BioShock Creator "Sad" Over ME3's Ending Scandal

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BioShock Creator "Sad" Over ME3's Ending Scandal

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Ken Levine and other videogame auteurs respect the finished product.

No matter which side you fall on the argument, it's clear that the ending of Mass Effect 3 has divided the videogame community like nothing else has ... since BioWare's last non-MMO game. Other game designers are especially invested in how BioWare decides to handle the controversy. Speaking at a symposium to celebrate the art of videogames at the Smithsonian in Washington DC, Paul Barnett from BioWare-Mythic said that if games are to be considered art then the audience must respect the creators' right to make the game as they see fit. Ken Levine from Irrational Games - currently working on BioShock Infinite - chimed in to say that even if BioWare wrote a new ending, the audience still would be disappointed and that the whole thing made him "sad".

"If computer games are art then I fully endorse the author of the artwork to have a statement about what they believe should happen," said Barnett. "Just as J.K. Rowling can end her books and say that is the end of Harry Potter. I don't think she should be forced to make another one."

Those gathered to hear the discussion loudly applauded Barnett's words. When the ovation died down, Ken Levine made sure to express his opinion on the controversy surrounding the ending of Mass Effect 3 because he saw this as a watershed moment in gaming.

"I think this is an important moment," he said.

"I think if those people got what they wanted and (BioWare) wrote their ending they would be very disappointed in the emotional feeling they got because ... they didn't really create it," Levine said.

"This whole thing is making me a little bit sad because I don't think anyone would get what they wanted if that happened."

Source: Vox Games

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The majority of people aren't mad about the "sad" or "downer" nature of the endings, god damnit. People are mad that they spent 100+ hours on a series, only for every single choice they made to be thrown out the window and not make a single damn difference in the end.

This, of course, is after we were told that our choices actually would matter.

I'm not demanding that they change the ending. I'm just insulting the ending that they gave us and if they get tired of it and change the ending, I'm not complaining.

Greg Tito:
Ken Levine and other videogame auteurs respect the finished product.

I don't mean to assault a horse -especially a dead one- but the product plainly wasn't complete. The "ending" wasn't really an ending at all.

I don't want video games to be considered art, I want them to be bloody entertaining.

I don't care about this bullshit about Games being an art medium. I doubt anything EA games spawn can be considered anything more than casual marketing pandering bullshit.

Right now the biggest issue for me with the ending protests is that it ignores all the other problems of the game. If Bioware caves and produces a better ending, it better be free, or they're just setting a bad precedent.

That kind of ending can be expected from David Lynch and his ilk, can't say the same about a "respected" game developer like BioWare.

I wouldn't be proud of a last minute asspull twist ending, art or not.

I find myself kinda agreeing with him, I would prefer they don't change the ending or add in a new one but rather left it as it is.

I don't think video games are art.

Your move, Ken.

Again, people make the claim that art is something that exists only in the mind of the artist and can't be changed and people just need to get that, and again comparisons are made to works in different forms of media!

Why don't we draw comparisons to other games when discussing the "change the ending" subject. Why, I myself can think of a game that was released a few years back that had its ending changed due to fan complaints.

Was Bethesda's artistic integrity less valuable than Bioware's when they changed the ending of Fallout 3? Didn't they also have the right not to let their fans bully them into submission?

Of course they did; they could've told fans "Nope, screw y'all, ending stays." They didn't though. They chose to listen to fans and change the ending because it was a good business move.

I believe games are art, but they're also a huge money making business. A business which is fueled by the fans, so it's a good idea from a business stance, to placate the fans. Now Bioware doesn't have to do this, they can say that they don't intend to change the ending and then the fans would drop the matter, and incidentally they'd probably also stop buying Bioware games.

They're perfectly within their rights to stick to their artistic vision and tell the fans to suck it up, but it would be a good business move for them to make an ending change DLC. Not just for Mass Effect 3's profits but for the profits of future Bioware games.

50,000+ people have expressed disappointment with Mass Effect 3's ending and many of them have said that they won't buy another Bioware product until their complaints are addressed. Assuming they all bought it new for 60 bucks, that's 3 million dollars in sales. Even if 50,000 is a small fraction of the 3.5 million people who've purchased the game, 3 million dollars is not a sum to sneeze at.
Now assuming those 50,000 people stay true to their word and never buy another Bioware game or product again, that's 3 million dollars in potentially lost sales. That might not matter for a hugely popular game like Mass Effect 3, but for a new IP or for a less popular series, that 3 million could make or break it.

Criticism/critique and interpretation are as much a part of art as creation is, mr Barnett.

Fawxy:
The majority of people aren't mad about the "sad" or "downer" nature of the endings, god damnit. People are mad that they spent 100+ hours on a series, only for every single choice they made to be thrown out the window and not make a single damn difference in the end.

This, of course, is after we were told that our choices actually would matter.

Exactly.

This is just the point that everyone on the other side of the argument is missing. We were not angry because the story didn't end the way we wanted it to, we're angry because everything we did amounted to shit. Frankly I see this as more of a gameplay/structure issue than a problem with the script itself.

We want 2 things:

1) Closure. This is NOT the same as a happy ending. Closure simply means we want a fair ending which ties up the loose ends and doesn't create more plot holes. Even when terrible events happen you can still find closure afterwards.

2) Choice. We wanted an ending based on OUR decisions, you know, the ones we spent three whole games making. Choices that were given more consideration and investment than some of our own real-life, everyday choices! Instead we all got the same ending. Everyone got the same ending. Paragon Shepards and Renegade Shepards got the same ending. I got the same ending as you and you and you.

The same ending.

It doesn't matter if you consider games art or not. Art can suck too.

Dear Kevin

Please watch below link and tell us again how "they didn't really create it,"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm82gjZDIDU

Kind regards

A: I, personally, WANT games to be art.
B: Pandering to the lowest common demoninator in a given situations (here a whiny buncha people with internet connections) is undignified
C: Someone said its 50,000 people who dislike the ending. My response: So what? Thats like 5% of the playerbase? Bioware could tell them to ****off and still be rich. Not to mention "lots of peopele say this so it must be true" is a horrible line of logic.

indeed, Ken. I am nothing short of EMBARRASSED by the gaming community when I heard that people are demanding refunds just because the ending was unsatisfying. THIS is what the gaming community has sunk to? Just throw a hissy fit, angrily stamping your feet like a five-year-old until you get your way? Really? This is one of most pathetic moments in gaming culture I can think of and it's probably within Bioware's best interests as designers and story writers to not cave into this juvenile bullshit. Let's face it, even if Bioware DID change the ending there's a chance that people will, again, just kick and scream about how it sucks. What then? Ya demand they change it AGAIN until everything is basically the equivalent of sugary fanfiction?

RatRace123:
Again, people make the claim that art is something that exists only in the mind of the artist and can't be changed and people just need to get that, and again comparisons are made to works in different forms of media!

Why don't we draw comparisons to other games when discussing the "change the ending" subject. Why, I myself can think of a game that was released a few years back that had its ending changed due to fan complaints.

Was Bethesda's artistic integrity less valuable than Bioware's when they changed the ending of Fallout 3? Didn't they also have the right not to let their fans bully them into submission?

Of course they did; they could've told fans "Nope, screw y'all, ending stays." They didn't though. They chose to listen to fans and change the ending because it was a good business move.

I believe games are art, but they're also a huge money making business. A business which is fueled by the fans, so it's a good idea from a business stance, to placate the fans. Now Bioware doesn't have to do this, they can say that they don't intend to change the ending and then the fans would drop the matter, and incidentally they'd probably also stop buying Bioware games.

They're perfectly within their rights to stick to their artistic vision and tell the fans to suck it up, but it would be a good business move for them to make an ending change DLC. Not just for Mass Effect 3's profits but for the profits of future Bioware games.

50,000+ people have expressed disappointment with the game. Assuming they all bought it new for 60 bucks, that's 3 million dollars in sales. Even if 50,000 is a small fraction of the 3.5 million people who've purchased Mass Effect 3, 3 million dollars is not a sum to sneeze at.
Now assuming those 50,000 people stay true to their word and never buy another Bioware game or product again, that's 3 million dollars in potentially lost sales. That might not matter for a hugely popular game like Mass Effect 3, but for a new IP or for a less popular series, that 3 million could make or break it.

Actually it's 3.5 million shipped, last time I checked in on sales data it was more like 2 million actually sold, but your point remains /pedant.

The idea that this is over happy endings or sad endings is a fallacy (though as angry joe points out, why the fuck NOT a happy ending?) - this is about a rushed product, marketing lies, writing staff changes mid stream, and the effect on a game when you haven't ironed the story out up to the very 11th hour of production. If you watch the last hours of mass effect, it's obvious they simply didn't know how to end the game, and so right till the end they were debating and making changes until they ran out of time and they shipped with something that would mean "lots of speculations from everyone". IE, the mystery asspull ending because they ran dry on time, creativity, and money as a result of their own disorganization and inefficiency.

And you know what Levine? I'm sad too. Because even if we do get our ending, yeah, we probably won't be 'happy' happy. We'll be satisfied, but we'll forever be suspicious of Bioware, and it's reputation will finally, be really burned for a long time.

In effect, it'll be the death of a legend, and the imposistion of harsh reality on a hero figure.

Aiddon:
indeed, Ken. I am nothing short of EMBARRASSED by the gaming community when I heard that people are demanding refunds just because the ending was unsatisfying. THIS is what the gaming community has sunk to? Just throw a hissy fit, angrily stamping your feet like a five-year-old until you get your way? Really? This is one of most pathetic moments in gaming culture I can think of and it's probably within Bioware's best interests as designers and story writers to not cave into this juvenile bullshit.

Juvenility is a fallacy. These are people of all ages, from all walks of life. 40 year old fathers, mothers of three, doctors, lawyers, professionals, students, and yes even teenagers. Your brain is conjuring snot nosed neckbeards and nerds and that is simply not the case.

First, video games are commerical art: aka you can do what you want with them but you aren't garunteed sales on project X or any subsequent projects. Hence artists that want to do more than sling lates at Starbucks generally try to please the audience.

Second, the majority of the complaints about the ending have little to do with the content but the delviery. Rushed, forced, and no sense to consequence or aftermath. Conceptwise, I liked it and I think others might have too had it been given the same attention the rest of the series got.

Third, being defined art doesn't dismiss criticism. Half the problem with the ending was the sudden shift from a pure survial war story to something more philosophical. It was a sudden shift in tone that didn't fit the conflict (at least not in the time condensed explaination we got).

I'm agreeing with Ken on this one. First and foremost, this is Bioware's game. If they're proud of what they made they should keep it that way. Don't like it? Stop buying games from them.

And having just finished the game a few minutes ago I have to say, I didn't mind the ending at all. Actually kind of liked it. So there you go, Bioware, you've got at least one person's support.

This explains, in great details, the frustration we're experiencing from the current ending:
http://www.themetagames.com/2012/03/why-you-enjoy-art-and-one-problem-with.html

Are films art? If so, I don't see how games are somehow supposed to be above editing or reworking of material.

Films are often put before audiences to test them out, and sometimes are even released with different endings, altered scenes, and other things.

Entertainment is often a collaborative art, and I would even compare Mass Effect to something more akin to a stageplay or improv show, because so much of the engagement is dependant upon the audience input.

Unlike a painting, a game is interactive. It seems to me that attempting to apply the (undefined) title of "art" to games is only a moniker meant to serve the person creating the strawman argument. Such strong reaction to the treatment of an entertainment property is indicative of a mistake somewhere.

If a freeway were built through a city without any offramps, you can bet people would be upset, despite whatever the "vision" for that project was, no matter how "devisive" the reaction was.

I don't believe anyone would be 'sad' if they got a new ending, we didn't go into this game expecting our perfect outcome. It astounds me that most people think Shepard dying is the big problem we have with the ending. Shepard dying would have been fine as long as it fit and made sense.

What we expected is an ending that wasn't so full of logical fallacies and plot holes big enough to drive a bus through. We expected what Bioware promised us in their interviews. They said said we'd get 16 vastly different endings, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPelM2hwhJA watch this and tell me with a straight face that those are in any way "vastly different". They said that all our choices would factor into the outcome of the series. Nope, no matter what you did to get there, no matter who lived or who died, you get to the end and you get the same 3 flavors of doomsday device. They said they wouldn't leave it like 'Lost' and leave the game with more questions than answers. That's exactly how they left it. You pick your color, destroy the fabric of galactic civilization, and the Normandy crashes on an unknown planet. That's it, fade to credits.

Arguing that games are art is one thing, but if I was promised a painting of horse by an artist and instead got one of a camel, it's well within my rights to ask for a change.

If Bioware decides to go "Well even if 85% of our fans hate the ending and think we lied, screw em it's ART" then they can. But if any of that stuff they said about listening to their fans is true, then they know they screwed up.

As a final note, I'd like people who believe art shouldn't ever be changed to watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-v-f2mT94Y and tell me the artist was in the right.

"If Bioware planned for this reaction, theyre a fucking genius."

The insane publicity alone must have paid its worth for the 13 mins or so of footage that has apparently deficated right into thier fans eyes.

Never mind the people demanding a true ending DLC and swearing blood oaths that they will buy it.

Zeel:
I don't care about this bullshit about Games being an art medium. I doubt anything EA games spawn can be considered anything more than casual marketing pandering bullshit.

Right now the biggest issue for me with the ending protests is that it ignores all the other problems of the game. If Bioware caves and produces a better ending, it better be free, or they're just setting a bad precedent.

Ive got to wonder, what are you going to hate on when the whole Mass Effect 3 mess blows over?

VonKlaw:
I don't want video games to be considered art, I want them to be bloody entertaining.

They can't be both?

Film is art, yet we have Die Hard and Raiders of the Lost Ark (and anybody who dares claim those movies are not art can meet me outside)...

Aiddon:
indeed, Ken. I am nothing short of EMBARRASSED by the gaming community when I heard that people are demanding refunds just because the ending was unsatisfying. THIS is what the gaming community has sunk to? Just throw a hissy fit, angrily stamping your feet like a five-year-old until you get your way? Really? This is one of most pathetic moments in gaming culture I can think of and it's probably within Bioware's best interests as designers and story writers to not cave into this juvenile bullshit.

I wholeheartedly agree that the people who are looking for refunds and whatnot are just acting juvenile and I worry about the impression that they're gonna give to the rest of the world about game culture as a whole.

Having said that....

We'd spent the previous two games moulding our Shepards into what we wanted under the impression that every choice would matter, everything you do would have consequences in the following game.

Cue Mass Effect 3, our choices have amounted to nothing more than a progress bar on the war assets screen and we're left with a "Choose your own ending" scenario presented by a Deus Ex Machina who also starts spouting off about concepts that had never been mentioned before, concepts that you proved wrong yourself while playing the game.

The Catalyst says: "The created will always rebel against the creators" or something along those lines, where was the option for our Shepard to point out the window and say "Uhh.....The Geth and Quarians are right outside that window fighting side by side and have reconciled after a three centuries long war so I'm inclined to call bullshit on what you just said"

No matter what we said, no matter what we did, no matter who lived and who died, no matter who we loved or hated what we ended up with was three colour-coded identical endings that make no sense, leave gaping plot holes and provide absolutely no closure.

Don't get the wrong impression, I love Mass Effect. Loved the first one, loved the second one, loved the third one. I just really really wish the ending had been handled differently.

Harry Potter: Good Ending
Mass Effect: Confusing ending with several plotholes, and the choices that the chracter(s) had made weren't worth 2 sh***.

*Sigh*

Videogames ARE art. But they're a specific type of art media. They're interactive. There's no videogame that forces you to sit and watch without you touching the controller. Even if gameplay only makes about 10% of the game (*coughMGScough*), YOU are part of the story. Otherwise, go home and watch a movie.

Like it's been said before, ME is awesome. But all the decisions that you made throughout the games, all the little things you worried about, all those moments you had to put the controller down and think what the best course of action was, all that went out the window with the ending(s) that looked EXACTLY the same no matter what choice you made. That is why people are upset.

If ME is BioWare's canvas, then alright, I guess there's nothing that can be done about the ending they chose, just like JK Rowling did with Harry Potter (Not complaining about HP, by the way). But remember that this was interactive. You were supposed to make the player feel like their decisions matter at the very end. With HP, we just sat down and enjoyed the ride. With games, we gotta sit down, take the steering wheel and find the best route.

Small difference, huge consequences.

Kmadden2004:

VonKlaw:
I don't want video games to be considered art, I want them to be bloody entertaining.

They can't be both?

Film is art, yet we have Die Hard and Raiders of the Lost Ark (and anybody who dares claim those movies are not art can meet me outside)...

I should probably clarify my point my saying "I don't want my video games to be considered art -unless that is their specific aim (i.e. Journey)-". This obsession that certain video games companies seem to have that...
"Our medium is just as important as film/conventional art (i.e. paintings)/literature, isn't it! They're all art, so are we, aren't we? Aren't we? Please say we are! Please".
...is just silly and annoying.

Video games are already as important as those mediums to the people that matter - video game players. They don't need to be bound to the rules of other types of media for the sake of being appreciated by people who don't give a shite about them either way.

gigastar:
"If Bioware planned for this reaction, theyre a fucking genius."

The insane publicity alone must have paid its worth for the 13 mins or so of footage that has apparently deficated right into thier fans eyes.

Never mind the people demanding a true ending DLC and swearing blood oaths that they will buy it.

Zeel:
I don't care about this bullshit about Games being an art medium. I doubt anything EA games spawn can be considered anything more than casual marketing pandering bullshit.

Right now the biggest issue for me with the ending protests is that it ignores all the other problems of the game. If Bioware caves and produces a better ending, it better be free, or they're just setting a bad precedent.

Ive got to wonder, what are you going to hate on when the whole Mass Effect 3 mess blows over?

Dragon Age 3, the next Mass Effect game, every game EA makes, fanboys, the apathetic, people who prefer their footwear brown, the world is his oyster.

Fawxy:
The majority of people aren't mad about the "sad" or "downer" nature of the endings, god damnit. People are mad that they spent 100+ hours on a series, only for every single choice they made to be thrown out the window and not make a single damn difference in the end.

This, of course, is after we were told that our choices actually would matter.

Well, they did. What happens to the krogan, quarian, geth, rachni, etc. all pretty much hinge on your decisions. And a lot of choices you made in the previous games get resolved in the third game as well.

I guess most people would want to see a cutscene or something of these events playing out.

I was going to make a long ass comment on this, but pretty much everyone else has said everything I wanted to say and more. At the end, this is just a case of either "people completely missing the point," or "people ignoring the point for their own benefit." If you have had a finger on the pulse of the gaming crowd in the last month, there's no way that, by now, you shouldn't be aware of why disappointed everyone the way they did, especially given how good everything was before it.

But, hey, if these guys want to keep their heads up their own rear ends, then that's cool, too.

Crimson_Dragoon:
I'm agreeing with Ken on this one. First and foremost, this is Bioware's game. If they're proud of what they made they should keep it that way. Don't like it? Stop buying games from them.

Except what he and most others are ignoring is Bioware's track record on this stuff.

If they really were uncompromising artists who'd maintained full ownership of their work from day one then I might be inclined to agree with him. But the simple fact is they're not.

From the very beginning of the series, Bioware has made a big deal of taking feedback from fans on board and changing their product accordingly. Numerous times they've given fans credit for "co-writing" the series with them.

Those aren't the words and actions of the uncompromising artists that Ken Levine seems to be talking about. The fact is Bioware has encouraged this kind of behaviour in the past, even reacted positively to it, and as a result it's hardly surprising that it's happening again.

EDIT: Case in point, the statement issued by Bioware just yesterday on the matter:

Bioware:
"We would like to clarify that we are actively and seriously taking all player feedback into consideration and have ruled nothing out. At this time we are still collecting and considering your feedback and have not made a decision regarding requests to change the ending. Your feedback and opinions are of the utmost importance to us. We apologize for any confusion this has caused. Our top priority regarding this discussion is to keep communication with you, our loyal fans, open and productive."

They're not acting like uncompromising artists, why should anyone expect them to be treated as such?

sure, you are right that you can decide how its ends and that you don't feel anything for making a new ending. but as a artist you have to listen to the feedback that people gave you on and work you have created. sure, i know that "fans" have a really childish way of telling it, but still the problem is there. you have made a ending that most people were not satisfied with. done is done. asking to remake the ending is also silly, because you are forcing the artist to do something he/she doesn't agree with and isn't according to their view of their creation.

i have to say that there are theories that the ends has something to do with indoctrination.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ythY_GkEBck&feature=g-all-lik&context=G24cbf76FAAAAAAAACAA
this is the best video explaining. and if this was intended, then that would pretty genius. only now we won't know because if Bioware says that theory is correct, then i feels like they are saving their hides.

Nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. However, similar to how if JK Rowling (to use your example) were to end a series in a way that made her customers (fans) angry, they would be fully in the right to not buy any book written by her ever again. The only thing "forcing" her to change it would be her own desire to make money in the future. In the same way, Bioware only has to change the ending if they wish to continue receiving money from those they have angered. If they would rather not have that income, they are fully within their rights to do nothing. Game companies are only "sad" about this because they are starting to realize that consumers are starting to pay more attention before they buy, so they are actually going to have to put some effort into making a good product now.

i don't think that would technically "save them" anyway, since people felt the disconnect between their expectations and the ending presented to them, and will hold them responsible for it until the end of time

the follow up needs to be strong, or it will be for nothing

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