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Mass Effect 3 outrage forces BioWare to add content with "further closure"

Mass Effect 3 outrage forces BioWare to add content with "further closure"

Wed 21 Mar 2012 6:10pm GMT / 2:10pm EDT / 11:10am PDT
GamesDevelopment

The developer is considering new content to augment or fix the ending that some fans have decried

BioWare is looking into new "content initiatives" to fix the ending of Mass Effect 3. The current set of endings for the game has angered some fans, leading to a few to file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau. Others on the BioWare Social Network have used Amazon's liberal return policy to return the game after they've finished playing. In a post on the official Bioware blog, co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka has revealed that the developer is looking into further content to change or flesh out the ending of the game.

"Our first instinct is to defend our work and point to the high ratings offered by critics - but out of respect to our fans, we need to accept the criticism and feedback with humility," wrote Muzyka. "The passionate reaction of some of our most loyal players to the current endings in Mass Effect 3 is something that has genuinely surprised us. This is an issue we care about deeply, and we will respond to it in a fair and timely way. We're already working hard to do that."

"Exec Producer Casey Hudson and the team are hard at work on a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey. You'll hear more on this in April. We're working hard to maintain the right balance between the artistic integrity of the original story while addressing the fan feedback we've received. This is in addition to our existing plan to continue providing new Mass Effect content and new full games, so rest assured that your journey in the Mass Effect universe can, and will, continue."

Muzyka also took on some of the fans that attacked BioWare and its employees in comments.

"Some of the criticism that has been delivered in the heat of passion by our most ardent fans, even if founded on valid principles, such as seeking more clarity to questions or looking for more closure, for example - has unfortunately become destructive rather than constructive. We listen and will respond to constructive criticism, but much as we will not tolerate individual attacks on our team members, we will not support or respond to destructive commentary," he added.

Is BioWare making the right move for fans, or has the developer/consumer relationship moved too far in the wrong direction?

14 Comments

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

766 574 0.7
I'm disappointed with your community Bioware. They don't deserve that kind of attention.

Note That I haven't finished the game yet, I only saw the attitude of the community and it was disgusting.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Sam Brown
Programmer

235 164 0.7
I must admit I'm getting a bit tired of everyone - even my peers, it seems - calling me a whiny c**t without going through the same experience as me.

Muzyka's post contains a line that highlights the problem as I see it exactly:
Mass Effect 3 concludes a trilogy with so much player control and ownership of the story that it was hard for us to predict the range of emotions players would feel when they finished playing through it.

And for the most part I've found conversation and crit on the spoiler section of the BSN to be pretty amicable. As one poster put it, "I have never seen a bigger group of disappointed customers explain their points with this level of eloquence and civility than the people in this thread." Certainly I posted my feelings politely in both the feedback thread and an email to BioWare. Yes, there are ignorant hotheads on both sides (like the person who dragged the FTC into this, IMHO) but for the most part it's been civil, and been encouraged by the community to be so.

I worry that this whole affair has shown up a massive disconnect between reviewers and actual gamers, however illusory (let's not forget that perception matters more than reality in business). The fact that ME3 is EA-published probably made it worse.

As for the decision (if that's what it is) then... well, I've always thought that if someone who is a fan of the genre of game that I write doesn't like it, then I've got something wrong. If a SHMUP fan doesn't like my SHMUP (for a reason other than it didn't feature MLP - that was a weird one ;) ) then I've missed something, some option somewhere, and I fix it if I can. Because I can't afford to lose customers. And that's what I see BioWare doing here. They've got a sizeable bunch of RPG fans who don't like their RPG and they're addressing that. Sounds sensible to me.

Personally, I'm not a writer. So when it's time to come up with a story for my games I always follow the advice I once read in David Lodge's Changing Places:
The best type of ending is a happy ending. Indeed, unless you are a genius, you should never attempt any other kind.
I hope BioWare can do better than I usually do. :)

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Sam Brown on 22nd March 2012 10:16am

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Peter Dwyer
Games Designer/Developer

481 290 0.6
@Alfonso

I'm kind of hoping you're joking. The stunt Bioware pulled is the kind of thing that makes people not return to a companies products and diminishes our industry. They flat out lied about the choices of the player mattering to the end game and give that we are in the business of INTERACTIVE MEDIA we don't get the right to turn around an tell people that their interactions and opinions don't matter.

If we have people in our industry that truly believe that then the gamers may as well save themselves 50 bucks and go see a movie instead. The outcome of that is set in stone and can't be changed so they save a tonne of money going for the linear ride!

Posted:2 years ago

#3
I haven't played it yet (looking forward to it soon), but I'm not at all surprised by any of this.

The first game was incredible: open, choice-filled, and let the player open a multitude of story options.

The second game was linear, with a fixed (& simple) story, and limited changes based on both your decisions in the first and second game.

The third game exposes the core story of the game at the very start, and gives the impression of being much more combat focused. There was never any chance for it to be a truly open-ended game, with millions of alternative story paths based on the decisions from the first two games. Rather it seems to me to be even more linear, and more movie-like (common trap for these sort of games!) - which is never what made ME "good".

I have been bracing myself for this for ages: I won't be disappointed by whatever the ending (or multiple similar endings) are - but I can definitely understand why others may.

What I really, *really* want is a remake of the first ME game with more of everything...

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,484 1,254 0.8
What I genuinely don't understand is this:

BioWare created Dragon Age: Origins. That had multiple beginnings, and multiple endings. Who you romanced, who you married, who you proposed as king... All these things were reflected either in the final battle, or the ending cut-scene.

Then BioWare tell us that creating multiple endings for Mass Effect 3 - which has so many choices from the first two games - is just not possible. So they don't try.

I know there were staff changes - and different development teams - between the two games, but honestly? If DA:O could reference who you slept with, and who you allied yourself with, why can't ME3? It would've added to the development time, but... Ah, maybe I just answered my own question.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Paolo Giunti
Localisation Project Manager

42 8 0.2
@Alfonso

You do know that the Bioware community is basically a disorganized bunch who just share the interest in their games, don't you?
Some acted as immature kids, yeah. But most didn't, some just limited themselves to politely ask for a better ending, some put it into humor and made jokes (Marauder Shields), some others just took their creativity into work and either made up their own endings (ie. there's several "Femshep+Garrus at the tropics with little krogan kids" pictures on DeviantArt) or tried to puzzle what they saw into the "indoctrination conspiracy theory".

If you only saw the attitude of the community, then you missed all the rest.
Sorry, but i find it quite shortsighted to brand everyone on account of those who crossed the line.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paolo Giunti on 22nd March 2012 10:12am

Posted:2 years ago

#6

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

730 411 0.6
@Paolo, I've also seen this sort of behaviour from people who liked or weren't bothered by the endings towards those who were unhappy with them. Name-calling, presenting their positions as straw men etc.

Funny, you never see the people who are unhappy with the endings calling those who are happy/nonplussed with the endings anything. Maybe (probability would suggest so) there are those out there doing it... but i've not observed that behaviour.

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

555 607 1.1
@Peter: i completely agree with you. As creatives i think it is our holy grail to design games that capture what our customers are after. If we create games that gamers want to play, that gamers enjoy and where they feel as if it was created purely for them, then we succeed and can be successful.

this does not mean we have to end every story in a way that is demanded by gamers. far from it. but we have to present that end in such a way that the player feels like it's what they wanted.

This does not only involve games where player choice dictates the outcome (though i personally think that this is exactly what can set games apart from movies and books), but it also includes games with linear narrative.

If i buy Modern Warfare 3, i know what i am getting into. i know i am getting as linear a story as it gets. i know it will have the necessary plot twists. but i will only buy modern warfare 3 if that is the type of game i enjoy, and when i play it i will feel as if it has been made for me.

the problem with ME3 was that the whole core of the game was player choice and in the end that choice was removed. The end, as it is, is not really a problem, if it would have been presented to the player in a form where it would actually have been the players choice.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Paolo Giunti
Localisation Project Manager

42 8 0.2
@James
I actually did witness that. I recall stumbling on one thread on BSN where one person was calling "idiots" those who liked the ending.
However, that person was heavily criticized for her behavior, even by those who were not happy with the ending.

After all, the more people are involved, the more are the chances, on either side, to find elements that just can't behave properly.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

David Radd
Senior Editor

358 78 0.2
Maybe you could make me understand how the second Mass Effect was more linear/simple in its story than the first game. If someone liked the choices more in the first game compared to the second that's fine, but there was still a wide open galaxy that let players tackle a variety of missions in any order they choose and both games had a general story arch that had linear aspects to it out of necessity. It could be argued that the first Mass Effect had more mystery to its story, since there are things you don't know about your enemy until later in the game, but that's again a matter of opinion.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,132 1,039 0.5
As i said elsewhere, I wonder how many of these unruly ending haters would be yelling at DC and Alan Moore back when the final issues of Watchmen were released.

Granted, the end of ME3 is a lot different (player choice and all that blah blah), but hell, I say anyone who wanted the ending they could choose a path to should read an actual history book about what happens after a war. You'll find that it's a lot of getting back to normal or working with what you have while trying to rebuild or being put under the heel of whatever dictator rolled into town and so forth and so on...

Nothing's as nice and neat as "closure" in any of those situations.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Paolo Giunti
Localisation Project Manager

42 8 0.2
@Greg
As i said elsewhere, I wonder how many of these unruly ending haters would be yelling at DC and Alan Moore back when the final issues of Watchmen were released.
Honestly no, I'm sure most wouldn't. Because the point is not the lack of "happy ending".

People who play ME, enjoy it because they see their choices played out, giving them the feeling that they can actually make a difference. The ending strips them of this key element.
Secondly, the ending is left so open to interpretation to actually leave the players hanging. And not only it rises more questions than answers, but is also inconsistent with how the rest of the story was written.
As someone said elsewhere, it's like having a Die Hard end like Donnie Darko
"Granted, the end of ME3 is a lot different (player choice and all that blah blah), but hell, I say anyone who wanted the ending they could choose a path to should read an actual history book about what happens after a war."
Games are meant to be fun, not realistic.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Preet D Bass
student

92 13 0.1
It goes to show how all the reviewers had lied, and how they lie didnt do nothing but make their opinions mean so little.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Preet D Bass
student

92 13 0.1
Bioware shouldnt be getting any attention like this, if they did the job right in the first place. When is the last time a game has been loved by critics but panned by fans by this extreme (COD does not count). Alot more this gen but seeing the feedback one could only wonder.

Posted:2 years ago

#14

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