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Episode 43

The Indoor Kids

The Spoilerific Mass Effect …

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The Indoor Kids #43: The Spoilerific Mass Effect Wrap-Up Show with Nick Ahrens

Nick Ahrens (iam8bit) joins us again to talk all things Mass Effect, now that we’re all done with the entire series. Did you guys hear that there was some controversy over the ending? Weird, huh? We delve into all of it, reveal the fates of our Shepards, and talk future possibilities. Again, this is VERY SPOILER HEAVY, so we recommend listening only if you have finished Mass Effect 3, or if you like having things spoiled for you!

 

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86 comments

  • @Atrox: It doesn’t really matter to me which side of the debate you’re on. Making generalizations about those who hold an opposing view is a lousy way to make a point.

  • @Everyone: You probably should have actually followed through on what I said. I’m saying the contrary to what you are all assuming, haha.

    Look at twitter, look at IGN, look pretty much anywhere. The people who seem content with the ending generally voice their opinions uncivilly, with atrocious spelling and grammar. I’m not saying that they’re stupid, but it’s not a huge logical leap to assume that someone who has a poor grasp of the English language (assuming they’re native speakers) probably doesn’t have the greatest grasp on narrative and storytelling.

  • @Atrox,

    I read extensively also I am trying to write professionally. My problems with the ending stem from thematic, plot, and logic flaws that occur with the ending. You like, that’s fine but don’t say I’m less ‘read’ or knowledgeable because I didn’t like it.

  • All good points Kyle. I’m not sure how, but the writers really did just seem to lose focus of what the players would care about. I think they probably had this ending in mind from the start, and didn’t notice that it really didn’t fit with the series anymore, hence all the logic holes that keep getting thrown out there. I enjoyed the experience of the series as a whole, but am disappointed by how badly they dropped the ball in trying to wrap it up.

  • It doesn’t say anything, Atrox. I’ve read every Dune book Frank Herbert wrote it and loved each and every one even though he never took the story where I expected or thought I wanted it to go–and guess what? I still think ME3’s endings stink.

    It’s not that they’re not happy enough or that I don’t want to fill in the blanks myself, I just think they’re poorly written. The most glaring example for me is Starchild telling Shepard that organics and synthetics will never be at peace when she just brokered peace between the Quarians and Geth. And to add insult to injury, Shepard barely asks any questions. No argument, no real discussion, she just takes the kid at his word and picks a color. I don’t find that to be a satisfying conclusion to an otherwise well-told story.

  • @Atrox – what are you trying to say? Because it does not matter either way. We should not consider people that love the ending to be stupid (or illiterate) nor should we consider the people who hate the ending to be stupid (or illiterate). I have a problem when people (Nick) assume that other people with a differing opinion do not know what they are talking about because they have not read enough Science Fiction. About 86% of the people who played Mass Effect 3 hated the ending and we should not make any assumptions about them nor the people who liked the ending. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and we should not belittle people that have opinions that are different from our own.

  • I didn’t have a problem with your choices through the other games not affecting the BIG ending. I think this story always had a big ending in mind, and your choices along the way were more in line to affect the litle things, which they did quite well. You could have different relationships, and different outcomes to small plot points, and I thought those all played out fine.

    My issue with the ending is that the writers seemed to lose focus of the fact that as a player, you grew to care about Shepherd and his crew through the 100+ hours you spent with them, so this high concept ending where they just kind of gloss over everything was going to be frustrating and un-satisfying. I don’t care about some grandpa and his grandson talking a thousand years from now about the events that just transpired like they are ancient history, I care about what happened to my character and all the people he cared about. It felt like a betrayal for them to just gloss over all that. I hope they expand on some things in the up coming DLC or else I will always have a bad taste in my mouth with this series.

  • I’m honestly not trying to be a jerk here, but it even shows in the comments here and elsewhere.

    Compare the level of literacy of the people who are displeased with the ending against the level of literacy of the people who are pleased with it.

    Says pretty much everything you need to know.

  • Also, Red Dead Redemption had a dark, sad ending that was overwhelmingly embraced by its fan base. Because it’s ending matched a dark, nihilistic tone set gradually throughout the rest of the game. It didn’t take a weird, uncharacteristic turn at the last second.

    That’s why ME fans didn’t like ME3’s ending being so melancholy.

  • Gonna have to agree with Kyle S. on this one. I enjoyed most of Ahrens’ comments, but read more? really? I’ve read many many books, and also many of them in the Sci Fi genre. And I didn’t like Hyperion. So his solution is “Didn’t like this ending? Go read more books with similar vague endings!” No thank you.

  • Actually we have a right to critique whatever we want, however we want, whenever we want. We have a right to have discussions and debates to end of time if thats what we so choose.

    I am glad you enjoyed the endings, I wish I could have derived as much satisfaction from them as you clearly did. But you don’t get to just simply dismiss and disqualify any opinion that differs from your own by claiming they don’t have a right.

    Now try again, but this time try putting your ideas and opinions together in a persuasive way.

  • I am so sick of people saying “this is how I would have ended it.” You don’t get to do that! They made three epic space-opera games, almost unimaginable in scale and depth, ENDINGS AND ALL. You don’t get to come in when everything is over and say how you would have tweaked the ending. You have no right.

    Create something from the ground up. Make a three-part story with a penultimate finale that strings together themes that had been prevalent in the previous two games. Make an incredible world that filters down to one, inevitable ending.

    Then we’ll talk.

  • What John said. I don’t even want to start with the ignorance the catalyst spewed at me because it was explained much more in depth and better elsewhere. I wish I had that Xzibit meme handy…

    “We created a synthetic race to wipe out all organic life to save you from synthetics than will wipe out all organic life.”

  • Also, commenters and media, please stop lumping all dissatisfied with ending people into the “not happy enough” camp. No, they do not have a valid point, we get it. They would have complained no matter what.

    The reason we are even talking about this issue is because it was a big enough deal to wake the normally silent people who understand the artist’s right to do what they wish. They are the same people who read “I am legend” and then watched the movie and wished they had picked a different title for that crime against humanity. But they didn’t rally for the ending to be changed because they realized that the studio can do whatever they want with their movie. But if the ending of a work of fiction contains blatant plot holes and a collapse of production value we as consumers have a right to complain.

    Sorry, end of rant.

  • I with everyone else, the ending is bad, flawed, and plot hole filled.

    I did not require a happy ending to Mass Effect. For example the ending suggested by Logan would have worked in my book. The problem with the ending that it flies in the face of all the themes established in the three games. What’s worse is the Catalyst tells you things that are plainly not true depending on your game play. I SAVED the Quarians and Geth, so I just proved Organics and Synethics can coexist. Whoever came up with the ideas for the ending just failed, ignoring all we had come to learn about our Shepard and their actions during the games.

  • I did not care if the ending was happy or sad. I would have been satisfied if the game ended on the citadel with Shepard bleeding-out next to Anderson after the confrontation with the Illusive man. The main problem with the ending is the lack of closure and the disregard of player choice. We have put a lot of time into the series and we want to see our decisions play out after the game ends. I have a big problem with the confusing (due to plot holes) elements that are introduced in the ending. The whole idea of the reapers (synthetics) coming to kill all organics to save them from synthetics was stupid. I could have believed that if EDI and Joker did not have a love story or the fact that i got the geth and quarians to coexist. I respect the indoor kids and Nicks opinions but Nick, do not act like we are confused because we have not read enough Science Fiction. The elements that are introduced in the end are new and they conflict with the main philosophical themes of the series.

    here is a video that explains why the ending is broken- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MlatxLP-xs&feature=g-all-f&context=G2a8d9acFAAAAAAAAAAA

    Check this out if you are confused about why fans are pissed. http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/355/index/9851623

  • How did I want it to end? Reapers win. Shepard forced into cryo coffin to be this cycles Javik. No choice.

    But, I don’t care how they chose to end it, its their fiction they can do what they want with it. My issue lies with the fact that the quality of the game took an enormous nosedive the minute that friggin magic elevator took off. The plot holes and inconsistencies that followed are not ok, wtf joker? Abandoning me? How is garrus on your ship? He died when we rushed the beam on earth, at least that’s what the radio told me. Basically, if the indoctrination theory is not an option, then the last 10 minutes were made by another development company.

    Again, bioware can do what they want, but no, this has nothing to do with not “getting it” because I’m not clever enough. This has everything to do with the ending not being executed to the same level as the quarian v geth conflict and the tuchanka genophage issue.

  • I’m fine with the endings, i agree with Nick that maybe people havent read or seen other stories where this happens. Endings are not always happy. Lord of the rings. Yeah, they win, but its still not a very happy ending. I am looking forward to the epilogue, just because i would like to see the endings fleshed out a bit. Another great ep, really interesting hearing about other peoples versions of the game, i sided with the geth hbut Tali didnt die. Love you guys, been enjoying the web show a lot too.

  • Also, with respect to what Ahrens said about people who don’t like the ending needing to read more science fiction:

    He used Asimov as an example. The difference between the ending of Mass Effect and the ending of any of Asimov’s works is that Asimov’s endings are consistent with the tone he set in his stories.

    The ending of ME3 flew in the face of the established themes and ideas reinforced by the story.

  • I have a few issues with the ending:

    1. The endings are extremely sad. This is a much-maligned criticism by individuals who associate depth with the perceived darkness of the endings, and that may or may not be a fair point. Regardless, it stands as obvious that many people were hoping for an ending which proffered some hope beyond that available in even the ‘happiest’ of endings.

    2. The endings contain plotholes. The escape of the Normandy and the teleportation of her crew (including the formerly deceased) are the most obvious, but the lack of sufficient explanation regarding the Catalyst’s efforts and origin also makes many of his/its motivations bizarre and unsatisfying.

    3. The endings fail to fit in with the broadest themes of the series. Slightly different from 1, this criticism notes that the story of Commander Shepherd has always been a story of achieving the impossible with the help of a close crew and rigorous preparation. The endings as offered do not incorporate the crew, do not change significantly in response to your preparation, and while perhaps technically constitute doing the impossible, fail to meet even that low bar which is a solution that does not have an inevitable cross-racial holocaust and galactic dark age as its result.

    4. The endings lack variety. This criticism can be directed at both the artistic and story aspects of the ending – the results of the ending decision not only vary little (at least, and this is important, on a scale which is important to our experiences in the game), but the resulting cinematics have only minor differences, and the various sub-endings result in changes so small as to be entirely unnoticeable. Consider that some way could’ve been contrived to make the Synthetic option differ from the Control option in a fashion greater than a change in the color of the ‘light’ and a different Texture for Joker in the games final seconds.

    5. The mechanics of the ending are not appropriate. Without repeating the various criticisms as regards the ending closely mirroring Deus Ex’s, the culmination of the story with a game-show-esque approach to saving the world very much fails to be satisfactory, especially when Mass Effect has otherwise been about the integration of choice into the experience

    6. The endings lack dependency on the player’s choices prior to the last five minutes. This is important, because the entire rest of Mass Effect 3 was about reacting to previous decisions; consider that, provided one is able to fill the ‘war asset’ bar in a satisfactory manner via some other means, the decisions in the third game serve no purpose to explain, shape, or enhance the endings. This seems contrary to the spirit of the other 95% of the experience.

    7. The endings do not make sense given the character of Shepherd. As has been state elsewhere, we are playing some heroic badass who has otherwise talked down to, shrugged off, and inevitably defeated everyone who threatened, cajoled, or otherwise tried to force him to do something he didn’t wish to do. In the ending to ME3, this character offers no rigorous questioning, no protests, no counter-arguments, no discussion of any kind save a resigned sort of death-march which could not be more contrary to his character. This is distressing.

    8. The endings have implications, perhaps unintended, which seem to ruin the ME Universe. Admittedly, many of these implications could be avoided, but the lack of contrary evidence fosters a suspicion that these matters were either otherwise not considered, or supposed to be generally acceptable. Indeed, they might even be, but only with proper elaboration, of which there is none.

    9. The endings fail to provide closure. There is, as a diagram that is floating around illustrates, no falling action. No conclusion. I do not know what happened to my squadmates – I do not, for reasons that may be bug related, even know which of them is alive. I do not know what happens to the universe, or to the people I’ve saved. I do not know how I’m remembered, or if any of the terrible things mentioned above actually happens. There almost could not possibly have been less information provided regarding the ending of the game, and that is incredibly distressing when the intention was to wrap up a series that had otherwise displayed all the signs of excellency and had a fond place in our hearts.

    10. The ending introduces a brand new character in the final ten minutes that has only 14 lines of dialogue. This character instead resolving anything brings up way more questions about it’s existence and everything associated with it. Then this character, in a series made of psuedo-science explanations of everything, decides that it will use it’s Space Magic to give you three extremely farfetched options. Control (do exactly what the Illusive Man wanted you to do even though you just went to lengts to stop him), Destroy (magically focus fire all Reapers but arbitrarily kill off the Geth) or Synthisis (somehow combine Organics and Synthetics at some genetic level, basicall what Saren wanted in the first game).

    Essentially, this ending does not belong in ME3. For it to be a valid ending for Mass Effect it would have required extensive allusion to as well as being a major plot point in the previous games not to mention in ME3. It’s like they took the ending from a different series/movie/book tagged it onto the end of ME3.
    This particular plot point of organics vs synthetics IMHO is a side plot. The main plot has always been about the characters. About Shepard being pushed into the role of the last hope for humanity knowing only how to be a soldier. Of Garrus finding his own brand of justice in the world. Of Tali looking further into herself and learning more about the Geth. Of Wrex coming to terms with his family and species then trying to forge a new path for all Krogan. So on and so forth each of these characters learn more about themselves through each of the challenges presented in each game. Saren, the Collectors, and even the Reapers are all just tools for these characters to grow and evolve.
    Then at the very climax of it all it’s pulled in the direction of nothing more than a side plot. And to do what? To make some sort statement or message and be high minded. It lost focus from the characters that sold this series and decided to focus on something else and that is where it all collapsed and failed. It needed to make a much more clean end in dealing with the Reapers and focus on the real plot – the characters- how this all effected them and how your choices changed their fates/paths.

  • The Ending was awesome. Get over yourself if you dont like it, and know that this is the ending. People complain way too much in society allready… we as gamer’s should stop that!!! We will rule the world!

  • @Mike, A final battle with Harbinger would have been nice. And then the crucible kills all the reapers. That would have been a great ending.

  • the dark matter ending seemed pretty neat (the one the original creative dev had in mind). Also, the indoctrination theory where shepherd was being indoctrinated when the cannon ending happened seemed better to me as well. There were better ways of doing it. But having watched the ending 3 times now…its not TERRIBLE…just out of left field.

  • @anncoultersadamsapple, you still haven’t come up with a better ending. You’re just stating what you didn’t like about the actual ending. If you’re going to take on a challenge, you have to actually take on the challenge.

  • The only thing I am angry about is that Miranda didn’t even say I love to Shepard, she told him to “find her”. WTF, almost every romance in ME3 your partner tells Shepard they love you. On my next playthrough I’m gonna break up w/ Miranda and cheat on her w/ Chobot.

    I liked the ending, I picked the synergy path because my Shepard brought together the Geth & the Quarrians plus Joker & EDI are great together.

    Question, I selected Garrus & Liara for the final attack but in the ending when the Normandy crashed landed, I saw Liara stepping out of the ship alive and well, what the hell was that?

    I call the little kid in Shepards dreams Jason because that kid and the whole chasing him around reminded me of Heavy Rain.

    Great ep as always Emily & Kumail!!

    P.S. I can’t wait for Adam Sessler’s ep.

  • Yeah. I’m not sure how pointing out logic holes is “nitpicking”. Especially when the logic holes relate to lore established and maintained across multiple games.

    Dextro DNA doesn’t mean Tali and the other Quarians/Turians won’t be able to eat fruit. It means that all the food native to Earth is toxic to them, and they will all inevitably starve or possibly die of disease/infection if they cannot synthesize medicine specific to their DNA structure. The Quarian race will effectively be extincted (remember that they recalled many of the young Quarians away from the fleet on pilgrimage), and the entirety of the Turian military fleet.

    In addition to that, the consequences of destroying the relay in the Batarian-controlled Bahak colony system reach into ME3. An ailing Batarian in the refugee camp basically calls you a genocidal monster, responsible for 300,000 deaths and, from what I understand, the destruction of everything within a 20 lightyear radius.

    By the way, Ahrens should check out the statements made by BioWare before he calls the BBB stating that BioWare falsely advertised “bullshit”. There’s a quote somewhere out there where Casey Hudson says that the game will have many, diverse endings and won’t come down to an A, B, or C ending. I think a list was actually compiled on the BioWare forums at some point.

    It seems to me that you guys sort of loved the series too much to let the shortcomings of the final installment tarnish that love. I kind of get that, but I think you do a greater injustice to the franchise by turning a blind eye to how irresponsibly it was handled in the end.

    It’s just kind of exhausting to see everyone side with the big publishers/developers almost as a reflexive reaction to being associated with whiny, entitled gamers when there are a number of serious, weighed opinions that point out the enormous flaws in the art as well as the product.

    Check out the California Literary Review (http://calitreview.com/24673) as well as the Gamefront article entitled “Mass Effect Ending Hatred: 5 Reasons the Fans Are Right” (http://www.gamefront.com/mass-effect-3-ending-hatred-5-reasons-the-fans-are-right/).

  • ” I dare any of those people to come up with an ending that would make them happy”

    One where a ghost child we’ve never met before doesn’t strand all alien races on Earth would have been nice.

    Now my hours of taking back Rannoch mean nothing because the Quarians can’t travel there anymore. And all of the talk of Rex reforming Krogan society means nothing because he’ll never see Tuchanka again.

    Not to mention the complete lack of closure. I drastically change the galaxy by destroying the relays and I just have to imagine how that will effect the races (aside from killing billions of people including everyone on earth after we couldn’t support everyone stranded in our system).

    And the reapers exist to kill us before we create synthetics who might kill us?

    Come on guys, I loved the game but the ending sucked.