EA Announces Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Dan_D

Extremely [H]
Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Messages
57,767
I think this right here is a lot of really interesting stuff to explore.

For all my knowledge about the games this apparently plot point alludes me. Refresh my memory?

He is correct. I don't recall the precise details, but the original story was hinted at in ME2 on Haestrom regarding dark energy and stars behaving differently than they should. The entire game's script leaked, and BioWare quickly rewrote much of the game's script for reasons......

Welllll, I wouldn't go as far as to say that "true fans" will act any sort of way. I mean, tons of "true fans" read the books before they see the movie as it were. But to your point, even in that case Bioware could've and maybe perhaps should've stayed their original course - because "true fans" that have already read the script will still be interested in the finished product.

I couldn't agree more.

But to that end I don't necessarily see that ME1 and ME2 were necessarily building towards something else. In fact I consider ME2 to be the weakest in the series from a story perspective because it more or less was a giant stall of a game. You couldn't play with any of your crew from ME1 (a way to preserve them and get around all of the "choice" forks - hence giving the illusion of choice without actually having to program for it). The Reaper threat was put on ice in favor of a new side threat, the Collectors, which of course had to be killed/dealt with. And we more or less had to wait until 3 to get anything that really affected the central story line.
Again, Mass Effect 2 dropped hints about a few things that were dealt with in ME3. The Dark Energy plot, which was to become a focus for ME3 was changed into a side thing involving Conrad Verner of all people.
ME:2 was rife with side stories and character moments. Which was more or less the highlights from that game. I think people liked it a lot because of the gameplay and character moments. But from a story perspective if it hadn't ever existed it wouldn't really change the plot of the ME series much. (In short the collectors were a genetically modified race, the original Protheans, that the Reapers now use to harvest civilizations as they continue to wipe out species every cycle... none of those things are "necessary" to move forward the story - it could've just as easily been the Reapers themselves, indoctrinated current species (eg: Saren/followers), or species they co-opt such as the Geth - all of which were already established in ME1).
It also, if we're going to criticize plot points in the story, killed off Shepard in the opening moments of the game writting in an unnecessary, implausible reanimation plot-point as a setup to having him/her work with the Illusive Man and Cerberus. They went out of their way to say, "let's kill Shepard" and can we "mess with the player and get them to work with the villains of humanity" just essentially to do it. Which in a lot of ways is far more ridiculous than things that happen in 3 (but we all have our opinions).

Well, the whole killing Shepard bit was an issue of story being driven by the requirements of a video game. They wanted a new way to introduce players to the universe and characters who might not have played ME1. Additionally, they wanted to "reset" Shepard so that you had your skill level etc. grind all over again. I first played ME2 before ME1, so I can tell you that it worked. Old gamers like me are used to game stories being shit or contrived to fit around game mechanics. Unfortunately, it is what it is. That being said, I largely agree with you. ME2's strength isn't in its story, its in its characters, settings and sub-plots. The main plot is actually dealt with in only a handful of the total hours of playtime.

Again, as controvertial as it may seem, I think ME3 was the best in the series, followed by 1, and lastly 2. I enjoy all the games, so don't take my ordering as meaning that I think any of them are terrible - but as a dude that likes plot, character development, etc more than perhaps caring as much about every piece of gameplay - that's the order I place the games in (I still think ME1 plays great, despite apparently a lot of people thinking its clunky). For all of 3's failings (which I clearly think there are less of than the collective internet), it got a lot right with closings moments for all its characters and plots from the first two games.

I question that really. I think there was a lot of cool things that lined up with the Geth and the Reapers. That the Reapers distained the Geth, knowing what they were (a sentient AI) but of course used them to help with harvesting. And I think a lot of the things regarding harvesting and of course the fact that the Reapers are clearly sentient machines were explored pretty well from the reveal in ME1 to basically a majority of the plot in ME2.
Well, I would largely agree with you excluding the ME3's ending making Reapers out to be puppets and many of the character moments and experiences being fruitless due to how the game ends, especially in its original form. Many people will argue some bullshit about it being "the journey" and not the "destination" or some such sentiment. Perhaps you feel that way and that's fine. While the results of my efforts do not determine the full worth of them, they are still very much important. I do not wish to put a ton of effort into something that bears no fruit. From a gameplay perspective all the way up until Priority Earth, I'd agree with you entirely. ME3 had it all. Story, great character moments, an amazing setting, interesting set pieces, cinematic moments, weapon customization, character customization, etc. It was the best in the series marred by the last hour or so of gameplay.
 

Dan_D

Extremely [H]
Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Messages
57,767
Okay, fresh NG without any of the passive upgrades that come with the achievements took me 25 hours listening to all the dialogue and completing all assignments on Veteran. My NG+ playthrough on the same character on Hardcore is on track to be about 20 hours with skipping all dialogue. It probably would have been faster, but I'm still trying to remember the various routes I took through the game originally.

If you did a 100% completion playthrough with all the collectibles collected, then you are faster than me. It takes me about 31 hours to do all that if I recall correctly.
 

Armenius

Fully [H]
Joined
Jan 28, 2014
Messages
23,694
If you did a 100% completion playthrough with all the collectibles collected, then you are faster than me. It takes me about 31 hours to do all that if I recall correctly.
I don't bother getting any of the collectibles once the associated assignments say "Collection Complete." I can tolerate the Mako exploration, but not enough to get every single collectible in the game. I did that once, along with getting all the other marked and unmarked points of interest, and decided that I would save my sanity on future playthroughs. I consider a 100% playthrough to be completion of all assignments and missions in the game, not interacting with every object or including map completion.
 

Dan_D

Extremely [H]
Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Messages
57,767
I don't bother getting any of the collectibles once the associated assignments say "Collection Complete." I can tolerate the Mako exploration, but not enough to get every single collectible in the game. I did that once, along with getting all the other marked and unmarked points of interest, and decided that I would save my sanity on future playthroughs. I consider a 100% playthrough to be completion of all assignments and missions in the game, not interacting with every object or including map completion.

Fair enough. I think I get the majority of Asari writings and things like that, but I don't do them all.
 

M76

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
11,840
That's an entirely subjective opinion, so it's hard to argue with that. All I can say is that I couldn't disagree with you more.
All I can say is that while mass effect's ending wasn't good by any means, I hated it so much that I reviewed the game a 6/10 due to it at the time. At least it can be reconciled with various interpretations and fan theories. There is no fan theory that can make cyberpunk's ending into anything even remotely acceptable or hopeful.
 

Dan_D

Extremely [H]
Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Messages
57,767
All I can say is that while mass effect's ending wasn't good by any means, I hated it so much that I reviewed the game a 6/10 due to it at the time. At least it can be reconciled with various interpretations and fan theories. There is no fan theory that can make cyberpunk's ending into anything even remotely acceptable or hopeful.
I disagree with that. In the ending where you join the Aldecaldos and go with Panam at the game's conclusion, she mentions having some plan to try and save V. The tone of the ending suggests its hopeful, and even if V dies, they go out on their terms with friends etc. It won't be the lonely road that staying in Night City would have been. Furthermore, the "Blaze of Glory" ending hints at a possible solution to V's problem and Mr. Blue Eyes is featured in it. While this one isn't as hopeful as the other one, there is a glimmer of hope in it. Finally, V has the option of taking the deal with Arasaka and getting digitized and under contract, Arasaka is required to provide V a new body and place him/her in it once the technology is available.

The way I interpreted the endings was that they were somewhat dark, but do feature some glimmer of hope for V to continue / live on. They aren't all that way mind you, but they aren't nearly as awful as ME3's ending. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one thing, I was never as invested in V as a character, nor was I invested in the Cyberpunk 2077 NPC's the way I was in the Mass Effect trilogy's protagonist and characters. The emotional investment just isn't there. This comes down to writing and several other factors. Namely, the lack of agency the player has in the story and the fact that the way the dialog is written, you don't really get to develop V in anyway. BioWare, sometimes fails at the whole illusion of choice thing but it also fails to conceal the mechanics of how its systems work. That being said, they do a much better job than CDPR at allowing the freedom to set the tone of a conversation and to really make the character feel like it's "your Shepard." While dodgy in the first game, the others helped the characters develop with you and because of you. That gives you a connection to them. CDPR absolutely fails to achieve this in Cyberpunk 2077.

As a result, I wasn't that vested in the story and I flat out didn't care about most of the NPC's. I think the only ones that are handled well are Panam and River Ward. Even then, as you've pointed out, River Ward's quest line is a little too short. Claire isn't developed enough and you never feel like you have any real connection to Rogue or any of Johnny's friends save for perhaps Kerry. Even then, you are just sort of along for the ride while they do whatever it is they do. You are a hired gun and little else. This lack of investment in V's character or the NPC's are one of the primary reasons why I don't think that the endings are as bad as Mass Effect 3's. Without that emotional investment in the setting and characters, a bad ending is just "meh". It's quite the opposite for ME3's ending in which I felt cheated, betrayed and almost even offended. It literally achieved nothing that I wanted in an ending.

I wanted tp believe in the indoctrination theory at first, but it seemed obvious that much of the circumstantial evidence for this was shaky at best. Reversed/mirrored textures etc. are simply a byproduct of the game's rushed design and constraints for size as it was required to fit on no more than two discs for the XBOX 360. Again, even if I could buy into a theory that clearly isn't true, without a follow up and some real conclusion to the game I wasn't satisfied with that. The story wasn't over if that was the case. We never got more game that addressed this and therefore as a theory its kind of fun to think about but hardly works for me. Also, it's implied that the interest Harbinger has concerning Shepard is his/her resistance to indoctrination and therefore, Indoctrination theory flat out doesn't work with that.
Chris Hepler says "we weren't that smart" regarding the popular Indoctrination Theory. Well, that much is obvious. Thing is, if they had quit the "artistic integrity" bullshit at the time and actually ran with it the game could have been saved.

https://www.thegamer.com/mass-effect-ending-indoctrination-theory-shepard-canon/
As much as I like ME3, it's pretty clear which parts of it were well written and well thought out and which ones weren't. Basically, everything from Priority Earth onward is trash. Even Shepard's goodbyes to the various team members are awful. Primarily because of their timing and pacing and tone of the overall scenes. The dialog was fine, but it felt like something was missing (because it was). It felt forced. The original idea for this section of the game was a lot better, albeit too large in scope and scale for BioWare to pull it off with the looming deadline. Unfortunately, the game suffers massively for both that and the game's ending. It too is rushed and not well written. Had it been well written, the Starbrat wouldn't be there at all. It's problematic narratively speaking. It was a shitty resolution to tie up everything with Harbinger and TIM etc.
 

UnknownSouljer

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Sep 24, 2001
Messages
6,957
I couldn't disagree more. The endings, especially in their original form do not fit with the tone and style of the rest of the trilogy's story telling. They are poorly written both subjectively and objectively. They are incongruent with the rest of the game and the series and were poorly received for several good reasons. Not just because Shepard died, but primarily because most people reached the same conclusion about the so called "thought provoking" and "speculation for everyone" filled endings. If you are shooting for an open ended ending that's open to interpretation, should it not be interpreted differently by a range of people who experienced it? Well, if that's what they were going for, they failed spectacularly.
Weird, not what I felt they were going for at all.
The writing was poor in that these led most people to conclude the same things. The Normandy was destroyed (wings and engines missing, holes in the fuselage) with its crew marooned on a primitive planet that would spell certain death for a portion of the crew. The entire Normandy crew effectively got shafted. It also meant the end of the relays and the Mass Effect universe as we knew it. With Turians and Quarians (if the latter weren't wiped out) dying on Earth due to a lack of food. Alternatively, the Geth who you could fight to save could be wiped out as well in the renegade ending. The galaxy Shepard fought so hard to unite was left shattered and it felt like the Reapers largely won with most of the galaxies infrastructure in shambles and billions if not trillions of people left dead or dying. The relays were still considered to be beyond the capabilities of even the Asari to duplicate. Therefore, rebuilding a network like that wasn't possible, and even if it was, without relays, it wouldn't have been possible to build it in a reasonable period of time. There were tons of videos and opinion pieces, forum posts and the like written detailing just how bad a state the galaxy was left in with those endings. What was supposed to be open ended, was in fact anything but.
Those particular repercussions are all the basis of which choices you make. It's only if you believe that "Destroy" is cannon. That's an interesting, other subject to debate, in and of itself. Unless we have another game that directly comes after ME:3 come out which chooses a canon for the choice (like DX:HR to DX:MD did) then I suppose that's just another point of discussion or contention.
And while it can be argued that that isn't a "happy" ending, it's still an ending with greater hope than another annihilation of the galaxy by the Reapers. It means the stars are less open than they were, but life will move on with conventional thrusters and the knowledge that life is out there.
That's bad writing. Subjectively, you can argue that the choices made by the writers were unpalatable because they were so nihilistic and devoid of hope and without a happy ending for anyone. Fair enough. However, if your goal was to do something that was supposed to be open to interpretation and everyone interprets your ending the same way, you failed. BioWare wanted to cry about artistic integrity as an excuse not to change the endings. However, that's exactly what they did. However, they changed it in ways that they felt allowed them to both save face and do it cheaply. But, the Normandy's damage was scaled back allowing the ship to fly again. EDI was shown to be alive in contrast to what was clearly stated would happen if you chose the "destroy" option. I can go on and on, but basically the slides shown in all versions of the ending after that did in fact change the endings. You can't cry artistic integrity and change the original vision (such as it was) to make it more palatable.
Sure you can. But at the same time they are subject to meddling, even by fans, as much as every other organization or set of humans are. I brought up Ridley Scott and Blade Runner before - the point is even if you want things to be a certain way it doesn't mean you always have the power to do them that way. Bioware was/is beholden to a board and fans that both effectively control their purse strings. They aren't able to operate in a vaccum for better or worse. And due to EA in general, often times for worse.
Similarly, you can't treat the trilogy like it's a sacred classic and say you won't fix the endings because "art" and then start changing camera angles for the purpose of being more in line with modern sensibilities. It doesn't work that way. Censorship, no matter how slight flies in the face of such an argument. It's akin to putting underwear on Michelangelo's David. To some degree, what we have here is a Star Wars Special Edition situation. EA/BioWare is pulling a George Lucas and changing the game's in some form to make them commercially viable years after they were released. It's about business and making more money on an existing IP in a cheap and easy way. Nothing more, nothing less.
Those are issues that are beyond the scope of what we were even talking about which was the original ending of ME3. I understand that you're bringing this up to further your case that Bioware doesn't have artistic integrity, because "if they did they wouldn't change anything". Again like the above, even if you have an idealized idea of how things should be, it doesn't mean you aren't beholden to the very political nature of corporate structure and fandom. Pragmatism often has to take place at a number of levels.
Art has nothing to do with it, and never did.
I think that's a pretty cynical view of the people that did any of the story work or developed the game. Everyone plays their part, but each one of them has an interest in contributing to a greater whole. But this is again an entirely different debate to me, because then we're just discussing whether games "can" be art at all. And further if games can be art even if they are interfered with. Either at an internal level or corporate level. And then we'd have to have a discussion of whether or not you think that's possible with any other form of art. The short answer I would say that it is. And I suppose your answer is that it isn't.
Getting back to being objectively bad, the game's writing goes off the deep end from Priority Earth onward as the inconsistencies and rushed designs, poor pacing, and awkward cut scenes and dialog interactions are hamfisted into it. While rules regarding writing and literary works are not necessarily concrete, going outside of them is generally a bad idea and for good reason. Video games are a unique medium given that they are interactive and present certain possibilities that film, television and books do not. That being said, introducing a character in the last 10 minutes of a story is never a good idea. I can't think of a time when this worked well. It was also thematically inconsistent with the game's tone and established lore. It broke the game universe's rules without a good reason to do so and it breaks suspension of disbelief. Not only that, but it undermines and even decimates the characters of Harbinger and Sovereign, which are major antagonists in the games. Worse yet, the Starbrats entire existence even calls into question Reaper sentience and undermines them as villains. It's something that was a bad idea and doesn't work. Even if you enjoyed the "twist", I think these choices are objectively bad and not just subjectively bad.
It depends on whether you like those types of contrasts in storytelling or not. At a certain point every artform has had its creators that recognize they aren't creating a piece of work in a void. In other words, other works their contemporaries are making affects what they are making and just by the audience existing it affects what they are making. Because there are expectations and there becomes a common language between the art pieces. An artist might want to 'stand alone' but that's impossible when invariably everything you do and create will be compared to everything else that has come before or after. And not only that it will be compared through the lens of things you're bringing up such as story telling designs to the point in which we have the idea in film as an example of "tropes" or types of recurring narratives that occur over and over. Or there are artistic movements like in music or painting and there is an expectation almost that those are things that 'have to' get used.

So if you want to do something that sets you apart from what everyone else is doing, how do you do that? In short its by creating contrast. To go to a place where people don't expect you to go. Most people who don't like art don't like Andy Warhol because they didn't understand what he was doing. His art critic contemporaries did. It was all commentary about how scraps of paint on canvas was commanding absurd prices, so he countered that by making "pop art" and his (in)famous Campbell's Soup Can painting - can a painting of an ordinary object therefore then be considered art? Whether you agree with his commentary and his partial disdain for the painting scene of his time is secondary to the fact that he wanted to create something that commented on and broke expectations of what art was "supposed to be".

The most recent example I can think of this being done in terms of popular culture is Chris Nolan's 'Interstellar'. Also a polarizing piece. Similar to ME3 in that if you have a distinct hatred of deus ex machina and emotional story telling perhaps over logical ones then you probably hated that film too. I never came across anybody that didn't either love it or hate it, except for people that just generally watched film for entertainment and didn't really have much feeling about films in general. Anyway, my point is that it took a turn into a direction that was drastically different narratively near the end of the film than anything that had preceded it.
Also, the endings in their original and new forms are somewhat anti-climactic and calling the "whole game the end" is just an excuse for what amounts to a badly written, poorly thought out and ultimately shitty ending to an otherwise amazing gaming experience. I will say, that in spite of its endings, Mass Effect 3 in particular remains one of the best games I have ever played in my life. That being said, while I generally liked the plot, the ending absolutely falls apart for me. It taints the entire experience and ruins what would otherwise be a perfect 10/10 for me. I will be buying the Legendary Edition, despite the fact that I've never totally forgiven BioWare for their last several missteps. If nothing else, I think I will enjoy the updates to ME1 and ME2. If nothing else, I can bring the updated textures of ME3 into ME3LE.
We all feel about 'this' the way we feel about it. I think it's a far stretch to say that the endings are objectively bad. I think your other criticisms about pacing have merit and perhaps even the intentional pushing of emotion for final character conversations - but it's also in that 'self aware enough to know' that those will be the last conversations you have with your team in universe. Like your being okay with an absurd resurrection plot to validate a stat reset, I'm more or less okay with shoehorning in conversations before a final blitz for the sake of characters that players of ME1-3 have spent 120+~ hours with.

But for whatever it's worth as a counter point, I didn't play ME3 until basically all the DLC had come out and I avoided all the ME3 discussions as they happened. I played the game from a very untainted perspective, which I'm glad for honestly (I later went back and played through with the original ending after I found out there was an internet fuss, and as we're discussing today I didn't see the reason for the outrage. I also picked every ending. I listened to every speech. Including Shepard's legacy if you choose to not make a choice or alternatively attempt to kill the AI). But anyway, in saying that Priority Earth definitely made me feel like I was in a terrible miserable war to cap off the general feeling of dread that ME3 throughout presented. And just like everyone else (apparently now knowing this after the fact) getting to that beam was a sequence I died in a bunch of times before making it to the end and I felt it's absurd difficulty made all the more sense in light of what I was facing and the "lack" of a final boss. The mind was the final boss. I could talk more about catharsis and how it made me feel, but honestly like with Aieroth I don't have an expectation that I'm going to change your mind because that isn't the point. Hopefully just to make the ending and discussions about the ending less polarizing than they are and have been.
 
Last edited:

OutOfPhase

2[H]4U
Joined
May 11, 2005
Messages
3,624
The way I interpreted the endings was that they were somewhat dark, but do feature some glimmer of hope for V to continue / live on. They aren't all that way mind you, but they aren't nearly as awful as ME3's ending. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one thing, I was never as invested in V as a character, nor was I invested in the Cyberpunk 2077 NPC's the way I was in the Mass Effect trilogy's protagonist and characters. The emotional investment just isn't there. This comes down to writing and several other factors. Namely, the lack of agency the player has in the story and the fact that the way the dialog is written, you don't really get to develop V in anyway. BioWare, sometimes fails at the whole illusion of choice thing but it also fails to conceal the mechanics of how its systems work. That being said, they do a much better job than CDPR at allowing the freedom to set the tone of a conversation and to really make the character feel like it's "your Shepard." While dodgy in the first game, the others helped the characters develop with you and because of you. That gives you a connection to them. CDPR absolutely fails to achieve this in Cyberpunk 2077.
I actually really liked the two endings I've experienced so far. They felt on point for the theme. The themes of knowing who your real friends are (if any), what matters to you if your ticket is about to be punched, and how this V's run felt to you.

I was ms nice guy on the first run, and had an ending which was suitable there. The next, I was a serious loner assassin, and welp, had a blaze of glory ending that way too. Both felt satisfying to me, but perhaps that's just luck that those aligned with those visions of V I had for those plays.

Arguably, it's no different to some degree than picking RGB. But, at least in CP my first ending was only available because I did some things for others. The second was only an option because I did some different things. At least something I did earlier mattered.

<shrug> Both are fun games, and I suppose I personally try to not judge things too harshly as some have said, by the last 15 minutes. Yes, it lets a ton of wind out of the sails, but I still had a really fun ride through the ME series. Sure, I don't really even think about the ending when I think of them (which is telling). I think of a choice at Virmire. Or how I dealt with Jack. Or helped Tali. Etc. Those were the great bits.
 
Last edited:

Dan_D

Extremely [H]
Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Messages
57,767
Weird, not what I felt they were going for at all.
There are a couple specific lines of dialog that led me to that conclusion. That being said, in one of the cases it's flat out how I chose to look at it. The endings are fairly bitter and gloomy, I won't deny that. The tiny splinter of hope is what my mind locked onto, and its my feeling that CDPR didn't necessarily intend the endings to be viewed as being quite as negative as they came out. That's speculative on my part, but it's my take on it. Unlike Mass Effect 3's original endings, I think there is some wiggle room for interpretation here.
Those particular repercussions are all the basis of which choices you make. It's only if you believe that "Destroy" is cannon. That's an interesting, other subject to debate, in and of itself. Unless we have another game that directly comes after ME:3 come out which chooses a canon for the choice (like DX:HR to DX:MD did) then I suppose that's just another point of discussion or contention.
And while it can be argued that that isn't a "happy" ending, it's still an ending with greater hope than another annihilation of the galaxy by the Reapers. It means the stars are less open than they were, but life will move on with conventional thrusters and the knowledge that life is out there.
BioWare has always had an edict of not choosing a canon ending so that one player's choice is not more valid than another's. Sticking to this mantra (KOTOR not withstanding) has been the primary reason why continuing Mass Effect after ME3 was virtually impossible. The endings for ME3 are broadly irreconcilable with each other meaning there is no way forward for all of them which would allow the series to continue in the way that it had in the past. This is why moving the setting to another Galaxy as we saw in Mass Effect Andromeda was necessary.
Sure you can. But at the same time they are subject to meddling, even by fans, as much as every other organization or set of humans are. I brought up Ridley Scott and Blade Runner before - the point is even if you want things to be a certain way it doesn't mean you always have the power to do them that way. Bioware was/is beholden to a board and fans that both effectively control their purse strings. They aren't able to operate in a vaccum for better or worse. And due to EA in general, often times for worse.
I wouldn't disagree with that. EA seems to have a hard time managing BioWare and always has. Either it meddles too much or not enough. With ME3, it was clearly too much but with Andromeda and Anthem, EA didn't do enough to make sure BioWare stayed on track.
Those are issues that are beyond the scope of what we were even talking about which was the original ending of ME3. I understand that you're bringing this up to further your case that Bioware doesn't have artistic integrity, because "if they did they wouldn't change anything". Again like the above, even if you have an idealized idea of how things should be, it doesn't mean you aren't beholden to the very political nature of corporate structure and fandom. Pragmatism often has to take place at a number of levels.
I stand by my statement. BioWare's arguments of artistic integrity are basically lies and have been from the start. Yes, I can understand that some changes are made for practical reasons. All of these were. The Extended Cut DLC, Leviathan and even the Citadel DLC were all made to address fan backlash at the endings and salvage the studio and series' reputation. This likely never would have been done without the motivation to "fix" the endings to ensure more copies of the game would be sold and to claim responsiveness to feedback from the players and undo the damage done by the original endings. I submit that the lack of deeper changes to them and citing "artistic integrity" were all about making the changes for the least amount of money possible.

The changes to the camera angles in ME2 & ME3 are being done for pragmatic reasons as well. The re-release of these games will bring them to an audience that may not have known these games as well as opening them up to criticisms that will show when viewed through the modern lens of our society. Well, at least a subset of it. Essentially, some of what they did in the original games wouldn't fly with today's cancel culture and they know it. The buttshots are literally the most obviously glaring facet of the game's perceived sexualization of its characters. BioWare pointing this out and creating controversy is all about generating buzz for the games'. It's free press.
I think that's a pretty cynical view of the people that did any of the story work or developed the game. Everyone plays their part, but each one of them has an interest in contributing to a greater whole. But this is again an entirely different debate to me, because then we're just discussing whether games "can" be art at all. And further if games can be art even if they are interfered with. Either at an internal level or corporate level. And then we'd have to have a discussion of whether or not you think that's possible with any other form of art. The short answer I would say that it is. And I suppose your answer is that it isn't.
I do not doubt that games can be art. Art has been generated for commercial reasons as far back as human history. The real debate is whether or not art can be modified or changed after it's been presented to the public and consumers as a whole. No one would dream of altering the Mona Lisa today, but what if the artist had done so after it was first put on display? Its an interesting question to which I don't really have an answer for. What I am saying is that BioWare uses "artistic integrity" as a defense to not change something, but this excuse is discarded whenever its not convenient for the studio. My take is that this was always an excuse and a flimsy one at that. I'm not saying games can't be art, or that they shouldn't be changed after they've been released. But are they still art when they are changed to appeal to consumers? It's not about the artist or developers saying something or presenting an artistic vision at that point. It's about making a consumer product more palatable to a wider audience or even to appeal to its core fanbase when mistakes have been made. I'm good with that, but be honest about it, but I don't think you can claim its art necessarily when changes are made to make them more palatable and thus, more profitable.

While debatable, the reason for the changes are what matter more so than the actual changes themselves. If the reasoning behind them is to be more financially successful and not to restore or accurately convey a vision that failed to materialize correctly, it's hard for me to believe it's art. Take for example, the Snyder Cut for Justice League. The changes were asked for because people wanted to see Zack Snyder's original vision for the film as they were left disappointed by Joss Whedon's version of the film which did contain some of Snyder's footage, albeit altered in tone and visual style. Now, these changes were financed as there was a commercial opportunity here, but Zack Snyder gets to at least present his version of the film at last.

Similarly, the Richard Donner cut of Superman II was made for the same reasons. However, unlike Justice League, Superman II was a decent film to begin with in spite of what happened behind the scenes.
It depends on whether you like those types of contrasts in storytelling or not. At a certain point every artform has had its creators that recognize they aren't creating a piece of work in a void. In other words, other works their contemporaries are making affects what they are making and just by the audience existing it affects what they are making. Because there are expectations and there becomes a common language between the art pieces. An artist might want to 'stand alone' but that's impossible when invariably everything you do and create will be compared to everything else that has come before or after. And not only that it will be compared through the lens of things you're bringing up such as story telling designs to the point in which we have the idea in film as an example of "tropes" or types of recurring narratives that occur over and over. Or there are artistic movements like in music or painting and there is an expectation almost that those are things that 'have to' get used.

So if you want to do something that sets you apart from what everyone else is doing, how do you do that? In short its by creating contrast. To go to a place where people don't expect you to go. Most people who don't like art don't like Andy Warhol because they didn't understand what he was doing. His art critic contemporaries did. It was all commentary about how scraps of paint on canvas was commanding absurd prices, so he countered that by making "pop art" and his (in)famous Campbell's Soup Can painting - can a painting of an ordinary object therefore then be considered art? Whether you agree with his commentary and his partial disdain for the painting scene of his time is secondary to the fact that he wanted to create something that commented on and broke expectations of what art was "supposed to be".

The most recent example I can think of this being done in terms of popular culture is Chris Nolan's 'Interstellar'. Also a polarizing piece. Similar to ME3 in that if you have a distinct hatred of deus ex machina and emotional story telling perhaps over logical ones then you probably hated that film too. I never came across anybody that didn't either love it or hate it, except for people that just generally watched film for entertainment and didn't really have much feeling about films in general. Anyway, my point is that it took a turn into a direction that was drastically different narratively near the end of the film than anything that had preceded it.

We all feel about 'this' the way we feel about it. I think it's a far stretch to say that the endings are objectively bad. I think your other criticisms about pacing have merit and perhaps even the intentional pushing of emotion for final character conversations - but it's also in that 'self aware enough to know' that those will be the last conversations you have with your team in universe. Like your being okay with an absurd resurrection plot to validate a stat reset, I'm more or less okay with shoehorning in conversations before a final blitz for the sake of characters that players of ME1-3 have spent 120+~ hours with.

But for whatever it's worth as a counter point, I didn't play ME3 until basically all the DLC had come out and I avoided all the ME3 discussions as they happened. I played the game from a very untainted perspective, which I'm glad for honestly (I later went back and played through with the original ending after I found out there was an internet fuss, and as we're discussing today I didn't see the reason for the outrage. I also picked every ending. I listened to every speech. Including Shepard's legacy if you choose to not make a choice or alternatively attempt to kill the AI). But anyway, in saying that Priority Earth definitely made me feel like I was in a terrible miserable war to cap off the general feeling of dread that ME3 throughout presented. And just like everyone else (apparently now knowing this after the fact) getting to that beam was a sequence I died in a bunch of times before making it to the end and I felt it's absurd difficulty made all the more sense in light of what I was facing and the "lack" of a final boss. The mind was the final boss. I could talk more about catharsis and how it made me feel, but honestly like with Aieroth I don't have an expectation that I'm going to change your mind because that isn't the point. Hopefully just to make the ending and discussions about the ending less polarizing than they are and have been.
I understand what you are getting at, and frankly, it's fine for artists to do whatever they do. However, games are commercial enterprises first and foremost. When you get "artsy" with them, you are going to piss off a lot of people. Given the way Mass Effect games were built and structured, given the player investment in them I think an artsy ending was a bad call. Frankly, so did most people. From a literary perspective I only say the ending was objectively bad because it didn't really make sense and was in conflict with established lore. It also does do things you generally shouldn't do from such a perspective like introducing a new antagonist at the game's climax. I get there are times where it's good to do something different, or do something that stands out. This wasn't one of those times and even if it could have been done effectively, it wasn't in this case.
 

UnknownSouljer

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Sep 24, 2001
Messages
6,957
Good post. Obviously we're on opposite ends of this/these issue(s) but I think we understand each other. I won't bother to create more long posts because I think everything that really needs to be said has been said. I'll just add a few notes just for clarity.
There are a couple specific lines of dialog that led me to that conclusion. That being said, in one of the cases it's flat out how I chose to look at it. The endings are fairly bitter and gloomy, I won't deny that. The tiny splinter of hope is what my mind locked onto, and its my feeling that CDPR didn't necessarily intend the endings to be viewed as being quite as negative as they came out. That's speculative on my part, but it's my take on it. Unlike Mass Effect 3's original endings, I think there is some wiggle room for interpretation here.
This response is semi confusing for me. My response wasn't really including the side conversation your were getting into about CP2077 (which I haven't finished yet and can't comment on) - just about what you felt the endings of ME:3 were going for as an idea for open interpretation for everyone that played it, which again to reiterate wasn't necessarily something that I felt or saw that they were doing. But this is, I think, a minor point of contention.
I stand by my statement. BioWare's arguments of artistic integrity are basically lies and have been from the start. Yes, I can understand that some changes are made for practical reasons. All of these were. The Extended Cut DLC, Leviathan and even the Citadel DLC were all made to address fan backlash at the endings and salvage the studio and series' reputation. This likely never would have been done without the motivation to "fix" the endings to ensure more copies of the game would be sold and to claim responsiveness to feedback from the players and undo the damage done by the original endings. I submit that the lack of deeper changes to them and citing "artistic integrity" were all about making the changes for the least amount of money possible.
I'm sure artistic integrity has definitely been used as an excuse by Bioware and game studios in general. But the thing is it's impossible for us ever to know really how it truly was unless some crazy documentary comes out with people whom were making the discussions talking about it. We can definitely make some level of educated guesses based around hearsay and studio rumblings but how much is difficult.

The Extended Cut DLC was obviously created to help fix backlash (again, whether justified or not). However I disagree about the Citadel DLC. I think that was coming either way as the closing and to give fan service all along. Something like that couldn't have been rushed. Out of all the DLC's they did it had the most content, the best pacing, and of course the most character moments. It's hard at least for me to see that it was built purely as a reactionary piece of content purely because of how well it was constructed in contrast to basically everything else that was made in the ME universe in general. Maybe it was altered to appease people (before release obviously) but I don't see how the entire DLC can be lumped that way.
The changes to the camera angles in ME2 & ME3 are being done for pragmatic reasons as well. The re-release of these games will bring them to an audience that may not have known these games as well as opening them up to criticisms that will show when viewed through the modern lens of our society. Well, at least a subset of it. Essentially, some of what they did in the original games wouldn't fly with today's cancel culture and they know it. The buttshots are literally the most obviously glaring facet of the game's perceived sexualization of its characters. BioWare pointing this out and creating controversy is all about generating buzz for the games'. It's free press.
On this I think we agree. Sad to say perception rather than reality dictates too many things.
I do not doubt that games can be art. Art has been generated for commercial reasons as far back as human history. The real debate is whether or not art can be modified or changed after it's been presented to the public and consumers as a whole. No one would dream of altering the Mona Lisa today, but what if the artist had done so after it was first put on display? Its an interesting question to which I don't really have an answer for. What I am saying is that BioWare uses "artistic integrity" as a defense to not change something, but this excuse is discarded whenever its not convenient for the studio. My take is that this was always an excuse and a flimsy one at that. I'm not saying games can't be art, or that they shouldn't be changed after they've been released. But are they still art when they are changed to appeal to consumers? It's not about the artist or developers saying something or presenting an artistic vision at that point. It's about making a consumer product more palatable to a wider audience or even to appeal to its core fanbase when mistakes have been made. I'm good with that, but be honest about it, but I don't think you can claim its art necessarily when changes are made to make them more palatable and thus, more profitable.

While debatable, the reason for the changes are what matter more so than the actual changes themselves. If the reasoning behind them is to be more financially successful and not to restore or accurately convey a vision that failed to materialize correctly, it's hard for me to believe it's art. Take for example, the Snyder Cut for Justice League. The changes were asked for because people wanted to see Zack Snyder's original vision for the film as they were left disappointed by Joss Whedon's version of the film which did contain some of Snyder's footage, albeit altered in tone and visual style. Now, these changes were financed as there was a commercial opportunity here, but Zack Snyder gets to at least present his version of the film at last.

Similarly, the Richard Donner cut of Superman II was made for the same reasons. However, unlike Justice League, Superman II was a decent film to begin with in spite of what happened behind the scenes.
Well said. I definitely think it's a topic in general that can be explored more. Is any and all changes to the detriment of what was, or can alterations be a part of continued art exploration and perhaps increased vision or technical enhancement?

Film is perhaps closest to games at least in this subset of questions. Do the alterations that films have made continue to have them be art or not?
I understand what you are getting at, and frankly, it's fine for artists to do whatever they do. However, games are commercial enterprises first and foremost. When you get "artsy" with them, you are going to piss off a lot of people.
Film for the most part is too. The studio system of Hollywood is very similar to the studio system in gaming. I would say the best work in both comes from more artistic integrity and the right artists being given freedom to do what they want to do. Sadly as we both know and have discussed here indirectly, this rarely is the case.
Given the way Mass Effect games were built and structured, given the player investment in them I think an artsy ending was a bad call. Frankly, so did most people. From a literary perspective I only say the ending was objectively bad because it didn't really make sense and was in conflict with established lore. It also does do things you generally shouldn't do from such a perspective like introducing a new antagonist at the game's climax. I get there are times where it's good to do something different, or do something that stands out. This wasn't one of those times and even if it could have been done effectively, it wasn't in this case.
Fair. But I also think ending ME in general was going to be a feat that was basically impossible to please everyone. Ironically they may have pleased the least amount of people by going the route they did, but the controversy has made ME a point of discussion that it likely wouldn't have been, at least to this degree, 10 years later.
As far as the bit about lore, honestly like I mentioned to Aieroth, I think the ending makes a lot of sense. Thematically I also think it was interesting (to counter you) to have essentially the Reapers be puppets, but not puppets in the way that we would have imagined but rather a solution to solve a problem. And I think that is explored well between the climax of ME2's suicide mission and the Collectors in general to ME3 and getting a juxtaposition that it was for the sake of preserving species, which again is a major theme of ME2. Shepard of course disagrees with this idea that humanity at least can be preserved in machine form (destroying the machine/human hybrid in ME2) - so understanding and realizing the AI's are puppets (although to a certain degree not really - just aware by their creators that this was going to be a problem over and over again) - or perhaps a solution to a specific problem - I don't really see as being dissonant with the rest of the major story of the trilogy. In fact in light that it was already known by them that it was a broken/imperfect solution, had some sentient being finally figured out a more reasonable alternative? Should sentient life have the choice of what should happen to sentient life or is preservation enough for the sake of preservation? Is it possible for machines and sentient life to live harmoniously?

This actually just comes to my mind now, that essentially this is an exploration of the problematic nature of AI as an exploration of the series and it can be compared and contrasted with the Matrix that explores the problematic nature of free will (and also the problematic nature of AI as well, but to the machines, free will is a problem they've been trying to solve with Zion and humanities response of trying to escape from virtual imprisonment). Typified perhaps by discussions with the architect. Which again makes me wonder if all of the controversy would have gone down better if the AI in Mass Effect had the appearance of an old man versus a young child. The architect being cynical and wary of humanity and having long thought out the Matrix design and structures. The youth in contrast showing (perhaps even wrongly) sincerity and innocence (despite of course putting into motion the genocide of billions perhaps trillions over the course of 300,000 years+/-). I haven't voiced this before, but honestly I think that a lot of people wouldn't have been as upset or upset at all had the AI had a different appearance. Which might be a cynical thing for me to say, because obviously I'm implying that it was merely an aesthetic choice that made the ending divisive rather than a story telling one.
 

Dan_D

Extremely [H]
Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Messages
57,767
Good post. Obviously we're on opposite ends of this/these issue(s) but I think we understand each other. I won't bother to create more long posts because I think everything that really needs to be said has been said. I'll just add a few notes just for clarity.

This response is semi confusing for me. My response wasn't really including the side conversation your were getting into about CP2077 (which I haven't finished yet and can't comment on) - just about what you felt the endings of ME:3 were going for as an idea for open interpretation for everyone that played it, which again to reiterate wasn't necessarily something that I felt or saw that they were doing. But this is, I think, a minor point of contention.
The reason why I said what I said about the ME3 endings was based around statements made by Casey Hudson at the time about the endings leading to "speculation for everyone" or something to that effect. In a sense, we know what they were going for because the studio more or less said so. Obviously, there are signs the ending's were rushed, and "The Final Hours of Mass Effect" documentary created by the studio says as much. Basically, the ending came about at the 11th hour.
I'm sure artistic integrity has definitely been used as an excuse by Bioware and game studios in general. But the thing is it's impossible for us ever to know really how it truly was unless some crazy documentary comes out with people whom were making the discussions talking about it. We can definitely make some level of educated guesses based around hearsay and studio rumblings but how much is difficult.
Again, there is quite a bit of information about the subject out there. Some of it is hearsay and some of it isn't. Posts made by Drew Karpyshyn that were later retracted and blamed on a "hacked account" are one thing, but the Final Hours of Mass Effect and statements made by Casey Hudson are more concrete. Now, there is some of this that's open to interpretation, but when you take a lot of the information together, you can reach some more or less obvious conclusions. My statements are based on my interpretations of those events. Statements which are also based on my knowledge of the game industry, which is more than most as I've had friends that have worked in it.
The Extended Cut DLC was obviously created to help fix backlash (again, whether justified or not). However I disagree about the Citadel DLC. I think that was coming either way as the closing and to give fan service all along. Something like that couldn't have been rushed. Out of all the DLC's they did it had the most content, the best pacing, and of course the most character moments. It's hard at least for me to see that it was built purely as a reactionary piece of content purely because of how well it was constructed in contrast to basically everything else that was made in the ME universe in general. Maybe it was altered to appease people (before release obviously) but I don't see how the entire DLC can be lumped that way.
I don't think I was clear enough on this point leading to a misunderstanding. What I mean is, the Extended Cut and Leviathan DLC's were made to address the endings. There is zero doubt about that. Such adjustments were made to allow the game to be commercially viable for longer than it would have been had they not done that. The Citadel DLC may not have been made specifically to deal with fan backlash, but in part I think it was. It was designed very much to appeal to fans who felt slighted by BioWare. The DLC may have occurred in a similar form anyway, but we'll never truly know on that one.
On this I think we agree. Sad to say perception rather than reality dictates too many things.

Well said. I definitely think it's a topic in general that can be explored more. Is any and all changes to the detriment of what was, or can alterations be a part of continued art exploration and perhaps increased vision or technical enhancement?

Film is perhaps closest to games at least in this subset of questions. Do the alterations that films have made continue to have them be art or not?
It is an interesting topic and one that came up on this forum a lot around that time and in direct response to ME3's endings. That being said, my personal take on it is that not all changes to a product are necessarily detrimental to it. I don't think that these things are so sacred that any and all alterations to them should be flat out denied. Games are a more dynamic product than films or other art forms are. I do not think games (or movies for that matter) necessarily match the original vision the artists or developers, directors, etc. had for them given limitations of technology present at any given time. That is, I think you end up with a creative vision for a game and bringing those graphics up to modern standards every so often only enhance what was. There is a balancing act to it as some changes can fundamentally impact what was, and not for the better. Although, with games you can argue that replacing outdated game mechanics doesn't necessarily impact the vision for the game and its narrative. Game mechanics are sometimes dictated by factors that are independent of the narrative and are limited by their technology and even the platforms they are on. So, I do think that improvements to a game's graphics, assets and even its mechanics can better align the product with the intended vision.

It can be said for movies too. George Lucas made lots of changes to his Star Wars movies for better and for worse. I have no doubt that some changes were made to the films to scale them back in scope due to the costs and special effects limitations of the day. This obviously altered the final cut of the films at the time of their orignal theatrical releases. Take Empire Strikes Back Special Edition for example. In general, I think the changes made were positive ones. The Emperor and Boba Fett are made consistent with their appearances in other films. Cloud City was opened up digitally to make it look bigger and more visually impressive. It better connected the interior sets to the exterior appearance of the city. However, no narrative changes were made to that one film. Therefore, while some people are butthurt by even positive changes, I feel like it probably brought the film closer to George's original vision for it. Now, what was done to the other two films is a different matter entirely. I am fine with the visual changes for the most part, although their narrative changes are absolute bullshit. In the Star Wars trilogy, we have examples of changes that I feel bring the films more in line with the original vision and changes that do not.

Film for the most part is too. The studio system of Hollywood is very similar to the studio system in gaming. I would say the best work in both comes from more artistic integrity and the right artists being given freedom to do what they want to do. Sadly as we both know and have discussed here indirectly, this rarely is the case.

Fair. But I also think ending ME in general was going to be a feat that was basically impossible to please everyone. Ironically they may have pleased the least amount of people by going the route they did, but the controversy has made ME a point of discussion that it likely wouldn't have been, at least to this degree, 10 years later.
This is true. Had they given the series a happier ending, it would have been criticized for not taking chances and providing a predictable and formulaic ending. However, that's really what the vast majority of people seemed to want. Frankly, it's what I wanted. I'm good with unique and unexpected or even grim endings at times, but its hard to make those endings satisfying for American audiences.
As far as the bit about lore, honestly like I mentioned to Aieroth, I think the ending makes a lot of sense. Thematically I also think it was interesting (to counter you) to have essentially the Reapers be puppets, but not puppets in the way that we would have imagined but rather a solution to solve a problem. And I think that is explored well between the climax of ME2's suicide mission and the Collectors in general to ME3 and getting a juxtaposition that it was for the sake of preserving species, which again is a major theme of ME2. Shepard of course disagrees with this idea that humanity at least can be preserved in machine form (destroying the machine/human hybrid in ME2) - so understanding and realizing the AI's are puppets (although to a certain degree not really - just aware by their creators that this was going to be a problem over and over again) - or perhaps a solution to a specific problem - I don't really see as being dissonant with the rest of the major story of the trilogy. In fact in light that it was already known by them that it was a broken/imperfect solution, had some sentient being finally figured out a more reasonable alternative? Should sentient life have the choice of what should happen to sentient life or is preservation enough for the sake of preservation? Is it possible for machines and sentient life to live harmoniously?
The endings weren't entirely disconnected from the game's themes. I'll grant you that. However, Sovereign and Harbinger (and all Reapers) were portrayed as truly sentient machines. The Starbrat being their puppeteer through technical means versus manipulation does go against the established lore that the Reapers were sentient. The solution they provide was also one of pure programing, rather than a doctrine that made sense to them. In fact, the Leviathan DLC even proposed the idea early on that we might encounter a Reaper rebel, but that wasn't the case. It's conjecture within the narrative of the DLC's story, not an alternate idea that never came to pass.
This actually just comes to my mind now, that essentially this is an exploration of the problematic nature of AI as an exploration of the series and it can be compared and contrasted with the Matrix that explores the problematic nature of free will (and also the problematic nature of AI as well, but to the machines, free will is a problem they've been trying to solve with Zion and humanities response of trying to escape from virtual imprisonment). Typified perhaps by discussions with the architect. Which again makes me wonder if all of the controversy would have gone down better if the AI in Mass Effect had the appearance of an old man versus a young child. The architect being cynical and wary of humanity and having long thought out the Matrix design and structures. The youth in contrast showing (perhaps even wrongly) sincerity and innocence (despite of course putting into motion the genocide of billions perhaps trillions over the course of 300,000 years+/-). I haven't voiced this before, but honestly I think that a lot of people wouldn't have been as upset or upset at all had the AI had a different appearance. Which might be a cynical thing for me to say, because obviously I'm implying that it was merely an aesthetic choice that made the ending divisive rather than a story telling one.
Actually, I think the whole concept of the Starbrat was stupid. Being a child replica of something that was supposedly traumatic for Shepard sort of made sense in light of what they did. I don't think changing its appearance would have mattered.
 
Last edited:
Top