I felt that, even though it is painfully obvious why, I needed to give a bit of an explanation for writing MY version of how things should have gone at the end of Mass Effect 3. Let’s assume I’m like most of the 66,000+ fans of “Demand a better ending to Mass Effect 3” and various other “Retake” movement pages. I’ve spent countless hours completely absorbed by this series. I’ve come to regard it as a near masterpiece in game play and even more so in story writing. “Near” because of the terrible ending they (EA or Bioware, let the conspiracies run wild) gave us. When I finished the game with the first ending I chose, I was so shocked that I immediately loaded the autosave point that was saved right at the mad dash for the beam up to the Citadel. I chose a different path, literally. Same ending, more or less. Rage mixed with disbelief and I reloaded and went for the third ending. Same damn thing. WTF? I couldn’t imagine that this was really the case. I figured I must have made a bad decision somewhere that affected my outcome. But knowing how many choices there were throughout all three games, I decided to hit google. I did a quick search on “Mass Effect 3…” and before I could even get to the next word, google auto-populated the selection list with “ending” in the top 5 choices if I remember correctly. It didn’t take long for that to lead to me stumbling upon the “Demand” page on facebook. Two weeks after the game was released, I had beaten it and found this page. It already had over 50,000 fans. Suddenly I felt justified, righteously angry, and more importantly, not alone in my anger, disappointment, and disbelief in the sloppy, abrupt, and unbelievable ending to what I was ready to dub my favorite game ever (dethroning the long reigning king: Betrayal at Krondor). Those last ten to twenty minutes can be so crucial . . .
I know what you’re thinking: “Skip to the end” a la Simon Pegg (if you get it, you’re now one of the cool kids, lol). So, anyway, I read the talk about upcoming DLC with a new ending, which turned into “further explanation of current ending,” which currently sits at “where the fuck is any of it?” (See “UPDATE”, below) I got tired of waiting and since I like to think of myself as a decent writer, I decided to give everyone exactly what they were “demanding.”
It didn’t take long for the ideas to fall into place, and obviously it didn’t take very long to write since I was just fixing a bad ending. When an entire universe has been created for you by a pretty damn good team already, rewriting an inexplicable bad ending is almost too easy. Throw in my near fanboy (okay, maybe not so “near” as much as . . . well, fanboy) level of interest in the game and a little creative free license, and I went head and wrote the new ending in such a way as to easily continue the franchise with a supposedly never intended Mass Effect 4. Like it or not, EA and Bioware left a huge universe on the brink of cataclysm- well, truthfully, pitched headlong into it- in the most definitive example of “Pyrrhic Victory” one could imagine. “Hooray, the Reaper threat is no more . . . and so are the Mass Relays?!” Another fantastic WTF? Yes, I left that in there. Yes I’ve already addressed that in my rough outline for my idea of Mass Effect 4. The next installment is purely my own idea and sees friends, locations, and enemies we all know and love (or hate) mixed in with new territory to explore, new foes for Shepard to take on, and even some new tech that will possibly change the balance of power in the Mass Effect galaxy.
Couple more notes on my ending- it’s based off of one of my characters. Obviously, the choices I made, the paths I took will not be exactly like most of you reading this, but hopefully it is easy enough to see where we chose differently and it will still make sense. I chose to be the male Shepard from the beginning of ME1 and have never looked back. I chose the sole-survivor, orphan, soldier background. I played 90% of the time as a Paragon. Honestly, I’ve tried going back and being pure Renegade, but I never make it very far with sticking to that. I killed Kaidan in ME1 and through multiple replays, never did anything different on that point. I just don’t like that guy, lol. Kinda whiny. I romanced every potential female in the games: Liara, Ash, Miranda, Jack. My first play through of ME3, I went with Miranda again. It worked out since the character I imported had never romanced Ash, so going down that road seemed forced, but it did cause for a sort of hilarious rejection of Liara early on since this Shepard had romanced her in ME1.
Oh, and hopefully the pictures make it obvious enough that I was trying to physically model my character after my own likeness. Didn’t have a mirror or side by side pic when I did it either. What do you think? Pretty good?
The other note is that even though it is not a game, and is written in standard fiction format, I have tried to write it in such a way as to stick to the spirit of the game. I have moments where if it were the game, hopefully you could imagine the decision choices popping up, or understand that this part or that would be a playable battle (Catalyst child fight would be the missing “boss fight”) and a couple spots that would just be badass cutscenes. Just use your imagination and you’ll probably see it easily enough. Anyway . . .
Now comes my selfish little request. I am by no means a professional author. I’ve rarely submitted anything for publication. I’ve done it twice, I think- short stories. One was published in the ol’ college alumni magazine and it actually was a sci-fi piece (that was very targeted to the audience in a pretty hilariously bad sort of way), so you could argue my percentage has been good lol. However, I have a “real job” that has nothing to do with writing (unfortunately), so this has been done in my own free time, outside of work, the gym, working on my car, working on my parents’ yard, and spending my every other weekend with my awesome 8 year-old son. (Side note: he also is a Mass Effect fan (though I have only let him play the demo of ME2) and he could not understand the ending of the game, summed up in the simple question of,”Why did Shepard want to kill himself?” I laughed a little and explained “That’s how the company decided to write the ending.” On the inside I think I cried a bit. Even a child of eight years (nine on Thursday, holy crap!) could see that the ending was obviously bad.) That is the same environment in which Mass Effect 4 will be written, so don’t expect it immediately. And since I can’t and won’t claim any rights to anything related to Mass Effect, since I have no desire for a lawsuit (though I’m sure there is still a way they could get me), I will not sell this re-writing of the ending of Mass Effect 3, and I will not sell the writing of my vision for Mass Effect 4. I will give it out for free. I WILL ask that if you like the new ending I’m submitting to you, the fans (and Bioware, if you’re looking for some untapped talent, by chance 😉 ), that you show your appreciation by supporting my caffeine addiction that fuels my writing through maybe a small donation into my paypal account (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a little note of feedback on the new ending. Keep in mind, I’m only asking. Not demanding (doh!- no shot at the FB page intended). If you just want to drop me a line here on this new blog with feedback, sans any donation, that will be appreciated as well.
Just a little “bonus material”. I juggled subtitle ideas for the new ending. Here are some of the ones I ultimately let go of: “Horse of a different color”– way too UN-serious, but it tickled me. “Back door, huh? Good idea”– StarWars fans probably already had that one running though their heads as they read my ending. Fun reference, but again, not very serious. “Believe”– . . . honestly, this is what I was going with until five seconds before I saved and printed the first draft for my brother to read and give me feedback on (he thinks “it’s too happy”). I had a really good rationalization for it and everything, I swear. But then I just had a memory dump or something and I couldn’t remember why I had chosen that. So, I went with the new idea that popped into my head, which was “Unspoken”. Then later I remembered my train of thought that had led up to “Believe” and chanced it back. I won’t go into that explanation unless you ask. One more bit on subtitles, and this is just to whet your appetite for my Mass Effect 4 story. It is subtitled : New Masters. Not that any of the games had subtitles, but how else can I preview that new story for you? I’m not hollywood. I’m not going to throw all the juiciest parts at you and then give you no reason/desire to actually read it when it comes out… the first chapter of which is near complete and I’ll post by the end of the week if I’m lucky… maybe next Monday. I don’t know, “Mass Effect Mondays” sound like a “thing”? Let me know. It MIGHT keep me on a writing schedule. right . . .
So, there’s my half-assed explanation/justification and the new ending we demanded 🙂 I’m satisfied. Are you?
UPDATE: Just finished playing through the new DLC endings. I definitely hate them less, I like the actual differences in each with the actual resolution, the “take control” resolution with Shepard speaking is pretty interesting. The added dialogue with the Catalyst child that helps “ease” the damage, mainly to the Mass Relays, (it will quickly be repaired) if you choose the “destroy” ending is a much needed fix (that, like I said, I deal with in ME4 since they still don’t explain how, if they can’t create Mass Relays of their own, they can go even as far as repairing them). Also, the ability to reject the choices is great since it actually makes it possible (theoretically) to have more games down the line (though, just ending it with the rejection and Catalyst child walking off in a tantrum was weak). Still, I wasn’t completely thrilled with any of them and I’ve already outlined ME4 and started an outline for ME5 (Yep!) and there’s still no commitment to extending the game series despite a hint to that effect in the new end game message from the Bioware team. So I will continue writing as I can and put it out there when I can.