Mass Effect 3 Ending:
Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Apr 3, 2012

Filed under: Movies 267 comments

It’s obvious I’m a fan of long-form game analysis, particularly story-based. I love to write about games, read about games, watch reviews of games, and talk about games. In a way, the retrospective is just another stage of the experience.

This is producing a strange side-effect where I’m starting to feel glad that the Mass Effect 3 ending was so completely awful in every way, lacking in both coherence and closure, and completely discarding core themes in the last minutes of the game. Sure, a high-profile series ended in a train wreck and a great chunk of lore-rich world-building has been reduced to pretentious mush, but the resulting conversations and deconstructions have been more interesting to me than the game itself. I enjoyed assembling my own list of objections, and I’m still collecting new objections to my running mental tally.

Here is yet another person stepping up to deconstruct the ending. Yes, they lead off with a nod to Red Letter Media, but the review doesn’t go that way. This is actually the most highbrow one I’ve found so far, and the author plays things very straight.

Link (YouTube)

The bit about the Socratic exercise really resonated with me. Yes, this is the thing I love most about sci-fi.

I’ll actually be glad when people stop saying, “You’re ripping off Red Letter Media!” when someone does a long-form analysis. There’s a lot of room for different approaches in this gig, and the more the merrier.


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267 thoughts on “Mass Effect 3 Ending:
Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage

  1. Peter H. Coffin says:

    In a moment of delicious irony, the sidebar advert is trying to sell me ham in association with this article. Sometime the ad elves outdo themselves.

    1. Mari says:

      I’d take ham. I’ve got this small photo of nerd Shamus, a column of text, and then a huge scantily clad woman whose hips and pelvis are about twice the size of her tatas (which are still big enough to make grown men weep if they were attached to a real person). The url it links to is if this is the sort of thing you don’t want, Shamus. Not that it bothers me either way. I’ve long since accepted that big-boobed women in strips of leather is a given if I’m going to leave ads on when visiting geeks sites.

      1. JPH says:

        Is… Is that Bayonetta with a kid face?


          This really hits the bottom of uncanny valley for me.

      2. Tony Kebell says:

        I keep getting that troll ad…

      3. Nataline says:

        They’re not breasts, OK? They’re Dalek bumps. They can detect ion charged emissions and operate as etheric beam locators at a distance of up to 20,000 light years.

      4. Ranneko says:

        I don’t actually see any ads, and I haven’t blocked any content on the site. I don’t recall ever seeing any ads other than the graph joke placeholders.

    2. NihilCredo says:

      I’ve got an ad for hotels in Stockholm on top. Which is a good example of why you shouldn’t blindly rely on geolocation for ALL ads, because someone already living in the neighbourhood of Stockholm is exactly the least likely to be interested in booking a hotel there -_-

      1. Bubble181 says:

        Most likely, it’s not based on your geolocation, but search history. Have you been looking up, say, the opening hours of a local museum or the address of a restaurant around the city? It’ll interpret that as “interested in touristy stuff around that region”, hence the hotels.

        Me, I’m still getting the hexographer map making software, or ads to buy a new gaming computer – that second one because I’ve been looking at them lately.

    3. GiantRaven says:

      I just see an ad for Netflix. How unfortunately pedestrian.


      1. Jeff says:

        Same over here in Canada. Just Jason Statham glowering at something.

    4. Aelyn says:

      Oh man… my favorite of all time was when I googled something to do with Spinal Tap and got a sidebar ad for a tourist trip to Stonehenge. The only thing that would have made it better would be to have a caption under it that said, “Stonehenge shown actual size.”

  2. X2Eliah says:

    I.. I don’t think I agree with being glad that the ME3 ending was disastrously awful.

    But. I will admit that 1) it has generated a lot of buzz for bioware and ME series, 2) it has generated some buzz about whether stories in games should or shouldn’t be good. Which means people are at least thinking about it for five seconds or so, on average. Which, in turn, hopefully, means that game developers will thing twice before saying “eh screw this story resoluton, let’s hack it in 5 minutes and get a burger”.

    About the red-letter-media connection thing. I disagree with you. this video isn’t called a RLM ripoff because it’s just a long review. if it is called a ripoff, it is becuase the style, the way, the structure and the reviewer “persona” are obviously identical. Same approach to splitting the problem, same approach to the method of disection, same approach to audio effects, same approach to jokes, same approach to audio splicing..
    So frankly, yes, this is a blatant clone/ripoff/copy of RLM review style. I don’t really see why – RLM is a generally an awful style of serious reviewing… You are saying that there’s room for new approaches in this gig. I agree. thing is, this is not a new approach in any way.

    1. krellen says:

      Jim Sterling made a really good point yesterday, in that this outcry may actually be the tipping point that makes major game studios realise story actually might matter at least a little bit.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Going back to optimism?But you saw how lovely it is on the pessimistic side.Stay a while,and listen.

        1. krellen says:

          I invented pessimism.

          1. Shamus says:

            And I’m sure no good will come of it.

            1. ACman says:

              Why so defamatory? Pessimism is the foundry of hope. Only when you have considered what may go wrong can you plan for it and then appreciate what goes right.

              1. krellen says:

                I think you may have missed the joke there.

                I invented pessimism. And Shamus is pessimistic of the result.

                1. ehlijen says:

                  I fear your explanation won’t suffice :(

              2. Deadpool says:

                The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true…

                Sorry, I just like that line. Carry on…

                1. Nixorbo says:

                  Pessimism is just optimism for deep people.

                2. Wide And Nerdy says:

                  That is a great line.

          2. MadHiro says:

            Lies. Everyone knows Pessimism was created by NMA ten thousand years ago. The collective weary wariness about Fallout 3 collapsed in to a point singularity which simultaneously condensed their disdain and catapulted it through the fabric of space-time in to the distant past, where it was eventually worshiped as the ancient Sumerian god Anu, even more eventually inspiring the creation of the fictional TES deity Akatosh, ensuring Bethesda’s early success and thereby creating a stable time loop of Pessimism’s origin.

          3. rrgg says:

            I am confident that it won’t last long.

      2. Alex says:

        Jim Sterling wouldn’t know a good point if it was covered in chocolate!

        1. Aldowyn says:

          Eh. From what I’ve seen (I stopped watching his show on the Escapist…pretty much immediately, and I don’t read Dtoid very often), he’s just overly antagonistic. He usually DOES have a good point. Buried somewhere.

          1. IFS says:

            Having watched a few of his episodes he usually does have a good point, but I HATE the persona he uses, which always leaves me feeling conflicted over whether or not I liked the episode.

            1. Alex says:

              Okay, I’ll admit, he does sometimes make an eloquent point.

              Like that time when women disagreed with him, so he called them “feminazi sluts” and the “c” word.

              Yup, he sure is a level-headed, reasonable, rational person.

              1. IFS says:

                Haven’t seen that one, I don’t watch episodes very often mostly due to his persona. I suspect that the instance you are referencing is meant to be taken as hyperbole though.

              2. Dasick says:

                It was one woman, and it’s justified. Stretching the concept of what is just, but it’s grey area, willing to give benefit of doubt.

                Jim was repeatedly personally attacked in a very “low-blow” kind of way. Daphaknee was acting like a bad stereotype and used troll tactics and Jim points it out using the king of language that really grinds the gears of people like that.

                As for the 1st link… Way too long. From what I’ve seen (you’ll have to pardon me for not reading the entire thing) quotes are taken out of context and taken way too seriously. To be honest, reading Jim’s articles it’s hard to tell when he’s being serious or not, and exactly the point he’s trying to make, and who is it that he is satirizing.* HOWEVER if you want to come to a conclusion if Jim is sexist or not (a serious charge in my eyes), you need to be aware of it, and not go after the language he uses, because that man uses a lot of dirty, dirty words that are dirty precisely because you have no idea what they truly mean to him. If you want to have credibility of course.

                *It’s harder still because there is a voice in my head going “OH MY GAWD, this is disgusting. Why aren’t I puking? Seriously, what is wrong with me that THIS isn’t making me sick to the core? Ok ok, there’s the uneasiness in the stomach. Ok good, a proper human response. WHAT?! Don’t fight that man, it’s poison leaving the system. Let it go. There’s a bathroom right there and … did it just go away? How does that happen?! What is wrong with MEEEEEEEEEEEE?!…” etc. etc., ad infinitum.

                1. Alex says:

                  There is no justifying calling a woman a “c***”, or comparing all women to the nazis. That’s not “hyperbole”. And this isn’t an isolated case.

                  There’s a difference between purposely saying controversial stuff for the purposes of trolling, and simple being a terrible person. And I fear not many people on the internet can tell the difference.

              3. Gorm says:

                If by “women” you mean “a woman” and “disagreed” means “insulted”. I’m not going to defend what he said because sure, it was rude, childish and offensive, but if you start throwing insults at someone don’t be surprised when they start doing the same to you.

                And that long collection of quotes, well, that’s always a danger with satire, people might think you’re serious.

    2. Shamus says:

      When I think of RLM, I think of the Plinkett persona and jokes about dead hookers and murder that are unrelated to the material being covered. This guy comes off like a self-deprecating fan who loves the material, not a psychotic old man who hates the material and personally hates the people who made it. Very different in my eyes.

      I mean, using your definition, my megatexture video…

      …would almost qualify as a “RLM ripoff”.

      1. NihilCredo says:

        As far as I’m concerned, if my ears aren’t bleeding and I’m not frantically Alt-F4’ing after two minutes it’s sufficiently different from RLM.

        1. JPH says:

          You don’t deserve people food.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Youre just ripping off the red letter media ripoff guys.

      On a serious note,I can see why people would call Plinkett’s humour bad because of non-sequiturs and dark stuff,but whats wrong with deconstructing a piece of work and point by point showing how it fails/works?

      1. X2Eliah says:

        Nothing. But when every aspect of the review is structurally identical to RLM, including the one aspect you selectively pointed out, I feel its wrong to call it a new approach.

        1. Raygereio says:

          Then again, there really aren’t a whole lot of wildly different approaches one can take to talking in depth about the writing in a .

          1. JPH says:

            You could do the entire review backwards. That would be different!

            You could impersonate a mongoose while reviewing.

            You could do a dance.

            You could wear a funny hat.

            The possibilities are endless!

            1. Sumanai says:

              An interpretive dance review.

        2. The Bard says:

          I completely agree with you. This guy DELIBERATELY copies RLM… he uses the same ending music, he openly says in the beginning “Hey, I’m just like RLM!” with the disappointing-like-my-son-bit.

          I’ve watched the Plinkett reviews about 5x (They have turned painful Star Wars memories into pure joy!), so I’m familiar enough with the lines as this guy was saying them to be like “Ah ah ah, that was from Plinkett!”

          The shame of it all is that it didn’t NEED to mimic Plinkett. Come out and be like “Dudes, this is some understated nerd rage, here’s where my problems were…”

          Flipflopping between cloning RLM and then being polite & understated just didn’t jive for me. Pick your own music. Pick your own lines. Pick your own style and stick with it. Ironic, since that’s the same advice dude had for Bioware!

    4. Jakale says:

      I’m not sure I see what’s so bad about the style of review. You take a complex thing, break it into more understandable parts, and look over what you think works and doesn’t about those parts and how they affect the whole of the complex thing.
      What would you prefer?

  3. Zukhramm says:

    I tried watching. Multiple times. I just can’t stand his voice. Something about how he speaks just doesn’t work in a video for me.

    1. Sumanai says:

      It’s probably what I call “video chemistry”. When two people have bad chemistry, they don’t get along. When you watch a video and you can’t stand the people talking, or the video feed itself, it’s “bad video chemistry”. I’ve got a similar problem with MovieBob.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        That’s a shame, Big Picture is pretty interesting sometimes. Possibly most of the time. Even when it delves into obscure comic mythology.

        Maybe especially then…

        1. Sumanai says:

          I’ve seen one or two Big Picture’s, started one more, but couldn’t finish. I’ve seen at least five movie reviews and two Game Overthinker episodes.

          The movie reviews were a variable bunch. One or two that were interesting, two that felt true, two that felt pointless (I didn’t really get a picture on why he thought they were bad, so I still don’t know if I might like them) and one where he was basically excusing the movie most of the time because he likes the director.

          The Game Overthinkers made me angry, and just like Bethesda’s games I calmed down only after I made a mental list of all the problems with it. The title is in my opinion a misnomer, as neither seemed to consist of much thinking on his part, unlike the Big Picture episodes.

          One Big Picture was interesting, but nothing that left an impression. The one I couldn’t finish was a couple of days ago. It started well, but then he pissed me off in a record time (he descended into insults, so I decided I’m better off hearing the same or similar arguments from someone else).

          He seems like a good critic, but he’s definitely not for me. The good points I hear him making are usually overshadowed in my eyes by his attitude and the bad points he makes.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Oh,the mass effect one.Yeah,that one was pretty bad.I had to calm myself down while watching that one,despite mostly agreeing with what he was saying.If I hadnt already watched all the big pictures before that one,I wouldve stopped midway through for sure.

            1. Sumanai says:

              I had heard MovieBob had been foaming (paraphrasing the source) about the ending thing on Twitter, but I had figured he would’ve calmed down enough.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Sometimes Im not sure bioware understands the magnitude of what theyve done here.”

    This sums up nicely what I think of bioware.They are great at making characters,but rarely do they manage to do something important with them.

    1. Gamer says:

      This is the greatest strength of the Mass Effect series. All of the characters you meet along the way are so endearing. Most of them have unique quirks, personalities, and backstories that you can’t help but love. I became attached to Garrus, Tali, Liara, Joker, EDI, etc. and I loved every minute of my interactions with them.

      It’s sad that the ending didn’t even address these friendships/bonds in any way.

  5. Eruanno says:

    Huh, the remixed version of the ending (linked in the video description in the above video and also here) is so much better than what we actually get. And all by removing a few bits.
    It’s still not great, because it doesn’t give closure on any of your friends/squadmembers (or any choice in anything) but jeez, that was much, MUCH better than the current one without changing much.

    1. Hitch says:

      That’s not actually very good, either. But at least by not explaining anything, or contradicting anything, you can imagine that a satisfying ending must have happened.

      (Oh, and could never have played the game with that Shepard. Shepard should not look like Karl Pilkington.)

      1. krellen says:

        I disagree. It’s a pretty good ending when you know the series is continuing. Shepard may be done there (it probably needs a clip of Shepard falling down, dead, beside Anderson to really drive it home), but it leaves a universe with questions for future titles to explore.

        1. Taellosse says:

          It’s only better in comparison to what we got. I dislike that it has even less variation available to it than what we actually get, and thus trivializes all the choices made in the series even more than the official one does. If that were the only ending (even if the range of endings within the spectrum of the official Destroy ending), why does it matter that I’ve spent 3 games overcoming ancient enmities between disparate cultures (or choosing sides and forcing the side I think can help me the most win), if I’m just going to hit a magic fix-everything button at the end and save the day regardless?

          I also dislike that it gives us even less closure regarding all the characters we’ve come to care about. I think the Normandy-crashing scene is meant to be at least symbolic of your buddies surviving somehow, but this version doesn’t even have that. Granted, you aren’t left wondering how the hell Joker got down to Earth to pick people up before fleeing the magical-colored-blast-wave, but you’re also left wondering what happens to Liara, and Garrus, and Tali, and everyone else. Did they live? How about the two that were with me in the final charge? I didn’t see their bodies anywhere, so what happened to them (I understand that if you’ve got a really low EMS, you DO see their broken bodies when you regain consciousness after Harbinger hits you, but I didn’t have that low a score)? It’s a little easier to conjure stories in your own head of them living happily ever after, if the relay network isn’t also destroyed (thus trapping nearly every able-bodied member of the combined Citadel races in the Sol system to literally cannibalize each other as they run out of food that no one can get to them any longer), but it’s still left to your own conjecture.

          1. krellen says:

            Or you can buy the Resolution DLC, just $15 at!

            Given that they hinted that ME3 saves may still be useful in the future, they may have had something like that planned but someone with some pragmatism pointed out that fans would probably crucify them for it.

            So of course instead we get something poorly cobbled together that the fans crucify them over. Too bad BioWare apparently lacks the clout to Valve or Blizzard the ship date out to “whenever we’re done”.

            Anyway, an open ending is better if you’re continuing or spinning off the series. The next game could be a Mass Effect Sim where you rebuild the galaxy, with your ME3 save determining which races you have to build with, with living squadmates offering bonuses to certain things and what not. It could have been cool.

            1. Taellosse says:

              Well, particularly if they find a way around the whole “you destroyed the relay network, the linchpin of galactic civilization, congratulations, you’ve brought about the galactic apocalypse anyway” problem, there’s still plenty of room for future games in the universe. I’m not sure I’d be that into a sim-style game specifically, but something with a new, apparently-less-high-stakes storyline, kind of like DA2 (which had flaws, but whose fundamental structure wasn’t bad) could be cool. They could also make something set in an earlier time frame, maybe without humans at all (or possibly something that takes place right after or during the First Contact War). Or even something that overlaps with the plot of the current series, but mostly doesn’t directly connect, like an adventure in the Terminus Systems. It’s a big galaxy, with lots of room to play.

              1. Kavonde says:

                There are some potentially great stories and games in playing through the Rachni War and Krogan Rebellions, but I can’t see EA green-lighting a game where you played as a non-human. Which is a damned shame, ’cause both games could star a young Wrex.

                Maybe, maybe a game where you played as Garrus. He’s popular enough that they might let him have his own title, if BW begged and pleaded. But most likely, any future ME titles will, thanks to corporate xenocentrism, have to be sequels or side stories.

                1. IFS says:

                  I would prefer to see mass effect prequels, they would be easier to make than sequels as sequels would have to account for past choices, or risk further upsetting players, and Mass Effect has a lot of interesting backstory to explore.
                  I think the first contact war is a bit too short of a conflict to make a game about it, but the rachni wars and Krogan rebellions would be very interesting. I would even like to see a game where you could choose your character’s race (Krogan, Asari, etc.) perhaps matched up with a class like ME3’s multiplayer.
                  For a game about Garrus I would love to play as Garrus during his time as a vigilante on Omega, fighting mercs and recruiting a team.

            2. JoCommando says:

              The next game could be a Mass Effect Sim where you rebuild the galaxy, with your ME3 save determining which races you have to build with, with living squadmates offering bonuses to certain things and what not.

              Now I’m picturing something along the lines of a 4X like MOO2, Imperium Galactica, or Star Wars Rebellion, as done for the Mass Effect universe. A Galaxy-spanning campaign with ships, multiple factions/races, diplomacy, ‘Hero’ characters, left over reapers lurking about… that could be mind-bogglingly awesome.

      2. MatthewH says:

        I think cutting to white (Total Recall style) after Anderson’s death actually works pretty well. You get your closure and the effects of your actions in the space between when Normandy gets out of the Mass Relay and the race to the conduit. You get to talk to your crew, see the effects of your actions, give the final speech -and the battle across London is simply an extended fight with Saren.

        I don’t think it’s the best ending, but you get narrative closure, then a high action finale, a quiet scene to reflect, and then roll credits.

        No plot holes, no unanswered questions (well, what exactly the Crucible did -but presumably “defeated the reapers” would suffice) and if ends Shepard’s story.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “I think cutting to white (Total Recall style)”

          The original,or the remake?

          1. MatthewH says:

            There was a remake? (I mean the Schwartzeneger version)

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              No,but soon there will be.

        2. Sumanai says:

          The resolution (or what it’s called; it’s the part where you talk with your crew in this case) is still in the wrong place. It’s supposed to come after the action so you’re not feeling like the ending is abrupt.

          1. MatthewH says:

            Not sure I agree. I think the coda -if measured from the end of Shepard’s speech -is too long and varied. But most of the character resolution is complete in Mass Effect 1 by the time you drop on Ilos, and Liara’s story completes at the Vigil AI. By the time you come out of the conduit, all that remains is the climactic final battle. Sure, there’s a stinger but it’s not really plot related.

            And in ME2, most of the stories are complete before you start the Suicide Mission. Miranda’s ends once you decide to fry or blast the Collector Base, and all that remains is the Human Reaper and the race to the exit.

            Here, the stories end by the time you come through the Chiron Relay. Steve and James have a couple of points during the landing of Hammer, but by the time you give the final speech, there is nothing left to resolve than “does the Crucible Work.”

            This has been done in movies too -the commentary on Beauty and the Beast mentions that the story concludes when Belle says “I love him” but they still have 10 minutes to go, so they just blast through to the credits, tying up all the loose ends so that you leave happy and satisfied and don’t have time to think about the plot holes like “wait, so what do they use for cookery now?”

            The problem of the Starchild sequence is that it adds new questions, provides no closure, slows everything down so you have time to think about it, and then ends abruptly.

            1. Sumanai says:

              The Resolution isn’t that specific. You could have the “talk to the crew” bit where it is, but something else has to come after the action. The closest equivalent is the talk with Casper, or the Normandy landing on the planet, but neither really resolve anything. Instead they raise questions.

              If you cut both scenes out, there’s no real “calm” section right before the credits. Unless you count the DLC push, which I’d consider the opposite of calming. Well, maybe the old man talking with the child, but that scenes a bit “what” to me.

              In a way it gets worse with The Theory, since then there’s no story ending, but a sequel hook.

              I’m at a disadvantage in understanding your point though, because I haven’t seen Beauty and the Beast. My only impression is that it is a story about Stockholm Syndrome.

      3. Eruanno says:

        Well, it isn’t necessarily a “good” ending to the series. But at least it isn’t stupid. If we had seen that, we wouldn’t be complaining about the stupid starchild or mass relays destroyed, but only asking ourselves “wait, so what happened to all the people?”

        So, to recap:

        Real ending:
        – Stupid Starchild
        – Mass relays, wtf?
        – What happened to everyone?
        – How did that happen? (No technobabble explaining what the Crucible/Citadel did and how)

        Remixed ending:
        – What happened to everyone?
        – How did that happen? (No technobabble explaining what the Crucible/Citadel did and how)

        If nothing else, it removes half of the issues I have with the ending. Small victory.

        1. Sumanai says:

          I call that “losing less”.

  6. ACman says:

    I knew it!

    I called it. Shamus has no need for heaven. He’s all ready there. Nitpicking for all eternity.

    1. James says:

      Game Developer: “Oh god… Where are we?”

      Shamus: “Hi I'm Shamus and welcome to spoiler warning”

      Game Developer:”… I don't think we survived that bus crash”

      *Another mans heaven is another mans hell*

  7. Hitch says:

    Bioware shot themselves in the foot by overselling the ending. Too much of their advertising was along the lines of, “This is the ultimate ending to everything. We’re breaking new ground. Every choice you’ve made for the past three games will matter and it’s gonna blow your socks off.” Without all that hype, the relatively low percentage of people who complete most games would have seen the ending and said, “Meh. It kinda fell apart at the end, but the game was a lot of fun.” Instead they created rabid fan curiosity about the ending and everyone saw it, even those who didn’t play through the game to get there watched the ending on YouTube and reacted like angry rabid fans.

    The best way for Bioware to save face at this point would be to admit that they didn’t put all of their efforts into the ending, because that’s normally the part of the game seen by the fewest people, so they thought they could get away with phoning it in. Now that they’ve seen how much people really do care about it, they’re going to go back and remake it and this time they’ll bring their “A” game. But EA probably won’t let them, because the only way to make that work is to give it away. Going back and charging people more because you screwed up just won’t fly.

    1. Mechakisc says:

      I keep wondering why no one has referred to the original ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion. It seems to be the same kind of furor – if more pronounced here.

      Once again, I bought Dragon Age, played about 10 minutes of it, and I said “I guess Bioware lost interest in me.” I uninstalled it, and I haven’t played any Bioware games since then. I keep hoping that Bioware will change directions or do something to get my attention, but every time I try to get back in, it becomes clear that I made the right choice.

      I think I watched part of a youtube video of the end of ME3, but it seemed like a waste of my time when I could be [literally anything else] instead.

      In similar vein, I never got through more than about the first half of NGE, and the uproar over the original ending really seems similar from outside looking in.

      1. Bret says:

        Well, you can go back further and get that kind of anger from The Prisoner. Of course, there the ending was good and insane, but Patrick McGoohan actually had to go into hiding. People just kept going to his house to ask him, essentially, “WHAT?”

        People get emotional around endings. Goes double when the endings make no sense.

      2. Simon Buchan says:

        The irony to me is that I love the NGE TV series’ ending – to me that seems like exactly what the story arc was rising to: a complete investigation of Shinji’s mental state, standing in for what must be happening for every post-individual in that world. And then he gets his happy ending when he realizes that the only thing holding him back from it now is himself. Anyone who wanted an explanation of WTF SEELE was up to, or see some big robot battle, or just to see Gendo Gendo the fuck out of things (as awesome as those are in the other formats) is kinda missing the point of the series (not that having a budget big enough to give me something more interesting to look at than a squiggly white line for 50 minutes in a row would be bad).

        On the other hand, Mass Effect’s ending is actually legitimately, and actively going out of it’s way to be bad from a story perspective – more than just a “whoops no more budget” thing.

        (Apparently I need to see The Prisoner now?)

    2. They shot themselves in the foot by making a great series then following it up with that. A varied, character specific ending isn’t really new, unassailable ground – look at New Vegas for example or even Dragon Age. That was all they had to do – it might’ve been predictable but it’d be more than acceptable.

    3. Raygereio says:

      Bioware shot themselves in the foot by overselling the ending.
      Did they? Well, let’s take a look at the PR talk. From the ME3 edition from GameInformer that came out last year.
      -“In Mass Effect 3, you know you need to take back Earth, but the path to victory is less clear at the outset. You won't just find some long-lost Reaper “off” button; says Hudson”
      Yeah, I guess they did.
      This is my favorite line from that article:
      -“Don't expect to win the loyalty of the galaxy by simply completing a series of fetch quests”
      Gee, I wonder if that line was said before or after they decided to copy the silly fetch quests from DA2.

      I do wonder at what point “PR-fact-massaging” turns into “Outright lies”. Starting with ME2, BioWare’s marketing has become more and more outlandish in their attempts at hype-building.

      1. Gamer says:

        Oh, come on now, he didn’t lie. He said you wouldn’t find a Reaper off button and you didn’t. Instead, you found a schematic and MADE a Reaper off button. See, totally different! (/sarcasm)

  8. Lame Duck says:

    That speech about freedom from Picard really was one of the best moments in TNG.

    Oh and Mass Effect and such.

    1. Hitch says:

      Unfortunately for every great Picard speech like that, there were two scenes like making the Romulan ancient weapon not work by thinking happy thoughts at it. I loved TNG at first, and the best of it is still great, but there’s far too much nonsense.

      1. krellen says:

        To be fair, it was a Vulcan weapon. The Romulans just wanted to use it.

      2. Lame Duck says:

        True enough, TNG is not universally good. I would say that the entirety of the first two series of TNG are just god-awful. Actually, I found the first series to be slightly worse than the second, but more enjoyable because it’s so bad it’s kind of hilarious.

        Although, to be fair, I did enjoy the bulk of the episode(s?) leading up to the Vulcan ancient weapon bit, but the resolution was kind of silly. And Worf should probably have been torn apart by it.

        1. Taellosse says:

          Yeah, TNG was a little uneven, particularly at the beginning. I don’t know that I’d dismiss ALL of the first 2 seasons. I think maybe 10-20% of it was reasonably decent, or at least had some good moments–and yes, there were absolutely more of them in season 2. Nearly all of the first season is awful, with only a couple of bright spots. And let’s be fair, in comparison to TOS, it wasn’t any worse. If anything, the first 2 seasons were too much like TOS–they felt campy because they had the same tone as something from the 60s.

          I believe the Vulcan-ancient-emotion-weapon-thingy story was a 2-parter. And as such was a season-ending/season-opening set, since that’s what most of the two-part stories were. And yeah, most of it was good stuff except for the macguffin itself (and even that wasn’t as bad as some of the plot points from early TNG).

          1. krellen says:

            You talk as if being like TOS is a bad thing. You’re probably one of those people that thinks DS9 was the best.

            1. Mechakisc says:

              I personally really enjoyed DS9.

              But for some strange reason I LOVED “Spencer for Hire”, and I’ll watch nearly anything Hawk (Avery Brooks) is in with some gusto.

            2. Simulated Knave says:

              Oh, look, a god-like ineffable being that will toy with us for its amusement as part of a thin parallel of a modern political or social problem while making improbable references to modern popular culture. Or maybe going back in time to the sixties.

              1. krellen says:

                Pff. DS9 was the one with all the time travel in it.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Nah,ds9 is the one with all the parallel universes thing.I can remember only one episode with time travel.Were there more?

                  1. krellen says:

                    Quark was the Roswell alien, the DS9 crew went back to Trouble with Tribbles, and there was one with Sisko stuck in a bunch of our-future-but-their-past race riots.

                    And then there was the dreaming-I’m-a-writer-in-the-50s thing.

                    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      I forgot the sisko and the quark one.

                      But that writer thingy was a parallel universe,or something like it.Though it had nice character things,I never liked it.

            3. taellosse says:

              Look, TOS was great sci-fi TV for its time (which, let’s be honest, isn’t saying a whole lot, when it’s chief competition was Lost in Space and original Battlestar Galactica), but it is hokey, trite, and silly from a modern perspective. It was all of those things in the late 80s, too, when TNG started. TNG wasn’t good until it found its own voice and style, and stopped trying to emulate a 20 year old show.

              And no, I don’t think DS9 was the best one. I never even saw the whole series when it aired (I’m watching it now on Netflix for the first time in order)–I lost track of it sometime in season 3 or 4. I grew up on TNG, and it was and always will be my favorite Star Trek.

        2. Simulated Knave says:

          The first season has Encounter at Farpoint, The Battle, Coming of Age, Conspiracy and Heart of Glory, all of which are at least OK. There are some other forgettable-but-not-actively-bad episodes.

          And Lonely Among Us has a terrible plot, but the subplot is hilarious.

          Season 2 has The Schizoid Man, A Matter of Honor, The Measure of a Man, Time Squared, and Q Who, which are all pretty good (or better, in some cases). And, again, there are a number of forgettable-but-not-actively-bad episodes.

          It has the worst season opener and closing episode, mind.

          1. Lame Duck says:

            I may well be being unfair to some of the episodes of the 1st and 2nd series. I only relatively recently watched more than the odd episode of TNG and when I did I went on something of a binge, so my memories are more broad-stroke impressions of the series than critical evaluations of the individual episodes. Plus, it’s all in comparison to the later series.

            I do definetly remember the ending of series 2 though; a clip show as the ending of a series did not go down well with me.

            1. Simulated Knave says:

              Oh, they average weak. But that makes the good bits stick out, IMO. :)

    2. Dasick says:

      I’m actually interested in Star Trek, watched a couple of episode a really long while back and played the “elite force” game, but I really don’t know where to start with it.

      Any recommendations Trekkies?

      1. krellen says:

        Start with TOS. Always start with TOS.

  9. Chris Robertson says:

    Second paragraph, midway through:

    ended in a train wreck and a get chunk of lore-rich world-building

    Should that be “great”?

  10. ACman says:

    This video highlights a point I made previously: Don’t have a universe/world destroying force in your fiction. Why so many writers resort to this to amp-up the stakes is obvious; because it’s easier than creating characters that we care about.

    Bioware has it half right, they have created amazing, interesting characters but failed by creating a universe with an unknowable threat and then decideing to explain the unknowable threat.

    If you have an unknowable threat; don’t provide explanations. Sauron is never explained, but Sauruman is explained by his craven cowardice and lust for power. Cthulhu is never explained but the actions of his cultists are explained by insanity.

    I do take exception to comparing Emperor Palpatine to the Reapers. Palpatine’s actions are quite logical; they pertain to the advancement of his power. But the Reapers should have remained a threat that never materialized or otherwise they should never have been explained.

    I still contend however that having an unknowable threat as the main antagonist to your story is lazy. Antagonists should have a reason for what they do even if their only reason is prejudice or hatred or foolishness.

    Better though would be some fathomable reason for the antagonist to exist. Eg. Fort the advancement of power, or the consummation of revenge, or better yet, the protection of something the protagonist does not hold dear or even has not yet considered.

    That is a real story.

    1. Eärlindor says:

      Well, Sauron is explained. It ultimately comes down to the desire for ultimate power and corruption. Is he explained, in depth, in The Lord of the Rings? Well… then I suppose not, maybe.

      1. Keredis says:

        Power, and the acquisition thereof, is oftentimes its own reason. As in wealth. I don’t always care about why the villain wants UNLIMITED POWER; the fact that they want it and the heroes need to stop them via boot to the face is enough reason for conflict for me.

      2. ACman says:

        But why does Sauron WANT power? He has none at the start of LoTR.

        He has no people to protect. He’s not enacting revenge upon anybody. He doesn’t seem to care about life at all.

        He’s only an unknowable evil that wants to control everything. Is he lusting for land to support his hoards of orcs? Does he want revenge against kings long dead or Elves soon to leave the world? Does he want power so he can make the world better in his eyes?

        His only motivation seems to be destruction. Maybe he lusts for the power of the One Ring but his powers are never directed towards it excepting for the flights of the Ringwraiths.

        1. Taellosse says:

          Well, Sauron (and, really, the Emperor in the original Star Wars. He’s given suggestions of human ambitions in the prequels, but there’s a solid argument to be made that those are just an act he’s putting on to further his aims) isn’t meant to be an antagonist with humanizing motivations. He’s a devil-figure: evil for its own sake. He’s symbolic of darkness, despair, destruction, and death. He’s fundamentally nihilistic so the heroes can be fighting against something unambiguously bad.

          There’s certainly value in telling a story like that, but you’re right that it’s a story that’s been done fairly thoroughly in the past. I, too, generally prefer villains with 3 dimensions and complex, or at least comprehensible, motivations. And yeah, the Catalyst-space-hologram-boy was a clumsy attempt to square the circle between unknowable, unfathomable monsters from the darkness and an enemy with understandable motives. I might have minded it slightly less if those motives weren’t transparently false in my game. Proclaiming that synthetics will always betray organics as though it is a truism really grated on me, given how much work I’d put into creating peace between the Quarians and Geth, and how much time I’d spent guiding EDI to adopting a moral outlook and integrating with her crewmates. Making that the sole and fundamental motive for the Reapers’ existence felt hollow and forced to me.

          1. Eärlindor says:

            There's certainly value in telling a story like that, but you're right that it's a story that's been done fairly thoroughly in the past.

            You’re absolutely right — on both counts. Put simply, that’s exactly what Tolkien was aiming for.

        2. James says:


          There is a lot of background written for the LOTR. It totally does explain who Sauron is, and why he's evil. I had to listen to my friend explain it to me, because I accidently asked.

          It wasn't bad, but it is a thing.

          In my experience if a writer says something is evil and with an unknown motive even to him, then he's lying. Part of the writing process is looking at your char's from lots of angles, even if you're terrible. However, wither or not you should actually tell people their motive depends upon how strong you think your writing is.

          In ME3's case it was not strong when it came to their villain. I suspect Bioware has no idea how to write a conflict not based around a force of evil, whenever they try to make their central conflict grey they kinda just stumble down the stairs a bit.

          1. Eärlindor says:

            There is a lot of background written for the LOTR. It totally does explain who Sauron is, and why he's evil.

            Yeah, I know. :)

          2. taellosse says:

            Well, the background explains who he is, anyway. The reason he’s evil is still kind of “because he’s evil.” He was a creature of that universe’s version of Satan, and took his place when that guy was finally taken down. That’s not really a reason, just an origin.

        3. Eärlindor says:

          Maybe he lusts for the power of the One Ring but his powers are never directed towards it excepting for the flights of the Ringwraiths.

          I’m not sure what you mean by this. Of course Sauron desires power in and of itself; why do you think he made the One Ring in the first place? Sauron desires the dominion of all things for its own sake. He takes after his master, Morgoth: a Lucifer-figure would is envious of Iluvatar (the almighty God-figure).

    2. IFS says:

      Although by ME3 we know enough about the reapers to make all sorts of interesting speculation about their motives and origins. When you have something that is supposed to be unknowable you can hint at details about it but when you explain it the magic is lost. Unknowable threats can be very interesting and well done but it is difficult.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Universe/world destorying power can work,but only if you are a good writer.For example,it worked in hordes of the underdark,because its a huge demon(or was it a devil?I forget which is which),and in the setting of d&d,you dont need an explanation for why a demon wants to destroy everything.So we focus on the hero,their connection with the demon,and the odd group that follows them around.And the mystery isnt why is the demon doing it,but how he managed to do it.

      In mass effect,the how is explained in the first game,and incidentally,its the strongest of the three.The sequels then focus on the why,and so they fail.But 3 failed in such a mindbogglingly spectacular way,that its amazing.

      1. Taellosse says:

        It was a devil, I believe. Devils are Lawful Evil, demons are Chaotic Evil (back when D&D still had the complete 2-axis alignment system). Devils come from the nine levels of Hell, and are ruled by Asmodeus. If I recall correctly, the devil who was the antagonist in HotU was one of the Princes of Hell, who served directly under Asmodeus.

        It is a little bit sad that I know all this. I wasn’t even all that into D&D growing up. I didn’t get into tabletop gaming until college, and I played other systems much more.

        1. krellen says:

          It was Asmodeus’s number two, and the whole plot was his plan to become number one. Well, one of his plans. He’d already tried it before.

          1. Gamer says:

            So he was Starscream?

            1. krellen says:

              Pretty much.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Except he was competent.

                1. krellen says:

                  Debatable. He did end up having to be my maid for a thousand years.

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Hehe,mine too.But that wasnt due to him being incompetent,but due to me being a sneaky bastard.

                    1. acronix says:

                      And filthy rich, if I recall correctly.

                    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Yeah,you do need some massive loot to get all the names you want.Still,its worth it,especially if you are evil,and just want to subjugate everyone under your boot.

    4. FoolishOwl says:

      I agree that it would have been better to not really explain the Reapers. The Reapers are just the background. The foreground is all the characters and cultures that have to come to terms with themselves and each other. That’s what you spend the Mass Effect series sorting out.

  11. Taellosse says:

    Fascinating. A person on the internets agrees with me. Pretty much completely. Though I’m still uncomfortable with the proposal of an outright retcon, which he advocates. I think there’s room in the existing ending for it to be modified, improved, and expanded into something workable, and throwing the whole thing out feels ham-fisted and weak, even though I don’t really care for what’s there now.

    I also quite like his review of the Indoctrination Theory. Nicely done videos.

    And I am glad he kept the bizarre tangents into unconnected weirdness much more confined than the RLM videos. That stuff was bizarre and uncomfortable enough to nearly prevent me from finishing those ones about Star Wars, and if he’s ever done any others, I haven’t watched them.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      But how can you not like pizza rolls,everyone wants pizza rolls.

      1. Taellosse says:

        I’m more referring to the stuff about imprisoned women in his dirt-floored basement. I felt that stuff was distracting, unnecessarily disturbing, and outright off-putting.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          You mean,just like overused cgi?*wink*

        2. Jonathan says:

          Same. I liked the deconstruction of TPM, but not enough to put up with that wierd stuff.

    2. Sumanai says:

      No, a “fixed” version of the ending will end up feeling ham-fisted and weak. It’s unlikely that Bioware fully understands why the ending is so bad, so they’re unlikely to find the problems and fix them, without just changing the problem to a new problem.

      But they’ve been talking about “clarifying” the ending, so it’s most likely they’ll add some stupid stuff in order to try and counter the other stupid stuff.

    3. Simon Buchan says:

      I don’t want a retcon, and I don’t think he does either (despite calling it that) – I want the ending stricken from canon completely, and a new ending written from scratch. It’s a really big hammer, that definitely should be sparingly used, but in this case trying to salvage this ending within canon at all is probably just going to raise more problems than just asking for a mulligan. If Bioware somehow figure out some astounding reveal that they’ve been working towards for the whole series, KoTOR or Jade Empire style, that turns every story contrivance into a clue towards their huge payout… then it’s still goddamn stupid that it’s released after the end of the game. (For the record, Indoctrination is not an astounding reveal, it’s either a retcon or just pointless)

  12. Moewicus says:

    The video is both good and funny, IMO, but definitely takes a lot of things rather directly from Red Letter Media and Plinkett. The humor works the best when he takes a Plinkett-like thing and makes it his own, such as in the “Q” bit. As a critical review I think it drops the ball in the “Narrative Coherence” segment, which, while being effective rhetorically, fails at really getting across just how the questions take away from the narrative.

    Of course, maybe it’s just frustrating for me since I have not played ME3 and only give half a rat’s rear because I watched the ME2 season of Spoiler Warning. I am weird. And I should get around to season 1 sometime.

  13. Alex says:

    Dan Floyd noticed this too, actually. The silver lining to this stink-cloud is that it got a lot of people to re-assess what proper storytelling means to them, and what we should have been aiming for in this medium a long time ago.

    Heck, at least the discussion has been fun. Or at least therapeutic.

    1. I get that, and while I’m glad the ME3 ending is undergoing in-depth discussion with an untold fervor, I still don’t like it coming at this high a price. It’s fascinating yeah, but Mass Effect 3 was just going so well, and after Mass Effect 2 I wanted it to end well but instead we got that.

      1. Sumanai says:

        It wasn’t going to come with a lower price. Despite what video game companies, critics etc. claim, it’s not really okay to complain about video games. Especially about story. There’s a strong faux pas about saying that something fell short, so it was only going to happen with a story that a lot of people seriously cared about. Enough to ignore the social rule and keep insisting for something better.

        I mean, how many times have you seen a point made by someone completely dismissed with a stupid counter-argument like “then don’t play it”, “you’re just nitpicking”, “you’re just one person, its popularity is a proof that no-one else cares or you’re wrong” or “you’re just an unpleasable fan”.

        There’s a lot of resistance towards a complaint getting accepted in the video game realm as valid. And such a furor was not going to happen for something like Crash Bandicoot.

        1. A fair point. And yeah, this wasn’t going to happen elsewhere, I just kind of wish it could have.
          Half Life for example. I could take Half Life having a dumb ending for this.

          1. Sumanai says:

            Yeah, it’s easier to accept a shooter having a stupid ending. And I can sympathise with the feeling that “it should have been something else”. But that’s all I can offer. If you’re feeling optimistic, think about it this way: It’s the last time it happens to something so important.

            No, no it’s not.

          2. JPH says:

            I couldn’t disagree more about Half-Life. I care about the Half-Life franchise far more than Mass Effect.

        2. Dasick says:

          I mean, how many times have you seen a point made by someone completely dismissed with a stupid counter-argument like “then don't play it”, “you're just nitpicking”, “you're just one person, its popularity is a proof that no-one else cares or you're wrong” or “you're just an unpleasable fan”.

          You forget “hipster”. And yes, it is infuriating.

          And it had to have happened with Mass Effect, because a bad ending doesn’t matter if the game is a fun shooter or a challenging RPG. Only an emotionally engaging interactive novel like Mass Effect could have really gotten people to start to care about endings in video games.

          It’s a step in the right direction. A baby step, and the baby steps right on my golden age CD collection of games, and the baby hurts the foot really badly, but a step in the right direction none-the-less.

          1. Sumanai says:

            Oh, the hipster argument. I so hate that. If you ask around for a definite sign of a hipster, you’ll end up with a list that defines nearly everyone. The only ones who won’t fit the descriptor are “the suits”, and even then there’s the possibility of liking something that “only hipsters like”.

            Fukken Syndrome.

    2. Sumanai says:

      I had to escape once he started talking about artistic something. There’s a fundamental difference between me and him, and that’s that I’m a pessimistic, grouchy cynic while he is an optimist and an idealist. One of the reasons I watch the Extra Credits series is because I want to hear about different perspectives and because I have small idealist streak.

      Also the ending is to me is so bad that arguments defending why it shouldn’t be changed based, or rather wiped and remade completely, on artistic integrity or anything else based on artistic merit is a bunch of hogwash. I don’t see how Bioware is supposed to salvage the ending, since they don’t seem to understand what the problems are.

      Reaching for the stars may feel noble, but falling on your arse is still pathetic.

      1. Dasick says:

        “A cynic is merely a disappointed idealist.”

        No one does anyone a service when they describe anything as pure sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. Because sun can scorch. Rainbows are preceded by rain*. Saccharine slowly rots your teeth. And if you want to enjoy something, you need to be aware of the downsides to be prepared to deal with them, or else be burned and have the goodies tainted.

        Falling on your ass is part of the process of reaching for the stars. Damned kids. Let your hair grow and listen to some Metal.

        *Here’s something interesting I remember from the Bible: First Rainbow was after the Flood, which nearly wiped out all life. Ha. Also, “Rainbow is God’s sticky note that wiping out all life on Earth is a bad idea because while there are these really Bad Things™, there are also all these Good Things™, and they don’t exist without each other, but the Good Things™ are totally worth it”. Well said, “dusty, old, completely irrelevant book”, well said.

        1. Shamus says:

          I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but I’m not really crazy about moderating flame wars started by people who took a needless and off-topic swipe at religion.

          Moreover, that’s part of my religion, and I’d appreciate it if you would pay me the same respect I pay you.

          1. Dasick says:

            Forgive the misunderstanding, that wasn’t a swipe… not meant to be one anyway. I just found it funny that rainbows are a symbol of optimism, considering that they are preceded with rain, a symbol of pessimism, and that the clearest example I could think of just happened to be in the Bible.

            I wasn’t making fun of religion, but rather I was paraphrasing the explicit and implied meaning of what happened because I wanted to separate the example from religion, because, well, it’s a hot-button topic to many people. It’s always risky to use a biblical references and examples, but I tried to diffuse it with humour… and as it turns out failed by being too passively-aggressive for anyone’s good (stuff in the quotations is what I often hear and it annoys me, so I poked fun at it.)

            Forgive me Shamus (and anyone I’ve offended but chose silence for the sake of peace). I done goofed.

            1. Shamus says:

              Thanks. We’re good here.

        2. Sumanai says:

          Ignoring the religious bit, I don’t think Dan Floyd is a blind optimist. He is capable of seeing the bad, but is far more ready to expect good than I am.

          There’s also something to be said about only seeing the rain. I think it’s less dangerous than focusing on the sunshine, but I’m not the right person to make a judgement like that.

          The best thing to do is to hang around close enough to The Realist that you can see the good and the bad, even if you can’t expect both. Then it might be possible to learn to see things from both perspectives.

          Falling on your arse is part of learning to walk. It could be excused if you tried to run before walking, but when you start shooting for the stars, it gets quite embarrassing. It’s sort of like this: If you’re climbing a ladder and you’re 30 feet up. Am I supposed to praise you for deciding to try and jump the last three steps instead of climbing slowly and falling all the way down?

          Part of the problem is that if everyone is supposed give praise in that situation, what if someone builds the Eiffel Tower, climbs on top if and then tries to get on the moon by jumping off it? You might think the difference is obvious, but with stories it’s tricky to see which case it actually is. After all, it depends quite a bit on how good the writer is, and it’s possible that it looks like he’s jumping off the Eiffel because he hasn’t established himself yet.

          Also, both are dumb things to do. Why should the other one be praised while the other one mocked simply because it was less stupid?

          “Oh, you shot yourself on the foot. But since Bob here shot himself in the head, I guess you’re the smartest and most careful guy around.”

          1. Dasick says:

            Stars, both physical and metaphorical are really high up in the sky. Ground, both physical and metaphorical, is the mundane plane we exist on most of the time. It may be embarrassing to get hurt trying to reach something so obviously out of your reach, but to me, the starts are worth it.

            There’s always a risk with climbing tall things, but part of being a good climber is risk-management. Whenever there is risk involved with falling, the responsible star-gazer will assume that falling is a matter or time, and prepare accordingly. So if you jump the last three steps of a ladder, you shouldn’t be praised. Same with the Eiffel Tower, if you’re jumping for the moon, you better have a parachute or have build a rather deep moat/safety net to await your eventual failure.

            BioWare didn’t. Not only was their star-reaching construct crooked, they’ve build the Leaning Tower of Piza when they’v told everyone they’re going for an Eiffel Tower, and their parachute is made of fig leafs and completely ignores wind resistance, height restrictions and what the fans really wanted. Oh and the moon has been reached a long time ago via a more elegant construction (a giant crane, or Machina, if you will, lifting galaxy sized mechs)

            A game that falls trying to reach the stars is going to leave a crater, the deeper the higher it climbed. You can learn a lot from the crater, and it sure makes an interesting conversation piece, but in BioWare’s case the lesson is “you should have sticked to the original plan”.

            “Oh, you shot yourself on the foot. But since Bob here shot himself in the head, I guess you're the smartest and most careful guy around.”

            That pretty much describes the AAA industry though.

            1. Sumanai says:

              Thinking about it, it describes too many executives in huge companies.

              Also I agree with John:

              Except I don’t actually suggest for anyone to shoot for the moon. But if you intend to, understand the consequences and be prepared for them.

              Since my analogies were bad I’m formulating a better one for general use when someone shoots for the stars, misses and is being praised for it. I’ll try to make it slightly humorous but accurate. I expect it to be inaccurate, dull and instigating.

              1. Sumanai says:

                I think I’ve got a decent one:

                Imagine someone at NASA way back when decided to shoot for the moon. He built a rocket, pointed it at the moon and then fired it up. It missed completely because there was no guidance, no calculation on where it was going to go or anything. They just pointed it at the moon and pressed a button.

                Without effort aiming for the moon is not worth any praise, but maybe mockery. The costs are high, so should be the work put behind it.

                With the Mass Effect 3 ending, even if The Theory is true, there’s no real sign of effort. They just swung a pistol and fired it at a wall ending up breaking a window. Because there’s a fly on the wall people jumped to the conclusion that they must’ve been aiming for it, and because it would’ve been such an impressive show of skill to hit it, they figured Bioware should be praised for breaking a window.

  14. rrgg says:

    The part about “Talky Techy” sci fi and Socratic exercises was really interesting. It also ties into a theory I have about the nature of “Fantasy” vs “Realism” in that those in favor of a more fantastic world are eager to learn a new set of rules from the ground up to solve those problems while those in favor of “realism” (like me) want what they already know (or think they know) about how things work to give them an edge.


    In either case I’m still a little confused about how he thinks the ending should be “fixed.” The whole way through he harps on the fact that he wasn’t able to ask the little kid so many things about the full effects of each option, what will happen to all the characters he met, what will be the impact on the setting and the future, etc. But at the end he merely says that the little kid shouldn’t be there and the player shouldn’t get the chance to answer any of those questions in the first place.

    In other words the consensus I’m picking up isn’t just that there wasn’t enough information or that the whole thing was presented poorly, but rather that it is a bad question or a bad choice in the first place.
    Does it really work that way? Is there really such a thing as a difference be a good Socratic exercise and a simple “Wouldyarather drink a bottle of spit or a bottle of urine?”

    If I had to put my finger on it, I would say that the problem with the latter is not one where really care about the question. Yes you might have a few medical people who will proudly proclaim “Urine, because it is much cleaner!” but the vast majority of us would just say “ewww.”
    So we don’t like that question because as far as we’re concerned there’s no good answer. But questions with no poop Sherlock answers like “Do you throw the child of the cliff or not” or “do you drink the poison or not” are just as bland as pointless. So how do you come with a good choice that is meaningful to most people, but not so many that it holds zero room for debate and controversy?

    One way to do this is to make your choice attempt cover different aspects that different people might see as more important. i.e. Would you rather drink a bottle of urine or a bottle of spit if you know that the urine is sterile but the spit tastes exactly like your favorite soft drink? The answer depends on whether you are more concerned about disease or discomfort/loss of dignity.
    Or you could tie the choice into the game world you have created. i.e. What if drinking the spit will disgust and drive off Wrex while drinking the urine will give you bad breath and drive off your love interest? Your in game choice is affected entirely by how you feel about the other characters. This is how most of the Mass Effect series seems to have worked.

    But then there’s the final problem, players who simply despise having to make these kinds of tough choices in the first place. Whether it’s some deep conviction that overrides any other opinions they might have (For instance if they are religiously opposed to drinking bodily fluids) or if they have some sort of over-optimistic philosophy that is always looking for a way out (that’s me!). These sorts of people just aren’t going to have any fun with your questions unless there’s some 3rd extra happy option they can get from say, leading a grindy 1 man assault on fort knox to liberate a bottle of gatorade or reloading a save and remembering to buy one extra bottle of water beforehand. I do really appreciate it a lot whenever games give one of these options. But then everyone else complains that the actual choice has become cheapened in the first place and still no one is happy, rats.


    And no I haven’t actually played any of the Mass Effect games. Boy, this analysis stuff is fun! :D

    1. Syal says:

      Now I want to see a game with hard choices and a button labelled “copout” that you can hit to get a happy everybody-wins scenario. Maybe then everyone would be happy.

      1. HBOrrgg says:

        I actually do think it would be a great idea if more games focused on a sort of “punishment by shame” mentality. It’s already what most difficulty sliders do, putting a picture of flowers next to “Easy” and John Rambo next to “Hard.” But why not take it to the next level:

        “You could use this exploit to get past these enemies, or you could fight like a man!” Would be so much more awesome if they at least acknowledged it.

        “You could save scum your way through here or constantly respawn, but that statistic shows in the corner of the screen at all times meaning any screenshots you take will have to be obviously and embarrassingly cropped before you show them to your friends!”

        1. Sumanai says:

          Yeah, no.

          Even when playing games with no smack talk about easy modes people rarely take the easy mode, even if they should, because they’ll feel embarrassed.

          Then there’s the fact that many game companies wouldn’t be able to pull it off. There’s already a strong precedence that when a game company tries to lay some friendly smack down, they end up sounding petty, silly or just generally like someone there should talk with a psychiatrist about their self-esteem problems and their tendency to insult others in order to feel better.

          1. HBOrrgg says:

            The point is that it’s an alternative to actually limiting the player. I’d much rather a game give me the option of not using the supergun rather than ramp up the difficulty to be impossible without it or leave it out in the first place. The truth is that many single player games are going to have sections where a particular player gets stuck or the the gameplay doesn’t really represent what he/she enjoys about the game. (A good example: someone who loves exploring and completing quests in Skyrim but isn’t very skilled at the combat. The solution the game gives is that anyone can become pretty much invincible so long as they hoard health potions, a pretty common early game item).

            The hope is that having the option clearly labeled something like “copout” or somehow pointing out “hey, if you want your experience to be more challenging/interesting you could try playing such and such way” would be able to put a stop to those who go online with a complaint something like “This game sucks, once you find the room with the rocket machine gun hidden under some crates then everything becomes waaaaay too easy!”
            Not to mention their close cousin:
            A: “This game sucks, it’s too easy!”
            B: “You know you could make it more challenging by blah blah blah.”
            A: “Why would I want to make it harder!”

            1. Sumanai says:

              Have people been complaining about the new Super Mario game being too easy? (I honestly don’t know, I haven’t read comments on it.) If you die too often in a level the game drops a suit for you, which you can refuse to pick up, which makes the rest of the level really easy.

              Metal Gear Solid 3 had, on the Easy difficulty, a E-Z gun (or something). Having it equipped locks your camouflage to 95 (or something) and it’s silent. Were there complaints that it was too easy? (Again not a rhetorical question.)

              I think it would be better to either offer the Super Easy Mode only when the player has shown signs of needing it (but not only on the first level, Devil May Cry) or making it in some way obvious that what you’re doing is technically cheating.

              Or just start putting cheat codes into games again.

              Anything but giving all the developers free hands to insult the player for any reason. There are actually developers who think it makes sense to block access to the later levels if you’re not playing at a high enough difficulty, why would I expect them to be reasonable about insults?

              1. Sumanai says:

                What I forgot to mention, is that when you’re just toying around with cheats or overpowered items it’s amusing and almost cute when the game mocks you for it.

                When you’ve just spent two hours hitting your head against a wall trying to dig through and you finally use a cheat to bypass that one stupid segment the last thing you want to hear is the game mocking you.

        2. X2Eliah says:

          Riight. Because if games need anything, surely it’s being insulting to the players, over such minor things as being fun/enjoyable/logical/consistent/rewarding. Nah, nah, the big issue with ME3 is that it didn’t directly insult the player at any time!

    2. Tzeneth says:

      Eh I’m a hard believer in the old “Earn your happy ending” type of guy. (Warning tvtropes link!). I think that there should possibly be a good ending because of the constant theme of succeeding against impossible odds. You can have everyone survive a “suicide” mission. You can literally solve problems that have plagued the various species. Why not a happy ending? If you didn’t accomplish all that, then an appropriate ending. But I digress…

      1. Absolutely. I think it’s fine to want a bittersweet ending, but if the player does everything right there’s no reason there can’t be something mostly, if not completely sweet with a minimum of bitter. Of course mutually exclusive choices like not winning for NCR in NEW vegas making Boone slightly worse off than if you had are fine too if you want to always have some imperfections.
        By the same merit there should be a bad ending in which you screw up everything and should feel ashamed, though that should be something you have to work for as well.

        I think both fit thematically, and if nothing else ME2’s suicide mission is a great example of how it should be done, even if the execution was a bit inconsistant.

        1. zob says:

          This is one of the things I just can’t understand. Half of the habitable planets are destroyed/culled, Earth is devastated, billions across the universe dead. No ending can be happy.

      2. HBOrrgg says:

        Yup, everything ever should be like this.

        The problem and what I think people complain about is that it starts to affect any sort dilemma. It ceases to be about “lose your mother or lose your love interest,” and turns into a question of whether losing someone outweighs laziness. Not to mention the fact that if anyone is willing to sacrifice something to avoid more of your gameplay then you are officially doing it wrong.

    3. Simon Buchan says:

      At Rannoch, I deliberately chose Legion over Tali – not because I didn’t have the charm to choose both (I did) – not because I liked Legion more than Tali (I didn’t) – but because I thought that I should have to make this choice, and that if I did, then the right choice is the oppressed race that still hopes for reperations, even if it means dooming my closest friend’s entire race. THAT’S A GODDAMN BRILLIANT CHOICE. So why did I have to metagame to make it?

      1. Lalaland says:

        I agree that the choice on Rannoch should have been forced on the player when I got there on my first playthrough I’d missed one of the side missions (the Geth fighter base) so I had to choose. I also chose the Geth partially for the reasons you gave (the Quarians really don’t come out looking good after that Geth fighter base mission) and also because I wanted the Geth fleet more than the Home Fleet.

        I did reload (to a point 3 hours earlier, doh!) as I had intended to play the Geth mission, totally worth it for that mission alone it’s one of my favorites from all 3 games. I also wondered if there was a cop out 3rd way and was disappointed that there was but took it anyway. At that stage I was under the illusion that the ending would bear some relation to what I’d done. Damn that ‘Suicide Mission’ style cut scene with my massive fleet was looking awesome in my mind’s eye….

  15. Deadpool says:

    Y’know, through all of the nitpicking and plot hole filled documents I’ve read, there is one thing that bothered me that NO ONE seems to have mentioned.


    Why is the God Child doing this? The Catalyst claims “well, my plan is shit now because you got here” but… Shepard DIDN’T get there. Shepard was face down, bleeding all over the nice Citadel floor when the Catalyst BROUGHT him to the secret room.

    And even if Shepard got there on his own, so what? She has NO IDEA how to get the Catalyst to work, or what to do. The Catalyst could just LIE and tell her to jump off a cliff cuz it’ll synthesize everyone and she’d do it…

    Furthermore, the Crucble is the worst weapon ever made since the trigger IS THE ACTUAL BAD GUY HIMSELF. The Catalyst is essentially the leader of the Reapers AND the one in control of the Crucible, most powerful WMD of all time. How is it a threat to the Reapers AT ALL?

    Assuming all this, why does Shepard believe the Child? Every option the child gives leads to her death, which means there is no way of verifying whether the Catalyst speaks the truth or not. Considering it just admitted to being the leader of the Reapers, why WOULDN’T she assuming it is lying?

    On a tiny note, why does the Normandy crash in Synthesis/Control endings? I mean, it makes a weird logical sense in Destroy but…

    1. It makes sense that the Crucible is something for the reapers to monitor the continued success of each cycle – leave the plans intact, watch as each cycle improves them and does a bit better and if anyone completes it then they know the cycles aren’t working, but at the same time it’s not a threat. Also it fits with the reapers guiding everyone’s development. Which makes them the most goddamn stupid kind of hypocrites especially when you see just how precise they got it each cycle. Just make a cycle where people don’t create synthetics, you don’t have to kill everyone.

      By building it successfully the reapers (who don’t have hands) also get a device that does their job significantly better (synthesis), adds the worthiest human mind to their own (control) or destroys them if they go rogue (because the created will always rebel against the creator, and also the synthetics have to die too because that’s how the catalyst rolls).

      So that’s the one thing that makes sense about the crucible I guess, even though it wasn’t outright stated and so could be me just filling in the gaps.

    2. Arex says:

      For that matter: the Catalyst is on (or is part of or just is) the Citadel. It claims the power to call into existence giant living starships of unimaginable longevity and destruction. It can make floating platforms to move Shepard around.

      But… it couldn’t push a button three years ago to manually open the Citadel relay, obviating the need for Saren’s efforts (and the last three games)? And it couldn’t stop a bunch of starving Protheans from messing with the Keepers fifty millennia ago?

      Leaving aside the question of why Shepard would take the word of the self-confessed architect of teradeaths, there seems to be a real disjoint in its claimed capabilities.

      1. From a purely devil’s advocate position, a catalyst enables, but does not participate in a reaction. He doesn’t do anything directly, but without him nothing would happen. Linguistically that makes sense. I mean, it makes no sense in any other regard, but in terms of function he’s catalysing all right. I guess.

  16. Walker says:

    I just watched the video I saw something odd the hologram of the kid is the same look of the kid on earth at the start of the game did any one else see that.

    1. Yeah, we noticed and no, it’s not explained except in indoctrination theory. Like a lot of things really.

      1. Hitch says:

        I guess I need to watch the indoctrination theory video. But I thought there was something off about that kid since before the game came out. Most people played the demo and thought the kid was just a cheap emotional ploy.

        I thought there must be something about him that tied to the main arc of the story in a significant way. He had to be connected to the Reapers in some way. When he started showing up in dream sequences, I was sure.

        When he was finally revealed at the end, I though, “Well that ended up kind of flat. I was hoping for something more subtle.”

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “Most people played the demo and thought the kid was just a cheap emotional ploy.”

          He is.He appears in your dreams constantly.So either shepard is being indoctrinated and this is all part of her lucid dream,or the catalyst is tugging on your emotions by assuming a form of this kid that haunts shepards nightmares(which is cheap and stupid).

          1. Gamer says:

            Honestly, when I saw the kid for the first time, I thought “Oh, wow. Seriously, game! We are going to go there. That’s a cheap shot!”

            My opinion grew worse when I was playing through Sheprd’s bad dreams (which I found to be incredibly annoying) and culminated in a “You’ve got to be kidding me!” at the ending.

            1. IFS says:

              The dreams were very annoying, the only one that ever had any impact on me was the one after tuchanka and then it was because mordin was whispering not because of the stupid kid.

              1. Indy says:

                Those whispers were ridiculous after Rannoch, though. Legion whispers “Shepard-Commander” to you.

            2. Eruanno says:

              The kid was really ridiculous. So Shepard is haunted by that one kid he met ONCE and couldn’t save, but not by… I don’t know, Kaidan or Ashley? Someone he (or she) actually KNEW and was good friends with? Why isn’t he haunted by the dead party member instead? That would have made more sense to me than this random annoying kid.

              1. IFS says:

                My Shepard had the colonist and sole survivor origins, she should really know how to deal with seeing people die by now!

          2. Raygereio says:

            I can’t help but think the BioWare writers thought themselves to be awesome and clever when they forced Shep to be distraught over a kid both the player and the character have absolutely no emotional connection to.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Well it worked for modern warfare,right?I mean,the game clearly did something right when it sold so much,so maybe its the increasingly stupid dramatic moments from game to game.

  17. The Hokey Pokey says:

    I think it is interesting that the ending is getting so much press, as if it is the worst thing to happen in ME3 when it clearly isn’t. Priority: Thessia is the worst part of ME3, and this kind of thing isn’t new to Bioware.

    (Possible spoilers below)
    For example, the first time I fought Malak in KOTOR I demolished him. The cutscene afterward disagreed and revealed that I actually lost, despite taking no damage during the fight. After I suppressed my rage, I tolerated it.

    It happened again in Mass Effect when you fought Saren on Virmire. You beat him in game and the cutscene forces you to lose. I tolerated this as well.

    In Mass Effect 2 the Illusive Man lied to my face and betrayed me, but I am forced to stick up for him when talking to my crew. Lair of the Shadow Broker even had the gall to admonish me for working with Cerberus, but I still tolerated it.

    In Dragon Age 2 the head mage guy that I am defending saw that I was winning too hard and decided that I was actually losing. He betrayed me, and once again I tolerated it.

    In Mass Effect 3 I stun locked Kai Leng for a few minutes before the cutscene decided I lost and then made fun of me about it in an email.

    Bioware has run out of chances. It doesn’t matter if the ending is changed, Priority: Thessia will still exist.

    1. Oh god, why would you remind me of that? That’s the one thing in the game I was so mad about I had to actively stop and rant about it for several minutes on twitter – even the ending didn’t do that. It’s not like KOTOR where it costs you a party member of ME1 where he just gets away, you lose an entire planet to the reapers just because this guy has cutscene powers, and it doesn’t even matter how well you do, Shepard acts like a moron the whole time and what’s worse, I was playing vanguard.

      When you have a class that can move at the speed of light, DON’T WRITE A CUTSCENE IN WHICH A GUY GETS AWAY FROM HIM BY JOGGING. THAT MAKES NO SENSE!

      I could go on for hours but I won’t.


      1. The Hokey Pokey says:

        Yeah, the cutscenes for vanguards are especially ridiculous. They even go so far as to turn charge off for the first room during Dr. Robot Lady’s escape on Mars. It’s like turning off throwing knives when you have to chase a guard in Assassin’s Creed 2.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Gah, don’t even get me started. One of the few things I liked about DA2 was that it recognized me as a mage in cutscenes. In ME, despite being “one of the most powerful biotics of my time” (or something to that effect), I still fall to the ground like a sack of potatoes or uselessly tickle Kai Leng with so many bits of metal (or whatever it is they use for bullets there, I’m sure there’s a codex entry on it) rather than shockwave or slam him, or at least challenge him to a biotic arm wrestle Samara-Morinth style.

          1. IFS says:

            Something else DA2 did well was involving the companions in the dialogue, for instance having Merril test the templars blood to see if he is possessed.

        2. IFS says:

          Even without charging half the time Shepard could have just shot him if the game allowed it.
          At least charge was on for the chase sequence after that first room so it didn’t matter that much.

          1. Not that it mattered – it didn’t do any damage and you still couldn’t just knock her over or grab her.

            1. IFS says:

              It did do damage, just not very much and her sheilds recharge too fast for it to matter.

        3. meyerkev says:

          Say WHAT? I was charging her over and over and over.

          1. The Hokey Pokey says:

            I could charge her after the first room (even though it is worthless because you aren’t allowed to completely break her shields). Until she left that security office thing, however, it wouldn’t let me charge her.

      2. Kavonde says:

        Whoops, replied to the wrong person.

    2. Tohron says:

      Yeah, cutscene powers can get kind of silly – in the KotOR example, you can lay down a bunch of high-powered mines before the second stage and let Malak walk into them like an idiot, and you’ll still get the same result. The particularly irritating thing about them is that it would just take a bit of creativity to eliminate the problem – I remember Spoiler Warning talking about the AC2 ending sequence and how it would have just taken putting the Templar scientist behind a grating to eliminate the stupidity of Desmond letting him get away.

      In the case of Priority: Thessia – all you need is a bunch of 1-use versions of what the Shadowbroker used for Leng to recharge shields, and a Reaper blast in your vicinity to let Leng get away. Yet they were too lazy to do even that.

      1. krellen says:

        Or, you know, they could let you save Thessia.

        Except that wouldn’t be dark or gritty and media has long-since forgotten what “happy” is.

        1. Gamer says:

          I’m completely okay with the player not succeeding in every objective. The problem was that Kai Lang was a completely stupid video game boss fight when it made no sense for him to be one.

          Furthermore, it is totally feasible for an average player to kick his ass easily. I basically just shot him while moving powers and using Warp. That’s it. No skill at all and I didn’t even get hurt. Plus, Shepard has destroyed gunships in the past, so there isn’t a reason why this one should cause trouble.

          There was no reason that Kai Lang posed a threat. So having him defeat you in a cutscene is particularly stupid.

          1. IFS says:

            I didn’t even have to fire a shot to beat Kai Leng on Thessia, between charge and nova and having my cooldown speed so low I could charge again after nova-ing he became a joke to fight.

          2. I still think in an RPG defined by player choices, railroading you into losing every time with no option to even salvage anything based on how well you’re playing is still pretty bad. I’d expect at a high level if I do well enough maybe I can make the next fight easier, or manage to get enough data to help the Asari long enough to evacuate, even if the planet has to fall.

            In KOTOR, losing Taris was something we couldn’t have possibly averted, in this case, that was our mission, and we had victory within our grasp, there’s no reason to railroad it away unconditionally other than to have the (admtittedly nice) sequence where Shepard gets distraught and the crew tries to cheer him up after. I mean, he needed characterisation, and that was pretty appropriate, but that wasn’t how to do it.

            1. Dasick says:

              I define RPG more as “A game where the main engagement comes from your character’s development and being challenged by character limitations”. Choice is important part of character development, so I pretty much agree with you. I just like to climb levels of abstraction :)

        2. Kavonde says:

          Thessia was screwed whether Shepard got the VI or not. From the beginning, they refused to help with the Crucible project, and just sat on their hands while the Reapers built up a blitzkrieg to take them out. Kai Leng’s cutscene powers =/= Asari stupidity.

          That said, Kai Leng’s escape was bullshit, but it could’ve been easily fixed. Instead of having him blow up the temple with a biotic shockwave thing, just have him detonate some charges he’d set up under the floor. I mean, he’d clearly had plenty of time to prepare for Shepard’s arrival; IIRC, Liara points out that the throat-slit scientists have been dead for a few hours. So, he sets some bombs and fights Shepard and Co. for awhile, eventually starts losing, and pulls out the detonator. Then, I dunno, a pillar or something falls on Shep to keep her from biotic charging him right out of the gunship.

          But as stupid as that scene is, come on, OP. There’s no way it’s worse than the ending. At least it has a payoff in some excellent VA work from both Sheps.

          1. krellen says:

            Consider this a response to both Gamer and Kavonde; I won’t be talking about Leng in it, though, because I don’t care about Leng.

            What games need to do is not to predetermine whether the player will succeed or fail. What they need to do is write plots in such a way that success or failure at a subplot is not required to advance the overall plot. If you fail to save Thessia, fine – the Asari are screwed and you try again at the next planet. It doesn’t change the overall war effort against the Reapers.

            But let the player succeed if they succeed. Let Thessia be saved. Stack the deck against them. Make it super hard. Make it nearly impossible. Plan for them losing. But don’t steal their victory in a cutscene.

            One of the few times I’ve ever seen this done right is the first time you fight Ser Cauthrien in DA:O. The fight is hard; the odds are stacked heavily against the player; the writers have planned for you to fail. And yet, if you can pull it off and succeed? The plot rolls on.

            More games need to do that.

            1. Astor says:

              Amen to that! This sort of bending narrative contributed a lot – perhaps mostly – to what made Deus Ex a classic… and it didn’t really go as far as you are saying it should. I fuck-up a mission? Don’t give me a game-over, just let me roll with it and bend things around it and compensate for the details. The game can remain largely the same, and can still be linear if that’s what you’re doing.

              In fact, this kind of thinking would solve ME2’s idiotic thou-must-join-Cerberus-and-wear-their-uniform-because-thou-must-even-if-they-slaughtered-your-whole-unit-and-you-have-decided-all-they-deserve-is-a-bullet-in-the-brain-all-the-while-you-can-just-go-back-to-the-Alliance-and-follow-the-same-overall-main-mission-structure.

              1. C says:

                The Cerberus problem was stupidly fixable too. Just have an option to say “F— off” to the Illusive Man, hijack the Normandy II, show up at the Citadel, become a Spectre, and get the Alliance colony disappearances as your first mission. Maybe you lose Miranda as a party member (but who cares?) and the dialogue has to be slightly changed. If Bioware — I mean Shepard — is feeling especially lazy, they can even not bother to paint over the stupid Cerberus logo for less work.

                As it is, the working-for-Cerberus decision is baffling and set the precedent in this series for the “Shut up and drink my Kool-Aid” approach.

              2. Joe says:

                Deus ex is an excellent example. But even its branching narrative was damaged by other, worse games that made me get used to battles I’m supposed to lose. Spoilers for a twelve-year old game I guess:

                First time I played through it, I had no idea you could even try to kill Agent Navarre, or save Paul. That Deus Ex allows either is still mind-boggling, but the way it’s done is still unmatched. No popup that says “your quest is to save Paul OR escape through the window”. It just lets you get on with it, in the exisiting mechanics of the game, with no fuss. That is what player agency should feel like.

                1. Astor says:

                  Which is funny because the REAL sequel to DeusEx actually fucked up in this respect with the silly boss-fghts+pre rendered cutscenes. (It was still great don’t get me wrong, the sequel will probably be better).

                  Also this reminds me of the new Alien game (Colonial Marines). One of the main things that turned me off was watching gameplay footage where a heavily scripted encounter with the titular monsters occurred. There were several people getting owned, but it was all scripted: you couldn’t shoot the things off your buddies for example. Wouldn’t it be actually easier to program the AI to attack, and then let the battle flow naturally? Sure, program some entities to use a certain kill move/animation on a certain NPC, but don’t make it so they become untangled from the game world…

                  Devs out there (or should I say publishers?): avoid heavily scripted things and prerendered cutscenes, they detract from the gameplay, they limit the freedom you are allowed to give to the player, they look disjointed from the rest and they take like half your budget to produce!

                2. The Hokey Pokey says:

                  Deus Ex original recipe does have Invincible Gunther, so it doesn’t completely avoid the problem.

            2. The Hokey Pokey says:

              That scene in DA:O is exactly how these things should go, and when I played it I foolishly believed that Bioware was done with cutscene stupidity.

            3. Eärlindor says:

              There is so much amazing conversation going on in this thread it depresses me.

            4. Kavonde says:

              Ah, I apologize, I thought there was a mental connection between “Kai Leng gets away” and “Thessia gets Reaped.”

              However, I’m curious as to why you think Thessia should be able to be saved. How exactly could Shepard possibly pull that off? She couldn’t save Palaven, or the homeworlds of the volus or elcor. Driving the Reapers off Thessia when they’ve arrived in force would be as big an undertaking as saving the Earth. Moreso, since the Crucible wouldn’t have been built yet, and Thessia didn’t seem to have an organizing figure like Anderson for survivors to rally around.

              Of course, now that I type all this, I get it. The next few scenes are about how Shepard finally failed, but I think we have different interpretations at what, exactly, Shepard failed at. The way I saw it, while Shep was distraught about watching Thessia die, her real failure was letting Kai Leng get away with the VI and thus doom the Crucible Project (and by extension, the galaxy) to failure. She never considered saving Thessia to be a realistic goal; she just needed whatever top-secret MacGuffin the asari had stashed there.

              So, yeah. As I see it, Thessia is a non-issue. Having a chance to actually beat Kai Leng would’ve been nice, but then, they had to railroad us into a final showdown with Cerberus somehow. Even if the game had let us win, it would’ve been like five minutes before one of TIM’s omnipresent moles on the Crucible Project would’ve just swiped the VI from Hackett instead. And I think that might’ve been even more annoying, like almost on par with the Collectors attacking the Normandy in ME2.

              1. krellen says:

                Want to know a secret?

                I haven’t even played ME3.

                1. Kavonde says:



                  1. krellen says:

                    I really couldn’t care less about spoilers. I try to aggressively spoil people and have spoiled myself all over the place. Spoilers have never ruined my enjoyment of anything and I find people that avoid spoilers to be weird alien creatures whose motives I absolutely cannot comprehend.

                    1. ? says:

                      If a story can be spoiled it was not a good story to begin with.

                    2. Sumanai says:

                      Well, if a story can be ruined with a spoiler, or made pointless, then it wasn’t all that good to begin with.

                      I’d argue that even The Sixth Sense is watchable if it has been spoiled, since you can focus on all the hints for it throughout the film. And whether there are screw ups.

                    3. Arex says:

                      The experience of a story is different for me when the surprises really are surprises than when they aren’t. Often there are rewards to both– I enjoy rereading a book or rewatching a movie and seeing the way clues and foreshadowing are subtly laid, and how different characters come across once their secrets and futures are known. But that first experience can only be had once, and I tend to be annoyed if I’m deprived of it despite trying to be careful.

                      (I played through ME3 much faster than I’d have preferred, and still wound up having to close browser windows as the ending furor took over the blogosphere. I basically gave up reading gaming sites for the duration since information was leaking into the headlines and unrelated comment threads.)

                      Now, in a discussion like this, prominently labeled “Mass Effect 3 Ending”, I wouldn’t expect anyone to mark spoilers for the ending of Mass Effect 3 (or any of the other Mass Effect games) in the comments. But if someone wanted to discuss the ending of, say, Red Dead Redemption in comparison (to pick a game spoiled for me on a long ago, Ars Technica thread unrelated to that game), I think courtesy suggests giving people who haven’t played the game a chance to shy off.

                      I know there are all sorts of philosophies about how old or well-known a story needs to be before the issue becomes moot. But honestly? I think there’d be a lot to be said for a world in which it was possible to watch Citizen Kane for the first time without any more idea what “Rosebud” is than the reporters or their subjects.

                      Never going to happen, of course. But at least for recent works, weighing the minor inconvenience of spoiler tags/warnings/space against the genuine loss of an experience that some people value, the kinder thing to do seems pretty clear. (How much one cares about that is, ultimately, a judgment call.)

                    4. ? says:


                      That’s exactly what I meant. I’m far too young not to have heard about the “Luke, I’m your father” thing in Star Wars before I saw it for first time and I still loved it. When watching Sixth Sense I genuinely forgot about the twist, because characters were interesting. It’s when story has nothing but the twist, when it’s not worth time anyway.

                    5. Sumanai says:

                      @? – I thought you did, but decided to go the route of pedant instead of risk putting words in your mouth.

                      @Arex – True. Spoilers change the experience, which is why I like to avoid mentioning them. Also, others take spoilers more seriously and I try to be polite (and fail). I know there are couple of comments I haven’t made because I got stuck trying to say what I wanted without spoiling a story.

                      But sometimes the best thing to do is to just spoil something for yourself. When something frustrates, irritates or angers people enough, or enough people, it’s time to check what it is so you can make an informed decision as a consumer.

                    6. krellen says:

                      I have a serious problem with surprises. They are never pleasant for me. I hate surprises. If you throw me a surprise party, I would probably flip out and kill everyone.

              2. They wanted an excuse for a final showdown for Cerberus? Hell I would have paid real money for the opportunity. It is my continuing peasure to wipe out every Cerberus agent I find with extreme prejudice. The entire plot of ME2 and all the stupidity in ME3 they get up to is reason enough. If you want a plot reason, have Miranda lead us to his base after we save her from Sanctuary or Oriana if she’s dead. We can get the information off her dad or something.

                I want that to be a side story you can complete parallel to the main plot, and if you do then Cerberus stops showing up apart from a few rogue cells where neceessary, but more importantly, if you knock out TIM before the citadel invasion, it becomes a last desparate attempt by the remnants to take over, there’s no Kai Leng (he died earlier) and Thane doesn’t die. Not because I particularly like Thane but because I’d love to be able to have that entire faction knocked out of the picture in scenes where they’d otherwise be important. It’d be like shooting House in New Vegas before waking up the securitrons and then Yes Man’s there instead and everyone’s like “looks like House finally went bust” or whatever they do between patrolling the Mojave and almost wishing for a nuclear winter.

                I know I keep drawing analogues to where New Vegas did things right, but damn if it didn’t do so much better than anyone else in so many areas.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Thats one of the biggest problems with games actually:Your story should be interconnected with your gameplay,they should not be separate.Very,very few games manage to merge the two,which just shows how people still have no clue how to make games.

      1. I can’t find the retweet button but if I could I would because this is a perfect summary.

  18. epopisces says:

    As a resident of Wisconsin, I sincerely hope Bioware doesn’t choose the first of the three options O.o (37:40)

  19. Ravens Cry says:

    Watching this, just makes the whole situation . . .sad.
    They created a bunch of characters that many people love.
    OK, not all of them clicked, but I didn’t even play the game, just watched clips on youtube and Spoiler Warning, and I wanted to know Mordin’s story.
    And they [expletive redacted/] it up right at the home stretch.
    It’s like a narrative version of the uncanny valley. The closer it approximates true engagement, the closer they make us connect to these fictional constructs, the more it hurts when you see it glitch, bomb and fail.

    1. Hitch says:

      Well, one bright spot is Mordin’s story ends before the end of ME3. So it, at least, is properly satisfying.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        But what if you make him survive?

        1. Then it means you screwed up and let Wrex die. The only question is if you can bear to go back and change it, knowing it means Mordin’s death.
          Which I just realised is a much bigger implication to Virmire than we ever thought, and also really deliciously harsh to people like me who have to sacrifice Mordin for a ‘perfect’ playhthrough.

      2. Arex says:

        It’s only satisfying if you don’t think the end of ME3 vitiates the thing he died for.

        Though as an alternative to the krogan being stranded on Earth by the mass relays destruction, my wife proposed “Wrex’s Odyssey”: since krogan live so long, they take off with the intent of finding a route back to Tuchanka via standard FTL. This inevitably involves a roundabout route, long stopovers on unknown planets, casualties, and reversals.

        Meanwhile, back on Tuchanka, Eve/Baraka temporizes and plays politics among the many clan leaders who want to use her to usurp Wrex’s position, engaging in a balancing act that keeps any of them from actually taking over. Young Urdnot Mordin grows to maturity, and tries to investigate his father’s fate and what happened at the end of the Reaper War.

        Decades or centuries later, Wrex lands on Tuchanka (traditionally alone, though I’d probably give him at least a krantt so that Grunt can survive too). Urz the varren perks up and gives him a look of recognition, before at last dying of extreme old age. Wrex does a bit of krogan-style housecleaning to take care of the the clan-leaders who were pressing too close to Baraka, and returns to planning the krogan Renaissance.

        (One good thing about being a giant junkyard: Tuchanka’s a lot better suited to self-sufficient bootstrapping than a lot of places.)

  20. Gamer says:

    You know, everybody is so (rightfully) pissed about the ending that many of the good/funny scenes are getting overlooked.

    So to liven up the place, I’ll ask a question: What was everybody’s favorite scene from Mass Effect 3?

    Mine was when Tali got piss drunk after the events on Horizon. Her and her “Emergency Induction Port.”

    1. Kavonde says:

      Yes. “I’m having a drink with my boyfriend. My human boyfriend. My dad would have hated you.”

      Hard to pick a favorite scene, since 95% of the game was fantastic. I think I’ll give the nod to either Garrus and Joker swapping racist jokes, or Garrus and James swapping war stories, or Garrus and Shep shooting bottles on the Presidium. I…kinda like Garrus, I guess.

      1. Gamer says:

        Garrus is just that awesome. I liked the scene where you and Garrus go out shooting together for fun.

        1. MatthewH says:

          Any of the “hanging out at the Citadel” vignettes. Target shooting with Garrus, dancing with Jack, drinking with James, or shooing Joker onto the Dance Floor.

          In terms of actual gameplay -any of the several times you got off a shuttle under fire and got to shoot the badguys as you rolled in. Tuchanka: Cerberus Bomb is probably my favorite. I don’t know what is causing that artillery barrage, but it was cool!

          1. Gamer says:

            I agree. It’s good to see what your squad-mates do when they aren’t going on missions for you.

            The shuttle thing is one of those little touches. Something that’s small, but vastly improves immersion and verisimilitude when it’s present.

          2. Kavonde says:

            Oh, Jack! I forgot about Jack. I never particularly liked her, but seeing how she’s developed as a character gave me the warm fuzzies. When I went back and played through ME2, I even started bringing her along on missions. Turns out she’s a pretty good character after all. Who knew?

    2. Irridium says:

      That was great.

      Mine is probably when Mordin was giving Joker advice on how to have sex with EDI. Damn near fell off my chair.

      1. Gamer says:

        Please post a link to that. I MUST SEE THIS!

          1. Gamer says:

            “I wish I wasn’t”

            That was pretty funny.

          2. Eärlindor says:


            *Stabs out eyes and destroys eardrums*

    3. Dude says:

      Mordin and Grunt. Both were pandering, yes, but they worked.

    4. I loved that so much. Also walking in on Garrus and Tali kissing and their awkward excuses upon seeing you. It was absolutely adorable.

      This game had a tonne of great moments, but I think hands down my favourite scene was making peace between the Geth and Quarians. In fact all of the Rannoch chapters were utterly brilliant and resonated in a way that even curing the genophage didn’t. From the Admiral firing on you while on the Geth cruiser and you getting to tell him to get the hell off your ship to entering the Geth Consensus and seeing the first moments of the morning war and Legion’s origin as well as destroying a reaper on foot and even Legion’s sacrifice at the end.

      I would’ve hated to play that without Legion and Tali loyal.

      1. Gamer says:

        The entire Geth/Quarian subplot was excellent.

        I agree that the Geth Consensus was an excellent level. I was happy to find out why the Quarians were forced off of Rannoch.

        1. Eärlindor says:

          Entering the Geth Consensus was neat, but I thought it dragged a little. The pacing could’ve greatly been improved with one or two more gimmicks/puzzles.

    5. Indy says:

      I must say I liked the payoff for Tuchanka. Just letting that worm tear into that squid, amazing.

      1. Gamer says:

        Everything about that mission was very well done. So many variables had to be accounted for, but Bioware succeeded and created a very well put together mission.

        I disliked the part where you were in the dark Krogan temple ruins, but that was more because I couldn’t navigate well. Otherwise I like it. Everything else… Good job, Bioware!

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        That one,however,is pretty stupid if your suspension of disbelief was ruined by me2.So,dont read on if you dont want the memory of the scene to be ruined.

        Anyway,how can a thresher maw,no matter how big,have a stronger impact than a huge slug sped to a speed of light?An entire fleet has to shoot at reapers weak point multiple times in order to take it down,but a single thresher maw can do it from the side,where the reaper is heavily armoured?

        Not gonna happen.Unless there is something Ive missed.

        1. MatthewH says:

          I got the impression it actually crushed it. The maw coils around the thing and squeezed like a snake. I don’t think armor and mass effect fields work against that.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Maybe.But still,the very first think is the thresher jumping on the reaper and knocking it down,when it shouldve just bounced off.It doesnt matter how big,strong or heavy it is,speed is more important to the kinetic energy than mass.

            It does look impressive,and if I saw it after 1,or somewhere in the beginning of 2,I wouldve loved it.But now it just looks stupid to me.

        2. aegof says:

          Kinetic barriers aren’t meant to protect against things traveling slower than bullets. In fact, they don’t at all.

          If you can get past their shielding, Reapers aren’t that tough, and even less so when they’re forced to reduce their mass while on a planet.

        3. Ringwraith says:

          Also, ships aren’t designed for planetary bombardment, and as such the projectiles from their mass accelerators partially burn upon entry into the atmosphere, losing much of their energy.

          Also, it does actually drag it underground, or at least enough to just simply bury the thing alive.

    6. Gamer says:

      I just remembered the Renegade interrupt that let you beat the shit out the stupid Quarian admiral and tell get the hell off the ship. I thought that was completely justified even though I’d been playing a complete White Knight Sheppard until then.

      1. Same. It was really satisfying. I was like “Paragon choice is to be OK with that? HELL NO”.

        1. MatthewH says:

          yeah, I thought that too. The paragon might let it go, but “you do what you have to do” is renegade. “You do not fire on your allies while they are still trying to exfil the mission area!” is paragon.

          This is one of my few renegade interrupts as a paragon player. Han Garrol deserves to be shot out an air lock. I even liked him in the previous game. I thought Val’Koris was a smarter man (but really, dragging Tali into his crusade against Han Garrol was still uncalled for). But Koris was just trying to hamstring the pro-war faction by exiling the Zorah family. Garrol nearly got everyone killed with his loose cannon actions (and who put him in charge of the heavy fleet? This is like putting Patton in charge of the D-Day breakout and putting Bradley in charge of 3rd Army)

  21. Shishberg says:

    “Think of it this way, Niles. What’s better than an exquisite meal? An exquisite meal with one tiny flaw that we can pick at all night.”

    1. This is less a tiny flaw, more it turns out dessert is one of three colours of exploding jello that destroy the entire table, getting china and leftovers everywhere and when you demand to know why this jello tried to kill you the chef claims artistic license.

      1. Sumanai says:

        Or rather the chef claims that you “didn’t get it” and when you complain about it and demand a new dessert every food critic starts talking about “death of artistic merit” or something.

        1. Mr.Soggy says:

          Best pudding based analogy ever.

          1. Sumanai says:

            On Rock Paper Shotgun there was once either a news post or just a comment that started a comment chain of tea jokes/puns. They were basically making fun of fanboy-ish and elitist attitudes but with various teas as substitutes for games and series, which made it rather civil. What made it great was that they used various tea types and stuff in such a way that they ended up making good analogies.

            It was one of those rare moments where I felt, temporarily, that my habit of reading comments in news sites was vindicated.

        2. WarlockofOz says:

          Finding faeces at the bottom spoils a bowl of even the very best icecream.

          1. Sumanai says:

            Yes, but it was put there on purpose. Surely it is therefore art and beyond criticism.

  22. Neko says:

    It’s EA. EA ruins everything.

  23. Alex says:

    New theory:

    Buzz Aldrin, having completed his cameo in Transformers 3, unknowingly contaminated the ending of ME 3 with some leftover Michael Bay residue.

    1. MatthewH says:

      Buzz Aldrin’s part was fine. I mean, I’ve heard people complain that his VAing is weak -and I guess I could be convinced -but I totally bought “grandpa telling stories to his grandkids while staring at the stars” in his performance. And he’s been trying to maintain interest in space exploration for a while anyway. It was everything between the Conduit and Buzz Aldrin’s part that sucked.

      1. X2Eliah says:

        Hmyeah. On the VA thing, I’d personally say that is was a bit too wooden and unnatural. And, given that I didn’t really have a mental image of Buzz Aldrin’s voice (so it wasn’t anything “special” for me until I read about who that voice belonged to), it was just an old man’s reading of a script into a microphone that could have used a bit more emotion, and a lot more believability and naturality.

        In response to Alex.. Hm. Well. Seeing that the ultimate solution to the whole ME3 trilogy was to “blow everything up!!!”, it does sound a lot like M. Bay’s style indeed ;)

  24. Anachronist says:

    I guess they listened. From the BBC: “Mass Effect 3 to get new ending at no cost to gamers”.

    Bioware described the feedback as “incredibly painful”.

    1. Alex says:

      It’s not a new ending. It’s an Epilogue. All of the stupid plot-destroying stuff is still intact.

      Although I can see why they’re doing it. The more distance it puts between the star-child nonsense and the credits, the better. People tend to forgive weak endings if the Epilogue is the last thing they remember. (See: Return of the King.)

      Bioware described the feedback as “incredibly painful”.

      Casey Hudson would like a Hurts Donut.

    2. Gamer says:

      Honestly, if all they did was close the plot holes and tell me what the consequences to my actions (throughout the game) were, I’d be satisfied.

      Looks like I’m going to get that, so I might not have any more reason to complain.

      1. Sumanai says:

        Interesting how many points were mentioned in that Tolkien comparison that have been in my mind for a few days.

        I also approve of the use of horseshit in that context. It’s interesting that even though Tycho from Penny-Arcade mentioned the sacrosanct-thing, few have caught on it.

    3. zob says:

      Back then when this whole debacle started I guessed (just because of the weird pacing issues around Normandy) there will be a “director’s cut”/”extended ending”. Then I convinced myself that it’s a stupid idea and nobody would do such a stupid thing.

      I don’t know you guys but I’ll never buy anything from Bioware especially if it includes Casey Hudson in it.

      1. Sumanai says:

        Now, now. Wait until the “new” ending comes out. Maybe they’ll have actually made it better and- HAH. The more I hear about this the less likely it sounds like anyone at Bioware who has any power over this understands any of the problems with the ending. The most optimistic view I can take is that the reason they keep saying stuff like “clarify” is because The Theory is correct, but even that one has its own problems.

        Such as the fact that it makes the “best” ending a sequel hook.

  25. Sumanai says:

    Found something interesting:

    I’m kind of surprised that the writer decided to attach TotalBiscuit’s video to the article. Good thing, because I haven’t watched TB’s Mailboxes and he makes good points.

    Note: I went to a university six years ago for a type of Bachelor of Business Administration degree. Erik Kain (the journalist for Forbes) and TotalBiscuit are saying what I was told while there. You have a problem with a product, you’re meant to make noise if you want to do your part as a consumer.

  26. Mazinja says:

    So, I loved ME3. Most of it. Tuchanka was great. the Quarian/Geth part was great. Seeing how some of your old squad-mates are is great. The way Mordin’s story ends IS what I would call bittersweet (if you go the Paragon route anyway). I have even seen some cut-scenes of what happens if you take some different decisions in some scenarios, and some of those READ great even if they make you feel terrible (like the one that happens if Wrex is alive and you DIDN’T cure the genophage).

    My problems are Kai-Leng, the cereal ninja, who is basically somebody else’s Self-Insert in MY goddamned Self-Insert story and whose narrative powers are somehow better than my own. Killing him was INMENSELY satisfying, but not for the same reasons killing an interesting villain usually is.

    And of course the ending, which people have discussed in depth. Except for one thing!

    The ME3 ending is pretty much the Fable 2 ending: You have three choices, none of them matter.

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