Mass Effect 3 Ending + Bioware's Responses + Indoctrination Theory

Seeing as the title kinda indicates spoilers I'm not sure I should need to say this but for safety's sake:

If you haven't finished the game go cuddle a cute puppy or kitten instead of reading this thread. Actually everyone should probably do that, it's quite soothing. Hang on, I'm going to go do that before finishing this post.

...

Ah, much better.

Anyway, it took me a while to come around, but after examining evidence (much of which is on this forum) for and against the indoctrination theory, I'm about 92.7% (obligatory meaningless statistic) sure that it's true. I'm not going to discuss the reasons for the theory, go check out this vid:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ythY_GkEBck <---- Note: This video is very well made, regardless of whether you agree with it,
and kudos to the guy who put it together

or any of dozens of other articles for information on that. I just wanted to address people who think some of the responses from Bioware indicate that it's not what they intended.

Ok, first of all, I've seen this one thrown around a few forums:

However, Hudson is standing by the original finale, claiming that the "polarizing" conclusion is what makes the story memorable.

People say that his defending of the ending means that it was the ending and anything else afterwards would be non-canonical, or pandering to gamer entitlement. Under the indoctrination theory, the best ending shows the cliffhanger ending where shepard *might* be alive and he *might* have either been dreaming/hallucinating. I think it's possible (possible mind you, not indisputable fact) that he's defending the decision (and feel free to debate the reasons for this decision) to end on an ambiguous note that invites contemplation. Obviously, the fans (myself included) have made it clear that we would prefer closure, but again, that's another discussion I don't want to get into. Another quote from him supports (but doesn't confirm) my theory:

"I didn't want the game to be forgettable," he told Digital Trends. "Even right down to the sort of polarizing reaction that the ends have had with people - debating what the endings mean and what's going to happen next, and what situation are the characters left in.

"That to me is part of what's exciting about this story. There has always been a little bit of mystery there and a little bit of interpretation, and it's a story that people can talk about after the fact."

Mystery and interpretation you say? All I'm saying is his remarks don't rule out, and may even lend some *tiny* amount of credence to the Indoctrination Theory. Again, the problem is most fans who support this theory (it seems to me) want the ending of the story that would logically follow, rather than just a cliffhanger. This transitions brilliantly (if I do say so myself) to a slightly more recent response:

"Building on their research, Exec Producer Casey Hudson and the team are hard at work on a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey. You'll hear more on this in April. We're working hard to maintain the right balance between the artistic integrity of the original story while addressing the fan feedback we've received."

Most of the letter was an apology for any perceived offense due to the endings of the game, and a defense of the design team, and given some of the more... let's say very enthusiastic feedback, I can understand the need to defend, in some way, the honor of a team that worked very long and hard on the game. The part I quoted confirms that Bioware will be releasing DLC that will address the issues of the ending. I think (again, that means this is my opinion) that when he talks about the balance between integrity and fan feedback, he might be talking about the fact (figure of speech) that originally the game's ending was meant to be ambiguous. In that case, ending DLC would provide a clearer ending with greater closure, but not necessarily change the tone, meaning that nothing here (as far as I can see) contradicts the Indoctrination Theory.

I don't want to get too wordy, so I'll end here by saying I've loved the Mass Effect series all the way through, and all this gives me hope that we might get an ending the game deserved, and that Bioware could possibly not have been trying to murder us all.

Keep discussion friendly, if you wouldn't mind. If you get too upset by anything, here are some videos of cute animals to make you feel better:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7i0QHKFF4f0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZSbC09qgLI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oche2CYxhM

This has been covered in other threads, so I shall keep my response short:

The indoctrination theory is bunk born of muddy writing and desperate fans. I suppose it's cool in a conspiracy theory sort of way though.

Bioware's responses, while polite and well intended, are too vague to matter and are coating in a tiresome amount of vapid PR speak.

Zhukov:

Bioware's responses, while polite and well intended, are too vague to matter and are coating in a tiresome amount of vapid PR speak.

I agree partially; Forbes (who I had never heard of before playing ME3) actually did a pretty good analyzation of the responses, in terms of what you speak of.

Like I said, this topic is specifically addressing concerns that Bioware responses DEBUNK the indoctrination theory. As a side note, typing out Indoctrination Theory is starting to feel silly, but I feel people might be confused if we started abbreviating to IT.

actually....
iTheory might work though :D (I wonder if this will catch on?) <-- probably not : (

Zhukov:
This has been covered in other threads, so I shall keep my response short:

The indoctrination theory is bunk born of muddy writing and desperate fans. I suppose it's cool in a conspiracy theory sort of way though.

Bioware's responses, while polite and well intended, are too vague to matter and are coating in a tiresome amount of vapid PR speak.

This is part of the reason why i hate the endings, without clear closure, the whole fucking thing has devolved into he said she said, I personally like the Indoctrination Theory, but without Bioware having put in something to prove it in the game and make it clear, its just another fucking thing they cut out.

boag:

This is part of the reason why i hate the endings, without clear closure, the whole fucking thing has devolved into he said she said, I personally like the Indoctrination Theory, but without Bioware having put in something to prove it in the game and make it clear, its just another fucking thing they cut out.

It's possibly just hopeless optimism on my part, but the tone of the responses from Bioware indicate that at the very least they genuinely felt the ending would be best received as is. I firmly believe they were wrong, and that if the iTheory (screw it, I'm using it) is correct, they should provide the final ending after this (which incidentally would allow them to address other issues fans had with the ending). Still, I'm willing to give a *little* faith that the company I've respected for years doesn't have malicious intent towards me and the other loyal fans of the Mass Effect series. Of course, if I'm wrong, I will shortly be very unhappy.

Zhukov:

The indoctrination theory is bunk born of muddy writing and desperate fans.

I just remembered something, and I think it's important enough to warrant it's own post. Keep in mind that I may be misunderstanding your intent with that comment, but I have heard a lot people dismissing the iTheory off hand as just stupid fans clawing at scraps. I think it's important to point out the difference between desperation (i.e. Elvis isn't dead) and determination for an explanation leading to discovery (crap, I had an example that now I can't think of so now I look very silly). You get what I mean.

So, if we are to believe the indoctrination theory, then Mass Effect still hasn't ended.

A lot of those for indoctrination say that the bit on the Citadel is Harbinger trying to "get" Shep. Now if we chose the "bad" ending and have a good amount of war resources it leads us to believe that Shep can't be indoctrinated and he's still alive and in London.

So that means the war is still going on.

No matter how you see the ending it doesn't end.

For a finale it answers no questions and doesn't actually finish.

That would be great if we were waiting for ME4 but we're not. This is it people, that is the best possible way they could end it .... by not ending it at all.

Wait, if Shepard is indoctrinated how is there an option to control the reapers? The Illusive Man couldn't because he was indoctrinated.

So says the ghost child thing that may or may not really be there

Rawne1980:
So, if we are to believe the indoctrination theory, then Mass Effect still hasn't ended.

A lot of those for indoctrination say that the bit on the Citadel is Harbinger trying to "get" Shep. Now if we chose the "bad" ending and have a good amount of war resources it leads us to believe that Shep can't be indoctrinated and he's still alive and in London.

So that means the war is still going on.

No matter how you see the ending it doesn't end.

For a finale it answers no questions and doesn't actually finish.

That would be great if we were waiting for ME4 but we're not. This is it people, that is the best possible way they could end it .... by not ending it at all.

I have found a possible explanation for this. As most people are aware, a leaked version of the scrip and fan reaction to it caused Bioware to significantly alter the ending, or at least, they picked one they thought fans would like more based on the feedback to the leak. The problem with leaks is they never contain all the facts, so we don't really know for sure if the ending would have ended up being the same as it is now had the leak not occured, or if it was just PR. Assuming (for a moment) that they did change the ending some have speculated that they didn't have as much time to flesh out the "new" ending as they would have liked. I'm not entirely sure I buy this theory, as it really does sound like the "grasping at straws" that I insisted the iTheory isn't. I'm still willing to believe that Bioware may have thought an ending that unambiguously confirmed the iTheory would make the game less memorable, but as pretty much my entire topic post explains, it's all just hopeful speculation, with some supporting evidence. All that being said, a lot is riding on what happens with the DLC that comes out, and for a lot of people, whether or not they charge for it.

Well, yeah, right, unless BioWare states the contrary, I belive in the iTheory (sounds better than IT), that's cool and all... but that still doesn't explain if the war is still waging on in London while Shepard was unconcious battling in his inner self to gain back control.

Or did we automatically won the entire war by just waking up from a bad dream?.

As many people has already stated (in a much angerer manner), we need more closure than this.

usmarine4160:
Wait, if Shepard is indoctrinated how is there an option to control the reapers? The Illusive Man couldn't because he was indoctrinated.

So says the ghost child thing that may or may not really be there

Ok, this sounds like you may not have all the information that I'm assuming those reading the thread do, so I will attempt to clarify for you. For a fuller explanation (and a much more eloquent one) either check out the video link in my original post (It's very well done), or this alternate text link that goes a little more in depth, but is less entertaining:

http://www.gameseyeview.com/2012/03/15/why-i-liked-the-mass-effect-3-ending-eventually/

But if for whatever reason, you don't want to, here it is in a nutshell:

Scene on citadel with ghost child part of trick by reapers to indoctrinate Shepard, after failing to simply persuade him (scene with illusive man)
Choosing SYNTHESIS or CONTROL means you have been succesfully tricked and are now under the reaper's control
SYNTHESIS was the idea used to trick Saren in ME1
CONTROL was the idea used to trick the illusive man in ME3 (possibly earlier)
Only picking DESTROY finally successfully rejects the attempt at indoctrination.

Basically, you only have two options: give in to the illusion, or fight it and come back to reality. Did that help?

PS- I didn't intend to discuss the details of the theory here (as I'm sure most have noticed there are many other threads, and I didn't want to spam). However, if people have questions that they didn't feel were fully answered in other threads, I am willing to attempt to answer them.

SupahGamuh:
Well, yeah, right, unless BioWare states the contrary, I belive in the iTheory (sounds better than IT), that's cool and all... but that still doesn't explain if the war is still waging on in London while Shepard was unconcious battling in his inner self to gain back control.

Or did we automatically won the entire war by just waking up from a bad dream?.

As many people has already stated (in a much angerer manner), we need more closure than this.

Agreed, my hope is the coming DLC addresses this tastefully and in a thoughtful manner, and is not rushed out.

TheCommanders:

boag:

This is part of the reason why i hate the endings, without clear closure, the whole fucking thing has devolved into he said she said, I personally like the Indoctrination Theory, but without Bioware having put in something to prove it in the game and make it clear, its just another fucking thing they cut out.

It's possibly just hopeless optimism on my part, but the tone of the responses from Bioware indicate that at the very least they genuinely felt the ending would be best received as is. I firmly believe they were wrong, and that if the iTheory (screw it, I'm using it) is correct, they should provide the final ending after this (which incidentally would allow them to address other issues fans had with the ending). Still, I'm willing to give a *little* faith that the company I've respected for years doesn't have malicious intent towards me and the other loyal fans of the Mass Effect series. Of course, if I'm wrong, I will shortly be very unhappy.

I already gave them a chance and they completely betrayed my trust, the time when they could have addressed this fast, didnt come, even know the response has been completely condescending.

Critics gave us great reviews, my fucking foot, the ball is now in their court and they need to do something incredible to regain my trust.

boag:

I already gave them a chance and they completely betrayed my trust, the time when they could have addressed this fast, didnt come, even know the response has been completely condescending.

Critics gave us great reviews, my fucking foot, the ball is now in their court and they need to do something incredible to regain my trust.

I understand what you are saying, but keep this in mind:

If they came out with something immediately, that would more or less confirm that selling the ending as DLC was the plan from the start. Hell, it still would have looked that way if they decided it would be better NOW to release it for free to avoid the negative PR. All I can say is that evidence thus far (and keep in mind, more may come out that may indicate otherwise) makes me think that they had no such plans, and genuinely thought that the current ending would be good enough. Don't misunderstand, I think they were completely wrong, just see that I don't think they are acting out of malice or with intent to exploit fans, even if it feels that way. I fervently hope they act in a way that confirms the way I feel, otherwise, as I mentioned, I will be very unhappy.

There's too much evidence in favor of indoctrination theory to just be a coincidence. It answers all the plot holes in a very logical way. And don't forget that this is the same company that made KoTOR, game with the biggest plot twist in video game history.

TheCommanders:

boag:

I already gave them a chance and they completely betrayed my trust, the time when they could have addressed this fast, didnt come, even know the response has been completely condescending.

Critics gave us great reviews, my fucking foot, the ball is now in their court and they need to do something incredible to regain my trust.

I understand what you are saying, but keep this in mind:

If they came out with something immediately, that would more or less confirm that selling the ending as DLC was the plan from the start. Hell, it still would have looked that way if they decided it would be better NOW to release it for free to avoid the negative PR. All I can say is that evidence thus far (and keep in mind, more may come out that may indicate otherwise) makes me think that they had no such plans, and genuinely thought that the current ending would be good enough. Don't misunderstand, I think they were completely wrong, just see that I don't think they are acting out of malice or with intent to exploit fans, even if it feels that way. I fervently hope they act in a way that confirms the way I feel, otherwise, as I mentioned, I will be very unhappy.

Ive been in your position before, and please do try to understand that I am not going to redo it again, I measured the risk of buying the game on release date and it bit me in the wallet.

Adam Jensen:
There's too much evidence in favor of indoctrination theory to just be a coincidence. It answers all the plot holes in a very logical way. And don't forget that this is the same company that made KoTOR, game with the biggest plot twist in video game history.

I talked about this in another thread, but I'll post my comments here as the other post is lost in threads that are too long to functionally read anymore:

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.

The recent comments from Bioware officials in no way undermine the iTheory IMO.

Personally, I think it's probably the best way to solve the ending problem, but I still doubt that will end up being the case.

distortedreality:
The recent comments from Bioware officials in no way undermine the iTheory IMO.

Personally, I think it's probably the best way to solve the ending problem, but I still doubt that will end up being the case.

I just realized this quote is totally appropriate for this context :D

Shepard: Without hope... we have nothing.

Thing with the iTheory

It is well made and holds water, but without confirmation from Bioware it is simply an interpretation.

Problem is however they whole thing has been left so open that even if Bioware decides to go "Yeah they iTheory was right. We have the DLC that puts in closure and confirms it" there will still be a part of the player base who will got "this is just sloppy writing and they are covering their ass". Essentially if they decide to put closure to this subject, it will still split the same way it does now. Do you trust Bioware or dont you?

Now I have decided to go with the iTheory as an interpretation. I am not willing to give the price of "Most magnificent troll of all time" to Bioware, but when it is up to interpret then I will.

Now no matter what the actual case is.

IF the iTheory is to be believed that opens up a whole new set possibilities. The reapers might have been playing a much longer game than we thought before. If the illusive man was already indoctrinated in ME2 then that could mean bringing Shepard back was a very elaborate plan to control the path of the resistance, the same way they did with civilization and the Mass Relays.

Draech:

IF the iTheory is to be believed that opens up a whole new set possibilities. The reapers might have been playing a much longer game than we thought before. If the illusive man was already indoctrinated in ME2 then that could mean bringing Shepard back was a very elaborate plan to control the path of the resistance, the same way they did with civilization and the Mass Relays.

This actually brings up a good point that I forgot to make. As I've said, whatever the true ending was, the intention was to leave a bit of mystery and interpretation to make the game memorable. The thing is, an ending, such as I have described, would still allow for that, but would also satisfy a lot of people. I realize there is no ending that will satisfy everyone, and I never expected the ending to be perfect. I just want an ending that makes sense and gives closure, and I think that even for those who for whatever reason don't like the iTheory, that's understandable.

While I agree the Indoctrination theory answers all the plotholes and I do accept it as making the most sense, I'm not entirely sure Bioware actually accepts it. In other words, I still can't decide if it was intentional or not. It may have just been inferred due to the shitty writting and presentation, but not what they intended.

But you know what I'd like to see? Bioware just rolling with it. It makes the most sense, would be a great near-end twist and would make the actual end to the trilogy all the more memorable. And hell, the entire plan was already done for them. So why not just pretend like it was their plan all along even if it wasn't?

Yassen:
While I agree the Indoctrination theory answers all the plotholes and I do accept it as making the most sense, I'm not entirely sure Bioware actually accepts it. In other words, I still can't decide if it was intentional or not. It may have just been inferred due to the shitty writting and presentation, but not what they intended.

But you know what I'd like to see? Bioware just rolling with it. It makes the most sense, would be a great near-end twist and would make the actual end to the trilogy all the more memorable. And hell, the entire plan was already done for them. So why not just pretend like it was their plan all along even if it wasn't?

As much as this would indicate a disturbing insight into the current state of Bioware, if it makes the ending better, I would be willing to pretend the idea was theirs. Honestly though, some of the things in this article:

http://www.gameseyeview.com/2012/03/15/why-i-liked-the-mass-effect-3-ending-eventually/

seem too deliberate to just be mistakes, but of course, it's still opinion until it's official confirmed or denied.

 

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