Sessler's Soapbox: Mass Effect 3 Wrap Up

Posted: March 13, 2012
Sessler's Soapbox: Mass Effect 3 Wrap Up
Adam discusses Mass Effect 3's day-one DLC, its controversial ending, and how well it handled same-sex relationships.

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  • cry_of_paine

    Bad call on two of the major issues Adam.

    There is a relationship that exists between artist and audience. The artist crafts a work, but it is up to the audience to interpret it. Why is Mona Lisa smiling like that? Is Romeo and Juliet a story of transcendent love, or two kids that should have listened to their parents? Art cannot exist without the audience. That relationship is even more integral in the world of video games, and especially one like the Mass Effect series where the audience is no longer passive observer. They are active participants in the art. In a very real sense, we are just as much the artist of this story as Bioware is. It would be like da Vinci setting aside a portion of the canvas with a paint-by-number system and saying here, go to town. Or Shakespeare inviting members of the audience to come up and chat with his characters. We are just as much creator as we are observer, and so we have the right to request that Bioware honor our creative vision as well. I'm not saying that we should be able to write a script for them to work off of, but at least to listen to the objections and address them with their own unique vision. Now obviously they don't have to, but if they don't, then they've damaged that artist/audience relationship. They've damaged the trust we've placed in them.

    Also, this isn't just art, it's a consumer product. We are their customers, they are a business. They've established certain expectations by both their past products and in the things they've said about this one, which were not met. As a business, when your product doesn't meet expectations, you have a problem and you better do something about it or risk losing customers.

    As for the day 1 DLC, I didn't have any problem with that.

    First, the game is complete without it. You get the full story of Shepard's attempt to save the galaxy. There is nothing in the DLC that changes that.

    Second, compare this game to a movie. A movie DVD costs about $20 for about 2 hours of entertainment. A movie takes actors, script writers, directors, and a whole slew of behind the scenes people to put it together. This game costs $60 for about 50 hours of entertainment (and about 10 minutes of rage, and a lifetime of disappointment ;) ). It requires actors and script writers (writing not just one script but several possible scripts for all the various options you have), and directors, and behind the scenes people. It also requires additional resources of programmers and QA testers and all the people that it takes to build the mechanics of the game - something movies don't have. So, way more people, way more entertainment value, and only 3 times the cost. Sounds like a significant deal to me.

    Third, going back to the second point, these games cost money. DLC's cost money. It's the strangest thing, apparently all those actors and programmers and artists and what-not like to do crazy things like eat, and live inside houses, have electricity and clean running water. And all those things take money. So, out of the kindness of their hearts, Bioware gives them money for spending time making things like this game. And when they spend time making other things like DLC's for the game, Bioware gives them even more money. But that money has to come from somewhere, so Bioware, being kinda smart people usually, decided that they could take these games that all these people were making, and charge people money to let them buy them. It's crazy, I know. Everyone should just get everything they ever want for free and never have to pay for anything.

    Finally, to those that said it should be free to everyone that preordered - why? I bought the collector's edition. I paid more than you, so I should get more. I paid 1/3 again what you paid, and I want something substantial for my price. The art book is nice, the soundtrack is nice, but ultimately I buy it for the game, and I like that I got something that is a real addition to it.

    As for the relationship stuff, you hit it on the nose exactly. The only way we're ever going to end discrimination, whether it's based on skin color, gender, or orientation, is to show that there isn't any difference between the "thems" and the "us-es". And Bioware did a great job of doing just that, that it took me a second to realize that that one character had just talked about his husband. Mass Effect has the potential to be the Star Trek of this generation. And the ending of ME3 is our ST: The Motion Picture. Or Spock's Brain (shivers).

    Posted: March 13, 2012 2:15 PM
  • stwes

    Im fine with it being a sad one i expect sacarfice fine if shepard and a few teamates die... But for none of my choices for over 100 hours of my life to be reflected in the conclusion is massivly dissapointing and a failure on their part. I do expect a fix, because its been in my thoughts a lot since i finished on sunday.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 2:13 PM
  • MaxwellMurder91

    I had no problem with the perfect ending. I had a problem with Cyber-God appearing out of nowhere!

    Posted: March 13, 2012 2:11 PM
  • velazkid


    People are ridiculous. Honestly, anybody who thinks the ending was lackluster, they really need to learn how stories are, and can be told. There was no closure? Really? Was the fact that the entire galaxy was saved, and humanity among them was able to live on not enough for you? What did you want, some kind of epilogue showing Ashley in her mid 80's, looking at her grand kids playing in the sand or something? Would you have liked to seen how crappy things turned out for these races that having worked together, are now probably turning on each other again? Unless you picked Synthesis, which I did, which I thought was an absolutely beautiful ending. The point is, other stories have done this before, and they all turn out corny and useless. One that comes to mind most recently, is of course the Harry Potter series. You think it was fun for me to see Harry a middle aged, chubbed up, unshaven father? No, it was just silly.

    The fact that Shepard dies, and ironically, and metaphorically, becomes a shepherd to all life in the galaxy, leading them to a new, perfect existence (again, synthesis) is profound and stirring for anybody who has played through all these games and grew attached to at this point, was merely an extension of yourself. All the choices, you made, all the people you've met, and now you must save them all through the ultimate sacrifice. Closure? Everybody owes you there lives, and life goes on. How's that for closure.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 2:06 PM
  • Catfish27

    I wish the ending had been different, but I don't like the precedent changing it would set. Not just in video games, but in all forms of entertainment. My big problem with the ending relates to why we like the series as a whole. I believe Sessler did a soapbox on this a while back. Bioware created a universe that I desperately wanted to save. However, they didn't let me save the universe as it existed. The universe basically was going to get ruined no matter what decision you make at the very end, and I think that's what ruined the payoff in my mind.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:58 PM
  • Lmyer17

    I enjoyed the ending quite well. You have to deal with the fact you don't always get what you want. I do not think Bioware should go back and change the ending just because some people are throwing a hissy fit over the endings says they all sucked. At least they should go though it a 2nd time because you can get multiple different endings including one i have heard that will ya, saves a certain person or persons. I had a feeling what was going to happen and i had no problem with it. Adam thank you for discussing this in a good manner unlike a lot of other game news media.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:54 PM
  • trojan3x

    I've always appreciated Adam's opinion but I think he was off the mark when it came to the reason of fans wanting a different ending.

    1. Plot holes that didn't match up with numerous points in the past.
    2. Leaps of logic that are really confusing if you know the ME universe.
    3. Character changes at the last minute.
    4. Explanations that border on "trust me, it's space magic"
    5. No epilogue of any kind.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:51 PM
  • Malapropism

    I would really like to know how the ending doesn't bother you, it's so non descriptive to the previous 20 hours of the game, the bulk of the game is great, but the ending feels like M. Night Shyamalan

    I think what's really bothering people is just how rushed the ending feels, people are just waiting for the next dlc announcement where the advertisement claims the game actually ends, and the complete lack of any other review mentioning the ending, go on metacritic, for pc and ps3, the average critic rating is in the 90s, the average personal rating is 3, for xbox it's currently 94 vs. 4.9, there just seems to be this huge disconnect between the reviewers and the players, and they shout things out like bribery or undue influence, but it's not like they're far off, there are restrictions put in place when any review is taking place, the readers just feel like there's more than they know,

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:51 PM
  • deansk

    Overall, the series was great. My problem with the endings is the apparent lack of effort on Bioware's part.

    Throughout the three games, we saw fantastic characterization and story telling. Even when bad things can happen in the second game, I didn't see a change in the quality of writing. That being said, the third game wasn't as flawless as the other two, but it was more than passable.

    In the last thirty minutes of the game, I was very pumped-up for the final confrontation. Then Bioware got to the "good enough" stage. I don't know whether it was because the company was distracted by TOR, or they just got tired of the series, but there is a definite drop off in terms of quality and effort of the writing. The writers just seemed to just toss something in to "finish" the story so they could go home early on a Friday. Did they not know how to finish the story? Were they burnt-out from their work on TOR and the Mass Effect series in general? Or did they just not care? People were going to buy the game and the series is over. It don't know which one it is, but it makes you wonder.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:49 PM
  • Kraytic

    Dude you hit the nail on the head. Totally agree with you Ses.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:41 PM
  • krashofny

    I definitely felt that they shouldn't have made the ending based on a SINGLE choice but play out by what you have accomplished throughout all 3 games, therefore emphasizing that YOUR decisions made a difference. That is what we BELIEVED Bioware was capable of, excuse me, we KNEW Bioware is capable of accomplishing just that. However, this *call it what you will* ending has drained any and all will from replaying this series at all, it hurts.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:36 PM
  • DarkestPhoenix

    Sess, I agree with a lot of things you say, and I agree it's in the writer's hands what comes of the ending, but I think you're missing why people are upset with the ending; there is no sense of closure, and all three endings are the same, except with different colour lights.

    Lets put it this way, for a series that has relied so heavily on player choice, and for the previous endings reflecting those player choices, having three endings that are practically the same shoehorn, and that I would have gotten no matter what route I would have taken to get there, feels like a bit of a slap to the face.

    I am for artistic expression, but the last 10-30 (I didn't actually time it) of the game are a bit jumping the shark, especially considering the choices you're stuck with. There have been quite a few good posts explaining all of this in detail on the Bioware forums, if anyone is so inclined to look. Anyways, done ranting for now.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:28 PM
  • SableBop

    Umm, ever think that maybe their already working on DLC for the ending? Maybe it has nothing to do with the fans yelling for it? Maybe they were already planning on it?

    Adam and others are saying they hope BioWare doesn't give in to the fans but maybe they were already planning on it. Just saying :)

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:27 PM
  • sammysoso

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

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

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

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:26 PM
  • 5thGeneral

    Plot holes, Adam, that's what the majority of people are upset with. Huge. Gaping. Plot. Holes. Me, personally, I don't care for Mass Effect I found the first boring and the characters were too sterile and overly serious to care about.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:23 PM
  • paypop

    The whole "are video games art" debate is getting tiresome. Of course they are, however the question people are asking is "should Bioware change the ending (in other words should Bioware change their video game/change their art)?" Absolutely.

    Video games are the only form of media that I know of in which the makers CAN go in after the fact and change something that does not work or is not well liked. If JK Rowling messed up the ending to the last Harry Potter, she could not have gone in and changed the ending after its released and have the new copies sent out. Video game makers are in a position in which they can do things like this through patches and DLC. So yes, Bioware should (and needs to) change the ending.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:23 PM
  • Mashpotaters

    Personally, my problem with the ending was that It went against what they have been trying to create with all 3 games. Basically, the end doesn't match, and it almost feels like a cop out to a trilogy. It just felt so out of place.

    I'm not sure I'd go as far as wanting Bioware to change the ending because of it being art, and it should just be accepted for what it is, but they provide an art that is dependent on the overall satisfaction of consumers. I wouldn't think any less of Bioware if they kept it as is, but I'm sure that Bioware plans to keep making games, and if you take the deal with it approach to complaints you will quickly see people stop buying their product.

    People were already worried, and on the fence because of DA2. This is just further adding to it. Chances are that Bioware will resolve the concerns because as history has proven with Bioware, they tend to take feedback and fix the problem as they did with DA2 through their DLC.

    Whether you have a problem with the ending or not, the overall game was good.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:23 PM
  • koolaider


    There's just too much that didn't make sense for me at the end. I think the thing that upset me the most is that all of the Mass Effect relays were destroyed. Now in the Arrival DLC it is stated that once a relay is destroyed it will create a super nova thus destroying the system that the relays reside in. Yet Earth remained. I assume the other planets remained as well. Doesn't make sense. Same goes for the fleeing Normandy crew and the characters that survived that were supposedly incinerated by a Reaper blast while on Earth. That, for now, is beside the point.

    I respect Bioware's canonical choices, and I always will, but I don't see the reason why they couldn't take the time and appease everyone. Unless they're going to blow out minds with DLC and go "WE TRICKED YOU!" This is the end of Mass Effect games as we know them and I think the people who dedicated themselves to their companions and the franchise have earned the type of closure that they think suits their galaxy.

    My opinion on the matter, anyway.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 1:02 PM
  • NeoGuardian86

    I'll admit i hate the endings.
    and i respectfully disagree with Adam Sessler's opinion on it.

    That said though. Pretty awesome way to explain and give a little historical example and your reasons why.

    As for the Day 1 DLC i agree.

    and yes i loved absolutely loved how Bioware handed the homosexual characters in Mass Effect 3. I loved if you wanted to roleplay or play a straight character, get to know the gay character and if you had to turn him down it wasn't like you had to a be jerk you could be an actual friends with him.

    One of the many scenes i still remember vividely is near the end when the hero shouts his name. it's very brief, you might not even remember it, but the way the actor screams his name sounded so authentic to me like a friend screaming for safety of another friend.

    loved it.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 12:58 PM
  • Darkpheonix56

    Thank you very much Sess for your reasonable and respectful opinion on the matter. I've always loved to hear your take on certain things and I highly value your opinion. I also want to thank you for not using the word "entitlement" once in your video. Too many game critics have been lashing out at gamer's for their criticism and, honestly it's been kind of frustrating. This Soapbox was really a huge breath of fresh air.

    That all being said, I do disagree with you in this case. Only in the case of the ending. Obviously the negative opinions and critiques on the ending are out there in many places, so there's no real need to restate them. The only thing I want to bring up (something I've also heard a lot, but I feel is relevant to the discussion) is how the ending affected me. To sum it up, I feel... well like I'm in a state of shock, would probably be the closest way to put it. I see the ending for what it was, and it really wasn't all that bad. It just wasn't... right. It was close though. In fact, all it needs for me to be able to accept it is for some plot holes to be filled and maybe tweak the dialogue slightly.The whole game before it was brilliant and then the last 5 minutes just... missed. Barely. It was so close. That may sound weird and vague, but I'm really not sure what to think. This whole thing has shaken me to my core. The thing that bothers me though is that this is a fictional video game that has distressed me so much. How and when did I become that involved in this game, that it has had such a profound effect on me? When did a fictional event begin to have as much relevance to me as a real event? It's bizarre. And as you said in the video it has happened before to other people (The Charles Dickens incident). Part of me actually wants to really analyze this and thinks it would make for a great study in human behavior. Then again, another part of me is slowly dying. I want to be able to just like it and accept it so badly... but I mentally can not do it.

    I guess I'm sort of rambling, but to sum everything up, I would love to see another ending that wraps things up better, if only for the sake of easing my distress at how things concluded. I'm not even sure that I want to make any specific points, I think I just wanted to get my feelings out there and see if anyone else had a similar experience. Nonetheless thank you again for the great video and the respectful and insightful opinion.

    Posted: March 13, 2012 12:52 PM