Goggen240's forum posts

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#1 Edited by Goggen240 (22 posts) -

For years now, I've gotten to know Ryan and the rest of the Bomb Squad like you were good friends. I've had more laughs because of all of you than I've gotten from anyone else, ever. And you've brightened my days so much through a lot of bad times.

I've studied game design for years, hoping to get into this industry. It hasn't worked out that way yet, but I'm sure Ryan (and the rest of you!) would have made me feel ever so welcome.

I really feel terrible now, and to all of Ryan's good friends at Giant Bomb, I'm so sorry for your loss.

A world without Ryan Davis as my friend is a much sadder one.

"Uh uh uh uh uh."

Ryan Thomas Davis, 1979-2013.

Requiescat in pace

#2 Posted by Goggen240 (22 posts) -

Like the topic says, podcasts, and especially audio interviews, should have the audio icon overlay displayed on the front page. This happens on the top bar, but once it goes down to grid/list view, it disappears. This makes it impossible to tell at a glance if a news story is actually a news story or not. For podcasts you can tell from the name of the post, but when you get an interview dumptruck post that looks like a news post, there's no quick way to tell that this is something that needs to be played, rather than read, other than opening it up.

It's really quick and elegant to tell the difference with videos, and with audio while it's still in the top bar, but not once it reaches the list. That seems like it's almost a bug, maybe?

#3 Posted by Goggen240 (22 posts) -

The auctions themselves netted just about $830,000, and the Amalur IP was .


#4 Edited by Goggen240 (22 posts) -

@SethPhotopoulos said:

I think you misunderstood me. When I said it was a minority of people that overreacted to the ending I meant overreacted by writing petitions, taking legal action, naming EA the worst company in America (even though there were companies who gambled away people's money and foreclosed on houses on the poll).

Two points:

1. A minority of people reacted to the ending online.

I agree. Mass Effect 3 has sold about four million copies, and with all the polls and petitions and stuff added up, a couple hundred thousand (at most) complained about the game. That's a minority.

2. They overreacted to the ending.

I don't think that any one thing was an overreaction; it just blew up like this because tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people were pissed off, and reacted (for the most part) reasonably. The big outcry against the fan reaction wasn't that a small handful of fans were outraged, it was that there were a lot of them.

And I don't entirely agree on these things being an overreaction. Point by point (and a few more points):

  • Writing petitions: Hardly anything makes less of a difference in politics than writing a petition on the internet. The correct internet reaction to an internet petition is to completely ignore it because it's dumb. The massive reaction to this petition, though, was more an outrage that fans "demanded an artist change their work", and that thousands signed it. There was no massive outrage about the petition by religious nuts to get Mass Effect 3 banned because it allowed homosexual relationships, even though thousands signed that. That was ignored, as it should be. I don't think the petition was overreacting; if you feel strongly enough about an issue to sign an internet petition against it, do so. But prepare to be ignored.
  • Taking legal action: The Better Business Bureau actually agreed that Mass Effect 3 had been misrepresented in its marketing. That complaint is valid. And in a world of preorder incentives and having to preorder your Collector's Edition months before any reviews show up if you might want the game, consumers really should have someone on their side against misleading marketing. To quote the Mass Effect 3 website: "Along the way, your choices drive powerful outcomes, including relationships with key characters, the fate of entire civilizations, and even radically different ending scenarios." That was straight up lying. And when you add up all the exaggerations in previews and developer interviews abut what the ending would do, and didn't, it's not unreasonable to register a complaint when that marketing was evidently and flagrantly false. That's what the Better Business Bureau is there for.
  • Naming EA the worst company in America: That was a poll by The Economist, and that poll was run poorly. If hundreds of people lose their homes, that's hundreds of votes against The Bank of America. But if tens of thousands of people lose the enjoyment that a satisfying ending to Mass Effect 3 would have had, that's tens of thousands of votes against EA. Not to mention that an internet poll is not representative of real-world opinions; people who lost their homes probably don't have internet, and Mass Effect 3 requires an internet connection to play. The big problem with that poll is that The Economist should have done some more work in determining themselves, rather than by internet poll, whether hundreds of people losing their homes is worse than tens of thousands of people losing their "fun". Leaving that up to an internet poll alone, where one vote of "I lost my home" is valued the same as one vote of "I lost Liara" is not a sensible way to make editorial content for a serious magazine. That said; it was one poll by one magazine on the internet, no-one should have cared about it, but they did because it was whiny fans and we can't have that.
  • Collecting money for charity: That's probably the most constructive petitioning any outraged fan has ever done for anything ever. $80.000 worth. And they were still the bad guys. If overreacting to Mass Effect 3 leads to 1300 Mass Effect 3's worth of cash being donated to charity, people should overreact to more things more often. And I don't think this was much of an overreaction; I spent $131.21 on my N7 Collector's Edition; added up I've probably spent more than $300 on Mass Effect. And the average donation was $20. There were 4143 people who cared $20 worth of charity over Mass Effect 3's ending, and that's a fairly constructive way of showing it.
  • Death threats: Yeah, they did that. And they shouldn't have. If there's any defense of it, people did that over the death of Sherlock Holmes, or the end of the TV show The Prisoner, or the quality of the Star Wars prequels, or any number of things. And for the record, I do think that's an overreaction and that they shouldn't do that. But I don't think there were many of them, and I don't think Casey Hudson has to legitimately fear for his life.

@SethPhotopoulos said:

I didn't mean that everyone except for that minority thought it was a great, good, or acceptable ending. What did you want the press to do really? Flip the script and completely destroy Bioware for having a bad ending to a trilogy for no reason? All that needs to be said is that it was a bad ending and move on. They may have handled it poorly by calling the fans whiny and entitled, even though some of the more vocal fans definitely enforced that idea. Again the guys that wrote petitions and took legal action. You also have to remember that reviewers were hammered by the consumers because they didn't completely tear it apart in the reviews even though the reviews based on opinions and most people don't believe ME3 was deserving of a crucifixion.

You answered your own question: "What did you want the press to do really?" "All that needs to be said is that it was a bad ending [...]" "They may have handled it poorly by calling the fans whiny and entitled[...]"

The news stories should have been: "Mass Effect 3's ending is terrible." The news stories were: "Mass Effect's fans are whiny and entitled."

If the reviewers have such a different idea of how important the ending to Mass Effect 3 is to the overall enjoyment of that game than what the people who actually bought it did, that's pretty significant too. Evidently, hundreds of thousands of people were disappointed in Mass Effect 3, but the average Metacritic score it was given was 89%. The user average is 4.2/10. You could write a pretty good news story analyzing why fans expectations and reviewers' expectations aligned so poorly. And not just a news story that the fans must be wrong.

Patrick did make a couple attempts at that, but he came at it from the perspective of "well, the fans are being whiny and entitled, why is that" rather than actually looking at the fans rejecting a story beat so soundly when reviewers had no problems with it. Gamers tore the game apart in their reviews, why didn't the reviewers? The worst review on Metacritic is 75%. That's not even close to being good purchasing advice for someone who played the first two games and might want a third one, but would be disappointed if it ended terribly.

Mass Effect 2 is one of the greatest games of this generation, and three months after release Mass Effect 3 might already be cemented in place as the most disappointing game of our generation. That should have been a news story, rather than condemning the whiny and entitled fans for wanting it fixed.

@SethPhotopoulos said:

What you say hear is not true at all
I'd say that BioWare fans were not "entitled" because they wanted an ending that was "not the worst RPG design/writing in recent history". And for the record, I spent $131.21 on the Collector's Edition myself, so I actually have alegal right to demand a fix for a clearly deficient product feature that was heavily misrepresented in marketing. (And yes, Collector's Editions do cost that much here.) And to head you off at the pass; at least here, you are legally in your rights to demand "repairs" to a deficient product, and not just your money back.

You do not have the right to demand a fix because the product was "deficient". You have the right to complain, to ask that they change the ending but not demand a fix for something that isn't broken. The game works as intended, it isn't broken, it has a bad ending but that doesn't count as a deficient product feature. If you put in the disk and the game doesn't even work, if it breaks your 360/PS3/PC because of something wrong with the game you bought whatever then you would have a case but you do not. It's just a bad ending, it isn't something to be repaired, especially since the quality of a story is subjective even if the popular opinion is it's bad. It works as intended.

No, you are actually incorrect. I checked. "Here, you are legally in your rights to demand "repairs" to a deficient product, and not just your money back."

I'll have to translate it because I doubt anyone can read Norwegian legalese (even me), but here's The Laws of Purchase (Kjøpsloven)

§34(1): The purchaser may demand that the seller, by his own expense, shall correct deficiences, insofar as this does not cause unreasonable expense or inconvenience.

Since games in the past have fixed endings through DLC, like Fallout 3 and Borderlands, I would argue it would not be unreasonable for them to give me a free DLC to fix this. True, it may be unreasonable for just one person to ask EA to give BioWare funding to build a whole DLC to satisfy just me, but I'm pretty sure that I could find a few thousand Norwegians with the same complaint, to the point it's not longer unreasonable.

§ 17 (1) The product shall be consistent with the promises of type, amount, quality or other properties, and wrapping, that are agreed upon. (Emphasis mine)

This basically means that if a product is advertised as being an RPG of the same type and quality as a previous product they sold me, this one is legally required to be of an equivalent type or quality, if that's what they advertise. So, for instance, I could not demand that they patch Mass Effect 3 to be less of a shooter, because it was advertised as being more of a shooter. I could also not demand that they patch the Mako back in, because that's outside of the promises made in advertisement. But if they promise this game has better storytelling than the previous game, they have to fulfill those promises. And that quite definitely includes the ending.

Also, it has to be wrapped properly. For some reason, the Laws of Purchase are very clear that inadequate wrapping for a purchased product is grounds for a legal complaint.

§ 18 (1) Rules of deficiencies also apply when the product does not correspond to information given by the seller in his marketing, or has otherwise given about its properties or usage and which can be assumed to influence the purchase.

Here's that quote from Mass Effect 3's web page again: "Along the way, your choices drive powerful outcomes, including relationships with key characters, the fate of entire civilizations, and even radically different ending scenarios."

You do not get radically different ending scenarios, demonstrably. And that ending is not up to the quality of storytelling that was explicitly marketed, or implied from previous work by "the seller". I bet you could hold that up in court. I've certainly not seen many good counter-arguments. And the storytelling or game design quality of the ending, is indeed a point that "can be assumed to influence the purchase".

§ 18 (2) The first rule also applies when the product does not correspond to information that has been given by someone other than the seller, by advertisement or other marketing, on the sellers behalf or by earlier sales links. This does not apply if the seller neither knew or should have known this information was given.

So this is even more damning, because here are some quotes by people acting as agents of EA in the marketing of the game, with EA's very informed knowledge:

Mac Walters:

“[The presence of the Rachni] has huge consequences in Mass Effect 3. Even just in the final battle with the Reapers.”

“I’m always leery of saying there are 'optimal' endings, because I think one of the things we do try to do is make different endings that are optimal for different people “

Mike Gamble:

“There are many different endings. We wouldn’t do it any other way. How could you go through all three campaigns playing as your Shepard and then be forced into a bespoke ending that everyone gets? But I can’t say any more than that…”

“You'll get answers to everything. That was one of the key things. Regardless of how we did everything, we had to say, yes, we're going to provide some answers to these people.”

“Because a lot of these plot threads are concluding and because it's being brought to a finale, since you were a part of architecting how they got to how they were, you will definitely sense how they close was because of the decisions you made and because of the decisions you didn't make”

"Of course you don’t have to play multiplayer, you can choose to play all the side-quests in single-player and do all that stuff you’ll still get all the same endings and same information, it’s just a totally different way of playing"

Casey Hudson:

[Regarding the numerous possible endings of Mass Effect 2] “Yeah, and I’d say much more so, because we have the ability to build the endings out in a way that we don’t have to worry about eventually tying them back together somewhere. This story arc is coming to an end with this game. That means the endings can be a lot more different. At this point we’re taking into account so many decisions that you’ve made as a player and reflecting a lot of that stuff. It’s not even in any way like the traditional game endings, where you can say how many endings there are or whether you got ending A, B, or C.....The endings have a lot more sophistication and variety in them.”

“There is a huge set of consequences that start stacking up as you approach the end-game. And even in terms of the ending itself, it continues to break down to some very large decisions. So it's not like a classic game ending where everything is linear and you make a choice between a few things - it really does layer in many, many different choices, up to the final moments, where it's going to be different for everyone who plays it.”

Subjectively or not, you can "reasonably" argue that the end of the story is, indeed, of a bad quality. At this point, if anyone needs an expert witness in why Mass Effect 3's ending is demonstrably bad, I could probably help you with that. And it does not, as advertised, work as intended.

If I buy four paintings, and then a fifth one has a demonstrable drop in quality in one corner of it, I can demand that corner be repainted.

If I buy four good games, and with no change in marketing, the fifth game drops in quality right at the end where the previous games didn't, and the content of the end is demonstrably misrepresented in marketing, I am legally allowed to demand for that to be fixed, if reasonable. So there.

...Although if you're going to be a lawyer about it, the people I could demand that fix from would be Amazon, since they were "the seller" in this transaction, and they would just give me my money back. since they can't "reasonably" fix it.

...But if I had bought it from Origin, anything goes.

@SethPhotopoulos said:

When you talk about internet polls you are more likely to get people outraged over the subject than people who are pleased or don't see it as important. And since it's the internet the people who hate things will act as an army to take things down. I'm not saying that the majority of people liked the ending. Just that to most people it isn't that important and the ending didn't affect people's overall enjoyment of the game.

Like I said before, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". Just because most people didn't answer those polls, you can't assume that they thought the ending was fine. You can't assume anything, there just isn't any evidence either way.

Of the evidence we do have, of user reviews, polls, petitions, forum posts, YouTube comments... There's hundreds of thousands of people who didn't like the ending, and thought it negatively impacted their enjoyment of the game. And, at the absolute most, a third as many who either liked it, or didn't mind.

The evidence we have that is closest to telling us what people who don't care enough about the ending to express their opinion on the internet, have as their opinion, would be to look at mainstream polls.

  • BioWare Social Forums: 73000 votes, 91% say endings suck, 2% it was fine.
  • CVG: 10000 votes, 87% thought BioWare blew it, 13% they didn't
  • c|net: 20000 votes, 83% it should be changed, 4% it was fine.
  • Giant Bomb forum: 720 votes, 67% disliked it, 33% liked it.

If 80% of random people that walk through c|net think that the ending was bad and is willing to click accordingly on a poll, that's pretty much as close as we get to finding out what people who don't even care enough to answer in the poll, would answer.

Additionally, I might add some statistics for some YouTube videos:

Mass Effect 3 Ending And Why We Hate It! - 900.000 views, 96% likes (30.000 votes).

10 Reasons We Hate Mass Effect 3's Ending - 900.000 views, 96% likes (30.000 votes)

Mass Effect 3 Ending: Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage - 300.000 views, 98% likes(11.000 votes)

Probably more than a million people started watching a video about how Mass Effect 3's ending is bad.

There just isn't any statistical backing to claim that anything close to a majority of people actually liked the ending. The closest thing to a statistical statement you could make, would be that "most people didn't express their opinion". The vast majority of expressed opinions, however, are that they did not like the ending, and it negatively impacted their enjoyment. As bad as the statistical underpinnings are, I am going to go with the assumption that "the vast majority of people did not like the ending, and it did negatively impact their enjoyment". Even though that has to be modified with "and they mostly kept quiet about it".

@SethPhotopoulos said:

And I mentioned Jeff's review score as a shorthand comment about Jeff liking the game. Especially since on the bombcast and in his written review he states that overall he liked that game. I didn't say that they thought the end was good. Read what I wrote,
They didn't say it was a bad game. They gave the game a 4 star review. Most of the other giantbombers playing it thought it was great or at least good up until near the end.

The core of the discussion is whether or not the game was enjoyable after the end, not before it. I enjoyed the game. And then I got to the end.

And so far, Jeff, Patrick and Alex have expressed disappointment in the game as a result of the ending. Jeff's quote:

I've come away from it feeling a little disappointed about the way this trilogy closes out.

And Patrick's quote from his interview:

Jensen: You felt burned? Were you burned, personally? [By the ending.]

GB: Not really. I was disappointed.

And Alex, who admittedly does not care much about the game, or its ending:

I mean, was it a great one? No, not really. Was it a bit careless, all things considered? Yeah, probably.

And that's pretty much all we know (or I know) about what the Bomb Crew thought about the ending. Sure, they may have liked the game, but considering that the entire controversy has been about how Mass Effect 3 is enjoyable but falls apart at the end, they have not discussed the end.

Although the merits of Mass Effect 3 as a whole does have a place in this discussion, the core is the ending of Mass Effect 3. And, just like with the general public, when the majority doesn't express their opinion, but the minority is disappointed, I tend to go for the assumption that the majority was also disappointed. But it's disappointing that they won't state their opinions. We know more about what they thought of the ending to Asura's Wrath than Mass Effect 3, and I think the ending of the Mass Effect series is more important. Instead, it's been swept under the rug. Which is a sad end to Mass Effect.

@SethPhotopoulos said:

There are definitely fans of the series who disliked or even hated the ending who weren't being whiny and entitled and I don't think the press were talking about them. Remember Bioware employees were getting death threats, people were taking legal action, the internet was attacking the reviewers even more than usual because they have an opinion that was different from theirs. The press just responded in kind.

I guess the internet was pretty well behaved.

In the end, I think that the press should have talked about the fans who weren't whiny and entitled. But they didn't.

And I think that, just because the reviewers were being asked to defend their opinions more than usual, that's not a good excuse for not defending their opinions.

But mostly, that when so many people were disappointed about this story conclusion from this game, and the reviewers were also disappointed, that there should have been agreement, and an analysis of what went wrong and how to fix it, rather than one side condemning everyone as being "whiny and entitled" for suggesting it should be fixed.

Oh, and the internet is never all that well behaved. But this time, I'd argue it went better than usual. And the reaction to it was much worse than usual.

#5 Edited by Goggen240 (22 posts) -

@EXTomar said:

How can one not take a slightly amused view of the entire situation? I don't blame Alex for being smarmy with some of the topics because if you step back from the situation they are fanatics screaming at each out petty things.

Well, this pretty much is the biggest news of 2012, so speaking as one of those screaming petty fanatics, I find it a bit offensive (and annoying) to see it treated without the due respect owed to the subject matter. Storytelling in games is an important subject. And making fun of people who care about stories in games, even if they are whiny, doesn't make stories in games any better. Learning from the mistakes made is the way to move forward gaming as a medium, I think.

I don't think it's petty to expect a good ending to the Mass Effect series. For all the talk about how most gamers don't even bother to play through to the end of most games, and even developers stating flat out that they don't bother putting much work into the endings for that reason, it should have had more of an impact that leading interactive storyteller BioWare did the exact same thing with their game. And at the end of a three-game story, too.

A lot of gamers evidently care about seeing the end of their games, now. And once they get to that end, they want the story ended with the care and attention paid to the beginning and middle. Seeing them care is good news, in my opinion.

And I don't think it's amusing that people who don't care, make fun of the ones who do.

#6 Posted by Goggen240 (22 posts) -

@buft said:

@RockinKemosabe said:

But you can get the "best" ending without playing multiplayer... My military strength was over 7000 without playing a single match in multiplayer.

true dat!

Nope, not true without the Extended Cut.

You needed an Effective Military Strength of 4000 to get access to the Synthesis ending, and an EMS of 5000 to get the Destroy ending where Shepard survives. This has been changed to 3100 in the Extended Cut.

The Effective Military Strength is Total Military Strength multiplied by Galactic Readiness, so even with a Total Military Strength of 7000, you only get an Effective Military Strength of 3500, since without playing multiplayer (or the iOS game) you only have 50% Galactic Readiness.

You can not get the "best" ending without playing multiplayer, unless you have the Extended Cut.

@VaddixBell said:

I found the media coverage of the whole thing to be just bad. Many sites came down on the side of the Bioware and not the fans of the series, who loved it and didn't want it to end this way. It wasn't that it was "sad" or anything, it was just because the ending was bad.

They kept maintaining that this was their artistic vision and that they shouldn't do anything about it, which I couldn't have disagreed more. In this occasion, Bioware took a lazy way out of ending a franchise as great as Mass Effect was and turned it into an A, B, C scenario (which they said they wouldn't do) by introducing a new character in the last 10 minutes and giving an arbitrary choice. Then, many sections of the media then continued to call the fans "whiny" and "entitled" and pointing to things that were easy to discredit instead of addressing those who were making the most compelling arguments why the ending was bad and broken, the best example was "Tasteful, Understated, Nergrage". There was a lot of "journalists" who did absolutely no research into why there was this backlash.

The whole thing made me look at a lot of journalists in the industry who perhaps, because they've had drinks with Casey Hudson and people on the team, don't want to "rock the boat" by being critical of the ending and just saying outright, "whoever did this ending, messed up badly" because saying these things outright and listening to what the fans were actually saying, may make people like Casey Hudson, less willing to talk to that particular journalist. Sure they're still going to talk to IGN, but will they be so willing to talk to that particular person in IGN because they joined with the fans? Maybe not. I've no experience in this industry, obviously, but this whole thing made me... perceive a lot of "journalists" very differently in this industry because very few of them did any research into this and instead just called the fans "whiny" and entitled". They were like them morons on FOX news who see something, made up their mind within the first few seconds and stuck with the "big guys".

I don't necessarily think the coverage of this happened because all the games reviewers are corrupt and evil and all buddy-buddy with the developers, I just think it happened because they were lazy. Like this quote from the podcast when they discussed the multiplayer requirement for the endings:

Patrick: "And I mean, Casey Hudson told us to our face you don't have to do that stuff, to get the best ending."

They didn't side with him because he was their friend, they just didn't check up on it beyond what the Project Director of Mass Effect 3 told them. And he should know, right...?

In general, I think it came down to the press, quite reasonably, not having the time to do the research, and then leaning on the analyses made by people who also didn't do the research. And then it was unresearched all the way down, with no-one ever spending the 40 minutes it would take to watch Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage. Other than the Forbes blog, for some reason.

Patrick did take the time to interview some people about the ending, but when it came time to an analysis, it was made by someone who hadn't played the ending himself, who didn't understand that fans were upset because the ending was terrible, and assumed it was like the end of Lost and people were sad there wasn't more Mass Effect next season. Sad thing is, Patrick probably spent all day on that news story, and it would probably have been a better spent day if he'd actually watched Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage.

@SethPhotopoulos said:

It had a bad ending. A small but loud minority overreacted to it by starting petitions like "Take Mass Effect Back!". That is entitlement. It's a straight up bad ending but the press needn't have covered it to much. And since the press were being scrutinized because they didn't say the ending would eat your soul and put a curse your children that looks whiny. So yes there were a bunch of fans who were whiny and felt entitled. There is a difference between whining and criticism.

@Irvandus said:

I don't think you understand why GB was saying the fanbase was being whiney and entitled. They were saying trying to change the ending of the game is dumb. At the same time they thought it was a bad game. What world are you from where thinking something is bad means you agree with everything everyone says about what needs to be done about it. Also this is done. We've had this conversation months ago. Stop. Just stop. Go home. Unless your discussing what changed in the new endings everything has been said before. Go complain about Diablo if you want to whine about something more relevant.

They didn't say it was a bad game. They gave the game a 4 star review. Most of the other giantbombers playing it thought it was great or at least good up until near the end.

I think this story deserved far more balanced coverage than it received, especially considering that the coverage was universally condemning the fans for being whiny and entitled, even though they had a point. There existed a wealth of deep, thorough criticism of the ending of Mass Effect 3, the aforementioned Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage, for instance, but it seemed that hardly anyone went deep enough to read that. If you're doing reporting on an internet outrage, it doesn't work very well to base your story on YouTube comments and forum posts, which are always going to be just simply terrible.

This should have been a news story about how Mass Effect 3 has an incredibly disappointing ending, and not a news story about how unpleasable BioWare fans are. Using the word "entitled" over and over again just glosses over the fact that this was one of the worst endings in video game history. From BioWare.

I'd say that BioWare fans were not "entitled" because they wanted an ending that was "not the worst RPG design/writing in recent history". And for the record, I spent $131.21 on the Collector's Edition myself, so I actually have a legal right to demand a fix for a clearly deficient product feature that was heavily misrepresented in marketing. (And yes, Collector's Editions do cost that much here.) And to head you off at the pass; at least here, you are legally in your rights to demand "repairs" to a deficient product, and not just your money back.

Although, to head you all off at the pass again: The correct avenue for such a complaint is not through internet petitions, it's through the Better Business Bureau or its local equivalent. Not that I think this internet petition was necessarily whiny, though; I think it's pretty impressive how collecting eighty thousand dollars for charity somehow made the fans the bad guys. My take on it is that people were more concerned with not agreeing with an internet rabble, rather than looking if that internet rabble actually had a point. And as far as internet rabbles go, it was generally well-behaved, all things considered.

And an example of internet rabble:

Comments to this post, by category:

  • Posts that defended the original endings: 2
  • While being jerks: 2
  • Posts that attacked the original endings: 6
  • While being jerks: 3
  • People who were just being jerks: 6

So, quick and dirty analysis: 31% thought the ending was good, originally, 69% thought the ending was bad, originally.

And someone defending the ending is twice as likely to be a jerk as someone who thought it was bad. Additionally, more people were jerks without any statement of opinion on the endings, than ones who were jerks while stating an opinion. Bear in mind that this was a rough and subjective count.

It's just a real shame that so much of the news didn't go deeper into the story than seeing angry YouTube comments and having a knee-jerk reaction against it, assuming that "oh, it's just a small vocal minority being angry at something I'm not even going to bother figuring out what it is".

Also: I don't think it was a very small minority. The "demand a better ending" facebook group has 67000 members; the Mass Effect 3 group has only 48000. Then, in every poll, the vast majority voted that the endings were bad and/or should be changed. Quick list of polls:

  • c|net: 20000 votes, 83% it should be changed, 4% it was fine.
  • CVG: 10000 votes, 87% thought BioWare blew it, 13% they didn't
  • BioWare Social Forums: 73000 votes, 91% say endings suck, 2% it was fine.
  • Giant Bomb forum: 720 votes, 67% disliked it, 33% liked it.

So even though it might be true that people liked it up to the ending, the best statistics we have is that they didn't after. True, there's always a bias in internet polls, which is why they're mostly useless, but on the other hand, there's no evidence anywhere that most people actually liked the ending.

Or rather, that they liked it, and cared enough to vote against the internet rabble in polls. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. We don't really know an awful lot about how many people liked the ending, but we do know an awful lot of people didn't. And I haven't seen any indications that even close to most people liked the endings; not in this thread, not on this forum, not on any polls, not amongst my friends, etc. I think the key thing here is not that it was a minority opinion, it was just a minority of people that were vocal.

As for the Bomb Crew: Hardly any discussion about the ending happened, so we know little about what they thought about the ending. Generally I agree, that they thought the game was good, regardless of the ending. But the ending, specifically: Jeff's review (and BombCast talk) didn't like the ending, Patrick's news stories didn't like the ending, and Alex just didn't care. I'm a bit behind on my BombCasts, so I know fairly little about the rest.

And for the record, even Jeff thinks that relying on simply the score of a review, rather than the text, is misleading. At times, Jeff's four star review isn't all that positive. Cherry-picked quotes:

"But even after making a real attempt to be pragmatic about Mass Effect 3, I've come away from it feeling a little disappointed about the way this trilogy closes out."

"Even though it doesn't come together quite as successfully as it did in the previous games [...]"

"Once you start thinking about how most of the campaign's side content either uses these same multiplayer levels or has you performing extremely basic retrieval tasks, it's easy to start feeling slightly indignant about the whole thing."

And from the BombCast:

Jeff: But, but... When I play 3, yeah, there are a lot of things I like about it... But every step of the way, you just see something like "man, this feels mechanical, this could've been more natural-"

Patrick: That kid stuff.

Jeff: The kid stuff is *terrible*.

Patrick: When I found-

Jeff: The stuff with the kid is *fucking terrible*.

[Regarding the planet scanning]

They should have rebuilt more of it. Because this just feels like they took the Mass Effect 2 system and just stripped out all that stuff, and cobbled together some kind of new solution for the planet-scanning stuff... And it just feels cheap. In a game, in a franchise, that deserves better. Like, this is one of those things that... This SHOULD BE one of gaming's greatest franchises. This should be a case where they pull out all the stops every time.

[About awkward side mission dialogue]

Jeff: At some point, I don't know, maybe my expectations are out of whack, but Mass Effect deserves better. From the quality of those two previous games, which, you know, they weren't perfect either, but...

Patrick: I just wonder if, this is a consequence of having to stay on the schedule they were on, they spec out, "what can we do", "what can we reasonably do", it feels like some stuff just fell by the wayside.

Jeff: And that's where the multiplayer starts to bum me out. 'Cause you think about the amount of money, the number of man-hours, that was spent bringing you that multiplayer; you know what, if they had put all that stuff into better side quests, and better stuff... I don't even know, maybe that doesn't turn into any more sales, so maybe I'm just a bad business-man... But I can tell you that probably would have led to a game I would have liked more.

Jeff: People are unhappy about the ending- you know what, to be fair, I don't think the ending's great, [...]

Jeff: [...] I think I can say without spoiling anything, that the Mass Effect 3 ending already has room for DLC there, they've built it with that in mind... In fact, one could argue that they went too far in that direction to the point where that's one of the problems I have with it...


Jeff: And that this isn't the Shepard that they've built, over the course of these three games, isn't necessarily given an option that fits what that Shepard would do, and that it comes together in sort of a hamfisted way, that they they deserve better. And I would say that, to some extent, I agree with the basic sentiment, that Mass Effect 3... Could have been a better game. There's stuff in there that is disappointing, as a fan, as a big big fan of Mass Effect 2, that I think they could have handled a lot better, so.. I kind of understand where they're coming from, I'm not sitting here going "it's the greatest game ever made RARRR", but...

@jillsandwich said:

I don't think the GB editors made fun of the situation. It was mostly just Alex with his smarmy headlines on stories.

Don't worry about Alex, he's kind of a douche like that.

Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of Alex. I just don't think being constantly douchey is the same as being funny.

I tend to prefer Patrick's news reporting; while he does tend to be a bit "bloggy", he is trying to understand the subject matter and writing informed opinions on it, rather than treat the subject matter with contempt and being proud of his ignorance. This is not great reporting:

"Not being too terribly invested in the adventures of Commander Shepard myself beyond a basic, casual enjoyment of the series, I've never quite understood the uproar over the ending."

#7 Posted by Goggen240 (22 posts) -

Sorry about the late reply, I had work. And lots of it. On the upside, it gave me more time to digest the new ending!

First, though:

@umdesch4 said:

@Goggen240: A couple things.

There's another way to get the best endings. Hack your character file. I had to do that, since every time I'd try to play the multiplayer, I'd drop connection right before the end of a match, and not get any points for it. Every time. I gave up after a couple days of trying. My internet connection is generally decent, but it drops out once or twice an hour for a few seconds at a time. This is why I also can't play Diablo III. But pointing out that requiring always-on internet connections for a single player game is a bad idea, since it stops people like me from buying your game...well, I got called everything you can think of in comments around here for suggesting such a thing. So, you know, take criticism of what you say around here with a grain of salt. There is, apparently, no such thing as a legitimate complaint, as far as a lot of people around here are concerned.

Well, if the players have to resort to out-of-game hacks that violate the End User License Agreement just to play the game, that's probably not something the players should be fine with. And I too had severe problems with the online in Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer; I counted seven disconnects in last rounds, meaning I'd spent 90% of the time (seven times) for 0% of the reward. Hours. And that was awful. And that was why they had no business ever requiring multiplayer participation in any way for single player in the first place; the vast majority of people does not in fact have stable internet. I actually thought the multiplayer was pretty good, for what it was, but it wasn't what I came to Mass Effect for in the first place, and having to play it as a chore to get "the good ending", was awful.

Oh, and don't get me started on Diablo III. For the first three weeks, I couldn't play the game 30% of the time I tried to.

We're not living in great times for single-player RPGs for people who live in countries with spotty internet (which is pretty much every country).

@Veektarius said:

@DrDarkStryfe said:

I love how the title of this post has nothing to do with the body of the post.

For sure, people are cutting the OP way too much slack about this bait and switch.

1. I did fix that, and gave a very good explanation for why it was wrong in the first place, and how it ended up there by accident.

2. It wasn't wrong in the first place. The body of the text was about how the disappointment with Mass Effect 3's ending was BioWare's drop in storytelling quality from Mass Effect 2 to 3 (even Dragon Age II to Mass Effect 3), and then going on to how it was a disappointment that the news stories were all about how the fanbase was nothing more than an angry rabble. I'd say the title of the post had quite a lot to do with the body of the post, even though it was incredibly poorly worded for a post that (unintentionally) ended up on the Mass Effect 3 forum. Yes, Internet, I know you're tired of hearing about Mass Effect 3's ending, and how you're not afraid of letting me know that.

Unless you meant that this was not a comment on Alex's news post, which, uh, it was. Page 13 of the comments, if you're curious.

If a musician records some songs you don't like, do you demand they rerecord them to your liking?


If the music tape says it's in stereo, and it's in mono, I would indeed ask for them to re-record it.

If the liner notes of the record says "Conductor John Williams brings you his own compositions, like Star Wars", and it turns out the last fifteen minutes are J-pop? And poorly instrumented J-pop too, not even the good stuff, like K-On?

Yes. I would ask a musician to re-record them to my liking, if this recording is not up to the standards of their prior work. And especially if it was advertised as better than the previous work. Now, that's all subjective of course, but I think I made a pretty good argument for why Mass Effect 3's ending was poor work on their part, and why it wasn't unreasonable to expect it be fixed.

All of that is a completely irrelevant though: This video games. This is not music. They can, and do, "re-record them to our liking" all the time, that's what patches are for. Did I demand that Peter Molyneux "re-record" the ending of Black & White because I couldn't actually complete the level because of a level scripting bug? Yes, I did. And I even paid for new endings to Fallout 3 and Borderlands. ...I hope no game publishers read that.

The point was, all along, that the quality of Mass Effect 3's ending was far below what was promised, and they had to fix it so the game would even be enjoyable. People came to Mass Effect as a series for the story, and were promised right from the start that this was going to be an epic trilogy where the consequences of your choices would be carried through right to the end, and they kept saying that even after the game was finished and that was demonstrably not the case. Although it's weird to think of the story as a back-of-the-box bullet point that they failed to deliver on, and should then patch, it all went weird when it was The Story that needed to be fixed, rather than something obviously patch-necessitating like The Unreliable Netcode or The Fourth Level Scripting Of When Temples Are Supposed To Be Destroyed (But They Aren't). No-one called the fans entitled and whiny when they demanded that BioWare fix the bug that wouldn't let you import Mass Effect 1 characters. That was a key feature, that they had been promised since the first game, that had been advertised for the third game, and so on, but it was some obvious Broken Feature that it was completely reasonable to expect a patch for.

I'm actually kind of proud to have demanded that the story be patched. Video game endings are almost always terrible, and when this perfect example comes along of a game that absolutely should not have an ending that was thrown together in the last month of development, it was nice to see gamers actually care about the narrative conclusion to a story. People complained about the denouement. And some of them even used that word in their complaints. It's a shame that so many others didn't in their complaints, that the news were for the most part "oh no, the internet is at it again" and not "oh no, BioWare can't tell stories anymore, storytelling in games is doomed".

@Alkaiser said:

@Cataphract1014 said:

If a musician records some songs you don't like, do you demand they rerecord them to your liking?

Thats totally different though dude. Most records don't have an ongoing narrative that stretches from LP to LP. Its an apples and oranges thing. If you want to get as vague as that, you could compare it to ordering a steak and having it served to you undercooked.

And, again I don't know shit about Mass Effect, but I remember Fallout 3, and goddamn was that stupid before they fixed the ending. I really hope Mass Effect's ending isn't as bad as "Quick, we gotta go into the radiation room! You, guy immune to radiation, can you do it? No? Well, why not? Oh, because video games? Alright heroic sacrifice-blargh!"


Also, I would argue that Mass Effect 3's ending was even worse than Fallout 3's. Fallout 3 actually has about eight distinct endings, with 26 different ending slides to combine from (advertised as 900 combinations, although that's bullshit). Mass Effect 3 only has three different endings, and they were far less diverse than Fallout 3's, with only six different combinations total, based as much on what you've done through the games, as on playing the multiplayer or the iOS game.( Although, your total Reputation is used for a conversation just before the end, which IGN's wiki says counts. I somewhat disagree.) You don't even get Ron Perlman calling you a selfish jerk when you don't sacrifice yourself.

Structurally: Fallout 3 will recognise good/bad/neutral karma (game-wide average), sacrificing yourself/Lyons (choice), using the FEV/not (choice), and just waiting for the whole place to blow up without choosing (joke ending, kinda). So: Karma, plus choice between A and B, plus choice between 1 and 2. Different ending slides will play depending on how you completed certain side quests.

Mass Effect 3 will only recognise cumulative score multiplied by mutliplayer (or the iOS game), and then a final choice between Destroy, Control and Synthesis. So: Missions score times multiplayer, plus choice between A, B and C. No choices from the games are counted in the ending whatsoever, other than being shown three survivors.

That's straight up shit game design for an RPG, there. As a shit game designer myself, I know it when I see it. (And yes, I have done better myself, and it was shit.)

Also, more subjectively, I actually thought Fallout 3's was better written. "the child followed the example of the father sacrificing life itself for the greater good of mankind" is actually a pretty good narrative follow-through on the themes of Fallout 3, and can't be quite as easily deconstructed by a "yo dawg, I heard you like" poster. ...I actually totally want to play through Fallout 3 again now, for the "bad" ending. And the four associated bad-karma achievements, hm...

Structurally, for Extended Cut, they take far more into account: Your Effective Military Score, how you resolved Tuchanka and Rannoch, and which crewmates survived. They also added a fourth option, where everybody dies, much like Fallout 3's refusal-to-act ending. Reductively, it's pretty much exactly like Fallout 3's now, with main and some side mission choices reflected in ending slides, and which ones you get determined by that final choice at the end.

@Cataphract1014 said:

@Alkaiser said:
I personally feel you can have just as much or more emotion invested into music as you can with a long story.

Certainly. And if a band you like rush out an album that's totally awful compared to the music they used to make, you'd be upset.

@Alkaiser said:

@Cataphract1014 said:

@Alkaiser said:

@Cataphract1014 said:

If a musician records some songs you don't like, do you demand they rerecord them to your liking?

Thats totally different though dude. Most records don't have an ongoing narrative that stretches from LP to LP. Its an apples and oranges thing. If you want to get as vague as that, you could compare it to ordering a steak and having it served to you undercooked.

And, again I don't know shit about Mass Effect, but I remember Fallout 3, and goddamn was that stupid before they fixed the ending. I really hope Mass Effect's ending isn't as bad as "Quick, we gotta go into the radiation room! You, guy immune to radiation, can you do it? No? Well, why not? Oh, because video games? Alright heroic sacrifice-blargh!"

I personally feel you can have just as much or more emotion invested into music as you can with a long story.

I'm not debating that. Hell, music is one of the most amazing and beautiful things we've been blessed with.

The difference in my mind is that if an artist I like releases a song that I consider under par, or an album that rubs me the wrong way or feels phoned in, I can still enjoy the rest of the creator's work. Hell, look at a band like Weezer. I have a buddy who was huge into Pinkerton, and another album of theirs that I can't remember the name of right now, but has disliked pretty much everything that came after that. But he can still go back to those 2 albums and his appreciation for them is just as full and grand as the day he first listened to them.

With a game series with a narrative arc, on the other hand, having a finale that falls flat can ruin the story experience for you for not only that game, but the ones that came before it at least from a story perspective. This is something that holds true to me with another trilogy of games, if you can call it that.

I was and still am a big fan of Parasite Eve 1 and 2. But the 3rd Birthday handled its narrative so poorly and so creepy-fetishy that I never want to play a new game in that series ever again.

I was looking forward to replaying the Mass Effect trilogy once ME3's DLC cycle had ended and all their glorious narrative could be enjoyed back-to-back. Unfortunately, Mass Effect 3 was so disappointing it took Mass Effect 1 and 2 with it. Knowing where the story ends up (or fails to) is something that seriously impacts replayability for the previous games. At least for me.

Another couple of good examples of that are the Star Wars prequels, or more flagrantly, going from Aliens to Alien³. Killing off almost all the surviving characters from the second Alien, so it could tell a bleak and oppressive story that is completely different from the previous works, and also one that's poorly told. And that made Aliens less fun to watch.

Poor Newt.

@umdesch4 said:

@Cataphract1014 said:

If a musician records some songs you don't like, do you demand they rerecord them to your liking?

If the Wall had ended with an oompa band piece about Pink finding salvation through exercise and a balanced diet, I'd have second thoughts about buying any other Pink Floyd concept albums after that.

Just sayin'...

You're sayin' what I'm sayin', basically.

And now for the big one:

@umdesch4 said:


The other thing is simply this. Let us know when you've played the Extended Cut, and what you thought of it. I personally thought they addressed enough of the issues that, had I seen *these* endings the first time around, instead of what we got, I would probably have been merely disappointed with some less-than-spectacular storytelling, and not actually as angry as I was at the time.

As for the Extended Cut, brief summation: Not impressed. Okay, but not all that good. Not good enough, at any rate.

To me, it basically proved everyone right: The critics were right that even if they did fix it, we'd still be complaining. BioWare stood by their artistic intentions and did not sacrifice their vision for the ending. And the people like me, who thought that they couldn't salvage the ending without a complete rewrite... Yeah... They didn't...

[EDIT] While writing all this out, this guy here wrote a way better one. Read it, if you want it better written and better formatted:


I'm less happy about the new ending than he was, but since he's more eloquent, he pretty much wins. Anyway, what I thought...

I'll go through the changes point by point:

1. The Normandy shows up to pick up your crewmates. I didn't think that worked. It was very nice to say goodbye to Liara and all, but it show up incredibly awkwardly in the middle of a harrowing action scene. It's completely absurd, and feels awfully pandering. "There, you get the complete explanation of how they got on the Normandy, and you get to say goodbye, happy now!?". I think it would have fit better had it happened after Shepard went through the beam, when Hackett says someone got through. Brief scene of Normandy parked next to deactivated beam, no Harbinger to awkwardly avoid eye contact with, no breaking up the action, could have swapped the clumsy goodbye with the team mates saying they can't find Shepard's body and Liara being all tearful, or something.

I mean, it shouldn't be this easy for me to write better fan fiction than the proper writers.

Yes, it was an improvement, but it's still pretty bad. Brace yourselves for a recurring theme here...

Interestingly, if you have a really low EMS, you see your team mates get killed by Harbinger's beam. I read that book about the making of Mass Effect 3, and in it they actually do talk about how they changed the ending a bunch, including changes to the run to the beam. In the original version, you see the beam hit your team mates and they go flying, and it's actually pretty close to how the "bad" run to the beam ends. Also, it explains why that version fits in a lot better than the weird evacuation scene.

The book also goes on to show how they changed it to the final version where you just see your two team mates lifeless on the ground in front of you, but that's not actually what happens in the game. So even after the game went gold and the book was finished, they were still changing significant aspects of the ending. And leaving plot holes, where the stuff that used to be there, was taken out at the last moment.

2. More talky-time with the Catalyst. This actually helped a fair bit. But...

That book I mentioned (The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3 by Geoff Keighley, buy it now! Only $2.99!) went on to talk about how they removed lines of dialogue from the chat with the Catalyst so it would flow better. Also, they wrote that whole ending in about a day. And the new stuff added to the dialogue was stuff that seemed an awful lot like it had been written in a day. My guess is they just reinstated those lines of dialogue, that weren't really well enough written to be included in the first place, but so crucial to understanding the most important choice of the series, but also, they weren't really well enough written to be included in the first place. "Your organic energy, the essence of who and what you are will be broken down and dispersed."

Knowing more about the motivation for the main villain of the series was nice. Unfortunately, it amounted to the Catalyst being being a rogue AI. SkyNet basically. Not even giving that justification originally was a pretty big mistake, but now, it's just incredibly underwhelming. "Oh, it's like that side quest on Luna in the first game, huh?"

And according to Drew Karpyshyn, the original planned ending was that you found out the galactic civilization's use of the Mass Effect(tm) through the mass relays (and everything powered by element zero) was going to destroy the universe through dark energy, which is why the Reapers harvested (reaped, get it) all galactic civilization every time it grew up, collecting them for the purpose of finding a solution to the eternal problem of dark energy build-up. Now, that ending was incredibly complex and fairly unapproachable to anyone not crazy into the lore, but it did follow through on the themes of the series, as they had been planned for this from the start. And the final choice would have been: "What do you do about the Mass Effect?" Do you let galactic civilization continue, hoping the Mass Effect doesn't destroy everything? Do you shut all the Mass Effect down, destroying the basis for advanced civilization? Do you let the Reapers reap, to stop the Mass Effect's buildup of dark energy this cycle?

It would have been a choice (and a twist ending) that was profoundly tied to the core themes of the series. "Mass Effect".

"Hey, do you want to let these Terminators live or not?" is not that.

And the myriad of story problems that showed up because of the change in plan from Mass Effect 2 to Mass Effect 3 are almost all tied to that change in focus, and how what they came up with was not as good. They might have made this Mass Effect 3 work, with more time, money, writing skill, effort, any number of things, but they didn't.

The Catalyst just doesn't fit.

At least now, it's disappointingly underwhelming rather than incomprehensibly incomplete.

Yes, it was an improvement, but it's still pretty bad.

3. Fourth option. Shooting that little bastard in the face, and rejecting the choice altogether. I actually liked this an awful lot, since it focuses on Liara's message and that was a very neat side story I thought. But it's clearly "the joke ending", but they took it seriously enough that I could like it.

4. When the Crucible fires, they made a few changes to the following videos. You get a very quick explanation for why the Normandy left the system, where they are instructed to retreat to the rendez-vous point. I think this change was very good, the game didn't make much sense before. On the other hand, it was real bad before, and now it's not real bad. That's not necessarily the same as good.

But yes, it was an improvement, and it's no longer real bad.

And it is pretty funny that they changed the mass relay explosions.

5. They showed more cheering and such from troops all over. I think it looks an awful lot like Independence Day, but it helps. Doesn't seem overly varied depending on player choices though, with shots of Thessia and Palaven and such, but I guess the shot of krogans fighting on Earth is dependent on having cured the genophage. I think they should have done more, but it's a noteworthy improvement.

6. The ending narrations. Of these, I only liked Control, since it's narrated by Shepard. Sure, EDI makes sense for Synthesis, but Destroy is narrated by... Admiral Hackett...!? Is he important?

Admiral Hackett is pretty low on the list of people I feel satisfaction over getting narration from. Shepard first, then love interest, then pretty much all of the crew members, then Blasto, and then maybe Hackett. I just don't think there's that much of connection from Shepard to Hackett, other than Hackett being Shepard's boss. Anderson had far more connection, being the mentor, but he's dead. But Hackett...?

It could easily have been narrated by Shepard in all three endings, since it doesn't have to be "real". Or at least the love interest, who actually has a personal connection to Shepard, and not "Shepard's boss, but not the mentor, 'cause he died". I found Synthesis and Destroy to be fairly underwhelming because of their reliance on you caring about EDI and Hackett, and the games don't really ever give you any reasons to care about Hackett. See, if I was boss of BioWare, I'd have gotten every single voice actor to narrate every monologue, and then chosen the one the player should care about the most; either love interest, highest friendship value, taken on most missions, whatever. They track that stuff.

As for the content of the ending narrations, I found them a bit too general and non-specific. "And then good stuff happened to people." [Ending slides] It was pretty close to Fallout 3 levels of vagueness, so they don't have to accomodate the variety of outcomes other than with ending slides. It felt pretty cheap; Hackett doesn't mention a single thing Shepard ever accomplished, just generalities. And they do show specifics in the slides, like the krogans rebuilding; why not say it?

With Dragon Age 2, they had Varric give a pretty specific recounting of the effect Hawke had on the world, and in Dragon Age: Origins, they went into far more detail on what happened to all the people and places as a result of the Warden's actions; although that was very cheap unvoiced text. I think Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut's ending isn't an improvement on those, only an improvement from Mass Effect 3's vanilla ending. They've taken it from being possibly the most disappointing ending to an RPG ever, to being a "pretty average" ending for an RPG. And for Mass Effect, which has been so far above the rest...

Yes, it was an improvement, but it's still pretty bad.

7. Ending slides. Did I mention it has ending slides? Those ending slides are really, really cheap. Amazingly cheap.

Sure, they put more work into them than Fallout 3 (screenshots of places that you probably visited) or Dragon Age: Origins (concept art of places you visited), but they're still really cheap. A still photoshopped non-animated frame of Zaeed lounging on a chair isn't very impressive. At best, you get (cheap-looking) motion-comic style animation to them. What would have made me happy would have been in-engine cutscene. Or if not, then pre-rendered CGI, which is something I still found a bit cheap throughout Mass Effect 3, but that's probably just me.

It just feels pretty off to have a fairly photorealistic game, and then at the very end you get some motion comics. Detailed motion comics, perhaps, but flagrantly not even remotely something that looks in-game.

And that's just the appearance. It's still cheap to pull the Fallout-style "general narration with good/bad slides" approach. And it doesn't even have specific narration like Fallout did. In 1998.

Mass Effect 3's extended ending is about as impressive as a 14-year old game's. And this time, they had three games of choices to pull from.

With Mass Effect 3 in its original form, it seemed like they were trying to go for an open, implied ending. "We're not going to show you what happened to them, but I'm sure you can imagine how awesome it will be!" To quote the hastily scribbled design document for the ending: "Lot's of speculation from everyone!"

Now, the people who did like the endings originally, didn't mind that. I might not have minded it much either, had it been better written, told and presented.

But with the changes made, it seems like they're making some compromise between telling you what happened, and then leaving it open by not telling you what happened, and I don't think that works. They could have left it fairly open by, for instance, showing the quarians landing on Rannoch or the krogans landing on Tuchanka, and then cut-to-next-slide. And that's pretty much what they did, except the next (cheap) slide follows up with a happy picture of "and then the krogans rebuilt everything and then the quarians rebuilt everything, no problem". And where that breaks is that if you're going to tell us that, tell it well. And I don't think they did.

They did do well with some of the slides, though. Like Kasumi's sad endings of being engrossed in her loyalty mission memory box, and that being a happy ending in Synthesis, because the player made the choice in ME2 of keeping the memories. Same with Jack standing over the graves of her students because the player thought they were ready for combat (uh, sorry, kids). Still looked cheap, though.

The big promise of the ending to Mass Effect series was that they knew they weren't going to make more of these games, and that they had thousands of variables that they were going to use to construct a unique ending to your Shepard. But where they went wrong was using the War Assets system and Effective Military Score, rather than deal more directly with your choices. And it's very underwhelming.

Yes, it was an improvement, but it's still pretty bad.

8. The crashed Normandy. I liked that EDI and Joker hugs in the Synthesis ending, and I liked that Liara, the love interest, hangs up the plaque of Shepard's name. Which is "Commander". That's pretty much all there is to this scene, which is pretty disappointing; Tali, Javik, EDI, Garrus, Joker, Liara, Dr. Chakwas, James, all of these are people we get no more information about than "hey, they're alive". Which, other than them being sad that Shepard is dead, is not much "closure", although they did provide the "clarity" part. This was a tragically missed opportunity for a eulogy of Shepard, like mentioning how she came from humble spacer origins and survived the attack on Akuze and saved the rachni and blew up the council by accident and all the other major choices and what they meant to the characters still alive on the Normandy.

Yes, it was an improvement, but it's still pretty bad.

Oh, and the moment in Destroy where Liara doesn't actually hang up the plaque...

9. They still kept the terrible teaser of Shepard breathing.

Come on, how is this "providing clarity and closure"? It was a cheap shot in the original endings, and it still is in the Extended Cut. The survival of Shepard has incredible implications for, well, Shepard's story, and skipping that chapter in favour of "lots of speculation from everyone" was bad enough in the original endings, but in the Extended Cut it's downright silly. I did not like this. I did not like this at all.

So, to quickly sum up how I feel about the new endings as a whole: I still don't think they take enough of your choices into account. And I'll support it with math! Quick summing up of Extended Cut math:

You can choose between three different alternatives, which become available and have different outcomes depending on EMS. There's seven different outcomes, and three of those are determined in some way other than pure EMS. The effects of Control will change based on Paragon/Renegade, and for the lowest EMS, Control/Destroy is available based on whether you saved the Collector Base or not.

This leads into four possible outcomes for the krogan, depending on who's dead or not, and then four possible outcomes for the quarians, depending on who you saved or not.

Then there's 15 possible slides for all crewmates not currently on the Normandy; and one each for every dead one that would have been (but not Kaidan). Five of these slides depend on actual choices made by the player.

And then there's the crashed Normandy, which can be in four different states depending on EMS and final choice, and all surviving crew members are on it, if they survived the crash. Your love interest hangs up a plaque saying Commander Shepard, and if no love interest present, it's Liara. And she doesn't hang it up if you chose Destroy with an EMS of 3100 or higher.

So, very reductively: Besides the final choice, here are the total number of things you can change in the endings based on choices and not just EMS and whether people are alive or not. 1. For very low EMS, you get Destroy if you destroyed the Collector Base, and Control if you didn't. 2. In Control, Shepard's end speech depends on paragon/renegade score. 3. The choices regarding the genophage, and Wrex and Eve's survival, will be reflected. 4. The choices regarding the quarians/geth will be reflected. 5. Kasumi will be reunited with Keiji in Synthesis, if the greybox was saved (don't know what happens if you don't save the greybox). 6. Jack will be standing over the graves of her students, if you sent them into combat. 7. If Mordin survives he'll be doing evil mad science on krogans. 8. Shepard's love interest will hang up Shepard's nameplate.

That's it. That's the grand total of eight ways that choices made throughout Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 3 influence the endings. And it's not a very impressive list. On top of that, Miranda and Jacob have slides that depend on Control/Synthesis/Destroy, and Samara and Grunt have slides that don't. And anyone who is dead, gets a black-and-white video of them nodding in approval.

So, a final quick review of the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut endings: They have better production values than Dragon Age: Origins, but do a worse job of reflecting player choice. They do a better job of reflecting player choice than Dragon Age II, but have worse implementation. They do a better job of reflecting player choices than Fallout 3, but a worse job than Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout and Fallout 2, and Fallout's has better writing. They are less poignant or varied than Chrono Trigger's endings, but have more substance and production value.

They do a better job of ending the game than Mass Effect which ends in an abrupt cliffhanger, but not as good a job as Mass Effect 2's suicide mission, which cleverly weaves past choices and tactical decisions into deciding who lives and dies. Even though it also finishes the story with an abrupt cliffhanger. Also, that boss fight helped, even if it was a stupid one.

So, I guess the new endings are pretty average for choice-heavy RPGs, then.

Which sucks, as an ending for Mass Effect. A mediocre one.

Oh right, the catchphrase:

Yes, it was an improvement, but it's still pretty bad.

@umdesch4 said:


The other thing is simply this. Let us know when you've played the Extended Cut, and what you thought of it. I personally thought they addressed enough of the issues that, had I seen *these* endings the first time around, instead of what we got, I would probably have been merely disappointed with some less-than-spectacular storytelling, and not actually as angry as I was at the time.

So yeah, without going on about it essay-length, I basically agree completely. If these had been the endings from the start, I would have been disappointed too.

Now I'm not only disappointed about how the game ended originally, but also disappointed that this is how the game ends now, and more than that, this is all they came up with. If you look at a piece of DLC like Lair of the Shadow Broker, and how much content that had, this seems awfully limited. And I'd have gladly waited an additional three months for one that wasn't mostly photoshopped motion comics.

They blew it with the ending they originally had, and with this second chance, they blew it again.

To quote Jeff Gerstmann on the BombCast, talking about a completely different part of the game:

And it just feels cheap. In a game, in a franchise, that deserves better. Like, this is one of those things that... This SHOULD BE one of gaming's greatest franchises. This should be a case where they pull out all the stops every time.

@umdesch4 said:


[SPOILERS] Biggest improvement for me is that you get much more interaction with the magic space kid now. You can actually talk to him about the choices, before you make one. You know, talking to a new character you meet, with dialog options and everything. Just like 99% of the rest of the game, unlike the original ending. Then, you can be (many players') Shepard and either say "screw that" or, more satisfyingly, shoot asshole magic space kid in the head.

And the most amusing change. The mass relays don't explode dramatically any more. They retcon'ed that completely, because they knew they'd fucked that up, based on their own fiction which they'd totally forgotten about.

The biggest improvement for me was to see some recognition of the choices I'd made across three games, five years and well over a hundred hours of gaming. So, specifically, the one new thing I liked the most was saying goodbye to Liara at the beam, even though it was an incredibly awkwardly-sandwiched-in scene. And it wasn't very well written. And it's kinda stupid. And stuff like Kasumi and her greybox. But yeah, when the best part of the ending slides is Kasumi, it wasn't entirely a storytelling success.

And talking to the Space Kid was nice. It was an improvement to find out more in-depth that he was oh-just-another-crazy-AI-that-turned-on-his-masters, but it was an improvement over nothing.

And the most amusing change; in general, the Normandy showing up in the middle of an action scene. That was stupid.

Although, for me personally, I got the most laugh out of seeing motion capture jitter when Liara puts up Shepard's nameplate on the wall. I've done motion capture clean-up myself, and it ain't easy to get it perfect.

So that's it for now. If you don't want to read another essay about what I think, here's a one-sentence summing up of what I thought of the Extended Cut:

Yes, it was an improvement, but it's still pretty bad.

#8 Edited by Goggen240 (22 posts) -

Okay, so this whole thing seems to have died down a bit. Which is good, it was looking pretty bad yesterday.

First off, to immediately reply to 2/3 of the comments: I accidentally posted this to the Mass Effect 3 forum instead of just as a blog post. I didn't intend to rekindle a flamewar, I was intending to put something I wrote on my blog for the four people who started following me because of it. However, I said exactly that in the very first sentence of the post, so read at least that far before denouncing me, please. I know the title said I thought people "failed", but that's because I didn't have enough letters to write "disappointed".


PROTIP 1: Don't copy a news story comment over to your first ever blog post, then when the blog post editor asks you where it belongs, don't put Mass Effect 3 because then your blog post ends up on the Mass Effect 3 forum and a lot of people get mad at you.

PROTIP 2: When writing a title for the blog post that is supposed to convey the idea that "I found Mass Effect 3's ending disappointing, but I was also disappointed by games media coverage of the fans being overly dismissive of arguably legitimate complaints", don't shorten it down to saying and "failed", because that has a very different implication on the Internet than the word "disappointed".

PROTIP 3: When discovering your mistake late at night just before going to bed, and after spending an additional two hours responding to all replies one by one as best as possible, don't press "Latest" to see if there are any new replies posted while you were writing, because even though there are, everything you wrote is deleted and gone forever.

So, second attempt, here we go.

@Smithers said:

People get hostile and call you "whiny" because people are tired of seeing the same old debates again and again. I get that people complain because they feel passionately about the series, but criticising the editorial staff here for not going on and on about it is crazy. They gave it a fair review and moved on.

So don't nobody say that fans of Mass Effect never articulated what complaints they had about the ending.

Haha, no one is saying that...

I don't exactly agree; even a couple days ago, Alex's news story about the Extended Cut said he didn't know what the problem with the ending was. One really oughtn't report on news you don't know anything about. And this *is* one of the biggest news in gaming in 2012, and should be accurately reported. Also, further back, Patrick had several misinformed news stories about it, such as the interview with a guy who hadn't played it about how this was like Lost, and that people were upset they " wanted this “you saved the princess” ending that games have always have.", which was not the root of the problem; the problem with Mass Effect 3's ending was that it was, arguably, poorly written. And a lot of the coverage of the Mass Effect 3 Ending controversy was misinformed and, arguably, poorly written. And it continues to be misinformed and poorly written, just read Alex's news post.

@umdesch4 said:

@Smithers said:

[...] but criticising the editorial staff here for not going on and on about it is crazy. They gave it a fair review and moved on.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not ever going to try to dictate to the staff, telling them what I want them to talk about or anything. I'm not one of those people. But where did they discuss their own impressions on the ending? I heard them talk, in a news-reporting fashion, about all the aspects of the fan uproar. I heard Jeff say "but the ending? Man, I don't even want to talk about it" once in a podcast.

And that was absolutely it. I never heard their opinions at all. But I'm serious, if they did discuss it somewhere, I may have missed it, and I'd love to see/hear/read it.

Here are some quotes from the 03-13-2012 BombCast, which is pretty much the only time they actually talked about this:

9 minutes in:

Jeff: People are unhappy about the ending- you know what, to be fair, I don't think the ending's great, uhm, but the things they would have to do to correct it would require them to change so many things along the way, that this notion that people are going [whiny voice] "they need to make a better ending" is insane to me.

11 minutes in:

Ryan: So one of the arguments that's out there is the Fallout 3 argument, of, well Bethesda changed their ending-

Jeff: But they changed that to facilitate DLC, I think I can say without spoiling anything, that the Mass Effect 3 ending already has room for DLC there, they've built it with that in mind... In fact, one could argue that they went too far in that direction to the point where that's one of the problems I have with it... BUT that argument doesn't apply here. That's a misguided road to go down, like people saying [whiny voice] "well Bethesda did it!", no, they did it so they could sell you more stuff.


Brad: What makes people think they have the license to demand this, like, where is this coming from?

Jeff: I think that speaks to the way people identify with their version of the Mass Effect story, they're heavily invested in it over these three games, and I think it's misguided that gives them this kinda weird sense of entitlement or whatever to this point where they feel they can make that kind of demand; but yeah, over these three games, games don't do that a lot. Letting you import from one to the next, letting your choices carry over, you know, people have invested, what, five years? 2007 that this started happening? That's a long time for people to be wrapped up in this universe. And I think that if those players feel like that their choices weren't taken into consideration in the endings, which is one of the complaints... And that this isn't the Shepard that they've built, over the course of these three games, isn't necessarily given an option that fits what that Shepard would do, and that it comes together in sort of a hamfisted way, that they they deserve better. And I would say that, to some extent, I disagree with the basic sentiment, that Mass Effect 3... Could have been a better game. There's stuff in there that is disappointing, as a fan, as a big big fan of Mass Effect 2, that I think they could have handled a lot better, so.. I kind of understand where they're coming from, I'm not sitting here going "it's the greatest game ever made RARRR", but... The way they're going about it, which is usually the case, is... Disgusting.

Jeff goes on to being misinformed about Fallout 3's ending; he remembers it as Broken Steel not allowing you to choose the obvious third option of just sending your radiation-resistant companion into the certain-death room, when the actual problem he had with it in the Quick Look was that they didn't re-record Ron Perlman saying that the main character was selfish and sent someone else in to die.

39 minutes in:

[About the War Assets system]

Brad: There's still all these people sitting around going "you have to play the multiplayer to get the best ending", like there's no way to fill up that bar...

Jeff: I don't know if I got the best ending or not, that's the...

Brad: You did fill...?

Jeff: I filled the bar, I filled the heck out of the bar, before even touching the multiplayer.

Vinny: My bar is full... Already.

Jeff: It's full of green or whatever, it fills in really, really early on.

Patrick: And I mean, Casey Hudson told us to our face you don't have to do that stuff, to get the best ending. [Emphasis mine]

Vinny: I did play some of the multiplayer though.

Brad: I don't know what it is that people are struggling with to get everything they need...

Jeff: I don't know.

One problem was that they actually address the complaints, but dismiss them immediately, and I'd say, misinformed. This is one of the biggest news stories in gaming at the moment, and if they don't fell like covering it, they shouldn't cover it misinformed:

Like the multiplayer requirement; you do actually have to play multiplayer to get two of the endings. Synthesis requires 4000 EMS, the Destroy ending where Shepard "survives" is 5000. To get thatending, I would have to work my way up from EMS of 3700 to 5000, which requires increasing my galaxy control to 68%, from my War Assets Score of 7400 or so. You get maybe 2-4% per match, and each match lasts at least half an hour, so that's three-to-five hours minimum multiplayer, every time you wanted to replay the game for a new ending. Once the servers are down for good, you can't get 1/3 of the endings without the Extended Cut. (Provided it changes that, I believe it does.) And that score degrades a couple percent per day too, so I had to keep taking breaks from the single player to keep the score up, just in case the ending came along faster than I expected. My 100% score is completely gone now. That took forever, too.

And actually finding any of this out in-game, or out-of-game without ending spoilers; good luck: It basically can't be done.

41 minutes in:

[Regarding the planet scanning]

Jeff: And that's one of my larger problems with the game is that, you know, there are systems that could've been... Obviously, 18 months or whatever, they're not gonna rebuild everything... But... They should've.

They should have rebuilt more of it. Because this just feels like they took the Mass Effect 2 system and just stripped out all that stuff, and cobbled together some kind of new solution for the planet-scanning stuff... And it just feels cheap. In a game, in a franchise, that deserves better. Like, this is one of those things that... This SHOULD BE one of gaming's greatest franchises. This should be a case where they pull out all the stops every time.

Vinny: Right, take as long as you need.

Jeff: Right, this should be one of those things where you look at it and go...

I think Mass Effect 2 is one of the greatest games of this generation. And I think that, down the line, we will look back on Mass Effect 2 and probably say, like "this is one of the greatest games of all time". Like, I *think*. I don't know where we go from here. If we hit that singularity, then all bets are off.

59 minutes in:

[About awkward side mission dialogue]

Jeff: At some point, I don't know, maybe my expectations are out of whack, but Mass Effect deserves better. From the quality of those two previous games, which, you know, they weren't perfect either, but...

Patrick: I just wonder if, this is a consequence of having to stay on the schedule they were on, they spec out, "what can we do", "what can we reasonably do", it feels like some stuff just fell by the wayside.

Jeff: And that's where the multiplayer starts to bum me out. 'Cause you think about the amount of money, the number of man-hours, that was spent bringing you that multiplayer; you know what, if they had put all that stuff into better side quests, and better stuff... I don't even know, maybe that doesn't turn into any more sales, so maybe I'm just a bad business-man... But I can tell you that probably would have led to a game I would have liked more.

This is the real reason so many fans are so disappointed in Mass Effect 3, and its ending. It really is unacceptably disappointing to see this drop in storytelling, especially in the ending. And especially from BioWare, and especially especially from Mass Effect

@Animasta said:

I swear someone posted this somewhere else...

god man, get over it. Mass Effect 3 had a really bad ending, sure, but it's been 3 months! jesus.

I posted this to Alex's news story the day before, as I said in the very first sentence of the post. I intended to paste this into my first ever blog post, but then I accidentally put it on the Mass Effect 3 forum.

@Divina_Rex said:

@RockinKemosabe said:

But you can get the "best" ending without playing multiplayer... My military strength was over 7000 without playing a single match in multiplayer.

It actually halves your strength if you haven't played multiplayer. You may have had 7000 total but since you didn't play multiplayer it knocked your Effective score down to 3500. It is true that you can get the good ending without playing multiplayer though.

You needed to have your EMS above 4000 and 5000 to get the Synthesis and the Red ending where Shepard (?) takes a breath at the end. You can't get more than 3700 or so EMS without multiplayer. (Which is War Assets, your 7000, times 50%, becoming 3500.) I believe they've changed the threshold to 3100 in the Extended Cut, but I haven't played it yet myself. So no, 2/6 endings were unavailable without multiplayer.

@Ravenlight said:

Jesus fuck is that an intimidating length of text. I struggle to understand what makes the Bioware fanbase so completely, mindfuckingly, blindly enraged.

It's like, instead of just video games, your hobby is being angry about video games. Go outside, mang. There's plenty of shit to get mad at out there, too.

Well, the Mass Effect games were the best examples of interactive storytelling, and that falls apart completely in the end of the third game. And that's significant; remember when Mass Effect was on Fox News and the love scene was defended as a legitimate achievement in interactive storytelling, and it was.

Mass Effect is generally pretty good. Mass Effect 3's ending was pretty bad, in many obvious ways that previous BioWare games weren't. Even Dragon Age II did a better job of incorporating player choices into the finale.

And as someone who genuinely does have a hobby of thinking about game design (and being angry when it goes wrong, admittedly), this is a really big moment in game design history, that the games press reported as "fans being obnoxious whiny entitled losers" rather than "this was a failure of interactive storytelling that should be analysed".

@DrDarkStryfe said:

I love how the title of this post has nothing to do with the body of the post.

I think I've fixed that now. Originally, I tried to put the word "disappointing" instead of "failed", but it wouldn't fit in the blog post title; but I figured that the only people who would ever read it were the four people who started following me when I posted it as a news story comment, and they would have already read it. Accidentally posting it to Mass Effect 3's forum, with that title, that didn't work out. Sorry.

@FLStyle said:

@StarvingGamer said:

Since it's so near the top I won't feel bad about bumping this unintelligible bunch of garbage.

If you didn't like the ending, that's fine. Endings that leave more to the imagination aren't for everyone. But you really need to grow the fuck up and get over it.

(10% of my ire is directed at you and 90% is directed at all the other idiots online that I am choosing to make you an avatar for)

Are you just trolling, or do I really need to point out that things being left to the imagination isn't what's wrong with the ME3 ending?

@Goggen240: Please use headers, I'm not going through that gigantic wall of text.

Well, this was originally a comment on the news story about the Extended Cut's release, and that was still misinformed about what the problem with the ending was. This is still news. And I do spend a fair chunk of text talking about why the ending was a storytelling failure, from my perspective.

Also, since this was originally a news story comment, I didn't format it properly. I haven't used headers for anything since 2005, so I'd have to research a bit more about how to use them as intended. So I don't think I'll be going back and editing this, since by then this won't be news anymore.

@Undeadpool said:

@Goggen240: You bring up some prescient and interesting points and articulate them well. You know who didn't do that? The VAST majority of people who complained about the game. Not only did they categorically say the ending "sucked," but they couldn't be bothered to engage with anyone who believed otherwise, often just shouting them down. So I agree with many of your points, but I disagree with the contention that somehow the vast majority of posters articulated their points anything REMOTELY resembling "well." And the reason entitlement came up so soon and so often was because these SAME people (again: I do not include you, nor ALL people who disliked the ending, in this, you've done very well here) just EXPECTED Bioware to fix the ending. There was no constructive criticism, no "here's what we wanted/what you promised, here's why that's not what you delivered, here's how you can fix it," it was just a cacophony of voices screaming FIXITFIXITFIXITFIXITFIXIT!!!!!!!!!!!! And reporting them to the BBB was childish and petulant. If that went anywhere (it didn't), it would set a HORRENDOUS precedent for people like David Cage or Peter Molyneux who are guilty of nothing more than dreaming beyond what is achievable (and I used to HAAAAAAATE Molyneux until I realized he wasn't a bullshit artist, he was a dreamer). And for the record, you absolutely CAN get the best ending without playing multiplayer, it's just REALLY hard. I know, because I did it on my first playthrough.

And having played through the new Synthesis ending, I'd say they DID listen to those more reasonable voices, they DID address the vast majority of what you're complaining about here, and I'll say it as someone who was fine with the original endings: they fixed it. This is the ending that should have always been. And it's PROBABLY not Bioware's fault, they probably should've had an extra 3-5 months. So while I see what you're saying, it's not the fault of games journalism because if anything, they're getting a much more mainlined dose of the good and the bad. And they DID talk about it on two or three consecutive Bombcasts. And it doesn't seem like any of them are SUPER invested in the game, so why SHOULD they devote time on their podcasts to something they're not that interested in?

I agree completely that most people who complained, didn't complain well. But it's still a disappointment of a games press, especially Giant Bomb and especiallyer Patrick, that when an obvious example of something to critique comes along, most coverage didn't go into what actually went wrong with Mass Effect 3, rather than just making fun of the whiny entitled fans. Basically, the only source of gaming coverage that drew the conclusion that "Mass Effect 3's ending was broken, and like any other game feature, you can patch it, especially since that has already been done for games like Portal, Fallout 3 and Borderlands".

As for the BBB; I consider that to actually be a valid course of action. Even after the game hit gold, the lead writers were still doing interviews claiming things about the ending that just weren't in the game.

Patrick: "And I mean, Casey Hudson told us to our face you don't have to do that stuff, to get the best ending."

2012-03-23 BombCast, referencing the 2012-02-22 Mass Effect BombCast where they interviewed Casey Hudson.

That's straight up false advertisement; even after transferring my saves across four years and three computers, and doing every side mission and DLC, I still only had an Effective Military Score of 3700. I had to play a dozen hours of multiplayer to keep my EMS up above the threshold for the "best endings".

And that looks like a job for the Better Business Bureau! And if these sorts of things *weren't* valid complaints, the BBB would have ignored them. And they did come out against Mass Effect 3's marketing.

And what people like David Cage or Peter Molyneux are guilty of is not dreaming, they advertise their games. They are responsible for the features that they advertise for their next game. But Molyneux at a GDC talking about how awesome his ideas for the next game are, is significantly different from Casey Hudson, on a podcast, advertising his games the week before release, and deliberately misrepresenting what's actually in the game.

All that aside, I'm actually with you that complaining to the BBB doesn't help. When Hold The Line, the Retake Mass Effect site that is the hub for complaining about Mass Effect 3, suggested some radical plan to inundate the BBB with complaints, I (at great length) spoke out against it, and was (if I do say so myself) fairly key to talking the whole suggestion to death. (I'm good at that!)

But the reason why I was against wasn't that I thought the complaints wouldn't be valid; a lot of games straight up lie about what's in the game in marketing and pre-release interviews, and they should be held accountable for that. But my reasoning for being against BBB complaints was exactly what happened here; people who didn't look into the complaint, would end up calling us "childish and petulant".

Games *should* be better represented before release, with pre-order incentives and Collector's Edition shortages and late reviews, gamers really don't have much of an opportunity to make an informed purchase, if there's a feature you want and the game is advertised as having it, but doesn't. Such as; Mass Effect 3 having an ending that meaningfully takes into account your player choices across three games. And demanding a patch for a missing feature is not unreasonable, I'd say.

As for the new endings, I'll hopefully get around to playing the Extended Cut real soon, but if they did "fix" what was wrong with the endings, that's pretty good news for Mass Effect fans. And regardless, the Extended Cut is a direct result of people actually holding BioWare accountable for delivering a lacking product; if the media hadn't gotten upset at those people for invalid reasons, maybe the Extended Cut would have been even better. Maybe EA would have given BioWare more time in the first time, if they could expect the game to get slaughtered in professional reviews the way it was in fan reviews. And *that's* why these kinds of storytelling, game design, and marketing disasters should be covered; professional reviews were universally positive, but there was a very commonly held complaint from actual consumers, that wasn't covered "fairly".

It's a good thing that BioWare listened to the well-thought-out complaints and addressed the game's flaws, rather than the games media, because when people like Alex just says that "nothing was wrong with the game, don't listen to these crazy people"; that's bad for games design as a field of art if those crazy people are correct and you designed your game poorly. This is a pretty big story, and if they don't care to cover it, don't cover it misinformedly.

@Irvandus said:

I don't think you understand why GB was saying the fanbase was being whiney and entitled. They were saying trying to change the ending of the game is dumb. At the same time they thought it was a bad game. What world are you from where thinking something is bad means you agree with everything everyone says about what needs to be done about it. Also this is done. We've had this conversation months ago. Stop. Just stop. Go home. Unless your discussing what changed in the new endings everything has been said before. Go complain about Diablo if you want to whine about something more relevant.

Fallout 3, Borderlands and Portal all changed their endings for the better. It wasn't dismissed because it was a bad idea that they disagreed with, it was dismissed because they just didn't want to agree with the internet. That's not a very good reason. And this was a comment to a news story the day before, and people in that conversation said they liked what I wrote. Granted, four people, but the rest weren't jerks about it. And when I accidentally posted this as a forum thread instead of just a blog post, I'd say that the Mass Effect 3 forum the day of the Extended Cut's release is *not* an unreasonable place to accidentally place it.

And if you don't want to talk about Mass Effect 3's ending the day Mass Effect 3's new ending came out, what on earth are you doing on the Mass Effect 3 forum, replying to a forum post about Mass Effect 3's ending?

And for the record, I did *not* like Diablo III, and I was thinking of writing a comparative review of Mass Effect 3, Max Payne 3 and Diablo III, and how reviews struggle to recommend things to fans of existing games versus people who never played those games before, and how that impacts game design as a field. And that blog post would be the length of a novel, and I'd keep that post as far away from the forums as possible, because some of you people are jerks and don't need to be.

@EXTomar said:

The issue is this fundamental question: How much fact is there in the entire situation? Unless you want "games press" to do editorials or long form essays, I'm unclear what is more to report about the situation.

Here are links to essays and editorials by Patrick about Mass Effect 2 and the choices that carry over into Mass Effect 3, Mass Effect 3's ending, and Mass Effect 3's ending as understodd by someone who didn't play it but saw Lost:




The problem with those, and of the coverage about Mass Effect 3's ending in general (especially from Alex) is that there's assumptions made about what people complained about with Mass Effect 3's ending, and insult them for it. Sure, plenty of YouTube comments and forum posts were nothing more than "I wanted a happy ending, wah!", but beneath that people *were* analyzing and critiquing the storytelling of Mass Effect 3 from an artistic perspective, and *that's* something worth covering, beyond "You Will Have an Updated Mass Effect 3 Ending to Complain About Starting This Tuesday":


Not being too terribly invested in the adventures of Commander Shepard myself beyond a basic, casual enjoyment of the series, I've never quite understood the uproar over the ending. I mean, was it a great one? No, not really. Was it a bit careless, all things considered? Yeah, probably. Did it ruin any and all enjoyment I had of the series to date? Not really. But I'm not the sort to generally get too up-in-arms over these sorts of things, so I realize that my viewpoint may be skewed.

This is what's needs to be better reported about the situation. The Mass Effect 3 Ending Controversy(tm) is one of the top news stories of 2012, and it shouldn't be reported this lazily. There's plenty of good breakdowns of why Mass Effect 3's ending failed and why it should be fixed; and I wrote another one. And that doesn't hurt anyone, just for the record.

@onan said:

As concisely as possible: If you care at all about the series on more than a superficial "heads exploding yay pretty" level, you'll care about the ending.

Several good points are brought up. Well said, @Goggen240 . Just curious though, which ally did you get from letting the council die? I can't seem to google it.

Exactly, the ending to the Mass Effect trilogy is something worthy of discussion. And after all of the game of the year awards that Mass Effect 2 got, having any discussion of Mass Effect 3 being shot down instantly because "that game is dead", that's incredibly tragic, and *also* worthy of discussion.

As for allies, though:

If you let the council die, the Salarian ambassador thanks you for getting him his job, and you get somewhat more Salarian support even if you cure the genophage. And that's really neat game design, tracking choices across three games and actually giving you a brief conversation snippet about that.

Also, you get more Alliance War Asset points, which basically balances out the loss of the Destiny Ascension, the council flagship. But that's all text in the war map, which is far less neat game design.

@downtime58 said:

The reason that the staff didn't take up the mantle of the disgruntled fans fight is the same reason the other 99% of us who played the game didn't - we took the game for what it was good or bad - and moved on with our lives.

A while back I wrote a reply to some of the common criticisms - http://www.giantbomb.com/mass-effect-3/61-29935/the-end-of-me3-replying-to-some-of-the-common-criticisms/35-541239/

To boil it down:

1) Player choice was an illusion in ME

2) The last 10 minutes is not the ending of ME3

3) Debating "facts" in an entirely fictional universe is lunacy

Like my earlier point; Mass Effect as a series have been incredibly influential games that are worthy of discussion; Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 have won an awful lot of Game of the Year Awards from all over (and they deserved it). Right now, some guy on my Steam friends list is playing Mass Effect 2. Mass Effect 3, three months after release, is something you're not allowed to talk about ever again, because it's dead. They haven't even started their proper DLC cycle, and this game isn't worthy of discussion? After the first two games? That's tragic. And considering that there will be more Mass Effect 3 according to today's news, directly contradicts your point that this topic isn't even worthy of discussion anymore.

And I read your post, and now I'm going to give some thoughts on it.

1. Sure, player choice is an illusion, but so is all games. They aren't real. And neither are books, movies, radio plays, and so on. But that simulation of player choice is what sets games apart from those media, and Mass Effect has done simulated player choices arguably the best of all games. I had a markedly different experience with this trilogy than you did, and it came down the differences in choices we both made. But that difference isn't content, it's implication. When I blew up the council (accidentally) in Mass Effect 1, it did not significantly alter any of the content of the games; there's still a turian, a salarian and an asari on the new council, and they have basically the same lines of dialogue, it does actually have significant story implications. My salarian ambassador thanked me for getting rid of his predecessor. And when you get to other aspects of the game, like love stories? You have very significant impact on the direction of the game. And as far as implications go, the krogans is an incredible achievement in game design as far as interactive storytelling is concerned; through your choices, there's a half-dozen different outcomes with significantly changed implications for where that krogan race goes from now on, even if they do just replace dead Wrex with another Urdnot guy if Wrex is dead. But how and why Mordin dies, and what he ended up dying for? That's what you decide, and that's storytelling decided by the players.

2. I disagree. The last ten minutes of Mass Effect 3 might be the end of Shepard's story, but the implications for Shepard's choices for the rest of the galaxy aren't meaningfully touched upon for the end of the game, regardless of where you arbitrarily place it. Any emotional investment in the fate of the quarians does not get a pay-off beyond the Rannoch mission; where it's implied that they're all going to be fine now that the geth are helping them out. But any choices that you make for them beyond that point? Saving the geth or not? Do they get back to Rannoch, within the fiction of how space travel works? Do any of their ships survive the final battle? These are important questions that the game does not answer.

And this touches on an important storytelling inadequacy of the Mass Effect 3 ending before the Extended Cut; the ending is Shepard's ending, but not "Mass Effect's ending". From a storytelling perspective, Shepard's role is to provide a window for the player to view this interesting galaxy and the factions and characters within. That was the structure of the first two games; you travelled around, saw interesting places, met interesting people, and killed a bunch of them. And the fate of the galaxy is very inadequately concluded in Mass Effect 3, even if you do argue that Shepard's story ending was well handled (I don't).

Here's an illustrative quote from BombCast 2012-03-13 (42 minutes in) about how that failed in the third game:

Vinny: I'm likin' 3 so far.

Jeff: But, but... When I play 3, yeah, there are a lot of things I like about it... But every step of the way, you just see something like "man, this feels mechanical, this could've been more natural-"

Patrick: That kid stuff.

Jeff: The kid stuff is *terrible*.

Patrick: When I found-

Jeff: The stuff with the kid is *fucking terrible*.

Patrick: What I found that I disliked about it, is that... It starts to try and develop Shepard as a character, even though, the Shepard you've developed over the series, is *you*. *You* have made these choices, yeah Shepard is active as the avatar, but now they are projecting this other depth to Shepard, as though he's supposed to feel bad, and have all this weight... That's supposed to be me *internally*. Like *I'm* supposed to feel like *I'm* supposed to save the galaxy, not Shepard the character represented on-screen. You know what I mean?

They're creating this other Shepard...

Ryan: 'Cause there is no Shepard. That character doesn't really exist.

Patrick: And so, in this, it's as though I'm playing a game where I don't make the choices, I didn't make a choice for Shepard to suddenly be scared.

Jeff: Their attempts to humanize him are incredibly-

Patrick: And I think it pulls away from my own choices, like "well I'm not, I feel like I'm ready for this." Or if I'm choosing to be scared, I'm choosing to be scared, and instead they just start projecting this weird... Maybe that comes from this goal of wanting to get more people into it, if they come into 3, and it's just this blank slate of a guy and seems very generic, and isn't being developed on his own, I don't know, but that felt super flat to me, and seems to take away from a lot of my choices.

Jeff: I think a lot of that stuff makes sense in where they have to go by the end of that game.

It really was necessary to resolve a lot more of the unresolved conflicts than the game did on release. Let's compare that to another epic storyline, Lord of the Rings. If Return of the King (book or movie) had ended with the ring falling in the lava and then end credits, that would have been very terrible storytelling; the real "story" of those books (or movies) is that you get to view this fantastic world from the viewpoint of a small participant in it, and then how that participant's action influence that world, and in turn, how that journey influenced him. It was dramatically necessary to show what happens to the world and the characters after the end; since the story is about more than the central conflict, it's about the world and the characters therein. And once the conflict ends, the world and the characters don't end, and neither does the story. Which is one way the Mass Effect 3 ending failed.

A more straightforward one, if a bit reductive; it was the ending from Deus Ex, a choice between three alternatives and two minutes of badly compressed cutscene, except now it's 13 years of game development later and that stuff just isn't any good in 2012. The endings for other BioWare games were written and executed by people who had a great understanding of how to tell (and end) a story that is rewarding for players, and it was fairly obvious, and corroborated in the making-of book and interviews, that the ending was hastily improvised. And now that those people who know how to make good game endings have been given some more time to work on it, that's good. As soon as I'm done with this, I'll go off and play it.

3. You're on the Mass Effect 3 forum, discussing Mass Effect 3. In-story "facts" are entirely relevant to the discussion. And my piece was not written around the presumption that plot holes and factual mistakes made the current endings invalid from the perspective of the in-game universe, my piece was written around the presumption that the story was poorly told from a literary perspective.

@Gaff said:

@onan Sorry, to me Mass Effect was about Shepard's story, more specifically my Shepard. Meandering minutiae of the "universe" are my main gripes about what passes for fantasy or sci-fi fiction nowadays. So, yeah: Shepard's monomyth is the "thing", the fantasy that propels the story forward, that is the story that needed resolving, not the supporting cast.

@Goggen240 You can't expect people to read every complaint when the complainers don't listen to other viewpoints. Empathy: something everyone demands but so very few display.

For me, and I believe to the writers of at least the first two games, one of the main goals of the Mass Effect was to use Shepard as a window into this fascinating galaxy and the characters and factions therein. Straight-up sci-fi, sure, but good sci-fi.

As for other people's viewpoints; I do not expect people to read every complaint. But I try to listen to other viewpoints, and when I disagree, I try to explain why that is.

@RoyaleWifCheese said:

I'm about to get meta: You know what I can't stand about this whole ordeal? The people complaining about the people complaining about the people complaining about the end of Mass Effect 3.

In seriousness, I appreciate how the OP articulated their point with that monolith of text (that I diligently read all of, by the way), but it's really for naught in the end. Love or hate the ending, most of us just want to move on. There's no reason to use biblical amounts of text to continue fighting an issue that's been fought numerous times in numerous places within and outside of the internet. Why continue obfuscating it?

For the sake of solidarity, let's move on.

I'd like to register a complaint about you complaining about people complaining about people complaining.

And when I wrote this as a comment to that news story, these points hadn't been brought up. In that discussion, at least. And a couple people seemed to like it, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

@Alkaiser said:

I don't know jack about Mass Effect, and I don't really care to play through them and experience them for myself because I have no interest in the genre. But I can see where some people come from when they get let down about an ending.

I understand the whole "It's just a game. For fucks sake, let it go." Personally, I try to have an open mind about things and not get too uppity about my hobbies. But I also understand being attached to say, a series of movies and being let down by the final chapter.

Or being into a series of books or comics/manga and having it end in a trainwreck.

Or being a fan of a tv show and having it all fall apart at the end, souring you on the whole experience.

You just have to put it in perspective. One man's Mass Effect could be another man's Indiana Jones. Being invested in something for years, only to have it come back on you and make you feel like you wasted your time can be pretty shitty. Thats how I imagine a lot of Star Wars fans feel.

Exactly. Mass Effect 3, and more than any other part of it the ending, was the same kind of drop in quality with the prequel Star Wars trilogies.

And a discussion about how that drop in quality happened, and how to keep it from happening again, I think is healthy for the game industry. As it stands, the best game that illustrates how to most rewardingly incorporate player choices into the story of a game, is Mass Effect 2. And moving backwards in game design is bad. And analysis is necessary to moving forwards again.

@ThePickle said:

Just shut up.


@Dagbiker said:

I read the whole thing, took me about an hour. I haven't played ME3, but I agree with the part about Reviewers not doing their job.

That's also an interesting discussion to have. I don't think Jeff's 4/5 review of Mass Effect 3 is invalid, but it's definitely not appropriate purchasing advice for people who are deep fans of the previous two games. And looking at the massively negative customer feedback, the universally positive professional reviews of Mass Effect 3 is worthy of analysis; *should* reviews be written for the fans, or are they for your average Joe who just wants a game where you shoot stuff. And Mass Effect 3 is definitely a 4/5 of one of those. A lot of game reviewers are unsure about how to go about working with the distinction between a product review and a literary critique; in this case, it would seem like they ended up on the wrong side of that divide, since the complaints about Mass Effect 3 are such deep literary criticisms as "narrative incoherence". And I'm actually a tiny bit proud of the whiny, entitled masses for actually complaining about the literary qualities of the narrative conclusion to a game, considering how bad game endings tend to be.

I might write a blog post about all of that in more detail, if I ever get around to finishing up *this* one...

#9 Posted by Goggen240 (22 posts) -


I didn't intend to post this on the forums, that was accidental. It was supposed to be just a blog post for my five followers. They seemed to like it.

But now it's here, so please be gentle. Like I said; this was a reply to the news story by Alex about the Extended Cut release, and a dozen pages of comments complaining about how no-one ever said anything about *why* Mass Effect 3's ending was bad, just that it was.

Quick recap, because basically no-one actually reads this before accusing me of starting a flamewar:

The ending of Mass Effect 3 was inadequate compared to the endings of Mass Effects 1 and 2 and Dragon Ages 1 and 2, generally because it was not player-choice-driven like the rest of the game(s). And here's a full-length novel worth of ranting explaining why I think that.

The press coverage of the Mass Effect 3 Ending controversy was dominated by fans being generalized as whiny and entitled, *not* that the game actually had a bad ending and fans wanted it fixed. As much as I dislike being a part of that angry rabble, I think they are correct, and here's an awful lot of rambling text explaining why I think that.


In preparation for the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut which I'll hopefully get around to playing today, here's the comment I made to Alex's news story about its release. If you read it, and especially to the four of you who started following me because of that comment (thanks!); I didn't add to it.

To the ones of you that didn't read it; I talk about the Mass Effect 3 ending, why it was so terrible, and why it was so disappointing that Giant Bomb (and the games press in general) hardly put any effort into understanding one of the biggest developments in game design in years.

Obviously, there are spoilers for Mass Effect 3, a little bit of Dragon Age II, and incidentally, the '60s TV show The Prisoner. That one's less obvious. But hey; now you know.

Also, I haven't played through the Extended Cut. That will happen over the next couple of days. And after that, it may take a while for me to digest what's wrong about that, or hopefully, what isn't. And then I'll let you know what I thought.

Until then, for posterity (and also quest points for first ever blog post):

Why Mass Effect 3's ending was so bad, why Giant Bomb and everybody else did such a poor job of covering it, and what I thought of the whole thing.

Warning: Wall of text follows.

While the ending of Mass Effect 3 was hugely disappointing to me, both as a fan of Mass Effect and of good storytelling in games, what I found even *more* disappointing was the horrible gaming press coverage of the entire thing.

BioWare makes a game. People complain about the quality of the story, and want it fixed. Specifically, to not be the worst piece of storytelling done by a company that does the *best* storytelling in games.

And not only that, the ending is the single most important story beat in the entire game, and arguably of the entire series. And as rushed and lackluster the game as a whole was, even according to BioWare the ending was improvised in the last month of development. And it shows. Terribly.

And then, anyone complaining is "entitled and whiny".

This is especially disappointing from Giant Bomb. Just a few months earlier, you gave BioWare two awards...

The first award: "Most Disappointing Game of 2011" for Dragon Age II. I was going to write something about how this applies to Mass Effect 3, but I don't need to; if you do a find-and-replace of DA2 for ME3 on the actual award text, you should get it.

"Disappointment can blossom from a number of different sources--your own personal expectations based on the previous entry in a series, or the developer's previous output, promises made during the game's pre-release PR cycle--and no game disappointed quite as thoroughly on all fronts in 2011 as Dragon Age II.


Even without the BioWare name, or even the relatively freshly minted Dragon Age name to live up to, Dragon Age II is an RPG that feels half-finished, its attempts at scope undermined by pervasive sense of a crushing development deadline. Where they could cut corners, they did. It's hard not to be disappointed when a series goes from so high to so low in just one iteration."

Mass Effect was a real classic, it had its flaws but they were worth overlooking. Mass Effect 2 fixed all those flaws, and expanded on the original in all the right ways, and it stands as one of the top games of this console generation, if not of all time.

People can't even be bothered to talk about Mass Effect 3 a couple of months after release.

And the second award: The “Check Yourself Before You Wriggety-Wreck Yourself” Award for Things That Need to "Take a Break" Before They Become the “Worst Trend” runner-up, for EA's renaming of EA Los Angeles as "BioWare Victory". And this was for watering down BioWare's well-earned name as top storyteller in gaming.

The fact that EA released a lackluster space RPG is a bad enough reason for people to be disappointed.

For it to be BioWare that made it, that makes it *personal*.

Giant Bomb should really be agreeing with the "entitled and whiny fans" for BioWare no longer making great games.

It *should* be unacceptable for BioWare to have screwed up like this!

Now, as for all the fans being this angry rabble that does nothing but cry like babies with impotent rage... Did they really do that?

Here's the list of things I've heard them do:

Complain on the BioWare forums.

Complain about the ending in other places.

Threaten to report EA to the Better Business Bureau for false advertising.

Send multi-coloured cupcakes to BioWare.

Collect $80,000 for charity.

Make long-winded videos of YouTube deconstructing the ending.

Send death threats to Casey Hudson on Twitter.

I'll get to the last point, but as for the others: Are those *bad*?

For those complaining that "oh no, here's another place for people to complain about Mass Effect 3's ending"; what the hell are you doing on those threads?

I'd say at least half of the comments on this post, about how people are going to complain about Mass Effect 3's ending, are PEOPLE COMPLAINING ABOUT PEOPLE COMPLAINING about Mass Effect 3's ending.

The people who don't want to talk about Mass Effect 3's ending, are *far* more obnoxious about it than the ones who actually *do*. I haven't seen a single, thought-out, logical, well-reasoned post or comment about why we should stop talking about Mass Effect 3's ending. I've seen a few of those that defend the ending. I've seen a *lot* that critique the ending. But most of what I see is people yelling for everyone to shut the fuck up already.

Can't you just, you know... Not engage in the discussion? Why are most of the comments "I don't even care"...?

It's not that hard to stay away from Mass Effect 3 ending discussions, you know.

And is it bad to complain about false advertising to the appropriate authorities? ...Especially when you actually have a point? Mac Walters *did* say you wouldn't just get a choice between A, B and C (you do). Casey Hudson *did* say the Rachni queen would show up in the ending (she didn't). Casey Hudson, on the Bombcast, said quite clearly that you don't need to play multiplayer to get the "good ending" (you do). Poignantly, once the story blew up, Vinny said words to the effect that "didn't he say to our faces that wasn't so", but the Bomb Crew decided that clearly the fans were wrong.

Now, sending multi-coloured cupcakes to BioWare was probably more annoying than clever. (Haha, they have different colours, but taste the same, just like Mass Effect 3's ending!) But it's not like it was letter bombs.

And then, somehow, collecting money for charity turned into a bad thing. Somehow, the fans who did that were even worse than the ones that sent death threats to the writers.

And *those* people; they're disgusting. And I don't associate with them. But as disgusting as it is, they were actually less disgusting about it this time around; remember when one of the BioWare writers mentioned that she was more into writing than gaming? In a casual interview, years earlier? And how she was harassed off the internet for it?

And it's not much of an argument, but they probably expected it. People have mentioned Arthur Conan Doyle here and there, and how he was pressured by fans into writing more Sherlock Holmes after he killed the character off. And that was 1903. I would like to add an even better example; Patrick McGoohan ended his TV show The Prisoner with the main character unmasking the villain, who was wearing a gorilla mask, and it turned out the villain was the main character, and then the main character and a lesser villain drove off in a house while singing Dem Bones. And McGoohan received death threats over *that*, in 1968.

(And I've seen that show, and that was a terrible ending, just for the record. But not as bad as Mass Effect 3! At least the end of The Prisoner *fit*. It was a weird show...)

In the grand scheme of things, I think that "complaining about Mass Effect 3's ending" is a dark chapter in internet history.

Not because of all the complaining, except for the disgusting bits.

No, I think it's dark because, for once, people actually sat down and reasoned out why "the final plot point of a story had narrative incoherence", which is a god-damn mature thing for the internet to be upset over, IN A GAME. And then nobody wanted to listen.

Games have really bad endings, I don't know if you've noticed. And finally one came along that was so bad that gamers just wouldn't allow it to happen ever again, and for all the talk about having game "critiques" instead of "reviews", it was such a missed opportunity to have this perfect case study come along of how not to do it, and it's been mostly ignored.

Now, if you've made it this far, and you're curious, here's *my* critique.

The ending was a rushed, hurried mess, and it shows. The game as a whole was unforgivably rushed overall; there was no valid reason they couldn't have delayed it six months more for polish. But the ending is the one point that they *couldn't* get away with screwing up, but they did.

The ending was... Inadequate.

Although I think the game starts falling apart at Thessia, I'll start where the narrative *completely* crumbles.

After the run to the beam, whatever drive and coherence the game had, goes away. (Yes yes, Indoctrination Theory, I'll get to that.)

The walk through the spooky citadel was real... Bad. Purely from a level design perspective, the weirdly textured piles of "stuff" along the sides had no business being in a 2012 game, let alone Mass Effect. I *guess* it was supposed to be decomposing bodies? Or a 64x64 JPEG of that, stretched over a blob of polygons?

If the intent was to have Shepard walk through the horror of what the Reapers were doing, it didn't work. And doing it in an abstract environment you've never been in before certainly didn't help; let's say you'd had piles of decomposing bodies on the Presidium, that would be a bleak and terrible version of something you *know*. And then it morphs into something you don't know. As it is, where on the Citadel *is* this? What's going on? Why are the textures so bad? Why haven't you mentioned the Keepers since the first game, are they important *now* suddenly?

Then you make it to Anderson and the Illusive Man. This chat was also bad. Now, it was supposed to be a reference to how you could talk down Saren in the first game; but the Illusive Man has so much less of a presence in the story that it just feels cheap. You spent all of Mass Effect chasing after Saren, and then you fight Saren, or you can talk him down. With the Illusive Man, you spend the whole game chasing after the Crucible so you can defeat the Reapers and the Illusive Man gets in the way, and then you walk into him and talk him into killing himself. The Illusive Man is *basically* not part of the story, and Cerberus has far to large a part in this game. You fight them as much as the Reapers! A boss fight would actually have helped here; that's how you confront antagonists in video games as a medium, and "dialogue wheel" is not really satisfying *gameplay* for dealing with the assigned antagonist of the series. And it's not even a particularly good dialogue wheel. You either talk him down, or don't, game over. Apparently, the plan was to have a big ol' boss fight with TIM in his lair, but they cut that. Which was bad, because they replaced him with a ninja guy from the books who has absolutely no characterization (and I even *read* the books) and when you *do* confront the "proper" bad guy, it feels terribly out of place, both in narrative, as well as *physically* in the game world.

As for Anderson, he felt oddly out of place. He never struck me as a character that was an integral part of the series; he's the guy who gives you your first job. He's not part of your crew, you don't spend any real time with him, and as awesome as Keith David is, he's just there so that the Illusive Man has someone to shoot that you are *supposed* to care about, but the game gives you no reason to. If that had been a crew member or Joker or someone, that would have been something. If the Illusive Man shot Liara, I'd have cared! Furthermore, the scene is kinda absurd; you can't stop The Illusive Man from shooting Anderson anyway, only influence "how badly" he gets shot. Now, for me, he did not get badly shot, and I liked the scene where he tells Shepard she did good, kid. It was poignant. (Although, having an extended nod towards John Carpenter's The Thing taint the emotional high point of the series is *probably* not appropriate.) But then he just sort of... Stops? Did he die? Fall asleep? What? Once again, the art just didn't hold up well enough. You'd need far better texture work and animation to convey his final death. Or a death rattle sound or *something*. So that was confusing.

Then, Hackett telling Shepard it didn't work. I don't think *this* "worked". Without any sense of a raging battle going on, and then the battle *continuing* to go on, it just sounds like Hackett sent Shepard a voice mail. Other than Shepard sounding completely worn out, which *did* work, I thought that plot turn was kinda comical. "Shepard, uh, did you forget to turn it on or something?" [THE PRICE IS RIGHT LOSING HORN] But, like I said, Shepard being completely at the end of her rope was well done, and well acted even. I liked the "What do you need me to do?". Poor Shepard.

And now for the fun part; the God Child.

I probably didn't mind this as much as most, certainly not at first. The conversation itself went alright for me, but I do remember I stumbled a bit on the part where the kid mentioned that the Geth and EDI would die if you destroyed the Reapers. Now, you could fill in the blanks yourself that this is because both EDI and the Geth use Reaper tech, which would have contrasted nicely with the earlier choice of saving the Geth by allowing Legion to upload Reaper code to them; this is what finally dooms them.

But... The game actually doesn't say this, and I should not have to rely on fan fiction to tell the story, when it would have taken them half a sentence to actually say that. And they did spend half a sentence on something that contradicts itself, the God Child hinting that Shepard would die because she is half synthetic. Uh... How? Are those Reaper implants? Is there Reaper code in Shepard? Those *were* Cerberus implants, and Cerberus did use Reaper tech elsewhere (EDI), but... Shouldn't the game have mentioned at some point that there's a little Reaper in Shepard? The game never says that! And worse, if the implication is that "technology" dies alongside the reapers, that's pretty bleak for pretty much the entire galaxy. Then again, unless this was *meant* to imply that joining synthetic and organic ain't bad, 'cause look at Shepard and Shepard is kinda awesome, so that's an option you could consider! ...But then again, the game never actually says that.

It's really bad that the final dialogue of the game is full of holes. I didn't notice most of those holes at first, but unless you went through that and never noticed *anything* amiss, I don't think it works. From what I guess (and read in The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3), the point was for the dialogue to leave out enough of the boring details that you would fill in the blanks yourself; unfortunately, the game doesn't give you the tools to do that. The Codex does *not* explain if Shepard has Reaper tech or not, the Codex does *not* explain how disabling reapers would disable the Geth or EDI, and there's a big parade of other plot holes left by that dialogue that the Internet will happily give you lists of. If you bother to actually read it.

And then the actual choice itself. I chose green, to combine Reaper and synthetic DNA somehow, not because I believed that the Reapers have any reason to continue existing, but that I thought that the geth did, even though I thought it made no sense as part of the choice.

And then the ending was a two-minute cutscene of the reapers landing peacefully, and people cheering like in Independence Day, and then the Normandy crashes on some planet for some reason, and then Joker and EDI step out as if they were Adam and Eve, which is appropriate for the Synthesis ending. And then I settled in for that Animal House ending that these games have, like Dragon Age: Origins or Fallout or what have you, showing what happened to the different characters after the story concluded, showing off the effects that Shepard had on the game world, and the consequences of the choices you made.

...Aaaand then Liara and Tali stepped out, and I'm pretty sure they *died* earlier.

And then the end credits rolled, and then there's a bit with Buzz Aldrin talking about Shepard's legend, which is basically an ad for DLC. And I assumed the internet uproar was because this was the terribly sloppily made ending that was supposed to be a joke ending, and they didn't get it, like accidentally stumbling across the Reptite ending in Chrono Trigger. (If you defeat Lavos at a very specific time, everyone ends up as a dinosaur. Kinda like making everyone a cyborg, and having a clumsy Adam-and-Eve reference. Except it was *supposed* to be a joke.)

And then, after mulling it over for a day, I went back to the autosave and re-did the choice to get the other two endings, the "wrong" one first (controlling the Reapers) and then the "right" one (killing the hell out of the Reapers).

And they were all that same terrible joke ending.

And it's the worst drop in storytelling quality, in games, that I have ever come across. Possibly across any medium.

Now, I didn't expect Deus Ex: Invisible War to have a great ending, 'cause it's kinda a crappy game, and it had a kinda crappy ending. Same with Deus Ex: Human Revolution; neat game, not a terrific storytelling showpiece, ended the way it had been told up until then; clumsily.

But then it's the same exact ending that Mass Effect 3 has, structurally.

And you can just *feel* that they were setting up short cutscene after cutscene of different characters and what they did after the war (yes, like Animal House); Tali returning to Rannoch, Wrex returning to Eve on Tuchanka, Liara pining for the totally dead Shepard, and then towards the end you put the little joke of Joker and EDI as Adam and Eve, appropriate for the Synthesis ending. But then they only had that last one, and put all the other characters in it too because they were probably *supposed* to have one for each character, but didn't, and improvised. Poorly.

Mass Effect 3 was a great story; it was rushed in spots, but it kept up right to the end. Missions like Tuchanka and Rannoch are fantastic examples of interactive storytelling at their best; choices made through three games all came together and led to a variety of outcomes.

And then they completely forget how to write an interactive story at all, in the end.

And then it gets worse; even after they threw together a rushed game and an even more rushed ending, they went on to say how it took all your choices into account, how it wouldn't be a choice between A, B, and C and then credits, and even down to specifics about how you did not need to play multiplayer at all to get the "best" ending. Not to mention how, even before they released Mass Effect *1*, they said that your saves would carry over and it would all build to an epic conclusion that wouldn't need to be compromised in its storytelling, because they were making a trilogy and then nothing more.

And the sum total of impact you can have on the ending to the series, is to choose between "Reapers die", "Reapers leave", "organic life becomes cyborgs", and then a two-minute cutscene and end credits. And another cutscene, pointing out how you should buy the DLC.

There is a grand total of six end states for the entire series. Red 1 (everyone dies), Red 2 (Reapers die), Red 3 (Reapers die, Shepard doesn't), Blue 1 (everyone dies), Blue 2 (Reapers leave) and Green 1 (Everyone becomes a cyborg). That's it. And content-wise, the cutscene only changes in colour, and whether the Reapers fly away or crash.

And then you can only get Red 3 or Green 1 if you play enough multiplayer.

So, here's my take on how Mass Effect 3 ends:

You talk The Illusive Man to death like the end of Mass Effect.

You have a chat with Keith David as he's dying, like the end of The Thing.

You chat to the builder of the machines, like the end of The Matrix Reloaded.

You jump in the beam like in Alien³ leading to the technological singularity ending from Deus Ex: Invisible War, or take control of the Reapers like taking over the big computer at the end of Deus Ex, or you destroy all technology like the end of Deus Ex: Invisible War (again).

And then you have the ending of Independence Day.

And then your crew crashes on an alien planet, like Gilligan's Island.


Mass Effect 3 had nothing interesting to say about the end of Mass Effect.

And from a studio that actually understands how to write good stories, the *best* stories in gaming, that's pretty unforgivable. And for them to have not screwed this up before, and suddenly doing it now, is simply shocking.

Mass Effect ended on a cliffhanger for the next game.

Mass Effect 2 ended on a really neat puzzle of figuring out which of your crew members to assign to what so everyone makes it out, followed by a somewhat silly bossfight, followed by a pretty cool cliffhanger for the next game.

Dragon Age: Origins ends on a slightly cheap-looking Animal House ending telling what people did after the war. (My Warden went away with Leliana.)

Dragon Age II, otherwise a trainwreck, ended with Varric finishing off his retelling of what the Champion did and how it affected the world.

Mass Effect 3 just kinda ran out. You talk to the Kid, and then the game tells you nothing meaningful about what happens to any of the characters or factions that you have been deciding the fates of for three games. The most you ever get to hear about any of them, *vefore* the ending, is the War Assets book. Which was interesting, but way too cheap. And when none of that comes up in the ending, that's real bad.

From the time you assault the Cerberus Base, no meaningful changes to the plot happens as a result of any choice you've ever made, with the only exception being the crew members you can say goodbye to before the final push. The Rachni Queen, or the geth and quarians, the asari, the turians, none of that shows up again after you've done with those missions.

All these interestings things are set up, through three games, and none of them paid off.

The last time that any choice you've made, influences the story in any way, is when Miranda does or doesn't survive the encounter with her father. After that; nothin'. And *certainly* not a fulfillment of the promise that every choice you've made affects the ending.

Unless you count the War Assets. And you shouldn't.

Patrick made a blog post about how he wanted to see *his* Mass Effect trilogy story through to the end, even with the mistakes he made in getting Miranda killed. If she did survive Mass Effect 2, and you actually did everything "right" in keeping her alive in Mass Effect 3, her only impact on the ending to the series, after being a main character for the last two games? "25 points". And a phone call. And only 12.5 points if you didn't play multiplayer.

That's not a worthy send-off for any character, and that's all you get for any of them, unless they happen to step off the crashed Normandy in your randomly chosen line-up.

Here's a better example:

My friend, who finished before me, didn't import his previous savegames, and ended up sacrificing the geth to save the quarians. Then he played multiplayer to geth the Effective Military Score up. He got the green ending.

My other friend, who is kind of a jerk, sacrificed Tali to save the geth, and he played some multiplayer to get the EMS up a bit. He got the green ending.

Me, I transferred my saves across four computers in as many years, and because I'm awesome, I saved *both* the geth and the quarians. And then I got the EMS up to 100% just in case.

And then I got the green ending.

For a series where you have been able to make choices that greatly impact the story being told, and a series which had been the prime example of the kind of great storytelling you only *can* do in games, that's just terrible.

And that's why the ending of Mass Effect 3 sucks.

As for any loose ends to tie up:

"It's not about the destination, it's the journey!"

You're wrong. The Mass Effect series has, at its core, been about influencing the story through your choices. It's a role playing game. And a pretty good one.

And even if you argue that the geth/quarian conflict, and the krogan genophage, and the fate of the Rachni queen, and so on, are all wrapped up *during* the game, and those count as endings? You're still wrong. The end of the geth/quarian conflict was fantastically told, it depended on your choices through three games, and it had massive implications for the state of the galaxy. But after that story wraps up, the only change to Mass Effect 3 from then on is whether or not Tali is a crew member. You never see the geth, or the quarians again, even though the game says that it's going to. I'm pretty sure that if you save just the quarians, instead of both the quarians and the geth, that only *one* line of dialogue changes. It's a build up to resolving the *real* conflict of the game, and it's a build up-that never pays off. Not a single one of your choices influence anything that happens in the ending, other than if you have enough EMS. And multiplayer influences that just as much as single player, which is disgusting.

"So what if this game sucked, it doesn't make the other games suck less!"

Yes it does.

Playing through Mass Effects 1 and 2, you're constantly reminded of how your choices have consequences. Even for the first half of Mass Effect 3, you still get those consequences presented to you; it sure isn't nice to see Legion die to save the geth and make peace with the quarians, but that's what Mass Effect 2 built towards. Same thing with Mordin; he got a fantastic send-off. I made a choice in Mass Effect 2 to save the genophage cure data, because I believed that would give the best payoff in 3, and it did. Blowing up the Council (accidentally) in 1 was a mistake, and I paid for it in 2. And having it carry over into 3 as well, improved that choice in 1; I actually ended up with an extra ally 'cause I messed up in the first game. And that's a wonderful way my playthrough of the Mass Effect games became so rewarding.

But when so many of the choices made throughout the previous games *don't* have a payoff at the end, that makes those setups worth less. Saving the rachni queen in 1 was a big choice, then, and it had very little payoff in 2. That was a disappointment. And now that the final state of the galaxy doesn't care in any meaningful way if she lives or dies in 3, that makes that original choice in Mass Effect 1 also meaningless. That game is worse now that 3 has proven that that choice is *actually* meaningless, and not like it was in Mass Effect 2 where her brief cameo hinted that it was meaningless now, but was *going* to be important. And then it wasn't. Getting a bonus 100 War Asset points for keeping her alive is not meaningful. I can get that by playing Multiplayer.

And there are a *lot* of characters and factions and solar systems and such that end up not having any meaningful consequences.

Any future playthroughs of Mass Effect 1 and 2 *is* going to be influenced by Mass Effect 3. For some, like choices related to Mordin, Mass Effect 3 made Mass Effect 2 better. For most, however, failing to even attempt to tie up the loose ends makes the first two games worse.

I kept Liara alive through three games, I made her the Shadow Broker, I romanced her in all three games (I did cheat on her with Kelly Chambers, but then again, who didn't), and what happened to the Shepard's One True Love?

Meh, says Mass Effect 3.

"The Indoctrination Theory is actually really clever! It's totally a fantastic ending"

It doesn't tie up any plotlines in any meaningful way. So no.

Also, if BioWare intended this to be what actually happened to Shepard, they did a pretty poor job of getting that across. And if that's a kind of puzzle for the player to figure out, it's a pretty terrible puzzle. I should know, I've designed puzzles that were really bad.

But worst of all: If the true ending to Mass Effect 3 can be summed up as "it's all a dream", then the first step is to add "The Wizard of Oz" to the list of terrible places they stole the ending from.

And then the final step is to realise that apparently, BioWare ARE THE WORST WRITERS OF ANYTHING IN HISTORY.

You don't end stories with "and then it was all just a dream".

I'll end this Great Wall of Text with how I experienced the ending of Mass Effect 3.

Here's a pretty good facsimile of my thoughts as it happened:

"Huh. Uhm. Okay, the beam was to cyborg everyone... And then the one where Anderson was blown up was the one that killed the reapers and also the geth. And then the one that zapped The Illusive Man was the control one. And I don't want to do that, 'cause fuck those Reapers. Having them around can't be good. And that's what The Illusive Man wants to do, and that didn't work out for him that great.

Now, which side was the Anderson one... Left...? Right...? Uhm... Can I ask the kid for the options again... No. Okay... Well... I don't want to kill the geth, I don't mind fucking over EDI, she's even willing to sacrifice herself, but the geth are an awful lot of units with souls, *and* they're helping the quarians so I don't want to bone them up either... Although, *how* does this kill the geth...?

Uhm. I guess I'll go with the Deus Ex option. Or was that Deus Ex: Invisible War? Man, that game was kinda bad. Right, into the beam, Shepard! It's a shame you can't take the Reapers with you!

...Huh. That looks like Christ imagery, but also, uhm... Alien³. Uhm. That's a pretty shitty movie. Oh, I hope this isn't the bad ending that guy on the Amazon User Review mentioned, which is the only thing I've heard about this game because I've been avoiding spoilers.

Okay, green wave spreading across, soldiers cheer at the victory over alien invaders like in Independence Day... Normandy is travelling through a Mass Relay, probably hauling someone away for some reason... Hm, and there it crashed, and Joker and EDI steps out. Well, this isn't anything like Adam and Eve at all. And, wait, Liara? And Javik and... Uh... Didn't Liara *die* earlier? I guess they'll explain more when they show the next cutscene like in Fallout... WHAT!? END CREDITS!? ...Uh. Huh. Huh! Huh... Maybe there's something after the end credits.

Hey, I know that voice, that's Buzz Aldrin. And he's still not learned to be a voice actor since he was on The Simpsons.

Hm, they solved how you get into future DLC a bit more elegantly than Mass Effect 2 just kicking you back to the Normandy...


Hang on...

That's *IT*!?

*That's* how they ended Mass Effect 3? Those two cutscenes?

Man, no wonder they're complaining about this ending, if this is the "good" ending and the most difficult one to get. Man, I have to go through the end again to get to the non-joke endings tomorrow."

And then, after playing through to the ending choice the day after...

"Okay, now to get the non-joke ending. Man, that ending yesterday was terrible. Let's see, now that I've evidently taken the wrong choice, let's take the second-wrongest choice so I can save the best choice for last. Controlling the Reapers, that seems like a great idea! I have no compulsions against doing what The Illusive Man wants to do! Zapping Shepard with electricity, that seems awesome! The Reapers are *never* gonna rise up again ever!

...Wait. That's the shot from yesterday, the Independence Day one. Uhm. And that's the wave from yesterday, except blue... Oh. Uh oh. And that's the Normandy traveling through space... Uh... And there the Normandy crashed... And that's EDI and Liara and Tali... And end credits.

Oh. Oh. I... Oh. If... Oh. Oh man.

Destroying the reapers, that can't possibly be *this*, can it? Right, I heard someone mentioning that Shepard survives if you have enough EMS, and I have all of the EMS. Okay, autosave, take me away.

Right. Shoot the fusebox like in Commander Keen V. Don't know why Shepard is walking towards the explosion, seems counterproductive. And... Oh no. That's the Independence Day shot. Except the Reapers are crashing, so it's even more Independent. And then a red wave. And then the Normandy. And then this time, no EDI, that makes sense. Wait. No it doesn't. And then...

Uh, is that guy in N7 armour Shepard? 'Cause that's clearly guy armour. Is it Anderson? That moan *could* be Jennifer Hale, I've heard her moan in games before. Keith David could probably not moan at that pitch. So I guess that's Shepard. And they didn't re-render the video for FemShep, huh.

And that's the end of Mass Effect.



I *see* why the internet is upset about this, yes.

Yes indeed.




...I hope they fix this with DLC."

P.S. Really sorry about the wall of text, it looked way smaller as I was typing it.

For four hours.

So don't nobody say that fans of Mass Effect never articulated what complaints they had about the ending.

#10 Posted by Goggen240 (22 posts) -


Kai Leng is from the third and fourth Mass Effect books. He was a ninja assassin there too, and he didn't leave enough of an imprint on me for me to actually remember what his backstory was. Or that he even *was* in the books, until halfway through Mass Effect 3.

"Oh yeah! That guy! What's-his-masked-face from the books!"

Although, he *could* have an awful lot of terrific and memorable characterisation in the fourth book, which I haven't read. But from what I've heard of how good the fourth book, which is "not at all", I doubt it.

Making him the second-baddest guy in the game was *probably* a poor move. I would have preferred, I dunno... A Reaper or something? Actually have the Reapers be involved in the Reapers taking over the galaxy, somehow? What's Harbinger doing these days? Is he tormenting these humans who are trying to save all intelligent life in the galaxy? No? ...Why not?

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