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Episode 286: Jill-in-the-Box

by James Jones, Greg Leahy, Jon Lindemann, Jonathan Metts, and Karlie Yeung - April 1, 2012, 3:48 pm PDT
Total comments: 62

Jonny returns to discuss games and game endings, plus a surprise guest joins the fray!

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The crew is back together for this last episode before PAX East, but Jonny is immediately caught off guard by an unexpected voice -- it's Karlie Yeung! She came to America early for next week's convention and joined James at the microphone to break the curse of female guests on RFN, as you'll hear explained.

For New Business, Jonny catches up with Crush 3D, the stealth-released puzzle/platformer from Sega that may be worth your time to seek out. He also revisits Mutant Mudds (demo now available on the eShop) and tests the hypothesis that Rhythm Heaven Fever can be just as much fun to watch as it is to play. James and Karlie co-author audio impressions of Dokapon Kingdom, the bizarre party-RPG that turns out to be even weirder than anyone could expect. Jon didn't have any new games to bring up, so Greg wraps the segment. He mentions the extensive GAME store closures throughout the UK before continuing his adaptation to and enjoyment of Kid Icarus: Uprising, one of the most controversial Nintendo releases in quite a while.

After the break, we take an oblique approach to the Mass Effect 3 debate by examining the broader topic of game endings. The conversation spans endings retro to recent, Nintendo and otherwise, and we discover a few interesting truths about why games have endings, how they differ from other media, and why some are effective while others fail. It's a fun feature, but we still have enough time left to address a pair of questions for Listener Mail. One proposes a new review scoring method, while the other asks us to prioritize a gaming backlog. Send your own email questions so we'll have more to answer next time!

Don't forget that next weekend is PAX East, so there won't be a normal episode of RFN. Instead, we'll be live and in person at the Arachnid Theater for our third annual panel. If you can't make the trip this year, don't worry -- we'll record the panel and get it online as soon as possible. Also, the long-awaited RFN shirt will make its public debut at PAX East, but you can order your own right now. You can finally get your own for a reasonable price and show your support for the podcast without the pain or commitment of a tattoo!

Finally, it is time to spin up for the next RetroActive feature. We'll focus on WiiWare this round, so head over to the poll to view the nominated games and vote for the one you'd like us to play and discuss together on a future episode!

This podcast was edited by Greg Leahy.

Music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is used with permission from Jason Ricci & New Blood. You can purchase their newest album, Done with the Devil, directly from the record label, Amazon (CD) (MP3), or iTunes, or call your local record store and ask for it!

Additional music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is copyrighted to Nintendo, and is included under fair use protection.

Talkback

YoshidiousGreg Leahy, Staff AlumnusApril 01, 2012

A clarifying note on the curse of girl guests that we discuss at the start of this episode: it has only applied to numbered episodes and not special ones at PAX East or E3, which of course aren't as likely to suffer from the same kind of technical problems that robbed us of previous appearances by Karlie and Bonnie.

The RuffiansApril 01, 2012

I'm surprised no one mentioned Earthbound's ending. It's weird not only for a Nintendo game, but for games in general. There's a reason why it's called the first "art game." There are literally 10-page essays done on that ending. I thought it was very effective. Anyway, good episode!

It's been so long since I saw the ending of Earthbound that I can't tell you anything about it. I thought the Mother 3 ending was sweet and poetic, but not terribly interesting.


James: "Fish Man is a saint!"


I really wish I had said at that moment: "No, Fishman is the drummer for Phish!"

PlugabugzApril 01, 2012

I'm just about to get started but i think we should have a female overdose RFN: aka kick out the J's (Jonny, Jon and James) and bring in Karlie and Bonnie for an episode. And someone totally oddball like Kairon.

I'm not saying Kairon is female but if we cant have another woman on the show then lets have an unknown voice.

DropkikApril 02, 2012

Without spoiling anything, I'll just say this:  The Mass Effect series has been in in my short list of favorite games ever made since the first one, and while I love 99.9% of ME3, the best analogy I can come up with for the ending is kind of like watching the original star wars trilogy, but at the end of Return of the Jedi, instead of Vader's sacrifice and redemption, the death star explodes and kills everybody.  Rebels, Imperials, Ewoks, and all.  Except then han, leia and R2 walk out of an escape pod on a random planet because Q teleported them their apparently.

ejamerApril 02, 2012


Great job on the podcast, Karlie!  Another episode, another great guest. Seems like it's becoming a trend...

I especially love the Dokapon Kingdom discussion. That game is so random and silly, but the first time you play nothing really makes sense and you have no idea how long and deep the game actually is.  Things do speed up once you have an idea what's happening though.  "Laughing at the misfortunes of others until it's your turn to be misfortuned" is a pretty good description. Definitely not for everyone because it's so slow and ridiculous and chaotic... but great fun if you have friends that are into griefing (and/or drinking).

TrueNerdApril 02, 2012

Based on your thoughts on endings Jonny, I'm going to guess you're going to like the ending to Mass Effect 3.

yoshi1001April 02, 2012

I think we sometimes expect an ending to make up for a bad game experience. A game ending can seem bad because getting to it wasn't worthwhile to the player.
I'll re-listen to make sure, but I don't think you guys mentioned games with significant post-ending content (the Pokemon games are a good example of this), where the game stays "beat" and continues on.

broodwarsApril 02, 2012

The current war between game journalists and fans over the Mass Effect 3 ending is the main reason I still haven't picked up the game, despite really liking Mass Effect 2.  The whole thing has really soured me on the experience (that the ending has been thoroughly spoiled by now doesn't help matters).

My view on endings is that they may not need to be "happy", but they do need to be satisfying and make me feel like the time I spent with the game was worth it.  Looking at other mediums, take the ending to the Quantum Leap TV series for example.  It's really not a "happy" ending, as the status quo of the main character still has not changed by the end of the finale.  However, the final episode devotes a great deal of time to examining the impact Sam Beckett has had on the people whose lives he has touched during his adventure, and how they in turn will touch the lives of others to eventually create a better world.  It's an ending that reaffirms what I love most about that series: that the world can be made better just by people showing other people that they care.  The series ends on an uplifting message, though not a "happy" ending and I love it for that.

The ending to the Lord of the Rings could also not really be considered a "happy" ending (especially the original ending in the novels with the Scouring of the Shire), but it is exceptionally thorough in giving every character a proper send-off and reflecting upon all that has been accomplished by the sacrifices and ordeals of the entire world.  The story ends on a bittersweet but uplifting message: that though bad things may happen and the world may never return to what it was, "good can triumph over the evils of the world" if people are willing to stand up and fight for it.

When I play a game and reach the end, I want the feeling like my role in the adventure mattered and have at least some closure on the story.  That's one reason why the RPG is my favorite gaming genre, as it usually does offer that.

I think Bioware's big error in this series was promising the world, and then delivering an island.  They promised that your actions would have real meaning, and then it turns out they really didn't (and they especially didn't if you believe some of the fan theories about that ending).  I don't think fans would have cared about the ME3 ending so much if Bioware hadn't spent so much time hyping the user's contribution to it.  After all, games have had plenty of bad or unsatisfying endings before, and there wasn't so much uproar. But don't promise things you can deliver on, especially when you make them the core of your entire franchise.

AVApril 02, 2012

The ending to the Ghost and Goblins is infuriating !


One of the hardest games ever and you beat it and it says you NEED to
DO IT AGAIN!


Than if you do beat it a 2nd time you get


" Conraturation this story is happy end Thank You. "


:@ :@ :@ :@ :'( :'( :'(


I was very surprised that James didn't mention 999 'endings'

roykoopa64April 02, 2012

Quote from: Mr.

I was very surprised that James didn't mention 999 'endings'

I was thinking the same thing! The endings are one of the main reasons you play 999.  :)

Quote from: The

I'm surprised no one mentioned Earthbound's ending. It's weird not only for a Nintendo game, but for games in general. There's a reason why it's called the first "art game." There are literally 10-page essays done on that ending. I thought it was very effective. Anyway, good episode!

Earthbound was seriously one of the first games that popped into my mind during the discussion. One of the greatest things about the game is the freedom you are given to explore after you defeat the last boss and restore peace.

leahsdadApril 02, 2012

To the listener who wrote in about the list of games from which he choose to play, I would go against the grain and go with Illusion of Gaia, and strongly recommend AGAINST Halflife2/TheOrangeBox/Portal/etc..  Having played Halflife, Halflife2, all the extra episodes, Portal, and Portal2, I serious want those hours back, or wish I had sunk them into a different game on my own to-do list.  I think where Valve was really introducing some new ideas in Halflife, Halflife2 felt boring and empty, because it didn't bring anything new to the table and the old things that it was trying to do again (big scripted events, soldiers with better-than-average AI) it didn't do as well as it  used to.  The game didn't get interesting until the very last level (and gun), and I think that's why the extra episodes are much better than the actual game.  But still, largely forgettable level design.  And you know what, I think Valve knows this, which is why they haven't done any work on an Episode 3 or a Halflife 3, despite the cliffhanger ending that the last one finished with, and you don't really hear a lot of people clamoring for more, because the series seems kind of bankrupt on innovation.

I also didn't love Portal, it was just way too easy, which was why you heard of everyone finishing it in about 2 hours.  With Portal 2, I felt the only new idea they brought to the table was the gels, but they introduced that  very late into the game.  I wonder if that was because they thought the initial gameplay model would be too difficult for newcomers to grasp, or if they felt the gel gameplay was too limited in nature to be stretched very far.  I think the latter.  I also strongly suspect that this is why we will never see a Portal 3 anytime soon-- again, they are out of ideas.

LithiumApril 03, 2012

don't know what it is about british accents that make them sound classy but  Greg and Karlie's voices combined just gave this show an overdose of class.

Killer_Man_JaroTom Malina, Associate Editor (Europe)April 03, 2012

Quote from: Lithium

don't know what it is about british accents that make them sound classy but  Greg and Karlie's voices combined just gave this show an overdose of class.

Trust me, if you'd heard the full spectrum of accents that we have in Britain, classy would not be the word to come to mind.

Solid episode and excellent feature discussion as always. For my part, I think this talk about endings is very much connected to that hype feature from eons ago (Episode 120?). Ultimately, the reaction to an ending comes down to expectation vs. reality.

It goes without saying that there was a great deal of hype surrounding Mass Effect 3, the follow-up to many people's Game of the Year and the conclusion to a trilogy. From everything I've heard, it sounds like BioWare did not live up to their promises, but to be totally honest, I'm surprised that such a vast contingent of players thought they would. The idea that this game would be the culmination of all your actions over the course of several other games always seemed utterly ludicrous to me. Did anybody truly believe they could pull it off?

I won't try to define what makes a good ending - it is an art rather than a science, after all. Should it answer all my questions? Some of my questions might be better left unanswered. Should it be happy, sad, ambiguous? Well, obviously that's dependant on what would be fitting to the rest of the story. Should I get closure? Again, it depends - is that closure to the story, or to the characters, or to both? How much closure? Would it be better if some things were left open to interpretation? Maybe so. Like I said, it's an art, not a science.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 03, 2012

I am a sucker for classy british accents. All countries have bad accents and people who go about butchering language with the glee a slasher. New Zealand is no exception, here is a mild example. Here are some normal NZ accents from Flight of the Concords. Rhys Darby has a really overblown accent though.

Quote from: Killer_Man_Jaro

It goes without saying that there was a great deal of hype surrounding Mass Effect 3, the follow-up to many people's Game of the Year and the conclusion to a trilogy. From everything I've heard, it sounds like BioWare did not live up to their promises, but to be totally honest, I'm surprised that such a vast contingent of players thought they would. The idea that this game would be the culmination of all your actions over the course of several other games always seemed utterly ludicrous to me. Did anybody truly believe they could pull it off?

It was poorly implemented. Deus Ex's(2000) narrative is structurally very similar to ME3. It starts off very open and there are plot threads everywhere, but the differences is that they take the time to resolve an close those threads before moving on to the next section assuming you choose to follow the threads. ME3 had failed to collapse the plot tree properly. Deus Ex eventually ends in a 3 choice ending where for all intents and purposes nothing you did before "matters". But it isn't true since there are multiple "endings" sprinkled throughout the game that closes those threads. Another important difference is that Dues Ex doesn't pull out the deus ex machina card out to close the story. You are properly lead to the end, it doesn't come out of nowhere like ME3 did. You can't have something that comes along and just hand waves away the ending. It's an indictment as to how poorly written the whole story is at the end of the day. It only got worse since ME made you double down with the war readiness system enhancing that false sense of agency. The ME series is a bigger entity as a whole, but it doesn't mean you can't apply those plot tree pruning devices.

What they could have done was to resolve the ME universe by doing a Fallout 1/2 ending where they show you the consequences to your actions throughout the game. Fallout 1/2 pretty much has a "Fixed" ending, but what you did changes the epilogue. Contrast this to FO3's ending where nothing you did before matters and your final decision damns you or praises you regardless of how sound your decision is. In fact FO3 has the very same problems as ME3. You would think that the development community as a whole would learn from the FO3 debacle years earlier.

Story writing in games isn't young, but it's far from mature. It's not a bad thing as transitions can be quite enjoyable especially if you're there to see it evolve. One of the greatest potential strengths to story telling in games is the possiblity to tell the same story multiple times in one game, but yet it isn't the same story. The ability to tell all the possibilities the story could have taken, every play through can be a mirror universe to your original playthrough. The writer is no longer constrained with one possibility, they can go mad and include most if not all the endings and threads. But it's also one of it's greatest weakness where it can grow out of control and becomes a weed.

CericApril 03, 2012

The best ending I saw as for what you did sort of mattered was Marvel Ultimate Alliance.  That ending stepped you through the consequences of your action.  Some you know there be consequences but there was a few that at the time I had no idea they be relevant to anything other then the moment.

Good episode.  Wish Karlie was more vocal.      If anyone want to see my random thoughts through the episode just lookup #RFN286 on Twitter.  I eventually added timestamps because it was getting to random.

MiyamotoApril 04, 2012

Has there been any comments about Karlie being the Yoko Ono of RFN? I keed, I keed.


Great episode guys. Thanks.

Fatty The HuttApril 04, 2012

I was hurt by the ending of Red Dead Redemption. I invested so much time into John Marston's redemption that I had a negative emotional reaction to the ending (I am trying to be vague for spoilers). I should note that I took pains to play as only a good guy.

Great episode guys. Nice to hear Karlie. Is that hint of a South African accent I detect?

NinSageApril 04, 2012

Out of town, don't have much time to reply... here goes...

1. British accents make anyone sound awesome.  Or, as they might say: "brilliant!"  Nicely done, Karlie.

2. KIUprising is absolutely amazing.  The stylus control is supremely accurate, however, my hands can't deal with the pain so I have tweaked the settings and found finely-tuned face-button controls to be ideal.  The stylus' accuracy now feels like a bonus that I can't handle.  While the face-buttons feel like a completely reasonable standard.

3A. Regarding people flipping out over ME3? Game fans are just not a tolerant bunch no matter what the circumstances.  In my experiences, somehow constantly griping about games is a prerequisite for being a "real" gamer.  I hope it can change one day.

3B. Though, to be fair, it doesn't seem that people had issue with the content of the ME3 ending, but that they felt it didn't have enough to do with their previous in-game choices - which, apparently, is the big draw in that franchise.  Now, I have not played the game so I can't say for sure if that is the case.  However, if the developers really did spend the last X years touting the impact of player choice, and then just toss it all out at the culmination of the trilogy? That is, indeed, rather "bullocks." =P

4. That was very, very interesting point about how the last bits of old games were like a thematic climax and followed by nothing.  Never thought of it that way.  "Bang on!"

5. 999 was one of my personal games of the year until its ending provided little to no explanation/resolution.  I am eagerly anticipating its sequel and the fact that I will likely get fooled again in to thinking the creators want to give me any kind of explanation/resolution in this franchise =\

CericApril 04, 2012

Quote from: NinSage

..

3B. Though, to be fair, it doesn't seem that people had issue with the content of the ME3 ending, but that they felt it didn't have enough to do with their previous in-game choices - which, apparently, is the big draw in that franchise.  Now, I have not played the game so I can't say for sure if that is the case.  However, if the developers really did spend the last X years touting the impact of player choice, and then just toss it all out at the culmination of the trilogy? That is, indeed, rather "bullocks." =P
...

Yeah, Bioware was really big on your choices mattering.  In ME1 they seemed to and really transferred to ME2, I haven't played ME3 and I'm only roughly halfway through ME2, but they really dialed it down so far in ME2, so I can see ME3 being just as disappointing.

ejamerApril 04, 2012

Quote from: NinSage

5. 999 was one of my personal games of the year until its ending provided little to no explanation/resolution.  I am eagerly anticipating its sequel and the fact that I will likely get fooled again in to thinking the creators want to give me any kind of explanation/resolution in this franchise =\

I'm surprised to hear this.

How many endings/paths did you see?  Is it fair to assume that you reached the "good" ending?

After playing through 3 or 4 different endings including the "good" one, I felt like the story had been pretty well explained. Certainly well enough that I wasn't looking for more details or left feeling unsatisfied.  If I hadn't seen the good ending, or didn't go back after my initial play then that impression about the game resolution would be very different.


Hard to discuss too much without hitting spoilers all over the place, but I'd love to hear general impressions (good/bad/wtf?) of the endings from others who played through the game.

NinSageApril 04, 2012

@Ceric

Indeed.

@ejamer

Yea, I'm sure I got every ending.  PM me if you want to discuss it further (so as to keep from spoilerizing the masses).  Maybe you can help determine if something is going over my head?

On the topic of the ME3 ending. I have not played any of them, but I think that this debacle just portrays video game players as being selfish idiots. I get that the ending may be terrible etc. But trying to get the developer to change it is wrong and I hope Bioware does not give in to the demands.

This is what they intended, like it or not. It has been released and that should be that.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 05, 2012

Here is a very good article as to why ME3's ending failed. Labeling the complaints as selfish or entitled or childish in order to dismiss them is worse than unhelpful, it's insulting. Bioware had failed with what should have been their coup de grace to the trilogy. They had gamers emotionally invested over dozens to a hundred hours and they threw it back in their face. If you had invested hundreds of hours into something or somebody only for them to break off rendering all that efoort meaningless, you would be upset too.

How many movies have you seen that left you with the feeling the "Wow that was a horrible ending, why did they think that was any good?" only to find directors cuts and extra endings upon viewing which did much better. One off the top of my head is Die Hard 3. Here is the alt ending. The original ending was really flat and quite frankly gamey as hell.

As I said before, games are unique in that they don't have to have one ending, what Bioware did was reduce all those choices into one choice and effectively one ending.

PlugabugzApril 05, 2012

I'm glad Greg continues to mention Game, because NWR's coverage otherwise is ridiculous.

How can Gamestop no longer selling gamecubes (a console now dead for 6 years) be newsworthy, but a games-only retailer, essentially the UK equivalent of gamestop, not selling Nintendo games in 2012 (including cancelling everyone's preorders for The Last Story with 24 hours notice!) isn't?

If Gamestop cancelled everyone's Xenoblade preorders at the same notice there would be riots.

If they ran out of time or something fair enough. But they obviously did what they did for a reason, I can't believe they would get to the end of the story and just basically decide to cheap out.. It doesn't make any sense as to why they would not give it the same amount of attention as the rest of the series.

So they either did it for an artistic reason, or they could not complete the game by the deadline. If it was a deliberate design/artistic vision people should at least respect it.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 05, 2012

Another explanation is that they simply fucked up. It's a far simpler explanation with far fewer hoops to jump through. It is clear from the article that there was an underlying design failure when they collapsed the decision tree.

It is a triumph on Bioware's part that they got so many people emotional involved over 3 games, so when they betrayed that connection, what happened is a perfectly normal reaction. People get together, talked about it, share the pain to diffuse it, some try to affect a change one way or another. It's a perfectly normal coping process, calling them names shows a real lack of insight and empathy on your part.

If it was a deliberate decision on their part they had simply disrespected their own work.

ejamerApril 05, 2012


Re: Mass Effect 3 ending

Gamers complaining and being upset/disappointed is fine.
But believing that they know better, deserve better, and should be able to force the developers to change the ending of a game that has already been released? Not sure how you can suggest that isn't entitlement at work.


However, I do agree that Bioware missed the boat in a huge way with the ending of this game - even if the many hours before that ending are apparently solid. I can't just believe they ran out of time or budget because in either case there could've been DLC planned to mitigate the issue. Instead it seems like this is how they wanted to leave the game world - probably so that future sequels would have a more consistent starting point?


Maybe it shouldn't be surprising that Bioware are more concerned about future viability of sequels than giving fans what they want after the recent novel debacle -- a cheap cash-in instead of a quality effort to expand the franchise. Maybe fan reaction (and the expectation that Bioware will bow to fan demand) was also affected by that novel.  But that doesn't give fans the right to expect a "do over" for a game that cost millions upon millions of dollars to create.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 05, 2012

I don't think they are asking for a do over and I don't know anyone asking for a do over. You're making up demands that aren't being made, they want a better ending, not a whole new game. Most of the people who did take some form of action probably know they are unlikely to get what they want. They are rolling the dice and if something positive comes of it, that's great. If nothing happens, they come off disappointed, but they have at least worked out some of their frustrations with other people in a non-destructive way. This is healthy and attempting to discourage it by calling them entitled or any other label isn't helping, you're making it worse by trolling them.

A portion of them will probably swear off Mass Effect forever unless some sort of good will gesture is made(Not an EA forte). But whether that should happen or not, is not up to me. If they are smart Bioware should do something positive if nothing else, to cynically maintain the fan base just so they can sell them a sequel or more merchandise.

Edit: Speak of the devil. Bioware is to release some sort of free extended directors cut DLC. My guess is that the game is going to get a Fallout style epilogue.

Strangely for some reason Google is reporting gamasutra as a malware site.

ejamerApril 05, 2012

We're talking about different groups of people then.

Most of the complaints are reasonable and fine. Normal people who were invested in the game enjoyed the bulk of the experience and then were let down by the ending. These people complained, talked about the disappointment with friends, maybe even tried to voice their opinions in a way (petition or whatever) that might bring about improvement.

But there is a set of gamers out there who demand more and honestly believe that Bioware "owes them". They wouldn't settle for anything less than free DLC to change or expand the ending to better match their own expectations instead of the writers' vision. These entitled few might be smaller in numbers, but are unbearably loud and obnoxious. (Seriously: someone considered/threatened a lawsuit?)


To see Bioware offer free DLC that changes/compliments the ending is a generous gesture - but if this second group didn't exist and make up a sizable portion of their audience then it probably wouldn't have happened. Hopefully they don't just bend over backwards, but find a way to stay true to the artistic vision* while giving fans a more satisfying conclusion.


*Assuming the current ending is "artistic vision" and not just prep for future sequels forced onto the writers by cash-hungry management. Personally, I'm not sure about this.  The current end does seem designed to leave the game world ready for new content without having to account for the many player decisions up to that point. Placating their fanbase might also point to "remaining profitable for the future" as a justification for offering free content.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 05, 2012

The lawsuit is uniquely an American cultural problem of your own creation. I won't go in to the social commentary behind it, but it is not a gamer problem and is a consequence of what American society has developed into.

As for those "entitled" you speak of, stop hassling them. Responding is the equivalent of kicking a beehive. Besides they probably did everyone a favor by doing most of the heavy lifting.

As for the claim of artistic vision, it's pretty laughable. It's pretty clear some sort of group think fuck up happened. They wouldn't need to "Bend over backwards or make good" if they didn't fuck up in the first place.

NinSageApril 05, 2012

Yea, as much as Bioware probably did "fuck up," fan movements to change the content of a game after it's release sets a dangerous precedent and should not be allowed to happen.

That said, I'm sure Bioware/EA are licking their chops at the DLC they can charge for to sell the "new"/"real" ending.  Poor DLC-buyin' saps.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 05, 2012

Bug fixes and balance changes the content of a game. Are you saying all fan feed back is negative and developers should never give a damn? This isn't a precedent setting event. There has always been some level of feedback after games were finished. Most of the times it deals with bugs, balance, exploits, gameplay and once in a while story continuity errors. This is probably the first time it has made a really visible presence on consoles. Normally this is done in quiet discussion. Imagine if Nintendo had engineered in hooks to fix MK7 Mahu Wuho, a legitimate problem, would you be against fixing it? Do be careful about making blanket statements.

So yeah, I outright reject your notion that this is a dangerous precedent or a precedent in anyway. You can be excused for having a short/limited gaming memory.

Fatty The HuttApril 05, 2012

Cupcake Protest at Bioware Edmonton
http://www.globaltvedmonton.com/gamers+get+creative+in+protesting+biowares+mass+effect+3/6442610965/story.html
saw this on my local morning show the other day
seems reasonable

broodwarsApril 05, 2012

You can argue about their methods, but you have to admit they were effective (much as Operation Rainfall was with similar fervor): Bioware just announced the free "Extended Cut" ME3 DLC to rectify the Ending situation.  Allow me to repeat that for the benefit of NinSage: the DLC is free.

I would also note that this does not set a precedence, because the precedence has already been set with games like Fallout 3 (which also had its ending changed in a later piece of DLC, though for somewhat different reasons).

Quote from: oohhboy

Here is a very good article as to why ME3's ending failed.

That is indeed a great article, but I don't think it shows why the ending failed. It shows that some people had unrealistic expectations about what is possible in this kind of storytelling. It also illustrates how BioWare's handling of the trilogy was so good that some fans misunderstood just how customized the experience actually was. The whole thing is a big misunderstanding, one in which the developer has been unable or perhaps not allowed to explain its position and why things are what they are.

Killer_Man_JaroTom Malina, Associate Editor (Europe)April 05, 2012

I have no investment in this situation, having not played any of the Mass Effect games (maybe I'll get around to it when they are all nice and cheap). However, on a philosophical level, I'm kind of disappointed that BioWare caved in and is producing DLC for the sole purpose of appeasing the vocal detractors. Regardless of whether or not they fulfilled on all the promises they made for this series, I was hoping that the team had the integrity as designers to stand by their work. If some people dislike the direction that Mass Effect 3 took, that's their prerogative, but the developer should not feel pressured to add content in order to justify their decisions to these people.

Quote from: Killer_Man_Jaro

I have no investment in this situation, having not played any of the Mass Effect games (maybe I'll get around to it when they are all nice and cheap). However, on a philosophical level, I'm kind of disappointed that BioWare caved in and is producing DLC for the sole purpose of appeasing the vocal detractors. Regardless of whether or not they fulfilled on all the promises they made for this series, I was hoping that the team had the integrity as designers to stand by their work. If some people dislike the direction that Mass Effect 3 took, that's their prerogative, but the developer should not feel pressured to add content in order to justify their decisions to these people.

Exactly!

broodwarsApril 05, 2012

Quote from: Killer_Man_Jaro

I have no investment in this situation, having not played any of the Mass Effect games (maybe I'll get around to it when they are all nice and cheap). However, on a philosophical level, I'm kind of disappointed that BioWare caved in and is producing DLC for the sole purpose of appeasing the vocal detractors. Regardless of whether or not they fulfilled on all the promises they made for this series, I was hoping that the team had the integrity as designers to stand by their work. If some people dislike the direction that Mass Effect 3 took, that's their prerogative, but the developer should not feel pressured to add content in order to justify their decisions to these people.

I don't completely disagree with you, as I think there is a certain artistic vision that game developers need to have to create a unique and interesting product.  Here's the thing, though (and I realize that this is an unpopular opinion): video games are products.  They can be artistic and have grand visions, but at the end of the day their primary goal is to be something that their audience wants to buy.  Bioware spent the entirety of the Mass Effect series drumming-up user choice in the series, how a user's experience with the trilogy would be their story.  That was the product they sold to gamers with Mass Effect 3, but it was not the product that gamers got and Bioware apparently failed to properly convey the story they wanted to tell instead.  "The Customer is Always Right", so if you're going to deliver something that's not quite what they want, your audience had better think that it's what they wanted all along by the end.

I think they had a moral obligation to either deliver on their promises or better tell the story they intended to tell so their audience comes away satisfied, and hopefully this DLC does just that.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 05, 2012

I believe it perfectly illustrated as to why they failed. They ended the game with at a singular choke point. Add in the bad writing combined with the use of most laziest writing device a writer could use tied to endings that make absolutely no connection to past choices that are completely arbitrary and toss in the build up, you get a perfect storm. There wasn't one point of failure, it was a chain of failures and had at least one of them not happen, they wouldn't be in this mess.

Look back to Fallout 3 and why that ending failed. You were given an arbitrary binary choice that didn't even take into account the logic of it's own universe. Someone needed to turn something on in a high radiation environment. You could either send yourself or your companion. If you send yourself you get praised as the new Jesus figure living up to the ideals of your father. If you send in your companion, you betrayed everything you stood for and is considered evil. The problem was that there are a number of companions who are immune to radiation, so would make for the perfect solution to the problem. There is a side B where you were automatically evil by poisoning everyone. Plus the game pretty much just ends. The DLC and the rejigged ending didn't make it any better, it in fact made it more stupid.

Had they made an epilogue that tied your final ending choice to all the other threads, they wouldn't have this problem. If you have played Fallout 1 or 2 you would know exactly what I am talking about. the end wasn't about killing the final boss. It was the epilogue detailing the consequences of your actions that was the true ending, the payoff, one customised to your journey. It wasn't some expensive series of clip shows. It was a series of background pictures and a voice over with subtitles. That is good enough, the player only wanted affirmation that their actions meant something.

I consider bad story telling no different than a bug in a game and should treated as such. There is no integrity to the ending to uphold considering they themselves held it to such low esteem and failed to allocate enough effort to it. There is no integrity to be had standing by something that is wrong. Willingness to admit that you were wrong and correct your mistakes is a sign of real integrity. To me it would be like standing by a show stopping bug and not fixing it claiming it was artistic direction, that it's a feature, not a bug.

TJ SpykeApril 05, 2012

Quote from: oohhboy

How many movies have you seen that left you with the feeling the "Wow that was a horrible ending, why did they think that was any good?" only to find directors cuts and extra endings upon viewing which did much better.

But you don't have morons suing the movie studio and filing complaints with the FTC and BBB over it. You don't like the ending? Then make your own game. The games are the creative outlet for the developer and it's THEIR choice as to what happens. BioWare should not give into the demand of a few whiny fans who think they should get anything they want. Do they have a right to complain? Sure, anybody can complain about anything they want. Those fans should learn how to be mature though.

broodwarsApril 05, 2012

Quote from: TJ

But you don't have morons suing the movie studio and filing complaints with the FTC and BBB over it. You don't like the ending? Then make your own game. The games are the creative outlet for the developer and it's THEIR choice as to what happens. BioWare should not give into the demand of a few whiny fans who think they should get anything they want. Do they have a right to complain? Sure, anybody can complain about anything they want. Those fans should learn how to be mature though.

I don't agree with the extreme methods that certain fans used to lobby for this new ending, but art is not created in a vacuum.  It never has been.  Art is created to be something that the artist's audience wants to see, preferably something they want to buy so the artist can make more art.  I think too often artists are given god-like status and free reign to do whatever they want regardless of whether there's an audience that wants it, and they are pretentiously defended as omniscient and untouchable.  Developers are indebted to their customers to give them the product they want, or give them a product they think they wanted by the end of the experience.  If they can't, they are failed artists.

Bioware's fans were right to complain to get this ending changed if Bioware failed in convincing them that their vision of an ending was what they wanted, though the fans certainly went too far.

TJ SpykeApril 05, 2012

The fans have a right to complain, but they don't have a right to expect the ending to change. If BioWare wants, they can make a alternate ending (which they likely would do anyways because they can get an extra $10-15 per person), but the canon ending should be the ones they created originally. Art in general is an expression of what the artist wants, I don't think it should be corrupted by catering to what some people want. I can think of far worse endings (like any NES game that just had something like "Thank You For Playing!").

Killer_Man_JaroTom Malina, Associate Editor (Europe)April 05, 2012

Quote from: broodwars

They can be artistic and have grand visions, but at the end of the day their primary goal is to be something that their audience wants to buy.  Bioware spent the entirety of the Mass Effect series drumming-up user choice in the series, how a user's experience with the trilogy would be their story.  That was the product they sold to gamers with Mass Effect 3, but it was not the product that gamers got and Bioware apparently failed to properly convey the story they wanted to tell instead.  "The Customer is Always Right", so if you're going to deliver something that's not quite what they want, your audience had better think that it's what they wanted all along by the end.

Well, that's where we diverge, because that mantra, "The Customer is Always Right", is rooted in American culture, where good public service is valued more than it is in the UK, for example. I don't believe that the customer is always right.

In my view, it's the creator's vision that should take precedence, not the creator's perception of what the consumer thinks should happen. I don't want to be reductive, but I'm tempted to say that if the consumer isn't happy with the end product and reckons they could do better, they should make something themselves.

broodwarsApril 05, 2012

Quote from: Killer_Man_Jaro

In my view, it's the creator's vision that should take precedence, not the creator's perception of what the consumer thinks should happen. I don't want to be reductive, but I'm tempted to say that if the consumer isn't happy with the end product and reckons they could do better, they should make something themselves.

A creator's vision is fine, but if you can't convince your audience that your vision is worthwhile than you have failed.  Bioware obviously failed based on the public outcry, and being "the creator" doesn't make them untouchable.  And if Bioware wanted to sell any more games, it was in their best interest to take a second crack at actually being competent storytellers.

TJ SpykeApril 05, 2012

If you enjoy 99% of the game, then not liking that last 1% (even less than that) doesn't make them bad storytellers. And based on how many people have bought the game so far, the amount who are complaining are in the minority. I would bet that even if BioWare doesn't provide an alternate ending, most of those complaining will still buy their next game the day it releases.

broodwarsApril 05, 2012

Quote from: TJ

If you enjoy 99% of the game, then not liking that last 1% (even less than that) doesn't make them bad storytellers. And based on how many people have bought the game so far, the amount who are complaining are in the minority. I would bet that even if BioWare doesn't provide an alternate ending, most of those complaining will still buy their next game the day it releases.

When you tell an epic story like Mass Effect, the ending is the most important part as it is what you have been building up towards throughout the journey.  If you pull the strings at the end and the story doesn't come together, you merely have a series of interesting strands waving in the wind and have failed at your main goal.  And, yes, that makes you a bad storyteller in my eyes, since you apparently didn't know what to do with your story once you had it.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 05, 2012

You are right they shouldn't have launched lawsuits and filed with the FTC and the BBB, but that is a product of the American society. Everything about it is heading towards or is adversarial, Us vs Them. That mind set shows up in these very forums where people would pick a side, draw an arbitrary line in the sand and defend it to the death for no other reason than to satisfy their idealogical ego while painting everybody on the other side the same colour. It has happened in this very thread.

Ninsage made indefensible blanket statements.

Quote from: NinSage

Yea, as much as Bioware probably did "fuck up," fan movements to change the content of a game after it's release sets a dangerous precedent and should not be allowed to happen.


Traveller called an entire industry worth of customers selfish idiots. A NWR staff member!

Quote from: Traveller

On the topic of the ME3 ending. I have not played any of them, but I think that this debacle just portrays video game players as being selfish idiots. I get that the ending may be terrible etc. But trying to get the developer to change it is wrong and I hope Bioware does not give in to the demands.

TJ, your missing the point. Artists aren't infallible, no one is. They make mistakes and most of the time we don't see the mistakes since they fix them before we see them. If this was a airplane, Bioware took off smoothly, cruised to the destination efficiently, only to crash the plane on landing declaring it a success. A story is a package of those 3 elements, you fail one, you fail the others as they are interlinked. They can't undo the landing, but they can go through the black box, figure out what when wrong and make good on their mistakes. It's not that the customer is always right, it's that the producer can be wrong. Bioware got called out on an obvious mistake. You are defending artist like people defend cops even when they do something very wrong. "They can't be wrong, they are Cops!", wrong, they are fallible human beings.

Also don't pull out NES game endings as a straw man, we are over 20 years removed from that. If you are going to pull out the "Thank you for playing " Card, pick a recent game with such an ending that generated some sort of emotional out pouring. I mean, if you were to pick something with asinine ending, pick a fighting game like Tekken with it's speedo wearing man servant and boxing Kangaroos. The problem with that is the fans of those games just don't give a shit about the endings, so it is ok to have a horrible ending.

I doubt they are going to have an alternate ending. The addition is going to be a dynamic epilogue of some sort. That's what I would bet on.

It doesn't matter if the ending is bad or if a new ending is better. Once it has been released that should always be the correct version of things. New ending may appease people, but it should never be the canonical version.

Look at star wars for a reverse of this argument.

NinSageApril 05, 2012

Quote from: oohhboy

Bug fixes and balance changes the content of a game. Are you saying all fan feed back is negative and developers should never give a damn?

No worries, friend. That's not what I meant at all.  I was referring to narrative-related decisions.  Nothing more.

I didn't think I was crafting a philosophical suit of armor so I apologize that my lack of specificity left a chink big enough for you to pry open. =P haha

Quote from: oohhboy

Imagine if Nintendo had engineered in hooks to fix MK7 Mahu Wuho, a legitimate problem, would you be against fixing it? Do be careful about making blanket statements.
...
You can be excused for having a short/limited gaming memory.

No need for excuses.  You misunderstood me so I assume we're cool now and you didn't mean those inferences about my gaming knowledge.  Though, if you're trying to make a powerful point and then question someone's gaming memory, you should probably make sure to be at least reasonably accurate.  ;) LINK: http://mariokart.wikia.com/wiki/Maka_Wuhu

@broodwars

I am VERY GLAD to see that they are not charging extra for this particular DLC!!

Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 05, 2012

Quote from: Traveller

It doesn't matter if the ending is bad or if a new ending is better. Once it has been released that should always be the correct version of things. New ending may appease people, but it should never be the canonical version.

Look at star wars for a reverse of this argument.

Wrong on both accounts. Both sides of the same argument is based on the assumption that the artist is infallible. We know that artists are human beings, far from infallible beings. Declaring yourself an artist is no shield against bad work.

Secondly for virtually every single movie out there the theatrical cut, the original movie still exists to stand for all time. For Star Wars this is not true. There are the VHS tapes, and the laser discs, but the original cut is not available in a modern format with the same matching quality as it's altered counter part. The release is being block by an equally flawed "artist"(Debatable at this point) for no reason other than ego, the self belief that GL is infallible.

As for the concept of artistic integrity or more accurately "Purity", it doesn't exist. Broodwars said it best, No art is created in a vacuum. No man is an island unto themselves. The idea of artistic purity is absurd and is no more than an excuse to put out bad work.

Ninsage

I am glad that we have come to some level of understanding, but even confining argument to the "narrative-related decisions" is problematic with the reasons stated above. I only ask what is so special about the narrative in a game that you can grant it immunity?

As for Maka Wuhu, I think it illustrates perfectly my follow up argument. It was a moment of a conscious laziness on my part that produced an error and I published it knowing it was wrong. You and I know I could have googled it in seconds. You are not going to find me claiming to be an artist or a writer in order to claim false immunity to criticism. Why should this not extent to larger works of art?

Even with the error you understood the underlying meaning. We forgive miss strokes, continuity errors, typos, momentary lapses due to the innate understanding nothing is perfect. But a clear error should be called out on as you have done and it's no different from the people who have called foul on the ending asking for a change, an amendment. You are right, there was an error on my part, but the argument still stands. Why draw such arbitrary lines in the sand as to what kind of errors are fixed?

broodwarsApril 05, 2012

I would also point out the hypocrisy of the gaming media in all this.  Here they are, almost all universally moaning about "artistic integrity" and whatnot when it comes to the Mass Effect 3 ending.  Yet when a game developer comes to them in a preview session with requests for feedback, do they refuse on the grounds of violating the developer's "vision" of how the game should play or look?  If video games are a medium built on interactivity, wouldn't gameplay be considered "art" guided by people with specific visions (game designers)?  When Sucker Punch decided to change lead character Cole's character design for Infamous 2, where was IGN's respect for artistic integrity when they ran articles demanding that the design be reverted to the character's Infamous 1 design?  I wouldn't be surprised if there were dozens of stories like that over the past decade or so.

I find the gaming media's reaction to this situation very curious, as if they're afraid that fans have discovered a means to influence developers that up until now was exclusively theirs alone.  As I wrote on Twitter once, "Inside Access Must Have Meaning!"

The difference is that previews are done before the product is finished, they are much like test or rough cuts of films. Also I think the infamous comparison fails, as the general public did not force the developer to make that change.

Fixing bugs or bad frame rate is also an example which is on a different level, you can clearly tell when something is a gaffe or mistake in terms of technical problems within a game, much like movies with say a boom pole. Story endings are subjective and cannot be deemed outright failures I feel. Can they be bad, yes, can they be not enjoyable to your expectations? Definitely! But someone out there may feel differently.

Anyway this whole topic is always an interesting one in regards to artists vs consumer.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 06, 2012

You're claiming immunity under the same fallacy. It's art therefore it it is untouchable. An art piece is not much different to a computer program, only that it runs in a persons brain that is meant to illicit a certain reaction. If it produced an unintended result, you cannot claim credit as an intended result as part of your so called "Artistic vision".

There is no reason why it can't be viewed objectively with subjectivity as the end result. If a story is not mechanically sound, what use is it to claim subjectivity? Besides, there is no different levels between the program and the story, paint is useless without the canvas and vis versa.

ME3 and FO3 had a very low level of acceptable error compared to other games as the story underpins everything in a universe that had consistant rules. They created a far too big of an error with the ending that was disconnected to it's own internal logic. There is a number of very good reasons you're told to never use Deus Ex Machina in writing. It was one of a chain of errors that collimated into a failure. Bioware had a pattern of work with ME showing that they were better than this. Why can't a story be analysed objectively? There is no reason as to why you can't just because it has an emotional aspect.

You're doing it again, dividing, labeling us vs them. "artists vs consumer". Why can't it be "artist and the consumer"? Artist connecting to the consumer is what it's about.

CericApril 06, 2012

Here's how I see this issue.

Whoever owns it has all the rights in the world to do what they please with it.

Lucas owns Star Wars.  Its his so if he wants a mutation to spread throughout the Star Wars Universe turning everything into Gummy Caricatures its his right.

Nintendo owns Mario.  If they want him hitting hookers and popping fools thats there perogative.  I won't get the game, but its theres they can do what they please with it.

NinSageApril 06, 2012

@oohhboy

Well, keep in mind that's just my opinion.  And while I hate when internet discussions duck behind the "my opinion" shield, in this case, I think it's applicable.  Personally, I think that audience feedback can be used to refine and improve the nuts and bolts of a game.  But, as far as narrative, even if a game is only 1% "art," I believe the author should keep that 1% loyal to the best interests of the narrative.  Not the whims of the (fickle) audience.

Any narrative decision were steered by the audience will trend towards the homogenous and, ultimately, boring.  If the audience steered the ship, Aerith never would have died, right? Maybe it would have been a happier ending, but it wouldn't have been as powerful/memorable, right?

But, as I said, this is just my perspective.

And again, the ME3 thing I feel is separate because I believe the issue was with Bioware not making good on a promise of gameplay that was tied to narrative - not the narrative itself.  Even though I'm sure plenty of folks complained about that or just never saw the distinguishing line.

@broodwars

I agree, man ... funny how (gaming) media is always willing to look past its own shortcomings for the sake of criticizing others, right?

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 06, 2012

That does hold true most of the time. The problem with ME3 was that they had written themselves up against a wall requiring them to "Magic*" their way out of their position. The story was mechanically deficient and inconsistant. Thats not to say you can't ever use magic* at all, Doctor Who is rife with it and it's acceptable because that is how that universe works.

*Magic is Deus Ex Machina.

Quote from: Ceric

Here's how I see this issue.

Whoever owns it has all the rights in the world to do what they please with it.

Lucas owns Star Wars.  Its his so if he wants a mutation to spread throughout the Star Wars Universe turning everything into Gummy Caricatures its his right.

Nintendo owns Mario.  If they want him hitting hookers and popping fools thats there perogative.  I won't get the game, but its theres they can do what they please with it.

This might have been true back in the early to mid 20th century and before, when media existed effectively only as a read-only medium. We now live in a culture where virtually anyone has access not only to editing, but distribution. We now live in a culture that is read-write. Once it gets released it become owned by culture.

That isn't even going in to the fact virtually all media these days is a collaborative effort. No one person owns any piece of art outside of arbitrary legal definitions of ownership.

Geoge Lucas doesn't "Own" Star Wars. The original theatrical cut wasn't done by him. His original cut was a mess and they had to bring in outside editors* to fix it. If it wasn't for these people, SW would have died on the spot. Then he was forbidden from directing the two sequels. He doesn't own SW. The real reason why he won't release the original theatrical cut in all it's glory is because he knows it's better than anything he did, requiring him to give both credit to that editor. George is nothing but a egoistical hack. Never invoke Star Wars or the George Lucas defense, you're only going to end up shitting on yourself.

*One of the editor was his then wife, Marcia Lucas.

PlugabugzApril 07, 2012

I'm wondering if anyone from NWR is actually going to respond to me or not.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusApril 07, 2012

I think they are waiting for the gender testing results to come back.

PlugabugzApril 07, 2012

Quote from: oohhboy

I think they are waiting for the gender testing results to come back.

They might need further samples for those.

I'm just incredibly disappointed in the whole Game coverage (Greg's segments on RFN excluded) and the general lack of anything since. The collapse and re-birth of Game isn't exactly Nintendo specific but it affected Nintendo (and hence their sales of new games) first.

I think there's a pretty significant difference between changing the ending and going more into detail about the one that's already there, which seems to be the way the DLC is going. Bioware is going to attempt to convince people that the ending they wrote isn't bad by expanding on it. They're not compromising their artistic integrity, they're just trying to offer better insight into what they did. Changing the ending because of fan outcry would be bad, but that's not really what they appear to be doing.

NinSageApril 07, 2012

@Insanolord

1) If that's what they are doing then that actually seems like a pretty smart way to handle things.  Especially if it's FREE as broodwars confirmed it is.

Though, I still think it sucks that if someone wants to play ME3 10 years from now they will likely not be able to experience this expanded ending.... which is why the safety net of DLC can be bad for devs.  But that's slightly tangential.

2) I will sorely miss your awesome Hank Scorpio avatar!

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