Mass Effect 3 lessons 'will be built into our future games'

BioWare staff shares some lessons learned from the backlash over the ending to Mass Effect 3.

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At this time last year, Mass Effect 3 was still overshadowed by the backlash to its ending, with the Extended Cut announced but not yet available. A year removed, BioWare says it has learned some hard lessons from that, and doesn't intend to repeat them in future games.

"One thing that really stood out for us is that we underestimated how attached people would become to the characters," executive producer Casey Hudson told OXM. "An example of this is the Citadel DLC, which has hours of pure character interaction - hanging out at a party, chatting at a bar, etc. We'd never have imagined that as we ended the trilogy, all people would want to do was spend more time with the characters, sort of bathing in the afterglow - getting closure and just having some time to live in the universe that they fought to save. This, and many other learnings, will be built into our future games."

Producer Mike Gamble echoed Hudson's comments, saying that fans' "feelings about letting them go were just as strong as ours" and that they learned to "never underestimate the passion of your core fan-base."

BioWare's Dusty Everman differed slightly, pointing out that it wasn't just character closure, but the tone of the ending that annoyed some players. "I've learned that a bitter-sweet ending is much easier to watch in a movie, than experience in a long RPG where the player is very invested in the protagonist," he said.

How all that influences the next Mass Effect game, or even BioWare games in general, remains to be seen. We know the next game is in the hands of BioWare Montreal, and that the company has been gauging interest in aspects like the multiplayer and timeline. Most recently, the studio absorbed several senior staffers from Kingdoms of Amalur developer Big Huge Games.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 7, 2013 9:30 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Mass Effect 3 lessons 'will be built into our future games'.

    BioWare staff shares some lessons learned from the backlash over the ending to Mass Effect 3.

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      May 7, 2013 9:38 AM

      "We were super surprised people expected an ending that wasn't pulled directly from out of an asshole and some kind of payoff. WE LURNED A LOTS!"

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        May 7, 2013 9:40 AM

        iirc the unconfirmed rumour was casey hudson and a few other heads did the ending themselves whereas the rest of the game got vetted by the entire team

        casey fucking hudson

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      May 7, 2013 9:40 AM

      I hope the lesson learned is don't release an unfinished product.

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        May 7, 2013 9:48 AM

        It seems that it's more that people will buy the DLC in order to get a finished product.

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          May 7, 2013 10:35 AM

          Yeah every time I heard "buy Leviathan it makes the ending better!" I cringed.

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            May 7, 2013 12:32 PM

            i do as well. i could care less about ME or its storyline, but the precedent it sets with that ending DLC mess scares me. it may not have been intentional, but it felt very much like a "feeler" to see just how far they could push the consumer with completely voluntary, unnecessary DLC that is basically completely necessary and required to actually finish the game. its the kind of thing that is a real wet dream for companies like EA/ubi/activision and I hate that it succeeded and people ate it up and praised it.

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      May 7, 2013 9:47 AM

      The lesson learned is I'm done with bioware so lol oh well people.

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        May 7, 2013 10:20 AM

        Yup. Unless it's Jade Empire 2, they can stick it.

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          May 7, 2013 3:17 PM

          You are the best shacknews poster. You.

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        May 7, 2013 10:43 AM

        Pretty much this.

        Some kind of Mass Effect MP standalone title would be so tempting though, man. I enjoyed that part of ME3 way more than I thought I would.

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          May 7, 2013 10:49 AM

          Yeah, agreed. But I'll definitely sit things out for a good long while and wait on reactions. I also despise their focus on dlc.

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        May 7, 2013 11:20 AM

        I don't know if I'm completely done yet but I'm probably not going to be buying their games on day one for the foreseeable future. In the very least I'm going to be waiting for reviews and word of mouth.

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        May 7, 2013 11:22 AM

        this + DA2

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          May 7, 2013 3:45 PM

          DA2 was so much more disappointing than ME was. :(

          and DA2 even did a bunch of cool things, it was just completely overwritten by the sad

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      May 7, 2013 10:37 AM

      What a load of shit, they knew all that already, ME1 and ME2 shows it, ME3 sucks because they did whatever EA told them to do, and let their IP go to shit. We just need to stop rewarding sell outs, say no to bioware, say no to gearbox (aliens CM). Def say no to EA.

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      May 7, 2013 10:40 AM

      It doesn't seem that they have learned anything, to be honest. So we can expect another "pick a color" ending in the new game, I guess.

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        May 7, 2013 10:48 AM

        That's my impression too - it irritates me that they're still conflating the terrible, terrible storytelling methods and direction of the ending with a bittersweet tone. The latter was not the problem, the former was - and because they don't want to take ownership of the awful job they did with it the official line is still about the latter.

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          May 7, 2013 11:21 AM

          Yeah it wasn't the tone that was the problem it was the fact it was poorly written shit that seemed tacked onto the rest of the story.

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          May 7, 2013 3:16 PM

          Taking ownership is exactly what I'd like to see. But, since they cannot publicly say "EA, our owner and publisher, cramped us for time so we had to shoe horn the ending"... I guess "we learned some hard lessons that we'll not repeat in the future" is the next best thing. Let's just hope EA learned some lessons too (about as likely as our planet splitting into two identical planets).

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            May 7, 2013 3:47 PM

            one of the doctors said outright in that interview a few weeks ago that EA let bioware do whatever the hell they wanted, which was actually kind of a problem for them. 'i can do this [bad idea]?' and nobody would tell them 'no.'

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            May 7, 2013 4:51 PM

            I don't understand the concept of having to shoehorn an Ending. If there's one thing they should have ready for the third installment of a TRILOGY, it's the Ending.

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        May 7, 2013 11:21 AM

        You will actually pick the color at character creation. There will be four colors. The game will tell you there are five, but there are only ever four.

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      May 7, 2013 10:44 AM

      These are the lessons learned that were O.K.'d by the PR department. It's pretty clear there are other lessons that won't be voiced like, "don't let Casey Hudson change the entire story right at the end and write his own half-baked ending that has numerous logical flaws"

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      May 7, 2013 11:01 AM

      I thought the storytelling in 3 was better than 2, along with the gameplay too. 2 was all about distinct character stories while the main plotline occasionally progressed via a phonecall from your boss saying "hay we got new intel, please visit new location to progress plot" Disregarding the ending I dunno where the hate is coming from. 1 and 3 had much more interesting overarching stories

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      May 7, 2013 11:16 AM

      "Vocal minority" my ass. Before, they kept saying that only a "vocal minority" didn't like the ending. Now they are claiming that "they've learned their lesson." If it was only a small segment of the fans, there didn't need any lessons to be learned.

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        May 7, 2013 12:28 PM

        Yeah, that's bullshit. So they released a free DLC for their vocal minority? Doesn't make sense.

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        May 7, 2013 12:30 PM

        Even if it was just a vocal minority they can really hurt sales of a game. Look at Dragon Age 2 which had incredibly strong initial sales and then nothing after the backlash came out.

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          May 7, 2013 4:28 PM

          DA2 also highlighted how shill tastic reviewers are.

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        May 7, 2013 3:48 PM

        a 'vocal minority' bought the game. :D

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          May 7, 2013 5:37 PM

          yeah honestly as HUGE ME1 and even 2 fanboy, the overall backlash and disappointment meant I never ever bought 3, nor have I since, and I'm not even that interested in it at a massive discount.

          I'd rather have my good memories of the 1 and 2 experience, I guess.

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            May 7, 2013 8:37 PM

            I think that's going a little far. Aside from the barebones ending released with the initial game and the ass choices they made tying in the MP, ME3 was an amazing experience and a great Mass Effect game. I wasn't a fan of the departure in storytelling ME2 took, but 3 made it a lot more personal, and brought back some good RPG elements. ME1 was still the best, of course, but I thought 3 improved on 2 in nearly every way. Even including the ending, ME1>ME3>ME2 in my opinion.

            Seriously, the bleak tone of the game what with all the refugees in the citadel and the air of uncertainty and how everyone personally handled this massive threat that could wipe out all organic life was fascinating to watch and be apart of. You should really buy it! Unfortunately, you should also buy the DLC to make it a more complete experience. It's really, really good stuff as a whole package, but it fucking sucks that the essentially all the unanswered Prothean and Reaper questions were locked up in the DLC.

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              May 7, 2013 9:01 PM

              Somewhere along the line between my reflecting on notable gameplay disappointments in ME2 and DA2 being a mess, I stopped caring as much, so I decided to wait on ME3. Then that whole thing happened and pretty much killed my interest entirely.

              Especially since I successfully guessed pretty much all the major plot points in the game, including the shitty ending and one of the bits of fan service. So... yeah. That was disappointing.

              I guess you get to shoot more mans from chest high walls? Yay?

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            May 7, 2013 10:40 PM

            Several of the companion stories have good resolutions in 3, I think it's worth playing for those if you really loved ME 1 and 2; they're the only really good part of the series anyway, right?

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      May 7, 2013 2:50 PM

      How could you not expect people to become attached to the characters? You spanned 3 games over the course of years and emphasized choice and decisions throughout the story. Yeah the ending was horrible because after all of it, all I did was choose the color of my ending.

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      May 7, 2013 3:41 PM

      [deleted]

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      May 7, 2013 4:32 PM

      "One thing that really stood out for us is that we underestimated how attached people would become to the characters," executive producer Casey Hudson told OXM.

      Or rather, "We totally have no idea why Mass Effect was so popular," executive producer Casey Hudson told OXM.

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        May 7, 2013 10:55 PM

        I always love when people come out and just make it blatantly clear they haven't the faintest concept of why others enjoy the work they have made. Especially in giant super-expensive commercial art.

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      May 7, 2013 4:43 PM

      just remake all 3 games + all DLC as one game, with the latest engine and you got a sale. also add the ability the punt that little shit kid off the station as a 4th ending.

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      May 7, 2013 4:57 PM

      [deleted]

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      May 7, 2013 8:39 PM

      it's amazing to me how quickly bioware went from the company that made mass effect and dragon age to the company that released dragon age 2 and mass effect 3

      note: i mostly enjoyed ME3, but the ending was pretty shit, and it lacked focus, and it was just barely passable as a ME title.

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      May 7, 2013 10:37 PM

      I hope they release a complete pack for PC with all the DLC. I'd really like to "finish the fight" without spending a Benjamin.

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        May 7, 2013 10:59 PM

        That is entirely counter to their proven monetization system. Post launch window the game it self is the loss leader and the comparatively cheaply produced (and almost never discounted) DLC becomes the primary residual source of income.

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        May 7, 2013 11:01 PM

        Unlikely considering they never did this for ME2 or DA2 - pretty sure that's no longer their business model

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          May 7, 2013 11:08 PM

          Even the Mass Effect Trilogy box set which they were advertising as "The Definitive Mass Effect Experience" was missing boatloads of DLC.

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            May 7, 2013 11:19 PM

            Well fuck guys <.<

            ME3 is 10 bucks on Amazon. I suppose by the time I'm done buying that and all the DLC it shouldn't be too bad. Think I replay the old games, and then download Origin and see what's up.

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      May 8, 2013 8:52 AM

      Please, no more "lessons we learned from the past" statements.
      The game was fine, and I didn't particularly care for the Citadel DLC. I realize this is a "game" and not real life and I want to play it and be done with it.

      I did not scrutinize every centimeter of the game. I have other things to do.

      Now, bring on part 4 or the prequel and lets get busy.

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        May 10, 2013 12:16 PM

        Ladies and gentlemen: biodrones.

        You can cover your eyes and ears and pretend this game wasn't a major sell out all you want, but in the end: it sucked. period.

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