3/21/12

Mass Effect 3 - So this is still burning

So apparently this whole ending controversy is still burning. Wonder how many bits of internet it will consume before it finally dies out.

I've already made my thoughts clear on how I feel about the ending. The thing is now the major publications are starting to weigh in. Unfortunately most of them are completely missing the point.

People aren't upset "just because". There are legitimate problems with the ending. I won't go into them since you can read about them here, or better yet, here. But this isn't a post to say whether or not the ending was good or bad. This is a post to question those who are coming out and categorically saying you cannot change the ending of "art".

I say "Why the fuck not?"

Many people are holding up examples of things in other media that didn't end as fans had hoped. Lost, and the Matrix trilogy are the most common examples. The thing is these same people are lumping games into the same molding as other forms of media. Games aren't the same. No other form of media (short of a choose-your-own-adventure book) relies on customer/fan/player interaction to move the story forward. Sure you can point out any number of choose-your-own-adventure books that are equally "meh" in their endings, but I challenge you to find me a 6 thousand pager. Go on. I'll wait.

They don't exist.

Games are a unique form of expression, and yes they are art. However just because they are art doesn't mean they aren't subject to the unique form of feedback that games are. Dan Stapleton wrote a brief piece on a few games that were "changed" by the developers (and one that was a fan creation) for quite frankly, reasons which are far inferior than those cited for Mass Effect 3. The overwhelming majority of people are looking for more explanation and/or exposition than what was provided. We're not "demanding" a complete re-write or anything insane, we're just looking for more information.

The great (and I'm not being sarcastic here) Ray Muzyka himself posted a message to players expressing his concern over the reaction to the ending. Queue craziness from almost every major gaming news site. Has anyone ever stopped to consider that maybe they're concerned that people didn't understand the intended message? What if they set the bar too high for their players, and a huge number of them sailed under it?

What if they're just trying to help people understand what the intended message was? Is that really so bad?

The closest thing for me in recent memory is the ending of the Stargate SG-1 teevee series. It ended long before the story was actually finished, and a lot of unknowns were still floating around. The thing is the nature of teevee (and movies, and books) makes it almost impossible to add more exposition once the end is reached. However a couple of direct-to-dvd movies followed that tied up the remaining loose threads (even if they were kinda quick). Of course this is analogous to the DLC that Ray mentions in his open letter.

Is it preferable to get the message across the first time? Obviously.

If you fail, does that mean it's impossible to try again? Absolutely not.

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