Mass Effect 3 writer leaks details of how the ending was written

#1 Edited by sully (69 posts) -

Piki Geek - Controversy Erupts Over Mass Effect 3 Writer's Forum Post, Name Release

Evidence that one of the Mass Effect 3 writers posted a denunciation of the ending on the Penny Arcade forums has come forward to a huge amount of controversy. The writer noted that he was very disappointed in the ending of the game and that it wasn’t what he thought it would be. The final mission was written entirely by Casey Hudson and lead writer Mac Walters, without input or review from the other writers, which wasn’t true for every other mission in the game.

With this coming to light now, it only shows that fans are not only justified and supported by a member of the ME3 writing staff, but also that BioWare should have been aware of the backlash it would have caused, and shows poor decision-making and lack of communication among the team, at least with regard to the ending.

The full text, which was copy and pasted from the original forum to places like Something Awful and others, reads as follows (warning, spoilers):

I have nothing to do with the ending beyond a) having argued successfully a long time ago that we needed a chance to say goodbye to our squad, b) having argued successfully that Cortez shouldn't automatically die in that shuttle crash, and c) having written Tali's goodbye bit, as well as a couple of the holo-goodbyes for people I wrote (Mordin, Kasumi, Jack, etc).
No other writer did, either, except for our lead. This was entirely the work of our lead and Casey himself, sitting in a room and going through draft after draft. And honestly, it kind of shows.
Every other mission in the game had to be held up to the rest of the writing team, and the writing team then picked it apart and made suggestions and pointed out the parts that made no sense. This mission? Casey and our lead deciding that they didn't need to be peer-reviewed.
And again, it shows.
If you'd asked me the themes of Mass Effect 3, I'd break them down as:
  • Galactic Alliances
  • Friends
  • Organics versus Synthetics
In my personal opinion, the first two got a perfunctory nod. We did get a goodbye to our friends, but it was in a scene that was divorced from the gameplay — a deliberate “nothing happens here” area with one turret thrown in for no reason I really understand, except possibly to obfuscate the “nothing happens here”-ness. The best missions in our game are the ones in which the gameplay and the narrative reinforce each other. The end of the Genophage campaign exemplifies that for me — every line of dialog is showing you both sides of the krogan, be they horrible brutes or proud warriors; the art shows both their bombed-out wasteland and the beautiful world they once had and could have again; the combat shows the terror of the Reapers as well as a blatant reminder of the rachni, which threatened the galaxy and had to be stopped by the krogan last time. Every line of code in that mission is on target with the overall message.
The endgame doesn't have that. I wanted to see banshees attacking you, and then have asari gunships zoom in and blow them away. I wanted to see a wave of rachni ravagers come around a corner only to be met by a wall of krogan roaring a battle cry. Here's the horror the Reapers inflicted upon each race, and here's the army that you, Commander Shepard, made out of every race in the galaxy to fight them.
I personally thought that the Illusive Man conversation was about twice as long as it needed to be — something that I've been told in my peer reviews of my missions and made edits on, but again, this is a conversation no writer but the lead ever saw until it was already recorded. I did love Anderson's goodbye.
For me, Anderson's goodbye is where it ended. The stuff with the Catalyst just… You have to understand. Casey is really smart and really analytical. And the problem is that when he's not checked, he will assume that other people are like him, and will really appreciate an almost completely unemotional intellectual ending. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it.
And then, just to be a dick… what was SUPPOSED to happen was that, say you picked “Destroy the Reapers”. When you did that, the system was SUPPOSED to look at your score, and then you'd show a cutscene of Earth that was either:
a) Very high score: Earth obviously damaged, but woo victory
b) Medium score: Earth takes a bunch of damage from the Crucible activation. Like dropping a bomb on an already war-ravaged city. Uh, well, maybe not LIKE that as much as, uh, THAT.
c) Low score: Earth is a cinderblock, all life on it completely wiped out
I have NO IDEA why these different cutscenes aren't in there. As far as I know, they were never cut. Maybe they were cut for budget reasons at the last minute. I don't know. But holy crap, yeah, I can see how incredibly disappointing it'd be to hear of all the different ending possibilities and have it break down to “which color is stuff glowing?” Or maybe they ARE in, but they're too subtle to really see obvious differences, and again, that's… yeah.
Okay, that's a lot to have written for something that's gonna go away in an hour.
I still teared up at the ending myself, but really, I was tearing up for the quick flashbacks to old friends and the death of Anderson. I wasn't tearing up over making a choice that, as it turned out, didn't have enough cutscene differentiation on it.
And to be clear, I don't even really wish Shepard had gotten a ride-off-into-sunset ending. I was honestly okay with Shepard sacrificing himself. I just expected it to be for something with more obvious differentiation, and a stronger tie to the core themes — all three of them.
#2 Posted by c_rakestraw (844 posts) -

Pretty sure Bioware confirmed that to be fake.

#3 Posted by FLStyle (4660 posts) -

@sully: 1) This has been posted before on the Giant Bomb forums, please use the search button in future. 2) BioWare and the writer in question has already said it was fake last week, Wednesday I think it was, may have have Thursday.

#4 Posted by Three0neFive (2290 posts) -

@C_Rakestraw said:

Pretty sure Bioware confirmed that to be fake.

Of course they would - do you really think they'd just sit back and admit how much of a creative failure their game was?

#5 Posted by sully (69 posts) -

@FLStyle said:

@sully: 1) This has been posted before on the Giant Bomb forums, please use the search button in future. 2) BioWare and the writer in question has already said it was fake last week, Wednesday I think it was, may have have Thursday.

I figured it would have been posted, but I searched for "Takyris" and "Patrick Weekes" and got back no results. I'm not sure what else I could have searched for that would have brought up links to this but not every other post talking about the ending.

Re: being fake, that's actually a bit of a relief.

#6 Posted by Maajin (1058 posts) -

@Three0neFive said:

@C_Rakestraw said:

Pretty sure Bioware confirmed that to be fake.

Of course they would - do you really think they'd just sit back and admit how much of a creative failure their game was?

Didn't that statement by Ray Muzyka did exactly that?

#7 Posted by FLStyle (4660 posts) -

@sully said:

@FLStyle said:

@sully: 1) This has been posted before on the Giant Bomb forums, please use the search button in future. 2) BioWare and the writer in question has already said it was fake last week, Wednesday I think it was, may have have Thursday.

I figured it would have been posted, but I searched for "Takyris" and "Patrick Weekes" and got back no results. I'm not sure what else I could have searched for that would have brought up links to this but not every other post talking about the ending.

Re: being fake, that's actually a bit of a relief.

I searched BioWare writer and it was the 2nd entry.

http://www.giantbomb.com/mass-effect-3/61-29935/bioware-writer-allegedly-slams-me-3-ending-on-penny-arcade-forums/35-540605/#33

#8 Edited by Three0neFive (2290 posts) -

@Maajin said:

@Three0neFive said:

@C_Rakestraw said:

Pretty sure Bioware confirmed that to be fake.

Of course they would - do you really think they'd just sit back and admit how much of a creative failure their game was?

Didn't that statement by Ray Muzyka did exactly that?

Could have been, I dunno. To be honest I haven't really been keeping up on things concerning Mass Effect 3/Bioware in general.

#9 Edited by GaspoweR (2956 posts) -

Yup, confirmed to be fake man.

#10 Posted by Delta_Ass (3276 posts) -

Yeah, that's not fake. I frequent the PA forums, and Takyris's been a long time poster there. Everyone knows him as a BioWare writer.
 
Now, I like Takyris. He's a really cool guy, especially since he had no part in writing that awful ending. But if he really was concerned about his job, then he should've just refrained from posting anything about that ending. There's a firestorm going on right now about it, and it's naive to think that he could've just kept his comments private on a public forum like that. The internet just does not work like that. I certainly wouldn't have gone blabbing to news sites, but you can't trust everyone on that forum to behave like that. You don't even need an account to view threads, it's completely open.

#11 Posted by pw2566ch (480 posts) -

@C_Rakestraw said:

Pretty sure Bioware confirmed that to be fake.

Is there a source that it was confirmed fake? Not saying you're wrong. I just want to see for myself.

#12 Posted by c_rakestraw (844 posts) -

@pw2566ch said:

@C_Rakestraw said:

Pretty sure Bioware confirmed that to be fake.

Is there a source that it was confirmed fake? Not saying you're wrong. I just want to see for myself.

It was in one of the other threads about this, I think. Can't recall which one.

#13 Edited by SpaceInsomniac (3649 posts) -

Bioware said this is fake.  But fake or not, it doesn't change the fact that lead writer of the original ME--who envisioned the entire series--said that the end of ME3 was completely different than what he was originally working towards. 
 
And yes, is BioWare saying someone got a hold of a BioWare employee's official PA forum account?  To me, it's just as ethically wrong to call it a fake if it's not, as it is for a disgruntled employee to post it in the first place.

#14 Posted by Marz (5648 posts) -
#15 Posted by sully (69 posts) -

@Marz said:

@pw2566ch said:

@C_Rakestraw said:

Pretty sure Bioware confirmed that to be fake.

Is there a source that it was confirmed fake? Not saying you're wrong. I just want to see for myself.

http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/10399933&lf=8

That's an odd rebuttal. What is fake - the entire user account? Multiple people say otherwise. Is BioWare claiming the account was hacked? Or that the screenshots were faked? I'm perfectly willing to accept their statement but the vagueness of the statement is eyebrow raising.

#16 Posted by august (3836 posts) -

Like Delta_Ass I'm a long time poster over at Penny Arcade. Recognizing the screen name, and considering how well-reasoned and insightful that post is, I have a hard time believing that it's fake.

If I recall correctly the same guy mentioned, at the time of Skyrim's release, Bioware being forced to fire the outside company Bethesda uses for QA for not performing. Which I thought was amusing.

#17 Edited by Pinworm45 (4088 posts) -

It's not fake. The debunk was already debunked. It's a 100% fact that it was posted on one of the staff writers accounts. That's not debatable. The only thing that's up for debate is "did he write that?". It's possible that someone could have hacked his account and typed it. Is it likely? Absolutely not. If someone was going to do that, they'd do someone like Casey Hudson, or Mac Walters or something. Not some no-name. And even if that was the case, they never came out and said it was Hacked, and why wouldn't they if that was the case? This is to say nothing of how reasonable and how much insider info the post had.

So much for "artistic integrity", by the way, when you lock out your artists and do one part without them (the part that happens to be panned by the majority as of a lower quality).

#18 Posted by Undeadpool (4923 posts) -

More like patently false, but I haven't seen this duder floating around too much. Pun intended.

#20 Posted by NTM (7335 posts) -

It's probably real, and the guy probably isn't working with them anymore. Sad.

#21 Posted by august (3836 posts) -

@Malkie: The article linked to in addition to my personal experience at the forums in question leads me to believe that this denial is false.

#22 Posted by blueduck (964 posts) -

I like how the reasoning for this thing being fake is that Bioware said so and then they link the bioware forum.

#23 Edited by SpaceInsomniac (3649 posts) -
@Malkie said:

Repost. http://www.giantbomb.com/mass-effect-3/61-29935/bioware-writer-allegedly-slams-me-3-ending-on-penny-arcade-forums/35-540605/

And it is fake.

"I repeat, this is not real. So if you see this topic of a BioWare writer speaking out against the ending that is floating around on the internet, it has been debunked!" Chris Priestly http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/10399933&lf=8

So the post that paints BioWare in a negative light is fake because BioWare says it's fake?  Not because PA said that the account was hacked, not because the writer said that his account was hacked, and not because BioWare said that someone hacked their writers account?  But no, it's fake because BioWare say so, while explaining absolutely nothing and just wanting us to accept what they've told us? 
  
Gee, BioWare not bothering to explain themselves, and just wanting us to accept something that doesn't make any damn sense.  Now, where have I heard that recently...
#24 Posted by Jimbo (9799 posts) -

It might be fake, but Bioware 'confirming it as fake' doesn't confirm it as fake.  If it is fake, it's pretty convincingly written as far as these things usually go.

#25 Posted by BrockNRolla (1702 posts) -

I certainly would like to know whether or not there is truth behind it.

#26 Posted by Tim_the_Corsair (3065 posts) -

It reads plausibly, and the denial rings somewhat hollow.

However, the question that needs to be asked if you assume this is real is:

Why?

Why would someone who works as a writer for Bioware decide that they were so unhappy about what happened that the best way to manage it was to post publicly on a forum, under their own name, in a way that would almost certainly cost him his job?

If you were that unhappy, you'd express your concern at the time internally. If you were brushed off, you'd immediately be vindicated within the company with the shitstorm that has now occurred, and you'd be in a prime position to impact whatever they do to fix it (which they are apparently doing).

While I am definitely one to advocate standing up for your beliefs, this seems like an extremely unproductive and professionally damaging thing to do that will end only in a few rabid forum goers being filled with righteous rage and your employer promptly denying what you said and then fucking you right off.

For that reason alone I'm inclined to believe this is false.

#27 Edited by Pinworm45 (4088 posts) -

@Tim_the_Corsair: He said these things before the ending controversy blew up. He said it guaranteeing he'd delete it in an hour, and asking people to talk about it under the guise of "they heard it somewhere" or "it is rumored that". He did it in a forum he frequented constantly, and presumably trusted its users.

Was it dumb? Yeah, probably. But who honestly hasn't done something stupid out of frustration?

I find it easier to believe that he slipped up than that some hacker stole his account for some forum, before the massive controversy, and typed up a really well written and reasonable page, and then deleted it an hour later, while Bioware never came out to say it was a hacker.

I mean, come on.

Edit: I'll leave you all with this: http://geek.pikimal.com/2012/03/22/controversy-erupts-over-mass-effect-3-writers-forum-post-name-release/

#28 Posted by Tim_the_Corsair (3065 posts) -
@Pinworm45 You don't find the idea of a dude experienced in the ways of the Internet who works in this industry, thinking, "I'll just say this on a public forum, I can trust these dudes, and things posted on the Internet and then deleted NEVER come back to bite their authors!" to be just as absurd?

Again, it could be true, but I find it hard to believe this guy could be that freaking dumb.
#29 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (3649 posts) -
@Pinworm45 said:

Edit: I'll leave you all with this: http://geek.pikimal.com/2012/03/22/controversy-erupts-over-mass-effect-3-writers-forum-post-name-release/

Yep.  I have to feel sorry for him.  He was just trying to share something with a small community, but the sad fact is that just can't be done.
  
   
On the bright side, if BioWare fired him, that sure would put a big hole in their "this has been debunked" official statement.  Hopefully, that fact alone will be enough for this guy to keep his job.
#30 Posted by Pinworm45 (4088 posts) -

@Tim_the_Corsair said:

@Pinworm45 You don't find the idea of a dude experienced in the ways of the Internet who works in this industry, thinking, "I'll just say this on a public forum, I can trust these dudes, and things posted on the Internet and then deleted NEVER come back to bite their authors!" to be just as absurd?

Not even close. Stupid? Yeah, but nowhere near as absurd as the alternative (a convoluted hacker coming up with an account theft at the perfect time, posting on a somewhat obscure forum a post that wasn't even full of that much vitriol, that was well written and reasonable and clearly had advanced knowledge of the field, and then deleting it an hour later while managing to get Bioware to not admit the account was hacked).

#31 Posted by Vegetable_Side_Dish (1726 posts) -

It's obviously real. So obviously. 

#32 Posted by SlashDance (1814 posts) -

If that's true, he is kind of a prick.

#33 Posted by moondogger (39 posts) -

These threads remind me of a birther forum. Every piece of dissenting information gets attributed to a wider conspiracy.

#34 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (3649 posts) -
@SlashDance said:

If that's true, he is kind of a prick.

Who?  The writer who was expressing his feelings about almost the entire writing staff being shut out of sharing any sort of creative input regarding the ending, or the lead producer who made that call?
#35 Posted by mordukai (7150 posts) -

@C_Rakestraw: @Malkie: Because Bioware would just come out admit they botched the ending...Sure. I have more reasons to beleive this post because it sounds ridiculous enough to be real.

Frankly what that post suggest sounds like something that could happen. I did have a nagging feeling Casey pulled a George Lucas out of his ass with that trash of an ending.

#36 Posted by pw2566ch (480 posts) -

@sully said:

@Marz said:

@pw2566ch said:

@C_Rakestraw said:

Pretty sure Bioware confirmed that to be fake.

Is there a source that it was confirmed fake? Not saying you're wrong. I just want to see for myself.

http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/10399933&lf=8

That's an odd rebuttal. What is fake - the entire user account? Multiple people say otherwise. Is BioWare claiming the account was hacked? Or that the screenshots were faked? I'm perfectly willing to accept their statement but the vagueness of the statement is eyebrow raising.

I think what their saying is that it's a fake account posting up something fake. Either way, I think I would rather hear that this is fake from Patrick himself (the Mass Effect 3 writer who supposedly wrote the forum post). Not saying Bioware is bullshitting. You just get a better guarantee that it's fake from the person that is being portrayed.

#37 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (3649 posts) -
@pw2566ch said:

@sully said:

@Marz said:

@pw2566ch said:

@C_Rakestraw said:

Pretty sure Bioware confirmed that to be fake.

Is there a source that it was confirmed fake? Not saying you're wrong. I just want to see for myself.

http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/10399933&lf=8

That's an odd rebuttal. What is fake - the entire user account? Multiple people say otherwise. Is BioWare claiming the account was hacked? Or that the screenshots were faked? I'm perfectly willing to accept their statement but the vagueness of the statement is eyebrow raising.

I think what their saying is that it's a fake account posting up something fake. Either way, I think I would rather hear that this is fake from Patrick himself (the Mass Effect 3 writer who supposedly wrote the forum post). Not saying Bioware is bullshitting. You just get a better guarantee that it's fake from the person that is being portrayed.

But it's not a fake account.  Several PA forum members have come out and said that this was posted from a real account that was owned by a real BioWare employee.  I believe them, more than I believe BioWare making a brief "this has been debunked" statement, while not explaining anything.
#38 Posted by SlashDance (1814 posts) -

@SpaceInsomniac said:

@SlashDance said:

If that's true, he is kind of a prick.

Who? The writer who was expressing his feelings about almost the entire writing staff being shut out of sharing any sort of creative input regarding the ending, or the lead producer who made that call?

It's not like he's uncovering a big conspiracy. And yeah I think it's a dick move to point the finger at someone, saying "wasn't me guys, honest !", when there are thousands of angry douchebags waiting for a culprit to throw all their hate mail at.

#39 Posted by pw2566ch (480 posts) -

@SpaceInsomniac said:

@pw2566ch said:

@sully said:

@Marz said:

@pw2566ch said:

@C_Rakestraw said:

Pretty sure Bioware confirmed that to be fake.

Is there a source that it was confirmed fake? Not saying you're wrong. I just want to see for myself.

http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/10399933&lf=8

That's an odd rebuttal. What is fake - the entire user account? Multiple people say otherwise. Is BioWare claiming the account was hacked? Or that the screenshots were faked? I'm perfectly willing to accept their statement but the vagueness of the statement is eyebrow raising.

I think what their saying is that it's a fake account posting up something fake. Either way, I think I would rather hear that this is fake from Patrick himself (the Mass Effect 3 writer who supposedly wrote the forum post). Not saying Bioware is bullshitting. You just get a better guarantee that it's fake from the person that is being portrayed.

But it's not a fake account. Several PA forum members have come out and said that this was posted from a real account that was owned by a real BioWare employee. I believe them, more than I believe BioWare making a brief "this has been debunked" statement, while not explaining anything.

Do you have a link to the forum post about this? Like I sad, we need a post from this Mass Effect 3 writer saying if this is true or not. Maybe he can post a picture of himself with a piece of paper that has his name, the date, and the forums he's posting on. It sucks that it would have to some down to this, but this is what we get on the internet.

#40 Posted by xyzygy (9944 posts) -

WHY are people believing Bioware when they say that it's fake? Of course they will say that because it is slandering THEIR OWN GAME. I don't get how a forum post from Chris Preistly saying that it's fake is enough evidence to prove that it's actually fake.

#41 Posted by shway (176 posts) -

its fake and omg spam

#42 Edited by 815Sox (72 posts) -

@blueduck said:

I like how the reasoning for this thing being fake is that Bioware said so and then they link the bioware forum.

How is this any better then saying, "I know its not fake, so it isn't. This is because I post on a forum that account was on."?

"I like how the reasoning for this being real is that this guy/I said it isn't and then they point out they post on a forum"

It seems like many people have trouble accepting the fact that some people just might disagree with their oh so infallible opinions. Then following the audacity of doing such a heinous act, will try to provide evidence that suggests that the opinion that they hold is correct.

#43 Edited by SpaceInsomniac (3649 posts) -
@815Sox said:

@blueduck said:

I like how the reasoning for this thing being fake is that Bioware said so and then they link the bioware forum.

How is this any better then saying, "I know its not fake, so it isn't. This is because I post on a forum that account was on."?


The guy has been a PA forum user for a long time.  The account isn't fake.  I've seen literally NO Penny Arcade forum user coming out and saying "I just KNEW that was a fake account!"  No, the guy had been posting since LONG before the ME3 release, and every little bit of ME3 he talked about appeared in the final game.   
 
What COULD be fake is the content of the post.  If that were true, though, I have to imagine that this would have been handled quite differently.
#44 Posted by phrali (646 posts) -

@august said:

If I recall correctly the same guy mentioned, at the time of Skyrim's release, Bioware being forced to fire the outside company Bethesda uses for QA for not performing. Which I thought was amusing.

obviously fake. bethesda doesn't use ANYONE for QA.

#45 Posted by Nasar7 (2612 posts) -

I haven't even played ME 3 yet but I think the statement from the writer is most likely real. He probably posted it in an emotional moment and then quickly denounced it as fake once he realized his JOB was on the line. And what else is Bioware gonna say? If they fire him then it will be seen as an admission of guilt. Come on people, don't blindly accept everything a multi billion dollar corporation tells you. I've worked some PR jobs in the past; stuff like this happens more often than you'd think.

#46 Posted by Karkarov (3067 posts) -

@Nasar7 said:

I haven't even played ME 3 yet but I think the statement from the writer is most likely real. He probably posted it in an emotional moment and then quickly denounced it as fake once he realized his JOB was on the line. And what else is Bioware gonna say? If they fire him then it will be seen as an admission of guilt. Come on people, don't blindly accept everything a multi billion dollar corporation tells you. I've worked some PR jobs in the past; stuff like this happens more often than you'd think.

Actually most companies I have worked for would have fired him if he made that post because he did something that has basically no professional integrity and shows no loyalty to his coworkers or employer. If fact alot of the companies I have worked for would have fired him even if he didn't do it simply due to the negative stigma this type of situation creates and how badly it reflects on them as a company and the team who made the game.

If it is real it isn't just complaining about the ending. It is saying the lead writer and top executive on the game are no talent idiots, implies he is a better writer than the rest of the writing team, and sells out the company he works for all because they didn't do what he wanted after he "successfully argued" it. The very definition of whiny entitled prick. His opinion is king, the other guys are morons.

My response if it is real?

Grow up.

Also no offense or anything but Bioware would never have been bought out if they were a multi billion company. In fact EA themselves by their own admission are worth less than 1.5 billion, meaning they aren't a multi billion dollar company either. Just food for thought.

#47 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (3649 posts) -
@Karkarov said:

If it is real it isn't just complaining about the ending. It is saying the lead writer and top executive on the game are no talent idiots, implies he is a better writer than the rest of the writing team, and sells out the company he works for all because they didn't do what he wanted after he "successfully argued" it. The very definition of whiny entitled prick. His opinion is king, the other guys are morons.

You're reading a LOT into all that.  He said nothing even close to that.  He basically just said that he didn't agree with the ending, he and the rest of the writers were not allowed to contribute to the ending, and the guy who wrote the ending normally leans toward the scientific rather than the emotional.  He also said all of this long before there was any indication that the issue would blow up into what it has become.
#48 Posted by Sylect (29 posts) -

@NTM: that's my guess, it seems pretty legit and insightful and people have been verifying his account in the PA forums. The suggestion that it's fake and then, well the account is real but the post is a hack smells like Olivia Munn saying that all the nude photos pulled off her phone are real except the ones where she is nude.

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