perfect. It might have something to do with me liking older, sad, futile science fiction stories, and his experience with that genre being basically nil.

The complete subversion by the writers, where they created a story based almost exclusively on player choice, but then turn around and say "No. You are insignificant. You lost, and there's nothing that you can do about it." That is the best ending they could've done. It is the damn ballsiest move any developer could make and I absolutely adore it.

Again, subversion for the sake of subversion isn't ballsy. Any hack can do it and claim intellectual depth they do not possess. This subversion makes no statement and reinforces no themes -- especially in the flaccid and slap-dashed form it takes.

Also, and I may be assuming here, but those older, sad, futile science fiction stories you like -- I'm guessing they probably didn't start out as 600 pages of rollicking, good-time adventures and then throw genocide and rape in your face in the last five pages, everyone dies, the end, cut to black. They probably properly set their tone and foreshadowed the nature of their conclusion well ahead of its finish. There's a reason why movies and books like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings don't start out the way they do and then suddenly and without warning end like Sophie's Choice or 1984. It's because each type of narrative has its place and function, and people generally don't like it when they start to merge into a repulsive chimaera that toys with your expectations and emotions for its own sake.

ThingInTheCoat:
Snip

Thank Christ! This was the sort of response I was hoping for. I'm honoured that you chose to use your first post on this.

Now to respond to the individual pieces.

It is a subversion, without a doubt. The problem is, it's not an effective subversion. Every sign points toward it simply being a subversion for the sake of a subversion -- a means to manufacture controversy and "lots of speculation from everyone!", in the lead writer's own words -- and that sort of subversion is just as hacky as any by-the-numbers, drawn-by-committee Hollywood ending. In fact, it's worse in my opinion, since it's pretentious and is done to suit the writer's own ego and at the audience's expense.

I agree, as I've said (and perhaps not entirely clearly), I agree that the ending was poorly delivered and constructed. I just applaud the idea of the ultimate failure of the player character for once.

Also, to clarify what Frotality means in regards to your "perspective" had he more tact: You don't really have a reliable place of perspective, because you have no real first-hand knowledge on the matter. You're basing assertions of the quality of a narrative from second-hand information. Would you perform a critical analysis on the greatness of a book you've never read or of a film you've never seen?

Once again, I agree. I am putting forward a perspective that is more than a little uninformed. But I feel that it's a perspective that's at least worth sharing, if even for good discussion like this.

Again, subversion for the sake of subversion isn't ballsy. Any hack can do it and claim intellectual depth they do not possess. This subversion makes no statement and reinforces no themes -- especially in the flaccid and slap-dashed form it takes.

This is where we semi-part on our thoughts. I agree that the form it took did take away from what they could've done with the ending. What we disagree on is that it was just subversion for subversion's sake. Obviously, I'd have to play through the games myself to fully back up this statement, and I may do that now that I have someone worth discussing this with.

Also, and I may be assuming here, but those older, sad, futile science fiction stories you like -- I'm guessing they probably didn't start out as 600 pages of rollicking, good-time adventures and then throw genocide and rape in your face in the last five pages, everyone dies, the end, cut to black. They probably properly set their tone and foreshadowed the nature of their conclusion well ahead of its finish. There's a reason why movies and books like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings don't start out the way they do and then suddenly and without warning end like Sophie's Choice or 1984. It's because each type of narrative has its place and function, and people generally don't like it when they start to merge into a repulsive chimaera that toys with your expectations and emotions for its own sake.

To be honest, it was sort of half-and-half. Sad things happened along the way, but the saddest of these happened between chapters and "off-camera". And yes the the tragic endings where foreshadowed to set the scene. But this just really fits into what I said about the ending being poorly executed. If they decided to go slightly darker at the beginning and foreshadow a little tragedy for the final game, I would say that the ending would've ended up better.

All I'm saying is that I like the idea of everything being completely futile in the end. If they could have found a better way to implement that, I doubt we'd be having this conversation.

4:27 PM - |TEM|SL33TBL1ND: As long as you don't win I'm happy

And there you have the biggest flaw in your logic, the idea that there should be one single outcome. The idea that no matter how you played the game, no matter what story you created through the series, all your decisions ultimately come down to one damn ending. It doesn't matter if the ending was 'happy' or 'bittersweet' or even just 'bitter', if there's only one of them the entire series is betrayed. At this point in the series players have earned the right to decide how they end their journey.

And don't pretend a tragic ending is somehow indefinitely better then a happy one, the phrase "rocks fall and everyone dies" is just as lazy and shallow as "they all lived happily ever after", at least in the latter people will expect you to show what happens afterward.

SL33TBL1ND:

Frotality:
snip

4:27 PM - TEM | Cvamped: All the old options are there, just explained better, and then you have the more Sheperd-Like option of taking a gamble and seeing if you really can beat the Reapers in conventional combat however unlikely it is.

My thoughts exactly. All the fleets jump through the Sol mass relay, Shepard goes "Let's eff them up" and an epic space battle takes place. There's an ending for you.
Literally - that's it.

And, just not to create another post: some people say that some fans hate the ending because it ends Mass Effect franchize. As in "you hate it because it the last story in the series"
Well, if there is anyone who thinks that Bioware will not continue to milk ME franchize, he's as dumb as a vorcha.

Gigatoast:

4:27 PM - |TEM|SL33TBL1ND: As long as you don't win I'm happy

And there you have the biggest flaw in your logic, the idea that there should be one single outcome. The idea that no matter how you played the game, no matter what story you created through the series, all your decisions ultimately come down to one damn ending. It doesn't matter if the ending was 'happy' or 'bittersweet' or even just 'bitter', if there's only one of them the entire series is betrayed. At this point in the series players have earned the right to decide how they end their journey.

Another misinterpretation. If you, out of all of the people in the universe throughout all time were the only person to have defeated the reapers, it would have been completely ridiculous. The fact is, it shouldn't come down to your choice alone. One man/woman does not decide the fate of everything, endless factors decide, and I'd argue that most of them are out of your control and out of your favour.

And don't pretend a tragic ending is somehow indefinitely better then a happy one

And that's completely subjective and a useless statement. This is all a subjective opinion of mine. I believe that a sad ending would serve this series better, you don't. We have to leave it at that.

Sean Deli:

SL33TBL1ND:

Frotality:
snip

4:27 PM - TEM | Cvamped: All the old options are there, just explained better, and then you have the more Sheperd-Like option of taking a gamble and seeing if you really can beat the Reapers in conventional combat however unlikely it is.

My thoughts exactly. All the fleets jump through the Sol mass relay, Shepard goes "Let's eff them up" and an epic space battle takes place. There's an ending for you.
Literally - that's it.

And, just not to create another post: some people say that some fans hate the ending because it ends Mass Effect franchize. As in "you hate it because it the last story in the series"
Well, if there is anyone who thinks that Bioware will not continue to milk ME franchize, he's as dumb as a vorcha.

Nice to see someone's with me on this.

The problem with this article is that you continually kept saying that Mass Effect 3 is supposed to be the conclusion of the story. This is not true at all. Bioware has NEVER said that. They've always said the story will continue. There will be a Mass Effect 4, apparently it's slotted to be one of the first big releases when the next Xbox hits. They've ALWAYS made it clear that Mass Effect 3 was the end of Shepard's story, not the Mass Effect story. They didn't say it was the end of Garrus, Liara, Joker, etc. They said Shepard's story ends and that's all they've ever said. Everybody keeps crying over unanswered questions and plot holes. But don't you understand that much of that is likely the set up for the next game? Don't you get that the next game will likely revolve around the destruction of the relays and the stranding of the races?

Good article.

I would like to add a couple of extra examples (we need more? Yup. This ending was wrong on so many levels it is nearly incomprehensible that nobody at Bioware stood up and said "you know what, this makes no f@&*ing sense" before it was released), in LOTR terms because it's fun, the ending just did not work:

Suddenly, a plot element is introduced and the user told that this is what the game is about, when it clearly was not. Imagine at the end, Gandalf rides into Mount Doom and lectured Frodo that we should not judge people for getting addicted to the Ring, and his quest should have taught him this. Frodo says "I know, that's why I didn't kill Gollum straight away when I met him, and look, he turned out to be useful!". Gandalf tells Frodo to shut up and listen to his wisdom.

This is how I felt when suddenly, I was told that Mass Effect was about organics vs synthetic. It was not. This was one of many themes, one that I thought I had already concluded by bringing together the Quarians and Geth, and helping EDI develop a human personality. So, what happened to the themes of sacrifice, coming together to defeat all odds, and co-operation over war? Nah, they were all just minor issues. The real moral of the story is machines=bad.

The other is the old Deus Ex Machina. There are examples where this plot device can work, but they are very few and far between. Most story tellers regard them with the contempt they deserve. So, Frodo is standing over the Crack of Doom holding out the ring, having an immense internal struggle, when suddenly an orc walks up to him, stabs Gollum who is sneaking up behind him, takes the ring out of Frodo's hand and throws it into the lava. The Orc turns to Frodo and offers "we hate our existence" as a means of explanation, before offering Frodo an ice cream (in strawberry, mint or blueberry flavour, this is an RPG after all!) and walking off. Frodo just stands staring at the space this unknown character occupied for such a short time, and the reader throws his book at the wall shouting "what the hell!?"

The introduction of a hitherto unknown character to solve a weighty problem serves only to diminish the implications of the problem, not enhance them. The Starchild (seriously, if there are any writers out there, if you have a character named "Starchild" your story needs work) suddenly expects us to understand his motivations despite them being introduced out of nowhere. There is no option for Shepard to even question the Starchild, you just choose your explosion colour. Why can't Shepard tell the Starchild to stuff it? Why can't Shepard say "you know what, I have a pretty big fleet here, I'll take my chances". We are railroaded into accepting, without question, this brand new introduction to the story and it does not work.

If Bioware want Mass Effect to take the place it rightly deserves as the Paragon (ho ho) of Video Games, this ending needs to be fixed. Bioware is possibly the most interactive game company out there: senior staff members speak with the fans on a frequent basis to throw around ideas for stories, concepts and mechanics. It is not unheard of to change endings based on fan feedback, from Sherlock Holmes over 100 years ago to Fallout 3 more recently, and Bioware need to give this masterpiece the ending it deserves.

Zen Toombs:
Well said. And I don't think Bioware should try to please everyone, I would just like them to give some ammount of what you called Closure, Explanation, and Affirmation. This story doesn't need a sunshine and pie ending, but the ending shouldn't completly conflict with the previous ~90 hour experience.

These words sum up my thoughts entirely; good ending really isn't necessary for Shepard; I mean they were intending a Shepard trilogy, no more for the character, but it would have at least been nice if the ending rounded everything about Shepard and the other characters off and the ending shouldn't be so game-changing either.

Personally, big battle, Shepard dies/is mortally wounded, Reapers defeated (somehow, with a better, less pulled-out-of-ether means) and then the species of the galaxy have to start figuring out where they're going to go from there would have been superb. And don't just show it in a short cutscene that explains pretty much nothing.

It is not an easy fix. They basically need to cut out the entire ending sequence and replace it with something that makes sense and not a huge plothole which contradicts itself. Even if the basic 3 endings stay the same.

Once again, Shamus entertainingly delivers wisdom and sense to the Internet. Thanks! BTW I laughed my head off at "life sucks... yeah, we already know that".

The ending sucks, but if Bioware is going to rewrite it it's going to suck even more, because they're rewritting it out of a sense of damage control.

I said it before and I'll say it again; Bioware needs to cut their losses, learn from their mistakes, and move on to something else.

I'm afraid all those fans yearning for a rewritten ending are setting themselves up for an even bigger disappointment.

I've to agree, the game is a great game. The ending is lazy and has more plot holes than the comics.
That's sad but changing the ending won't really solve the fact that they failed/didn't bother to do it right in the first place. And this "real ending" will always be present as the real one. -_-

DrVornoff:

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
But I picked them. And suddenly, at the end, I could pick no more.

Its our story as much as it is theirs.

Does this apply to Choose Your Own Adventure novels as well?

In a sense, yes.

Joccaren:

SpaceBat:

[quote="Nimcha" post="6.355500.14131836"]
It's a very nice mix of denial, wishfull thinking and self-reinforcement.

I'm not entirely sure what evidence you're basing this on.

Probably the 5 or so threads per hour on BSN that pop up claiming that IT was always Bioware's plan, and they've lied to us the whole time to keep it secret, and that we're all stupid if we don't realise it, and we'll see when they do release it, and we shouldn't ask them to change the ending because they're already doing this, and they've seen the light and forgiven Bioware - it seriously gets too much too fast.[/quote

At this point I think Bioware wanted to go with the indoctrination, but changed their mind half way through/changed the ending after the leaks happened a year or so back, but were too lazy to remove the hints. Theres just so much evidence, its impossible that its all just incidental.

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
At this point I think Bioware wanted to go with the indoctrination, but changed their mind half way through/changed the ending after the leaks happened a year or so back, but were too lazy to remove the hints. Theres just so much evidence, its impossible that its all just incidental.

'Evidence' is speculation by fans. Its like saying there is evidence for God existing and creationism by the fact that the Earth and everyone on it exists. Bioware have stated they stand by there endings, and if there was an ending that was dropped due to spoilers it was the Dark Energy ending that was hinted towards throughout ME2.
Indoctrination is a nice headcanon theory fans came up with that Bioware had nothing to do with. Hell, there's even development spreadsheets from Bioware's storyboards in some app I've forgotten the name of that outline this being their plan all along. I believe 'Crucible results in Galactic Dark Age' were the words, or something very similar. The only mention of Dream was in the LI section, where they talk to you after your nightmare.

I never expected to come out of this game happy. I fully expected that a decision I made somewhere in my past coming back to haunt me and destroy me, like saving the rachni, seeing them destroy fleets with indoctrination or having to lose many allies in order to make the "perfect" decision.I doubt many other people saw the ending this way, but it's how I saw it.

Joccaren:

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
At this point I think Bioware wanted to go with the indoctrination, but changed their mind half way through/changed the ending after the leaks happened a year or so back, but were too lazy to remove the hints. Theres just so much evidence, its impossible that its all just incidental.

'Evidence' is speculation by fans. Its like saying there is evidence for God existing and creationism by the fact that the Earth and everyone on it exists.

Yeah, well, no. Its not.

If you want to throw around invalid comparisons just for the fuck of it you can do it by yourself. I'm out.

Well said Shamus

irishda:

You didn't read the second page did you?

Of course I read the second page. I assume you are referring to the FCC filing part? Because the rest of his article is pretty well balanced. In other words a fair report that covers both sides, without being condescending. If anything he is being critical of Bioware poor choice of story telling. Not the fans because they are upset.

Maybe you refer to the last part where he tells them to stick to their guns? You have to take that in with the whole article, and not take it out of context. By saying that he is telling them if this bad ending is the one they wanted, being as piss poor as it is, then keep it. With the under tone that its your bed, you lay in it now. He is trying to touch on the core of the problem. What I believe he is trying to say is they have a problem, they need it fixed before they go off writing another game, and fall into the same problem again. Because in the end he is right. If Bioware has a problem with how they write their games, it is a much larger problem then the ending to ME3. And I agree. They have a hell of a mess to fix with ME3, and as it stands a fix isn't likely coming.

I absolutely hate the ending of ME3. As it stands right now I've lost all interests of ever playing it again. I've spent about 400 hours, in play through of all three games. I wont be buying any ME3 DLC, and find the "Be sure to drink your OVALTINE" at the end of the credit insulting, after the plot hole ridden ending. Just like in a Christmas Story I find out the hero is nothing more then a marketing machine trying sell as much as they can to the sheep listening. Yeah I know that's a bit dramatic =)

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
In a sense, yes.

In what sense?

Paragon Fury:

BanZeus:

SpaceBat:

I'm not entirely sure what evidence you're basing this on.

You can't disprove the "indoctrination theory" using evidence because the "indoctrination theory" isn't based on evidence: I believe that's the literal point of Nimcha's statement.

Indoctrination theory is fan-fiction that some people cling to religiously because they would rather believe the game lies to you for 30 hours than accept that the ending just blows.

How is Indoctrination theory not based on evidence?

It explains how everything Shepard experiences after Harbinger's attack on the Hammer Forces almost fits a textbook definition of indoctrination according to the Codex, and explains a great deal of the physical in-game evidence that points to the ending being fake or a lie being fed to Shepard to indoctrinate him and stop his resistance.

The other option is that the ending is so bad and so badly written the only way to make sense of it is to explain it through indoctrination theory.

I chose to be slightly more optimistic.

So what you're saying is that you'd rather believe the game lies to you than accept the ending just blows...?

Frankster:

That's simply not true though, as a healthy number of pro indoctrination hypothesis vids really do try to use evidence to support their claim.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZOyeFvnhiI This vid as good as any.

I agree that this video offers as much solid evidence in favor of indoctrination as anything else out there. That amount is 0.

"Nobody sees the kid." There's no proof of this. The game never shows any other ships docking with the citadel, that isn't evidence that no other ship can dock with the citadel.

Shepard's bad dreams can just as easily be interpreted as him being haunted by the ghosts of those who were killed by the reaper forces, including himself. Trees in London is not especially telling since...

You start the tutorial with infinite ammo right after you and Anderson are the only two people who survive your building being hit by reaper beams. Why is one clearly plot armor and the other "obviously" indoctrination?

If BioWare wants to release DLC for the game or ME4 and in those say that Shepard was indoctrinated or a replicant or a unicorn, that's a retcon. But until and unless they do, the theory remains fanfic.

Nimcha:

So, hang on.

The Reapers are as powerful as it's possible for a synthetic species to become, yes? So... why wouldn't they just kill the synthetic species that the organic species create, rather than killing the organic species before they can create the synthetic species? I mean, I've heard of cutting out the middleman, but this is ridiculous.

DrVornoff:

SmashLovesTitanQuest:
In a sense, yes.

In what sense?

In the sense that you are no longer observing a characters actions, but rather influencing them, maybe dictating them outright. That automatically makes it the readers story as much as the authors.

3 weeks,one more and the gaming community might as well go nuts.
I wonder if some people really did spend more time faffing over this than playing the entire trilogy,that's a disturbing thought,even more so to think that it can actually be true.

BanZeus:
snippy

Just to make it clear I don't believe most of the "evidence" for indoctrination hypothesis I've seen thus far, or at least don't see it as concrete proof.

Pretty sure I already said in this thread that the only pieces of evidence that has caused me to think "heh maybe it's possible..." was sheperd getting indoctrinated eyes at the end (and it really is indoctrinated eyes, with the distinct double orb around the pupil) and the kid being in that exploding building way before you meet him. But that's hardly enough for me to go totally on board with the hypothesis.

Point was though that people HAVE been showing evidence in support of the theory so to say they haven't is just a lie. Now whether you think the evidence is BS or not is a completely different matter.

Shamus Young:

Ok, that was a cheap shot on my part. I wanted to mention the FTC thing and ended up throwing it in as part of a joke. Bad form.

Well, I can't say I've never had a bad joke go awry, so I can't hold it against you. XD

Spot on as always, Shamus. And great link to how it should have ended! Now I really don't know if I prefer that or the indoctrination theory...

My feeling on the matter is that it wasn't Bioware's story to tell. Mass Effect, to an unprecedented level, asks you to BE Commander Shepard, not just play through his or her story. Mass Effect is the PLAYER'S story, and Bioware decided to try and retake it, which was a terrible idea because that was never going to make anybody happy. If this were any other franchise I'd say that no, changing the ending would be a terrible idea and set a bad precedent, but Mass Effect isn't any other franchise - it belongs to the players, not to Bioware.

The ending also strikes me as rushed as hell. The dream sequences? How much of the game world do they actually affect? How frequently are they referenced? It seems to me that they were tacked on at the last minute, a hurried and poorly written conclusion to an otherwise epic franchise. This is why the Valve/Blizzard 'When It's Done' approach to game development works so well - they take however much time they need to make their games well, and Bioware certainly has (had?) the auteur license, if you will, to do that. The fanbase would wait, and they should have realized that and taken their time. At this point Bioware can only do damage control, and no, they will never please everybody, but they should at least try. Mass Effect's fanbase is devoted to this franchise because they are an integral part of it; they ARE Commander Shepard. Mass Effect 3 tried to take away this series' best attribute - the player's integral importance to the story, and did it with a poor Deus Ex Machina to boot. Because the fanbase is so integral to the story the players are much more directly hurt by the way this game ended, which is why we've seen the huge furor we have; if Half Life 2 Episode X ends with Gordon Freeman being squished by a giant space walrus or something people will be upset with Valve, but they certainly won't come out in such numbers with such anger as they have with ME3 and actually demand, en masse, that Valve change the ending. People are invested in Gordon's story, but Mass Effect 3 is the *player's* story, not just some random avatar.

You've got some fine points. But I'd argue that the fundamental difference between altering a book's plot to suit the audience's expectations and altering a game's is that the reader had *no* part in determining the outcome of the book's story. They were quite simply just along for the ride. A gamer playing a game like Mass Effect has not only been placed *into* the story, but they've been told to expect that their choices would impact the course of the story and it's ultimate conclusion.

Thank you for writing this. Now that the dust has settled, it nice to see that the more rational voices criticizing the ME ending can be heard.

That fan fiction you linked seems to be cropping up in every forum. I think its on its way to becoming the new canon. Its not like Bioware is opposed to using material from deviantart.

Frotality:

luckshot:
i agree with shamus completely on this.

what gets on my nerves the most is that they most likely did not have a plan for ending the series.

oh they had a plan. drew kapyrshri-lanka or however you fucking spell it had the whole series written from the start like any good trilogy should be, but they abandoned his plan, apparently because a vague outline of it was leaked. on a completely unrelated note, drew recently quit.

and now we see what happens when two assholes try to hijack the ending of someone else's story. if your interested in the original ending (or at least what we know of it):

exactly that abandoned ending is the abandoned flotation device while we got tied to the anchor because the captain thought we would like it better

and now that they got called on it they are trying to dredge us up from the bottom, with the end result being a bunch of drowned and bloated bodies...or upset fans who have had their faith in the company and game series shaken, but i prefer my analogy

I can understand some of the outrage over the ending of ME3. Twist ending with no closure. I don't have a problem with the twist, but the lack of closure after all of the major choices made throughout the series makes all of those choices meaningless.
Assuming that not everyone has finished ME3:

Finally, I know I will probably be flamed for it but: I enjoyed the series and the ending as it stands. Could it be done better? Of course. I never expected sunshine, rainbows and ponies but a little bit of closure would have been nice.

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