BioWare Knows It Can't Please Everyone

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BioWare Knows It Can't Please Everyone

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Mass Effect creators talk details on their upcoming single-player DLC.

BioWare's answer to the rampant controversy over the ending of the Mass Effect series comes tomorrow in the form of the Extended Cut DLC, meant to "expand on the meaning of the original endings." The free update adds new cutscenes to the closing moments of the game, as well as an epilogue sequence. However, lead writer Mac Walters and executive producer Casey Hudson are well aware that the downloadable update won't be enough to make everyone happy.

"You can never completely satisfy everyone," said Hudson in a BioWare podcast. "We've seen a whole range of feedback, ranging from people who wanted a total redo, to people who had concerns and questions about the original endings, to people who loved the original endings and have told us they don't want us to change anything."

Since the release of Mass Effect 3 four months ago, the ending has been a topic of heated discussion among fans. Many complained that there wasn't enough closure for such a long-running series, and others claimed there were numerous plot holes and inconsistent themes. BioWare has been listening.

"When we ended Mass Effect 3, we knew that it was going to be the end of Shepard's story," says Walters. "But in our minds and imaginations, the characters are still going to be together...and maybe that didn't come across, that those characters still had a future and they had a hope going forward."

"There was some feedback that we can't address," Hudson explains. "There are some people who just outright rejected the whole concept of the endings, and wanted us to start from scratch and redo everything. And we can't do that because that's not our story; we wouldn't know how to write that story. What excites us is the challenge of learning how people consume our stories, and we're trying new ways of telling stories, so it's a learning process for everybody. And then incorporating that feedback, that's how we make our work better."

Hudson goes on to say how thankful the team at BioWare is for intelligent suggestions from the community. "When things are really constructive like that, even when it's critical, it means a lot to us, because when you think about the artists and writers - all the people here - they work because they're passionate about games. They're passionate about making a really great experience for players. So when they get constructive feedback, constructive criticism, they're really excited about that."

"There's no doubt that there will be a whole new wave of discussion and debate, maybe even controversy. But we didn't do the Extended Cut because we're trying to make everybody happy, make it perfect - we just saw an opportunity to expand on things that we felt could add value to the experience, for those that appreciate it."

Source: OXM

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This may be the first PR Bioware has actually not screwed up in the last 3 months.

Terminate421:
This may be the first PR Bioware has actually not screwed up in the last 3 months.

Doesn't matter. His every word will be picked over by the vultures, and presented as something negative.

Cue the shitstorm of people basically saying "But they could at least please ME!"

They don't know how to make an ending that's narratively cohesive, and actually follows up on the foreshadowing laid out in the previous installment?

We already know that the ending put into the game was "Plan B", so less bullshit would be appreciated. But, hey, congratulations to BioWare on wasting a whole lot of money on adding stuff for the people who were probably already happy enough with the ending.

Yeah... releasing it on the same day as Dawnguard. Who decided that would be a good idea?
I'm having to choose between my massively, massively-anticipated Dawnguard and fucking shit up Van Helsing-esque vampire style, or some extra cutscenes for a game I'm trying to forget about.
Not a particularly tough decision.

JasonKaotic:
Yeah... releasing it on the same day as Dawnguard. Who decided that would be a good idea?
I'm having to choose between my massively, massively-anticipated Dawnguard and fucking shit up Van Helsing-esque vampire style, or some extra cutscenes for a game I'm trying to forget about.
Not a particularly tough decision.

Only one of them will cost money

Just as long as the stupid breath scene gets explained.

There are some people who just outright rejected the whole concept of the endings, and wanted us to start from scratch and redo everything. And we can't do that because that's not our story; we wouldn't know how to write that story.

How could they? Deus Ex didn't write that story for them.

OR maybe you could just ask Drew Karpyshyn to do it. You know the guy who actually DID create Mass Effect.

irishda:
Cue the shitstorm of people basically saying "But they could at least please ME!"

It's better than writing an ending just to please themselves.

JasonKaotic:
Yeah... releasing it on the same day as Dawnguard. Who decided that would be a good idea?
I'm having to choose between my massively, massively-anticipated Dawnguard and fucking shit up Van Helsing-esque vampire style, or some extra cutscenes for a game I'm trying to forget about.
Not a particularly tough decision.

Well, the 360 version of Dawnguard is coming out tomorrow. PC and PS3 players have to wait a month or two.

Also, I don't think they were particularly concerned about releasing their free DLC meant to make the hardcore fans happy competing with, well, anything really.

MatParker116:

JasonKaotic:
Yeah... releasing it on the same day as Dawnguard. Who decided that would be a good idea?
I'm having to choose between my massively, massively-anticipated Dawnguard and fucking shit up Van Helsing-esque vampire style, or some extra cutscenes for a game I'm trying to forget about.
Not a particularly tough decision.

Only one of them will cost money

I know, I just mean I can't play both at the same time, and by the time I've finished with Dawnguard I'll probably completely forget about this.

Edit:

thatonedude11:

Well, the 360 version of Dawnguard is coming out tomorrow. PC and PS3 players have to wait a month or two.

Also, I don't think they were particularly concerned about releasing their free DLC meant to make the hardcore fans happy competing with, well, anything really.

Oh yeah, I forgot about that. True. But yeah, my point was that people going for Dawnguard will probably not bother with this. Although I do suppose BioWare aren't bothered.

I'm at least looking forward to new content. But I wasn't particularly upset by the original ending. I survived. So I was happy.

Yes, yes. We all know you can't please everyone, but these scenes better be damn good anyway. I can't even begin to imagine how Bioware will be torn apart otherwise.

and maybe that didn't come across, that those characters still had a future and they had a hope going forward.

that better mean I'm getting my blue babies.

Oy.

Once more with feeling: this has never been about "pleasing everyone". This is about recognizing that the ending doesn't match the quality of the rest of the game, and taking steps to remedy that. The only way BioWare can actually fail with the Extended Cut is if they don't address the problems that exist within the current framework.

I don't think anyone expects this to make everyone happy. If you enjoyed ME3's ending this shouldn't upset you, but if you were outraged, I don't think they'll be fixing that.

For me, I'm voting with my wallet, and simply no longer pre-ordering Bioware games. I'll wait, if it turns out to be a good game, I'll consider buying it. But I can't count on Bioware games necessarily matching up with what I want in a game.

I might just play it safe, and pick up Bioware titles from the Used Game bin.

Well, I guess it's time to see off every bit of rationality that's come back to the internet since March. Can't wait for the next wave of ZOMG BIOWARE SUCKS BOYCOTT PETITION HATE RAGE ZOMG.

So it will settle for pleasing nobody.

Buretsu:

Terminate421:
This may be the first PR Bioware has actually not screwed up in the last 3 months.

Doesn't matter. His every word will be picked over by the vultures, and presented as something negative.

Here, let me wipe that condescension off your lapel, and also validate your prophecy. This is nothing new, this is the same condescending PR speil they've been spewing at us for months, it's insulting and childish of them and frankly, this "OH WE CAN'T PLEASE EVERYBODY" dramatic swoon bullshit has put me off even trying it.

Honestly? They would've been better off just leaving the ending alone and trying to bury this whole said affair.

In theory I'm happy that Bioware has taken the very fan-friendly action of making a free DLC to flesh out the ending to their game.

In practice, I'm sad that there doesn't seem to be any more single-player content coming down the pipe after this one. Somebody want to take a look at the Lair of the Shadow Broker then tell me again how adding in multiplayer hasn't harmed development of the single-player campaign of ME3?

Phlakes:
Well, I guess it's time to see off every bit of rationality that's come back to the internet since March. Can't wait for the next wave of ZOMG BIOWARE SUCKS BOYCOTT PETITION HATE RAGE ZOMG.

That's probably not going to happen. I mean, it's been said before, but the ME3 backlash really was a "perfect storm" of factors that aren't likely to repeat in the same configuration. Sure, you'll have the inevitable surge of foaming-at-the-mouth screamers, but like I always say, it's easy to sort through that when you're looking for genuine discourse.

I rather think the reaction will depend on what the Extended Cut actually does. I mean, let's be completely fair here and acknowledge that the ending can be salvaged without changing what actually happens - I may not like the Starchild sequence, in the same way I'm not crazy about Amon's true identity on "Legend of Korra" - but I can live with that if it serves as a vehicle for some greater emotional/narrative component.

Aureliano:
In theory I'm happy that Bioware has taken the very fan-friendly action of making a free DLC to flesh out the ending to their game.

In practice, I'm sad that there doesn't seem to be any more single-player content coming down the pipe after this one. Somebody want to take a look at the Lair of the Shadow Broker then tell me again how adding in multiplayer hasn't harmed development of the single-player campaign of ME3?

Actually, when the EC was originally announced, it was specifically stated that single-player DLCs (such as the rumored "Retake Omega" storyline with Aria T'Loak) would be pushed back accordingly. Now that that's out of the way, I imagine it's just a matter of time before they're back on track with whatever plans they originally had.

(Of course, if Hudson et al had gotten it right the first time around, they might have been able to strike while the iron was lukewarm, but I suppose that's a moot point now.)

Diana Kingston-Gabai:

Phlakes:
Well, I guess it's time to see off every bit of rationality that's come back to the internet since March. Can't wait for the next wave of ZOMG BIOWARE SUCKS BOYCOTT PETITION HATE RAGE ZOMG.

That's probably not going to happen. I mean, it's been said before, but the ME3 backlash really was a "perfect storm" of factors that aren't likely to repeat in the same configuration. Sure, you'll have the inevitable surge of foaming-at-the-mouth screamers, but like I always say, it's easy to sort through that when you're looking for genuine discourse.

I rather think the reaction will depend on what the Extended Cut actually does. I mean, let's be completely fair here and acknowledge that the ending can be salvaged without changing what actually happens - I may not like the Starchild sequence, in the same way I'm not crazy about Amon's true identity on "Legend of Korra" - but I can live with that if it serves as a vehicle for some greater emotional/narrative component.

The problem is that you have people already angry. It's hard enough winning someone over when they're neutral, but when you have to make up for something like the ending controversy, your only hope is some kind of miracle that makes everyone happy and possibly ends world hunger.

Diana Kingston-Gabai:

Aureliano:
In theory I'm happy that Bioware has taken the very fan-friendly action of making a free DLC to flesh out the ending to their game.

In practice, I'm sad that there doesn't seem to be any more single-player content coming down the pipe after this one. Somebody want to take a look at the Lair of the Shadow Broker then tell me again how adding in multiplayer hasn't harmed development of the single-player campaign of ME3?

Actually, when the EC was originally announced, it was specifically stated that single-player DLCs (such as the rumored "Retake Omega" storyline with Aria T'Loak) would be pushed back accordingly. Now that that's out of the way, I imagine it's just a matter of time before they're back on track with whatever plans they originally had.

(Of course, if Hudson et al had gotten it right the first time around, they might have been able to strike while the iron was lukewarm, but I suppose that's a moot point now.)

Sure, it's possible. But given the serious multiplayer push we've seen and the fact that Jennifer Hale is apparently completely done doing voiceover work as Shepard for ME3, I'm not holding my breath for any non-multiplayer content after this one.

Wait... everyone at the end of the game had hope going forwards...?

I won't hide it, the ending to Mass Effect 3 was horrible, and came off lazy to me. There's enough plot holes that you could fit a Collector ship through it and still have space for a few extra hundred thousands of flesh-pods to fit comfy.

And if they aren't going to go by or tweak the popular Indoctrination theory, I don't know if they can explain it all. Hell...

Someone at Bioware must have realised what a giant turd that ending was. I honestly can't bring myself to believe this bullshit about the ending being "their story" that they wanted to make. It fails in the most basic ways, and the way they keep trying to say that we don't get it or something just pisses me off. We hate it not because it wasn't the ending we wanted, but because it was barely an ending at all, and to offer it to us anyway in full knowledge of how unbelievably shoddy it was is borderline offensive. Bioware can do better, hell it did do better both earlier in that very game and in the other games of the series. This time they just didn't try.

I'll get the extended cut in the hopes it might salvage some small aspects of the story, but they're right in saying that it won't please everyone. I doubt it will please many people at all, but if they were really bothered about the public opinions of their ending they should have put some effort into it in the first place.

Phlakes:
The problem is that you have people already angry. It's hard enough winning someone over when they're neutral, but when you have to make up for something like the ending controversy, your only hope is some kind of miracle that makes everyone happy and possibly ends world hunger.

I don't know if it's anger anymore, though, so much as it is disappointment. I mean, sure, you still have folks spitting bile and cursing EA up and down the Internet, but I like to think the decision to actually make the EC in the first place came about because so many people were able to articulate their feelings in a detailed and rational manner rather than blind fury.

(Which doesn't necessarily mean Casey Hudson actually understands the criticism, but that's a can of worms not even the Sonic Screwdriver could open.)

If the EC succeeds, it may just buy back a lot of goodwill that EA and BioWare squandered in April. But if it fails, I honestly think the most reaction you'll see will be quiet dismay. Because if they brought voice actors back, and put together a DLC that's larger than any they've ever done, and made it free for everyone, and yet they still couldn't grasp why the ending doesn't work? Well, what good would anger do then? There'd be nothing else to say, no more reason for discussion.

Aureliano:
Sure, it's possible. But given the serious multiplayer push we've seen and the fact that Jennifer Hale is apparently completely done doing voiceover work as Shepard for ME3, I'm not holding my breath for any non-multiplayer content after this one.

I wouldn't worry - "Witch Hunt" came out nearly a year after "Dragon Age: Origins", and Claudia Black was still there to voice Morrigan...

Considering that the original ending before Drew Karpshyn left was rumoured to be completely different and far more in line with the ideas of the series, this whole 'artistic integrity' schtick feels a bit hollow.

2001: A Space Odyssey managed to get away with having a random LSD trip for an ending because a) the main character was dying of oxygen deprivation in outer space, and b) Kubrick at least dedicated the last half hour to filling the audience's head with mind-screw imagery and weird trippy symbolism. Trying to emulate that by shoe-horning in a nonsensical 5 minute cutscene to end your three part trilogy is just pathetic, especially when its widely rumoured that your lead writer had a much different idea for how the series was going to end.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Considering that the original ending before Drew Karpshyn left was rumoured to be completely different and far more in line with the ideas of the series, this whole 'artistic integrity' schtick feels a bit hollow.

Well... here's the thing. Having read the summary of Karpyshyn's original ending, I can see why it would've been problematic from a purely gameplay perspective.

To clarify: as near-universally-reviled as the current ending may be, there's still been plenty of discussion as to which ending makes the most sense for various Shepards. Personally, I'm completely unwilling to consider any ending besides Destroy, regardless of the cost, because I view Control as validating the Illusive Man and Synthesis as validating Saren. But I've read coherent and well-thought-out justifications of these alternatives, and I'm willing to concede that while they could never be "the right choice" for me, they could certainly be that for other players.

But in the original ending, the player would have been faced with an entirely different choice: sacrifice the entirety of humanity to help the Reapers stop the spread of dark energy, or destroy the Reapers and place your trust in the allies you've acquired to solve the problem with you.

And I honestly can't imagine anyone choosing the first option. Not when the entire thrust of the narrative is about the extraordinary things the races of the galaxy can achieve when they work together. What player would willingly concede defeat rather than take on another challenge? That's just not how we're wired as gamers.

Diana Kingston-Gabai:
Oy.

Once more with feeling: this has never been about "pleasing everyone". This is about recognizing that the ending doesn't match the quality of the rest of the game, and taking steps to remedy that. The only way BioWare can actually fail with the Extended Cut is if they don't address the problems that exist within the current framework.

Dont bother repeating that, its been lost in translation for a long time.

PErsonally, I dont care if Bioware comes up with a way to please everyone (I know its impossible), I just want them to please ME to make a ending that makes a lick of sense...

Diana Kingston-Gabai:

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Considering that the original ending before Drew Karpshyn left was rumoured to be completely different and far more in line with the ideas of the series, this whole 'artistic integrity' schtick feels a bit hollow.

Well... here's the thing. Having read the summary of Karpyshyn's original ending, I can see why it would've been problematic from a purely gameplay perspective.

To clarify: as near-universally-reviled as the current ending may be, there's still been plenty of discussion as to which ending makes the most sense for various Shepards. Personally, I'm completely unwilling to consider any ending besides Destroy, regardless of the cost, because I view Control as validating the Illusive Man and Synthesis as validating Saren. But I've read coherent and well-thought-out justifications of these alternatives, and I'm willing to concede that while they could never be "the right choice" for me, they could certainly be that for other players.

But in the original ending, the player would have been faced with an entirely different choice: sacrifice the entirety of humanity to help the Reapers stop the spread of dark energy, or destroy the Reapers and place your trust in the allies you've acquired to solve the problem with you.

And I honestly can't imagine anyone choosing the first option. Not when the entire thrust of the narrative is about the extraordinary things the races of the galaxy can achieve when they work together. What player would willingly concede defeat rather than take on another challenge? That's just not how we're wired as gamers.

You'd be surprised. I'm sure I'm not the only gamer who's as jaded and cynical as high fuck. The implication with the original ending, I believe, was that the Reapers had a definite way to stop the spread of dark energy, whereas the allies you've acquired do not. Therefore, the original ending would have essentially asked players how much they were willing to gamble: would they preserve the galaxy, at the cost of all higher-function life forms? Or would they risk the entire galaxy on the chance that they could reduce the threat of dark energy, [i[and[/i] defeat the reapers?

That, to me, is a much more interesting dilemma than simply "herp derp, we destroy organics to stop organics being destroyed." Whatever questions the actual ending for ME3 may have wanted to ask were completely undone by the botched, hamfisted execution.

It is never a good idea to try and change a story'd ending at the last minute. Good stories are written with themes and ideas present throughout, and build towards a resolution at the end that serves to underscore these. By changing the ending, you risk undermining everything the themes and subtext in your story have been working for. And in the case of ME3, I would say that's completely true.

Cue more bitching. Right on time.

Bioware knows that they cannot please everyone. Based on the last 4-5 months it seems Bioware cannot please ANYONE. Then again the Bioware I knew and loved is gone. Now there is just EA walking around in Biowares gutted skin. Mass Effect 3 was the last Bioware game I take a chance on. Once apon a time I would buy a game because it was made by Bioware, now they have lost a customer and I am guessing many more.

I am just tired of this whole sad affair. I voted with my dollar and bought other games instead. I am hoping this is the last we have to hear of this.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
You'd be surprised. I'm sure I'm not the only gamer who's as jaded and cynical as high fuck.

Not by a long shot. :)

The implication with the original ending, I believe, was that the Reapers had a definite way to stop the spread of dark energy, whereas the allies you've acquired do not. Therefore, the original ending would have essentially asked players how much they were willing to gamble: would they preserve the galaxy, at the cost of all higher-function life forms? Or would they risk the entire galaxy on the chance that they could reduce the threat of dark energy, and defeat the reapers?

The problem with that, as I see it, is twofold: first, it undermines player empowerment by creating an obstacle Shepard can't overcome. Granted, you have to suspend disbelief in the first place, but I think that comes with the territory in any game - you take for granted the notion that you're roleplaying an exceptional character, someone who can overcome impossible odds by brute strength, intelligence or sheer cruelty.

By accepting the Reapers' help, you would in fact be admitting defeat - Harbinger was right all along, and you were wrong to oppose the Reapers. In a way, it's as much a nullification of the trilogy as the existing endings: if Shepard had just allowed Sovereign to do its work, the dark energy crisis would have been resolved and the next cycle would have thrived.

That, to me, is a much more interesting dilemma than simply "herp derp, we destroy organics to stop organics being destroyed." Whatever questions the actual ending for ME3 may have wanted to ask were completely undone by the botched, hamfisted execution.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the tragedy of this is that "Mass Effect" could have been remembered as one of the best science-fiction stories of the past decade, and instead it's a punchline for memes and webcomics:

It is never a good idea to try and change a story'd ending at the last minute. Good stories are written with themes and ideas present throughout, and build towards a resolution at the end that serves to underscore these. By changing the ending, you risk undermining everything the themes and subtext in your story have been working for. And in the case of ME3, I would say that's completely true.

I'm in total agreement here. I just think the original ending might have run into very similar resistance, in that it too represents an inversion of the narrative thrust: in the end, Shepard is reduced to passive choices rather than courses of action.

Buretsu:

Terminate421:
This may be the first PR Bioware has actually not screwed up in the last 3 months.

Doesn't matter. His every word will be picked over by the vultures, and presented as something negative.

Casey Hudson is a heathen devil sodomite and everyone knows it!!!!

:P No, really the only thing I hold against the guy is that apparently it was his decision to cut large swathes of the ending out in the first place, leading it to be labled officially "butchered". Bu I didn't look at every word he ever said after the game came out as a slap in the face to the audience (though I could see how some things could be taken that way. :P) Beyond that, I was always one of the people who said that I was disappointed (not raging) at the endings, but at the same time I didn't think they were obligated to change them at all.

When was the last time an audience demanded that a book be rewritten because the ending was bad? When was the last time an audience demanded that a movie be remade because they didn't like the ending? When was the last time a book or movie actually WAS remade because of demands from the audience? I submit: never. They go down in history as "A movie with a crap ending" or "A book with a crap ending".

Anyhow, that's beside the point now as they are adding to the ending and, if you ask me, it should satisfy a lot of people. Space Timmy was a jaw-dropping WHAT THE FUCK?! introduction/conversation, but at least for me the biggest problem was what a lot of other people said: "Alright. Shep's gone. I can live with that.....what the fuck happens to everyone else? The quarians and geth? The krogan? The rachni? The rest of the frickin' galaxy? How about Shep's crew itself?"

If this cut sufficiently answers the big "What happens after the war?" questions, then I'll consider it a success.

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