Why do you not believe the indoctrination theory? *Major Spoilers*

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SS2Dante:

AD-Stu:
You're missing the whole "unreliable narrator" bit. He says Soverign only gave him the implants towards the end of the game, and you're taking him at his word. But can you trust that word? I certainly don't think you can.

Particularly since it's plain as day that he's got implants from the very beginning of the game - do you see any other turians with tubes running into the backs of their heads and glowing blue mechanical bits in their faces?

With regard to talking him into killing himself, it's established that the mind trapped within the body can sometimes regain control for brief periods, particularly if the motivation to do so is strong - again, the novel goes into that in more detail.

You see, now you are speculating just as much as I am.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Vsl_TNEeGxg#t=141s

"Maybe you're right. Maybe there is..." <---- this phrasing makes no goddamn sense if he's trapped in his mind. What, the outer Reaper shell is being swayed by your arguments? The inner Saren apparently already knows he's under their power according to you. There should be no confusion, just a binary switch between controlled and free(briefly). We don't see that at all. It all comes down to the differences between mediums. Imagine trying to write a book using the games way of indoctrination. The ENTIRE book would have to be like the end of ME3, with a huge plot dump at the end to explain how reality was different from what your character believed.

Also, if they are trapped within their own mind, why does indoctrination speed vary? If there comes a point where they become trapped, that's it. They are completely under Reaper control. Why, then, does it take time, and why, if this process is sped up, does the person become braindamaged and husk like, while the slowly indoctrinated ones last years? Sorry, but this view of it makes zero sense.

There are a few undeniable facts about Saren:

- He's had implants at least since the first time we see him in ME1 (when he shoots Nihlus). We can see them. They're not a new thing that Sovereign adds at the end of the game.
- He first came into contact with Sovereign around the end of Mass Effect: Revelation. That's 20 years before the events of ME1. Cerberus researchers in ME2 were being indoctrinated by a dead reaper in the space of weeks. If Saren's indoctrination has taken 20 years to take full control of him then it's got to be the most epic slowroll of all time.

The "maybe you're right" line could be explained by the fact that Saren's been indoctrinated for so long that what Shepard is saying almost comes as new information to his dormant inner self, like he's in the process of waking up from a really bad dream.

Or it could be explained by the Rule of Cool, writer laziness or something else.

Which brings me to my biggest problem with the whole indoctrination theory, and most of the rest of this discussion as well: it relies on putting far to much emphasis on minute details, when we don't know if those minute details were included deliberately, were an oversight, or whether they were included for some other completely random reason.

Giving this whole discussion any credence above the level of wild speculation is, IMO, more than a little silly given how unreliable all the information people are relying on is.

SS2Dante:

You are missing the point of IT - the ending is meant to indoctrinate the PLAYER. If the player realised this was all a dream while playing it loses all of it's brilliance and becomes dull and predictable - something we've seen many times in games. The point of the sequence is to get you to WILLINGLY choose to side with the reapers. Seriously, every colour ending is just a rephrasing of what we already knew were the options, in more appealing terms.

Actually, the color ending is exactly in line with what we come to expect from moral choices in these games. While it's incredibly easy to think of the Paragon and Renegade options as "Good and Evil" (Partially because they so-often coincide with them) the base concept behind them is your methodology rather than results. Paragon lines up with compassionate actions, renegade lines up with apathtic and/or ruthless ones. While it is initially jarring to see the destruction of the villains viewed as a renegade option and the illusive man's goal as a paragon one, it makes sense when you consider the additional criteria. The destruction of the Reapers by necessity also entailed the annihilation of the Geth, Edi and all other synthetic life (ostensibly including basically every VI, which established canon and fridge logic dicates essentially means the entire armada sent to defend Earth become casualties of war due to the general technological reliance on such programs). The destroy option is a renegade choice because it requires a ruthless decision to end the existence of billions of innocents as collatoral damage. Conversely, the control option is presented as a Paragon choice because it only requires one death: Yours. Thus it is by comparison it ends up being the more compassionate option of the two, ergo paragon.

SS2Dante:
Now, you are not understanding the Anderson symbol. This is shepards sense of right. Her moral compass, if you will. It's the part of her still fighting. You cannot choose to side with the Illusive man because you can SEE the right path, as Anderson is alive. Once Anderson is gone, you lose the part of you with any clarity. Choosing blue in the child room IS siding with the illusive man, while fighting is represented by Anderson (as seen in the childs descriptions)

Except under that interpretation it makes no sense for both to die, especially when you are the one to pull the trigger on TIM despite 'no longer being able to see the right path' as you put it. When you have a shoulder angel and shoulder demon, or competing personality traits or however you want to put it, you do not write that both are destroyed. One triumphs over the other or both are pushed out of sight and out of mind.

SS2Dante:
Ok, you ask for tangible evidence besides the fact that the themes match IT in every way. Fine. Now, in IT, as we have discussed, Anderson is your moral guide, the unindoctrinated part of you seeing through the ruse, and the illusive man is the indoctrinated part (just setting the scene :P).

I think you misunderstand me. I'm not talking sloppiness, I'm talking about the game itself acknowledging the oddity and wrongness of the situation. In your example this could well take the form of Shepherd being visibly (and/or vocally) confused about the sudden appearance of a wound he didn't remember taking, but there are a lot of opportunities, none of which were taken. Unless something like that exists there is NO solid evidence of a dream-state and the examples cited become too easily explainable as plotholes that the fanbase is trying to explain away on the writers' behalf.

SS2Dante:

*Prior vids snipped for relevance. Hope you don't mind*
Finally
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=tkZsHJTl7g4#t=146s (time linked)
Andersons head drops, he dies...Shepard puts his hand to his lower left stomach and his hands are suddenly COVERED in blood. Come on. His indoctrinated side killed his good side, the blood is literally on Shepards hands, and Shepard receives the wound. You now have no good side to show you the right path. You are weakened.

Except Anderson recieved the wound on his right side, and the wound you refer to on Shepherd is on his left so the part about Shepherd recieving Anderson's wound doesn't add up. Additionally, Shepherd had visibly been favoring his left side during the walk to that confrontation so the likely explanation is that the blood is simply from an existing wound that wasn't focused on until then.

SS2Dante:
Look, if that doesn't convince you as tangible evidence I don't know what will. Sloppy design? No way. There is no reason at all for the blood part to exist.

Bad logic. At the risk of being snide, you found an explanation you liked and stopped searching for other explanations. That does not mean other explanations do not exist. See the existing wound suggestion above for an example of one such explanation.

SS2Dante:
Ok, everyone seems to think indoctrination is binary. You are or you are not. This is patently untrue. Remember the video logs when you went to get the Reaper IFF? People see ghosts, forget things, take on each others memories. Indoctrination is slow and starts with visions that pull you deeper in. This has been established for at least half the series, I haven't played ME for a while so can't remember how it's described then. The point of IT is that Reapers found a slight crack and are using it to try and widen it. The child represents your fears that you will fail. He enhances your sense of impending doom. Then come the nightmares, which get steadily worse.

Generally, it's presented as a shift in your mindset. Beneziah described it as simply coming to believe Saren was correct. The one constant, however, seems to be not that the victim is fooled but that they come to revere the Reapers and/or their agents and actively choosing to follow their orders. Beneziah described it as sitting at Saren's feet in adoration, the codex focuses on holding the Reapers in superstitious awe, the Cerberus team on the dead Reaper in ME2 refer to it in later entries as a "Dead god", etc. Saren's indoctrination took the form of despair in the face of fighting the Reapers and the belief that the only path to survival was making organics seem useful...Offhand, I see it as presented VERY similarly to the description of the Apple of Eden's effect in Assassin's Creed 2's Bonfire of the Vanities DLC (It amplifies the individual reasons each victim has for agreeing with the Apple's wielder up to the point of zealotry).

SS2Dante:
Seriously, you keep going on about the lack of difference, and I keep explaining that the choices are the difference. They are the entire point of the scene, the entire reason for it to exist. The citadel parts are consistent because you have Anderson. I don't know how I can make this clearer.

I get the feeling I didn't explain this aspect well enough. As far as I'm concerned, the choices are insufficient as differences as they are explainable without invoking the additional assumptions that IT requires and thus come off as a retroactive explanation rather than one alluded to enough to actually qualify as hints towards any particular explanation. Additionally, as IT assumes that the crucible is a manifestation of Shepherd's mind and that across the various ending-tiers the reapers attempt to accelerate the indoctrination process (which necessarily coincides with a proportional decrease in mental ability) it stands to reason that Shepherd's ability to create a comprehensive internal world would deteriorate as greater influence was exerted on him. Ergo, if we want to assume the tiers are reflective of reaper effort, the effort should similarly be reflected in the setting, even in as simple a format as a visible decrease in the ambiant light, an increase in fog at higher tiers, or the catalyst's form becoming clearer (or more blurred) across them (among other possibilities). Such things would reflect the deterioring mental state that accompanies indoctrination and (in the case of the clarifying catalyst) reflect the greater association with reaper-friendly values.

SS2Dante:
I think at some point we have, because I've examined my arguments and there are no contradictions that I can see. Possibly that's because I'm examining them, but if you can see what it was post and I'll respond. The problem I'm encountering is that I'm having to explain symbols a lot, so keep using different words for them :P (Anderson for example, I have described as your strength, moral compass, will, etc :P Symbolically they are all synonyms (in this context) but taken literally some people have been getting confused)

Well put simply, I think one of the biggest flaws with the idea is that even taking IT at its word, the ending remains a spectacular mess to the point that IT actually makes the execution worse due to lack of sufficient implication rendering the conclusion unreachable without a heavy dose of Bible-Code logic and confirmation bias.

SS2Dante:
You assume I know everything about ME3. I do not. There are 16 possible endings, I have seen 3 and heard of another 2. That gives you 11 ways to take IT down. You know my criteria for the endings, check them. I have only played full Paragon. Any Renegade options that contradict my theory would work. Thats the beauty of the game being so large and complex - I cannot possibly have seen EVERYTHING and tailored the theory to match. It rests on a very small set of assumptions and all evidence so far has conformed to the predictions made.

Well beating on a dead horse, if you've seen one ending you've seen 90% of the others anyway, so that kinda rings hollow. It's not hard to account for variation when there's so little variation to be had and no unique aftermath presented in any but the 'earth gets destroyed' variants. Additionally, it doesn't help that IT plays fast and loose enough to justify almost anything with the right thought process. Because let's be honest, you can justify anything if you assume that you're looking at a dream-state. Shepherd turning into a duck wouldn't be out of place under those assumptions.

SS2Dante:
I'll give you something currently being tested (or at least, hopefully people will read and test). By my theory Tali should never appear in the ending scene, as her "happy place" is defined as being on Rannoch. Shepards imagination is putting everyone in their happy place (childish phrasing :P ). Therefore you shouldn't have her on that planet at the end. Now, I'm going to test that once I get off this, but I can't test it if she's your romance (femshep). I need someone else to do that. It goes against the logic of my theory, so puts a pretty big dent in it if true.

My understanding is that the ending scene varies based on your relationships, with the synthesis ending also having one additional change. If you chose synthesis you get Joker, EDI (creating an almost insultingly obvious 'Adam and Eve' implication) and your love interest (if he/she is alive and part of the crew). Failing those criteria you see Joker and the two squadmates you were closest to (one of which is usually your love interest). That said, I can't test this to confirm.

SS2Dante:
Also, to an extent what you're saying is true, but as I said, the point of IT is to use the medium (gaming) to it's fullest potential by having US be the ones who fall. This means that the initial assumptions must indeed have been created by people looking for an alternative explanation. However, in the world of logic this is completely acceptable. One cannot use basic maths to prove all maths, you need to make an assumption at some point to progress. (I'm making a loose point here, I realise that this little argument could very quickly spiral out of control, I'm just hoping you get the point I'm trying to put across.)

Problem being that the data available suggests that they scrapped the original ending fairly late in development, which also accounts for the fact that the hype for much of the development is so different from the end result.

SS2Dante:
On the contrary, the idea of the ending is that it's either a loss or a cliffhanger. The notion of DLC renders the idea of an "ending" in games to be ill-defined. This is completely different from your ROTJ comparison, in which we know for a fact that it IS the final part of the final instalment. No resolution in that film would be awful because their is no possibility of any resolution at all, whereas in this game (and ONLY this game) we get a plug for dlc at the end. If you look at the red ending, it's actually rather similar to the 3/4 mark of most films or books. To give an example from TLA, look at the the ending of part 3 of the end movie. I can't remember what happens, but I'm willing to BET that's the part thats all bleak and our heroes seemingly defeated. Best laid plans. This trope is used in almost all dramatic structure, all this game has done is made it a cliffhanger.

Given the various press releases, I'm going to have to call that speculation that's actually at odds with the available data. Additionaly, that would be a phenominally poor marketing strategy that would rather predictibly result in nothing less than the vitrol we've seen in recent weeks, causing far more harm than good.

SS2Dante:
Indeed Shepard is. They want Shepard as a means of controlling humanity. Half the military would follow Shepard, not the admirals, if it came down to it. This is completely unnecessary, however, if humanity and co have a small army that's being defeated. How small? it'd have to be damn tiny if they no longer feel the need of you. And that's what's in the endings. the only way to not have the indoctrination choice is with the smallest about of EMS.

Except Shepherd's in no position to actually do so given that by IT's claims he's on the front lines, on open ground, in the direct line of fire with the surrounding environment being systematically destroyed while the very armada you posit they'd try to use him to control is fighting overhead. The idea might have been workable early in the story, but during the 11th hour of combat the notion is downright nonsensical.

SS2Dante:
The system relies on more variables than just your war assets, but the thing is you have to test every combination of choices together. This multiplies disturbingly quickly. I did a(very rough) low estimate in another post and I got 41 tests needed to make sure it all proceeds correctly.

Yeah, I was under the impression you were talking about the actual partitioning code, not the testing to make sure that the values worked. Looks like we got our wires crossed there.

SS2Dante:
I'm ignoring everything from Bioware right now. Reports are contradictory, and besides, if my theory is right, they NEED to stay silent until the dlc is released for it to work (I'm not crazy though, if we go 2, MAYBE 3 months without dlc I'm totally wrong about all this).

Hate to interrupt mid-paragraph, but I feel obliged to point out that's an outright suicidal public relations tactic, all things considered.

SS2Dante:
Now - and this really is just me being a conspiracy theorist here, I won't associate any logic with it except "it's what I'd do" - I suspect that the dlc leak about "The Truth" was not accidental (I know they denied it later). Besides the motivation - which I'm sure you can imagine - what really caught my attention was the name The Truth. Someone making up this stuff could have named it anything, or called it an "alternative ending" or a "fixed ending" but instead they called it "The Truth". Again, I won't claim this is anywhere near infallible, it's shaky at best, but it is the sort of thing people cunning enough to make the IT theory ending would do.

Of course, that could just as easily refer to the inclusion of additional background info (which they said they cut because they deemed it unneeded), or the aftermath of your decision, in which case 'truth' wouldn't stand opposed to fiction as much as it would be a stand-in for 'revelation'.

Incidentally, is it just me, or does it seem like we're probably going to be going back and forth like this for some time yet?

Edit: Noticed the quotes cited the wrong posts (and person) Sorry if I needlessly highlighted you, Boag.

Edit again: Late edit, but as you mentioned coming back to this post, I figured it was the best place to put it: I was just made aware of a Forbes article that sums up some of my major grievances with the very premise of IT rather nicely. The part I empathize with starts near the end of the first page and continues onto the second, but it's summed up by a paragraph concluding the article, which reads as follows:

If $15 ending DLC hits shelves in a month or two that reveals this theory as correct, it will be one of the lowest points in video game history. Had a complete ending been fashioned alongside this plot twist, Mass Effect could have been the greatest story ever told through the medium and fans would have bowed at Bioware's feet, praising them for the best finale they've ever seen. But instead, if the "true" ending really was cut to be sold later as DLC, it's proof that maybe video games aren't art after all. They're just a product to be bought and sold in pieces regardless of the effect such decisions may have on the experience or the story. And if said DLC is free, the way I've previously suggested it should be as an apology to fans? Then it really just should have been in the game in the first place.

Asita:

SS2Dante:

You are missing the point of IT - the ending is meant to indoctrinate the PLAYER. If the player realised this was all a dream while playing it loses all of it's brilliance and becomes dull and predictable - something we've seen many times in games. The point of the sequence is to get you to WILLINGLY choose to side with the reapers. Seriously, every colour ending is just a rephrasing of what we already knew were the options, in more appealing terms.

Actually, the color ending is exactly in line with what we come to expect from moral choices in these games. While it's incredibly easy to think of the Paragon and Renegade options as "Good and Evil" (Partially because they so-often coincide with them) the base concept behind them is your methodology rather than results. Paragon lines up with compassionate actions, renegade lines up with apathtic and/or ruthless ones. While it is initially jarring to see the destruction of the villains viewed as a renegade option and the illusive man's goal as a paragon one, it makes sense when you consider the additional criteria. The destruction of the Reapers by necessity also entailed the annihilation of the Geth, Edi and all other synthetic life (ostensibly including basically every VI, which established canon and fridge logic dicates essentially means the entire armada sent to defend Earth become casualties of war due to the general technological reliance on such programs). The destroy option is a renegade choice because it requires a ruthless decision to end the existence of billions of innocents as collatoral damage. Conversely, the control option is presented as a Paragon choice because it only requires one death: Yours. Thus it is by comparison it ends up being the more compassionate option of the two, ergo paragon.

boag:
Now, you are not understanding the Anderson symbol. This is shepards sense of right. Her moral compass, if you will. It's the part of her still fighting. You cannot choose to side with the Illusive man because you can SEE the right path, as Anderson is alive. Once Anderson is gone, you lose the part of you with any clarity. Choosing blue in the child room IS siding with the illusive man, while fighting is represented by Anderson (as seen in the childs descriptions)

Except under that interpretation it makes no sense for both to die, especially when you are the one to pull the trigger on TIM despite 'no longer being able to see the right path' as you put it. When you have a shoulder angel and shoulder demon, or competing personality traits or however you want to put it, you do not write that both are destroyed. One triumphs over the other or both are pushed out of sight and out of mind.

boag:
Ok, you ask for tangible evidence besides the fact that the themes match IT in every way. Fine. Now, in IT, as we have discussed, Anderson is your moral guide, the unindoctrinated part of you seeing through the ruse, and the illusive man is the indoctrinated part (just setting the scene :P).

I think you misunderstand me. I'm not talking sloppiness, I'm talking about the game itself acknowledging the oddity and wrongness of the situation. In your example this could well take the form of Shepherd being visibly (and/or vocally) confused about the sudden appearance of a wound he didn't remember taking, but there are a lot of opportunities, none of which were taken. Unless something like that exists there is NO solid evidence of a dream-state and the examples cited become too easily explainable as plotholes that the fanbase is trying to explain away on the writers' behalf.

boag:

*Prior vids snipped for relevance. Hope you don't mind*
Finally
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=tkZsHJTl7g4#t=146s (time linked)
Andersons head drops, he dies...Shepard puts his hand to his lower left stomach and his hands are suddenly COVERED in blood. Come on. His indoctrinated side killed his good side, the blood is literally on Shepards hands, and Shepard receives the wound. You now have no good side to show you the right path. You are weakened.

Except Anderson recieved the wound on his right side, and the wound you refer to on Shepherd is on his left so the part about Shepherd recieving Anderson's wound doesn't add up. Additionally, Shepherd had visibly been favoring his left side during the walk to that confrontation so the likely explanation is that the blood is simply from an existing wound that wasn't focused on until then.

boag:
Look, if that doesn't convince you as tangible evidence I don't know what will. Sloppy design? No way. There is no reason at all for the blood part to exist.

Bad logic. At the risk of being snide, you found an explanation you liked and stopped searching for other explanations. That does not mean other explanations do not exist. See the existing wound suggestion above for an example of one such explanation.

boag:
Ok, everyone seems to think indoctrination is binary. You are or you are not. This is patently untrue. Remember the video logs when you went to get the Reaper IFF? People see ghosts, forget things, take on each others memories. Indoctrination is slow and starts with visions that pull you deeper in. This has been established for at least half the series, I haven't played ME for a while so can't remember how it's described then. The point of IT is that Reapers found a slight crack and are using it to try and widen it. The child represents your fears that you will fail. He enhances your sense of impending doom. Then come the nightmares, which get steadily worse.

Generally, it's presented as a shift in your mindset. Beneziah described it as simply coming to believe Saren was correct. The one constant, however, seems to be not that the victim is fooled but that they come to revere the Reapers and/or their agents and actively choosing to follow their orders. Beneziah described it as sitting at Saren's feet in adoration, the codex focuses on holding the Reapers in superstitious awe, the Cerberus team on the dead Reaper in ME2 refer to it in later entries as a "Dead god", etc. Saren's indoctrination took the form of despair in the face of fighting the Reapers and the belief that the only path to survival was making organics seem useful...Offhand, I see it as presented VERY similarly to the description of the Apple of Eden's effect in Assassin's Creed 2's Bonfire of the Vanities DLC (It amplifies the individual reasons each victim has for agreeing with the Apple's wielder up to the point of zealotry).

boag:
Seriously, you keep going on about the lack of difference, and I keep explaining that the choices are the difference. They are the entire point of the scene, the entire reason for it to exist. The citadel parts are consistent because you have Anderson. I don't know how I can make this clearer.

I get the feeling I didn't explain this aspect well enough. As far as I'm concerned, the choices are insufficient as differences as they are explainable without invoking the additional assumptions that IT requires and thus come off as a retroactive explanation rather than one alluded to enough to actually qualify as hints towards any particular explanation. Additionally, as IT assumes that the crucible is a manifestation of Shepherd's mind and that across the various ending-tiers the reapers attempt to accelerate the indoctrination process (which necessarily coincides with a proportional decrease in mental ability) it stands to reason that Shepherd's ability to create a comprehensive internal world would deteriorate as greater influence was exerted on him. Ergo, if we want to assume the tiers are reflective of reaper effort, the effort should similarly be reflected in the setting, even in as simple a format as a visible decrease in the ambiant light, an increase in fog at higher tiers, or the catalyst's form becoming clearer (or more blurred) across them (among other possibilities). Such things would reflect the deterioring mental state that accompanies indoctrination and (in the case of the clarifying catalyst) reflect the greater association with reaper-friendly values.

boag:
I think at some point we have, because I've examined my arguments and there are no contradictions that I can see. Possibly that's because I'm examining them, but if you can see what it was post and I'll respond. The problem I'm encountering is that I'm having to explain symbols a lot, so keep using different words for them :P (Anderson for example, I have described as your strength, moral compass, will, etc :P Symbolically they are all synonyms (in this context) but taken literally some people have been getting confused)

Well put simply, I think one of the biggest flaws with the idea is that even taking IT at its word, the ending remains a spectacular mess to the point that IT actually makes the execution worse due to lack of sufficient implication rendering the conclusion unreachable without a heavy dose of Bible-Code logic and confirmation bias.

boag:
You assume I know everything about ME3. I do not. There are 16 possible endings, I have seen 3 and heard of another 2. That gives you 11 ways to take IT down. You know my criteria for the endings, check them. I have only played full Paragon. Any Renegade options that contradict my theory would work. Thats the beauty of the game being so large and complex - I cannot possibly have seen EVERYTHING and tailored the theory to match. It rests on a very small set of assumptions and all evidence so far has conformed to the predictions made.

Well beating on a dead horse, if you've seen one ending you've seen 90% of the others anyway, so that kinda rings hollow. It's not hard to account for variation when there's so little variation to be had and no unique aftermath presented in any but the 'earth gets destroyed' variants. Additionally, it doesn't help that IT plays fast and loose enough to justify almost anything with the right thought process. Because let's be honest, you can justify anything if you assume that you're looking at a dream-state. Shepherd turning into a duck wouldn't be out of place under those assumptions.

boag:
I'll give you something currently being tested (or at least, hopefully people will read and test). By my theory Tali should never appear in the ending scene, as her "happy place" is defined as being on Rannoch. Shepards imagination is putting everyone in their happy place (childish phrasing :P ). Therefore you shouldn't have her on that planet at the end. Now, I'm going to test that once I get off this, but I can't test it if she's your romance (femshep). I need someone else to do that. It goes against the logic of my theory, so puts a pretty big dent in it if true.

My understanding is that the ending scene varies based on your relationships, with the synthesis ending also having one additional change. If you chose synthesis you get Joker, EDI (creating an almost insultingly obvious 'Adam and Eve' implication) and your love interest (if he/she is alive and part of the crew). Failing those criteria you see Joker and the two squadmates you were closest to (one of which is usually your love interest). That said, I can't test this to confirm.

boag:
Also, to an extent what you're saying is true, but as I said, the point of IT is to use the medium (gaming) to it's fullest potential by having US be the ones who fall. This means that the initial assumptions must indeed have been created by people looking for an alternative explanation. However, in the world of logic this is completely acceptable. One cannot use basic maths to prove all maths, you need to make an assumption at some point to progress. (I'm making a loose point here, I realise that this little argument could very quickly spiral out of control, I'm just hoping you get the point I'm trying to put across.)

Problem being that the data available suggests that they scrapped the original ending fairly late in development, which also accounts for the fact that the hype for much of the development is so different from the end result.

boag:
On the contrary, the idea of the ending is that it's either a loss or a cliffhanger. The notion of DLC renders the idea of an "ending" in games to be ill-defined. This is completely different from your ROTJ comparison, in which we know for a fact that it IS the final part of the final instalment. No resolution in that film would be awful because their is no possibility of any resolution at all, whereas in this game (and ONLY this game) we get a plug for dlc at the end. If you look at the red ending, it's actually rather similar to the 3/4 mark of most films or books. To give an example from TLA, look at the the ending of part 3 of the end movie. I can't remember what happens, but I'm willing to BET that's the part thats all bleak and our heroes seemingly defeated. Best laid plans. This trope is used in almost all dramatic structure, all this game has done is made it a cliffhanger.

Given the various press releases, I'm going to have to call that speculation that's actually at odds with the available data. Additionaly, that would be a phenominally poor marketing strategy that would rather predictibly result in nothing less than the vitrol we've seen in recent weeks, causing far more harm than good.

boag:
Indeed Shepard is. They want Shepard as a means of controlling humanity. Half the military would follow Shepard, not the admirals, if it came down to it. This is completely unnecessary, however, if humanity and co have a small army that's being defeated. How small? it'd have to be damn tiny if they no longer feel the need of you. And that's what's in the endings. the only way to not have the indoctrination choice is with the smallest about of EMS.

Except Shepherd's in no position to actually do so given that by IT's claims he's on the front lines, on open ground, in the direct line of fire with the surrounding environment being systematically destroyed while the very armada you posit they'd try to use him to control is fighting overhead. The idea might have been workable early in the story, but during the 11th hour of combat the notion is downright nonsensical.

boag:
The system relies on more variables than just your war assets, but the thing is you have to test every combination of choices together. This multiplies disturbingly quickly. I did a(very rough) low estimate in another post and I got 41 tests needed to make sure it all proceeds correctly.

Yeah, I was under the impression you were talking about the actual partitioning code, not the testing to make sure that the values worked. Looks like we got our wires crossed there.

boag:
I'm ignoring everything from Bioware right now. Reports are contradictory, and besides, if my theory is right, they NEED to stay silent until the dlc is released for it to work (I'm not crazy though, if we go 2, MAYBE 3 months without dlc I'm totally wrong about all this).

Hate to interrupt mid-paragraph, but I feel obliged to point out that's an outright suicidal public relations tactic, all things considered.

boag:
Now - and this really is just me being a conspiracy theorist here, I won't associate any logic with it except "it's what I'd do" - I suspect that the dlc leak about "The Truth" was not accidental (I know they denied it later). Besides the motivation - which I'm sure you can imagine - what really caught my attention was the name The Truth. Someone making up this stuff could have named it anything, or called it an "alternative ending" or a "fixed ending" but instead they called it "The Truth". Again, I won't claim this is anywhere near infallible, it's shaky at best, but it is the sort of thing people cunning enough to make the IT theory ending would do.

Of course, that could just as easily refer to the inclusion of additional background info (which they said they cut because they deemed it unneeded), or the aftermath of your decision, in which case 'truth' wouldn't stand opposed to fiction as much as it would be a stand-in for 'revelation'.

Incidentally, is it just me, or does it seem like we're probably going to be going back and forth like this for some time yet?

Ok, sorry for the really short post here, jumped on for a second and scanned your topic

(yes, I agree, most of the threads of discussion are becoming circular, I'll probably do my last posts tomorrow and we can all go our way :P)

Only part of you post I can respond to quickly is that you say Anderson was shot on the right - he isn't. Easy to mistake, cos the camera is facing him. Here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=VBHY44zOe4s#t=497s

Anderson is using his left hand and holding the left side of his stomach.

Anyhoo, closing remarks and stuff tomorrow :P
Bye

The fact that people are actually discussing this warms my heart oh and Zeel buggered off as well so that's a a major upside.His name really is appropriate when you think about it.
On topic:Either way the ending could have been handled better however the literal take is just a big shit on every fan's face so even if Bioware where stupid enough to think that was a good way to end it(which I don't for a second believe) I'm going to continue to put my faith and belief into the Indoctrination theory.

Ok, so I've watched the video and read articles, and I pretty much buy the whole thing, but there are some issues I can't get over. If the whole "ending" is indoctrination mind raping Shepard, then the game doesn't even have an ending at all. If you choose blue or green explosion, Shepard is no more, end of story. With red explosion, Shepard's mind stays intact, but that also means that we are still at the point where he/she got lazered. As it is, there is no resolution to the story, the war is still going on. Twenty bucks says BioWare claims the indoctrination thing and the DLC will actually end the story. God I hope so.

superline51:
Ok, so I've watched the video and read articles, and I pretty much buy the whole thing, but there are some issues I can't get over. If the whole "ending" is indoctrination mind raping Shepard, then the game doesn't even have an ending at all. If you choose blue or green explosion, Shepard is no more, end of story. With red explosion, Shepard's mind stays intact, but that also means that we are still at the point where he/she got lazered. As it is, there is no resolution to the story, the war is still going on. Twenty bucks says BioWare claims the indoctrination thing and the DLC will actually end the story. God I hope so.

I'm pretty sure they had the idea the whole damn time. I mean if they didn't why wouldn't they just say "no, this isn't what we are doing." In their tweets they even say "If you know we are planning you would keep your disc forever." And etc etc.

As well as indoctrination being a major thing within the whole ME game I didn't see why they wouldn't use it as a end. Plus the end, I'm thinking if you had enough EMS (or whatever it is called) then you are save from your allies.

SS2Dante:

Ok, sorry for the really short post here, jumped on for a second and scanned your topic

(yes, I agree, most of the threads of discussion are becoming circular, I'll probably do my last posts tomorrow and we can all go our way :P)

Only part of you post I can respond to quickly is that you say Anderson was shot on the right - he isn't. Easy to mistake, cos the camera is facing him. Here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=VBHY44zOe4s#t=497s

Anderson is using his left hand and holding the left side of his stomach.

Anyhoo, closing remarks and stuff tomorrow :P
Bye

Huh, weird. I could have sworn it looked like the impact was on the right. Though I guess I have to concede the intended impact location. :/

Outcast107:

superline51:
Ok, so I've watched the video and read articles, and I pretty much buy the whole thing, but there are some issues I can't get over. If the whole "ending" is indoctrination mind raping Shepard, then the game doesn't even have an ending at all. If you choose blue or green explosion, Shepard is no more, end of story. With red explosion, Shepard's mind stays intact, but that also means that we are still at the point where he/she got lazered. As it is, there is no resolution to the story, the war is still going on. Twenty bucks says BioWare claims the indoctrination thing and the DLC will actually end the story. God I hope so.

I'm pretty sure they had the idea the whole damn time. I mean if they didn't why wouldn't they just say "no, this isn't what we are doing." In their tweets they even say "If you know we are planning you would keep your disc forever." And etc etc.

As well as indoctrination being a major thing within the whole ME game I didn't see why they wouldn't use it as a end. Plus the end, I'm thinking if you had enough EMS (or whatever it is called) then you are save from your allies.

Yeah, apparently if you have over 4000 EMS or whatever, you get the Shepard gasping for breath with the red ending. Pray that BioWare works off of that for some supposed DLC.

I like the indoctrination theory, I'm not sure I believe it's what Bioware had in mind all this time. I think it's like Casey Hudson said, he wanted an ending that was open to interpretation (paraphrasing here) which I understand. Filmakers sometimes refuse to comment on their films claiming audience interpretation is part of the fun (e.g, look to David Lynch and Muhulland Drive). Either way, I like how fans are going to great length to try and make sense of the ending. It's quite creative. It's more creative and constructive than the people who are bitching and moaning and threatening to sue. Though I have to concede, I initially wasn't bothered by the ME3 endings, I have since come to realize Bioware did drop the ball, mainly with the crew being stranded and all. How did Kaidan get there? He was on my ground team.

superline51:

Outcast107:

superline51:
Ok, so I've watched the video and read articles, and I pretty much buy the whole thing, but there are some issues I can't get over. If the whole "ending" is indoctrination mind raping Shepard, then the game doesn't even have an ending at all. If you choose blue or green explosion, Shepard is no more, end of story. With red explosion, Shepard's mind stays intact, but that also means that we are still at the point where he/she got lazered. As it is, there is no resolution to the story, the war is still going on. Twenty bucks says BioWare claims the indoctrination thing and the DLC will actually end the story. God I hope so.

I'm pretty sure they had the idea the whole damn time. I mean if they didn't why wouldn't they just say "no, this isn't what we are doing." In their tweets they even say "If you know we are planning you would keep your disc forever." And etc etc.

As well as indoctrination being a major thing within the whole ME game I didn't see why they wouldn't use it as a end. Plus the end, I'm thinking if you had enough EMS (or whatever it is called) then you are save from your allies.

Yeah, apparently if you have over 4000 EMS or whatever, you get the Shepard gasping for breath with the red ending. Pray that BioWare works off of that for some supposed DLC.

Well one of the problems to the theory is that harbinger is ready to blast you again with the laser. Which I believe, the forces that hackett sent. Which those ships could distract harbinger while your crew that came with you help you escape. Though with that I'm just guessing.

The guys who made and believe the argument are bright-eyed idealists, meanwhile I'm far more cynical.

There is a real-world case for Bioware being driven into the ground by EA that's more plausible than the Indoctrination Theory being accurate and Bioware not revealing it when people started to raise a stink.

But, I tip my hat to the people who formulated it. It's pretty glossy and plausible, which is more than I can say about many other fan theories.

I don't believe in the indoctrination theory because I feel that some fan(s) was so disappointed by the ending that they literally went all out, searching for small details to form a new ending so they can rationalize that Bioware didn't half-ass and cheat them, they simply wanted a secret ending for all their fans. I think it's sad to be honest. Not that the fan(s) did something like come up with this theory, but that the game's ending was so poorly made that fans will grasp out at anything that is better than the ending they got.

The thing is with indoctrination we never saw people being trapped in a fantasy, the Reapers use hallucinations as part of it but usually indoctrinated people are completely lucid. They see what's going on around them etc the Reapers just twist peoples motives for doing things.

Saren believed the Reapers could be appeased if they were convinced organics could be useful, the Hanar believed that they owed Reapers allegiance because their gods (the Protheans) gave them allegiance and the Illusive man believed he could control them.

Unless its in one the books or comics indoctrinated people where never trapped in dreams or anything. The way we see it work in games the Reapers would pose as someone like Admiral Hackett or as Anderson or as a dead Prothean trying to convince him that doing XYZ would stop the Reapers or something.

J Tyran:
The thing is with indoctrination we never saw people being trapped in a fantasy, the Reapers use hallucinations as part of it but usually indoctrinated people are completely lucid. They see what's going on around them etc the Reapers just twist peoples motives for doing things.

Saren believed the Reapers could be appeased if they were convinced organics could be useful, the Hanar believed that they owed Reapers allegiance because their gods (the Protheans) gave them allegiance and the Illusive man believed he could control them.

Unless its in one the books or comics indoctrinated people where never trapped in dreams or anything. The way we see it work in games the Reapers would pose as someone like Admiral Hackett or as Anderson or as a dead Prothean trying to convince him that doing XYZ would stop the Reapers or something.

Here ya go. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ythY_GkEBck&feature=player_embedded

If Legion's side mission on Rannoch shows is that Shepard's sub-conscious is using what's familiar to him to show the events in his mind. Besides if it's true then it means Shepard had no idea he was indoctrinated and going along with the Reaper way of thinking as was the player. (I know many people chose Control and Synthesis)

Also in the extra scene in the Destroy Ending, Shepard is surrounded by rubble. If he really did go through the godchild sequence then he should be underneath some technology or something.

Also I watched the Harbinger scene a few times and watched multiple videos so I can get different views and I noticed when you look back after being blasted you can see a few trees in the distance that was definitely not there before. Either that's bad programming or that's another big hint.

Outcast107:

superline51:
Ok, so I've watched the video and read articles, and I pretty much buy the whole thing, but there are some issues I can't get over. If the whole "ending" is indoctrination mind raping Shepard, then the game doesn't even have an ending at all. If you choose blue or green explosion, Shepard is no more, end of story. With red explosion, Shepard's mind stays intact, but that also means that we are still at the point where he/she got lazered. As it is, there is no resolution to the story, the war is still going on. Twenty bucks says BioWare claims the indoctrination thing and the DLC will actually end the story. God I hope so.

I'm pretty sure they had the idea the whole damn time. I mean if they didn't why wouldn't they just say "no, this isn't what we are doing." In their tweets they even say "If you know we are planning you would keep your disc forever." And etc etc.

As well as indoctrination being a major thing within the whole ME game I didn't see why they wouldn't use it as a end. Plus the end, I'm thinking if you had enough EMS (or whatever it is called) then you are save from your allies.

All I hear is CHA CHING!

I just thought of something. Could we abbreviate the Indoctrination Theory to iTheory?

*ducks to avoid all the tomatos*

OT: I was just reading this article on Knights of the Old Republic, with the reveal of Darth Revan's identity (I won't spoil it for you haven't played this game). Anyway, at the bottom of the article I saw this quote from a member of Bioware's staff:

"The successful twists were ones that a good five to ten per cent of the audience figured out before it happened."

Let's assume (for a moment) that they embraced that philosophy for ME3 and the indoctrination theory is True (just for a moment):

Let's assume they are incredibly successful with this and about 5% figure out the ending, or at least suspect it and confirm(ish) their suspicions after the fact.

The problem is they rather shot themselves in the foot by neither confirming or denying these suspicions and not providing a very conclusive ending. So now we've got a huge split as the people who have figured it out try to convince others (again, for now we are assuming it is true). In KoTOR, they didn't need to, but the majority wouldn't know the ending until they got there, and would likely find it difficult to believe if they were told before that point in the story about the twist ending. Now the reason that the current ending of ME3 is crap is similar to the reason that KoTOR's ending would have been crap if they had cut out just before the twist. While they could make the argument that it leaves it more open to interpretation and discussion (and that matches a lot of PR, particularly from Hudson, who presumably was an advocate of the current ending), but the fact is: that's not what we want. We want an ending. And an ending that brings closure and satisfaction to an epic story that many have enjoyed for the last few years.

So I want them to fix this in DLC. I want to have the Indoctrination Theory be correct, and I want them to succeed in making an ending that will please as many fans as possible. That will make me happy BUT, they still should never have thought that we would be satisfied with the current ending.

Food for thought.

SS2Dante:

Ah, I see. Yeah, femshep too. I did wonder, but then I realised the most obvious indicator that it is Shepard. Wait for it...

The fact that we don't see the face.

I love ironies like this. Shepard is the only character who's face can't be put into an FMV because, well, you know. The lack of a face is the distinguishing feature :P I'm willing to bet if they could, they'd have gone for the faaaar more conventional "Eyes snap open then cut to credits" ending :P

Yeah, I know, it would be useless to show someone else than Shepard. It's still a little bit strange to see a armor that looks like it's from a male character, if you play femshep.

I see your point, but in practice it just doesn't work like that. Not testing "every little detail" gets you fired, or breaks consoles :O

What I meant was that most of those details can be tested in one go. From the point where Shepard is transported up with the elevator, the only variable that can be changed is the final decision.
I think we are going in circles here too.
And by the way, when I played there were some little detail bugs, which were probably not enough tested. 3 or 4 times Shepard was unable to climb down a ladder for example.

Before I stop, even if you don't reply, two things - have you seen the point about the blood on Shepards hands on the citadel? I consider it some of the most material evidence yet, and someone only pointed it out yesterday :P I show someone a few comments up, through youtube.
Also, I'm doing a test to see if Tali shows up in the end video on the planet, cos if she does thats a large dent in my theory. I predict she will not. It'll be interesting to hear from people who romanced her and stuff.

Do you mean that Sheppard stops bleeding after the elevator. I have to admit, I don't see a lot of time or money saved by removing the blood ^^.

Anyway, nice talking to you :)

Same here :)

My biggest problem with the ending is not that it is a non-happy ending... As others have said, just as for movies, they should be accepted as part of the medium.. So should questions... But not after 90 hours + of gameplay... In a 2 hour movie, I can accept a certain amount of unanswered questions... But if you spend 100 hours on building characters, relationships, allegiances etc., I feel it warrants at least some closure. Some kind of conclusion to what happens to all the people we have come to care about over the last 4 years.

And no, I don't mean the whole Normandy fleeing the final battle schtick, it just makes no sense...

Here's to hoping for some free DLC which can give us some closure.

Best Regards

J Tyran:
The thing is with indoctrination we never saw people being trapped in a fantasy, the Reapers use hallucinations as part of it but usually indoctrinated people are completely lucid. They see what's going on around them etc the Reapers just twist peoples motives for doing things.

Saren believed the Reapers could be appeased if they were convinced organics could be useful, the Hanar believed that they owed Reapers allegiance because their gods (the Protheans) gave them allegiance and the Illusive man believed he could control them.

Unless its in one the books or comics indoctrinated people where never trapped in dreams or anything. The way we see it work in games the Reapers would pose as someone like Admiral Hackett or as Anderson or as a dead Prothean trying to convince him that doing XYZ would stop the Reapers or something.

Actually, the way I remember it, Matriarch Benezia seemed to do just that - emerge briefly from a dream. During the short conversation you have with her before she succumbs again she seems much more lucid, so it's not certain, but certainly conceivable that the reapers would use a variety of methods with different subjects to break down resistances, and that with Shepard they would need to employ every means at their disposal to break his will, which is established as being remarkably strong. Remember that although it resembles persuasion, indoctrination is actually control disguised as such. One way of thinking about how choosing one of the two "trick" choices (synthesis and control) would mean that the reapers succeeded, is it represents you giving in to their illusions and accepting them, meaning you no longer have any will left to fight.

During all these "hallucinations" Shepard was asleep and (maybe) knocked out.
It's like saying that while I sleep, I'm hallucinating, not dreaming.
If a dream refers to something that really happened, it still isn't a hallucination.
Besides

quote:
"1. Anderson of course couldn't see the boy. The kid is in the god damn vents
2. he vanished through the vents. simple.
3. He is acknowledged at the mako scene. He was the last kid to crawl in. Had the kid been an illusion than the solider wouldn't have delayed so long for the "all aboard" bump."

TheCommanders:
OT: I was just reading this article on Knights of the Old Republic, with the reveal of Darth Revan's identity (I won't spoil it for you haven't played this game). Anyway, at the bottom of the article I saw this quote from a member of Bioware's staff:

"The successful twists were ones that a good five to ten per cent of the audience figured out before it happened."

Let's assume (for a moment) that they embraced that philosophy for ME3 and the indoctrination theory is True (just for a moment):

Let's assume they are incredibly successful with this and about 5% figure out the ending, or at least suspect it and confirm(ish) their suspicions after the fact.

Is it really a "twist" ending if you don't pay the twist off in the story itself though? At best this is just rampant specualtion fodder at the moment.

As an aside, really? Only 5% of people worked out Revan's identity ahead of time? I thought they'd written that one in big flashing lights through the first half of the game...

Bolwing:
During all these "hallucinations" Shepard was asleep and (maybe) knocked out.
It's like saying that while I sleep, I'm hallucinating, not dreaming.
If a dream refers to something that really happened, it still isn't a hallucination.
Besides

quote:
"1. Anderson of course couldn't see the boy. The kid is in the god damn vents
2. he vanished through the vents. simple.
3. He is acknowledged at the mako scene. He was the last kid to crawl in. Had the kid been an illusion than the solider wouldn't have delayed so long for the "all aboard" bump."

You are kinda missing the part where the vent where the kid is hiding is A) Electrified and B) got hit with a reaper beam moments after the kid is seen running in the building (incidentally, being ignored by several husks). This beam moments later is shown destroying a heavily armored and shielded warship in no time at all, and you still think that the kid is real? Interesting. Also, your first 2 points about Anderson don't really disprove anything, if anything it's cleverness on the part of the writers to initially make the legitimacy of the boy ambiguous. As for the 3rd point, they aren't waiting for him, you can see someone else is being helped into the shuttle at the same time as him, and it's after that person is in that the marine gives the shuttle the ok. Also, no one in the shuttle notices the scared kid trying to climb in the shuttle, but other people are shown being helped. Just sayin'

AD-Stu:

Is it really a "twist" ending if you don't pay the twist off in the story itself though? At best this is just rampant specualtion fodder at the moment.

As an aside, really? Only 5% of people worked out Revan's identity ahead of time? I thought they'd written that one in big flashing lights through the first half of the game...

Like i said, it was a supposition. The point is, a good twist has most people fooled until the reveal comes, and as I pointed out, the big problem is that ME3 has no big reveal. (Some people point to the "Secret ending" with shepard breathes and the "one more story" part as conclusive proof, but the fact that we're still debating it means it wasn't conclusive enough for everyone). Besides, and I won't elaborate because of all the other times I've gone over this, but the ending doesn't live up to the series's promises as of now.

Frankly, i want to believe in the ending being indoctrination so very badly, my mind rebels when i think that the company that wrote Baulder's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, the first two "Mass Effects, etc would get so very lax with their writing staff that this type of metaphysical dribble that is the ending could become acceptable. The evidence towards it being true is compelling i will give it that, after watching the vid i must say i am convinced on most levels, it salvages the game for me really.

mdqp:

SS2Dante:

First of all, Shepard is not 'indoctrinated' in the way everyone seems to think. The way I've described it to others is that the Reapers have found a crack in the armour, and are trying to worm their way in. 'Mild' describes the state Shepard is at roughly, but I'd class it as 'mild mild' at the start of the game unless you kept the collector base. If Shepard was as bad as you think, he'd no longer want to harm the reapers. That's the first step in anyone who I'd class as actually indoctrinated. It begins with wanting to control or use them, then moves to full submission when the process is complete.

And no, I am not. It has ALWAYS been my position indoctrination is the opposite of a binary state (please read back and you will see this). If it was binary then the whole theory would fall apart. In fact, I just read the quote you cited. I said exactly this. Did you misread?

Nor did I say it reads indoctrination at a binary state. I said that YOUR argument says this. I argue that anyone who has been around reaper tech is at least SLIGHTLY indoctrinated (mild mild mild), and therefore since you say it should have picked up Shepard, it also should have picked up the squadmates, who fly around with a reaper IFF. It did not, therefore it must have a cutoff point of indoctrination. Binary, says your argument.

You misread (or didn't explain yourself properly): you said that the VI can't read low level indoctrination, so this means that you are saying that the VI reads it as binary (either is high and it sees it, or not), this, despite the nature of the indoctrination, as you presented it (you are assuming that the VI reads it at the exact level that fits with your idea, neither more or less sensitive). You are saying mild, but your Shepard is seeing ghosts, having nightmares, and in the end imagines a whole unreal experience, which speaks of something more than mild (and if it is mild, than the ending has no meaning, because Shepard could still fight the indoctrination. It has to be a turning point, necessarily close to the edge, for it to be meaningful, at least in the mind of Shepard). If you claim that the indoctrinaction works at distance and develops this quickly over such short periods, I don't know what to say.

SS2Dante:
Actually there are two ideas about this. Someone had a look at this and was wondering why the Reaper didn't target the Normandy. You are stationary and well within range, with an open hatch. It's incredibly odd that the Reaper attacked the shuttles when it could have attacked the Normandy (and I imagine every reaper knows the normandy :P ). This would imply the Reapers know what they are doing to Shepard, and so deliberately attacked the shuttle. This seems less easy to believe than the other idea, that Shepard knew there was no way in hell a small shuttle could fly away from the Reaper standing over it. I think we ALL knew what was happening to that shuttle.

Probably the Reapers targeting can't find the stealth vehicle Normandy, especially considering the whole hell going on out there. If they had a clear shot, they would have simply killed you, if they have a minimum degree of intelligence. We don't know anything about what the Reaper could target, or what could happen before it fires, not in such a scenario (I actually thought that one of the shuttle would have managed to escape, for example). I don't believe that subconscious plays seer.

SS2Dante:
The child is the human personification of Shepards hopelessness and despair. Shepard is unaware the child is not real. Having the child on Thessia would be downright admitting the child is a ghost. After that it loses all power, both to Shepard and to the player. We ARE NOT MEANT to figure this out on our first playthrough. And yes I am aware I am presenting my ideas as facts, but since I assume you've all read the article you know my stance. It would be incredibly tedious to have to repeat my basic premise every time. I'm doing enough repeating as it is.

But I didn't speak about the child. I am telling that he has no visions outside of the dreams of anything unusual, after Earth, for a long time (if we believe your theory). Why would it stop at that? Why he can't have some visions of Turians or Asari? Why doesn't he get other symptoms? It doesn't look like the indoctrination is doing its job, most of the time. Only by playing detective, one gets a certain amount of (arguable) hints, and even those are open to debate.

SS2Dante:
Speaking of repeating, this question. I've answered this at least 7 times by now. You may not be aware of this, but the only other variable that decides your ending is whether or not you kept the collector base. Now, my premise has always been, as you stated, that the more powerful your army the more force is in the indoctrination, and the more hope you have (hence the surviving under red ending with enough WA). Therefore, on the lowest score of EMS, they are barely trying at all, and you are hopeless. In this state, it defaults down to Shepard's original choice at the end of ME2. If you already began the process of control (keeping the base), control is what you get. If you destroyed it, destroy is the only option you get (fight a losing battle). I want to point out that the fact this is another place the theory could have been broken. If it had been ANY other choice that influenced this situation it wouldn't fit. Instead, we default to essentially the same choice we had in the previous game.

Why would you be hopeless, if they aren't trying? What, Shepard can gauge perfectly the chances of his winning the reapers (that should always be 0, unless the prothean final weapon works), and gets depressed because of it? The in-game mechanic is one thing, but I don't think Shepard does it with this in mind (it's always a desperate attempt). Plus, you are arguing that only by getting all possible endings one can gather enough infos to make an educated guess about the meaning of the game? That isn't sound writing. There are only three options, and synthesis is usually high on the points you need to make, the fact that the game defaults to control or destroy means nothing, it's just a connection with the previous game.

Now, given any higher war assets, we always have both the control and fight, regardless of our collector base choice. This makes perfect sense with IT, but not with the literal ending.

SS2Dante:
You've accused me of changing my stance twice here. On the first occasion you are patently wrong, and on the other you have either misunderstood or are mistaken. You have an entire thread to look through for proof that this has been my consistant stance. I feel like I need to make a graph of what I expect the endings to be. (by the way, the guides that have given me the endings I have used to justify my theories predictions are rather broken and incomplete. If you can show me any ending at all (there are 16) that doesn't match my theory, it is broken.

You wrote this, and it seems to me that it contraddicts the facts, and your position later on (if I misread/misunderstood, I apologize):

"Ah, right, sorry, had this conversation before with other, people, keep forgetting which bits I've talked about with whom. There is only one situation my theory says that you could not get the option for blue. Apart from this I agree, blue should always be a choice. The one time you don't get blue should be at low EMS, having saved the collector base. This is the only situation where your Shepard has willpower and they are not actively trying to indoctrinate you. Conversely, if you kept the Collector base, you've got low willpower, so you should only get the blue ending."

SS2Dante:
The Phantom Menace was a bad film. This was a good game. It was a GREAT game. That's why the ending is so odd and out of place. If the writers were that bad it would be reflected elsewhere. This is not what happened. Instead we have an incredibly well written, epic game, right up till the last few minutes. Everyone has a self-contradictory view of the writers. Either they are good, or they are awful. If they are good, even the most half cocked ending they had wouldn't be full of plot holes. It might be short and disappointing, but it would make sense. if they were bad, this would be reflected at some point other than the few minutes that contain the entirety of the plot errors. You are positing a theory that does not conform to the evidence at all.

I think we disagree on this being a great game, as I told you before, so I think it's easier to understand why I don't find your theory very likely. Also, I find the ending bad anyway, since it would mean that the authors decided to go on a self-indulgent ego-trip, without bothering to let you know what happens: do the Reapers win or lose? What happens to your crew? What happens to earth? What does the crucible do? Etc... It becomes a journey inside Shepard's mind, and it isn't even the full tour, but a short mix of his fears/hopes and the Reapers indoctrination. You don't know what Shepard will leave behind at all (since the Stargazer always appears, we must assume that your indoctrination doesn't affect the future events at all, making it completely pointless, leaving us in the dark as to what Shepard did to make it possible for the Reapers to lose. Furthermore, how can it be a story told to a child, if the last part happens in Shepard's mind? We have to make other assumptions, concerning the fact that we got to see Shepard's story, why the Stargazer only knows a part of it, but the way it is shown seems to imply that we were playing the story he was telling).[/quote]

(Quote fail :P )
Ok, these will be my final posts, as I think you'll agree the arguments in most of this thread are reaching the point of becoming circular. And honestly my fingers are sore :P

Ok, I think we both agree about indoctrination being analogue rather than digital, somewhere our lines must have been crossed. What brought this up is you said the Prothean VI should have been able to tell Shepard was indoctrinated. I make no claim to know how much exposure is necessary for the VI to pick up on it, but it had no problem with 3 people who travel with a reaper artefact, and are therefore at least very slightly suffering indoctrination. This implies it is not foolproof, so I don't see a problem with it not picking up Shepard. By the way, as I tried to make clear, I think 'indoctrinated' as most people understand it manifests as a desire to help, or at least not harm, the Reapers. Anything before that I would not really class as indoctrinated (and as we've seen, the first stages do not manifest as that desire, but instead come in the form of odd mental episodes as described above). Perhaps we need another word, to prevent confusion.

The only two things we know about the Normandy's stealth systems is that they keep all heat inside, and that they do not render the ship invisible in the visible spectrum. Since the hatch was open and it's pretty likely Reapers can see the visible spectrum (Geth can, for example) I'm not sure how convincing I find the stealth argument. Still I admit, this is a scene in which we can do nothing but speculate, as interpretation is everything and solid evidence just doesn't exist :P

Because humanity is Shepards weak spot. The entire focus of the game is on retaking Earth, and Shepard is human, therefore the personification of Shepards fear and doubt is human. Having the child change species or whatever not only ruins the symbolism but it implies intelligence on behalf of Shepards subconscious. It's also important that the child only appears on Earth because this is the moment when Shepard is most vulnerable, watching his/her home being utterly destroyed. At least on Palaven and stuff the shock of the invasion had worn off. The only other point I can think of in the game that comes near this moment in terms of Shepards depression/weakness is Thessia, and in fact it's directly after Thessia that we have the conversation between Shepard and the LI, where Shepard is examining his/her N7 helmet and saying "I thought I heard it crack during that last fight", and during this scene the dream changes to the other Shepard hugging the child and them smirking at you as they burn.

I'm not saying Shepard can gauge the gradual differences, but can tell when there's no hope. Anyone playing the game knows that launching the invasion with minimum war assets is near suicide, so why shouldn't Shepard? It means you've failed in uniting the galaxy. Also, this is another point where people are ignoring seemingly arbitrary points and decisions (which do not exist any any game, period). The way the endings are carved up makes very little sense. It's basically random what choices you get. High war assets means you get synthesis, but why does it mean that? why does the decision involving the collector base only get involved at low war assets? Any why that particular decision? People keep claiming lazy/rushed design and I keep saying that this is the exact opposite of that. Lazy/rushed design would have all endings open all the time. The other variables already change the ending cutscene, so why have they also made them affect the choices you are presented? The truth is everyone is just shrugging their shoulders at this and murmuring about bad writing, but not actually answering.

I think we've both misunderstood at some points :P

Ok, but at that point we're arguing about ending quality, not ending discrepancies. Personally if IT turns out to be true I'm classing it as the best ending of any game I've ever seen, because it succeeds in the basic goal and strength of videogames as an art form - total immersion and interactivity. Besides which, if IT was right then this isn't the "end" anyway.

(by the way, about what the crucible does - the only explanation in the whole game (before the ending) is when the Prothean Vi says it enhances Dark Energy transmissions. This not only contradicts the literal ending but also ties into Tali's research project from 2. Apparently they dropped the Dark Energy storyline after the leak, but if so, why keep this line? And do not say no-one noticed, because they would have done.)

The Stargazer scene is a framing device. For all we know, Commander Shepard never existed, but this mans tale is just a mixture of various myths of his people. It calls into question absolutely everything in the story, so I don't see it as a point in anyones favour, literal or not.

Right, ok, I'm afraid I shan't be posting in this anymore (after I catch up with a few others), it's distracting me too much from work and stuff :P
So, it's been fun talking with you :)
(feel free to respond to this by the way, if you want to, but don't be offended that I don't reply :P )

No offense, it was nice talking with you (it's a pity I couldn't indoctrinate you to see it my way... Sorry, I had to throw in a lame joke! ^_^).

AD-Stu:

SS2Dante:

AD-Stu:
You're missing the whole "unreliable narrator" bit. He says Soverign only gave him the implants towards the end of the game, and you're taking him at his word. But can you trust that word? I certainly don't think you can.

Particularly since it's plain as day that he's got implants from the very beginning of the game - do you see any other turians with tubes running into the backs of their heads and glowing blue mechanical bits in their faces?

With regard to talking him into killing himself, it's established that the mind trapped within the body can sometimes regain control for brief periods, particularly if the motivation to do so is strong - again, the novel goes into that in more detail.

You see, now you are speculating just as much as I am.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Vsl_TNEeGxg#t=141s

"Maybe you're right. Maybe there is..." <---- this phrasing makes no goddamn sense if he's trapped in his mind. What, the outer Reaper shell is being swayed by your arguments? The inner Saren apparently already knows he's under their power according to you. There should be no confusion, just a binary switch between controlled and free(briefly). We don't see that at all. It all comes down to the differences between mediums. Imagine trying to write a book using the games way of indoctrination. The ENTIRE book would have to be like the end of ME3, with a huge plot dump at the end to explain how reality was different from what your character believed.

Also, if they are trapped within their own mind, why does indoctrination speed vary? If there comes a point where they become trapped, that's it. They are completely under Reaper control. Why, then, does it take time, and why, if this process is sped up, does the person become braindamaged and husk like, while the slowly indoctrinated ones last years? Sorry, but this view of it makes zero sense.

There are a few undeniable facts about Saren:

- He's had implants at least since the first time we see him in ME1 (when he shoots Nihlus). We can see them. They're not a new thing that Sovereign adds at the end of the game.
- He first came into contact with Sovereign around the end of Mass Effect: Revelation. That's 20 years before the events of ME1. Cerberus researchers in ME2 were being indoctrinated by a dead reaper in the space of weeks. If Saren's indoctrination has taken 20 years to take full control of him then it's got to be the most epic slowroll of all time.

The "maybe you're right" line could be explained by the fact that Saren's been indoctrinated for so long that what Shepard is saying almost comes as new information to his dormant inner self, like he's in the process of waking up from a really bad dream.

Or it could be explained by the Rule of Cool, writer laziness or something else.

Which brings me to my biggest problem with the whole indoctrination theory, and most of the rest of this discussion as well: it relies on putting far to much emphasis on minute details, when we don't know if those minute details were included deliberately, were an oversight, or whether they were included for some other completely random reason.

Giving this whole discussion any credence above the level of wild speculation is, IMO, more than a little silly given how unreliable all the information people are relying on is.

(I'm not gonna be posting after this, the threads been taking me away from work and stuff for too long, so...just warning you I won't be replying after this.)

Yes he does have implants, one of his arms is an artificial Geth arm (see The Art Of Mass Effect). That's not Reaper tech.

Yes, and as a Spectre he's the most valuable asset Sovereign has, so it only makes sense his indoctrination would be of the slow and patient kind, to keep his mental functions undamaged.

Your really bad dream part relies on the fact that Saren slowly lost his concious understanding of what he's been through. He forgot he was indoctrinated? Also, if so, why is the dormant part of him waking up? Your theory hinges on him being trapped in his own body and also in a state of sleep. Yet Shepard can talk him into waking up and regaining control of his own body? It doesn't make any sense. Again, this seems simply the difference between mediums.

Have you seen the point about shooting Anderson? I explained it to someone a few posts up, with youtube clips. If not, you should. It's the closest thing to evidence I can give you.

Essentially, if you're willing to believe Bioware could be so actively schizophrenic and awkward in writing, I'm not sure we'll convince each other any further.

Anyway, it was cool talking to you. Feel free to reply, so you don't think I'm just trying to get in the last word, but as I said I won't be posting here after today. Thanks for the talk.

Asita:

SS2Dante:

Ok, sorry for the really short post here, jumped on for a second and scanned your topic

(yes, I agree, most of the threads of discussion are becoming circular, I'll probably do my last posts tomorrow and we can all go our way :P)

Only part of you post I can respond to quickly is that you say Anderson was shot on the right - he isn't. Easy to mistake, cos the camera is facing him. Here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=VBHY44zOe4s#t=497s

Anderson is using his left hand and holding the left side of his stomach.

Anyhoo, closing remarks and stuff tomorrow :P
Bye

Huh, weird. I could have sworn it looked like the impact was on the right. Though I guess I have to concede the intended impact location. :/

Its the line up of the gun in relation to the camera angle that gives us that impression. If you imagine rotating the camera a bit round to the left you'll...'see'...the line up better. Anyway. :P

EDIT - ok, Asita, I was going to respond to your post fully, but I admit I simply do not have the energy for it. I imagine you know what my responses will be anyway, which is indeed a sign that further debate is...unproductive, at best :P I hope you don't think I'm being rude.

As I've mentioned, these are my last posts. Its been fun crossing swords with you, as it were. These threads really surprised me, once I got past the few trolls at the beginning. Nice to see one can have a real, cogent conversation.

So..yeah. Bye :)

Neonsilver:

SS2Dante:

Ah, I see. Yeah, femshep too. I did wonder, but then I realised the most obvious indicator that it is Shepard. Wait for it...

The fact that we don't see the face.

I love ironies like this. Shepard is the only character who's face can't be put into an FMV because, well, you know. The lack of a face is the distinguishing feature :P I'm willing to bet if they could, they'd have gone for the faaaar more conventional "Eyes snap open then cut to credits" ending :P

Yeah, I know, it would be useless to show someone else than Shepard. It's still a little bit strange to see a armor that looks like it's from a male character, if you play femshep.

I see your point, but in practice it just doesn't work like that. Not testing "every little detail" gets you fired, or breaks consoles :O

What I meant was that most of those details can be tested in one go. From the point where Shepard is transported up with the elevator, the only variable that can be changed is the final decision.
I think we are going in circles here too.
And by the way, when I played there were some little detail bugs, which were probably not enough tested. 3 or 4 times Shepard was unable to climb down a ladder for example.

Before I stop, even if you don't reply, two things - have you seen the point about the blood on Shepards hands on the citadel? I consider it some of the most material evidence yet, and someone only pointed it out yesterday :P I show someone a few comments up, through youtube.
Also, I'm doing a test to see if Tali shows up in the end video on the planet, cos if she does thats a large dent in my theory. I predict she will not. It'll be interesting to hear from people who romanced her and stuff.

Do you mean that Sheppard stops bleeding after the elevator. I have to admit, I don't see a lot of time or money saved by removing the blood ^^.

Anyway, nice talking to you :)

Same here :)

Agreed. Um. Basically, yeah :P

Yeah, small gameplay bugs will still remain (pretty much impossible to get rid of them), but general flow bugs (cutscenes not acting as they should etc) are a bigger problem.

No, eh, I explain a few posts up with youtube videos. Basically Shepard receives Andersons wound the second after Anderson dies. I'm pointing it out to people cos it's less 'interprety' as other things.

Right, and with that, I'm away. As I've said to the others, feel free to reply but I'm leaving this thread before it becomes my job :P I've enjoyed our discussions :)
Bye.

xorinite:

SS2Dante:

xorinite:
Nope, out of snip based puns, perhaps its for the best

(Ok, I'm leaving in a minute cos I have work to do and am tired, so forgive the lack of response to a lot of your arguments. We're slowly slipping towards a circular argument. I hope you don't think I'm running,as you can see I've been typing a LOT the past two days, and I believe the rest of this post will convince you. Anyway.)

I wouldn't infer you were running, wouldn't make any sense to me anyway.
You asked why I didn't believe, you didn't demand I convince you, or that claim that you could convince me so there is no imperative on either of us to convince the other. We can disagree just fine.

SS2Dante:

HEEEEEEEEEY. Finally.

Perfect, Tali being there as a love interest I can use. Congratulations sir, that is the first problem I'd consider noticeable in this theory. Now, admittedly it was my claim and not the pure theories (not hard to reason out of) but my understanding of the theory caused this prediction and it doesn't match, so one of us is wrong on some point.

Really? suddenly I'm tempted to throw away the apples and oranges and bring out the devils avocados.

I mean, maybe shepherd really is that stupid. Maybe its the reapers projecting that thought into his mind, maybe they don't know better, maybe that's evidence its from an outside source and not part of his mind. Lots of ways it could still work, even though I don't find it believable and neither should Shepherd.

Edit: additional, could just be a plot hole too. IT could be true, and has a plot hole inconsistent with its story. I'm not convinced of course.

SS2Dante:

Interestingly, I tested it too, with Tali and my LI as squadmates, and she does not appear at the end, no matter what ending I chose. It replaced her with Garrus who wasn't in my squad, nor ever was, as far as I can remember.

Cool :D

I think on Angry Joes 10 reasons the ending sucks video, at 4:50-4:55 you can see her on the planet there, now you don't have to gibbed her to a LI to see it.

Can you tell I was sleep-deprived last night? :P

Woke up to a good few people (both for and against IT) pointing out the crazy logic that led to the Tali thing. You can actually see the point where I forget that my argument is based on symbology. Perhaps my favourite argument was someone saying to me as a joke "Hey. It could be Rannoch they landed on" :P Made me laugh :P

BUT I was the one stupid enough to say it, so it shall stay up as a plot hole. At worst it'll encourage debate.

I'm looking forward to finding out the real variables that affect that end sequence.

Right, I believe you are the last person I'm saying this too, but these were my final posts, as this thread has taken up waaaaay too much of my time already (it kinda spiralled out of control in all honesty :P ). Hope you've enjoyed the debate, I have. I'm sure others will carry it on for me.

Nice chatting to you :)

SS2Dante:

EDIT - ok, Asita, I was going to respond to your post fully, but I admit I simply do not have the energy for it. I imagine you know what my responses will be anyway, which is indeed a sign that further debate is...unproductive, at best :P I hope you don't think I'm being rude.

Oh don't worry about it, I can definitely see how these arguments become draining and respect your descision in that regard. Whether it was you or me, I strongly suspect that one of us would have had to do so eventually, given the nature of the back-and-forth to that point.

SS2Dante:
As I've mentioned, these are my last posts. Its been fun crossing swords with you, as it were. These threads really surprised me, once I got past the few trolls at the beginning. Nice to see one can have a real, cogent conversation.

So..yeah. Bye :)

Nice sparring with you too. Take care, and I guess our argument will have to be resolved by Bioware's actions in the coming months.

Just thought it was worth pointing out that when the Protehan VI gives you the information on the Catalyst at Cerberus Headquarters it says its security protocols are disabled so it could be detecting that you are indoctrinated by that point but because Cerberus forced the information out of it it can give you it too.I believe this comes right after the final dream sequence where Shepard is seen embracing the god child which I think is another piece of evidence towards though I do thinking I'm kind of flogging a dead horse now.

Question, maybe this is brought up in the previous 11 pages, but I didn't see it on a scan-through:

Does anyone have an answer for why the prothean VI doesn't pick up on Shep's indoctrination? It's pretty quick to point out Kai Leng and the Illusive man, but it never detects anything on Shep.

If every time Shep sees the kid (s)he's at least partially indoctrinated, including the beginning on earth, then why doesn't the VI notice it on Thessia or the Cerberus Base? The simplest and most elegant explanation is that (s)he has no trace of indoctrination. In order to claim that Shep is indoctrinated and the VI just can't detect it, you need an unjustified ad hoc assumption about why the VI can detect it in everyone but Shepard.

This creates some real big problems for the Indoctrination theory if you ask me. If Shep wasn't experiencing any signs of indoctrination, then that means (s)he is suddenly indoctrinated less than 24 hours later on Earth. To quote the codex:

"Rapid indoctrination is possible, but causes this decay in days or weeks. Slow, patient indoctrination allows the thrall to last for months or years."

So if Shep is indoctrinated, and it is "rapid onset indoctrination," then that means you have an insane or mentally degraded Shepard to look forward too when (s)he "wakes up" in the Deep Breath cutscene.

Wonderful... Remind me again why this theory gives people so much hope?

SS2Dante:
how did the Illusive man get on the Citadel

Why do people have problems with this? He was there before it was moved to Earth. KA tells you he had already left the Cerburus base for the citadel when you fight him.

luke10123:

SS2Dante:
how did the Illusive man get on the Citadel

Why do people have problems with this? He was there before it was moved to Earth. KA tells you he had already left the Cerburus base for the citadel when you fight him.

I wasn't supposed to be posting any more :P, but I'll confirm that yes, sorry, thought I'd removed that a while ago. Will edit.

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