Original Mass Effect writer on ending that could have been

Original Mass Effect lead writer Drew Karpyshyn talks about his own ideas for the ending, including some he considers "wacky."


The controversy over Mass Effect 3's ending has come and gone, and BioWare has learned a few valuable lessons. Still, it's hard not to wonder what would have happened if former lead writer Drew Karpyshyn had seen his ideas through to the end, and luckily he's shared those details.

Karpyshyn told the radio show VGS (via Eurogamer) that he originally planned to do more with the idea of Dark Energy. The plot element was mentioned a few times in ME2, but fell by the wayside when Karpyshyn left near the end of that game's development.

Though he said the plot "wasn't super fleshed out," the Dark Energy was meant to be accessible only by organics. He suggested that the characters may have learned that using the Dark Energy was disrupting the space-time continuum, and the Reapers may have seen that as their motivation to wipe out life.

"Maybe the Reapers are looking at a way to stop this," he said. "Maybe there's an inevitable descent into the opposite of the Big Bang (the Big Crunch) and the Reapers realize that the only way they can stop it is by using biotics, but since they can't use biotics they have to keep rebuilding society--as they try and find the perfect group to use biotics for this purpose. The asari were close but they weren't quite right, the Protheans were close as well.

Karpyshyn also noted that his own ending might have upset fans just as much as the real one. Two ideas floated under him were Shepard unwittingly being an alien, or Shepard transferring his essence into a cyborg to become "a bridge between synthetics and organics," similar to the actual ending. "Some of the ideas were a little bit wacky and a little bit crazy," he said.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 20, 2013 9:00 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Original Mass Effect writer on ending that could have been.

    Original Mass Effect lead writer Drew Karpyshyn talks about his own ideas for the ending, including some he considers "wacky."

    • reply
      June 20, 2013 9:24 AM

      Damn shame they couldn't figure out how to end this thing properly. Not with nonsense DLC, I meant within the story.
      Hire some Hollywood writers and see what they could have come up with. Jesus! Sometimes you are to close to the thing to see it for what it is.

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        June 20, 2013 9:26 AM

        they could have if the writers had been allowed to contribute to the ending instead of literally being locked out of the process.

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        June 20, 2013 9:29 AM

        Every time a game brags about having Hollywood writers, it ends up being trash. They need more writers that know how to write for the medium.

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          June 20, 2013 10:03 AM

          Enslaved was good. Same writer as Dredd.

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          June 20, 2013 12:36 PM

          Lollipop Chainsaw? Story was awesome.

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          June 20, 2013 12:48 PM

          Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising was written by Warren Ellis, and had a deliciously wtf story. Totally didn't go where you thought it would.

          Buuuut that was in 2001 or something.

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            June 20, 2013 12:49 PM

            Warren Ellis isn't really a Hollywood writer.

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              June 20, 2013 12:50 PM

              Yeah, true. I kind of skipped a few steps and just thought 'famous' instead. Similar to Richard K Morgan and whatever the hell happened with Crysis 2's story.

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                June 20, 2013 1:00 PM

                Yeah, I'm not saying all famous writers are bad for games. It worked out pretty well when Douglas Adams wrote two text adventure games for Infocom, but it helped that he had a game designer helping to integrate the writing with the gameplay.

                I have an issue with "Hollywood writers" because 99% of the time it's just them hiring some people to write some cutscenes and it doesn't help the game at all.

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            June 20, 2013 12:52 PM

            That game's cinematics were so lol.

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              June 20, 2013 1:33 PM

              I was thinking this was the kind of game you'd have played too :D :D

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                June 20, 2013 7:27 PM

                I found that for $2 at Babbages when they had PC games. Everywhere else was selling it for $30.

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        June 20, 2013 9:37 AM

        Definitely, very sad to see such a good series fall at literally the last hurdle. I was so desperate for it to end well that I was even excited about that whole indoctrination theory that was floating around after release, and the possibility that I might be able to pay a few more $$ to fix my disappointment in the original ending.

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        June 20, 2013 11:56 AM

        There is this really notion in the game industry and fanbase, that continually idolizes Hollywood, as though being just like them is the key to, not only success, but also legitimacy. Twenty years ago it made more sense, but... video games are now mainstream pretty much everywhere except 24-hour cable news and government.

        Video games are not just a growing industry anymore they're a behemoth, but still so young they don't seem to realize it. Yes, I guess you could follow Hollywood and hire big name actors who do poor voice work, you could follow them to do pointless but pretty performance capture for your long non-interactive sequences, you can even hire writers that churn out much of the garbage on television (not to say video games have great writing, most don't, as more writing than not is bad no matter where it came from).

        Great. Now you're pointlessly spending money trying emulate a medium that isn't your own. For what? This weird badge of honor, saying, "Hey! Look at me! Hollywood paid attention to me! We're legitimate!"

        Video game industry, it's time to grow up. You aren't the little kid in the middle of the room being ignored anymore. You don't need to suck up to that older kid who smokes to get good attention... you already have it, if you would just care to notice it.

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      June 20, 2013 9:52 AM

      I didn't like the ending... but let's face it, it is much easier to create mystery than it is to come up with a satisfying explanation for it.

      We can also face the fact that unless Shepard traveled to the Reaper's home universe, had intense, intelligent debate with Harbinger between epic battles, discovered their origin and then somehow used that to kick the Reapers arse (or rewire them for "good"), no one was going to be satisfied.

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      June 20, 2013 9:52 AM

      The dark energy hints now don't lead anywhere. A shame.

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      June 20, 2013 10:24 AM

      I would have liked there to be an option to use the Reaper's own reasoning in some way to talk them down from their plan. Basically unite enough of the galaxy (making the fleet strength matter more) to a point that the Reapers were going to lose out on their ideal of putting every race into their version of the Cloud. Something akin to Captain Sheridan's handling of the Shadow War in B5. ME had plenty of opportunities to talk down opponents (Saren, Wrex, etc) and basically avoid a fight. That went by the wayside in the sequels even though having it as an option wouldn't hurt, you can still shoot things to resolution.

      When I got to the end of ME3 (pre-DC) I saw the three choices and thought to myself all of these choices suck and I rather kick your ass stupid kid! So I turned around and walked away, slowly too because screw those choices, they were an illusion I thought and the best choice was no choice. NOPE. I reached the edge of the area and the game went to a load screen. I thought I unlocked something else but the game reloaded me right back in the same place with the three paths. Now I didn't see that those were actually ramps, I thought walking straight into the Crucible was where I made the choice, the one final wheel selection for the entire story of the game. So I inadvertently picked the Synergy/Green ending when I was going to just kill all the Reapers and synthetics as my second choice.

      That right there pissed me off more than the game having three color coded endings. All capped with the same cutscene of the kid talking to grandpa in some indeterminate future. I really assumed that was the same planet the Normandy crashed on and they somehow managed to colonized and populate it so we were looking at descendants of that crashed crew. That was bad too but the biggest problem was there didn't feel like there were enough choices. I went back after DC came out because I read that they added a fourth choice and one I more or less originally picked (shoot the kid) and it was just a prompt "everyone died" ending but the Black Boxes were put into place conveniently in time and survived. DC ending was less ambiguous I'll give it that but really the original ending I've read about dark energy and the purpose of the Reapers would have been better and closed more plot lines.

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      June 20, 2013 11:58 AM

      I choose to believe the Indoctrination Theory, even if it perhaps wasn't what the writers had in mind.

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      June 20, 2013 7:39 PM


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