Mass Effect Series Catch-All

No, I was not making a joke.

In reference to the specific message, it is supposedly someone from the writers' room offering their post mortem for how the much maligned ending of Mass Effect 3 came about. We know nothing about the identity of the writer, whether they were a junior member of the team or whether, like Casey Hudson and Mac Walters, they had several released games under their belt.

Just as an aside, if the message author was a member of the writing team, why did they only mention Casey Hudson by name, and not "their lead"? Could it be that they were pandering to the throngs of hate who wanted to blame Hudson for everything wrong with Mass Effect at the time? Could it be they didn't know who Mac Walters was? But I digress.

The message is full of basic game writing maxims without any mention of the mechanics or challenges associated with wrapping up a multi-year multi-game saga with a cast of dozens. In fact the whole thing reads like sour grapes to me. Maybe the creative director and lead writer decided that the ending was far too important to be driven by a committee. Maybe they had a specific vision that they wanted to ensure was kept intact. Maybe they just didn't like this particular person's ideas.

They were faced with a basically impossible task: to craft an ending to an interactive saga which had been played by millions of players millions of different ways. Millions of endings was not an option. They chose their conclusion. Rather than recognize the elegance of it, or even acknowledge the difficulty of coming up with any conclusion at all, Angry Internet Men came up with every imaginable critique, rational or not, and screamed those critiques from the rooftops. Over and over and over. And over.

So, no, this was not one of my typically sardonic ripostes to any mention of the conclusion of Mass Effect 3 in this topic.

However, I will state clearly and straightforwardly that if there is anything new or original to be said about the ending, I would love to read it. Unfortunately that has not been the case in this topic and its ME3 specific predecessor for many years.

I am delighted to see discussion of Mass Effect in the Mass Effect topic. I am less delighted to see the potential for the most divisive subject rehashed by the same people restating the same positions for the Nth time.

Okay maybe the 2nd most divisive topic. After all, there is Kaidan...

Right, but what did you think of the ending? I thought it was kinda bad. Not quite Game of Thrones finale bad, but pretty close.

However, I will state clearly and straightforwardly that if there is anything new or original to be said about the ending, I would love to read it. Unfortunately that has not been the case in this topic and its ME3 specific predecessor for many years.

How about, instead of us bitching about us talking about the ending to the series, which is, you know, kind of important to the overall story, you just stop reading the thread?

I mean, clearly there's nothing new to be said about Mass Effect, so why are you still here?

I agree with Ken's initial complaints - that it's unsourced and should be taken with a grain of salt...

Except that, Casey Hudson is known to be more than just a bit of a dick and egomaniac, so that account does not strike me as even remotely implausible.

I don't know how particularly famous this story is, but for ME1, there was a big go/no go meeting with the publisher and Hudson. Hudson came back from the meeting, telling the team working on the game that it was a go, meaning marketing materials were going out, and they were on a ticking clock. He used this to justify an extensive crunch period.

But it didn't take long for the team to realize that the marketing campaign wasn't happening. It ultimately was revealed that Hudson had definitely told the publisher "no go" at that meeting and had lied to justify the crunch.

This is not an unsourced story. It came directly from former Mass Effect developer James Henley, while streaming on Twitch, playing through ME1, with his face on camera, giving a "developer's commentary" of the game a couple years ago.

These were not the only less than favorable stories he told about Hudson during that stream, either. My other favorite one was that for most of ME1's development, the male version of Shepard in their test builds was modeled on Hudson's face, at his direction. It wasn't until someone with a better sense for the marketing and what kind of game they were making that someone sent the team making character models a picture of Mark Vanderloo and told them to replace the Hudson stand-in.

That Hudson would want to hunker down and claim the ending for himself is pretty plausible.

BadKen wrote:

Okay maybe the 2nd most divisive topic. After all, there is Kaidan...

Oh no. Oh no, you don't. You aren't dragging me into all of this, I wash my hands of this thread.
You all can keep chasing your tails and beating the dead horse that is ME3's ending, I'll be waaaaaaaaay over there actually enjoying myself.

Whenever people talk about the ME3 ending, I'm like, yeah, the indoctrination ending sure was brilliant.

BadKen wrote:

They were faced with a basically impossible task: to craft an ending to an interactive saga which had been played by millions of players millions of different ways. Millions of endings was not an option. They chose their conclusion.

I have the opposite issue with it. I did not want a million endings for all the choices we made. It will just be a million bad endings.
Give me 1 single ending. I know some people would dislike that, because "my choices?!". But I disagree. The impactful choices were all the stuff we did throughout the game, some of them with no consequences whatsoever. They do not have to influence the ending. They held their own significance in the moment. Having all kinds of different endings taking all kinds of choices into account is going to be a mess.
Same reason I dont like the ending of the first game, where you decide between promoting humans or saving the other species of the council. That is too big a choice to give the players. You can't do that choice any justice in the rest of the story. and unsurprisingly, they had try to avoid it as much as possible afterward.
Give me a good single-threaded main story, with lots of smaller side stories and choices, like how I interact with my crew, or even somewhat larger and long-winded stuff like the Mordin/genophage choices and consequences. Just dont mess with the overall narrative.

Say, has anyone pointed out yet that while the ending was very bad, the other 98% of ME3 was very good, so on balance it was a good and fitting end to the trilogy if you can manage to ignore the final Catalyst conversation and cut scene?

'Cause if I'm the first person to say it, then hooray for me! I solved it! We can all be friends again!

lol : D

in all seriousness, I've said a couple of times in here, I think, that people enjoyed Mass Effect on a number of different levels. It was a really great game in that way--lots of different people could enjoy it for different reasons. Individual people had an individual mix to why they were enjoying the game. That speaks to the quality of the game.

Some people were playing for the buildup of the mystery. If you were playing for that, it's harder to ignore that it didn't stick ending. If you weren't, it's easier. For some people, the game was just a road and if you run out of road you still got pretty far. For others, it was a bridge, and unless you're one of those Dukes boys, 98% of a bridge is still 100% not a bridge.

It's funny, I never thought about it until now, but there were probably people out there playing for the 'your choices matter' level, and they're *not* the same as the 'buildup of the mystery' people. Even though both would have a problem with the ending, they would have a problem for different reasons (and would split on the Refuse ending, I'd think--if you were playing for the mystery, the Refuse ending is...awesome).

We're all familiar with how horrible the response was from too many of the people who hated the game because of the ending. I think a lot of people on the other side dug in, though, because admitting someone else was right that the game didn't stick the landing felt like saying they were 'wrong' for enjoying it. But like I said, people were enjoying the game on so many different levels, there's no contradiction in someone who enjoyed the game agreeing that the game didn't deliver on some of the expectations it raised in some of the people playing it.

I can even see people who *were* playing for the ending disagreeing. If you had a more abstract expectation that the game would deliver on a certain mood, the ending may have been satisfying in a way it wasn't to the 'mystery' players and the 'choice' players.

There is also the true and real ending; Citadel DLC.

hbi2k wrote:

We can all be friends again!

Do you want the full list of divisive topics in Mass Effect?

Shadout wrote:

There is also the true and real ending; Citadel DLC.

I never played the Citadel DLC; I had already beaten the game by the time it came out and I no longer had the motivation to download it and see if I had a save file in the right spot etc. etc. etc.

I've heard nothing but good things; I'll be interested to check it out in the remastered edition.

Malor wrote:
However, I will state clearly and straightforwardly that if there is anything new or original to be said about the ending, I would love to read it. Unfortunately that has not been the case in this topic and its ME3 specific predecessor for many years.

How about, instead of us bitching about us talking about the ending to the series, which is, you know, kind of important to the overall story, you just stop reading the thread?

I mean, clearly there's nothing new to be said about Mass Effect, so why are you still here?

No, Malor, I'm only bitching about you in particular talking about the ending of the story, and I want you to stop reading the thread.

...

That sentence is just about as accurate a characterization of my message as what you wrote.

Of course there are new things to be said about Mass Effect. Remember what I said about millions of players playing millions of different ways?

Actually, I want to start a new trend where hating everything about the trilogy except for the Catalyst ending is what cool people do, so friendship not granted.

Shadout wrote:

Do you want the full list of divisive topics in Mass Effect?

Here's an earnest one to genuinely add to the list: I think the Citadel DLC is far and away the worst Mass Effect content BioWare ever made. It takes all the thoughtful writing and characterization and throws it in the dumpster for the laziest pandering you can imagine. It's the Family Guy episode of Mass Effect.

The thing I'm most sad and disappointed by is that we only got to use the underwater mech in that one part of Leviathan and then never see it again!

kuddles wrote:

Actually, I want to start a new trend where hating everything about the trilogy except for the Catalyst ending is what cool people do, so friendship not granted.

Shadout wrote:

Do you want the full list of divisive topics in Mass Effect?

Here's an earnest one to genuinely add to the list: I think the Citadel DLC is far and away the worst Mass Effect content BioWare ever made. It takes all the thoughtful writing and characterization and throws it in the dumpster for the laziest pandering you can imagine. It's the Family Guy episode of Mass Effect.

I, for one, heartily approve of using Family Guy as a metaphor for lazy pandering.

Spoiler:

Also Kaidan rules.

kuddles wrote:

Here's an earnest one to genuinely add to the list: I think the Citadel DLC is far and away the worst Mass Effect content BioWare ever made. It takes all the thoughtful writing and characterization and throws it in the dumpster for the laziest pandering you can imagine. It's the Family Guy episode of Mass Effect.

Fight me!
It is true it was pure pandering, but since that is exactly what it was made for and advertised as, I didn’t mind. There was no meaningful story or connection to the rest of the game, just a fun goodbye.

dejanzie wrote:
Spoiler:

Also Kaidan rules.

Spoiler:

Just not for a very long time.

maverickz wrote:

The thing I'm most sad and disappointed by is that we only got to use the underwater mech in that one part of Leviathan and then never see it again!

You could have had Shepard trying to locate a signal in her mech and come across an entire abandoned underwater city called Rapture.

I didn't mind the ending so much. Journey, not the destination and all. That said, I do kind of wish that what the galaxy was building wasn't a magical device. I thought it would be cooler if they were just building a huge dreadnought or an anti-Reaper Reaper or something they came up with based on researching Reaper tech. Then you can have a series of endings based on its effectiveness which is based on a combination of how much cooperation you get from all the other species throughout the game plus how many resources they have to offer which would be affected by decisions from the previous games (i.e. kill the council, Wrex alive to unite Krogans, etc.,.). But I am neither a coder nor a writer so that's probably just a technological pipe dream or stupid head canon.

I was honestly disappointed that Warscore in ME3 didn't really amount to much.

And yeah, the Citadel DLC is 100% fanservice. I don't hate it for that, though. But I do really, really dislike Family Guy.

And okra.

I can understand why they didn't want to make multiple endings based on the war score. I'd have been content with just a little text screen at the end breaking down how many people ultimately survived the reaper war, with higher scores yielding better results.

I was confused by the reveal of why the Reapers did what they did. I may me wrong as it's been a while since I played but they seemed to be

Spoiler:

trying to stop all life being destroyed by synthetics by destroying all life?

Which if true makes no sense.

They were trying to save all life by wiping out any life where technology had been developed above a certain level, basically kind of like a cosmic immune system removing a threat. They exist to keep things alive, and the best way to do that is to remove any potential threats to that on a regular basis.

It's kind of like in Halo how the best way to stop the Flood is to kill everything around. Cut off the infected limb to save the patient.

Same story as the Shivans from Freespace. It's all based on the concept of the Great Filter.

BadKen wrote:

I was honestly disappointed that Warscore in ME3 didn't really amount to much.

Very much this. To be clear, I like ME 3 a lot. It's got some of the best stuff in the series. And the very end, I kind of just shrug at. Whatever. It didn't retroactively ruin everything leading up to it that way GoT did (for me).

That said, they spend the whole game telling you how important the Warscore is, and the gameplay sequences that lead up to the end do not change at all based on that. It's a couple extra clips in the entry cutscene for that final mission sequence. I'm sure lots of behind-the-scenes factors go into why it played out that way, but from a player-experience perspective, I think it's pretty terrible design (and strangely antithetical relative to the final sequences in ME2). For what it's worth, I had the same issue with DA: Inquisition despite liking lots of other stuff about that game.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:

They were trying to save all life by wiping out any life where technology had been developed above a certain level, basically kind of like a cosmic immune system removing a threat. They exist to keep things alive, and the best way to do that is to remove any potential threats to that on a regular basis.

It's kind of like in Halo how the best way to stop the Flood is to kill everything around. Cut off the infected limb to save the patient.

That, combined with the Borg: they seem to think that rounding up a species, converting it into juice, and using that juice to power a new Reaper preserves that species in any appreciable way. By their insane logic, they're not "destroying" life, they're preserving it.

The Reapers were were trying to fill in the giant plot hole when the writers realized the big twist--Reapers were here to *reap* organic life, not kill it--was something they couldn't deliver on.

In all seriousness, I don't know if there's enough to support this outside of head canon, but maybe the Reapers were only being half-truthful in saying "Synthetics can't live in peace with Organics" even though *insert well-worn and legitimate criticism of how the whole trilogy you played is saying the opposite*

What if an Artificial Intelligence (edit: or now that I think about it, the half-truth that Reapers are not really Organics *or* Synthetics?) like the Reapers 'reaps' Organics every time they build another AI because of the threat that poses. It's not that the Organics are a direct threat, it's just that if Organics can build *one* AI, then they're probably going to build another, and another, and another...

Like wasn't there an AI inside the gambling machines on the Citadel? The Quarians unleashed AI first, but they won't be the last. Once Organics reach the technological sophistication to build--even unwittingly--their first AI, they're going to keep building them, even if by accident.

To pull on some other media I was enjoying back when I was playing these games, if you're an AI, the only threat to you is another AI. So if you want to eliminate that threat, you not only have to eliminate the AI, but also the Organics who created an AI. Organics won't stop generating AIs. The Reapers have to literally bomb Organics back to the stone age to stay safe.

So the Reapers allow Organics to progress up to a certain point. Like the Reapers tell us, Organic civilization grows according to Reaper design along the pathways of the Mass Effect relays and the Citadel. That's like a planter might use a trellis to grow a plant the way they wish it to grow. They grow Organics until they are 'ripe'--prime to be turned into new Reapers--but before they 'rot', i.e., they start building too many AIs.

It's basically the same well-meaning bureaucratic mindset everyone else had in the universe (i.e. The genophage was necessary and should never be reversed because the Krogan species are inherently violent and have to be subdued.) They just take it up a notch to the entire galaxy with even more power but a similar "I know best" stubborn attitude - better to reboot the universe than have synthetics and organics wipe everyone out forever.

It's why, in my opinion, Destroy is the Paragon ending, because as opposed to the other options, it means Shepard is rejecting the Reaper premise that synthetics and organics refusing to get along is inevitable.

Ya know, the ending they could have went with is that the Crucible 'uplifted' the Geth to a state where they were a superior AI to the Reapers. After the Geth defeated the Reapers, it would be the flipped script of the Geth deciding to take the chance on letting Organics live.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:

They were trying to save all life by wiping out any life where technology had been developed above a certain level, basically kind of like a cosmic immune system removing a threat. They exist to keep things alive, and the best way to do that is to remove any potential threats to that on a regular basis.

It's kind of like in Halo how the best way to stop the Flood is to kill everything around. Cut off the infected limb to save the patient.

How are you saving life by wiping out life?

strangederby wrote:
MilkmanDanimal wrote:

They were trying to save all life by wiping out any life where technology had been developed above a certain level, basically kind of like a cosmic immune system removing a threat. They exist to keep things alive, and the best way to do that is to remove any potential threats to that on a regular basis.

It's kind of like in Halo how the best way to stop the Flood is to kill everything around. Cut off the infected limb to save the patient.

How are you saving life by wiping out life?

They only wiped out the technologically advanced life. Wiped out the Protheans leaving Humans, Asari, Krogan, Salarians, etc to evolve and take their place. There's a funny little codex about a bird group called the Raloi that cut-off all contact with other species and scuttled their own ships. They were hoping to trick the Reapers into thinking they weren't advanced.

It all sounds a bit Thanos to me.