Protecting Creative Risk And Integrity: Why Mass Effect 3's Ending Should Never Be Changed

Yesterday folks got into a bit of a kerfuffle about Mass Effect 3's ending. Some were happy with it, some were angry — but many have gone as far to say it should actually be retrospectively changed. You can agree or disagree — but that's where I draw the line. This rant is completely spoiler free!

In Tsugumi Ohba’s Bakuman, the talented Mashiro and Tagaki write manga. It is their dream to create incredible stories together; stories that will inspire and dazzle their audience. Their nemesis is the scheming Nanamine, a writer who idolises the combined abilities of Mashiro and Takagi, but secretly wishes to dethrone them.

He has no writing or drawing talent to speak of — he can’t create Manga — so in order to compete he recruits hundreds of wanna-be writers and artists from the internet. By manipulating this hive mind he attempts to compete with Mashiro and Takagi.

Nanamine crowdsources everything — the writing, the art, the plot, the structure — every aspect of his manga is fine tuned to the expectations and demands of this massive group. His work is the end result of hours of group testing, by hundreds of informed readers — the perfect manga — finely tuned, slickly produced, well-constructed.

And completely, utterly sterile.

I was reminded of Bakuman as the internet bile began to surface in response to Mass Effect 3’s ending. Considering the investment gamers had in the Mass Effect trilogy, and the personal investment many had — in their own designed protagonist and choices — some sort of negative response was always going to be expected.

I had no issue with the negativity, because I understand. On multiple occasions I’ve been massively disappointed in fiction. I’ve been frustrated. I’ve been downright furious with the way certain movies, games or books have ended.

But not once have I ever, ever suggested that the author take their work back and completely transform and change something to my own personal specifications.

Because that would be complete lunacy.

Let me reiterate — if you hated the ending of Mass Effect 3, please continue to whinge. Continue to be angry. Please continue to bitch about how it goes against everything the series stands for — dramatically cast your hands to the sky like a collective Darth Vader, and scream ‘NNOOOO’ in abject despair! Absolutely, that is your right.

But it is not your right to demand that the ending be changed. You have absolutely no say in that, and that is the way it should be.

There’s a tremendous difference between arguing and discussing how Bioware should have handled Mass Effect 3’s ending, and demanding they change it. Some are too entitled to tell the difference, but it’s paramount.

A game like Mass Effect, which is clearly designed and carefully built — with every detail of the universe accounted for — could not bear the damage a fan-demanded change to its fiction would create. Its integrity would collapse. This is Bioware’s story — no matter how personal your own existence within Mass Effect’s universe is, that existence was made possible within the confines of Bioware’s authorial intent. Full stop. You don’t get to change that. Once a word is said, it cannot be unsaid.

Fiction should delight us, it should broaden our horizons. It should challenge us, make us angry — often for the wrong reasons. Fiction should also have the propensity to disappoint us. But it must never, never pander to us.

I don’t want to engage with fiction that simply regales the story I want it to tell. Why would I? I want to be surprised by what I read/play/watch. Compared to other media, video game fiction is easily the least static, but that doesn’t mean that the creative act should be democratic — there still has to be structure. You must still react to what a creator has made for you, and you don’t get to change that — imagine the precedent that would set.

Once a piece of fiction is complete, and released into the wild, it must remain that way or its integrity will be desecrated.

In Bakuman, Mashiro and Tagaki write a weekly manga. They respond to their audience, because theirs is a commercial endeavour. If certain characters aren't liked, they may phase them out. If a certain story arc isn't gaining traction, they may cut it short. But nothing is ever changed in retrospect. Once is story is told it cannot be untold.

Mashiro and Tagaki work in isolation, fuelled by their own creative impulse, delivering content fans are inspired and energised by. The same audience reacts to Nanamine's output with a dull indifference. It's hard to become passionate about something that's created by committee — something that lacks the spark of an individual voice. It can never be original, it can never dazzle.

And that's what we risk when we demand retrospective change by committee — we risk derailing creative risk, we risk subverting the act of individual creativity.

I haven't finished Mass Effect 3 yet, but I don't care if Bioware's ending completely shatters everything I hold dear about the series. I don't care if my Shepard starts doing the moonwalk over Reaper corpses before engaging in a dance fight to the death with the Illusive Man. I don't care how ludicrous or flat out wrong Bioware's ending to Mass Effect is, I will accept it as canon because I shouldn't have any choice. Sure, I will howl at the moon with a primordial rage, maybe even snap both discs in two, but I will never question Bioware's authorial integrity, because Mass Effect is Bioware's story to tell, and I'm just going to have to deal with it.


Comments

    *stands up and applauds*

      What an asinine, stupid rant--comparing an interactive game with a manga which is--by and large--the work of one creative mind. Our "investment" in ME3 was the control of the character and, one would expect, the control of his actions and of his ending.

      That's the point of interactivity: your actions change the course of the story. You should be able to bring about most reasonable endings through the choices you make.

      Sorry, the failure was on Bioware's part. Besides, your comments--and they sound awfully arrogant to me--suggest that author's have never changed their endings to suit their fans (see Sherlock Holmes). Fans, if you remember, demanded Conan Doyle resurrect his detective and he obliged.

      You've got to understand they are a business and some of us no longer trust the people creating their content (I don't). We simply won't purchase goods from the company making this product. I just don't trust bioware any more.

      For the same reason, you end a manga badly at your own peril: your readers may decide they cannot trust you any more. It's something that writers should always keep firmly in mind.

        Just because you made choices within an interactive world, doesn't mean you are the author. You made those choices within parameters set by Bioware, within a universe they created.

          the mass effect 3 ending is terrible though for a range of reasons

          -> there is no foreshadowing about the existance of the god-child
          -> the purpose of the cycle is illogical
          -> the entire lore about the reapers is retconed in the last 10 mins of the game.
          -> Joker's actions make no sense. Not only do they contradict his character, the Normandy SR-2 being affected by the ending is also illogical.
          -> Certain members of your crew were with Shepard for the final mission, not on the Normandy which is light years away...
          -> the ending of ME3 will need to be retconed for any game set in the ME universe (unless the new game is something ridiculous like 10,000 years in the future)

          Given this i think that is completely reasonable for fans to ask bioware to add an epilogue to the ending how the players choices effected the universe. If they choose to go further than that then i hope they change the god-child's speech, the reason for the existence of the reapers, joker's bizarre actions, the lollore about the location of your crew, etc.

            Except that Bioware EXPLICITLY sold the game as a being a conclusion with myriad endings based on a combination of the choices players made. Direct quote from Casey Hudson:

            "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.

            “It’s more like there are some really obvious things that are different and then lots and lots of smaller things, lots of things about who lives and who dies, civilizations that rose and fell, all the way down to individual characters. That becomes the state of where you left your galaxy. The endings have a lot more sophistication and variety in them.”

            There are many more places where various Bioware reps stated that the conclusion would be contingent on the choices players made throughout the series. ME3 completely doesn't deliver on that promise. If someone sells me a car and they really play up the MPG being 40 in order to convince me to buy it, and then I get on the road and the MPG is 20, I have every right to be pissed and demand recompense of some sort.

              The “ending” is not made up of only the that final ending sequence. How about the ending of an entire civilization, or not, certain diseases that were cured, or not, and characters that died along the way. These all form part of “the ending.”

              In closing: The ending is the actually the sum of all the story arcs within the game. Not just the final closing sequence.

          yeah my biggest problem with the endings was the fate of the Normandy...

          somehow, everyone ended up back on the Normandy doing a Mass Relay jump while the Crucible fired when only a few moments ago they were all still on Earth fighting.

          Seems completely impossible that in the heat of the battle, the Normandy picked everyone up from Earth and said, see u later suckers!!!...and ran off. lol.

            Miranda - Galatic Underwear Model of the Year 26 straight years running
            Jacob - Married with 3 children...happily ever after
            Zaeed/Kasumi - disappeared into the Traverse
            Ashley/Kaiden - distinguished Spectre career; Alliance admiral later
            Humanity - Rebuilt Earth in whatever way would best make sense for the ending

            Mordin/Wrex/Grunt - helped rebuild the Krogan to their former glory, without the whole mindless rage stuff. Eventually gain an embassy on the new Galactic Council (based on planet xxxxxx); alternatively they die off, leaving dead worlds behind.

            Garrus/Turians - Garrus ends up as Primarch, considered one of the best leaders ever. Turians rebuild based on final choice.

            Tali/Quarians - Tali retains position of Admiral of the civilian fleet, but focuses on Rannoch; rebuilt with Geth help and a happily ever after; or Quarians retain Rannoch, rebuilding takes centuries.

            Liara/Samara - Continue their respective paths before the war. Feron becomes the Shadow Broker. Asari recover the fastest from the war.

            Reapers - Destroyed,leave for darkspace, or used for "good" or "evil" depending on Shepard

            Tried to leave some major spoilers out. Is that a good epilogue?

              Haha yeah those are great! Except with the mass relay explosions supposed to wipe out complete systems. Even if somehow the systems were left intact, the other alien races that came to fight alongside Shep are now stranded in the Sol system and would eventually starve because they can't all eat human food and came to fight a final battle and not prepared for a long space voyage.

              If they attempted to use FTL to reach their planets they would never reach it because they can't live that long as their home worlds are hundreds and thousands of lightyears away from the Sol system.

              So their option would be to colonize Earth and eventually war would break out for land between the former allies and because of this no matter what ending you get everyone dies.

              EEFFFFFF!!!!!

          I find it interesting that you can make these statements before you have experienced what others already have. They are individuals who have experienced the ending. You have not. I felt like you did until i finished the game and i was left similarly upset like these fans who want to change the ending. I personally dont think the ending should be changed, but i have the right to have that opinion because i have experienced it. You have not. Suffice to say that i will not buy anymore Bioware games anymore. Especially since Drew Karpyshyn is no longer a part of Bioware. My favourite Bioware games had him involved as either lead writer or a writer in some degree.

          Im afraid with our Drew, there wont be anymore compelling stories for me from Bioware.

            I could not agree more.

            I can deal with most of the ending, just not that part of it.

            Unfortunately no. With all the mass relays gone, all of the species are now trapped in the Sol system. So that means that curing the genophage, reclaiming the Quarian homeworld, and relieving the Turian homeworld means nothing. They will all be stuck on cruddy old earth. And Joker and the surviving members of your crew are no stranded without contact of any kind somewhere and are doomed to stay there it seems. So all the galactic races will starve due to lack of resources on earth (Bioware even said that Turians and Quarians can't eat human food), your crew is lost to space, and society as a whole has now lost 15,000 years of technological evolution and will no longer be able to travel around the galaxy like before. Gaming universe: Decimated in 10 minutes.

              They didn't just herd every species into a giant arc and ship 'em to earth.
              There were still battles going on at everyones home systems. Battles consisting of reapers.. and survivors.

          Well, yes and no. Is it Bioware's game? Certainly. Their universe? Damn skippy. Their *story*? Well, now, I think that's where it starts to get a little blurry. The provide the framework for the story - the aforementioned universe and gameplay. But the way the players use that framework to creative a narrative within that structure makes it their story, at least partially. It's rather more like a game of Dungeons and Dragons in that respect than a traditional video game. A D&D game may be the Dungeon Master's world, the DM's NPCs, the DM's events and even, sometimes, the DM's pre-prepared player characters. But it's a story that the DM and PCs tell together.

          I actually think that is, on one level, why so many have had a visceral reaction to the ending. For over a hundred hours, it has been the players' story, one they told with the assistance of Bioware. You see it in the way people speak about the game and characters and, yes, story. But, in those last ten minutes, Bioware returns to reclaim sole ownership of the story from them.

          The fact of the matter is this. Thinking in a grander real world scale there's some room to manuver. But as a player. Everything...EVERYTHING that we did was for nothing at all. Not a damned thing. And if you think the people who spent a lot of money to buy this shouldn't have a say. When the ENTIRE SERIES is predicated on it. You sir are WRONG.

          I'm disappointed. Very disappointed in the ending of this. and i for one hope something does change.

          This is different than telling the author of a book or the director of a movie "your ending sucks, make us a new one." Video Games are a whole new type of art form, one more based on fan input than anything that has come before it. Game developers who disregard their fans tend not to fare too well. Also, whether the fans are justified in asking for a new ending depends on the kind of game. A linear shooter for example, will have (or should have) a very clear narrative direction and a definite ending, an ending to this should be left up to the writing team, it's their story.

          Mass Effect, and other similar RPG's have a very different set of rules when it comes to storytelling. The enabling of the player to dictate the way the story flows demands numerous and varied paths for any given situation. For the most part the Mass Effect trilogy accomplishes this (an amazing feat that should not be overlooked.) However, and this is a big one, at the very end the game abruptly changes that dynamic yanking the player into a much more linear and directed experience (to say nothing of the deus ex machina, numerous plot holes and complete lack of closure.) This fundamental shift violates the player/story relationship that has gone on for the entire series. For me, the most jarring was the shift in genre. Up until the ending of the series, Mass Effect has been a Space Opera/Military Drama then abruptly at the last moment it becomes something akin to metaphysical pulp science fiction.

          Essentially it would be as if the Star Wars Original Trilogy's ending was replaced with that of 2001:A Space Odyssey. As the credits rolled, you would most definitely want your money back. Be glad we're not asking for a full refund.

            Asking for a refund would be more reasonable.

              I'd like to read what you have to say after you have completed the game.
              I'm not being sarcastic, snotty, or anything like that. I'd really like to read what you have to say after you've experienced the ending.

          They "created" this universe, yes; however, they are not the sole author of OUR Shepard's story. Your comment, and article in general, would have worked better if we were talking about a movie, novel, manga or a game where all the player does is participate in battles and watch pretty cut scenes; however, Mass Effect is not like that at all. This series is a interaction between player and developer by which the developer provides us a framework to write our own story; taking that away from us at the end to have us railroaded into one giant train station with three doors painted three different colors is cheating their own fans. This is the end of Shepard's story, this should be huge, but it's not because of lazy writers.

          But see, thing is, we WERE the authors. Each of our Shepards went through major events with our hand to guide them. WE made our Shepards by deciding how to react to the trials Shepard faced. Our love interests, how we reacted to different races and their turmoils all mattered to us. Some of us even went through the game multiple times to get it just perfect so we could carry on our Shepard legacy from start to finish.
          Only to be told none of it mattered in the end. It didn't mattered who you loved, what you did or anything. In the end you are either alone or dead and the Galaxy is fucked.
          We ARE the authors of our Shepard's fate. And to have that taken from us at the last moment is unforgivable.

          Any GM worth his salt knows that he's only contributing half of the story to any given RPG. The rest is taken up by the player, who then contributes the rest of the story by choosing to react to the world the GM has set out in the manner their character would. This is one of the most hallowed rules of RPGs and breaking it can, in extreme circumstances, result in a fight.

          The uproar surrounding the endings of Mass Effect 3 is the above fight expanded a thousand-fold. Suddenly the player has been railroaded into a martyrdom ending (which the Wachowsky brothers were correct in calling a really lame way to end a video game) with no real option for 'success'. Mass Effect has thrown some magnificent curve-balls my way; especially regarding the Geth Heretics in ME2 and I was expecting the unexpected from Bioware with regards to the story. But not this.

          I did everything, I got my war map to 100% in multiplayer, collected every war resource available, and there was no victory?! Any GM knows that there needs to be at least the possibility of victory, otherwise they piss everybody off. The idea they had for the ending of ME2 was perfect; make the right choices or people will die. Why not expand upon that? The last mission of ME2 was one of the most praised aspects of the game!

          Anyhoo, I'm rambling. The moral of this story is that if I want an uplifting tale of self-sacrifice for the greater good I'll read 'A Tale of Two Cities', Let me win my computer game that I've invested five years in please!

            I like you and your nice way of arguing and disagreeing with me without insults and stuff. Please comment again!

            http://img.timeinc.net/time/daily/2008/0806/obama_fist_bump_0605.jpg

        Let us take a moment to thank the universe that not everyone thinks like Craigrb. What a boring world it would be. Your actions in ME don't change the course of the story, they change which predetermined path you went along. You 'interact' by choosing which path you take, not the direction of the path itself.

          Ed Zackery! Plus, the ending was pretty awesome. I truly enjoyed every minute with that game. Shepard fought hard and she was rewarded.

          the only thing that got to me was Origin, but I bared with it for my play though. Now it's gone (^_^)

        So you're telling the author of this article that he's arrogant, while simultaneously telling him that his opinion is asinine and stupid because his opinion doesn't line up with yours?

        OK.

          No, actually, he did qualify why it is he felt the author of the article was arrogant, and it was not because the author's opinion differed from his own.
          Read the comment again; see if you can spot those reasons! :)

        .... plus 9 billion!!!!! suck it, you sycophantic bioware tree hugging apologists!
        the ending sucked!

      Clearly not gamers,or sensible rational people. Any product of fiction that is built on user decisions and feedback should end the same way,why make any decisions in the game when the ending is predetermined to 3 options. Most people played mass because of the open element,you can choose your game. To end like it did was a slap in the face to all who invested time and money into bioware,they dangled a carrot, I bought it,what a waste. They probably will release dlc ending, it was probably planned all along to milk all the cash they can get. Games cease to be art or even games,just false ideas to make cash.

        Any product of fiction that you make should end how you want it to. Don't like this ending tot he game? Make your own game with an awesome ending, just for you. The rest of us can enjoy this ending, or at least understand that it's not for us to DEMAND it being changed.

      HA. Mass Effect 3 can't bear having a fan demanded ending change because the integrity of the story would collapse? I'm pretty sure Bioware already took responsibility and destroyed the story themselves. Your argument is poorly thought out and stupid, especially since you haven't even seen the ending yet. Next time you write a ridiculous article like this, just keep it in your diary.

    *sunglasses.gif*

    But the question is... Is it the ending?

      YEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

      *guitar riff*

      This is the part where I'd like the X-Files theme to start playing.

      Honestly haven't considered that. It has been stated before that the creators would like to look further into the series.

      And, despite current reactions, it has the potential to be a cash cow.

    I'd like to see what you think about the ending then once you finish the game. If you will be angry at it and break the disc. I dislike it because I feel it negates everything you've done and worked towards. But cant say much more without spoiling lol.

      I just finished it then. Was not angry in the least. Saw the problems with it, but the amount of butthurt over this is ridiculously out of proportion. My theory is you have to have an angry nerd level of >50 to be as bothered by it as people have been.

        Someone else with a rational point of view? Impossible!

        Thanks for the breath of fresh air.

    Completely agree with you.

    And this one sentence sums up how i feel completely:
    Once is story is told it cannot be untold.

    To rewrite, redo its ending... it just wouldnt be the same. You cant actually pretend the original ending never happened. You've already been told the story. By redoing the ending, you are destroying the natural flow of the story, you are destroying the narrative in the process.

      That would require the ending to fit with the flow of the story.

      I agree. One can't unsee what has already been seen, and actually the ending did fit I think. Yes it was a bit out there and sudden, but how is it any less believable than super intelligent star ships that are on a mission to destroy the universe. To the people who say there was no lore regarding the "ending", well clearly you missed the part where Shepperd learns he is the first organic to reach said place. In other words he was making history, not repeating it, and thus it had never been recorded before.

      Finally, only one dimensional people can't see the bigger picture and what the producers meant by multiple endings. The "ending" is not made up of only the that final ending sequence. How about the ending of an entire civilization, or not, certain diseases that were cured, or not, and characters that died along the way. These all form part of "the ending."

      In closing: The ending is the actually the sum of all the story arcs within the game. Not just the final closing sequence.

    "engaging in a dance fight to the death with the Illusive Man"

    That is... far too similar to part of the ending for my liking.

    Still, I agree with you, Marky Mark. The ending may be bad, but it's still the ending. Petitioning to change it is just silly.

    *raucous applause*

    Couldn't agree more.

    As someone who likes to read and write, i don't like the idea of changing what is already written.

    Just because people aren't happy with it doesn't mean it should be changed.

    What is written cannot, and should not, be unwritten.

    Another fantastic article, mate :)

    Really?

    And did they damage their artistic creativity by rewriting after the leaks? Or in response to any pre-publication feedback?

    Or do you really imagine that it springs, fully formed from the pen of a genius?

    No.

    In fact, hell, no.

    You make a mistake, fix it.

    And the problem with the mass effect ending isn't that it's bad, but that it is internally inconsistent and derails main characters, characters you've observed and controlled, influenced and cared about for more than 100 hours over three games.

    And besides all that, it is, in fact, my right to demand a different ending. It's there right to tell me to take a hike. It's my right not to give them anymore of my money and it's there right to sell to someone else. This isn't about rights, it is about choices and the choices here, like at the end of Mass Effect, are all pretty bad, which is sad, but Bioware's fault.

      The leak is a completely different scenario: it was a leak of a draft. This was not a draft, this was the final product.

      Besides, why do people feel entitled to something like this? You want Bioware to, what, get all of their animators, voice artists, concept artists and what not to redo several scenes pro bono?

        Did I say pro bono? No. That’s you, magically sensing my intentions. Mistakenly.

        Why do I feel entitled to something they advertised? I’m silly like that, I know.

        “It’s not so much that there is a fixed set of alternative endings, but all of your choices really determine how things end up in the universe. So, how you approach the end-game, for every player, you’re going to have a different set of results in terms of who is alive and who is dead, and which civilisations survived and which ones were wiped out.

        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.”

        http://www.computerandvideogames.com/336331/interviews/mass-effect-3-we-cant-go-on-holiday-our-dlc-is-really-good/?page=2

        And this:

        He added: “I honestly think the player base is going to be really happy with the way we’ve done it. You had a part in it. Every decision you’ve made will impact how things go. The player’s also the architect of what happens.”

        Whether you’re happy or angry at the ending, know this: it is an ending. BioWare will not do a “Lost” and leave fans with more questions than answers after finishing the game, Gamble promised.

        “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.”

        http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-02-02-bioware-mass-effect-3-ending-will-make-some-people-angry

        As for the leak point: I’m sorry, but it doesn’t damage authorial integrity to change the ending because people talk about it before it’s published, but it does to change it because people are pointing out that it doesn’t make any sense?

        Riiiiight.

          So they aren't working pro bono, but you want them to patch the game? Where does the money come from to pay for their work? I apologise if you're one of the small minority that'd be okay with having to pay for the new ending, but in the venn diagram between people who hate DLC and people who hate this, there's a rather large overlap.

          The difference is that a draft isn't finished, but the final product is. Changing one is completely different to changing the other.

          "Every decision you’ve made will impact how things go."
          They did. They may not have impacted much how things ended, but it'd be a lie to say that your choices didn't affect how things went while playing the game.

          "BioWare will not do a “Lost” and leave fans with more questions than answers after finishing the game"
          From what I can see, they didn't. They left fans with questions, but not more than answers.

          "It’s not so much that there is a fixed set of alternative endings, but all of your choices really determine how things end up in the universe. So, how you approach the end-game, for every player, you’re going to have a different set of results in terms of who is alive and who is dead, and which civilisations survived and which ones were wiped out."

          This is all correct, no? The ending cinematic may not have extrapolated on it, but the decisions you made still had effects.

            Have you played the ending?

            I've been avoiding spoilers, but...no, that's not what happened. Not even close.

            For the Lost reference. I agree, they didn't end where Lost ends, they ended where Lost begins. Only with spaceships and transporting squadmates.

            Yes, I'd be willing to pay for a DLC. Though to be honest, I'd prefer if I didn't have to. When you screw up any other product badly enough that you need to repair it, that's on the company that produced it (either via warranty, or recall)

              "Where does the money come from to pay for their work?"

              Uh, how about the shit-tons of money they were paid by 890,000 people and counting? I'm sorry, but they are far from poor after having made money hand over fist on every game of the series.

            Sorry for the multiple responses, but I thought the after publication thing was a separate issue. How is changing it after publication not exactly what a DLC, Patch (or for a book) 2nd/3rd/whatevered Edition is for?

            We do this all the time. Sometimes we release it with annotations, sometimes we update it, sometimes we call it unabridged, or special edition, or five seconds of previously cut footage so we can get you to buy the same movie twice edition.

              That's a general 'we', I'm not a publisher.

    Personally, the more pressing issue would be how the ending didn't seem to 'fit in' with BioWare. If BioWare comes out and says "there's no conspiracy theory, it should end like this, we weren't rushed for time" it'd put my heart to rest, but for now my poor Shepard is bleeding out >:

      Sorry for the double post. This was a response to Josh, above.

    Moonwalking over Reapers and having a dance fight with the Illusive Man? That actually sounds like an AMAZING ending

      Maybe we should start a petition?

        I agree with the article, but I think an ending like that is just too awesome to pass up, maybe a DLC pack or something?

          One guy on 4chan suggested having a Space Jam between Earth and the Reapers.

            I think we need to petition BioWare to release modding tools so we can build these endings. I can imagine it now:

            BoyGhost: You can either choose to step it up and throw down against the reapers in a Dance Off, or you could Challenge them to an intergalatic game of B-Ball

              I want to romance Bubble Gum Tate, Commander of the Harlem Globetrotters.

        Still a better ending than ME3

    I disagree. Why? Simple.
    This is a game that doesnt have a single linear story. It has options. And you can simply add more options.

    Nobody wants the practically single ending rewritten to a different one. People want more options in spirit of the rest of the game. More options that could be influenced by the players actions throughout the game and the final scene. The current ending/s will be among of the options.

    In fact the games nowdays are being added to constantly by DLCs. ME3 will have DLCs too. So why not add something to the current ending?

    Now, im not saying demanding it is ok. Its not. But everyone has a right to voice their dissatisfaction.

    Can I quote Alan Moore here? Well I'm going to anyway.

    " It is not the job of the artist to give the audience what the audience want. If the audience knew what they needed then they wouldn't be an audience, they would be the artist. It is the job of the artist to give the audience what they need."

      Henry Ford: If I'd given customers what they wanted I would have built a faster horse.

        I think its actually "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse" which is subtly different, but close enough! As a designer I live by that sentiment every day, its interesting to see how it applies to fiction as well, great article Mark!!

        Henry Ford was also a recipient of an Iron Cross from Hitler.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

          According to popular youtube videos, Hitler is none to happy with the ME3 ending either.

      If said artist told me that they had a beautiful painting of a forest landscape and I paid them for just that, only to discover what I was sold was a painting of a bowl of fruit I would be upset.

    Great piece, it echoes my thoughts exactly.

    This article got me thinking- what if we take this issue and apply it to gameplay. Let's say that a group of developers create a gameplay mechanic that is so completely out of the norm in a well known genre like FPSs that players become disgruntled. Is it reasonable to expect change if this design choice was what the developer intended?

    For example what if the developers wanted us to walk with the right stick and look around with the left?

    Can this conversation be extended to other game elements like art style, soundtrack or Voice actors?(there was some anger over the new silent hill 2 voice work for the HD collection)

    The only gameplay specific examples I can think of are maybe Flower or Journey. A game like flower might have controlled better with the left analog stick but the guys at That game company used sixaxis controls instead. Before its beta journey's camera was controlled using only the sixaxis controls. Can we argue that the beta affected the artists 'pure' intentions? I'm not sure to be honest.

    I think this is an interesting topic to explore and some well spoken Kotaku members might want to give their thoughts.

      Why wouldnt it be reasonable? You can suggest any change, the developer has a choice to oblige or not, its his reputation and future money on the line.
      If you get a meal thats raw in a restaurant is it reasonable to ask them to cook it more?
      Sure, games are played by millions, not by a single person. But if alot of people complain its in the creators best interest to somehow satisfy the customers.

    Read the title and nothing else.

    Incidentally it's the fact that he keeps going back to retrospectively fiddle with stuff that makes people so upset with George Lucas.

      Nah man, Han always shot second. It was tricky editing that confused everyone at the time.

      >.>

      <.<

    Add me to the list of people disappointed by the ending, but there is no point in changing it. What I would maybe like to see is (free) DLC that takes place after the ending. Either playing as an established character or a new one and be able to explore the aftermath of your decisions.

    The only thing I really want from the ending is more information on what happens next.

    Dammit, would people who haven't played that damn ending please stop spouting uninformed opinions! It's like not watching a movie and saying "Oh, but I thought it was kinda good."

    Play it, then write down an INFORMED ****ING OPINION.

      As I said, it doesn't matter how it ends. I don't care how bad the ending is, my opinion on this still stands.

        Then you have jumped to conclusion before obtaining all the facts. Seems a little blind, no?

          No, not really. Read the paragraph about Shepard moonwalking! :)

            Then that is an admission of ignorance.
            Your opinion SHOULD be open for revision. Your article has stated more implicitly than simply "The ending should not be changed."
            You've ridiculed people out-of-hand for being as outraged as they are by the appalling ending; the ending you have yet to experience.
            That's why it was grossly arrogant and insensitive of you.

            The Alan Moore and Henry Ford quotes are not applicable here. (nevermind that Henry Ford did not invent the automobile; it was already realised in the marketplace)
            I urge you to be more honest; you surely know this is not about being ungrateful. The audience feels decieved by Bioware. This narrative was not a closed, completed product. We were drawn into this game because we were offered choices and felt like our decisions had a lasting impact in the game. Yet it leads up to a point where the rug is pulled out from under our feet.
            For the most part; the objectors have not wanted the ending to be RE-WRITTEN; you've missed the point if you feel this way.
            The objection has and will continue to be that Mass Effect 3 was advertised as a game with an open narrative; it was explicitly stated that WE shape the conclusion.
            That was a lie.
            We are offended by the lie.

        I 99% agree with Mark, and I'm assuming that the ending is as terrible as everyone says it is.

      This article isn't about the ending, it's about the petition to change the ending. It's a fairly clear distinction with a very different discussion.

        But his reasons for ridiculing that petition are misconceived. He has made it clear through the article that for a fan to petititon to change the ending is silly because we as the audience traditionally do not have a say in the final product.
        Every example and mention he makes of traditional narratives are ALL irrelevant because this product was ADVERTISED as being an OPEN NARRATIVE. It was explicitly stated to us that we shape the conclusion. That was a bold faced lie.
        Over 100 hours of time invested into a game; to amount to what it did; it's completely understandable that fans would petititon to get what they were promised.
        Mark missed that point entirely; he has presented this issue as if the fans were a bunch of misguided and ingrateful twats.
        His analysis of the reasons for the fans being outraged and demanding what was advertised to them is just completely wrong.

    (Minor spoilers)

    I would be fine with the ending if it just bloody told me what happens. What happens to all the other races, to the rest of humanity, to space travel in the galaxy. Without knowing it's just destroying what I've worked towards. I loved the past two games because of the universe and its inhabitants, and with this ending it performs in such a way that I don't know if anything I did was worth doing. I think this kind of resolution can be fixed with a DLC ending addition similar to that of Dragon Age: Origins or Fallout 3.

    (End spoilers)

    PS: Mark, I thought I should also mention, in case you hadn't worked out yet, that the people reacting to Owen's rant were angry because of his disrespectfulness of their opinions (at least, that is my opinion on the matter). The fact that he just swats it aside with some facepalm image makes him no better than some random tool on 4Chan, in my honest opinion. You article and Kate's article a couple pages from the front handle it quite well; I was frankly very offended by Owen's article and do not appreciate that kind of journalism. My two cents.

      doing this would prevent future endeavours in the Universe. Room to explore side missions with Asari in DLC or even an entire game of its own (Asari Commando's or something). All they have done is complete Shepards story arc. As was mentioned from Day 1 reveal of ME3. By completeing what else happens in the universe limits creativity continuing on. It leaves the proverbial door open so to speak.

    In the end the internet has given people a voice, and a lot of the people complaining probably have absolutely no right to. (says the guy who ranted last week about boycotting ME3... still am btw)

    I want to see the movie God Bless America (google for a trailer) as it really shows what is wrong in this day and age.

      So it's 'Falling Down' with more laughs and fewer Nazis?

    However you will find these endings differ greatly from the ones leaked months ago. They were rewritten very quickly and made no mention to the greater forces of dark matter discussed in me and me2 so you end up with serious disconnect. Speaking as a budding author, your world has to be consistent. What happened was a tragedy that if it had happened in a series of books would have resulted in the entire series being considered blighted. If you think games should not be considered to be held to the same rules as books or movies then you cannot argue for games to be considered art. As for changing what has already been written, I agree it shouldn't be done. Although if this was a DVD release there are such things as director's cuts and alternative endings.

    Nice article Mr Serrels, though to me it really is just stating the obvious - otherwise we're getting into Misery territory in a way Stephen King would hardly believe.

    I really enjoyed the enlightening comparison to Bakuman, which is not something I am familiar with but am now browsing around various tabs taking it all in - which is always a sign of something well written I think.

      You should totally read Bakuman -- it's awesome!

        I'm looking into now!

      I will add to, that all this brouhaha has inspired me to hurry and finish ME3, just so I can see what the fuss is.

      I'm not invested even a little bit into the story, lore or the game (polar opposite to the 'what does Tali sweat taste like' and 'how do Krogans make love?' group of fans), as I've mentioned previously I think it's all pulpy trash that isn't memorable in the slightest, so I'm wondering if this supposed slight against the Internet is enough to arouse any emotion in me at all, or if I'll just laugh, and continue on my merry way, playing drawsomething on iDevices and generally not giving a fuck.

        You're so hip. You should be in an Apple commercial.

          You're even hipper for thinking that's not hip

        Yeah - give it to them nerds!

        You care so very little that you feel compelled to broadcast publicly just how little you care. I can see you now, sauntering around with your popped collar, wearing sunglasses inside, because when you're that cool... the suns shines 24/7

    Youre comparing apples and oranges. This is a non-linear game (at least somewhat) with options.
    A story of a game like this isnt set in stone. The player has options. Its not at all unreasonable to suggest adding different options through patches or DLCs or at least expanding on the current ending.
    DLCs already do that, different players have slightly different stories depending on the DLC they have. Whats the difference if you alter a middle of a story or an ending.

    Players just say what they'd like (even thought some of them are angry and rude about it) Bioware can oblige or not, its up to them.

      So Bioware should make several completely animated, voiced, illustrated and scripted endings? The only ways that would be possible is a shorter game, a more expensive game, 2D cutscenes or text on screen.

      And all would be hated.

        Cmon, you know thats BS. Considering how big the game already is, the amount of content that many players wont even see (all romances except 1 or 2, ALOT of scenes if you let many characters die in ME2 etc.), 3 or so different endings wouldnt be that big a deal budget-wise. Im not saying it has to be 2 hours long.
        A few ingame scenes and maybe Liara in the future reading about what happened to Shepard, the crew and the galaxy from that memory thingy she made. Wouldnt have to cost a fortune. A great series like this deserves a grander, more varied endings and some closure (assuming it wasnt all left open for a sequel/DLC)

        Joshy, if Bioware do not want to make several illustrated endings such as you've described, then they should not have ADVERTISED THEM.
        It's been pointed out repeatedly that we were lead to believe and explicitly told that WE, THE AUDIENCE, control how the story wraps up. The fans want what was promised to them.
        Bioware are still at fault, according to your reasoning, because they've promised something they probably never intended to deliver. Their fault; outrage of fans, then, is still justified.

    You said this was a spoiler free rant, but you totally went and spoiled the ending of Bakuman for me. I HATE YOU! *cries*

      Nod, can't agree more

      what ending?, Bakuman manga is still going strong in it's weekly releases.

        Hi Mashiro. Love your work man. Reversi is AWESOME.

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