Update: Fan "Fixes" Mass Effect 3 Ending With A 539-Page Rewrite

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Update: Fan "Fixes" Mass Effect 3 Ending With A 539-Page Rewrite

Mass Effect 3 - Main

One Mass Effect super fan spent the last year and a half fixing BioWare's ME3 ending.

Mass Effect 3 was an unexpectedly controversial game. Fans of the series were famously upset by the title's ending and spent months articulating their complaints online. But even after the entire internet wagged an angry finger at BioWare, the developer stood behind the title. However, one fan took it upon himself to correct BioWare's mistakes.

For the last year and a half, Gerry Pugliese has been rewriting Mass Effect 3's ending. The finished product, called Mass Effect 3: Vindication, is 539 pages long and 118,000 words. The length is a testament to his self-discipline and lack of respect for BioWare's original script.

Vindication adds new missions, revises many of the in-game relationships, and adds several new enemy types. It even includes a DLC proposal and a collection of concept art.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the whole endeavor, though, is that Pugliese's script manages to stay grounded in BioWare's original concept. He does, however, spend a great deal of time deconstructing the game's ending and rebuilding it in his own vision.

Originally, Mass Effect 3 only included three endings, but Vindication's ending is based on a complex branching system that depends on a number of factors. And each ending is drastically different from the others.

If you'd like to check out Mass Effect 3: Vindication, the script is freely available. But this time you're probably not allowed to complain if it's not what you were hoping for.

Who am I kidding? No one can stop you from complaining on the internet.

Update: Mr. Pugliese was kind enough to answer a few of my questions via email. Throughout the entire exchange, he was surprisingly laid-back and gracious. This has been a massive undertaking, but his head isn't ballooning by the attention that Vindication has received.

Surprisingly, this is the first time he's attempted to tackle this kind of project. "I've never done anything like this before," he said. "I've had multiple 'projects' in my life. I'm always trying to improve myself, test my metal, and show people what I can do. Give me a few months and I'll likely be neck-deep in something else. Although, I'd prefer to give that energy to a gaming company, which by now, should be obvious."

In Gerry's mind, the project is finished, but this doesn't necessarily mean that revisions are out of the question. "Sure," he says, "if you give me a couple more months, I could revise some things, and add more content. I would probably put stuff in that I cut. I had a revision for the Leviathan DLC where Leviathan gives Shepard a new power called 'Reaper Domination,' which would allow Shepard to take control of Reaper forces, a lot like Morinth's Domination ability. I cut it because I figured that would be a weird power for a rough-and-tough Soldier character class to have."

But that's all gravy compared to the central focus of his project: fixing Mass Effect's indefensible ending. "The most unforgivable parts of Mass Effect 3," he explains, "and, sadly, they're the easiest to point out are: the Rachni being alive even if you killed them in Mass Effect 1, Anderson not being Councilor if you picked him in ME1, and handing, or not handing, over the Collector Base to Cerberus in Mass Effect 2." Obviously, though, those weren't his only issues with the game.

So, what's next for Gerry Pugliese? He's not exactly sure. "Honestly," he says, "I'm not sure what I'll do on the weekend now that ME3V is finished. I hear tiddlywinks is a lot of fun."

Source: Forbes

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This might win me over and get me back to buy BW games again.

I just finished ME3 and with all the rage I had heard about I was bracing myself for something truly awful, but quite the opposite happened. I was quite satisfied with the ending, and the options presented, and it all seemed to fit well within the themes the trilogy dealt with.

But hey, everyone's free to write their own fanfic. With all the attention this will get, it'll no doubt be a positive for the author.

Well if this is any good this guy might think about employment at Bioware.

mattaui:
I just finished ME3 and with all the rage I had heard about I was bracing myself for something truly awful, but quite the opposite happened. I was quite satisfied with the ending, and the options presented, and it all seemed to fit well within the themes the trilogy dealt with.

But hey, everyone's free to write their own fanfic. With all the attention this will get, it'll no doubt be a positive for the author.

Now, did you do this run with or without the 'Extended Ending' DLC?

EDIT: Because I felt on the original run like it just cut off and I missed something. I wasn't angry really, just more like "That's it?". It was lackluster and not very satisfying a conclusion to the series. First time I've felt that way playing a video game all the way through too which is the other surprising bit on my end.

Very interesting, now the big question is whether it will be picked up officially, or if we'll see fans find some way of constructing it. It's cool that someone put in the effort, but at the end of the day unless it actually does something to change the horror that was "Mass Effect 3" it's nothing but an unusually lengthy fan fiction formatted as a game design document. :)

That said EA/Bioware might want to take note of the effort/energy still being expended against ME 3's ending. I'd ultimately hope that this might inspire them to do right by the fans... but I'm not naοve enough to think anything positive will happen at this point. I consider the odds of getting a proper ending for ME3 about equivalent to there ever being "Episode 3" for Half-Life. As time goes on the odds go down because of the need to put all the pieces together to do it, as the people involved drifter further apart and new projects and workload comes up. In the case of Episode 3 I even give Valve credit for wanting to do it "at some point" but as time goes on it simply becomes less viable. With ME3 you have that, plus the fact that EA/Bioware doesn't actually want to do it, especially seeing as it would involve admitting they were wrong on an unprecedented scale.

ZippyDSMlee:
This might win me over and get me back to buy BW games again.

Don't. Seriously, don't buy games from a company that claims they have fantastic writing and then turn out crap like that.

Hell, some of the stuff in TOR is so much worse.

otakon17:

mattaui:
I just finished ME3 and with all the rage I had heard about I was bracing myself for something truly awful, but quite the opposite happened. I was quite satisfied with the ending, and the options presented, and it all seemed to fit well within the themes the trilogy dealt with.

But hey, everyone's free to write their own fanfic. With all the attention this will get, it'll no doubt be a positive for the author.

Now, did you do this with a run with or without the 'Extended Ending' DLC?

thats the big question isnt it. i assume he finished it with the edited ending.

the original game ending is remarkable. its the first game ive played in 30+ years of gaming that actually made me think my game had glitched to the extent i had missed entire cut scenes and sections from the end section.

as for this person writing their own huge ass script to fix the preceived errors. well i honestly am not going to read it but i hope it brings him closure on the issue

Well it is a good read. I do like a lot of the ideas like Tali. Then again he tried to turn Liara in to another generic badass but not much more then Bioware did it's self.

Having not read it yet, if it's good then it will appear that something that was deemed impractical for a gaming studio was managed by a single fan. A complex branching system with drastically different endings is exactly what I wanted and expected from the series. Instead they replace characters with people doing the exactly the same things and provide an ending of Deus Ex HR level lack of effort. Pick a button and see a cinematic.

ME3 ending as fixed by BioWare was perfect. There. I said it.

humm, will download later and have a read, I'd do it now but I think my boss might notice if I spent the day crying laughing and weeping "Garrus"!

Edit: Ok now it's been read and... well top marks to the guy for giving up nearly two years of his free time to write it, and the three endings, although the same choices as bioware gave us, are handled a bit better, (war assets and paragon/renegade making a difference) but he seems more interesting in adding fan fiction/slash sex scenes and making Liara's costume more sluttish!

hey, maybe I just need to accept the ending to my favourite game trilogy sucked and continue to let Marauder Shields shoot me!

Sgt. Sykes:
ME3 ending as fixed by BioWare was perfect. There. I said it.

You can say it all you want. It won't make it true. Just look to your right and you will see another one like yourself proclaiming the end of the world or that the Mesiah has been resurrected in his pet chihuahua.

The ending was a trainwreck of EPIC proportions and just all round horrible writing. However unlike most people outraged or who were happy with the ending I expected it to suck. I was still angry but the signs were there from Mass Effect 2 that they really had no idea what to do given the meandering plot of the second game.

So a half assed, rush job, loose ended conclusion to a game that looked and felt like it was made by Bioware Interns whilst the actual devs were of making an MMO was to be expected. Especially after Dragon Age 2, a game I think made in the same time most movie tie in games are made.

I'll read the script in my spare time, maybe if it's really good some modders will decide to actually animate the script and patch it into the ME3 game files. Though personally I always liked the Marauder Shields comic quite well as an alternate ending.

mattaui:
I just finished ME3 and with all the rage I had heard about I was bracing myself for something truly awful, but quite the opposite happened. I was quite satisfied with the ending, and the options presented, and it all seemed to fit well within the themes the trilogy dealt with.

But hey, everyone's free to write their own fanfic. With all the attention this will get, it'll no doubt be a positive for the author.

Oh you mean after they added a ton of explanations?

Check out the original endings before they patched them. Perhaps then you will understand the outrage.

The star child is still seven leagues of stupid and comes totaly out of left field.

I have noticed a strong correlation between those who followed Mass Effect games as they launched and hated the ending, and those who got into it later and didn't mind it.

I strongly suspect that a lot of the dislike comes from the hype and exaggerations/falsehoods that Bioware used in it's marketing. If people didn't have such high expectations, I suspect the ending would have been written off as just another series a developer didn't know how to end.

The fact that Bioware repeatedly stated that choices would significantly impact the ending, that the game wouldn't simply have an A,B or C ending and that it'd answer all questions is what upset a lot of people.

Regardless of whether or not somebody liked the ending, nobody can truthfully say that it fit in with what Bioware promised it would be like.

To give him credit, he do have some pretty decent and interesting ideas mixed in there; missions that actually differ based on decisions in ME1 and ME2? Individual character epilogues? I can dig stuff like that.

But he also has a seriously terrible understanding of EDI's and James' characters, quite a bit of the document reads like cringeworthily bad fanfiction (really? sex scenes for pretty much every single character?), and some of the concept art seems to come from a dark and fetishy place.

Mass Effect 3 was a fun game and parts were well written. Mordin's Heroic Blue Screen, and... Nope. That is the only example of of good writing in that game. So just one. Everything else was rife with plot holes. Nice to see there are industrious people out there with the will to correct the mistakes of the developers.

Why should we care, everything BW created after KOTOR was basically a rehash of the same old material. Not to mention they were described as masters of games narrative by hordes of biodrones and sites like this one, creating even more hype and disappointment. Whatever, I intend to enjoy my inXile and CDR games while you guys occupy yourselves with playing ME4 or DA3, and creating lengthy yt videos explaining how to fix those when they turn out being bad.

Starke:

Hell, some of the stuff in TOR is so much worse.

Dont get me started on how they took pretty much every interesting story element KotOR 2 had and then threw it out the window.

Legion:
I have noticed a strong correlation between those who followed Mass Effect games as they launched and hated the ending, and those who got into it later and didn't mind it.

I strongly suspect that a lot of the dislike comes from the hype and exaggerations/falsehoods that Bioware used in it's marketing. If people didn't have such high expectations, I suspect the ending would have been written off as just another series a developer didn't know how to end.

The fact that Bioware repeatedly stated that choices would significantly impact the ending, that the game wouldn't simply have an A,B or C ending and that it'd answer all questions is what upset a lot of people.

Regardless of whether or not somebody liked the ending, nobody can truthfully say that it fit in with what Bioware promised it would be like.

I liked the original ending, played Mass Effect 3 at release. #Comeatmebros

However I will agree that the selling point of the ending didn't match the reality of what it was... guess they took hints from the Fable Marketing department, eh?

OP: Jesus, 539 pages. That's a fanfiction of epic proportions, which always makes me feel bad when my own fanfic is still only 3 pages long. Still, that's a hell of an effort on his part.

It's been almost two years. Can't we just let it go? ME3's ending was significantly less rubbish than BioShock's or Arkham Asylum's, and people weren't still crying about those two years after the fact.

For the record, I didn't hate the ending. It could have been better, certainly, but it wasn't bad enough to justify the backlash. Video game endings tend not to be that great anyway, and ME3's was no worse than most.

Anachronism:
It's been almost two years. Can't we just let it go? ME3's ending was significantly less rubbish than BioShock's or Arkham Asylum's, and people weren't still crying about those two years after the fact.

For the record, I didn't hate the ending. It could have been better, certainly, but it wasn't bad enough to justify the backlash. Video game endings tend not to be that great anyway, and ME3's was no worse than most.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the continued interest/complaining about the ending is less and less about how unpleasant the actual ending was... rather I'm starting to think it has more to do with people just not wanting such a great trilogy to end.

Just read this version of the ending. Was skeptical at first, but admittedly this guy's writing is pretty good. Though all the extra content required makes it a bit untenable.

In short:

There's bad, medium and good endings dependent on your EMS score. One problem is that the good ending is a little too good; the fight on Earth goes very smoothly. With the worst ending, Shepard doesn't even make it up the beam.

Once Shepard gets up the beam and finishes the dialogue with the Illusive Man, Harbinger assumes control of TIM's body and 'supercharges' him, and there's a climactic boss fight. Once you kill TIM, Harbinger also dies for some reason.

The Star Child is then replaced with the Prothean VI you meet on Ilos in ME1 (Vigil), who appears and tells you about the reapers based on his studies of them (this version of the VI being a newer one with more information).

It turns out the Crucible is not a weapon, but a power source containing lots of dark energy. And Shepard is the catalyst (which makes a lot of sense in context) who can choose Destroy, Control or Synthesis as usual. In this version, Destroy is automatically picked if you're a paragon (get rid of reapers), Control is renegade (take their power for yourself) and Synthesis is for if you played an in-betweeny Shepard. Synthesis is portrayed here as being the inferior choice that Shepard resigns his/herself to as there is no other way they can foresee; you even have the option here (unlike the other two) to back out and get the "refuse ending" introduced in the extended cut.

In the good & medium endings, Shepard survives.

After all that, there's hours of epilogues. The writer even suggests providing the player with a kind of gallery, so they can watch each epilogue (one for almost every important character in the game) in any order, pause them and come back, etc.

Here's a list of the characters he writes epilogues for:
• Garrus
• Tali
• Kaiden
• Ashley
• James
• Liara
• Javik
• Cortez
• Ken & Gabby
• Engineer Adams
• Dr. Chakwas
• Dr. Michel
• Allers
• Khalisah
• Miranda
• Jack
• Major Kirrahe
• Admiral Hackett
• Primarch Victus
• Kasumi
• Zaeed
• Mordin
• Maelon
• Padok Wiks
• Falare
• Jacob & Brynn
• Aria
• Grunt
• Samara
• Kelly
• Eve (Bakara)
• Rachni
• Wrex
• Krogan Warlord
• Wreav
• Oriana
• Geth
• Admiral Koris
• Admiral Xen
• Admiral Gerrel
• Admiral Raan
• Major Coats
• Kahlee sanders
• Thane
• Morinth

And each one varies depending on whether you get a good, medium or bad version of the Destroy, Control or Synthesis ending. These are also in addition to the main epilogue. It's really over-the-top.

Legion:
I have noticed a strong correlation between those who followed Mass Effect games as they launched and hated the ending, and those who got into it later and didn't mind it.

I strongly suspect that a lot of the dislike comes from the hype and exaggerations/falsehoods that Bioware used in it's marketing. If people didn't have such high expectations, I suspect the ending would have been written off as just another series a developer didn't know how to end.

The fact that Bioware repeatedly stated that choices would significantly impact the ending, that the game wouldn't simply have an A,B or C ending and that it'd answer all questions is what upset a lot of people.

Regardless of whether or not somebody liked the ending, nobody can truthfully say that it fit in with what Bioware promised it would be like.

I've followed Mass Effect since the beginning, and consider myself a huge fan of the franchise, and I just found the original ending underwhelming at worst. It wasn't good, but it's not even close to as bad as the majority claims. So does that mean I'm just better at managing my expectations than most of the vocal Internet?

Interesting that he decided to keep the Crucible plot. I thought that the 'super anti-Reaper weapon whose plans have been passed on and built on for hundreds of cycles of extermination and that just happened to be discovered in our solar system just as the Reapers show up' was a weak main plot line.

Now if he had made the Crucible plans a trap that had been planted by the Reaper agents as a Plan B once they discovered that their usual 'show up and lop off the head of the government with a strike at the Citadel' plan fell apart in ME1, then we'd be cooking with gas.

This is indeed impressive work, however even as a huge huge mass effect fan who was very disappointed at the ending even i think this is going a bit too far, as impressive as it is.

As far as the ending goes its clear it was rushed out.

1337mokro:
The ending was a trainwreck of EPIC proportions and just all round horrible writing. However unlike most people outraged or who were happy with the ending I expected it to suck. I was still angry but the signs were there from Mass Effect 2 that they really had no idea what to do given the meandering plot of the second game.

Oh right you convinced me, how could I be so wrong liking something that many other people don't? I thought there's something such as subjective and taste, how I was wrong all along!

Impressive, though honestly I wouldn't use his work for the ending of the Shep I treasure most, since he sticks with the original concepts and all. The endings available just came off as insultingly tragic for my Shep, and since it was a game and character I'd used to pull myself out of a serious suicidal despair, being told the only way to end the damn game is to off yourself, or off half of your friends with a slight chance of survival if you go renegade, comes off as an immense personal insult. The extended cut sure as hell doesn't fix that, and I have a feeling his work doesn't either. I'll look at it later to see if there's any ending there that I'd be satisfied with.

Well, that's certainly one hell of an impressive feat, especially if it turns out to be any good. It still won't change my mind that the original ending (while shoddily executed in a few areas) never needed 'fixing', especially not beyond the EC, and that all the rage was a massive over-reaction and involved a lot of wilful misinterpretation of the concept. However, good on him regardless.

Meh, its better then Bioware but it still contains bullshit.

Like the "Zeta Ending". If you're going to kill off the player for having too low of a readiness score, at least kill him off by means that makes sense and actually relate to the readiness score and what that means in-game, rather then having the character be unable to dodge a beam weapon. You should kill him (and the crew) much earlier by overwhelming enemy numbers, showing that without the support of other factions to mitigate those forces your mission is just plain hopeless. Instead of getting just as far but somehow not being able to dodge a laser or beam weapon, which has fuck all to do with a readiness score that's supposed to represent how many allies you've managed to turn to your side.

But it doesn't matter what people try to do about this game and its utter shit ending, it remains a black mark on Bioware's record. Mass Effect for me is the headstone on Bioware's grave, the final blow in a long series of ever worsening RPG games with ever worsening shitty elements.

A valiant but ultimately doomed effort on Gerry Pugliese part, Bioware isn't going to wake up from their stupor.

I think there's a difference between liking the ending and thinking the ending was good. As in good in a well written, flowed from themes earlier in the story, foreshadowed in places but not obviously telegraphed, etc... way.

Someone could like Plan 9 From Outer Space, but there ain't no way to consider it a good movie. Not that I put the ending of ME3 in the same category as that train wreck.

Sgt. Sykes:

1337mokro:
The ending was a trainwreck of EPIC proportions and just all round horrible writing. However unlike most people outraged or who were happy with the ending I expected it to suck. I was still angry but the signs were there from Mass Effect 2 that they really had no idea what to do given the meandering plot of the second game.

Oh right you convinced me, how could I be so wrong liking something that many other people don't? I thought there's something such as subjective and taste, how I was wrong all along!

Here, you want an objective analysis that smartassery cannot disarm? (rhetorical question)

P.S. I will start reading it tomorrow as my ass needs to meet sheets sooner than later.

mattaui:
I just finished ME3 and with all the rage I had heard about I was bracing myself for something truly awful, but quite the opposite happened. I was quite satisfied with the ending, and the options presented, and it all seemed to fit well within the themes the trilogy dealt with.

But hey, everyone's free to write their own fanfic. With all the attention this will get, it'll no doubt be a positive for the author.

Same. I finished with the Extended Cut and all of the associated DLC, and the revised ending is surprisingly palatable. I went for Synthesis as my canonical ending, but I did check out the Control and Destruction endings. In all cases, all three endings are adequately justified, with points of contention really being up to the player.

Leviathan is really vital, though. Without it, the Catalyst's fallacy just comes out of left field. With it, you can see the God Child's origins and actually get a reason as to why he's so horribly misguided. It doesn't excuse his terrible reasoning, but it has the game acknowledge that it *is* terrible. Fixing that is on your Shepard's shoulders.

Saulkar:
Here, you want an objective analysis that smartassery cannot disarm? (rhetorical question)

Oh come on linking YouTube videos, that's just lazy. Why don't you write your own analysis if you really can't stand that someone likes what you don't like? Even glancing those long posts years after ME3 came out is quite entertaining.

I read a couple of pages of this script, but I was not very impressed. He put in a lot of time, sure, but at the end of the day it's just fan fiction. An like much other fan fiction, it shows, for example, an abudance of indulgence and a lack of restraint. And judging by what I read, I doubt he'll be hired as a writer at a game company for this.

James Joseph Emerald:
In this version, Destroy is automatically picked if you're a paragon (get rid of reapers), Control is renegade (take their power for yourself) and Synthesis is for if you played an in-betweeny Shepard. Synthesis is portrayed here as being the inferior choice that Shepard resigns his/herself to as there is no other way they can foresee; you even have the option here (unlike the other two) to back out and get the "refuse ending" introduced in the extended cut.

After all that, there's hours of epilogues. The writer even suggests providing the player with a kind of gallery, so they can watch each epilogue (one for almost every important character in the game) in any order, pause them and come back, etc.

Here's a list of the characters he writes epilogues for:

[more names than even I can remember]

And each one varies depending on whether you get a good, medium or bad version of the Destroy, Control or Synthesis ending. These are also in addition to the main epilogue. It's really over-the-top.

Does he really make the availability of the endings contingent on your paragon/renegade score? What an awful idea.

Now I generally don't understand the people complaining about a lack of closure in Mass Effect 3, since the whole game is dishing out closure in spades end every major story and character arc is completed before the actual ending, but even if that was not the case...

A big story like Mass Effect should end on a bang, it should leave you with a "wow", it should leave you with something to think about. And the best way to crush any such feelings is to add hours of epilogue describing what happens afterwards to each and every minor character. None of this matters to the story, and just shows the aforementioned lack of restraint.

Edit: I'm also surprised that someone who spends so much effort into correcting everything that he thinks is wrong with Mass Effect 3 just re-writes Mass Effect 3, without addressing the story issues of the other two games in the context of the narrative of the trilogy as a whole.

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