Author [EN] [PL] [ES] [PT] [IT] [DE] [FR] [NL] [TR] [SR] [AR] [RU] [ID] Topic: Why Mass Effect 3's original ending was so bad: a prose by Lumi Kløvstad  (Read 664 times)

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Offline Lumi Kløvstad

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If you wouldn't mind dropping by my original Quora answer and throwing me an upvote, it'd be mighty neighborly of ya.

Let's say you're writing a book. You decide that nobody out there is making the kind of stuff you want to enjoy, so you harness some of that good ol' ‘Murican “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” energy that people from red states seem so particularly keen about and start making for yourself what you wanted to see.

To your huge surprise, it's a hit. Maybe not an earth shaking one, but a lot of people liked it and it's being hailed as an instant classic.

Naturally, you start working on a sequel. Now you go bigger and better than ever. It takes a few years to make it, but you enjoy this one WAY more than the first, and it gives you confidence that other will like it too. Your instincts are perfect: your work is at the top of all the best seller's lists, internet chat rooms are ablaze with constant discussion, and everyone, including you, can't wait to see where story goes next.

Then your publisher steps in. They're happy with the work you've put in, and they want you on a sequel, and yesterday would be great. Also, they have total confidence in your abilities, but they'd like to put someone in your house to keep an eye on you at every hour of the day. Purely for resource management and “streamlining”, you understand.

And now, you feel something has shifted.

The dynamic has changed.

You're not enjoying the creative process as much anymore. You try to enjoy yourself and there are still a lot of moments where you do, so you tell yourself that it's worth it, but you can never fully banish that feeling resting in the back of your head that… no. It really isn't. All you can do now is try to have as much fun as you can and spit out a finished product so you can get the weird corporate man who is now constantly making “suggestions” out of your house.

So you hunker down and write faster than ever before. Quality control goes way, way down in the name of finally finishing this thing and you slowly realize that you have lost control of the corporate man, or more precisely that you never had any at all. You constantly walk into your study finding him making “fixes” to your work.

“Just proofreading!” He lies.

You know better, and double check your work for changes.

There's a bunch.

As you get to work fixing them, the little corporate man visits you and snatches your manuscript right out of your hands and thumbs it over.

“This should be enough.” He says.

“For what?” You ask.

“Well, the Powers-That-Be phoned just now, and they want this on their desk tomorrow. We totally have every faith that you can deliver, but even so they had something prepared just in case.”

“What.” Is your blunt reply, and the little suited man reveals that they took a blind guess as to how the story would end and went ahead and wrote it up. They merge their finale with your manuscript tomorrow morning.

You aren't given an option.

It's out of your hands.

You don't get to read the changes they made before release, and they didn't even send you an author's copy.

You had to buy it yourself at full price— that's how money grubbing the publisher turned out to be.

You read your bastardized work in abject horror and realize that it wasn't remotely close to how you would have finished it.

Oh it sold well, being the finish to an acclaimed trilogy, but everyone agrees that it didn't feel quite right. None of the focus seemed to end where it ought to have, and what in God's name was that finale?

Was it written by stoned monkeys with a speech impediment?


Yes it was.

They were very well dressed monkeys and they ruined the ending to the trilogy you had devoted over 5 years of your life writing for yourself.

That is the level of personal insult Mass Effect fans rightly took from an ending that utterly ignored every single narrative choice they had made across 5 years, 3 games, over 200 hours of gameplay, and more emotional moments than most TV shows fit in their entire runs. All for an “ending” that amounted to “pick your favorite color, peasant.”

This was a story where each unique permutation felt written by us, the players. It was an extension of us, and that caused us to bond with it on a level that you simply cannot obtain with a TV studio deciding to tell you a story. We wrote this. We were Shepard. Shep’s choices were our choices.

Until that goddamn ending.

You better bet we took EA and BioWare to task for how it finished.

Oh, and the worst part?

That little corporate chimp in a suit never moved out of your house. Far from it.

Now there's a commune of them living in your kitchen, and they all have absolutely brilliant ideas for what “you” should write next.

Have fun with your sequel.

Post script: while the fan outrage over the end of Mass Effect 3 was entirely justified, I do want to give props to BioWare for owning up to that colossal screw up and acting pretty swiftly (all things considered) to try and fix it. As the saying goes, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but a few patches and DLCs later, we at least got a reasonably quality leather one.

And ask any Mass Effect fan: Mass Effect 3: Citadel is the REAL ending, and it’s everything anyone who’s played the series could have ever wanted.

So thanks BioWare. You did what you could, and it was plenty, at least in my book.
How not to be a dark lord: the answer to that is a terribly interesting answer that involves an almost Jedi-like adherence to keeping oneself under control and finding ways to be true to yourself in a way that doesn't encourage the worst parts of you to become dangerously exaggerated and instead feeds your better nature. Also, protip: don't fuck with Alchemy or strike up any deals with ancient Japanese Shinigami gods no matter how tempting the deal or how suavely dressed the Shinigami is.

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Nice read. And it definitely sums up everything that AAA companies are right now.
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